Religion is DANGEROUS and NO, I won’t be quiet about it!

Atheism and my anger towards religion is a topic I’ve wanted to write about for a while now, but, to be honest, I’ve been a bit nervous.

It isn’t as if I’m coming out of the atheist closet, or that I think publishing my thoughts about religion will surprise anyone who knows me.

What makes me nervous is that I want to avoid hurting the feelings of people I love.

But, as many of you know, I’m not afraid to have a frank conversation about volatile topics, so this shouldn’t be a bombshell.

Although I’ve been surrounded by religious people throughout my life, I was never subjected to a ruthless and unrequested indoctrination – thankfully.  I consider myself extremely lucky that the influence of religion in my life has been so limited.

I have close friends and relatives who are Christians, Mormons, Jewish, Buddhists, and more.

Many members of my family are Jewish – some more than others.  If one faith has influenced me, it would be Judaism … in a sense.

I’ve been inside a synagogue three or four times in my life – only for funerals and weddings.

I don’t speak Yiddish, I didn’t have a bar mitzvah and I’ve never read the Old Testament … or any other religious text for that matter.

The influence I would say the Jewish religion has had on my life has been cultural, and completely unspiritual.

At times I’ve been known to kvetch, I’ve had shpilkes, my wife thinks I’m mashugana, and I know a tchotchke when I see one.

For me, that’s enough – for others, not so much.

Growing up in Boulder, the influence of Naropa was undeniable.  Many of my closest friends in high school were Buddhist (and still are, I’d guess).

My wife grew up as a Christian.

My maternal grandmother rarely missed a Sunday service, niether does my mother-in-law (who I love and respect with all my heart!).

I’ve known a few people who are Muslim.  However, I have to admit, I haven’t known them well enough to discuss or be influenced by their faith.

Despite these many ‘positive’ religious influences, I still believe that religion is, at its core, an evil whose time has come and gone.

For many people (mainly the people I get to talk to are Christians) what I have to say is hard to hear.

People have lashed out at me for being openly critical of religion.

Some have said I should “show some respect” and that by voicing my disdain, I’m just as bad as the loud-mouthed, door-knocking, tambourine-bashers I’m rallying against.

My loving, amazing, kind, and always forgiving wife thinks I should just be nice to everyone, all the time… In fact, she’d like to see the whole world live by that philosophy.

But, I can’t.  When it comes to religion, I simply can’t turn a blind eye, paint on a shit-eating grin and keep my mouth shut.

I’d like to touch on some of the undeniable bullshit that sticks in my craw.

PLEASE NOTE: This is in no way a complete, or original, diatribe … I’m poaching a lot and leaving out a lot.

Why yours, not theirs? Why now, not yesterday?

One of the major reason I refuse to believe in religion is the inability of any religious person to tell my why their particular version of a particular god is correct while thousands of other versions are not (or weren’t in most cases).

There are currently an estimated 4,200 religious groups on Earth at the moment, and an estimated 63,000 throughout human history.

How can they all be correct? Impossible. You know it, I know it, and most importantly THEY KNOW IT!

Why is one Christian church correct in their interpretation of the bible, while the version trumpeted by Westboro Baptist’s is not?

They’re both talking about the same book, right?

The malleability of the bible and all other religious works makes them easy to manipulate and reinterpret to fit selfish and devious ends.  This is a pattern that has occurred throughout history and shows no sign of stopping.

A dangerous slippery slope

If someone will believe in something completely unsupported by facts … that person will believe in anything.

Dangerous, frighteningly dangerous.

Nuff said.

‘Religions provide proper moral grounding’ – I call bullshit!

I will not be connected to an organisation whose zealots rape children, murder women, and maim innocent people in the name of their deity.

Think about the about the numbers of people who died in the Crusades, the Thirty Years’ War, the Lebanese Civil War … the list goes on and on and on.

All of the people who organised, promoted, fought and died in these bloody battles thought their version of god was right and that those who didn’t deserved to die a torturous, murderous death.

Nothing has changed, these atrocities continue today …

Religion is killing Lady Liberty

Despite the fact that I’ve lived a large portion of my life abroad, I consider myself a patriotic American.

You don't have to be religious to love America

In reality, living outside the often jingoistic, clearly xenophobic borders of the USA has caused me to take a much more critical view of my nation… an experience many Americans would benefit from – and no, being in the military doesn’t count (usually).

One thing has become perfectly clear in the last decade – my beloved USA is being torn apart by religion and the fanatical fiscal forces of fucking fundamentalists.

My stomach twists into knots when I think about how my wonderful country – founded on principles of religious freedom and the separation of church and state – is manipulated, and then bought and sold by religious organizations like Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers and others.  Not to mention religious hypocrites like the Koch Brothers.

It brings tears to my eyes.  Any true patriot should feel anger and shame.

Creationism in schools

When I first started educating myself about evolution and the ‘intellectually challenged’ people who want to teach creationism in the US’s public schools, I took a light-hearted approach.

I read up on Russell’s Teapot, the Church of the SubGenius, Pastafarianism and the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

DIVINE PROOF!

I thought creationism was little more than a short-lived laugh.

My naïveté was the only thing that turned out to be short-lived – I thought there was no way anyone with two brain cells would consider denying the overwhelming evidence supporting evolution.

The more I’ve looked at it, the more I’ve realized it is a laugh – a dangerous, insidious, scary laugh.

Here is a test … bring together two people; a scientist and a supporter of ‘intelligent design’.

Ask them each to provide two piles of papers; one with scholarly, peer-reviewed, evidence-based reports that support creationism and the other with scholarly, peer-reviewed, evidence-based reports that support evolution.

Without even a moment’s consideration, we all know what the test’s results would be…

Imagine how powerful the USA would be if this motto was printed on our money!!!

We trust our science communities on a plethora of vital, life-changing, dangerous topics every moment of every day.

Because of scientists we can sleep soundly knowing we are safe from the dangers of generating nuclear power.

Because we can trust in science our cars, trains, and airplanes get us where we need to be, without us giving the trip much more than a casual thought.

The perfect cup of coffee each morning, the crunchy brown toast we munch, the mass production of yummy eggs … all thanks to our trust in science to get it right.

Our ability to rely on the accuracy and reliability of scientific theories affects everything we do.

Yet, somehow, the whole of the science community is wrong about the age of the earth, and the origins and development of our species.

Insert sad laugh sound effect here.

The world moves on  – the USA remains stuck

There are many amazing scholars and scientists who have to live each day fighting this fight, just so they can do their real jobs… teaching, learning and discovering.

Brilliant minds like Richard Dawkins, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Lawrence Krauss to name a few … their work is constantly hindered by religious nonsense.

Imagine if the United States of America set free the restraints religion and superstition have placed on science … we’d take back our place as real leaders on this planet!

Instead, we allow belief systems that were developed thousands of years ago to muzzle genius.

Believe me, other nations are banking on the bondage of religion so they can advance.

It makes us a laughing-stock, and we are being left behind.

Time to Wake Up!

To be honest, I could go on for a long time about this – and, to be honest, my knowledge-base on this topic is only growing.

And NO, I won’t be quiet about it. No one should.  If we remain quiet, nothing will change.

If that makes me unpopular on Facebook with people I haven’t seen in 15 years, so be it.

If my wife gets in a grump because I’m not afraid to say something unpopular, in a public space, which might rock a few boats, so be it.

This issue is too important to stay quiet, even if I risk hurting people I love.

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10 Responses to Religion is DANGEROUS and NO, I won’t be quiet about it!

  1. Chris says:

    Boulderite, it took courage to speak like that. I hope and pray that you’ll keep your heart open to goodness in life. I’ve found it in God and His Church, the Catholic Church. Hopefully one day you will see how religion does good in the world as well. I look to Saints, people like Mother Teresa, Maximilian Kolbe, and I say, wow, whatever is going on there, it is beautiful and I want what they have. God bless.

    • Chris, while I suppose you are expecting me to say ‘thank you’ for your comments and blessings, I’m not going to.

      It was silly of me to think you might actually answer one of the questions I put forward.

      I’m amazed you’ve found goodness in a church that tells millions of people around the world that it would be better to die from AIDS than use a condom.

      I’m amazed you’ve found goodness in a church that has covered up decades of sexual abuse and protected the abusers rather than its ‘flock’.

      I’m amazed you’ve found goodness in a church that denies and vilifies people who are in love simply because of their gender.

      If you’d like engage in a conversation re: some of these questions, please do.

      Otherwise, keep the BS rhetoric to yourself.

      • Chris says:

        Hey I’m being pleasant, I’d appreciate it if you were at least polite.

        Anyways I’m sorry that I missed your question. Could you care to help me with what you’re specifically talking about there. Also I’m sorry that you seem to have had bad experiences on facebook and stuff.

        There’s a lot of explaining to do with these questions, and I’d highly encourage you to check out my blog, because that’s basically my goal, to explain these positions that people don’t tend to understand.

        I think that it is very important to stress that I do recognize that people have definitely done wrong in the name of the Church. On the other hand, you have to look at the actual teachings of the Church and what it’s done as a whole. Hospitals, education, charities, etc. Some of the fundamental teachings of the Church are that each and every person has inherent dignity and that we must defend the defenseless. These are all things that we all probably agree on, but it is worth noting that the Church was a major factor in bringing these services and philosophies to the rest of society.

        So for a quick take on those things you mention:

        The Pope himself said that it is possible for there to be situations where nothing other than condoms will solve the AIDS problem. But besides that, of course we are against condoms, because if you want to solve AIDS, abstinence and remaining true to your spouse are the only guaranteed ways cutting it down. Condoms and other contraceptives fail. To put it one way, if parachutes failed at the same rates as condoms, nobody would ever use them. Check out this article from business insider of all places that endorses the Church’s view: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-02-08/politics/31036663_1_sexual-revolution-moral-standards-marriage

        Sexual abuse scandals, especially by priests, are bad. And cover ups by bishops are bad. Remember that everyone sins, the Church doesn’t claim to have perfect people, only perfect teachings and faith. Even the Apostles sinned, think of Peter denying Jesus 3 times!

        And then your last point seems to be on marriage between people other than a man and a woman. This is something that goes against natural law. But even though the Church does not approve of this, we absolutely stand up for their dignity. They should not be persecuted in any way, they are just as deserving of love and respect as anyone else. The issue is that sex outside of marriage (between a man and a woman) is sinful. Hard teaching nowadays, I know.

      • OK Chris, I’ll try to be polite… but no promises.

        How about these explicitly asked questions:

        “Why yours, not theirs? Why now, not yesterday?”

        “Why is one Christian church correct in their interpretation of the bible, while the version trumpeted by Westboro Baptist’s is not?”

        So, your argument is that although the church does some bad things, those should be overlooked because of the number of good things it does?

        Again, I have to call BS.

        That is like saying that a Boy Scout Troop Master who has spent twenty years teaching kids good morals and skills should be forgiven for blowing a few along the way. And the Boy Scout organization should be forgiven for paying out huge amounts of money (taken from Boy Scouts) to cover it up … GONG … false & dangerous logic.

        “Fundamental teachings of the Church are that each and every person has inherent dignity and that we must defend the defenseless.”

        Seriously? Shall we ask gay people what they think of this line you’ve written? How about women? How about a child in Africa who has contracted AIDS because his mother was told not to use a condom? Again, clearly regurgitated BS.

        “These are all things that we all probably agree on, but it is worth noting that the Church was a major factor in bringing these services and philosophies to the rest of society.”

        But we don’t agree on this … I think every American should put a little bit of what they have (and believe me, compared to the rest of the planet, Americans have A LOT) in a big pot so every person can have access to quality healthcare. Many Americans agree. Do you know which areas of the United States disagree with this? The states with the most churches per capita and the most heavily religious populations … Yet those same states consume more hand outs from the Government coffers than any others … More BS.

        “But besides that, of course we are against condoms, because if you want to solve AIDS, abstinence and remaining true to your spouse are the only guaranteed ways cutting it down.”

        Wrong again my friend. You are trying to force white, American, Catholic values and practices on other cultures. Abstinence and remaining true to your spouse, indeed.

        Firstly, abstinence is BS amongst Americans, let alone another nation & culture. Highest instance of oral and anal herpes amongst teens in the USA … teens who have taken abstinence pledges = FAIL.

        Highest rates or divorce in the world? USA.

        Telling young people of another culture and nation that they should either get married or not have sex is like trying to tell water not to be wet… impossible, conceited and inappropriate. What a load of BS.

        “Even the Apostles sinned, think of Peter denying Jesus 3 times!”

        Did you just quote a work of fiction to try and provide a fact that excuses child molesters? This argument doesn’t work with me buddy … you might as well be quoting Battlefield Earth, both books are fictitious and were written by men who claimed to have divine knowledge … and both are BS.

        Chris … do you realise you just typed “marriage between people other than a man and a woman. This is something that goes against natural law.” and then claimed to “stand up for their dignity.”? If you can’t see the BS in this … you need some serious help. And then you go on to type “Hard teaching nowadays, I know.” as if your ficticious bible was written recently … that book was written (and rewritten, and rewritten, and rewritten, and rewritten, and rewritten, and rewritten) by MEN 2000+ years ago. There isn’t any nowadays about it.

        The bible is outdated, manipulative, untrue, racist, sexist, and DANGEROUS!

        I hope that wasn’t too rude for you.

  2. Blake says:

    Finally, someone else who thinks normally! Couldnt agree more. And I love when Theists direct Atheists to church and religious readings, like that’s going to do anything for our views and opinions. We didn’t believe that hocus-pocus before, and we’re not going to change our thoughts because of something you told us to read or experience. It was bullshit then, it’s bullshit now.

  3. Good, good stuff. I, too, decided some time ago to stop being quiet about it. Religion and religious people are harming our country and humanity.

  4. Dave says:

    Great article, great response to Chris. Boulderite thinks clearly and writes thoughtfully. There was never any rudeness, regardless of Chris’s perception. The real offense comes from the words and deeds of these barbaric desert religions. BS, baby!

  5. Chris says:

    It seems quite obvious that either all of the Christian churches must be wrong, or one must be right. This is the same with religions. This is pretty obvious because of the contradictions between them. How can you reconcile two churches that believe two different things? This is the beautiful thing about the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was the church founded by Jesus according to the bible. Peter was the person who Jesus installed at its head, and Jesus gave Him authority. This is Matthew 16:18-19. Only later did the other Christian churches break off. First the Eastern Orthodox around 1000, and then with the Protestant Reformation around 1500 all of the Protestant churches started forming. So the Catholic Church was the Church that compiled the Bible. The other churches use our bible but they actually have removed books from it.

    Members of the Church have individually done bad things, but the Church itself has never done bad things. I’d challenge you to look up the Catechism, bible, papal statements, etc. and find statements endorsing the evil things that you hear about over and over again against the Church.

    Dude, there are gay Catholics. Half of our Church is women. And the Church is growing in Africa faster than it is in the rest of the world thanks to our missionaries and charities. Just because the teachings are that sex is for marriage, homosexuals can’t marry, etc, that doesn’t mean that we say that people are bad. Who were some of MLK’s biggest supporters during the Civil Rights Movement? Catholic priests. We truly believe that everyone deserves the right to be treated with dignity. There is a fundamental difference between people and their actions, though, and that seems to be the difference here. You seem to think that because we don’t think that it is a good idea for everyone to do everything, we are somehow oppressing them. No, we think of it the same way as we think of murder, it is harmful for those involved so it should not happen. Again, the actions are bad, the people are good.

    I agree with you on universal healthcare. This is something that Catholics stress.

    These values are not just white American values. These are universal values. Catholic means universal. They transcend race, ethnicity, language, creed, age, etc. You’d be surprised how much more people of the 3rd world respect the Catholic worldviews. They are not meant to be a hindrance, they are meant to free us to be the best that we can be.

    I believe in people. I believe in their ability to abstain from sex if need be. I’m living the single vocation right now, it’s not bad at all. But sex is good! Just within the context of marriage.

    Have you actually read the bible? I’d encourage you to try out Matthew 5. The teachings of the Bible and Jesus were actually groundbreaking at the time and brought dignity to all people. You can find hypocrites everywhere, but when you get down to it, it is not a dangerous book. This is a book that tells you to love your enemies.

  6. Dave says:

    Kudos, Boulderite. Well done.

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