2008-01-23

The Contradictions of Religion and Religious Tolerance

One can understand the birth of religion at a time before the age of reason and science, when people were looking for simple explanations of the world around them. The biggest contradiction of religion is why it has remained so dominant in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries when we actually understand the origin of the universe and how man evolved.

Of course the answer is simple. Religious belief defies logic because it excludes logic. Religion does not try to convince you that god exists based on science or logic. In fact religion suspends logic and science and asks you to believe on the basis of faith - to just decide to believe.

So how do people choose a religion. In most cases they do not actually choose, they inherit their religion from their parents or the cultural community they live in. And how do they decide what to believe. Again they do not decide, they are told what to believe by religious leaders, who follow teachings developed thousands of years ago and passed on or modified dependent on the intricacies of the politics of their particular religion. In the cases of some newer religions the “theology” is simply the figment of the imagination of a charismatic leader.

The next big contradiction of religion is it’s responsibility for good and evil. I do not need to go through the history of religion to point out the evil done in it’s name by believers, except to point out that most genocides are justified by religious beliefs, as interpreted by the religious leaders of the time.

But, on the other hand, much good has been done by religious people, from the abolitionists movement and the underground railroad to Canadian medicare, made possible by a Baptist minister from Saskatchewan. And indeed many good people credit their “goodness” to their religious beliefs.

But reason tells us that one can be a good person without religion. What religion enables, is good people to do evil things because they have been convinced, usually by charismatic leaders, that it is the will of god. There is no greater evil than good people doing evil things because god told them to.

The latest contradiction with religion is the development of the concept of religious tolerance. Religious tolerance teaches that other people are not unworthy or evil because they belong to the wrong religion. Religious tolerance removes the justification for evil, such as genocides, perpetrated in the name of god.

But religion is supposedly based on the true word of god. How can there be more than one true word of god. There cannot. And the acceptance of religious tolerance is an unstated acceptance that religion is man-made, not god-made.

I have no problem with religions as communities of fellowship with sets of rules to life by and rituals that celebrates the stages of ones life. Just do not try and tell me it is all based on the word of a non-existent god.

I am all for religious tolerance because it can help to end the evil done in the name of religion as well as make the true nature of religion as something man-made not god-made, finally evident to all “true believers” everywhere.

2 comments:

Ryan said...

Come on. You show a remarkably shallow understanding view of religion. As far as

"But religion is supposedly based on the true word of god. How can there be more than one true word of god."

The premise is false. Your view of religion is narrowly defined by that of fundamentalism, as well as the fallacy that all religions derive their worldview directly from the word of God. You also divorce religion from socio-cultural context.

Thanks, but you might as well have just said that "religion is bad." Thanks for the strawman.

Nunc Scio said...

"You also divorce religion from socio-cultural context."

I don't know, Ryan. That sounds a bit like the strawman you so despise.

Nice post, Fifth. There's some good example of religion going bonkers over on my site today: http://www.nuncscio.com.