February 24th, 2011

Bears

30 day challenge Number 4 - Religion

I am what you might call a 'militant atheist'. I am against religion but it's important to understand that I consider religion to be a symptom of a deeper problem that goes beyond religion. The idea of faith.

Faith is, essentially, belief without evidence and this is as near to the definition of a delusion as makes no odds.* This most often pops up with reference to religion but also turns up in astrology, magic(k), ideology, homeopathy, holographic sports wristbands, magnetic bracelets, crystals, alien abduction and a whole, huge, long, host of other things that irrational, superstitious and/or stupid people go along with. Which isn't to say that everyone who succumbs to faith is an idiot, madness doesn't respect intelligence, even the smartest people make peculiar exceptions, succumb to special pleading or - while holding to a perfectly reasonable scientific view on, say, biology, still believe in a hollow earth.

The only decent, sane basis for knowledge is evidence. It may be incomplete, you may get things wrong from time to time but it's the only way that we as human beings have found of getting at genuine, practical, applicable proof.

Religion perpetuates the idea that somehow wishing really hard transcends or overrides the nature of reality in some way and that some people have some mystical tap into 'truth'. This retards human progress when it bumps up against science (cosmology, biology, medical applications), causes wars when different truths with no basis bump up against each other, directly and indirectly causes death and harm in a variety of other long term ways.**

Some might argue that religion also brings positives, community, charity, morality. We don't need religion for any of these, we can and do build them without it and the cost is simply too high to do it with religion when we can have all the positives without the negatives. As to the morality argument one need only check the prison statistics or watch the news for five minutes to see that religion doesn't lead to moral people, if anything quite the opposite.

To me religion, faith, is a primitive atavism, a leftover fragment, an 'exploit' or 'hax' of the weaknesses in human perception and psychology and one that we need to overcome by applying our conscious minds.

*A fixed false belief held without evidence or against evidence to the contrary.
**Interfering with the direct application of medical technologies, rather than just the research. Causing problems in education. Affecting abortion and other policies that harm others, etc.

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