THE DANGER THAT IS RELIGION
By John de Waal
“The scriptures are infallible. They are the word of God!”
Because of their inflexible belief, religions cannot admit to even the possibility of being in error, though most are based on the limited wisdom of two thousand some years ago. The books are written in the ambiguous words common to those times and kept alive by the “salesmen of God.” The ‘wisdoms’ that this literature offers is at best peripherally applicable to our times and circumstances, but the violence and deprivations associated with religions have kept pace with improved technology and the increased populations of the world, thereby making religions the greatest scourge of mankind.
The advent of weapons of mass destruction that can be produced by virtually anyone who puts his mind to it, coupled with the unambiguous demands in the old texts to kill all who disagree with the religious ideas contained within – ideas that in some religions are chanted many times a day–have led to hundreds of suicide-murders by fanatics and the death of many thousands of innocents near and far. It should be obvious to even the most pious among us that this monster has grown to unacceptable proportions and must be eradicated sooner, rather than later – if indeed there is enough time to be a ‘later.’
However, there has been a revolution since World War II that has changed the attitudes of many millions toward religion. Today there are some 1,100,000,000 people around the world who are Atheists, Agnostics or Non-Religious, making them the 4th largest ‘religious’ group in the world.
They represent a hope that normalcy in the world may yet prevail and that it should be possible to ‘defang’ religions by removing their deadly tenets, without taking away “the opium” that people crave as was noted by the philosopher Karl Marx in the late 19th century.
Dr. Harris, in his book “The End of Faith,” mentions that doubts about the feasibility of accomplishing this cannot be entertained because “there is no reason whatsoever to think that we can survive our religious differences indefinitely.” This needs to be done if we hope to survive. Indeed, failure to inspire the developing world to pursue ends that are compatible with a global civilization will result in a very dark future for us all for there is no foundation within Christianity, Islam, Judaism or any other religion for tolerance and religious diversity.
We must dispense with the dogma of faith to reestablish the basis of human cooperation, to accommodate our need to be connected to the world and to one another. We must choose leaders who desire to help create a better life in this world, but who are without strong religious convictions, and convince those who prop up faith to make and advocate the changes necessary to make faith compatible with life on this side of the grave.
We are bound to one another. We cannot continue to allow faith and religion to cloak our iniquities: ignorance, hatred, greed, and prevent our ethical intuitions to intervene. We are all interdependent and here for such a little while. Let us not waste our time but let us be kind to each other, help each other flourish, and approach our common challenges with reason, honesty and love.