Currently we are seeing at least 2 articles per day on religion or irreligion, depending on your own viewpoint. What is really sad to see is that there is no debate, only animosity and contempt. And there is definitely a debate to be had in the religions discourse, and an important one at that.
Every now and again both parties throw in a bit of science, to be bended towards their own will, and regarding this I would to highlight my first point. (And I will do my best to keep it short)
Antiscience and denialism
In the 19th century William Blake said that Isaac Newton, Sir Francis Bacon and John Locke, with their emphasis on reason were nothing more than "the three great teachers of atheism, or Satan's Doctrine".
Now if any of you are unsure as to whom these 3 gentlemen where that Blake was referring to, I do recommend that familiarize yourself with their work. Regardless of what your opinion is of them, they were probably 3 of the most influential and important forces in the scientific world and the establishment of the scientific method.
Antiscience, which historically arose as a reaction to scientific materialism during the Enlightenment, is a position that rejects science and the scientific method, and is generally skeptical of whether science is a satisfactory way to obtain genuine knowledge about the world. Its proponents reject the reductionism contained in science and disagrees that it is an objective method.
In the religious antiscience philosophy, science is an anti-spiritual and materialistic force that undermines traditional values, ethnic identity and accumulated historical wisdom in favor of reason and cosmopolitanism.
Denialism, on the other hand, is choosing to deny reality as a way to avoid an uncomfortable truth. It is the refusal to accept an empirically verifiable reality. It is an essentially irrational action that withholds validation of a historical experience or event. It is important to note that denialism is an ideological position.
Now I am not sure as to whether the current spate of science-trashing is due to antiscience or denialism, or maybe a bit of both, but looking at both these concepts, it is apparent that both are very ideological in nature.
Science is a self-correcting construct, where any hypothesis and theory is constantly tested and evaluated to determine its validity. Even though it is constantly changing, it is ever changing to more accurately reflect and define the reality it is describing.
I leave it up to the reader to draw comparisons between that and religion, and to form his/her own conclusion.
Religion and the Human Condition.
This is what makes us unique. Being human. Our curiosity. Our constant search for meaning in life and the meaning of life. Our anxiety about our own mortality and ever impending death.
We start our lives with a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world, and then painstakingly have to carve out our own sense of self-worth and provide existential meaning. Human beings, through their own consciousness, create their own values and determine a meaning to their life. Even in the face of the glaring reality that each individual is solely responsible for giving meaning to their own life, we constantly seek this outside of ourselves - in society, culture and religion.
There is no objective morality or meaning to life. There is only the meaning we provide and the morality we contrive. Since humans can choose to be either cruel or good, we are, in fact, neither of these things essentially. We live in an absurd reality, where the notion of "bad things don't happen to good people" is utterly negated. There is no fairness. Accepting this means accepting a great reality about our existence. No one is coming to save us it seems. We are utterly alone.
Once you have sense of the human condition, the corollary following that is how does religion address the human condition?
My answer here is very simple. Religion has done nothing to enhance or retract from the human condition, even though a case can be made for its appeasement of the debilitating notions in the human condition.
Religion simply reflects the human condition.
Once you understand the human condition, and the core principles of most religions, the implication is simple to understand.
P.S. It would be really nice if the contributors to this forum could at least attempt to hold their snide comments and limit the senseless personal attacks. Even though I agree that some concepts might be reserving of ridicule and contempt, this debate is too important for it to be overshadowed by petty insults and tit-for-tat banter. There really is an important debate to be had, and the philosophy that defines the human condition and attempts to understand it, will either be advanced by the current generation or destroyed by it.