I oppose religion, make no mistake. Of the three articles I’ve submitted to news24, all three have been structured in opposition to religion (all religions). While reading many of the other articles posted on this forum and participating in the discussions which follow, I’ve come to realise that I am not alone in this regard. However, most of the reasons put forward opposing religion, although valid, seem to be somewhat over utilised, hence the reason for this article.
The above mentioned, tried and trusted, arguments often distract from the more pervasive unpleasantness that religion brings with it. The kind we almost don’t see, yet it has more of an impact on our lives as individuals and as a society, than we may know.
In this article I will discuss four points including religious group mentality, true appreciation, child indoctrination (i know this one is still one of the tried and trusted – but hopefully my take on the matter will be slightly new) and gratitude.
The encouragement of group mentality is a bit of a balancing act at the best of times, add to this or rather subtract from this rational thought and common sense and you have the makings for a very volatile society. Religious group mentality has been the catalyst for more destruction than any other force in human history. It is strange how, one can talk to a non-practicing jew, a half hearted muslim or a apathetic christian, about anything under the sun. But mention anything regarding their religion and even they, as admittedly disinterested members of their religion, will immediately spring into defence. The river of indoctrination may appear dry but it still flows beneath the surface.
This united thought, which is often disguised as a sense of community, opens the participants up to manipulation by those they hold in high regard, such as priests, who are themselves merely men with as many flaws as those they profess to lead. This manipulation is easily compounded by the unwillingness, of religious believers, to use their common sense. This lack of free thought along with outright religious manipulation allowed slavery to flourish for centuries, reinforced apartheid strategies and gives “men of the cloth” access to young children, to give but a few examples.
Fortunately this trend is starting to wane, as even the most devoutly religious are often seen to disagree on their shared faith, indicative of at least some form of questioning and application of common sense, which should one day see the dilution of such irrational group mentality.
I feel most religious people may not truly appreciate some of the most important aspects of life and their surrounding earth. How can I say that? If one goes through life believing that bigger and better things await us after we die, how much does this life truly mean? Secondly, if the beauty of nature can be explained as an act by some superior being, doesn’t that detract from the appreciation there of? It certainly discourages people from seeking an explanation and an understanding for the world around us.
This brings me to my next point and one which is my main driving force for compiling these articles, indoctrination of children. I often see Jehovah’s witnesses weaving their way up my road on a Sunday morning, dragging children no older than ten along with them. It irritates me to think how that child’s parents are deliberately destroying any chance he or she may have of developing their intellectual abilities.
Just think, that child may have the potential to cure aids or reengineer blood so that any blood type may be introduced into a person’s body, but we will never know. His parents fear won’t allow for it. He will be raised believing that blood transfusions are a violation of gods will and no doctor or medical researcher would or should get within ten meters of a patient or laboratory with such beliefs.
Now many will assert that their religion does not introduce fear into a child’s heart but rather allows for a loving relationship with one’s divine creator. One only has to read the bible to see that such a statement is about as believable as an abused woman approximating the abuse she suffers at the hand of her husband, to the fact that he loves her.
The bulk of my schooling took place during the nineties with the more impressionable of those years falling in the late eighties. During these early school years, the first lesson of the day was bible study. I wonder if my teachers ever saw the contradiction. They were charged with the immensely important task of educating young people but rather than getting down to it, they decided to start the day off by reinforcing the greatest obstacle to the development of intellect, religion.
Picture this scenario. The principal starts assembly off by reading from the book of genesis and explaining how god created earth in seven days, how he carved the mountains and stocked the sea. The youngsters sit listening after which they are dismissed for a short break before their next class, which just so happens to be geography. Now they must overcome all the religious propaganda they have just been fed, in order to make sense of the lesson.
It is perverse to teach children such nonsense from a young age whether they are your own children or the students in a school, their naivety and youthful predisposition towards fear are clearly being exploited. I wonder if the religious ever take the time to think about how much more meaningful the acceptance of their god would be, if a person were allowed to discover religion and make it part of their life, without being indoctrinated from a young age.
The final point I’d like to make concerns thanks and the disrespect unintentionally (I’ll give the benefit of the doubt) conveyed by most of the religious when giving thanks. This may seem somewhat of an oxymoron, after all how can thanking someone be a sign of disrespect? The problem lies in the order. Every single time one hears a believer in any higher deity give thanks, they begin by first thanking their god, then compound the insult by writing anyone else’s action off to that same deity by saying something like “god worked through them”.
Why should those who actually contributed to someone’s success (in even the slightest way), or those doctors who spent years training so they could save a life or the rescue team who risked their own lives to save a person, be thanked second to a deity? It is one thing for a man to write his own successes and abilities off to god but it’s another thing entirely when you trivialise the good deeds of another in the same manner.
Sometimes I’m not certain whether it’s religion that furthers ignorance or ignorance that furthers religion. I compare religion to a bush fire running out of fuel and being heavily extinguished by rain. The fuel it’s running out of being, willing participants, and the rain being information, because we all know (including the religious), the greatest obstacle to religion is knowledge.