Imagine a World Without Religion!
Is Religion Really Necessary?
What an interesting question! I suppose that the only way to examine this question is to look at past history and then project forward.
Looking at the past history of this planet and its people, it should be easy to see that if religion had never been “discovered” or “invented,” the number of catastrophic (meaning death caused by other human beings) events probably would have been fewer. Most, if not all, of the great conquerors were either motivated by religious teachings or considered themselves to be “Gods” themselves. Rome and Greece had their own versions of the Gods, which provided them with excuses for invading much of the known world. Egypt was itself a “religious cult” of sorts. Christianity provided us with the “Crusades,” along with many “cleansings” of those who didn't agree with the “Church.”
Many people believe that the only reason that the United States was settled was for religious freedom because of the discrimination heaped upon many groups because they didn't follow the “standard” churches of the time.
“Hitler attempted to eradicate the world of the Jews, not to mention millions of others who opposed his plans for the world. The “war” in Serbia and Croatia (and all the parties therein) was due to religious purgings.
Imagine how many people would never have died had it not been for religious wars and individual persecution. Ever since mankind began to think and create “groups,” there has been constant death, torture, and terrorism.
Look at the world in which we live today. We are constantly teetering on the brink of extinction due to disagreements over the interpretation of religious documents and the policies of countries that are ruled by theocratic leaders.
In the United States, there is a constant struggle between different religious organizations and groups with those who don't hold to any of those beliefs. Insisting that others live their lives according to one groups rules creates tension which leads to violence, hate, and distrust. Laws which are supposed to allow us to freely live according to our individual choices are twisted by religiously-motivated politicians, as well as those religious advocates who declare that we should all follow one rule, THEIRS!
Okay, let's take a step back right now and try to imagine that there is no religion, no “invisible deity.” It doesn't mean that we wouldn't be kind, generous, polite, compassionate, non-judgmental people (just considering the U.S.). Having religious beliefs hasn't made us all that way anyway!
Certainly the founding fathers envisioned a country where religion was NOT part of the rule of law. In order for people in any country or state to live at peace together, those people must just agree on a standard of behavior. That behavior dictates that we treat each other with respect, obeying the laws that we all agree to by becoming citizens.
Without religious arguments, there would be little discrimination. How many years did some people (some still do, believe it or not) claim that blacks were inferior to whites? How long was it before we got rid of “whites-only water fountains” and “coloreds-only water fountains”? While I know that there are those who still don't accept the equality of races, there are few who actually quote religious documents in an attempt to justify their racist views.
While I don't like to mention the “abortion issue,” it is predicated on the religious view that the “soul” enters the body at the moment of conception. This is purely a belief since there is no proof that the “soul” even exists. I'm not suggesting that we return to the ancient practice of killing “male” or “female” babies at birth to control populations, but my view that the “soul” enters the body at birth is just as provable. Perhaps the original compromise provided by the Roe vs. Wade decision is the proper compromise. No one wants a full-term fetus to be deprived of life, but early intervention as provided by the courts is reasonable. Without religion, this wouldn't even be an issue. Imagine how much anger and hate and death could have been prevented if religious views on this issue didn't exist. It's affect on our world's growing population is obvious. If the Catholic Church had never existed and never opposed birth control methods, the world might not be facing the burgeoning problem of poverty and starvation, ignoring how much worse it will become. (I'm ignoring the issue of birth control that China and India and the Far East are presenting the world, an issue that will only get worse as resources become more scarce.) Mother Nature will soon attack this problem herself, and there will be nothing that we can do but watch as billions of people die until the Earth's population is once again at some equilibrium point!
The “death penalty” is another issue which is complicated by religious doctrine. While I am opposed to this method of punishment at present, that is primarily because the American justice system is obviously skewed to attack and punish minorities for the same crimes as “whites.” Just look at the number of formerly convicted inmates who have and are being released from prison now that DNA has proven them actually innocent of their crimes. It makes me wonder how many people were executed when they might have been innocent. Unless there is NO doubt of guilt, the death penalty should only be an option given to those with long term or life sentences (of course, that's another issue). I have no problem with society putting to death those who have killed someone without it being self-defense or due to extenuating circumstances. However, some religions oppose any execution.
Without religion, the people of the world could operate on a level playing field, with common rules for worldwide cooperation, though there will be always be cultural difference (not related to religion) which must be respected by one another. So long as the Earth is populated by emotional/non-logical (much of the time) humans, the system will never be perfect. However, I believe that we could co-exist and cooperate much better and more easily without the constraints of religious dogma.