Consequences of Religion

Disclaimer: I wrote this right after Waco. Don’t take me to task for my thoughts some 12 or more years ago. Well you can if you like. I don’t mind. Just don’t expect me to defend it word for word. Most of the sentiments still hold true. But now we have Muslim fanatics to worry about as well as Christian fanatics.

I decided to publish it now because I just found it again. At the time there was no such thing as hub pages. Thank the gods for Hub Pages.

Oh, and I was right. The year 2000 came and went, and no Jesus came and the end of the world hasn’t come yet either. I’m predicting now that when 2012 comes, everyone who thinks the world will end will be disappointed, and not inclined to do anything about it.

Consequences of religion

There is nothing wrong with believing in myth. At the time, that was all we knew and the only way we could communicate what we saw. The spirit of the bible has helped us in our evolution because some of the principals of the social contract its makers envisioned (morality) are sound, and in keeping with individual survival; and therefore the survival of the species.

What does concern me is when we act upon it as if it is literal fact. I sight countless holy wars, the inquisitions, the Salem (and other) witch hunts, the KKK etc.

Religion, in general, is responsible for breeding as much prejudice and hate as it is for creating an atmosphere of love and understanding. True, these negatives exist anyway, in the uneducated mind, but it is only when ideas are organized in to sects that they can be acted upon in any real magnitude. Institutions are much more powerful and influential than individuals.

The only way we can justify oppressing and persecuting other people is if we can attribute the oppression or persecution to the will of our god. We can only act on that idea if we have the backing of our institutions. This has been a popular trend since before the time of Moses, and has not stopped to this very day.

We still send people to war in the name of god and as the enforcers of his will.

Surely, if our god can be vindictive and cruel then we can justify doing the same in his name? Every war that has been fought has had both sides claiming that their god is on their side.

You may argue (as some have) that it is man who has twisted the word of god, and that god does not make wars. But we see clearly that to believe Moses was led by god at every step, is to quell that notion in its tracks. In these first books, it is obvious that god orchestrates the battles himself.

But it’s all in the way you look at it, isn't it? It is a very prevalent fact that every time something happens to people, they automatically say "Thank god". People are very free with attributing all manner of acts to the grace or wrath of god: "It was the will of god..." "God was with me back there." "I couldn't have made it without god being behind me." "I prayed and my prayers were answered."

All of these quotes, in an endless variety, are heard every day on the radio, on TV, and in casual conversation. Yet if you ask the person who has uttered one of these phrases, you find that there was no voice in the back of their head that told them this was the will or work of god.

In fact, most of the time, people are just saying it out of habit. They don't even realize what it is they have said, it is just assumed. Others simply say that it must have been the will of god. They believe so strongly in their god that to think otherwise is simply unthinkable.

It is my contention that this idea has been ingrained in us for so long, that even in the time of Moses, it was considered lunacy to think that we could have had an original good idea on our own. Of course god's hand was in everything we did, he was constantly testing and judging us and guiding us.

If all worked out as we wanted, it was taken as proof that our thought was the word and will of god, and that's how we wrote it down. If we failed, we assumed that we must have done something to anger him, and were being punished. Praising god in writing was only natural because we attributed everything to him.

To me, the most dangerous idea precipitated by fundamentalist Christianity, is that the earth is of little consequence. It is something riddled with sin and it is considered dirty.

The fundamentalists, therefore, have no problem with the slow destruction of the earth. After all, if it is going to be destroyed at any minute by god himself, who cares? When the day comes that god finally makes his presence known, we will all be judged and the worthy among us will be saved.

If natural disaster doesn't wipe us out, eventually, the attitudes espoused by the fundamentalists may. Prophesy has a way of becoming self fulfilling, and if god doesn't come soon, some of the faithful may become restless and help things along a bit.

We have already witnessed the Jones Town incident, Waco and Koresh, and a multitude of other cult activity surrounding the last days. How long can Christians wait?

When the year two thousand comes and goes without a sighting of the Apocalypse, when 2010 comes and goes without incident. What will happen to those that believe God is overdue? Will they wait patiently for the next five billion years, or until our sun enters its red giant phase? Or will they start trying to make the prophecies come true?

I see big problems for fundamentalist Christianity in the future. It may become the enemy of all free thinking people in more ways than one. For instance, Fundamentalist Christianity is not in favor of world unification. It claims that only god will unify the earth, but that the Anti-Christ will attempt unification in the final days. When the trend toward world unification brings us to the point of world government, as I believe it must eventually, who will be named the Anti-Christ?

It is true that in the past, Christianity has brought us some very good tools for survival. It has espoused love for our fellow man, charity for those less fortunate. But now we can see where this faith, in its most fanatic form, may become the rallying point for mass hysteria, fear, and hate. It has happened before. I sighted the many inquisitions, numerous witch hunts, and the crusades. But these were mild compared to what may happen if this religion decides to take an active role in bringing about an apocalypse.

While other religions can be destructive in their own right, the religions that follow the Christian god have a real stake in the end of this planet. While some Christians believe that everyone goes to heaven when they die, and we will all see our loved ones at the pearly gates, fundamentalism believes that heaven is closed until judgment day. Let's hope they let their god do whatever they believe he is planning, and stay out of it. I do believe most of them will, but it only takes one fanatic to end the world as we know it.

I know what my words sound like and I assure you, I am not trying to promote anti religious sentiment or hysteria. The average moderate Christian is a benevolent and loving individual, but the fundamentalists could pose a very real danger to the world. We must be vigilant, but let’s not be stupid. When any new religion comes to light, we are always watchful that it does not turn in to a destructive force. Some have even made a point of intervening and deprogramming cultists that pose a danger to society. In this case, a religion that has helped the world in the past, might become its undoing.

When all is said and done, all religions are cults. The only thing that separates one from the other is its sheer size. If we are talking about the Catholics, we say they are a religion, but if we talk about the Moonies, or Koresh, we say they are cults. But there is really no difference between them except in the size of their following. All religions are cults, just as all cults claim to be religions.

All I am suggesting is that we continue to be tolerant of fundamentalism until we see proof that it is becoming volatile.

In any case, it is the atheist’s duty to make sure we do not become the oppressors, as we have been the oppressed in the past. The free and civil search for knowledge is the right of all mankind and must not be obstructed. Cool, rational, and empathetic minds must prevail.

More by this Author


10 comments

marlanasifter profile image

marlanasifter 5 years ago from Sanford, NC, USA

So true that fundamentalists do not seek to contribute to their community as a whole, or particularly care to unite or better the world. They are involved in their flock, because in the nature of fundamentalism, the flock are the only ones who will become immortal souls and meet again. Of course we must be tolerant, giving them every right to privacy that they give us, but when they step out of bounds, yes, then it's time to call them out and shut them down.

And yes, Thank the gods for hubpages:)


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

I couldn't agree more. Thanks for reading. ;)


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago

I agree with you that the fundamentalist veiw that the earth is of little consequence is a dangerous and sad one. As a Christian i wonder about this one myself, given that so many people connect with God through the beauty of nature. How could any believing person want to remove any avenue to God?

Ann Coulter once made a particularly depressing comment that went something like this: "God gave the Earth to Mankind. That means we can do anything we want with it, rape it, exploit it."

Really? I kind of think God would be annoyed if we trashed his gift. I think Ann would be less than thrilled if her father walked her down the aisle, "gave" her away, and her new husband took this view of things.

I think the biggest division in humanity isn't beleivers vs nonbeleivers, it is the destructive versus the responsible. These are two fundamentally (forgive the term)different drives, arising I believe from different worldviews. The belief that "I don't have to be careful because God is so powerful He can just fix everything" is a deeply childish view. Reminds me of my kids when they were little - if something broke or they lost it, they would expect me to fix or replace the item right away. No responsible adult assumes there is a limitless supply of new "stuff" if they ride roughshod over everything, and I'm not just talking about objects, the same is true for relationships, opportunities in life, ect.

I have a theory about what Jesus' return may look like. I think He will show up, take over, put an end to warfare, violence, ect. Then I think He may take a long look around, pause for effect, and say, "This place is a mess! You kids had better get to work, you have a long way to go."

Some, in shock, will respond, "But aren't You going to get us a new one? Or at least fix this one? You know, with a wave of Your hand?"

Maybe Jesus will pretend He didn't hear that. Maybe on the other hand these people are so dense they need to hear: "I gave you the Earth. That really does mean it it's yours. Clean up included."

Just a theory. Maybe He will reverse pollution and give us back all the lovely things we drove to extinction with our greed and carelessness. -But if they were my kids, I would make them clean it up themselves. They seem to get wiser from that process.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

graceomalley

You are right. Part of the difference between people is their destructive view of the world. To be a tree hugger is a bad thing and to be laughed at. Fundamentalism does that in spades, which is why a lot of atheists have become militant about it all.

It is not the only reason but of many. They include teaching religion in science class, trying to overturn separation of church and state, and taking away civil rights to appease their version of god.

I've said it before. This fight is not between atheists and all believers. It is between rational people and fundamentalists. The non-militant theist and atheist alike get caught in the cross fire.

In a sense it would be nice if moderate Christians and atheists could get together on this. But usually what happens is that when we get together, each side defends their own even if they are being idiots.

There should be a secular lobby formed between atheists and moderate theists against fundamentalist influence in government and elsewhere. All kinds of fundamentalism. They are organized and lobbying, to be sure. Change usually only happens through organization. But such a union wouldn't be easy to accomplish.


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago

I am all for your lobby of the reasonable against the unreasonable. Where do I sign up.

I think separation of church and state is brilliant. I think we don't appreciate its brilliance b/c we are so used to it as a part of our history, but it sets both people of faith and people who don't care to be people of faith free.

I am of the opinion that the biggest mistake in the history of Christianity was becoming the state religion of Rome. I wish the Crusades had carried the banners of Mithras, Mars and Zeus. They were the gods of war, not Jesus.

As a group, we still haven't recovered our purity. As individuals, we just have to hope to.


handyman22 profile image

handyman22 5 years ago from Altamonte Springs, Florida

Enjoyed reading the article and comments. Jesus says, "Give to Ceasar what belongs Ceasar and to God what belongs to God." From this statement, Jesus makes his position clear, that government and God are two different entities. From the beginning of Christianity until the creation of the Bible and beyond, Bishops were paid by the Roman Government. When Constantine appointed these paid Bishops to Nicea the idea was to establish a Christian theology to unite all of the different sects of Christianity. This was the beginning of our theological polarization, to being justified by our own individual theological beliefs, centered around the doctrine established at Nicea. Thus separating instead of uniting. No matter how you look at the earth or this world the opportunity exist to be responsible and take actions to help our environment and each other, separate and destroy each other or some combination of both. The central mantra of the Christian church is to justify yourself in what ever you believe without looking at the ramification of the action of the belief. This of it self creates extremist to the left and right with moderates in the middle moderating or justifying the extremist.


viveresperando profile image

viveresperando 5 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

very interesting and informative... :)


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

graceomalley

I agree that separation of church and state is a brilliant idea. In the US some fundamentalist groups are not so keen on it. Yet it pays to realize that it was religious people who thought about doing that to avoid conflicts. I applaud all the non-fundamentalists of the world.

I think as you say the religions are often tainted with blood and will never regain their purity if they ever had it. But the individuals who believe in them are not tainted by the churches history as far as I am concerned. I know this something many atheists mention often to theists in order to make them see their religion is not all love and light as they seem to think. But really, that's like visiting the sins of the father on the children. I don't think that's right or just.

I also don't think atheism can be blamed for communism even though most communists are atheist. Obviously the majority of atheists are not and had nothing to do with it.

As for Rome. I don't think Christianity would have survived this long without it.

But while Jesus was certainly not a god of war, Yahweh seems to have been, and they have gotten confused over the centuries.


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

handyman22

Well said. ;)


Slarty O'Brian profile image

Slarty O'Brian 5 years ago from Canada Author

viveresperando

Thanks for reading. ;)

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working