Response to a question "How would our world be like without religion?"
If only religions didn’t preach intolerance and dislike of others who don’t believe as they do the world would certainly be a better place. Remember that religion is a business. Religion has brands just like products, and the leaders have to sell that brand to keep their business going.
If you were Ford, would you say that Chevy buyers made a good choice?
If you were Burger King, would you say that the food was just as good at Taco Bell?
No. You would say that your brand is the only one to buy. The same goes for religions. They don’t have a physical product or service, only an idea of spirituality to grasp. They have to plant the seed that only their religion is correct. With an actual product, the consequence of buying the wrong brand will be evident in the quality or failure to work properly.
With religion we won’t know the consequence (if any) of choosing the wrong one till we are dead. Religion can’t build brand loyalty through performance of the product. A food item can taste good, a car can run well, religion just gives you a feeling. So religious leaders have to promise eternal damnation if you select the other religions or they will lose customers.
McDonalds does not say “Eat burgers – we don’t care which ones” – they say “Our burgers are best”. Some religions go so far as to tell their followers that the other religions are evil and go against the teachings of God. That can make people do bad things.
Reality is that religious choice is mostly an accident of birth. Most people follow whatever they were raised to believe and not many switch brands. Some drop out of religions because they don’t feel like religion is good for them, but in some cases that can result in death. Mostly, it’s not much of a deliberate choice so any religion that claims their followers had some kind of awakening or enlightenment that drove them to join are fooling themselves.
Religious books (and I won’t mention them by name) are written by people. They are not God’s words or laws. Those people may have been very spiritual or have good intentions but they were playing God at best. I have nothing against those that teach us to be loving and better people but they don’t stop there unfortunately.
By the way, politicians are no better. They stir up hate and intolerance to protect their brand and often use religion as a tool to get votes while their actual actions favor only their donors and lobbyists.
So would the world be better without religion. Can’t say one way or the other. Humans are aggressive animals. We might use religion today to control others or drive hate and violence but if that is human nature, won’t we just find some other reason? Race, ethnicity, sexual preference, and even which football team you root for have fueled hatred in the past.
Maybe educating young people to be tolerant of others and appreciate differences rather than disapproving of them is a better long term plan. Hey, that’s a good job for religion!
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