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.