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Religion - Fairy Tales For Adults
Note: This hub will use Christianity as an example because it is both the easiest and most succinct method of portraying my point and also has the most real life implications (Christianity being the religion with most adherents).
Following a discussion with what has to be the most rational theist I have ever encountered, I learned from her that she believes in the Bible, as many Christians do, only to the extent that it provides a moral guideline that is not offered anywhere else.
Though there are many problems with this.
Feel free to leave a comment at the end of the article voicing any concerns or compliments you may have.
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A Type of Liberal Christianity
-As a theistic Christian you do not believe a large part of the bible (the old testament).
-You do not believe that the events of the bible were meant to be taken literally.
-You see intrinsic value in the bible as a guideline for behaviour found (at least predominantly) in the stories of Jesus (not say, the Old Testament and its slavery and hatred).
Therefore, I can assume that (addressing to the points in order):
- You believe that the bible should be re-written to contain only the moral and useful parts of the bible (not say, the mosaic laws) so that way there would be an en masse non-"TLDNR" version so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of the Bible without filtering through the immoral parts.
- You believe that there should be a disclaimer at the beginning of the book reading "WARNING: content is fictional, any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental" or perhaps "Based on a true story" if you so believe.
- Finally you believe that what the bible teaches is a better moral guideline then say a philosopher's book, education or book on morality.
(TDLNR = Too Long Did Not Read)
So to take these points and put my own conclusion on them:
The positive position of Christianity (and other religions) within our society is essentially what can be called "fairy tales for adults" wherein the stories are believed to be fictional, though carry a very important message. This is believed to be positive because some people pass the judgement that there is no existing alternative of adult based morals.
Allow me to pass this judgement about these christians however. It seems to me, that any adult who decides to turn to the bible for moral guidance is already a good and moral human being. The fact that you took the step to become more moral suggests that you wanted confirmation of your own morals. You did not have to be taught that murder is (usually) wrong and that lying is bad, or the urges you had for the neighbour's wife may have been inappropriate, you just wanted something to reinforce the idea, which happened to be the bible.
But what about a friend? Or any book about philosophy and morality in existence. These also feature stories of morality and would have reinforced these moral foundations of yours. It seems to me that you value religion on the basis that it helped you to some degree.
I devalue religion because I believe that the one positive that it provides (moral guidance) is flawed from the start (it's deontology) and therefore should be replaced by an alternative. Utilitarianism.
You might say that you must "work with what I've got" so If I were to ask you "should we try and replace religion" I can only assume that your answer would be "yes". That to me seems paired with the question "is religion good?" and the answer "no".
When there are working alternatives (atheists can be very moral people too, without having to read tomes containing lot's of gibberish), shouldn't we as rational human beings diverge the funds, donations, buildings, facilities etc. of religion to moral education ?
An Extreme Analogy
Religion is much like a politician saying "killing 100,000 people in London has positive and negative points because although it will kill a lot of people and cause pain and confusion amongst the masses, it solves over-crowdedness in London". This would be a true statement If not for the fact that there are ready and better alternatives. Therefore, the first option is obsolete and wholly negative. With the same facilities and resources used in the first option, we could produce the same or better results, without the downsides (contraception, state imposed child limit, emigrating 100,000 people instead).
With religion, it's clear that it has positives. It provides a (albeit questionable) guidance of living. I would not say that the teachings of Jesus are immoral. But neither would I say it's a complete or absolute morality. Our view of morality should be able to change because Jesus' way may not be the best one. A fixed morality is destined to fail, because circumstances change unpredictably.
For example, the ten commandments, which many people seem to love, are all very questionable and interpretable. Killing can be the moral thing to do in many cases.
In essence, I feel that religion should be replaced by secular education because from what I know, a secular person is more than capable of finding morals through general education, without suffering the many downsides of following a religion.
Keep in Mind
In this hub, I have used Christianity as the basis of my argument. Please bear in mind that christianity is arguably the most moral religion of all, and it still has problems.
Other religions like Islam and Judaism are systematically even more immoral by modern standards (Stoning, Mosaic Law etc.).
Please feel free to comment :)