Ten Clues Your Religion Might Be BS
For those who've spent a lifetime embracing a particular religious creed, it may be difficult to understand how anyone else could find it wanting. However, if you can see your own religion reflected in the following clues, you may begin to perceive that what you've believed all this time is actually just a load of BS:
CLUE ONE: IT THREATENS YOU. The only thing worse than suffering extreme physical torture is to endure such torture for an eternity. Fear of such a maliciously compounded threat is a powerful motivation, and it's no accident that the world's major religions regularly employ the threat of Hell in a heinous attempt to coerce those who don't embrace their doctrine. Yet such threats are a poor substitute for a convincing philosophy. As Emerson once reminded us, knowledge is the antidote to fear.
CLUE TWO: IT WANTS YOU ON YOUR KNEES. Some religions tell us we're born broken, and that the only way to heal ourselves is to kneel with our eyes closed, or with our forehead to the ground. Obedience to God is demanded, and respect for the authority of priests, ayotollahs and popes is expected. But, like every other living thing on planet Earth, we are children of the stars, made of the elements formed in stellar explosions. It's human nature to grativate toward those magnificent origins -- to get off our knees, stand up and reach back to the stars.
CLUE THREE: IT WANTS YOUR MONEY. A fundamental theme of religions is that God exists in a realm separate from ours, and the nominal focus is presumably on our journey to someday reach that heavenly realm. However, there is a much more obvious emphasis placed on enriching and enlarging the worldly domains of those who lead religions here on Earth. The tithe and the collection plate have transformed religion into one of humanity's most prolific and profitable industries.
CLUE FOUR: IT DOESN'T WANT YOU TO THINK. One of the most reliable precepts of reason is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. As rational beings, we consistently employ such skepticism in the pursuit of truth, knowledge and understanding -- EXCEPT within the realm of religion, where blind faith and trust in divine authority are paramount. Not coincidentally, one of the most universal and essential attributes of religions is a mythology based upon miraculous or supernatural events -- the very sort of extraordinary claims that, in all other instances, demand skepticsm.
CLUE FIVE: IT'S MORALLY INCONSISTENT. It's an article of faith among believers that their religion gives them a moral compass, but in most cases it simply isn't true. Among the thousands of rules found in "holy" texts, there is usually only ONE immutable dictate -- absolute obedience to God -- and it has nothing to do with morals. EVERYTHING else -- hatred, deceit, theft, slavery, rape, torture and even war and murder -- is often arbitrarily sanctioned or even encouraged by God according to his whim. Ultimately, there is only ONE genuine foundation for human morality: empathy for others.
CLUE SIX: IT'S DIVISIVE. Of all the sectarian differences that divide humanity, none have universally inspired more passion, hatred and conflict than religion, and none are more difficult to reconcile. When the stakes are heaven and hell, when the world is divided into believers and infidels, bigotry comes easy and compromise doesn't. Yet no definition of identity is more artificial, truly existing only as a mental imprint bestowed by the geographic accident of one's birth, through the customs and traditions of one's family and society.
CLUE SEVEN: IT HATES HUMAN SEXUALITY. Sexual intimacy and intercourse are among the most natural -- and the most physically, emotionally and spiritually fulfilling -- expressions of bonding between human beings. Yet many religions devote a great deal of attention to controlling and suppressing human sexuality. And it's symptomatic that the most popular religions, created and dominated by men, are distinctly misogynistic, where women -- maligned as potential vessels of evil -- are considered as inferior to men as men are to God.
CLUE EIGHT: ITS "HOLY" BOOK IS A MESS. Though they form the very foundation of their religions (and are supposedly the inspired word of "God"), most contemporary "holy" books are extremely poor examples of literature: muddled narratives full of contradictions and inconsistencies that are difficult to read and understand. They are often so incoherent they can be interpreted to accommodate any personal ideological preference, which perhaps helps explain why they are the most widely printed and distributed -- and arguably the least thoroughly read -- books on Earth.
CLUE NINE: YOU HAVE TO RATIONALIZE IT. Explaining away the glaring inconsistencies and confusing paradoxes of most religions often requires logical and semantic contortions that would be the envy of any olympic gymnast. Apologists often expend significant time and effort deflecting such quandaries without actually considering their validity. If a religion truly reflected the revealed wisdom of a divine deity, it would be brilliantly unambiguous, consistent, concise and require no excuses, corrections or intellectual dishonesty.
CLUE TEN: IT'S FULL OF HYPOCRITES. The world is full of believers who proclaim a particular faith then proceed to violate its supposed tenents: For example, those who claim to speak for Jesus but ignore his discouragement against material wealth; those who assert the glory of jihad...for everyone but themselves; those who encourage others to "trust" in God, then procede to rig the game of life in their own favor; adulterers and closeted perverts who preach "family values"; and by far the most numerous -- those who apply skepticism to every religion but their own.