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Should Religion Be Abandoned?

Updated on August 12, 2014


Imagine, for an instance, you're a peasant in 1100 AD being forced to fight in the crusades. You, and sometimes your family, would have to die for a faith you might not even believe in. You would have to leave your land, your farm, and everything you knew to be thrust into a chaotic new world full of violence. The chances that you would die for this noble cause are far from negligible. Imagine, now, that you are a young Jewish person during WWII being taken from home. You're being separated from your family, having all your possessions taken, having your head shaved, and receiving a tattoo to label yourself. You're forced to do hard laborious work, starve nearly, or completely, to death, and if you're not dead by this point you could be killed by gassing or some other torturous method. All of this for one groups idea of a noble cause. Imagine you are one of the people trapped in the twin towers after they've been hit by an airplane. You have no escape, no chance, and death is imminent because of a groups noble cause. You have been just another victim of a religion. These victims are because of one man, one group, or one nation's noble cause derived from religious belief. Had we never invented religion, these things wouldn't have happened. If we get rid of it now, we can stop history from repeating itself. Even though there is some evidence that supports a belief in a god, and religious groups may help their community, religious people should abandon their beliefs because it promotes ignorance, it can be financially detrimental, and it is immoral.

Nearly everyone in the world wants something to believe in. People need explanations for what they can't understand or explain. People don't want to just live or die for no reason. They all want a purpose for their life. There is an answer to all these people's problems and questions: religion. Religion tends to answer all of these unanswerable questions. Religion usually includes some supreme being(s) or deity and a set of rules and beliefs. Religions have been around for thousands of years. They've been slowly getting more popular and elaborate since their creation. In 2005, 85.4% of the world held some sort of religion (“Religion” 282). Judaism, the oldest still-common religion, has been around for about 4,000 years (“Judaism” 380). Hinduism, the third most popular religion, has been around for approximately 3,500 years (“Hinduism” 521). The three most popular religions are Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism according to The Encyclopedia of Britannica. There are two billion people (33.1% of the world's population) who would consider themselves Christians, making it the worlds most popular religion (“Religion” 282). The Islamic religion follows Christianity with over one billion people (20.3% of the world's population) who call themselves Muslims (“Religion” 282). That leaves Hinduism as third with over 860 million people (13.3% of the world's population) who identify themselves as Hindus (“Religion” 282). Only 14.2% of the world does not hold a religion, of which 2.3% consider themselves atheists– the other 11.9% being simply not religious (“Religion” 282). Which gives atheism just about 150 millions members.

Religion Causes Ignorance

First off, religious people are ignorant of a lot of scientific facts, and faith in these religions spread their ignorance. In “Atheism Rising” by James Allan Cheyne, he states that people are noticing a rise in IQ, a fall in religion, and “the negative correlation between intelligence and religious belief” (33). He also notes that 95% of the National Science Academy are atheists (34). Religions have been around for thousands of years, but in that time span dogmatic believe has had a tendency to be stagnant and and unchanging. We have gained a wealth of knowledge about space, nature, and all sorts of sciences since the beginning of these major religions. Since religious people don't want to admit that their belief systems and sacred documents have faults, they can't accept these scientific facts. If religions don't accept these facts, people who follow these dogmas will be ignorant of the way the world truly works. Basically, a god is just a way to explain a gap in knowledge, or what is, at the time, is unexplainable. When people didn't understand what lightning was or how it was formed, they assumed it was a higher being, such as Zeus. We have found people attributing the unexplainable to supreme deities for thousands of years. It's a very common explanation for the creation of both Earth and the universe. When we eventually learn the truth about these things through science, they aren't always accepted very easily either. If a religion has too much power, speaking out against its beliefs, even with strong scientific evidence, can get a person into a lot of trouble. For example, now, nearly everyone know that the earth revolves around the sun, but this wouldn't be the case if religion could completely dominate science. When people started to realize that Earth wasn't the center of the universe, they weren't allowed to publish or share their findings because it would get them into trouble with the church and could potentially result in the scientists death. God has been the explanation for rain, sunlight, and wind; bad luck, good luck, and fate; and even people, plants, and animals. Evolution is scientifically proven, but many people refuse to believe what is in front of them because it goes against their religion. There are many other such cases of what is proven, but unaccepted by people because of their religion. These ill-conceived doctrines need to end, so we can all, regardless of religion, be educated people.

Many Dogmas are Inherently Flawed

Continuing with the ignorance of religion is the illogical parts of many of the belief systems associated with certain religions. If you evaluate and think about certain aspects of some religions, or the deity of those religions, it won't add up. For example, most religions consider their deity to be omnipotent, or all-powerful. The concept of omnipotence is logical impossibility. Ask the simple question, “can God create a hole too deep for him to jump out of?” Thinking about this, he either has to fail at creating the hole or fail at jumping out of the whole. If you pit God against his/herself he has to fail in someway. Another common belief is that a deity is omniscient or all-knowing. Which, isn't a logical paradox by itself, but it is if that religion also has free-will for it's members. If a god is omniscient, then that god would know everything, including the future. If that god knew the future that your path is predetermined, and you wouldn't be able to deviate from that path. Also, in specific religions, such as Christianity, there are aspects of the Bible that don't make sense. The story of Noah's Ark for example, raises some questions. The most obvious question being, “how did he get two of every animal?” How did only two animals repopulate the entire earth of that animal, and how did they get to every continent? There are millions of types of insects. How did he get every single one? Another question this story raises is about the repopulation of human life. Supposedly Noah had a wife and some already married sons on the boat. To repopulate they are either going to have to mate with their first cousins, father/mother, aunt/uncle, or grandmother/grandfather. There are many cases like this within all religions. We need to think about these things with at least a mild form a common sense and realize that these stories can not be accurate.

Seems reasonable...
Seems reasonable...

Religion Can be Financially Detrimental

Second, religion can be financially detrimental to it's followers. Every year people donate money to their church's cause. Church funds aren't always optional either. Church's have been known to tax their members. Some religions such as Scientology, do charge their followers. According to James Standish's article “Is Scientology a Religion?” Scientology requires it's members to take courses that “cost anywhere from $200 to $1,000 an hour, with special training courses costing $12,000 and up” (15). Every year Islamic people pay for expensive flights to Mecca. These expenses are unnecessary and could be ended if we withdraw our faith in religion. Churches, albeit very beautiful pieces of architecture, can be highly expensive. This money has to come from somewhere. It comes from the followers of these religions. Times are tough as it is, and people are looking for ways to save money in all places. People can cut off their expensive religious habits and save a bit of cash.

Vatican City: Brought to you by the spoils of war.
Vatican City: Brought to you by the spoils of war.

Religion is Immoral

Finally, religion is immoral. Theists might say that atheist are immoral, but this is not the case. When an atheist does something kind or helpful for another person, it is of no reward accept the satisfaction of helping. When a theist does good, they have an ulterior motive. In many religions, if you do not live your life in accordance to the dogma, you are like condemned in your current or “after-life.” These theist do things for a reward, such as the seventy-two virgins in the Islamic religion, or a heaven-type place for after-life. Also, just because someone is a very religious person doesn't make them a good person, contrary to popular belief. Religious leaders can be very corrupt. They can use their followers faith for sex, money, and power. Every one has heard of the many cases of priests sexually assaulting young boys. L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, according to Forbes, would be high on the list of the wealthiest 400 people in the world (Standish 15). These are people that most would consider to be good, honest, followers of God. Religion has also been the cause of many deaths and wars. The Crusades, which took place hundreds of years ago,is said to be on of the most brutal wars ever fought. During this war, the French, fighting for their religious cause, tortured and killed their enemy in some of the most horrific ways imaginable. The Nazi's, during WWII, killed over six million Jewish people. This is the biggest genocide of recorded history. This isn't exactly just because of a different belief system like many of the religious caused wars, but because of a stereotype of Jews running all the banks during Germany's economic downfall because of the previous world war. Without religion this stereotype could not have been created. Even today groups like Al-Queda start problems because of religious belief. They made an attack on The World Trade Centers, and as result of that people die daily fighting in Afghanistan. Many people have done terrible things because a god has told them to. The following information was provided, in detail by the PBS film Jonestown: The Life and Death of The People's Temple. There was once a priest who had many followers that loved him dearly. He convinced many people that he was a great man. Underneath his gentle facade, was a terrible man with grave intentions .He told his followers that they should take their families, come with him, and move away from their homes. He slowly started to show his true colors. He began to beat and sexual assault his followers. He killed a senator who tried to stop this group. The town he created for his followers: Jonestown. The priests name: Jim Jones. He convinced nearly all of his hundreds of followers to drink poison. The people he couldn't convinced, he forced. This resulted in the death of 913 people, including many children. Some of the worst thing that have been done, are done because of what people consider good intentions. Not only do acts of violence come out of religion, but exclusion too. Many religious groups have been known to exclude people who don't share their beliefs. People of all religions should be able to commingle together, but seeing as this is not likely, we should abandon religion for this reason and previously stated reasons.

Is there evidence to support dogma?

Many people argue that there is strong evidence that shows that their deity exists. A common example is that every year many people have some sort of religious experience. Many people claim that God has talked to them, a demon has possessed them, or that an unexplainable miracle has happened. Another common belief is that the world is just too complex. People look around and say, there is no way this could've just happened. Someone or something beyond our imagination must have created it. There is also written history that shows so-called evidence of God. People see texts of miracle performed by Jesus Christ, son of God, who has supposedly done things no normal human could have done.

All of these things are explainable with logic and science. I will start with how complex the world is and how living things are so perfect for survival on this planet. Living things are complex because they have been evolving for millions of years. They have been very slowly mutating and passing on their genetic codes. People wouldn't look at a puddle of water and say, “wow, this hole was created perfectly for that exact amount of water.” The water has been made to fit the hole, not the other way around. Just the same for life; it has adapted to make itself better for its environment. All of these things happen very gradually. Another claim is that all of these all of these religious experiences are too common to be hoaxes, mistakes, or just insane people. People have experiences all the time that can be just hallucinations or their mind playing tricks on them. People also fake things like this. The more someone hears and thinks about something happening, the more likely they are to think it is actually happening. If a person hears that there are thousands of sighting of Big Foot in a certain area, and they decide to go there, there is a decent chance they will see something that they claim to be Big Foot. It could start with one hallucination or hoax and spread to many others who just have a popular idea in their head. People like Jesus― who was probably a real person, but only a person― could have just been a very convincing showman. If people like Jim Jones or Charles Manson can convince people in modern day society that they are a chosen one with a message from God, then someone two-thousand years ago could have. It's just a matter of convincing enough people by telling them what they want and need to hear. All of these claims are explainable if they are thought about logically.

Try it.
Try it.

Is Religion Helpful?

Another reason people think religion should stick around is because it helps people in their community. Very often religious groups start donations to clean up cities and help troubled kids, or adults, with problems. Lots of people claim to have been straightened out by a religious group, and many communities do greatly benefit from religion affiliated groups.

There are many means of help, though, that doesn't come with all of the negative baggage previously stated. It shouldn't matter if you're being helped by a religious or non-religious group. There are family oriented groups that can help people with problems. There are many people who are willing to donate their time to clean up their city. There are tons of non-religious charities that donate to the same causes. If we, as a society, abandon religion for all the reasons stated, these things won't become a problem because there are many other groups willing to help.

So What?

After all of this evidence, it's very easy to just ask, “what if you're wrong?” This is a good escape route for people who want to cling to their religious beliefs, but it too is logical fallacy. Atheists actually have a better chance of being right. An atheists chances of being right are 50/50: either there is or isn't a god. People who follow religious beliefs are much smaller. Think of all the different religions, and sects of each religion: there are thousands of them. What if one of them is right. The odds of any of them being right is one in some odd thousands. We have now seen that religion is unlikely, costly, and corrupt. Many people have been damaged by religion in a variety of ways. People have been ignorant, close minded, and thickheaded; swindled, robbed, and duped; killed, massacred, and tortured because of religious belief. I have one final thought: imagine a world without religion. It would be a world where no one is persecuted for a belief that is probably untrue, a world with considerably less, if any, war. This Secular World I dream of would be safer. We would live in a world where science and fact dominates assumption and superstition. This Secular World I dream of would be smarter. We would live in a world where everyone would help anyone regardless of belief. This Secular World I dream of would be more united. This is the world I would like to bestow the future: a safer, smarter, and more united world – A Secular World. This Secular World I dream of would be better. Every person that abandons their belief of an almighty supreme being who controls everything is a step closer to This Secular World I dream of.

“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. Once you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

-Stephen Roberts


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