Religion: The proof is so not in the pudding…



From Greta Christina

So what is it about religion that’s so harmful?

I’ve argued many times that religion is not only mistaken, but does more harm than good. But why do I think that is?…

I’m realizing that everything I’ve ever written about religion’s harm boils down to one thing.

It’s this: Religion is ultimately dependent on belief in invisible beings, inaudible voices, intangible entities, undetectable forces, and events and judgments that happen after we die.

It therefore has no reality check.

And it is therefore uniquely armored against criticism, questioning, and self-correction. It is uniquely armored against anything that might stop it from spinning into extreme absurdity, extreme denial of reality … and extreme, grotesque immorality.

(I can hear the chorus already. “But not all religion is like that! Not all believers are crazy extremists! Some religions adapt to new evidence and changing social mores! It’s not fair to criticize all religion just because some believers do bad things!” I hear you. I’ll get to that at the end, after I make my case.)

The Proof Is Not in the Pudding

The thing that uniquely defines religion, the thing that sets it apart from every other ideology or hypothesis or social network, is the belief in unverifiable supernatural entities. Of course it has other elements — community, charity, philosophy, inspiration for art, etc. But those things exist in the secular world, too. They’re not specific to religion. The thing that uniquely defines religion is belief in supernatural entities. Without that belief, it’s not religion.

And with that belief, the capacity for religion to do harm gets cranked up to an alarmingly high level — because there’s no reality check.

Any other ideology or philosophy or hypothesis about the world is eventually expected to pony up. It’s expected to prove itself true and/or useful, or else correct itself, or else fall by the wayside. With religion, that is emphatically not the case. Because religion is a belief in the invisible and unknowable — and it’s therefore never expected to prove that it’s right, or even show good evidence for why it’s right — its capacity to do harm can spin into the stratosphere…

Full article here

One Comment

Resolve as I have to avoid sinking into this sort of “quagmire”, I can’t help but make the point that “religion” is not the corpus of the “beliefs”, the dogma, the implications of assorted true/false statements. Religion is the collective phenomenon of the believers reinforcing themselves by hiding within social entities whose primary function is to further energize the closing of ranks against objectivity. So, to put it just a little more simply, religion is the institution carrying the burden of untested belief systems. Professions of faith are as much a phenomenon of “group think”, “group faith”, “group loyalty”, as they are, let’s say, personal miracles. Check that word out, hah hah! Miracles, as Woo Woo about the unexpected and unpredicted. I’m out of here now!!