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Christianity &Islam Johnson on 31 Jul 2008 10:27 pm

The case against religion

Two or three times a week, via email or forum posts or comments, a religious person asks, “what do atheists have against religion?” or “why do atheists waste time speaking out against religion?” Four articles on the same day are all arguing against religion, because it appears that religion leads to insanity is some fraction of its members. That insanity affects everyone in remarkably negative ways.

First example:

To beat extremism we must dissolve religious groups

The article opens with a litany of bizarre beliefs held by a sizable fraction of college-bound Muslims in Britain:

A startlingly large proportion of young British Muslims hold what to most of us are outrageous and unacceptable views – views that they consider to be Muslim truths.

Four out of 10 Muslim students in Britain support the introduction of sharia into UK law for Muslims, according to a YouGov poll. Almost a third of them said that killing in the name of religion was justified; 40% said they felt it was unacceptable for Muslim men and women to associate freely; and nearly a quarter do not think that men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah.

A quarter of Muslim students said they had little or no respect for homosexuals. As for whether British Muslim servicemen should be allowed to opt out of hostilities with Muslim countries, 57% said they should and a further 25% said they were not sure.

More than half of the Muslim students were in favour of an Islamic political party to support their views in parliament. A third don’t think or don’t know whether Islam is compatible with the western notion of democracy, and a third said they were in favour of a worldwide Islamic caliphate based on sharia.

Note that these are the opinions of people attending “the best universities and higher education colleges”. Almost a third of them said that “killing in the name of religion was justified.” That alone should give everyone pause. If there were a gang where one third of the members advocated murder, what would we do? Why do we treat relision any differently?

Second example:

From Turkey to Germany to the States, religious people are intent on taking us back to the middle ages

From the article:

The asymmetry is stark. Secularists say, “believe whatever nonsense you want, but keep it to yourself and act responsibly”. The [religious] say, “believe what we want you to believe and act as we say”. The psychopaths among them say, “believe what we want you to believe and act as we say or we will kill you”.

Third example:

Despite Overwhelming Evidence, Creationists Cling to Unreality

The title says it all, and the problem is that the stupidity of Creationism drags us all down by slowing science.

Fourth example:

Son of Hamas leader converts to Christianity, denounces Islam

It contains this charming quote:

“You Jews should be aware: You will never, but never have peace with Hamas. Islam, as the ideology that guides them, will not allow them to achieve a peace agreement with the Jews. They believe that tradition says that the Prophet Mohammed fought against the Jews and that therefore they must continue to fight them to the death.”

Is that the justification for the suicide attacks?

“More than that. An entire society sanctifies death and the suicide terrorists. In Palestinian culture a suicide terrorist becomes a hero, a martyr. Sheikhs tell their students about the ‘heroism of the shaheeds.’“

This is why atheists spend time and energy speaking out against religion. Religion hurts everyone. It seems like it is time to admit the obvious – that believing in and speaking to imaginary beings is a form of mental illness, and this illness can lead to extreme behaviors that damage society as a whole. These articles offer plenty of evidence demonstrating the problem.

2 Responses to “The case against religion”

  1. on 02 Aug 2008 at 1:07 am 1.charlie said …

    it’s crappy what people do to each other, but lets not forget human nature-
    people will be killing each other over nothing with or without religious motivation, it’s in our genes i think

    and i think most atheists are evangelical because they’re 14, they listen to disturbed (or insert your angry black t shirt band here) and want to piss their parents of by picking a fight with the bible crowd
    i find it disheartening that many of the older people seem to have more or less the same attitude

    i don’t see a reason to simply demolish religion, like every other human idiosincracy it has it’s good and bad points
    the problems stem from *fascism* *dogmatism* or *zeal*
    a person doesn’t have to believe in god to be killing someone from a different part of town
    and he doesn’t need divine sanction to treat his wife like shit

    maybe all the atheists who can quote the bible and use it to their advantage better than a southern christian reich preacher should be investing their time in to publicizing more and more accounts of the benevolence, selflessness, and pacifism of the most quoted prophet in the kuran
    one of my heroes (even if i think he’s fictional)
    good ol’ jc

  2. on 03 Aug 2008 at 11:22 am 2.Myron said …

    Hey Charlie:

    “Most atheists”?

    What I like about your post is that it recognizes that every idea has its good and bad points. Why not recognize the same about atheism? I also agree with your idea that it’s not right to attempt to destroy religion. I think the viewpoint on this site is that the source of all of the bad things about religion is the fact that it requires people to suspend logical thought and believe in things that don’t make sense. Once you start doing that, it’s a lot easier for someone (a “southern Christian reich preacher”, if you will) to come along and fill people’s heads with damaging ideas. So they see strict adherence to logic and rationality as a defense against the evil things that have been done in the name of religion, and if throwing out some of the good things that go with religion is required in order to get people to adopt a rational mindset, some of the people on this site would regard this as simply the (much, much) lesser of two evils.

    I am trying to build a consensus around a set of ideas that are rationally based, while recognizing that religion has some valuable insights to contribute. I’ve just atarted a blog to discuss my ideas. If you would like to join the discussion, head on over to evolutionisgod.blogspot.com. There is also a forum attached to the Why Won’t God Heal Amputees blog. If you would like to convince some of the atheists who run it that your viewpoint has value, that is the place to go. The link to the forum is along the right hand side of this screen.

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