A few days ago, one of my friends, while discussing our differing beliefs, wanted to know, “Why do you hate religion so much?” The overtones of confusion and slight disapointment were fascinating.
I told him then, as I will say here now, I do not hate religion. Hate is merely love with its back turned, as Terry Pratchett once put it. I don’t hate anything, really, especially not religion (and not God, to those who might ask the question as, “Why do you hate God?” How can you hate that which does not exist? It’s like hating a tartan penguin).
No, I loathe religion. I detest it utterly and absolutely. I think it is one of the worst, most evil and vile things our species ever invented, and I will explain, predictably at some length, exactly why this is so.
And before we get started, please note, I’m not saying that I loathe people of faith. On the contrary; all my family members are religious to a greater or lesser extent. Heck, my grandfather was heavily involved in his church (and accepted his bisexual grandson without question, cause he thought that was what his faith encouraged him to do, ignoring some of the passages in Leviticus and Romans). But while I love the religious, I despise the religion.
On with the show!
All religions are wrong.
Let’s get the big one out of the way. Unless there’s some proof I’m not aware of, which is always possible, then all religions are wrong. They are, at best, superstitions and at worst are outright lies (Scientology, anyone?). There is no proof of any god, any afterlife, reincarnation, or anything of that nature. None.
Religions encourage people to view themselves as property.
Now, this isn’t the case with all religions, sure. But the Judeo-Christian-Islamic god makes it pretty clear he owns your ass, and can therefore do as he pleases. I’ve had many people use this as an arguement for why we can’t hold God to the same standards of morality as he holds us. Apparently, they view the world as a giant game of The Sims, and God’s the ulimate user (which could mean God’s a 15 year-old boy with bad acne and no social life). If you belong to God, you do not belong to yourself, and that’s just not right.
More evil has been done in the name of religion than anything else.
Very seldom in this world do you have people dying or killing in the name of rationality or science (please, please don’t bring up any tired arguements about Stalin and Mao being atheists. Yes, they were to a point, but only because they wanted no other gods before them). On the other hand, in the news every day there’s stories of people killing and dying because of religion, either theirs or others. This is not healthy and it’s morally reprehensible.
Religion discourages critical thinking.
Naturally, religions don’t want people to engage in critical thinking and a close examination of the evidence for their faith. This is because there isn’t any. The last thing all the priests and ministers want is a flock that thinks for themselves. Even that many use the word “flock” to describe their faithful tells you much of what you need to know. The congregation are the sheep. Sheep are stupid and need someone else to run their lives.
Religion pretends to offer answers to the great questions of life, but doesn’t.
Where did we come from? Where are we going? How will we get there? Will there be lunch provided? Do we get frequent flier miles? All of these are good questions, but religion doesn’t really answer them. The answers they give many times boil down to, “God made us, we’re going where he wants use to go, we’ll get there however he takes us, you won’t get lunch today, but you’ll get the promise of lunch tomorrow, and no, you don’t get frequent flier miles.” These appear to be answers, but aren’t. Not like, for example, “We came from a slow, steady process of evolution over the course of billions of years, we’re going where ever our imaginations take us, we’ll get there in ways you can’t even picture yet, anymore than someone in the 1500’s could’ve pictured the space-shuttle, lunch is available if you make it happen, and yes, frequent-flier miles for everyone (though with blackout dates and restrictions, please see your program agreement for details, offer void in Alaska and Hawaii).” Give me actual answers over platitudes any day.
Religion presents a very warped view of morality.
Specifically here I’m talking about the God of Abraham and his flock (question: if a priest’s mother is in his church, does that make him a mother flocker? Nevermind… that joke was way lame…). When you look at the things God does (destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, fucking with Abraham’s mind by telling him to sacrifice his son, screwing up Job’s existance just to win a bet, telling Joshua to kill every living thing in Jericho, etc, etc), it becomes clear that to follow the example God sets would land you in jail right quick, and deservedly so. The God of the Bible is, frankly, evil, and not someone to admire or emmulate, much less worship.
Religion has, over the millenia, encouraged many evil practices.
Slavery, oppresion of women, murder of people of other faiths, genocide, homophobia… this is a short, very short, list of the things religion has flat-out encouraged over the years. Hell, the Bible encourages all the things on the list there. And you wonder why I might have a problem with it?
This is a far from comprehensive list of why I loathe religion so much. To me the starting point, that it’s build on a foundation of lies and untruths (though possibly with a touch of truthiness added in), is sufficient reason for my loathing. But you add all the other stuff, and it just gets worse and worse.
Don’t we as a species deserve better?