Religion, as the late George Carlin would have put it in his blunt, unapologetic style, is ‘just a form of mind-control’. Indeed, it is a form of mind-control that has plagued humanity since the beginning of our history as a species, owing its origins to the very first human minds who tried to explain the phenomena they observed around them. From that point onwards, religion has managed to evolve into a disease that has set back humanity’s progress and permanently damaged and scarred our society for as long as we’ve been around. It is for these reasons that I have chosen to write this article, to point out religion’s biggest flaws and why it has had such an adverse effect on our society:
#8: It gives you a false sense of hope.
Go to a hospital, clinic or any other place where people can be found waiting for a result and you’ll find people praying to one God or the other (that alone already discredits different religions claiming that their faith is the right one to the exclusion of everyone else’s). Is it a bad thing that someone chooses to pray whilst waiting for something which could potentially be life-changing? Not at all; prayer or meditation are spiritual means which people use to calm down and maintain a steady grip on life in dire situations, and I respect that. The actual problem is the feeling of hope which is instilled by prayer, the belief that some divine being will intervene in your life in order to help you. Why would a divine being who, in his omniscience, has already laid out your life plan, listen to your prayer? The worst part of all, however, is when results are favourable to the faithful in question and they choose to thank God for “saving them”; don’t thank your God, because he hasn’t done anything to save you. Your doctors did.
#7: The ridiculous misdistribution of wealth.
This particular entry is very self-explanatory, and the Catholic Church is perhaps the guiltiest of them all on this one. Many religions share this central belief that we should always help the less fortunate and always donate to charities; this is all well and good. However, do you seriously expect me to have faith in your religion when every single church I’ve ever seen in my life had enough gold, silver, ivory and other assorted precious metals to make a pirate’s mouth water? Do you, of all the people in the world, seriously believe that I will give my money to you in order for you to “help” the needy? No thank you, I’ll do it myself if I want to.
Nobody truly knows how bad this particular aspect of religious influence was on our society, but my guess is very bad. Think of all the great works of art that have been thrown out of humanity’s grasp because of religious censorship, of all the brilliant inventors, artists, authors and philosophers whose reputations were ruined because they did not conform to the Church’s beliefs? Think of all the progress humanity could have made if the best minds of all time were not held back by some form of religious authority or the other, and then you’ll begin to truly comprehend the repercussions of censorship.
#5: Discrimination against minorities which fuels division via the false promise of unity.
Religious persecution is perhaps one of humanity’s greatest tragicomedies. It is the hunting of human beings just like you and me on the basis that their faith/lack of it is different from what the prosecuting “authority” believes in, and that’s just wrong. The worst part of it all is that religion is presented as something that unites the faithful into one, large, extended family of sorts, when in reality it only fuels division by promising unity. Not only that, but religious persecution still happens today, and in the eyes of the rational and the logical, it is utterly and completely irrelevant. Even worse is the moral hypocrisy that occurs in front of everyone’s eyes when, for example, the Catholic Church condemns homosexuality when homosexuality and paedophilia are rampant amongst the priests who preach the message of their own church.
#4: Religion is a crutch for the weak-minded and the scared.
It is very common for people to be born into a particular faith without them choosing to do so (in most cases, the faith of the parents is passed on to the children, and so on). The brightest among us normally evaluate the moral implications of this, and either choose to move on from their faith or to accept it for what it is with their own versions and their own interpretations. Unfortunately, most people choose to accept the faith they are born into as the one, ultimate faith to the exclusion of everyone else’s, and that’s where some of humanity’s greatest conflicts have arisen from. It is because of this that we always forget that no matter who we are or where we’re from, we’re all human beings and we’re all equal. We just choose to forget it because religion provides an easier explanation and, more importantly, an excuse to hate. This, in turn, leads to…
#3: Ignorance and the discouragement of rational and critical thought.
To this day, there are people who fully and completely believe that the world was actually created in 7 days and that evolution is a ‘blasphemous’ theory, despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that proves otherwise. Because of this lack of rational and critical thought and the constant pressure made by religion to maintain the faithful flock of sheep ignorant, science, technology and research have always been religion’s biggest victims. This is mostly why I believe religion has held back humanity’s progress; religion provides a convenient, simple explanation of the world and hammers it to the point of indoctrination to the exclusion of that which is actually scientifically proven, and that is completely unacceptable.
“Accept the word of God, or burn in Hell!” Is that a phrase which is all too familiar? Of course it is. What I’ve always questioned about faith is how opportunistic it is; it forces you to be afraid of the repercussions of not accepting it and then, if you still don’t accept it, you’re intimidated by the sheer numbers of people who have already accepted it and thus coaxed into doing so (‘what if Hell actually exists and I’ll be forced to spend the afterlife there instead of Heaven? All those people can’t be wrong!’). This is why religion should be permanently banned and separated from scholastic curriculums unless the student chooses to study the subject, as this serves as a form of indoctrination from a very young age.
The ultimate form of persecution, and the gravest theological failure of religion; war when waged in the name of God. From the 200-year war spanning from the 11th to the 13th Century known as the Crusades, to the genocide which occurs to this day on the same lands but merely under a different banner, billions of innocent human lives have been wasted and destroyed in the name of religion. Imagine how different humanity would have been without religion; imagine the lives that would have been spared and imagine how much better the world could have been. That is why I believe religion is humanity’s biggest plague; that is why, unless we teach ourselves better, our biggest threat is our own ignorance.