Friday, September 10, 2010

On Criticizing Your Faith

It is still widely considered inexcusable to criticize anyone else's religious beliefs. It's time that we as a society reexamine this attitude. In the West, there is a segment of the citizenry that is powerful and noisy, although I'm not sure I know how large it is, and I am sure that I don't care, as I am convinced that it's quite possible, even likely, for billions of people to be preposterously wrong. Just look at how long it took us to reach a general consensus that the earth is a sphere and not a slab of rock riding on the back of a giant turtle.

The segment I am talking about is guilty of a long list of egregious offenses against civilization; I'll focus on just one of these outrages. These people have wasted countless tax dollars clogging up our courts in numerous attempts to force public schools to teach their creation myths in science class. They support and promote so-called museums dedicated to these myths, in at least 14 states in the U.S. alone, misleading millions of children and adults with blatant, ridiculous lies. They maintain and contribute to myriad news outlets and websites that confuse and mislead the intellectually vulnerable. They tarnish the images of knowledge, education, and science, making it appear unseemly, often even depraved, for us to explore our environment with a spirit of open inquiry. They lead otherwise bright, vibrant minds to reject the obvious truth and instead waste away, squandering their vigor on the constant extension of labyrinthine doctrinal back roads that lead not to anything edifying, but instead to a perverse, upside-down pseudo-morality that makes sex a crime and torture an act of righteousness.

Sadly, you vast majority of this section of Western society don't realize how deluded you are. You're just average people trying to keep food on the table and hoping that the world won't destroy your children. You sincerely believe that you're doing the right thing, standing up for what's right in spite of constant disapproval from your critics. Not so your leaders. The captains of media outlets, websites, creationism museums; the high-profile radio pundits; the publishers; the owners of the so-called institutes and universities; these people are not deluded. They are fleecing you. Religion is enabling them to do it, by giving you permission to shut down your mind such that it can be used as a tool by greedy cynics. Trust me, these people don't believe a word of what they're saying. They just want your money, and they are ruining you and our society to get it.

Really, what you believe is your business. Worship whatever you want. If your beliefs don't affect me or society adversely, then really, I could not possibly care less what goes on between you and any spirit realm that might be out there. I do what I'm doing not because I dislike you, or enjoy telling you that you're stupid, or believe that you're immoral. I do this because religion is killing us. You, me, all of us. It ruins individual lives, it ruins society, it catalyzes the proliferation of snake-oil salespersons, it hides the truth.

I have high hopes for the human race; I really do. I can imagine us growing to a point where we can control stars, even galaxies, even space-time itself. I still hold out hope that one day humans will discover what we really are, what the universe really is. Our cosmology and quantum physics are great, and they tell us a lot, but they still don't answer the question that frequently seizes me: what the hell? I believe that humans can one day answer that question. But not if we continue to be held back by religion, believing that someone already knows the answer, that someone is out there taking care of everything, that remaining in the dark is a virtue.

Religion must be criticized, scrutinized, sanitized. As you sincerely believe that you are doing the right thing, so do we believe that we are doing the right thing. We have to do it. We must speak out against religion, at least the more virulent strains, those that threaten our very existence, and I hope that you'll notice that I'm not primarily talking about those who murder in the name of religion. We must speak out especially against those who are using religion against you more decent believers in order to suck your blood. Let's find a way to tame religion, to make it safe so we can once again deem it impolite to criticize each other's spiritual beliefs.

No comments:

Post a Comment