Societies Biggest Failure is Religion
“Religion is capable of driving people to such dangerous folly that faith seems to me to qualify as a kind of mental illness”- Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist, former professor at Oxford, and author. Religion is the root of much of western civilization. Many nations today were united or formed under religious pretenses, such as England, Spain, France, Germany, and even the United States. Religion played a major part in raising these countries to become what we consider “world powers.” But, although religion comes with great power, it also comes with an even greater responsibility, one which has not at all been properly managed. This has led to religion being the root of all evil in our society, rather than the root of all good. Religion commonly stirs hate among the different groups in the United States, while seamlessly, blatantly ignoring scientific facts and holding back our societies technological advances, along with stopping people with different ideas from joining the power structure of society to make it better rather than worse.
“The world is divided into men who have wit and no religion and men who have religion and no wit” – Avicenna. In today’s America and other western cultures, religion breeds a serious case of tribalism. The United States is built on freedom for all and freedom of beliefs, but that is not what is practiced in today’s society. Even today religion is still partially successful in restricting freedom and stopping people who do not have the same religion from being accepted. In America, abortion is an argument in which religion is a large part of. Constantly religious excuses are used to restrict a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body. It is also clear that, even though we claim to be a freedom of religion state, many religions are not accepted in everyday life by many Americans. The heavy Christian influence on this nation discriminates against people who are practicing Muslims. This leads to violence and hostilities on both sides. People of the Islamic faith who take their religion to the extreme have been responsible for many bombings and attacks such as 9/11 purely in the name of their religion. But they are not the only religious terrorists. There have been many attacks by Christian terrorists, in the name of their religion, against places of worship in the United States. One of the more famous ones took place in South Carolina in a church where 8 people were shot and killed.
How it works
Religion also divides people because it is often not held to the same scrutiny as any other belief is, and the people inside of the belief are not held to the scrutiny of the rest of our society. In these ways it causes violence and division on a nationwide level with terrorism and things like that, but it also does it in everyone’s everyday life in many ways. People in many ways are looked down upon for doing certain things that are seen as “sinful” or against the religion of someone. In the United States and most of Europe this is referring to the sins of the Christian faith, since that is the majority. For example, people who have children and aren’t married are constantly scrutinized by religious people and looked down upon. The hypocrisy of the church, who preach that it’s God’s will to help people, but yet are against helping the refugees fleeing to our nation for help at this very minute. Catholic priests who have been responsible for the sexual abuse and assault of young boys, yet some have been forgiven by the church. These un-checked hypocrisies are the ones that lead to hostilities and violence in our societies.
Religion is a strong divider in today’s society; it is a large part of why countries as a whole have such a tough time uniting. It’s born out of the fact that they believe their god is better than everyone else’s god and that it’s their job to make you believe in the “correct” god when it comes religious relations in the United States. Karl Marx held a firm belief that religion was a serious divider and one of the main reasons the human race as a whole is “held back” from its full potential. Marx said, “religion acts as a pain killer, an opiate, that stupefies people and resigns them to their wretched conditions “as part of God’s plan.” He makes it quite clear how he feels about that fact and that humans are rooted in their religious views, and that when confronted with something that goes against those views often react violently or come up with an unrealistic excuse. This leads them to breed an intolerance and irrationality when it comes to people of different religions, sex’s, politics, and skin colors. Many of today’s different religious books preach to attack those who do not follow that doctrine. We see this every day in American society and in many western cultures. Whether it be through terrorist attacks, verbal abuses, wars, restricting other freedoms, and many other things, religion is used as an excuse for people, governmental bodies, and entire countries to do terrible and gut-wrenching things. As Christopher Hitchens, author, essayist, orator, literary and social critic, and journalist put it, “Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and children: organized religion ought to have a great deal on its conscience.” With religion in the picture on a national level and affecting political decisions, we as a human race will never move past the tribalism we have struggled with since the dawn of man. Until we throw out these bigoted religious doctrines from our political system, we will never be unified as a human race, and will never progress to reach our full potential.
The definition of science according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary is as follows: “Knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths, or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method.” Science is and has been a building block of our society. Religion in our society has a giant part in holding back the things that science proves factually. We as a country and as a civilized people have gotten to a point where we quite literally throw out facts in favor of our unproven, unrealistic, and un-rational religious views. Religion continues to peddle the idea of a 6,000-year-old earth, even after time and time again it has been proven to be wrong. Many of the great catastrophes that have claimed to have happened in a book such as a The Bible, there is no proof for at all. Bill Nye, in a debate against Ken Ham stated this quite clearly: “The fossils of the Grand Canyon are found in layers. There is not a single place in the Grand Canyon where the fossils of one type of animal cross over with the fossils of another animal. In other words, when there was a big flood on the earth, you would expect drowning animals to swim to a higher level. Not any one of them did. Not a single one.” This is an extremely powerful quote. Of course, he is using one example from one book, but there are many examples throughout many religions that hold back our scientific exploration. Religious groups, especially those of Christian origins, fight often against many of the findings of the scientific community. They write them off because they believe science itself is against God and that scientists are just out hunting for answers to disprove God. That is simply not the case. Almost any non-believing scientist you ask would tell you that if proof of a God came to be, they would believe. Science itself is not the issue in this debate, religion is. Ignoring science in the place of a religion is one of the gravest mistakes we as a human race can make. It is unfortunately one that the majority of Americans and other civilized nations do make.
In our current culture, the common ignoring and bashing of scientific factual evidence is astounding. According to a Pew Research poll, only 31% of Americans don’t trust science, that’s a scary number but still not the majority. The issue though, is that out of that 31%, 94% of those are religious people of one of today’s mainstream religions. That’s a very scary statistic. One that proves that people are willing to ignore evidence they can physically see and comprehend in front of them in real time, while accepting a religious doctrine that is full of scientific inaccuracies all based off of a creator that there is no evidence for at all. There is, however, one issue that is a very controversial topic between the religious community and scientific community — one that, if ignored, could quite literally be the end of the Earth as we know it — and that is climate change. According to another Pew Research Poll, roughly 85% of Americans believe that climate change is a real thing, but most of the dissent comes from religious groups. In that same poll, researchers break down different groups and what percent of them believe in climate change and what percent of them also believe climate change is humanly caused. In the first question, is there climate change, most of the groups agreed that there was, 81% or so. But when asked whether or not it was human caused, only one group, “Hispanic Catholics,” had a majority that said that it was. These are alarming statistics. This is one of the most current and important topics throughout our Earth and in our nation today. Nearly 98% of scientists believe that climate change is both a serious problem and one that is human caused, and also one that will be irreversible within the next 20 years. Yet, like many other scientific facts, religion has done its best to undermine and attack it. Science is an important building block of the society we have today and the society of the future. It’s always been something constant, based off of facts and reasonable theories, and has given us many of the amazing technologies we enjoy today. Yet religion enjoys taking and using the parts of science they like and accept, while throwing the rest out and calling it false This is another extreme case of religion’s serious issue of being hypocritical.
Religion also has a much firmer grip on our political landscape and positions of power than what is probably good. According to a ‘New York Times’ article, 91% of elected members of Congress are Christian, that of course doesn’t include members of other religions. This wouldn’t be a problem at all if religion was not famous for discrimination and suppression of people, along with limiting the rights of people they deem to not be worthy of it. Religion has always been used as an excuse to invade and commit genocide against peoples of other cultures. Although we don’t struggle with exactly the same issue today, we have our own battles to fight. As mentioned earlier, abortion is a huge one. The idea that the main argument against abortion is religious reasons when we have a supposed “separation of church and state” is not a good thing. There are many issues that as rational people we view as ok, such as gay marriage and even gay couples having equal adoption rights, as well as transgenders having the right to do whatever they feel necessary to complete their transition. These are all major social issues in our nation and people in our democracy that religion has kept suppressed for far too long. Another large social issue that religion has suppressed is marijuana usage. According to a Fox News poll, only 13% of Christians support the legalization of recreational marijuana. Fueling a war on drugs that has imprisoned thousands of people for something less harmful than consuming alcohol. These are all things that the majority of rational people view as ok and, truthfully, positives of our society. But because the people in power have for so long been religiously motivated, it’s been a very slow path to giving all Americans their full “American freedoms.”
Throughout American and western civilization history, religion has been the root of violence, tribalism, suppression, racism, among many other extremely negative things. Religion has had a firm grasp on the power structure for far too long, and it is time we give the people in power of this country some diversity. We need to put an end to the one-way beliefs and give everyone in America a true sense of freedom. It’s time we as a society hold religion and its beliefs to the same standard as science or any other societal structure. For too long has religion been able to run wild stirring hatred, disavowing science and causing a setback in our progress, and holding a monopoly on positions of power. It is time that we as Americans and people of modern western culture accept that religion has many flaws and to hold religion accountable for them. Rather than giving them the free pass that they have been granted for thousands of years.