Thursday, February 20, 2014

Giving Religion A Fair Trial

As those of you who follow ChallengingTheHype have realized, this website has been on hiatus for some time. But sometime in the next week, we will be returning to business with a series of articles promising to deliver a hype-free analysis of religion and its effect on the world historically and presently. I have been following a plethora of anti-religion, atheist works, including articles, videos, and Internet memes, and it's becoming increasingly clear that many of the more vocal atheists and religious critics have taken to unfair and fallacious means of attacking religion, which not only does not give religion a fair trial, but also casts a shadow on the intellectual soundness and empirical objectivity that the graduation from religious belief is largely dependent on.

To be clear, I am against religions of any kind, primarily not because most religions have primitive, outdated, and sometimes downright atrocious beliefs (though these are strong contributing factors), but because of the irresponsible nature of a person sacrificing their own individuality, and the interdependent judgement and thought processes through which every human being ought to interpret their reality, morality, values, lifestyle choices, and general behavior. Regardless of whether a religion's values are deemed by the prevailing society(s) as "good" or "bad", a person's full adherence to a religion- and its system of beliefs- constitutes the substitution of individual choice for the opinions, values, and perspectives imposed on adherents by religious leaders, priests, prophets, theologians, and scriptures.

Religious adherents sacrifice their intellectual autonomy and free will for an artificial sense of security, the delegation of individual moral/ethical responsibility to religious authorities (usually with "God" at the top of that pyramid), and the attribution of their choices, behavior, and values to their religion. Because human beings are driven by a desire for security, with civilization itself being developed to address human insecurities about basic needs (food, shelter, communication, self-defense), it's human nature for people to embrace religion, instinct even. The formation of religion was indeed a necessary step in the development of civilization, providing basic systems of law, order, and human rights, which though primitive and often misguided, served as the foundation for the evolution of human civilization and society. But while religion has served its role well several thousand years ago, it has become an outdated paradigm, and those who continue to believe in it hold humanity back.

What I wish to emphasize in this series, is that religion itself is not a bad thing, nor should it be held responsible for the destructive actions and ideas of its adherents. The problems that are attributed by religious critics to various religions, are actually rooted in human defense mechanisms triggered by human insecurity. This syllogism adequately explains and accounts for every well-documented relationship between religion and insecurity. Impoverished and hungry people have been overwhelmingly religious leaning, some of the highest percentages of religions per capita are the incarcerated population, and bad neighborhoods are paradoxically associated with deep religious faith. Yes, when people are brought up from birth (indoctrinated) to embrace a certain religion, it does ensure the propagation of religion, even in the absence of insecurity. But this is not something specific to religion, but to the natural parent-child relationship that gives a parent or guardian the unique power to impose on their children whichever beliefs that they choose, including religious values. Though such values are indeed passed onto children for many generations, they are rooted in insecurity, and the religious values and traditions that promise to alleviate it.