Around the middle of December, Danica wrote a post on her blog, Love Over Religion, that she entitled,”Wager” (she doesn’t waste words on any of her post titles 🙂 ). While the post itself was quite good, it was a comment she made in response to one of her visitors that really impressed me. With her permission, I’ve included it here. See if her thoughts don’t resonate with you as well.
The problem with religion is that it allows groups of people to justify cruelty towards others. At their core, each religion harbors discrimination against those who are not part of it. Unless you are an incredibly open Christian, you can probably test this by asking yourself if God is going to permit Muslims, Hindus, atheists, homosexuals, Jews into heaven. If your answer is no to any of these, you can clearly see that your version of God discriminates against that group of people. And if he does, why shouldn’t you? If your answer was yes, they will all be in heaven, then I congratulate you for being a wonderful human being, but regret to inform you that you don’t believe the Bible. I don’t believe it, which is why I left religion. It didn’t make sense to me to be in a club that I didn’t fundamentally agree with.
Religion, Christianity specifically, has been used to justify slavery and genocide in the past, as you mentioned. I think it’s safe to say that most Christians would not be okay with slavery or genocide. But in subtle ways, religion continues to “justify” cruelty. Ask any gay couple that have cried themselves to sleep because the religious right is fighting so hard to keep them from having access to dignity and respect. Ask the teenager who has received beatings and emotional abuse because her parents won’t accept her nonbelief. Ask the Muslim that has been spit on, or the child at school that has been ridiculed for being part of the only non-Christian family in a small town. I know someone in her 90’s who had to live her entire life in secret, apart from her family and those who claimed to love her, because her Christian family wouldn’t accept the truth of who she was. While over in the Middle East, people are dying daily, mothers, children, young fathers, over this thing called “religion.” I believe that until we can free ourselves from this ancient system of beliefs in gods and myths, a system that wreaks havoc on our natural inclination towards love and acceptance for one another, this misery and tragedy will continue. That doesn’t mean necessarily that belief in science promotes goodwill. However, there is no underlying clause in science or reason that divides us into groups. There is no suggestion in science that a supernatural entity will give this group everlasting life, and throw all the rest into the fire.