The poison of religion

If anyone should have any doubts about my position when it comes to religion, I want to say it as clear as I can; I very much dislike religion and think the world would be much better without it. I dislike any form of it actually. “Religion is opium”, said Marx, I agree even more with late Christopher Hitchens when he stated already in the title of one of his books; it “poisons everything”.  

I am not even going to try to argue for this statement as good as Hitchens does in his book, but I think it is important that people who share his view makes their voices heard.  Because religion is bad, organized religion doubly so.

To be religious is not that bad or “spiritual” as many people like to call themselves. It limits the damage to your own life, and who have the right to deny you that. I certainly do not believe I am entitled to limit that personal freedom. I support personal freedom and the right to believe what you want, have sex with whomever you want (as long as it is between adults, and mutual of course), say whatever you want, live together with whomever you want and do whatever you want as long as it does not hurt other people (by hurt I do not mean offended. Everyone should have the right to offend). Therefore, by holding these opinions I certainly support the freedom to be religious, even though I do not think it is a good thing to be so.

Being religious usually means that you believe in one of the big religions in the world. One of the more dominant one is coming from the middle east; the one that worship Jehovah. It has split into three different religions of course. Judaism (the “original”), Christianity (the first big 2.0 version) and Islam (the second major upgrade, or version 3.0). They are dominant in the world today, but we should not forget big religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. 

One of the things I do not understand about religious people is not that they are in awe of the wonders of the world, and concludes with the idea that there must be a reason behind it all. It is their actually belief in the nonsense the different religions represent. It is as if they want to be deluded.

I honestly do not know how many religions there are in the world, but it will not surprise me if there are thousands.  What they all have in common though, is that they have a belief system based on visions and stories, mostly old ones. The few new ones, like the Mormons (version 2 point something in the Middle East belief), are based on visions as late as in the 18th century. In their case, a known swindler finally succeeded with one of his frauds. 

The stories in religions are impressive and they have all in common that there is not a single proof or factual information in them. Well, the religious will disagree on this of course, but I still have not seen any convincing proof from any religion in the world that they contain the truth. It is my opinion that all religions stand on a mountain of swindlers and cons.

If you try to point to the bible and ask people about the actual stories there, most Christians have not even read it. That goes for Muslims and Jews as well when asked about their religious texts. They can be strong believers, but have no clue what their “holy texts” contain. It is quite common that they believe there is more in the “holy books” than it actually is. They believe in the stories they have grown up with of course. Being religious has little to do with study and thinking, it is about traditions and inspirations.

It is in other words a candy store for cons. You do not have to prove anything; you just have to tell people what to believe in. The more obscure and fantastic your story, the better it is.
Back to the venom. How can we say that it poison everything?

For a religion to work properly it needs to have a dogma. Dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. Whilst you can say the same about ideology, there is an important and significant difference compared to religion. The authority in an ideology is human, and based on some sort of logic or rationalism. In religion, this authority is God, or the Gods.
With a human source, and no demand for divinity, it is possible to change things and have a rational argument. I know it is hard when you talk to fanatics among the more dangerous ideologies, but the foundation of the system they believe in have some sort of reasoning and you can argue against it. Religion is not that easy. Their foundation is divine and therefore almost impossible to meet with reason.  On the contrary, it seems common to honor resistance against rational thinking, facts and scientific proof among religious people. The more overwhelming facts you can defy, the stronger you are in your faith. Scientologists honor this kind of virtue, and so do Islam and Christianity. There you have the poison – right there.

Religion makes people defy reason. If their God is omnipotent, the God usually is, the followers accept the most gruesome or ridiculous things. There is no demand for rationality, because everything has a higher purpose and need no understanding – just obedience. Since it is a belief system, it affect the religious as ideology does. The belief system of the majority color all aspects of society, and it is almost impossible to make any changes because then you have to argue against God and faith. In modern Norway, there are still arguments in the political arena based on the bible, and we still have laws that has its arguments from God. I do not have to point to the new so-called Islamic state to find examples of religions affecting society. All over the world, we see religion on the offensive, bringing to the table horrible ideas that restrict the personal freedoms some of us cherish. The religious do not believe they are doing anything wrong or evil. On the contrary, they have a self-image of being both good and loving. 

Peter Nicolai Arbos painting of St. Olav's death
I am convinced there are many good men among the Islamic State followers and soldiers. However, their goodness is poisoned by religion. In a religion, good can become bad, and bad can become good. It is even a common feature. Norway was once christened by the same methods IS are using today. Not in the same scale, and it was a thousand years ago. Still, it is hailed by the Christians in Norway and Europe today. The Norwegian Christian leader back then, Olav Haraldsson, killed off people that did not convert – even whole families. He succeeded in christening Norway and were rewarded post mortem by the church. They canonized him, and today they celebrate “St. Olav” every year. To convert a nation to your religion through violence is in other words good if we should agree to the Christians celebration.

It requires nothing of a good man to do good, but it takes religion to make a good man do evil. You can say the same thing about ideology and even random political rhetoric, but religion is the most dangerous because it does not find explanation in scientific knowledge and research or humanitarian understanding, but in old made up stories supposed to be the revelations from God. There is no argue against God, and a belief system based on what people believe to be a divine dogma, is very hard to break down or change. It is poison. A very old poison.


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