Why I care about religion.

It’s not uncommon for atheists to be asked questions like “Why do you spend so much time talking about religion if you don’t believe it?” or “If you think religion’s a fantasy, why do you care if other people are wasting their time with it?”

This is why.

(I stole this from JT Eberhard, who got it from his brother. I have no idea where it originated.)

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on June 4, 2012, in Daily Post and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. An atheist used homophobic slurs at me simply because he could not debate me in a civilized manner. So to equate any kind of hatred to religious affiliation is ridiculous and dishonest.

    • People are diverse. Take any random sampling and you’ll find assholes. But an atheist has no excuse, they have to own their cruelties and their asshole actions, they can’t say it’s because their holy book or their cleric or their God told them to treat people like shit.

      In the past couple weeks we’ve had at least three pastors in the US preaching openly that gays should be killed or imprisoned. These aren’t random nuts on the street corner that everyone ignores, these are authority figures in their community. These are people who affect the moral compass of every person in their congregation. And they’re not just saying “don’t be gay”, they’re saying “Don’t show kindness or compassion to the gays. Take away their rights, their comfort, their freedom, even their lives.”

      In a broader sense, they’re not just telling their flock how to live, they’re telling them to make everyone else live that way, too. They’re the ones going out of their way to be hateful, they’re the ones who equate affiliation to their group with hatred. They’re the ones who have the audacity to legislate cruelty and call it conscience.

      And no, it’s not all of them. There are nearly forty thousand different sects of Christianity alone, pretty much if you can imagine a doctrine, no matter how noble or cruel or bizarre, there’s probably a Christian sect out there who’s living it. They aren’t all the same, even in this narrow example that ignores every other faith.
      But far, far too many of them are preaching hate. And far, far too many of the ones who aren’t are standing by silently and enabling this behavior.

      Authoritarian religions make this shit happen by holding dogma to be more important than humanity. It’s the Cyrano effect, “It’s not my fault I did this awful thing, I was only following orders.” Who could ignore orders from God, no matter what atrocity you’re told to commit?

    • It sure is. When I first saw it I was scrolling down, and after a while I felt this weird little shock that it was still going!
      What really disturbs me is how recent most of it is. I see something that big and expect it to be a list from the ages, but most of this stuff is within the last five years, and very little older than ten years.

  2. “People are diverse. Take any random sampling and you’ll find assholes.”

    Yes and those a-holes can also purport to be religious as well.

    • I don’t quite follow you. What are you suggesting? I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so please, be explicit!

      • What I mean is that the a-holes and psychopaths that suggest murdering others supposedly in the name of religion (even if said religion forbids murder), then don’t jump to the conclusion that the religion is to blame but rather the individuals are, as you put it, “a random sampling of a-holes.”

        • When an individual speaks as a religious authority, then they speak for the religion, or at least that segment of it. When Curtis Knapp said in his sermon that the government should round up and kill gays, he was speaking as a representative of his church. It doesn’t matter if other Christian sects disagree, or if other Baptist churches disagree, or even members of his own congregation, until and unless he retracts those statements part of the doctrine of New Hope Baptist Church is that state-organized mass murder of certain people is acceptable, perhaps even desirable.

          Any religion in which a person can claim to know the mind of God, or worse, to speak with the authority of Heaven, gives power to people like this. Anything that helps to create a perception that certain ideas or certain people cannot be questioned because that’s what God wants or that’s who God delegated authority to makes people like Curtis Knapp more powerful, and increases the chances of atrocities like he envisions actually happening.

          Consider that the Catholic church has an official policy of protecting priests who rape children from the police, often at the expense of the victims and their families. This is common knowledge, and yet people still willingly associate with this organization and give it money. I cannot seriously believe that any secular institution could survive having a reputation for child rape going back generations. But the priests hold the keys to Heaven, so people suck it up and make excuses and try to pretend it’s not as bad as it clearly is.

          You do have a point in that it’s not so much the religion as the authoritarianism, so I’m willing to back off a little and specify authoritarian religions. But even the most benign religions are, at best, harmless to those with a good grip on reality. When a person is having mental health problems and their family chalk it up to a religious experience instead of getting them help, there’s still harm.

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