Sunday, May 22, 2011

What's the harm with religion?

I think it's a damn shame that so much time and money was wasted on this rapture nonsense. While this was a small sect, the percentage of Americans who believe that Jesus will come back in some form of apocalypse is astoundingly high. The truth of the matter is that even while that number is only around 45% (still too high for comfort), the number of Americans who believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead is still about 75%, and even more believe that some religious figure performed some sort of miracle, in addition to some god existing, a claim that has never been substantiated.

There are many people who think that it's wrong for me to challenge people's religious beliefs, because they don't see what the harm is. Allow me to provide you with an example:

While this is an example from the rapture, it's still a valid example, because this is not simply a matter of people being swayed by the most recent rapture claims, this is a matter of people accepting claims (particularly extraordinary ones) without demanding evidence. Essentially, this means if you're basing any of your beliefs on faith, you're setting yourself up to be scammed. Once someone has gotten you to accept an initial claim without evidence, you are then vulnerable to future claims that fall under the umbrella of the initial claim (cough cough the rapture cough). It doesn't follow by necessity that if a god exists that it cares about the earth, wants you to stone gay people, or made the earth 6,000-10,000 years ago, but once someone gets you accept that first claim without evidence, then in many cases it's downhill from there.

This is the reason why I think it's important to be a vocal proponent of critical thinking, particularly in areas where faith is required because the fact of the matter is I care. I care about the well-being and rights of myself and others. It saddens me when I see stories like the one above, a story that could have been avoided if only she had asked for evidence. If we care about our future, I think it's absolutely necessary to promote doubt towards religion. Religion is the primary reason why people deny evolution, global climate change, and try to deprive people of rights. It is the impediment to progress and is a proponent of ignorance, and the more ignorant we are, the easier it is to make decisions with negative consequences. If you identify with what I'm saying I encourage you to vocalize your objections when people say something that is verifiably false, when possible, because to do otherwise is allow people to bathe in misinformation.

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

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