Sunday, 24 December 2006

All religion is bad

I often wonder how many people were ‘weaned’ off their parents’ religion(s), just by reading some genre literature while at a suitably impressionable age? As a teenager, my steady diet of ‘pulp’ and hard science fiction, and later reading about quantum theory, somehow managed to dispel any childish faith I once had in the existence of god.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” - Richard Dawkins

I was christened C of E, and went - or, more accurately, was sent - to Sunday school (Methodists), but I have become an - increasingly militant - atheist, and nowadays (at 45+) find that I’m rapidly losing even vague respect for anyone with religious beliefs, whether they go to ‘high church’ (prayer-sayers are all nutters, to me!), or just persist in celebrating Xmas… because they’re diehard consumers, or simply cannot shake off those bad habits (indoor-tree decorating, paper-wasting card swapping, pointless gift exchanges, turkey dinner, etc) still fondly recalled from childhood in the family home. The commercial side of Xmas clearly supports and tacitly maintains the various social events and public rituals, from building snowmen and traditional carol singing, to the televised ceremony of ‘midnight mass’.

When atheists suggest the world might be better without religion, I've noticed the response from believers is usually something like: "if religion is gone, what are you going to put in its place?" It's a mistake to assume that a godless world creates a void in society that must be filled (with 'worship' of science say religious folks!)... It makes me laugh because it seems they've missed the point of what science is and what it does. To me, getting rid of religions is not like emptying a room in your house so that you can fill it up again, it's like cleaning all the windows so that everyone can see outside better than before.

A poignant example of how religious leaders deceive the faithful is found in Muslim teachings. The infamous ‘afterlife’ compensation said to await the jihad’s martyrs is “eternal paradise with 72 virgins” … but, since 2001, scholarly reports (cited by Guardian / Ezra Klein) claim this was a misinterpretation of the Koran. Perpetrators of attacks on the 11th September who were expecting to be rewarded with six-dozen attentive wives might have been rather disappointed to learn the ‘virgins’ in question are probably not a bevy of angelic girls, but the rare delicacy of white raisins.

Of course, warmongering Islamic extremists tasked with brainwashing young men into happy suicide bombers need to promise them something more enticing than a handful of dried fruit!

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

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