Even if no religion is true, why not keep it?

Atheists push back against religion for many reasons. Whether it be religious encroachment into politics, school curriculum, or simply at our doorstep, there are many reasons why atheists feel obligated and passionate about voicing our opinions.

But there is one negative potential that religion has, that I feel I don’t read about enough. That is that religion is the medium through which evil men can do evil things, but for “religious reasons.”

As long as religion is around there will be those who can use it to make others do things they would not do otherwise. Normal thinking people may not think it right to attack a neighboring country—murdering hundreds if not thousands in the process—for no reason. But tell these people that God ordained that you have this land, and the game has changed.

“What about science?” you may ask. It has of course been a tool by which man has done horrible deeds. My point however, is that it takes religion to make an otherwise normal thinking human being, commit acts of a seemingly insane nature.

Divine command theory says that an actions moral status is dependent on whether God commanded it or not. So if a largely religious country believes that God has the ability to speak through people, how does this leave the citizens in an intelligible position to distinguish nonsense from God’s will? It simply doesn’t.

So when I’m asked why I won’t let religion just be. I ask, why would you?



  4 comments for “Even if no religion is true, why not keep it?

  1. July 17, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    While I am an atheist, I do not believe that religion is a necessary cause for people “commit acts of a seemingly insane nature.” I’m assuming that you mean by the quoted text of atrocities that people must group together to conduct (like ethnic cleansing, genocide, or honor killings to name a few). While religion has been used to promulgate these practices, other examples are frequently offered by theists of non-theistic atrocities. As a result, I think the reason why you might not see this point made too often is because it devolves easily into a parade of horrors.

    I do think your point is agreeable if the word “religion” was replaced with “dogma.” Even in your examples, religion itself is not the predominant culprit of wrongdoing; it’s the people using the blind faith to coerce/fool people into doing terrible things. Blaming the religion is about as accurate as blaming the Unseen Sky Pony they worship. But if these people weren’t conditioned to just simply obey commandments from Pony(or any other real or imaginary authority), the atrocity most likely would not be committed. So your point with regards to just blindly following an idea without evidence, insofar as it might have been made, is well-taken.

    Finally, with regards to letting religion “just be,” that’s a very good question which I’m in the process of writing my thoughts on. I can say this right now though: I do live in a place where atheists are not treated kindly. Sometimes practical concerns do take precedent over principles.

    • July 18, 2014 at 12:04 am

      I appreciate your honest opinion. Although, I do maintain my position. Christopher Hitchens wrote a very good book in my opinion called the “god is not Great – How Religion Poisons Everything.”

      I can’t help but to agree. Religion by definition is the “belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” This I do believe, leads people to commit acts of insane nature.

      As Hitchens argued in his book, the practice of martyrdom is almost entirely faith based; the practice of genital mutilation is almost entirely faith based. “Evil” people that are not religious are not prone to committing many of the atrocities that predicate a higher power deeming said practices as moral.

      The belief in a supernatural deity that declares absolutes is not beneficial to a society that desires to progress. Religion is the cave in which these deities hide.

      To say that religion is not the culprit, but instead is the doctrines, is in my opinion a mistake. Religion is the make-up/implementation of said doctrines.

      Imagine if no religious texts were believed. Suddenly actions of martyrdom, genital mutilation, subjugation of women, and other barbaric practices become unintelligible. It is not a misinterpretation of religious texts that gives rise to corrupt actions, but a correct interpretation.

      • July 23, 2014 at 6:13 pm

        I’m not an atheist, and while I see many instances where religion has been used to justify corrupt actions, I’m not convinced that those corrupt actions would not have occurred anyway. You claim that correct interpretation of religious texts results in actions of martyrdom, genital mutilation, subjugation of women, and other barbaric practices. I’ll concede I’m not familiar with every religious text, but I have yet to see one that successfully advocates any barbaric practice. Would you like to give a few specific examples?

        Religion does not require belief in a supernatural deity that declares absolutes. I would argue that reason and religion are not mutually exclusive. Blind faith in any cause is harmful, be it religious, philosophical or political.

        One has only to witness peaceful protests degenerate into rioting with mindless violence and destruction to understand that mob mentality is a powerful force. No religion is required.

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