Monday, November 18, 2013

Is Religion Really A Good Thing?

I used to think that religion was a good thing. After all, religion teaches values, morals, tolerance and a lot of virtues that make us function better as human beings. But I'm not so sure we need religion.

Recently I was reading The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins, a well-known atheist. The book takes its title from the famous metaphor about how mankind came to be. Creationists who believe that mankind was designed by a higher power have long argued that if you put all the pieces of a pocket-watch into a box and shook it for a hundred million years, the pieces would never randomly come together to create a watch. You need a watchmaker to carefully put the pieces in the right place. Creationists then argue that since man is so much more infinitely complicated, there is no way mankind could come to exist without some higher power designing the infinitely complex system that's necessary for us to survive.

When I began reading Dawkins' book, I was expecting not to like the author. He is an arrogant man, having written The God Delusion in which he claims to virtually prove that God does not exist. What struck me about his writing though was the incredible empathy he has for living things. In one section he writes passionately about what he considers the cruel act of boiling a live lobster and goes so far to say that if he were invited to a dinner party and the host planned to cook a live lobster, he would consider it his duty to ensure the lobster was prepared in a humane way. Not the way I would expect an   atheist to act.

Maybe we don't need religion to teach values. After all, when we incorporate religion in teaching values it will invariably lead us to moral ambiguity. Is it really a sin to miss mass on Sunday? Will you go to hell if you do? Is dancing really a sin? What about dietary laws?

In this previous blog post, I told the story about my Dad because I wanted to share that religion has had a powerful and positive effect in my life. Still, I have to say that religion also has some bad effects also. Didn't the Spaniards use religion to justify the cultural genocide of the Mayan people? Wasn't "Manifest Destiny" a type of religious belief that allowed Caucasians to justify stealing land from the American Indian? And what about the children's crusades where huge numbers of children left their homes for a treacherous journey to reclaim the holy land, which resulted in thousands of children dying of starvation, exposure and disease?

Is religion a good thing? I'm not so sure anymore.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had just about finished my posting when it disappeared. I assume you did not receive it. I first said I have been late in posting in that my shoulder has just now healed sufficiently to do some typing.

I went on to say that, I too, question the "good' of religion. Too many 'bad' things have happened in the name of religion. However, I also believe in God. I believe God is "Good".

I equate God to infinity. No beginning and no end. I do not understand infinity, and I do not understand God. I believe God is a spiritual Being that controls all that is good and I feel His power in my life. I attribute much of my belief from the teachings in the Bible. Much of the Bible is full of evil doings of the devil, whom I also believe in - demons.

I trust God and believe that attempting to do his will, the best I can understand it, result in after life with him.

Thanks for sharing all of your wisdom.

November 18, 2013 at 2:00 PM  

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