Humanist and anti-human trends in modern religion

PZ MyersPZ Myers, at Pharyngula, is always informative, often provocative, but always worth reading. I think his recent post (Sanctimonious monsters) is a classic – and gets right to the point. Within modern religions there are two trends – a progressive, humanitarian trend and a reactionary, anti-human trend.

“I am often told that religion is a source of morality. I’ve read the Bible myself; I can see that there were moral philosophers at work behind that book, that we have a tradition of law in the Old Testament, with a fellow named Jesus adding social justice and concern for the poor and weak in the New that are actually rather commendable. I also see a lot of myth and error and misplaced obsession with the supernatural that rational people are willing to set aside to focus on the core humanitarian message … or at least they do so in the best of circumstances.

Yet what I also see in modern religion is a re-prioritizing: the secular concerns that should matter, the egalitarian word of a religious tradition that valued the cohesion of the social fabric and demanded equal treatment for even the least of society is ignored, given a little lip service perhaps, but made subservient to the intangible theological nonsense of prayer, of an invisible god, of submission to dogma and hope in an unevidenced afterlife. It’s a religion that has shifted its eyes from a task to be done here on earth to an unearthly vision of a magical unseen world run by an ethereal tyrant who must be placated.”

I think that this subservience “to the intangible theological nonsense of prayer, of an invisible god, of submission to dogma and hope in an unevidenced afterlife” is at the root of so much that is wrong with religion today. It drives the anti-science hysteria of creationists (and some climate change deniers) as well as the murderous activities of some jihadist terrorists today.

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Intelligent design/creationism and climate change
Crimes of Communism and Christianity

3 responses to “Humanist and anti-human trends in modern religion

  1. I can only use myself as an example, but I am very concerned with the ills and plagues of society here on Earth, and at the same time I believe in life after death and an eternity in Heaven. In other words, the theological nonsense you and others believe fuels what is wrong with religion today.

    And no, I do not believe my salvation relies on my deeds on Earth. I am concerned about poverty, racism, injustice, tyranny and other social failings because I care about my fellow man. And, yes, because Jesus taught that it is just.

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  2. The problem is that while many people get by with these beliefs and do not harm others “the intangible theological nonsense of prayer, of an invisible god, of submission to dogma and hope in an unevidenced afterlife” is used to support unwarranted conclusions by others. Consequently we get things like religious violence, creationism” anti-science attitudes, etc., based on this.

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  3. I really don’t know what to say here. I don’t think prayer, belief in God/a god, or belief in an afterlife cause misery, it is all dogma.

    I’ve said before my views on organized religion are anarchistic. I doubt I will see in my lifetime a dismanteling of church hierarchies or religious power structures. But while you may turn against religion in general I try to hold out hope that people of all faiths will/can come to understand the general peacefulness virtually all major religions teach.

    But so long as the majority of worshippers turn to a minority of people (flawed, corruptible humans), that will not be. Religion needs to be put in the hands of everyone if any change is to come about.

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