|Do not tolerate religion. It does not deserve it.||12/27/2018|
Do not tolerate religion. It does not deserve it.
There seems to be a consensus among many atheists and agnostics that the best policy with which to approach religion is one of tolerance and indifference. These people would argue that religion is not harmful in and of itself, but it just does not reflect what they believe. Well, I disagree.
Religion is harmful. Extremely harmful. Considerably more so than denying climate change, or protesting against the administration of vaccinations to young children. I would even go so far as to say that it is the most harmful idea currently encumbering mankind.
Religion seeks to control the way you think about anything and everything. It institutes the idea of thought crime, and claims that an all-powerful being keeps a level of surveillance on you that the NSA could only dream of. It demands that you follow its teachings or else face eternal torture and suffering once your life is over. It asks you to surrender your mental faculties and to only believe, so that you may be rewarded with an eternal life of bliss under the care of a deity-a reward that only means something if you believe to begin with. God loves you under this condition, and this condition alone. Often God even condemns those who never get a chance to believe (those who are never exposed to religion) to an afterlife of suffering.
All of these notions are common within the three Abrahamic religions. Together these religions comprise roughly half of the beliefs of the entire population of Earth. Just think about how great an effect that has on the average person's ideas on morality and life itself. Many of us live in societies where religion is one of the biggest influences in politics and ethics, and others still live in countries governed at the mercy of religious autocrats. Most of the terrorism that disrupts our societies daily is perpetrated in the name of some deity. Our everyday lives are very often influenced by religious interests, whether we realize it or not.
Religion is not just an innocuous misapprehension of how the universe works. It is a pernicious manifestation of mankind's insecurities about our place in the universe, which continues to be exploited by those who have established themselves as authorities in the matter. In this sense, religion is a latent and virulent epidemic that can sway the masses into blindly allying themselves to a cause conjured up by any sufficiently popular authority. Throughout history and in the modern world, dictators and demagogues use religion as the justification for the atrocities they commit-I'm sure you can think of a few examples. Today, religion continues to impede scientific education and freedom of sexuality even in the most secular of societies.
If we continue to ignore religion and treat it as merely a difference of opinion, we consign ourselves to a reality in which religion continues to oppress and manipulate the masses. Thankfully, with the progress of scientific advancement and the ever-increasing availability of information, young people are increasingly turning away from religion. But to tolerate religion is also to turn a blind eye to those who may need a helping hand in ridding themselves of it.
As atheists, I think that it is reasonable to talk about religion and its harms wherever and whenever we see fit. Religious belief is not immune to criticism, and it definitely does not deserve a free pass on the forum of human progression. Many of us are afraid to speak out against religion simply for the fact that society has deemed it taboo to criticize it. But if that's truly the case, it just goes to show you how poisonous it is to free speech and critical thinking.
tl;dr Religion is harmful and should not be tolerated or ignored. Be proud of your atheism and the power behind your ideas. Do not let religious sensitivities stop you from expressing your philosophy.
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