Religion Is Poison

It comes in Christian and Buddhist and Animist and…

When I was talking to a friend this weekend about the same stuff I put inyesterday’s post, she mentioned that his Mormonism also put people off. I said, sure it does for the crazy fundamentalists who think that Jesus rode to work on a dinosaur, but most people don’t really care about that; his Daddy Warbucks/sea snake mash-up is much more of a problem.

So then she started talking about just how crazy Mormonism is. Which, don’t get me wrong–it’s nuts. But I don’t see it as any crazier than any other religion. Some years ago, I decided that if your explanation for things requires any magic or supernatural intervention, it has passed a crazy event horizon; past that, all explanations are equally nutty. One you’ve invoked a non-testable, non-natural cause, off you go. Andevery single religion does that.

Here’s the beauty of this way of thinking: I no longer have to spend time categorizing which religions are crazier than the others. Wicca? Mormonism? Islam? All the same. They’re exactly the same, because they’re all past the event horizon. So instead of having to talk about how the revelations of the angel Moroni or whatever are WAY nuttier than the idea that a zombie Judean carpenter will grant you an eternal yet incorporeal existence, I can spend time oh, I don’t know, writing smart-ass things for the Internet.

As noted, I say that religion is poison. I don’t just mean because of all the wars and intolerance; we can find other excuses to engage in those very human behaviors. It’s poison because it is a barrier to understanding why and how things work; when you don’t know why something happens the way it does, you can just throw up your hands and say God/the spirits of our ancestors/Xtapolapocetl did it. Worse yet are the people who do that god-of-the-gaps bullshit–when they come across a phenomenon that we don’t have a good explanation for, they use that as evidence that their particular delusion must be responsible for it. They’re never heard apologizing for getting it wrong when we do come up with an explanation for the phenomenon in question.

I know that some people will tell me that religions can motivate people to do good things, or that there are beautiful stories to be found there; you could say the same about Aesop’s fables. And that also leaves you open to the fact that people can do terrible things and tell horrific stories thanks to religion. And no amount of good works or stories can, in my mind, make up for the existence of Pat Robertson.

So that’s my take. You may commence bitching about me/it, condemning my non-existent soul, attempting to explain how your beyond-the-event-horizon idea is different, and/or whatever else in the comments.

18 thoughts on “Religion Is Poison

  1. azportsider says:

    No argument from me, Jude. As long as you don’t mess with the Holy Church of the FSM, I’ve got your back.

  2. Mr. Merle says:

    Interesting, that’s the line Mao used on the Dalai Lama in Martin Scorsese’s Kundun, and I know which of those two I root for, despite being an atheist myself.

  3. Feh says:

    Thank you.

  4. Gummo says:

    Thanks, Jude.
    And Mr. Merle, any argument can be used by a bad person to evil ends.

  5. mass says:

    Fuckers will believe anything, so long as it supports their bigotry.
    I don’t think Catholic leaders, by definition a group of allegedly celebate old men (and ONLY men), serving in a non-democratic system that believes in a single, infallible human leader, should be consulted on federal healthcare policy.
    Then again, I believe child rapists and their enablers should be imprisoned forever. Yet another subject upon which I disagree with the Catholic cult.

  6. mass says:

    The quiet Catholic Church:
    Tax dollars pay for the execution of prisoners.
    Tax dollars pay for bombs to kill Iraqis.

  7. Nancy says:

    “…if your explanation for things requires any magic or supernatural intervention, it has passed a crazy event horizon; past that, all explanations are equally nutty. One you’ve invoked a non-testable, non-natural cause, off you go. And every single religion does that.”
    If I had any circle of friends to speak of, or desire to cultivate same, I would use that statement (attributed of course) as my cool email signature.
    Love. It.

  8. guest says:

    Somebody had best alert those African-American churches of the civil rights movement that they were actually just peddling poison. Oh, and keeping their members dumb and intellectually inferior, too.

  9. pansypoo says:

    i’m sticking w/ faith that there’s something. just something.

  10. Jude says:

    And “guest” wins the prize for aggressively missing the point!
    Don Pardo, tell ’em what they won!

  11. Jerry says:

    The atheistic (a broad category, a name used to group together those that do not adhere to any type of after / next life nor to any type of belief in mono or polytheistic deity(ies) also easily justify their bloodlusty policies of wiping out those that oppose them. Just look at the Soviet Union, now Russia, China, Sri Lanka (Tamil Tigers), etc.
    If your want to blame religion in its various forms and manifestations for violence and repression, you can easily make your case, but to ignore that the non-believers do the same stuff, is presenting an incomplete picture, maybe even missing your own point.

  12. Jude says:

    @Jerry:I don’t just mean because of all the wars and intolerance; we can find other excuses to engage in those very human behaviors.
    Already covered. I’m talking about magical thinking being the problem. I guess I’ve been writing for long enough not to be surprised that some people only take what they want from a piece, but sometimes it still amazes me.

  13. Jerry says:

    “Without God, all is permitted.” Fyodor Dostoevsky (The Brothers Karamazov)
    Agreed, but the problem distills down to ‘when is someone else a wild eyed nut job that should be restrained before the raving lunatic convinces others to act?’

  14. mass says:

    If you believe in supernatural shit, please don’t be offended if I don’t buy it.
    With a fucking tax break.
    And like the guy said: We’re not so different. I just believe in one less god than you.

  15. thebewilderness says:

    I think that you are generally speaking correct except…the poison is not in the religion so much as in the dogma of the organization of the religion.
    Religion does not pick your pocket or break your leg. Organized religion does.
    The specific argument is against the Mormon religious practice of baptizing the dead. That is the purpose for the detailed genealogy efforts. While many people dismiss it as foolishness, there are those who consider it remarkably disrespectful to their deceased family members. Kind of a passive aggressive religious war, if you will.

  16. TimeZoned says:

    “Religion does not pick your pocket or break your leg. Organized religion does.”
    Religion is organized pretty much by definition. Wikipedia will do since it’s handy but any definition of religion worth its salt would say the same:
    “The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system, but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect”
    I think religion becomes more clear if we understand that it was always about power, not just some random mental trap everyone fell into for no reason.
    If two people have a disagreement, and one of the people says “Well, there’s an invisible authority and you can’t hear him and he agrees with me” then argument over. If everyone actually buys it, that is, and people did for ages and ages.
    The disagreements might be about anything, how the group should do A or B, often things as simple who gets all the money or houses or women or men or whatever. In a two person disagreement, if you create an invisible tasteless odorless being that takes your side, then it’s two to one, and you win. As long as you can get everyone to believe it.
    So the un-testable, invisible, no discernible qualities part is built right in, a feature not a bug, as is the part about belief rather than requiring evidence. It’s a power play, and it always was.

  17. sparrow says:

    One should not underestimate the power of guilt which religion is adept at applying. Nothing quite like the threat of eternal damnation over veering from the true path to keep the flock in line. Nothing against my Catholic friends, but I have yet to personally meet one that having received the required indoctrination growing up attending Catholic school hasn’t matriculated with some degree of PTSD.

  18. Marina says:

    Posted on um, so huiirloas. a)you are brave to post this.b)i am still LOL-ing.but it is awesome that you tried first time stopping by your blog. can’t wait to browse all your fails!

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