T Nation

Fed Up With Organized Religions

I am sick of organized religions (not people who are independently theistic/spiritual). It is true that historically they have inspired a few progressive movements (ie Martin Luther King), however, today they are a source of reaction, war, intolerance and seek more and more to impose their beliefs on secular societies (think Osama Bin Laden, Jerry Falwell, Ratzinger, BJP in India, the Likkuds (sp?) in Israel).

Christopher Hitchens, with whom I have many differences, has written a new book, “God is Not Great” on this subject
and was interviewed on the local PBS affiliate here in San Francisco yesterday. Listen to the interview here
(it’s about an hour long though!). Very interesting:

I feel the same way about Reason. Think of the millions slaughtered in the name of people thinking they have the Truth as determined by Reason - the French Revolution, communism, etc.

You should be picking up on at least some sarcasm.

When are the anti-religionists going to learn that it isn’t “organized religion” that makes humans do bad things, but that it is the innate savagery of human nature combined with the hubris of thinking they have found the one ultimate truth, whether it be rooted in the divinely inspired or the secular?

“Organized religion” is a lazy scapegoat. Organized religion follows the humanity it serves - it has been used to produce some of humanity’s greatest achievements as well as used to justify some its worst moments. The exact same could be said of the secular “worship” of Reason.

[quote]entheogens wrote:
…and seek more and more to impose their beliefs on secular societies…[/quote]

This is a curious statement as well - why couldn’t it be stated that more and more secularists are trying to impose their beliefs on religious societies?

I’m still trying to remember the last time Jerry Falwell or Pope Whatsizname the Third tried to impose their religion on me…

Then again, I can think of judges ordering religious symbols to be removed from public places in order to enforce a view of “Separation of Church and State” which I haven’t been able to find in any of the founding documents. Go figure.

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[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
I feel the same way about Reason. Think of the millions slaughtered in the name of people thinking they have the Truth as determined by Reason - the French Revolution, communism, etc.

You should be picking up on at least some sarcasm.

When are the anti-religionists going to learn that it isn’t “organized religion” that makes humans do bad things, but that it is the innate savagery of human nature combined with the hubris of thinking they have found the one ultimate truth, whether it be rooted in the divinely inspired or the secular?

“Organized religion” is a lazy scapegoat. Organized religion follows the humanity it serves - it has been used to produce some of humanity’s greatest achievements as well as used to justify some its worst moments. The exact same could be said of the secular “worship” of Reason.[/quote]

The French Revolution didn’t happen for the sake of The One Truth. It happened because a HUGE number of people were angry, violently angry with the aristocratic state. Communism relied on the idea that, since workers controlled the means of production and therefore the entire economy was resting on them, that workers would eventually overthrow the establishment and set up a world wide communal system. The so called Communist states are hardly communist as they are not run anarchically but by a dictator or oligarchy. Communism has never been seen on a national scale, but the dictators of self-proclaimed Communist countries have done a great deal of slaughtering in the name of “improving” their economy through FORCED industrialization.

Just felt that should be clear.

I also wanted to say that I agree with some of your points. To hold up organized religion as the end-all-be-all source of ALL evil in the world is flat out insane. It ignores a great deal of societal, cultural, and economic pressures that interfere with rational thought, and is the REAL root of why people feel like blowing themselves up, or going to war, but it just doesn’t sound as sexy to say, “I’m going to go to war because I feel economically castrated and politically marginalized.” Its far more convenient to say “I’m going to kill you for my God.”

This doesn’t change the root cause of why people are fighting, it simply gives it a more universal rationalization.

In the same spirit, people feel as though any compromise they make hurts them terribly, and so EVERYONE refuses to compromise or seek solutions. This is even more pronounced when people are citing their religious beliefs as why they can not compromise, and gives people a reason to continue fighting. Its more a psychosis than a real problem of religion.

I won’t argue about whether or not rationality can be the cause for murder or war or suffering, mostly because I’m half an hour late for dinner. But I will say that rationality has led to huge advancements in medicine, politics, technology, and understanding how and why people do what they do that I feel far outweighs the benefits of religion. At least the worldly benefits.


Separation of Church and State is real, and your inability to find it in founding documents is no surprise. Oftentimes, when court decisions are made, the intent of the Constitution or one of its clauses must be anaylyzed, and the best way to do this is the look at the other writings of those who wrote the Constitution. In this case, there are wonderful records of the letters written by many of the Founding Fathers including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin among a long list of others which detail an explicit intention for the country to remain neutral regarding religious beliefs, or in other words, secular.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Treaty of Tripoli, read aloud and signed unanimously by Congress, then printed in newspapers across the new country explicitly states, “As the United States of America is not founded on Christianity…”
That essentially ended the argument for the religiosity of the USA. However, the states were not necessarily secular at inception, but became as much as the federal government took more power and super ceded the states.

-Gendou

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
“Organized religion” is a lazy scapegoat. Organized religion follows the humanity it serves - it has been used to produce some of humanity’s greatest achievements as well as used to justify some its worst moments. The exact same could be said of the secular “worship” of Reason.[/quote]

Very astute. The problem, then, is Humanity. The only solution? Peace. What an optimist am I! Well, I vote for a peaceful anarchy, anyways. That would get rid of hate and laws. Wow. I just made litigation obsolete. You may all thank me when this happens.

[quote]gendou57 wrote:

Separation of Church and State is real, and your inability to find it in founding documents is no surprise. Oftentimes, when court decisions are made, the intent of the Constitution or one of its clauses must be anaylyzed, and the best way to do this is the look at the other writings of those who wrote the Constitution. In this case, there are wonderful records of the letters written by many of the Founding Fathers including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin among a long list of others which detail an explicit intention for the country to remain neutral regarding religious beliefs, or in other words, secular.
[/quote]

Neutral does not mean secular. It means equal opportunity for all.

Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.

[quote]

As if that wasn’t enough, the Treaty of Tripoli, read aloud and signed unanimously by Congress, then printed in newspapers across the new country explicitly states, “As the United States of America is not founded on Christianity…”
That essentially ended the argument for the religiosity of the USA. However, the states were not necessarily secular at inception, but became as much as the federal government took more power and super ceded the states.

-Gendou[/quote]

A treaty is not the constitution.

I am an athiest/agnostic. I do not like organized religions but I find most arguments against them to be false.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.[/quote]

Could you explain that opinion in more details?

[quote]gendou57 wrote:
Communism has never been seen on a national scale, but the dictators of self-proclaimed Communist countries have done a great deal of slaughtering in the name of “improving” their economy through FORCED industrialization.
-Gendou[/quote]

Countries run by Communist Parties never proclaimed their countries, economies, or societies to be Communist. They called their countries, economies, and societies “socialist”. According to them, “socialism” under the leadership of a Communist Party was a necessary step toward an eventual communist society and/or world.

[quote]pookie wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.

Could you explain that opinion in more details?
[/quote]

This is not an opinion and it is pretty self explanatory.

The constitution provides that the state does not establish any official religion but it does not mean the state should decide if and when religious speech is appropriate.

Our freedom of speech allows people to talk about religion is public and private settings. If you don’t want to hear it don’t listen.

I am annoyed by preacher types just as I am annoyed by commies and other kooks. They still have the right to say what they want as long as they aren’t yelling fire in a crowded theater.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
I feel the same way about Reason. Think of the millions slaughtered in the name of people thinking they have the Truth as determined by Reason - the French Revolution, communism, etc.

You should be picking up on at least some sarcasm.

When are the anti-religionists going to learn that it isn’t “organized religion” that makes humans do bad things, but that it is the innate savagery of human nature combined with the hubris of thinking they have found the one ultimate truth, whether it be rooted in the divinely inspired or the secular?

“Organized religion” is a lazy scapegoat. Organized religion follows the humanity it serves - it has been used to produce some of humanity’s greatest achievements as well as used to justify some its worst moments. The exact same could be said of the secular “worship” of Reason.[/quote]

So you agree that religion is totally seperate from morals, and is therefore a waste of time?

Either it ‘helps’, or it’s wasting our time and thought.

I’d rather have wars over reason tham wars over religion, if it meant people had the time to sit and think logically about things.

I suppose your conclusion also means Islam isn’t at fault in the whole terrorist dealy, but the evil nature of the humans themselves?

[quote]pookie wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.

Could you explain that opinion in more details?
[/quote]

Well, I suppose it means we don’t have to take anything based on religion and not law seriously… so we can yell during those ‘quite’ periods and say ‘Fuck Jesus!’ as loud as we like in public.

Because freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from anti-religion.

(Obviously, this ^^^ wasn’t entirely serious…)

[quote]Beowolf wrote:
pookie wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.

Could you explain that opinion in more details?

Well, I suppose it means we don’t have to take anything based on religion and not law seriously… so we can yell during those ‘quite’ periods and say ‘Fuck Jesus!’ as loud as we like in public.

Because freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from anti-religion.

(Obviously, this ^^^ wasn’t entirely serious…)[/quote]

I have no problem with that. You can insult Jesus in a public place.

I don’t know, but I dig my own organized religion. And, I’m confident it’ll still be around long, long, long after I’ve gone to dust.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
Beowolf wrote:
pookie wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.

Could you explain that opinion in more details?

Well, I suppose it means we don’t have to take anything based on religion and not law seriously… so we can yell during those ‘quite’ periods and say ‘Fuck Jesus!’ as loud as we like in public.

Because freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from anti-religion.

(Obviously, this ^^^ wasn’t entirely serious…)

I have no problem with that. You can insult Jesus in a public place.[/quote]

Where does that end though? Do we let Fred Phelps do his thing by that principal…

I want to let him have the right, but I don’t want him to exercise it… but I suppose that not giving freedom of expression to those you hate makes it not very free at all.

[quote]gendou57 wrote:

The French Revolution didn’t happen for the sake of The One Truth. It happened because a HUGE number of people were angry, violently angry with the aristocratic state.[/quote]

This is a value-less statement. You might as well have said a HUGE number of Germans were fed up with Jews during Hitler’s reign. So what? And what did they propose to replace it with?

The French Revolution, after storming the Bastille, had one vision for society - and if you stood in defiance of that vision, you were slaughtered.

Communism - an atheistic discipline that believes in a secular world built on materialist assumptions - must force its philosophy into action because under its theory, the people who have power won’t voluntarily see the wisdom of communism and change their minds.

It has to be advanced via slaughter. And the slaughter is justified on the basis that communism’s “vision” is truth.

You didn’t clear anything up - you just offered mild apologies for my examples.

[quote]Beowolf wrote:

So you agree that religion is totally seperate from morals, and is therefore a waste of time?[/quote]

Huh? Where did you invent this? Morals and religion are interwined, sometimes separate, sometimes inseparable.

It most certainly can help. There is a danger in morality not being transcendent and being defined individually.

Well, all war is bad, bt be careful what you wish for - secular visionary types have the same level of zeal for the “rightness” of their ways as do religious fundamentalists.

[quote]I suppose your conclusion also means Islam isn’t at fault in the whole terrorist dealy, but the evil nature of the humans themselves?
[/quote]

Islam is partially at fault - you again make the mistake of lumping all “religions” into one category without noting individual differences. But more than anything Islamic culture is to blame.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:

Neutral does not mean secular. It means equal opportunity for all.

Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.
[/quote]

Secular doesn’t mean the state forces people to be non-religious. That would go against the idea of secular as not devoted to any religious cause. I agree, I can not be free from religion in public because people have the right to speak freely, and that includes of their religion.

I’m merely suggesting that I can not be forced to agree with their talk, or be forced to listen to it by the government. Large difference between seeing a preacher on a box in the street and mandatory prayer in a school.

No, but like I was saying, it gives evidence of the intention of the Establishment clause of the First Amendment, and that the First Amendment is what limits the governments ability to limit free speech, religion, and protests.

No where do I suggest that the Constitution implies that no one is allowed to be Christian. I simply contend that the Constitution creates a secular government that does not devote itself to a particular religion or favors one religion over another. In MANY cases it is not possible to cover the broad spectrum of religious belief, and therefore the governments proper roll is to not comment or forward any kind of religious view.

Don’t read this as the government should be anti-religion. The government should simply not be putting forth ANY religion as superior to others, and this often requires not using religion in the public sphere.

-Gendou

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
gendou57 wrote:

The French Revolution didn’t happen for the sake of The One Truth. It happened because a HUGE number of people were angry, violently angry with the aristocratic state.

This is a value-less statement. You might as well have said a HUGE number of Germans were fed up with Jews during Hitler’s reign. So what? And what did they propose to replace it with?

The French Revolution, after storming the Bastille, had one vision for society - and if you stood in defiance of that vision, you were slaughtered.
[/quote]

Yes, a vision based on an unevidenced belief that if any aristocrats survived, the common person would be oppressed again. This is not a rational point of view because of the lack of evidence for it.

And I could’ve used the Germans being upset with the Jews (most likely that was spurred and fanned into a fire in WWII, though it existed in European history for as long as Jews have been in Europe), and came to the conclussion that Jews were ruining and oppressing the Germans, though this conclusion was come about through a notable lack of evidence. See also, not rational.

You make it sound like atheists have to be communists in your first line here. I know thats not what you meant, it just looks that way.
Anyway, Communism hinges on the idea that the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat would eventually lead into a communal mode of production. In the Marxist view, this is an conjecture made without evidence.

In Leninism, the early stages of revolution would require professional revolutionaries to rally the workers together and force a socialist government that would eventually become communist.

Obviously a dictator ship of the proletariat would be as awful and full of slaughter as any other dictatorship, possibly more so, but the belief that it will eventually be replaced by a common ownership of the means of production lacks evidence. Therefore, to believe in the goals of Communism is to believe without using reason.

[quote]
Just felt that should be clear.

You didn’t clear anything up - you just offered mild apologies for my examples.[/quote]

Apologies, no, clarifying that your examples did represent rational ideas, yes. The French Revolution, while having the goal of a democratically elected government, killed hundreds of people for no reason other than that they were aristocrats. The wiping out of the aristocrats was not a rational thing to do, but was brought about by fear of being oppressed again.

Communism is hardly a rational idea, simply because it is centered on a conjecture that has no evidence, that a revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat should lead to a communal ownership of the means of production. There is no evidence to believe this, and therefore it is not a rational idea.

Heh! Only here can I get called out for agreeing with someone.

-Gendou