The Downfalls of Religion

Religion is bittersweet. It’s good, it’s bad. It’s the best thing that even happened, it’s the worst plague on humanity. It will be around forever, it will slowly die. Why do we need it, why do we have it?

Origins of religion are ancient. Starting with cave paintings ending with The Sistine Chapel, humans have always expressed the need for religion and it’s propagation, but why? An answer is: “an answer”. Look around, the things around us are wonderful, amazing, complex. How do they work, where do they come from? God. What is meaning of life, why are we here? God. It’s the ultimate answer to all the hard questions. A short, simple answer, which makes absolutely no sense to me.

They say “look around at all the beautiful things around you, and tell me that some sort of divine being exists”, I say “look at the awful things around you and tell me that a divine being would let this happen”. I’m a skeptic, to say the least. How can some dude (I guess it’s a little more complicated than that) be responsible for all the things around us?

A smart man once said “It’s easier to believe a simple lie than a complicated truth”. Theory of Evolution, String Theory are all very complicated explanations about why, and how we came to be. They make more sense to me, because at least they show an effort to logically explain things. I don’t want the “it’s like that just because it is” explanation. Please, spare me the “it’s just a theory” bull crap, a scientific theory stood the test of time, with many people probably smarter than yourself and smarter than me failing to disprove it.

Before you start shouting profanities at me, let me say that as a teenager, I haven’t even made up my mind about religion yet. I’ll change it 50 times before the year is over, but so far – the arguments against God are overwhelming. Just to be fair, however, let’s look it from both sides, shall we?

Religion is great.

  • Religion is a universal way to get huge masses of people to love their neighbor
  • It has spawned some of the greatest works of art ever made
  • It inspires scholarly learning, and encourages a healthy human spirit

Religion is awful.

  • Religion is a universal way to get huge masses of people to kill their neighbor
  • There us no need for a second point.

How many wars are going on in the name of religion right now? How many have happened? During the Medieval Inquisition immense amounts of women were accused to witchcraft and tortured to death in the name of religion. During the Spanish Inquisition anyone who was no Christian was murdered brutally. Where in the Bible does it say that this is OK? No one in their right mind would allow this.

Richard (I wrote Steven before, sorry)  Dawkins and others are leading a revolution. They are pleading for a society of reason, where people will use their judgment, and play nice because they want to, not because they’ll burn in hell if they don’t.

Please, prove me wrong, so I can make a better decision about this.

-Gosha

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16 Responses to “The Downfalls of Religion”


  1. 1 joshh November 8, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    You’re gonna burn in hell.

  2. 2 happyatom November 8, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    🙂 At least I’ll never be cold.

  3. 3 jdantzlerw November 8, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Gotta love that first response… I hope it was a joke from someone you know. Anyway… When you say that the arguments against God are overwhelming, which arguments do you mean? There are a lot of people out there with many different arguments for and against God, which of these are you referring to?

  4. 4 Bad November 8, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    I think you mean Richard Dawkins.

  5. 5 happyatom November 9, 2007 at 9:11 am

    @jdantzlerw – Yeah, it’s a friend of mine, but even if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t think much of it. These kinds of things are to be expected with this topic. Arguments against God? I listed a few vague ones, like all the awful things that are happening which a God shouldn’t allow, and the point about many wars being lead in the name of religion. I guess when I say against “God” I really mean religion. And when I say religion I guess I mean the Abrahamic religions, since Buddhists are not known to cause violence.

    @Bad – Thanks a lot, that was a stupid mistake to make. I’ll make sure to give your blog a read later.

    1. If God is willing but unable to prevent evil, he is not omnipotent

    2. If God is able but not willing to prevent evil, he is not good

    3. If God is willing and able to prevent evil, then why is there evil?

    ~Epicurus’s trilemma

  6. 6 Gerald Ford November 9, 2007 at 10:24 am

    I have often noticed that when people make an indictment on religion and its irrationality, the arguments are usually most appropriate for western religions only, but don’t necessarily apply to the eastern ones.

    The God concept really only applies to Western religions, where God is the end-all, be-all, but for example in Buddhism, there is no God (with a capital G), and “faith” in Buddhism is more like a sense of conviction you develop as you practice the path, not blind faith.

    Some things to mull over I guess. 🙂

  7. 7 jdantzlerw November 9, 2007 at 11:54 am

    I feel that when it comes to the problem of evil one has to understand that we have free will. In order for there to be any good or evil we must have the choice to choose one or the other, otherwise we would be amoral beings, not moral ones. So, one assumes that in any given moral situation there are at least two choices, a good choice and an evil choice. If God were to have created us in such a way that we could only choose the good than we would not be moral beings. Alvin Plantinga explains the argument in much better words than I can.

    “A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil. The fact that free creatures sometimes go wrong, however, counts neither against God’s omnipotence nor against His goodness; for he could have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good.”

    What Plantinga is saying is that we, not God, are the cause of evil, and that the only way to completely free the world from evil would be to remove all moral good from the world as well.

  8. 8 happyatom November 9, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    @Gerald Ford – Yes, you are quite right, I mentioned in my comment that I was referring to the Abrahamic religions, eastern ones are not known for having one single God, even linking to ancient ones like Jainism, Taoism, etc.

    @jdantzlerw – That’s quite the interesting argument, I agree. That makes me think more carefully when speaking about the presence of evil in the world. I’ve heard this argument before, however.

    God “made us” and gave us free will, so that we can choose good and choose evil, and ultimately hopes that we will choose good.. He then threatened us with eternal suffering if we do not. What sort of free will is that?

    I guess your main argument, however was that we are the cause of evil, and there can’t be evil without good, and I don’t know if I agree with that completely. Is an earthquake that kills many innocent people some sort of evil that they caused?

  9. 9 olgaolgaolga November 9, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    good and bad is somewhat objective. what is good…or bad? what do u mean when u put things under those categories? can’t BAD things be done for righteous reasons?? someone’s good is someone else’s bad. what society’s determined morals says is BAD is one thing, what bad/good is for each individual being is completely another.

  10. 10 jdantzlerw November 9, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    I was speaking on moral evil, which is what you had commented on in your post. When you speak of natural disasters, I feel that we are no longer talking about evil. But I do feel you are correct in bringing this up when looking at what God allows to happen. All of these natural processes, earthquakes, hurricanes (and I know from hurricanes having lived in NOLA before and after Katrina), etc. are part of the delicate balance that allows the planet to sustain life. As awful as these events can be we have to look at them in the light that if they did not occur than we would not be here.

  11. 11 Bad November 9, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    “I feel that when it comes to the problem of evil one has to understand that we have free will. In order for there to be any good or evil we must have the choice to choose one or the other, otherwise we would be amoral beings, not moral ones.”

    Either you are good and choose good things, or you aren’t, and don’t. Tossing out a term like “free will” that you will never bother to define coherently and claiming it explains anything is philosophical dead end.

    Free from…. uh.. WHAT? Themselves? Their own nature? That makes no sense at all: how can something be free from its own nature and still actually be in any way meaningfully responsible for what it does?

    As with most of the free will excuses in theodicy, this is nothing more than completely avoiding the issue of how and why this or that person comes to make this or that choice. And you HAVE to avoid answering this core issue, because any attempt to even consider it completely destroys the argument.

    And if God only chooses good, does that mean that we are morally superior to God, who is apparently a robot, by Plantinga’s own reasoning?

    “As awful as these events can be we have to look at them in the light that if they did not occur than we would not be here.”

    I find it very very hard to believe that there are no functional alternatives to these things. Your argument here is pretty much a pitch perfect echo of the view Voltaire ridicules in Candide: the Panglossian ad hoc excuse that we are living in the best possible world.

  12. 12 happyatom November 9, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    “In a perfect world you and I probably wouldn’t exist, so let’s not hope for one”
    🙂
    -Ze Frank

    A slightly different train of thought, but it’s still interesting to consider this when talking about perfection and disappearance of evil, etc. The comments on this post made me realize I know next to nothing about the philosophy behind this.

  13. 13 teengle November 10, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Wow, a couple of things gosh, first of all well done on writing an interesting article that got so much attention 🙂 Amazing choice of topic. Second as far as my personal stand on all this I should say that jdantzlerw has made some amazing points about the fact that humans NEED to have the choice between bad n good otherwise bad and good would not exist coz everyone would just be good. It’s like if everyone on this planet was amazingly beautiful then beauty would lose its meaning. I personally believe that there definitely is an almighty god, I barely believe in anything but this one thing I’m completely sure about, but I would probably not be able to convince you or any body else that there is a god and there is a heaven and a hell. I believe it coz I have felt it, I have experienced it, maybe it would sound dumb but when i pray I could feel god. In my life I believe god has helped me a lot and my faith has given me a lot what I have today. I think in order to understand this feeling one needs to experience it, you can’t be logically convinced through laws of physics.
    -And bout religion in general, I think religion gives a way of life, a set of rules that help you live a prosperous and healthy life, I think behind every rule that god has set for humans in various religions there is logic. I’m willing to sit down and discuss my personal views with you one day if you want. I could just tell you what I think and why I think it but I won’t be able to convince you , like I said in order to believe it you need to feel it, religion is no math or physics 🙂

    Overall, amazing post 🙂 (Hi5 Very nice)

  14. 14 Bob (not really) April 28, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    I like the theory of, “God can’t do everything, because I want to see him make an object that even he can’t lift, then lift it, well he can’t, can he?” Cause lady’s and gentleman, he can lift it. It’s called a pully system, a lot of helium balloons and a spring underneath. But your right, God is weird. God is the most merciful being ever, ywet he condemns his non-followers to hell. Wow, really forgiving

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