On criticizing religion

by Neil Rickert

I don’t comment much on religion.  However, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with such criticism.  Daz addressed the topic in his recent post “For People Who Don’t Believe In God, You Atheists Sure Do Talk About Him A Lot” and I think he made his point very clearly and succinctly.

I particularly liked his final line:

I certainly respect your right to your private belief. And when that belief truly is private, I’ll shut up.

I recommend that you read his entire post.

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5 Comments to “On criticizing religion”

  1. I completely agree that many religious views (though not all) have created an environment of exclusion, intolerance, and resulted in many problems with regards to equality, the environment, etc. The biggest problem I see is the idea of an anthropocentric/anthropomorphic “God” which subsequently produces certain ideas in humans, that they can do whatever they want to the environment and show hostility or punish whomever doesn’t share their beliefs. When this makes it’s way into government structure, then we have a huge issue that seems inescapable at times. It’s a shame to say the least.

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  2. Another problem is the “freedom of religion”, when some religious beliefs contradict others — and there is no way to accommodate everyone. It’s a paradox when it comes to this “freedom” because some freedoms can only be met at the expense of another person’s idea of “freedoms”. We should strive to focus on the golden rule and love, rather than specific doctrines that teach exclusion and intolerance. We can have concepts such as the golden rule and love, side by side with societal structure, education, globalism, etc., but it is tricky to implement — and would require abandonment of all the imperialism, limitless capitalism, and any other measure that exploits others for personal gain, money and power. We have a long way to go, is what I’m basically saying and society as we know it would completely change. Technology and science would as well, if the implications of those fields include exploitation, physical harm to others, war, etc. It seems near impossible to find a balance that is somehow “corruption free”. Very difficult situation indeed.

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    • Another problem is the “freedom of religion”, when some religious beliefs contradict others — and there is no way to accommodate everyone.

      I see “freedom of religion” as only implying that the state should be secular (not involved in imposing any religion or lack of religion). With that limited view of freedom of religion, there is no accommodation required. The problem is that the government does keep itself strictly out of religious issues, and does play favorites, though it does so subtly enough to not be sued for constitutional violations. And, of course, the press and the media also play favorites.

      That’s really the point of that last line that I quoted from the post by Daz. When religion truly is private, then there won’t be any special privileges. And, of course, one of the reasons that religious people won’t keep their religion truly private, is that they want to benefit from special privileges.

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      • Neil,

        It’s true, and I agree with you that strictly speaking “freedom of religion” implies that there are no state imposed religions. However, if the laws
        contradict or conflict with people’s ability to practice their religion, then it makes no difference to the person trying to practice their religion if it’s “laws” that are the cause of the conflict or the state imposing a “religion”. Laws are laws, whether they are religious laws or non-religious laws. The laws I’m talking about specifically are those which may violate or restrict religious practices. To use a silly hypothetical example, if it became a law that nobody could wear any hats or headgear (they actually had this rule in my high school back in the day), and then religious folks are unable to wear their turbines or what-have-you. If there were laws against sacrificing animals, then certain people may be limited on what they can practice, etc. So even if the state doesn’t impose a “religion” of it’s own, it makes no difference to certain religious folks if they are hindered from practicing their religion — whether it is a state-imposed religion or “secular laws”. I’m not defending any religion in particular. I’m just bringing up the fact that some have been affected by laws in this way. If someone is aware of laws that would prevent them from practicing some aspect of their religion, they would feel alienated and unwelcome. Would there be any difference if we said “You can practice your religion, as long as it doesn’t violate any of our laws” vs. “You can practice your religion, as long as you don’t violate our state-religion’s laws”. It can be tricky.

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      • “And, of course, one of the reasons that religious people won’t keep their religion truly private, is that they want to benefit from special privileges.”

        Also, many religions are designed to replicate the memes. Many are designed to be preached and spread and become as widely known as possible — not for any benefits other than getting more “recruits” to join them. You are right thought that SOME religious folks are trying to reap benefits. I won’t argue against that as it appears to be true for some.

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