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Posted by on Apr 11, 2013 in Blog, Essays, What's Left | 12 comments

Why Won’t Religion Just Leave Us Alone?

 

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CLICK HERE:  How Religion Promotes Intolerance and (Gulp!) — Even Murder

 

I’m often asked, “why bother with religion?  Why not instead just let believers pray as they do, and leave them alone?

Oh, how I wish that were possible.  If only things were only that simple.  If only there was such an option — I’d take it.

Trouble is, we don’t have that option.

We anti-theists/agnostics/atheists can’t sit idly by and “let them pray.”  We can’t “leave them alone” — for one simple reason.  Because they won’t “leave us alone.”

No.

The religious faithful insist on invading every sphere of our human existence.  They demand totalitarian control over what we do, and how we think.  They demand absolute servitude, not only to their god but to a narrow set of twisted customs and belief systems prescribed during an ancient era when the worldwide consensus was the earth was flat and deadly diseases were caused by curses.  In short, religious practitioners not only invade our space and attempt to alter our consciousness, they also desire to be our lawgiver, our landlord, and — should we break their commandments — our executioner for eternal damnation.

We anti-theists promise to remain open-minded.  We even welcome the opportunity to debate, although we’re rarely given the chance.  We’re willing to let believers think and do entirely as they wish.  They can worship, so long as they don’t expect us to live in the same imaginary temple.

To my religious friends:  You can worship your god if you so chose.  Please, go ahead.  You can attend your church.  Please, do so.  Just don’t ask the rest of us to pay for your roads, bridges, utilities, power lines, and sewers that service your houses of superstition — and then have the audacity to demand tax exemptions.

We’ll even let you poison the minds of your own families.  Personally, I think there should be a period of compulsive non-religious education, in other words, something other than church indoctrination.  But I’m willing to concede to your law-given parental right to shackle your children’s minds and buckle their brains to your own religious mythology.  As horrific as the prospect is of cult mythology passed from one generation to the next, I’m willing to let you incubate your offspring with the idolization of angels and the giant sky daddy — that is if you’ll simply let the other children be educated according to science and evidence.

Let’s agree to meet in the middle, shall we?  I’ll grant you your rights.  But your rights end where my home, my brain, and my desires begin.  I won’t violate your space if you don’t violate mine.

But religion won’t go for this.  Unfortunately, those of you who support religion not only violate my space.  You steamroller over it.

Worse, religious beliefs aren’t merely pronounced from the pulpit.  In fact, they are written into our laws.  They tell us what we can and cannot do.  They determine curriculum inside our classrooms.  They even guide our foreign policy with the rest of the world.

Consider areas of your private life where religion has invaded your personal space and denied you the option of making a decision for yourself:

— Religion seeks to sanction who can and cannot marry.

— Religion seeks to deny women the right to control of their own bodies.

— Religion seeks to restrict scientific research and inhibit potential advances in medicine.

— Religion seeks to alter the teaching of science.

— Religion seeks to censor free speech and artistic expression

— Religion seeks to control our sexual behavior — including who has sex with who to which sex acts are acceptable.

— Religion aims to prohibit the legalization of drugs.

— Religion aims to prohibit the sale or consumption of alcohol during certain hours, on some days, and in various areas.

— Religion seeks to ban and criminalize online poker and gambling.  It opposes gambling in any form when it appears as an option for voters.

— Religion seeks to ban pornography and sexually-explicit businesses.

— Religion seeks to deny you the right to die, even if you’re suffering unbearable pain.

— Religion hijacks foreign policy away from self-interest in order to serve what are alleged to be holy instructions.

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But religion isn’t necessarily against everything.  Churches and religious institutions — and those who support them — are for lots of things.  They overwhelmingly favor policies some might even consider hypocritical.

Here’s a short list of things religion (and religious people) tend to favor:

— Religion favors the death penalty.

— Religion favors guns, even the most deadly weapons of assault.

— Religion favors and enthusiastically supports wars, as long as we’re killing the right people.

— Religion favors censorship.

— Religion favors the imposition of restrictions on things most people enjoy — like drinking, gambling, and sex.

— Religion favors an economic system whereby corporations and the wealthy can enrich themselves at the cost of the rest of society.

— Religion favors the use of animals as consumable objects to be used and then discarded.

— Religion favors the exploitation of nature and environment purely for consumption and profit.

— Religion favors methods of torture in the name of national defense.

— Religion favors colonialism, military theatrics, and preemptive aggression.

— Religion tends to vehemently oppose other (rival) religions, resulting in hate and hostility.

 

Most of these generalities apply to modern-day Christianity.  Associated faith-based movements profess unwavering support for individual freedom.  Moreover, they rally against government involvement in the lives of ordinary citizens.  Yet when it comes to enforcing their moral codes, these same groups trumpeting individual freedom fall right into line with extremists in other religions.  Let’s call them for what they are — Taliban-light.  They want government everywhere — from our bars to our bedrooms.

Of course, this argument pales in comparison to even more troubling concerns.  As abominable as religious beliefs and believers often are, they’re only a fraction of the transcontinental state of repression and terror inflicted by the Islamic religion on the often powerless citizenry within many Muslim societies.  Judeo-Christian life might be considered downright blasphemous compared to these extreme theocracies where half the population are second-class citizens and terror is an instrument of conversion to the faith.

That said, it’s hardly a virtue for Christians to rightly claim in their defense — “at least we’re not as bad as them.”

Since I don’t believe in religion, what do I believe in?  What do I stand for?  What virtues are worth a fight?  Actually, I am a believer — though not in god or the supernatural nor superstition.

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MY PERSONAL MANIFESTO

My “religion” is based on the virtues of humanism.  This means….

1.  Individual enlightenment and personal fulfillment

2.  True equality and opportunity — equality regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or race

3.  Love for humanity, animals, and the environment

4.  Freedom of speech, open exchange of ideas, and artistic expression (even if it offends me)

5.  Cooperation, not competition and conflict

6.  Constant curiosity and exploration, which includes open discussion and dialogue (about any subject)

7.  The belief that bigger, faster, and newer does not always mean better

8.  The application of logic to all questions

9.  Education based on science and fact

10.  The repudiation of lies, censorship, patience, faith, religion, and superstition.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

12 Comments

  1. I realize the “why” was rhetorical but I’ll answer anyway! They must not leave you alone because if it turns out that their God is not who they claim he is: there goes their “get out of life free card”. They have bet all their chips on continuing on to heaven after life and if it turns out that this malarkey that they believe in really was just malarkey, they die.
    Anybody who disagrees with them is threatening them with death. To fight back, they must insist in the truth of their beliefs in the strongest possible way. They really can’t leave you alone. If you were in their shoes, you wouldn’t either. The instinct of self-preservation is too strong.

  2. This is amazing. I normally read your columns for entertainment purposes. Reading this I almost feel as though you are pulling the thoughts straight from my brain, only articulated much better than I could ever dream to do myself. Our country is full of idiots who let a book dictate everything they do and everything they believe. I don’t care what they do, as long as they don’t use that book to dictate how I am supposed to live MY life. There is no way that the laws of this country should have anything to do with religion, but unfortunately we will never see a day when they are not.

  3. Oh Nolan,

    Where do we start..

    I’m glad we have a balance of people who are Christians and who are not ..

    In your perfect world, you could have sex in the streets in front of anyone, prostitution in and around neighborhoods, legal drugs rampant in schools and easy and available because that would cut down on crime. Abortions with no restrictions or regard for life of a fetus, heck you don’t want the baby lets rip it out at 5 months and kill it!

    These are extremes but that these generalities that you slap on people of faith I find downright offensive.

    I play poker for a living and go to church on Sunday and bible study on Tuesday. I’m not pro choice anymore because at the end of the day, murder is murder right? I’m anti death penalty because it goes against the teaching of Christ. I’m not pro NRA and I do think some things should be censored. Kids shouldn’t have to see billboards depicting sex acts, I call that good sense not censorship. Last time I checked you can by a drink or smoke pretty much anywhere.. (Ok, not in some parishes in Louisiana)

    Most people of faith esp. Christians love God and love people. Are there extremists? sure.

    Do I think NolanDalla.com should be banned because of its rhetoric against Christianity or people of faith it rallies against? No. In fact, I hope you write more. I have a feeling your deep dislike of the Catholic Church has soured you on God. And truthfully, I can’t stand denomations.. They promote individual doctrines and viewpoints. I don’t remember Jesus talking about the Pope…

    If it wasn’t for people with differing views in the country it would be a pretty awful place to live.

    We needs lefts and rights to keep us balanced. Your idea of society would have many flaws, just as a southern baptists would too.

    Luckily, neither have control.

    I respectfully disagree with you Mr. Dalla but isn’t that what makes us great.

    I’ll leave you alone now 🙂

    • @ nick

      yeah, because when we have no religion, we lose common sense. there will be no laws, the dead will arise … thanks for attending bible classes and saving our souls!

      seriously, religious folks reading old books – written and re-written by humans btw – really thinking these are gods own words make me laugh/sad/angry.

      i know, most of the humans need an explanation, why we exist, instead of just enjoying their lifes. They need guidelines, how to this and that instead of just using their brains, grow up and behave.

      but the problem is, that religions are like a cancer for society and the benefits never balance the negative effects. way too many people where/are killed in the name of some god(s). and even more were/are oppressed, because behind every ‘holy book’ are humans, who are abusing believes to control the masses.

      and oh boy, how everyone thinks his or her religions is superior e.g. “Most people of faith esp. Christians love God and love people” … especially, are you kidding me? this is just slightly less retarded than claiming, that Christianity is the only right religion!

      what’s with all the people – the majority of the population btw – who aren’t born into a christian culture. is this some sort of test? i know religious ppl like the “god works in mysterious ways”-argument, but i don’t think, that life is a lottery, where you’re a winner just because you where raised in a Christian family.

      but the worst thing ppl like you say is this: “These are extremes but that these generalities that you slap on people of faith I find downright offensive.”

      and sure, you had to pick some ‘common sense’-examples to counter-argue e.g.: “Kids shouldn’t have to see billboards depicting sex acts, I call that good sense not censorship” … where the heck did nolan say, he wants to see uncensored sex acts on billboards? regions censor a lot of things, mainly knowledge. a good example are the ‘creationist’ weirdos!

      fact is no one does know, if there is a god (are gods). but most off the religious people treat their believes as facts and try to persuade others. THIS IS OFFENSIVE!

      i know, i should stop here … but i can’t.

      when i read things like “Are there extremists? sure.” or “I have a feeling your deep dislike of the Catholic Church has soured you on God.” … oh, gee

      so ‘you’, the extremists and the Catholics all are thinking, that the others are wrong. but every ones opinion is based on the same ‘holy book’. how can that be?

      and why are there so many ‘out dated’ things in this book (like throwing stones on someone, until he’s dead b/c he isn’t a believer anymore) anyway. isn’t this clearly a proof, that the book has failed to be one of the foundations for a religion?

      if you would just leave your religion behind, you would recognize, that you don’t have to change. if you’re against abortion, then say it and argue without playing the “god wouldn’t approve that”-card. if you think, x-rated movies shouldn’t be aired in regular TV, than let’s discuss.

      anyway … like i said, region is a cancer, and even we would get rid of it, it would probably come back. just take his “PERSONAL MANIFESTO”, as an example. if we would write that down, in a few hundred years, people would kill others, because they don’t understand the “Words of Dalla” 🙁

  4. oh nick, were do we start…..you’re an idot

  5. Bruce,

    I’m not 100% clear on your post, but if I’m your idol, I appreciate you and will think of you daily… Of course, if you meant that I’m an idiot, you might be right. In fact, a good friend of mine just called me that recently. But based on the length and depth of your response, I may have to take that as a compliment..

    Cheers!

  6. I love you, man. You said it all.

  7. Wow – what a great article. I couldn’t agree more.

  8. I disagree on some things stated. The death penalty, religous groups are alwys protesting executions, any thime there is one in the United States they camp out for days holding vigils, and try to stop it.

    Something forgotten is all the work the catholic church and other Christians do for 3rd world countries. They were way ahead of anyone else in helping poor people around the world.

    Also lets not forget the mid 1980’s. AIDS became an epidemic. Hospitals were afraid to take victims. Gay people afflicted, along with drug users, were going to be left to die at home or in streets with no medical care. Catholic Church stepped up, big time, and set up AIDS wards in their hospitals in New York and other cities. St. Vincents in new York had largest ward for AIDS patients in the world at a tiem no one else would treat them. The good things done by church and religous people should not be overlooked.

  9. I believe in something. Just not sure what. (Nobody does) And as soon as you add money to the equation – well, that’s the rub.

    I do know one thing however..

    The line you wrote about their “Sky Daddy..” made me do a spit take.

    It was awesome. (The spit take, I mean.)

    Great stuff.. but the answer is somewhere in the middle me thinks.

    I could be wrong.

  10. This brings up an issue that has just driven me insane for decades!!
    With the separation of church and state, why in the world do we
    have to be “sworn in” on a bible?
    I, myself do not believe in organized religion, and most definitely
    do not believe in the bible!!
    So do they really think and believe that just because of swearing
    to tell the truth, that people actually do tell the truth?!?!

  11. Something like 80% of the U.S. is Christian, so I guess that’s why you see so much of it in “your” world, although being in the minority it seems rather that you may be in theirs.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Hell Bent on a Holy Mission | Nolan Dalla - [...] a two-part series on religion I wrote which can be read here (Why Won’t Religion Leave Us Alone?) Dr.…
  2. The Difference Between Faith and Trust - Nolan Dalla - […] Read more in my essay:  WHY WON’T RELIGION JUST LEAVE US ALONE? […]

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