The Institution of Religion: A Vessel for Hatred

By Sean Lyons

I have an announcement to make: I am unequivocal which religion is correct. Given that there is no objectively an atheist. Today, I read about the attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo by Islamist militants. Twelve individuals were shot dead due to the magazine’s lampooning of the prophet Muhammad.

This is the latest of many events in which members of the human race have inflicted an uncivilized and unjusti- fiable act onto other members of the human race. When I pause and think about all of the senseless acts of violence, discrimination, and ignorance that religious fundamentalism causes, I feel perplexed to say the least. “Disturbed” is a better word to describe these religious acts of terror.

Despite my intolerance of religious fundamentalism and how it promotes backward, ancient, nonsensical ideas, I also extend feelings of intense cynicism even to milder forms of religiosity.

Though the attack on Charlie Hebdo was committed by a small slice of Islam that holds fundamentalist interpretations of the Quran, and that only occasionally commits acts of terrorism, those who are reliant on faith are at an increased risk for committing irrational acts against other human beings. Those who adhere to the unnecessary divisions that religions construct between members of the human race are more likely to lash out at those who do not agree with them. Not everyone will do this, but if everyone in the human race were completely secular, we would live in a more advantageous and efficient world.

Hearing children argue about whose imaginary friend is cooler is synonymous to hearing adults argue over proof of the existence of the various gods we pray to, our time and efforts would be much better spent if we settled our made-up differences and acted together to improve the lives of everyone present on earth.

As a race as advanced as humans we must ask a question: how does humanity benefit from faith? Humanity’s ongoing reliance on the archaic, flawed belief systems like Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism (just to name a few) are deluding themselves into simplified versions of what existence can be.

Many may argue religious institutions do plenty of good in our societies. This is true. They donate money to those in need, they teach us to have compassion for others, they give followers rules by which they can govern their lives in an orderly fashion.

These are obvious benefits, but these institutions promote these seemingly good lessons on a notion that their god will destroy you and punish you for all of eternity if you do not comply—no questions allowed.

Teachings from major religions skew our perceptions about reality. Such teachings have led many of those who practice them to not believe that the world is 4.6 billion years old; some of them practice genital mutilation for superstitious reasons. In addition, most religions believe those not belonging to their respective faith are bound towards an eternal damnation in hell or purgatory. Ultimately, such beliefs produce ignorance to a varying degree.

Unlike the totalitarian society in George Orwell’s 1984, I do not believe that “ignorance is strength.”

I do not praise anyone who suspends critical thought on purpose, especially because the holy text says so, especially for promises of eternal paradise, regardless of evidence against both topics. I do not condone a way of lifestyle in which people spend their days living in fear of being annihilated by an omniscient, unaccountable deity. Some of you will say that my lack of religion makes me inherently without morals, or that I’m living in sin, but truth be told, since I carved god out of my life at the age of 18, my life has only improved.

That’s right. I have not believed in god since 2012. He has yet to smite me.

I believe that people should live their lives without constant fear, without believing that you will upset your god if you say the wrong things, eat the wrong foods, or love the wrong people/gender.

I look forward to living in a world without institutions that make individuals fearful of gods that exist as much as Zeus or Odin do.

I am happy to say that my understanding of the world has only broadened since abandoning my faith. Being disconnected from any religion has allowed me the ability to rigorously question every aspect of my life. From this, I can honestly say that I know who I am. I have lived my life without lying to myself. I have never been happier or more productive.

So while many of us on planet Earth are worried about traditions that religious institutions impose on us, (We must baptize our child! Am I allowed to take communion? Surely, women must be completely covered from head to feet when in public! I don’t care about climate change because god has a bigger plan for us all. Birth control is against the church.) I am glad to say that secular humanism has allowed me to live my life without unnecessary burdens.

As for whatever happens when we die? I say science will answer that question infinitely better than any doctrine from which an assault in Paris can be interpreted as justifiable.

We are granted this one life to live. There is no evidence to believe otherwise. Why waste it believing that we’re destined to live in eternal bliss with whatever god who allows events like the Charlie Hebdo attack to happen?

Though this atrocity was committed by a small fraction of Islam, I believe that doing away with religion entirely, and replacing it with an admiration of human advancement such as science, would allow for the human race to move into a more peaceful and productive future.

We can avoid enormous gaps in logic that promote endless fear, unwarranted oppression and superstitious traditions. Lastly, all people must ask how religions have dogmatically stripped us from living a free life—unbound by a deity that may be fictional.