One virus has spread to the vast majority of people on this planet, a virus like no other,a mental virus planted in the mind at birth. For thousands of years billions of people have entrusted an invisible man with their very existence by simply whispering a few words of praise to themselves on a regular basis or even to such extremes as the sacrifice of humans and genocide. This invisible man has and has had many different names, be it the more modern Yahweh, Allah, Jehovah, among other spiritual creations like the old Greek gods and goddesses that first sprouted from stories of different tribes and other early civilizations to explain the unexplained, to fill a void of ignorance that longed to be filled. The result of those early spiritual creations in the early days of humanity evolved into more complex and organized ideas which inevitably created groups called religions with multiple, one, or no gods accompanied by more or less complex mythical stories and laws or consequences for certain actions to control society. Religions have to date caused an endless number of wars, caused billions of deaths, and immensely slowed the progress of humanity and have even reversed it at times such as the dark ages. Religion is delusional and of detriment to the entire human race.
Religion is the largest purveyor of irrationality. It is no secret that the religiously devout shamelessly state that they don’t need intelligence and take pride in their ignorance. Fundamentalists ’know’ they’re right because they read their truth in a book. Their truth is supposedly universally known, even though it is not concluded by any logical process. The book must be right so if any evidence contradicts it the evidence is wrong (Dawkins 319). Any human being who only thinks empirically from only a book or writings written ages ago couldn’t possibly be able to think rationally. For example a conversation in the comedic documentary Religulous shows an Evangelical Christian Senator's blatant ignorance. “It worries me that people are running my country who think, who believe in a talking snake (Religulous).” The Senator quickly responded, “You don’t have to take an IQ test to be in the senate though.” which received a look of amazement from Bill Maher (Religulous). The Senator basically called himself stupid and seemed proud as he said it as if he got away with getting into a position of power while lacking intelligence was an accomplishment to him.
Another example from the very same documentary would be when Bill Maher was simply asking a few questions in a small church. Bill Maher had asked, “But why is faith good? Why is believing in something without evidence good?” to which a man said, “I don't know what this documentary is supposed to be, but I don't like where you're going. You start disputin' my god, you got a problem. I don't know what you-- I'm outta here. You do what you wanna do, but I'm outta here (Religulous).” There's a point where people go into total denial to escape what they don't even want to hear because they're in their own little world in their mind, a world without any defense that is only maintained with positive reinforcement from those around one self so their only defense is to go in denial and flee.
There was an elderly professor in my department who had been partially
keen on a particular theory for oh, a number of years, and one day an
American visiting researcher came and completely and utterly disproved
our old mans hypothesis. The old man strode to the front, shook his hand
and said, "My dear fellow I wish to thank you, I have been wrong
these fifteen years." and we all clapped our hands raw. That was the
scientific ideal, of somebody who had a lot invested, a lifetime almost
invested in a theory, and he was rejoicing that he had been shown
wrong and that scientific truth had been advanced.
(Richard Dawkins' The Route of All Evil)
Though theological stories and characters aren't sitting around in some ones mind, no one is born with Zeus, the ten commandments or any other theological beliefs residing in their brain somewhere. Children have minds that are blank slates ready to be written on by their environment which of
course includes the things they're taught. Religions prey on those developing minds of the young because they are entirely defenseless; they've gone out of their way to make alliances with secular institutions such as government, education centers, medical care facilities and so on to indoctrinate children with their theological beliefs (Hitchens 217). A woman by the name of Mary McCarthy wrote a book, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, in which she remembers the shocking thought of her Protestant grandfather, whom she was very close to, was going to go to hell because he was simply baptized in the wrong way (Hitchens 220). It must be a horrible thought that a kind beloved family member would go to a place of eternal suffering and anguish simply because they were baptized differently than you were. Telling a child something so horrible such as that may as well be considered a sophisticated form of mental child abuse. A teacher may as well tell a first grader, ‘If you do not do your homework your mommy will be thrown into a fiery pit of pain and agony for all eternity.’
Now the interesting part about religion in society is that it is taboo to speak ill of any modern theology. Society enlarge thinks religion deserves extra respect simply because it is so vulnerable as to prevent even having to resort to irrational responses and simply going into denial. Basically the common conception of society is, 'Here is an idea or notion you're not allowed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not? - because your not!' Though if someone disagrees with you politically there will be an argument but no one will feel aggrieved (Dawkins 42). Basically there are multiple layers outside theology of irrationality and denial placed to help a believer cement their archaic beliefs. While some very few religions such as Buddhism confront criticism and contradiction with a much more humble or passive aggressive response that generally sums up as, 'I understand your concern, but I have meditation to get back to which I rather do than waste my time becoming angry or frustrated arguing with you.' Though in the end whether the response is reprehensive or humble, it’s essentially the same answer, 'leave me alone.' In a sense, religion in the end is nothing more than a shell of irrationality, denial, and delusion to protect ones self from harsh realities and in a way it is an expression of vanity.
Religious people often accuse atheists of
being arrogant and of placing ourselves in the position of God, but
really it is the theist who has all the vanity. He can't stand to
think that he will ever cease to exist. As Freud said, Christianity
is the most egotistical of the religions. It is based on the
premise 'Jesus saves me.'
- Marian Noel Sherman
Speaking of Jesus saving people, lets delve into Christianity, the primary religion of the west that’s dominant in every religious country. Now what is Christianity really? Well, Christianity can
easily be connected to Kemetic, the religion of ancient Egypt and numerous major components of Christianity can be translated to astronomy. For instance, Horus from 3000 BC who is nearly a parallel to Jesus, he was born of a virgin, baptized by a man who was later beheaded, healed the sick and the blind, walked on water, had twelve disciples, was crucified, and two women three days later announced that he had resurrected. Now onto astronomy, ‘the star in the east’ Sirius aligns with the three brightest stars in Orion’s belt which are called what they always had been even in ancient times, the three kings, which point to where the sun rises or is ‘risen’ on the 25th of December (Zeitgeist: The Movie). There are numerous other examples of astronomy and instances of theological plagiarism that I could cite as well.
Now onto the practical negative effects, the things that are of more importance to most people that transcend the concerns of philosophical and intellectual interests, physical effects. In Africa there is a major aids epidemic, and the current pope, basically the king of Catholicism, has stated that condoms “aggravate the problem”, and the unsurprising reaction of the bishops was, “We say no to condoms (Goldacre, par. 3)!” Among other damages, in the United States rights have even been suppressed throughout the majority of the country such as the option to abort a fetus, which has even gone to the point of doctors being harassed, stalked, and murdered (Huffington Post, par. 15). “I may be retort that such hostility as I or other Atheists occasionally voice towards religion is limited to words. I am not going to bomb anybody or behead them, stone them, burn them at the stake, crucify them, or fly planes into their skyscrapers (Dawkins 318).” Those lacking in theological beliefs rarely ever emit such violent responses like threats or murder, typically the most aggressive action is a march or petition.
Though if there is a religion in modern times known for violence, it is Islam. The supposed religion of peace that has had resulted in people being beheaded over blasphemy laws, which are active in middle eastern nations like Pakistan where people such as Abdul Rahman for instance, have been sentenced to death for simply converting to another religion which so happened to be Christianity (Hitchens 324). Now just recently this year a violent protest broke out over a Florida pastor burning a Koran, nine people died as well as another eighty one were wounded (Norland, par. 2). There is an obvious fundamental difference in how dangerous these religions are though, a Christian based society would probably at the most condemn the burning of a bible, and would likely hardly even consider accusing someone of blasphemy let alone beheading someone for such a senseless reason. Though sometimes statements from Christians such as George W. Bushes father who said, “No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.” cause a bit of worry because it shows that in reality Christians can be as insensible and fanatical as Islamists.
"Why should you believe in something
for which there is no reason to believe. Where it becomes
positively dangerous is if you start fighting with somebody else
who has a different faith from yours. And each of you is
equally convinced that you are right and the other one is wrong.
And because, precisely because it appeals only to faith, and not
evidence, there is no way you could settle the argument other than
killing each other. Whereas, if you disagree, as two scientists
disagree, two scientists can sit down together, look at the
evidence, and say, 'Oh, I was wrong. I overlooked that bit of
evidence." Or, 'Here's a new bit of evidence just come
in which shows that my previous theory was wrong.' Scientists, at
least in principle, will come to an agreement when all of the
evidence is in. But that's not what faith-based people do. They
say, 'I know I'm right. End of story.' That's dangerous."
In the end what more is any religion but a bunch of myths thought up centuries to millennia ago piled up into one book that is taught as actual history. The followers, at large, nothing more than a herd sheep in a deep and desperate state of denial. Their claims of being a source of morality the religious spout only glaze the core of endless immoralities contained within their texts and history. Not to mention religion in its self could be held responsible for instilling the idea that one needs a master, aka a king, which helped to suppress the people for centuries, virtually as self elected slaves simply because the thought of a 'lord' was normal to a believer as it sometimes still is (Dawkins 324). “When revelations was written only god had the capacity to end the world, but now man does too, because unfortunately before man figured out how to be rational or peaceful he figured out nuclear weapons and how to pollute on a catastrophic scale (Religulous).” Religion is without doubt the most delusional practice in existence today as well as the most detrimental to the very existence of humanity. I leave you with a quote of Epicurus.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?