Conflict, Cruelty, and Suffering

ROBERTSONI have regularly included posts on this weblog which emphasized the downside to a belief in a mythological god and especially in the inherent evils of an organized church. I’lll admit that, although I was committed to the information, it often was presented in seemingly unrelated pieces, a little here and a little there. But today I ran across a post at Salon which codified 12 of the worst things that religion foisted on humanity. I’ll just itemize them here but everyone should go to Salon or Alternet and read the complete article (the 12 evils are much more developed and far more upsetting in the original article).

12 worst ideas religion has unleashed on the world: Conflict, cruelty and suffering — not love and peace

Our shared moral/spiritual core matters. But religion has also promoted some of the worst ideas humanity has known
Valerie Tarico at Alternet (reprinted in  Salon)

Some of humanity’s technological innovations are things we would have been better off without: the medieval rack, the atomic bomb and powdered lead potions come to mind. Religions tend to invent ideas or concepts rather than technologies, but like every other creative human enterprise, they produce some really bad ones along with the good. …

These twelve dubious concepts promote conflict, cruelty, suffering and death rather than love and peace. To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, they belong in the dustbin of history just as soon as we can get them there.

  • Chosen People
  • Heretics
  • Holy War
  • Blasphemy
  • Glorified suffering
  • Genital mutilation
  • Blood sacrifice
  • Hell
  • Karma
  • Eternal Life
  • Male Ownership of Female Fertility
  • Bibliolatry (aka Book Worship)

Adherents who think their faith is perfect, are not just naïve or ill informed. They are developmentally arrested, and in the case of the world’s major religions, they are anchored to the Iron Age, a time of violence, slavery, desperation and early death. …

Iron AgeReligious apologists often try to deny, minimize, or explain away the sins of scripture and the evils of religious history. “It wasn’t really slavery.” “That’s just the Old Testament.” “He didn’t mean it that way.” “You have to understand how bad their enemies were.” “Those people who did harm in the name of God weren’t real [Christians/Jews/Muslims].” Such platitudes may offer comfort, but denying problems doesn’t solve them. Quite the opposite, in fact. Change comes with introspection and insight, a willingness to acknowledge our faults and flaws while still embracing our strengths and potential for growth. …

In a world that is teeming with humanity, armed with pipe bombs and machine guns and nuclear weapons and drones, we don’t need defenders of religion’s status quo—we need real reformation, as radical as that of the 16th Century and much, much broader. It is only by acknowledging religion’s worst ideas that we have any hope of embracing the best.

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