Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Religion - the root of all evil?

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The Marquis de Sade thought so, but then he was no paragon of virtue himself.
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That is the name of an excellent documentary that was on Channel 4 in the UK last night (which led nicely into Celebrity Big Brother afterwards).
The documentary claimed religion was the root of all evil – because it was faith over science and reason. This is a point that all objectivists would agree with, with one exception - religion isn't the only source denying reason - but it certainly is a major one.
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There is a clash of cultures between pre-modern Islam and modern Western civilisation, but also between post-modern Christianity (evangelical) and modern Western civilisation. The war on terror is just, and should be waged for the sake of secular Western modernity - but this is blurred by those claiming it is a Holy War between Christianity and Islam, which is what fundamentalist Muslims believe. ANY adherents of Islam or Christianity (or Judaism) which seek to use force to achieve their goals are evil - but unfortunately, the battlelines are messy.
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To have such a controversial topic on prime time television is a testament to the courage the commercial privately owned Channel 4 has in confronting Christians, Muslims, Jews and others over what they believe. The presenter, Professor Richard Dawkins no doubt is hated by fundamentalist Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. He went to Jerusalem and the United States to talk to people who propagate their irrational hatred of reason, to see if he could understand or get them to understand why people might think differently – he got barely disguised hatred. One man who was raised Jewish in the US, moved to Gaza as a settler and converted to Islam blamed him for allowing women to dress like whores in the streets – when he responded “they dress themselves, I don’t dress them”, the response was “but you let them do it, you let your society allow this”. Islam thinks men should be controlling women, regulating them - hmmm.
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Religion is a denial of reason, science doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, whereas religion does – God did it! Not only did God do it, but some book, written by men centuries ago, contains all the guidance you need to live your life and run the lives of others.
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My beef with religion is twofold:
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1. It is about denying reality. It is about asserting a being exists without there being evidence for its existence – indeed faith is just that, an acceptance that something is real without any other grounding for that belief. Denying reality is fatal, it reduces what your life can bring you and what your life can bring others, it is a form of insanity. Nothing more and nothing less, belief in religion is a form of madness.
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2. Many of the rules propagated by the major religions are irrational, illogical and immoral. Take how Islam treats women, like second class citizens that need cared for. Take how Christianity treats sex, filthy and vile – necessary to have children, but otherwise filthy and vile. They do not believe human beings own their bodies or their property and should be able to do with them as they please, as long as they do not interfere with the rights of others to do the same.
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Go to the website here and check it out, next week is part two of the series which argues that religion is a virus when taught to the very young, it infects their minds and warps their thinking. After all, why do some countries produce generation after generation of Muslims or Christians, because children are raised and never doubt it?
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Ask TVNZ, TV3 or Prime to buy the programme and show it in New Zealand.

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