Thursday, May 10, 2007

Religion Dictates

Religion Dictates. I could just stop there. Perhaps this is the main problem with Religion. It dictates. It leaves little or no room for intelligent contemplation and debate of its core propositions. Some religious endlessly debate the minutia – details of whether the interpretation of this passage or that implies that a certain food is or is not fit to eat, for example, or that a particular activity is or is not appropriate during this holiday or that. But the core propositions are pretty much off limits in all of them. To promote debate reaching into the core would inevitably result in the widespread recognition of the fallacy of these foundational ideas, causing the collapse of whatever had been built upon them.

Religion dictates how its followers should think (or not think), how they should behave, what they should feel, and how they should interpret the world around them. It places blinders in critical areas ("pay no attention to the man behind that curtain") and penalties, often to be manifested in some supposed afterlife (so of course they cannot be disproved), for those who would take a critical look. Religion is a primitive way of explaining the world, largely devoid of any truth whatsoever, even as it hijacks the very word "truth" for its own misuse. Religion demands of its followers that they set aside what their own senses tell them in favor of a variety of stories ranging from vaguely plausible at least metaphorically, to preposterous, downright silly ideas that, but for having been told for millennia, would immediately be dismissed as the nonsense that they are.

In our efforts to shake off the bonds of thousands of years of religious dictation, we need to think for ourselves, experience and observe the world for ourselves, and critically examine our own thoughts and beliefs as well as those of others; not blindly accept them. We should actively reach out to others to encourage them to do the same, to examine their own thoughts critically, as well as those of others. Together we should work to contribute to the growing body of human accomplishment and knowledge.

Religious ideas should be subject to no less rigorous standards than any scientific hypothesis or theory, and just as in scientific investigation, when an idea is demonstrated to be wrong, it must be discarded.