Believers are convinced religion is good.
It is easy to see why.
On the surface, religion appears to be a wise philosophy
addressing the importance of compassion, humility and the value of life.
As a Christian for decades, I certainly believed religion was good. So I baptized
my children, I taught them to pray and took them to church.
But I’ve changed my mind about religion being a good thing.
Take a closer look for yourself:
“Humility is the fear of the Lord;
its wages are riches and honor and life.”
It is good to remind oneself that one doesn’t know everything.
Our senses are limited as is our knowledge. This discovery is the beginning of wisdom. Plus, overweening confidence and self-righteousness can lead to suffering for everyone involved.
But religion bungles this lesson by bringing God into it – one who is on your side.
And this forces you to be the exact opposite of humble.
“For if God is with us, who can be against us?”
“Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents…and over
all the power of the enemy: and nothing
shall by any means hurt you.”
– Jesus (Luke 10:19-20)
This is not humble. This is not humility.
These are claims about supernatural power gifted only to the obedient and fearful believer.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God…to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.”
Though empathy is natural in most of us and emerges unprompted when we see someone in pain, it is good to remind ourselves to be ready to be compassionate before bad things happen to others. Who could argue with that? Not me.
Not only because it is moral to do so, but bringing real help, good cheer or honest encouragement to others is one certain way to bring happiness to ourselves.
Jesus is a mixed bag regarding compassion. Jesus preaches a variation of the golden rule, an ancient moral code which pre-dates religions and requires no gods. His Parable of the Good Samaritan is standard secular morality of the Golden Rule, “Do as the good Samaritan” but other parables have terrible messages: “execute them in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)
But religion destroys compassion by excluding sinners from being worthy – always with perfect coldness. You’ll hear Christians say, ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ but wait – who is the one making the apparent sin? The sinner!
And as Jesus supposedly told followers ‘judge not’. But on closer inspection deciding someone is ‘a sinner’ is precisely where all the harm is in the first place!
It is a sleight of hand, a trick. Once I identify you as a sinner, I have already judged!
And Jesus destroys the Golden Rule as He pretends to support it:
“have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.”
(2 Thessalonian 3:14)
“If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed!…”
(1 Corinthians 16:22)
“deem them unworthy…remove your blessings of peace.”
– Jesus (Matthew 10:13)
This is not compassion.
Even if one thinks God demands love, there is plenty of judgement demanded first – and that is cruel in itself.
There is good reason to conclude that Religion is not good when it comes to compassion.
THE VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE
“You are God’s temple
and that God’s Spirit dwells in you…For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”
(1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
Respect for Human Life?
This is another great idea which should be good and wise. It is entirely fair to respect life as we would like our own lives to be respected.
But this is corrupted the moment one understands that God demands an eternal death sentence for trivial crimes. The trivialities worthy of eternal torture demean the value of normal life (lustful dreams while sleeping or being born Gay, for example).
A god who demands punishment for trivialities is not valuing human life at all.
This is not a supreme respect for life – it is putting triviality ahead of life.
It appears it is not human life which matters to God, but God’s own career and notoriety:
“Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer… . yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.” (Hosea 9:11-16)
“Don’t waste….on the people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs!” – Jesus (Matthew 7:6)
You often see God demeaning his own value and integrity – as if he were no more than a barbarian covering his tracks while Jesus shows contempt for people outside of his group, demeaning them as ‘unholy.’
This is not demonstrating a value for human life. It is just tribalism.