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On Religion and Tolerance

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Most people I meet who discover my atheistic non-belief ask me if I’m just angry with religion. Why would I be angry with religion?

From a secular viewpoint, religion is the binding together of a community in thought and action; or that thought and action of an individual that the person considers of supreme importance or “ultimate concern.”

My view on religion is the same with Emile Durkheim. According to Durkheim, “The idea of society is the soul of religion.” So, religion and human society co-exist.

Religion is a part of my nation’s culture and heritage. Myths were fueled by religion. Most of our folk songs and epic chants like that of the Ibalons, the Sudsud of the Tagubanuas, and the Aliw of the Ifugaos are formed by tribal religious beliefs.

Religion also gives nostalgia. It gives color to my predictable daily life. It yields wonders on some mysteries I’m pursuing to know.

But there is the “dark side of religion.” Religion has caused humans to be tortured, maimed, denigrated, discriminated, hated, and murdered. It kills and cripples mankind. Every religious organization today was designed to gain political and economic power.

As Blaise Pascal said, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

Fundamentalism and Intolerance
The late Pope John Paul II addressed this issue when he said “Religious fundamentalism is our greatest threat to world peace.” Thomas Jefferson warned us, “People must not attempt to impose thiner own truth on others.”

In the case of Christianity, for instance, there are 2.1 billion Christians and 38,000+ Christian sects all competing to be known as the “true” Christian church, as what a Christian radio program announcer once said, “If you are a born-again Christian, you will go to heaven. If you following another religion, then by default you will go to hell.”

The most serious reason for this is the rigid belief in the “two option theory,” that there are only two possible alternatives and no other options.

Adherents believe that:

1. Their own faith is the “true” faith.
2. Other religions are false and evil.
3. Their own interpretation is the “only” valid explanation.
4. By eliminating “others,” you are doing God’s will.

This belief is the major cause of terrorism and anti-intellectualism that floods human society today.

If true religion is ever to exist today, it must be all about love and compassion to all humans, rather than a desire to control and dominate using fear and ignorance. It needs to be about equality, tolerance and reason, not superstition. And it must benefit all of us, not only the few.

And I don’t need to go to church just to learn that.

Edited: bhw

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About John Paraiso

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Those ‘ads by Goooogle’ things are so interesting to read.

    This is like the third or fourth thread that plays out like this:

    The topic is about religion and/or separation of church/state. The ads will be for Gay Marriage info and anti-Bush info.

  • carmine

    BINGO! But do not confuse religion with theology, theology is reason applied to faith. Theologians are often atheists, apophatics, agnostics, theists, but all use reason the single most human of human abilities to wonder about the anthropological absolute loosely defined as belief in some variety of god.

  • beadtot

    Help!! In the past I have had dented automobiles through no fault of my own, and now someone named ‘Jennifer Dent’ has banned my comments from bible.org discussion forums. What religion is that? The results from a religion of intense and personal networking? It might happen to you!

  • http://churchnstate.blogspot.com churchNstate

    Today there still is a “dark side of religion” that gets no press. On any given day, over two hundred million Christians are imprisioned, tortured or killed because they are Christians.

    Concerning “love and compassion”, there are those who believe that Jesus subscribed to the “love and compassion to all humans” belief. But how did Jesus speak to the Pharisees:

    “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! … You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence … You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean … You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” (Matthew 23)

    No there’s alot of love! And he didn’t forget to mention “hell.”

    Concering the “two possible alternative,” I think there is a difference between understand how God defines his moral standards vs. us telling God what we think His moral standards should be.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    On any given day, over two hundred million Christians are imprisioned, tortured or killed because they are Christians.

    hmmm.. and yet still they have been rulers of the western world since, well, Constantine.

    Concering the “two possible alternative,” I think there is a difference between understand how God defines his moral standards vs. us telling God what we think His moral standards should be.

    In either of your alternatives, we are following or directing wishes of God. For some of us, we aren’t even putting God in the equation. We are telling ourselves what we think our moral standards should be, we aren’t telling God.

    It is possible to follow standards other than those you believe we HAVE to follow and still not revert to beasts. Morality is not exclusive to a religion or the concept of a God.

  • http://adamash.blogspot.com adam

    On balance, I think humankind would’ve been better off without religion than with it. You don’t need religion to be moral or spiritual, so what good is it? In Europe they’ve basically outgrown it, but we’re still limping along in the Unenlightenment.

  • Bennett

    ChurchNState “On any given day, over two hundred million Christians are imprisioned, tortured or killed”

    Do you have a link that will back up this claim? If so, please post it.

  • Bennett

    adam, I agree with you, totally.

  • PseudoErsatz

    “If true religion ever to exist today it must be all about love and compassion to all humans, rather than a desire to control and dominate using fear and ignorance. It’s about equality, tollerance and reason, not superstition. And it must benefit all of us, not only the few.”

    You’re in luck! Jesus came to save all mankind. Not just those who go to certain churches on Sunday. And, yes, Jesus was about love and compassion, but he was also making people realize that no action or behavior of their part would get them into heaven on their own. People seem to quickly recognize and embrace the side of Jesus that was marked by love and compassion, but choose to forget that his harshest words were towards those who thought their actions, choices, and behaviors–yes and even thoughts, were invisible or beyond reproach.

  • homer

    Congratulations Bro john. you are lucky to be on this article by the way you deserve it. keep it up.

  • http://www.outersecrets.com/real/biblecode2a.htm Sean

    You said it 3-BEADTOT. ‘Jennifer Dent’ banned me from the forum altogether just for placing my website within my profile.

    Religion?? Are not people to be kind to one another!