Thoughts on religion, evil and rationality

This is the blog post where I lose friends and never get laid again. Many of my friends and most of the people I am interested in sexually are political atheists. I am writing this fundamentally because I believe in science, in secularism, in evidence based policy, and with getting religion the fuck out of my school, my healthcare and my political system. But I can’t in good faith (ha) as a progressive support some of the people and the political movements which dominate the public discourse around atheism.

Ok, where to start, I know, I will say this, I don’t like jeff sparrow and I don’t like his arguments. I do like PZ Myers, I disagree with him here, but I respect the hell out of him.

Edit: After posting this, I was catching up on my feed and found this post on the same topic, which I agree with wholeheartedly except for describing myself as a progressive who apparently lines up with new atheists on the issues raised.

But, you knew their was a but right?

“Islam is the greatest man-made force for evil in the world today” -Richard Dawkins

I don’t know about you, but that quote scares the shit out of me, and you know what, I don’t care at this point what else Richard Dawkins has done, but I don’t want him involved with me, or anything I am involved with if he stands by that quote. PZ Myers goes on to say

He’s targeting an ideology, not a people; if you asked him, he might even go on to say that Christianity is the second greatest force for evil.

Which, well, for one, unfuck love the sinner Muslim hate the sin their faith, you know part of being an atheist is not having do deal with double thinking like that. He might think that Christianity is the second biggest cause of evil, but he didn’t say it, and in a politicised climate like this one, statements like this will be used by racist and colonialist fucks to justify their anti immigrant, pro war agenda, which to my mind places a responsibility on the speaker to be careful and measured and not allow their words to misused.

An when those words are misused, it isn’t the Christian lawmakers who suffer, laws and words get used against those with the least power, moves to enforce secularism in France have cost Muslim minorities a lot more than Christian majorities. The Turkish ban on wearing head scarves in public buildings kept working class shi’ite women out of universities, cementing the marginalisation of these communities.  PZ goes on to say that the atheist community is full of decenting voices, which criticise and praise and argue, I am glad of that, and consider myself one of those voices, I am speaking from within the atheist community, because I want it to be better.

People are not rational, I feel that believing that we are rational beings in a major failing of modern culture, it leaves people free to not challenge themselves, because they Right of course, they have thought though the issues, and I feel this faux rationality, which we might call irrational and unaware of it, fuels some of the political atheism, believing that religion is a cause of irrationally, bigotry and sloppy thinking, I find that unlikely. For example this study on views of alternative medicine studied 509 people, 24% of which where non religious (humanist 17% atheist 7%) and found that the non religious where no more or less likely to feel positive towards alternative medicine, to be blunt, being non religious was not any protection against quackery.

Religious orgs do an amazingly large amount of damage, speaking out about this damage is critical, however as Dw3t-Hthr comments in her wonderful and very snarky piece tips for atheists

Most religious organisations suck, and institutionalised power leads to abuses. WELCOME TO PROGRESSIVE SOCIAL ACTIVISM AWARENESS, HERE IS YOUR INFORMATIONAL BROCHURE ABOUT WAYS THE HUMAN CAPACITY TO GANG TOGETHER GOES HORRIBLY WRONG. Seriously, are you expecting religious structures to differ from corporate structures? Nations? High school cliques? People form social structures to make levers; people apply levers to get what they want. Some things people want are bloody awful. If you want to end holy wars you’ll have more success with it by fixing water rights, health care access, economic security, and all that hope-for-the-future stuff than by trying to abolish gods.

I would argue that religion, faith is misused for bigotry and abuse, but then so is science it could be argued that Evo psych isn’t science, I have argued that in the past and to his great credit PZ myers did, but it is still used to justify bigotry and sloppy thinking, and science and rationally has a very evil history. I am not arguing against science or the search for knowledge, but we need a wholistic understanding of what causes human evil, and religion is far from having a monopoly on it.

Personally I describe myself as a secularist, I don’t think it is any of my business to tell those of faith that they should loose faith, I believe it is useful for atheists to ally themselves with minority religions who have at least as much investment in keeping the majority religion out of public enforced spaces as atheists. I like having allies, and I think there are few things more dangerous or stupid than getting rid of them for no good reason. I am a believer in science, and evidence based policy. I am not setting out to argue that science is evil, or always corrupt, but rather that cruelty and sloppy thinking and endemic in humans, they are built in, and i don’t believe we will get rid of them by getting rid of religion, even if that was a possible.

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2 Responses to Thoughts on religion, evil and rationality

  1. Claire N says:


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