Religion is not the problem. Ideology is not the problem. Philosophy is not the problem. Science is not the problem.
Theism is not the problem. Atheism is not the problem.
Getting rid of religion, ideology, and philosophy will not solve our problems. Making everyone religious or making everyone atheist will not solve our problems.
The problem is more about being human than anything else.
The problem of being human is almost like a question designed for the sake of having no answer.
I would use the term “human nature,” but that would place us in another discussion- what exactly is “human nature” in the first place? Most of us have an idea of what that means- humans seem predisposed to behaving in similar ways- but that certainly can’t account for all human behavior that we see.
People vary, in their nature. People vary in their temperaments. Asking if we’re inherently good, evil, both, neither, or whatever admixture is almost a meaningless question. Some people are, by their nature, quieter, louder, kinder, meaner, and so on.
It’s also possible that the basic temperament of a person, assuming they have one, can be more or less malleable toward good, evil, and so on.
For the atheists who say things such as, “If we just got rid of religion, everything would be great,” I want to say harsh things, but I’ll hold back and instead offer the suggestion to consider deeply that such a thought is not reasonable and could perhaps even be proven demonstrably incorrect by situations such as North Korea and other totalitarian regimes that have suppressed religion but still have immense suffering.
That does not excuse religions that charge people with doing harmful things. That is not the point. The point I’m making is not, and has never been, to apologize for religion on the whole.
The point is this: if you have a problem with religion, isolate first the religion, then the denomination, then the theology and behavior of the denomination, the attributes, with which you specifically have an issue.
Do you have a problem with authoritarianism in Roman Catholicism along with the child abuse scandals, the cover-ups, and the abuse of power due to the supposed moral proclamations the Church otherwise makes? In other words, is the hypocrisy along with the scandal what bothers you?
Good, then SAY THAT. Point THAT out. That’s what I, and likely many others, would like to hear. Give us your specific beef and fry it up. I’m keen on discussing actual points. That’s the actual point.
If you say “Christianity is stupid,” well, I hate to break it to you, but “Christianity” isn’t monolithic, nor has it ever been, and you’re making a pretty big statement that includes a number of factors that you’re almost certainly not considering.
Of course, the whole thing that will get thrown back in my face is that I’m Christian (despite my glaring heresy of Gnosticism, my penchant for mytho-poeticism, my mysticism, and all the things that basically make me an anti-fundamentalist), so I’ll be accused of a bias despite virtually no one I currently know having known me during the many years in high school when I was a rabid atheist ready to argue with almost anyone.
And do you know why?
Because I had been the victim of an authoritarian, rinky-dink, podunk version of Christianity in the form of an Assembly of God church. I had seen firsthand what people who didn’t question and weren’t allowed to think or explore became, and I was angry and frightened.
For a gay kid surrounded by that in Alabama, that’s a point where one has to be angry and frightened. It’s understandable.
And so I can say that I’m still sympathetic to the reactions of so many.
But hear this: you cannot let the lowest common denominator, the worst examples, be the defining examples of a religion, philosophy, ideology, or worldview. You just can’t. You have to accept the shit that’s going to be thrown your way.
Trust me, as a member of a minority, I know how that rolls. Calling myself something besides “gay” isn’t going to make things easier on me or the gay community as a whole.
And the same has to apply to religion, atheism, and so on.