July 22, 2006

the problem with religion

An interesting article in The Guardian about the problems with religion. Unfortunately the author tries to have it both ways (something probably banned in Leviticus). He understands the frankly genocidal rhetoric that they contain is dangerous, but is still unwilling to give up his attachment to his invisible friend
It is time to acknowledge that the ancient books that various religions regard as their source texts are the product of human societies seeking to define and establish themselves in a barbaric and troubled world. As such, they often contain violent, xenophobic statements
Which they do. Especially Islam and Judaism being formed as religions of conquest, but Judaism no longer acting on them so much having been persecuted minority for the last two and a haft thousand years. Christianity has less of these traits built in having begun with it's followers a persecuted minority, but it still has them and not just the ones it inherited from Judaism's conquering past. This is all true, the next be presents a problem:
often presented as being the divine will.
But if the teachings of a religion is not presented as the divine will of the god of said religion what exactly is there left? Some undefined supernatural entity that you have no idea how to worship, or even if you should, and a set of unrelated cultural practices. It is the connection between the historical (and often genocidal) rhetoric and supposed god that makes most of the worlds religions be religions (the exception being peaceful, atheist, Buddhism).

Take the most violent of the Abrahamic religions, Islam. Islam's most fundamental tenet is that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Unplug what the dessert warrior had to say as being the word of Allah from Islam and you might get something far less violent, it is just that it would not be Islam.


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