Imagine No Religion

Imagine No Religion July 13, 2013

From The Far Left Side. HT Hemant Mehta.

I think this cartoon makes two important points. One is that human beings are perfectly capable of fighting over things other than religion, and so blaming human conflict on religion is probably a mistake. The other is that those of us who want to see less violence and hatred in the world should not think that spreading our religion or lack of religion will accomplish that. Indeed, the thinking that spreading my own ideology is the only solution to the world's problems may well be a symptom and not the cure.


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  • smijer

    My perspective on the comic – we have a lot of problems to solve, intellectually, economically, emotionally, and morally (although that last may be subsumed by the other three). So long as we don’t let religious commitments prevent us solving them (i.e., by letting ideology trump goodness or doctrine trump truth-seeking), whatever problems exist with religious belief or expression will be sorted out as a side effect of solving those intellectual, economic, and emotional problems. I see no need to pick on religion or on the religious just because religions suffer the same flaws as other human artifacts.

    • Hawk33

      religion is an illness of the mind and is spread from parents to children ,, it’s been proven and more so every day it’s ill effects on the human mind, Religious indoctrination of children is child abuse!! look at the countries without christian beliefs to those with.. case closed!!

  • newenglandsun

    You should read from Bishop Kathryn Jefferts Schori. It is my understanding that she defends diversity strongly.

  • I agree, though religious beliefs brook no compromise, since they deal with disagreements whose origins lie in a strictly invisible realm. At least controversies over food distribution or boarders or wages or even global warming, are about things we can all see and study together.

    • I’m with Ed. It’s not merely that religion is so frequently susceptible to fighting. It’s that it’s so frequently immune to compromise.

      On the other hand, what we know about how the human mind and human society work is still only a tiny fraction of what we don’t know. I can imagine that we might all be better off without religion, but I sure as hell can’t know it.

    • David Evans

      True. The really dangerous secular belief systems have often resembled religion in this respect. The (inevitable) establishment of a communist utopia requires the triumph of the working class. You don’t agree? Then you are a class enemy. And no evidence will convince me otherwise since the end result, the communist utopia, lies in the future. Just like Heaven.

      • Pseudonym

        That suggests to me that fundamentalist politics and fundamentalist religion are symptoms of the same underlying cause.

  • J

    Of course YOU think this, Christian.

    Fuck all religion and all religious people.

    • Normally I remove comments with profanity. But I wonder whether I should leave this one since it illustrates the point? Although I have a suspicion it may have been written by a religious person who wants to make atheists look bad, rather than a clueless atheist unaware that they were demonstrating the point made even while trying to disagree with it.

      • Kubricks_Rube

        J has been popping up on Fred Clark’s blog for years and his/her basic point is always the same. This comment is actually mild relative to some of J’s more spluttery output.

  • I agree with you that teaching hatred is not just a religious thing. Religions, however, make hating a sacred, holy thing and thus cloak its ugliness even deeper. It is important to expose this difference. You often seem to try and tuck it under the rug. Even progressive, universalist Christians, without speaking against exclusivism, are inadvertently reinforcing it by using language packed with centuries of such exclusivist triggers.

    I did a diagram today illustrating “Teaching Children About Hell” today — the propagation of hate.

    • Pseudonym

      First off, I don’t think that James is tucking it under the rug. He is, after all, (partly) in the business of fixing his own religion!

      I take your point about language. I’d like to point out in fairness that deconstructing and reclaiming formerly-bigoted language has a long and noble history. Do you have any specific examples from progressive Christians that illustrate your point?

      • I agree that he is into fixing his religion (the one he was raised in).

        I am glad you see the extra-danger of the religious coating.

        Concerning examples — lots — in my experiences. But I haven’t compiled them, bookmarked them or such. But lots. I confront progressives on it — some confess to wanting it both ways. Riding the tail of Christian privilege in America — I have several personal friends that confess to it all the time. The use the language and minimal attendance to buy themselves respectability and social connections.

        Yet their kids pick up on “not being Christian is bad” and say it to my kids even though they don’t think so. It is in the language, the stories, the hymns. It is drenched in bigotry.