28 March 2010

Should we ditch religion?

I read an article today from philosopher and scientist Sam Harris, in which he stated that we should stop looking to religion to guide our moral compasses.  Religion, he says, is what keeps us from making rational decisions and makes us more concerned with "God" than with real life.  He makes a pretty compelling argument, I'd have to say.  More after the jump...
Harris is a well known secularist, scientist and philosopher, and has authored two books.  In his remarks at the TED conference in Long Beach, CA, he said that "We should be talking about real problems, like nuclear proliferation and genocide and poverty and the crisis in education,".

Unfortunately, I have to agree. I feel like religious differences are at the forefront of war and unrest in the world.  For example, the Lord's Resistance Army recently carried out a massacre in the DR Congo.  They are a rebel group that aimed to turn Uganda into a theocracy based on the Ten Commandments. The LRA is responsible for the deaths of thousands, and the displacement of thousands more.  They kidnap women and children, and force the children into warfare.  Religion in the Middle East is a cause for war.  In America, abortion and gay marriage are bigger issues than war and poverty.

Harris says that people's dependence on religion is nothing less than "insane".  I wouldn't put it so strongly, but I have to say that it IS a problem.  What do you think?


  1. I believe religion is corrupting reality. In texas, the Board of Education approved radical changes in the curiculum. They are going to take Enlightenment Idealist, Thomas Jefferson out of the textbooks, and replace him with Religious Idealist John Calvin. They also want to replace the focus of Seperation of Church and state, with the Religious influences of our founding fathers. It's completly obvious that they want to drop Church and State, so they can get away with changing textbooks. In no way, should religion be able to override the core democratic values of our country. It blows my mind to see this cult, this congregation, totally take control over the minds of America. That's basically my outlook on religion.

  2. Morality is not part of religion. People can be "good" without it. They make decisions based on rationality and not on what "God" wants. In the video, I think he uses the analogy that he wouldn't dump car battery acid on a girl for trying to read, because that's inherently WRONG. I feel like a lot of religious people are "moral" because they feel like someone's looking over their shoulder.

  3. Great post, Shawn! Somehow I missed this one. I do feel that religion can help people develop a moral code, and may help a society come to a more unified code, but as we all know, it can go too far.
    Prayer to me, is the equivalent of personal reflection, we look inside and hear a "voice". Whether that voice is our own or one of divine intervention I cannot claim to know.
    What too far is, I would say, is when the thought process is removed. I know many many people who consider the words and teachings of their faiths, and use these as a healthy guide in their lives. But there are a small few (and we three know many of them) that follow blindly on first impulse, without stopping to think "what does this really mean, in relationship to me and in my life?"
    I feel if people did that more often, there would be less fighting about it, and more moving on to the more difficult stuff.