Normally I like to direct my condemnations toward atheistic and secular modes of thinking. Not because those beliefs are wrong, but because I think there should be more critical thinking in that area outside of the typical “godless, amoral monsters” attack that is too easily repudiated. The God-Shaped Hole argument has some validity, but that’s another blog for another day.

Today I’m going to bat for the other team, and give a couple of examples of things I find wrong with religion specifically, that don’t exist outside of the religious realm.

The first issue I have with religion is the hypocrisy. This centres mostly around morality:  religion is, at its foundations, a strict guide on how to behave. However, as I illustrate in my previous blog post (https://blogforchumps.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/subjective-morality-its-all-weve-got/) we choose our own moral code, and the rules of holy scripture become less of a rigid set of ethics, and more of a timid suggestion.

This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if people admitted that they were using those rules as suggestion rather than as stone cold fact. But this is not often the case, and people will defend adamantly that they are absolutely correct in their way of thinking because their way has fancy words like “Thou” and “Shalt” in it. This is despite these people either glossing over or downright ignoring the Thous and the Shalts that contradict some of their other firmly-held beliefs.

Atrocities may be committed in the name of secularism and atheists may hold atrocious beliefs, but since they don’t have a rule book that says otherwise, it can’t be considered a hypocrisy.

The other issue that I have with religion is the notion that only things that make us miserable can be considered morally acceptable, and if it feels good then it must be wrong. This is of course an exaggeration, but it’s still true to some extent. There is the puritanism, the guilt, the asceticism, and in the extremes we have the self-flagellation, the sexual mutilation, etc. associated with religion, and because of that association, these are seen as morally proper conduct.

This stems from the belief that religion should be a restraint on the natural urges of human desire, and yes, some restraint is a good thing. But humanity seems to like taking things way, way too seriously, and because of this , this way of thinking has far surpassed reasonable levels. It has even gotten to the point where we have secular beliefs that have been created by this “misery leads to morality, and pleasure leads to sin” way of life, such as sex is bad, drugs are bad, and veganism is somehow a good thing.

I’m not advocating hedonism, but religion’s restraint on basic human urges and desires needs to be examined a little more thoroughly. WHY do we slut-shame? WHY is marijuana illegal? It wasn’t secular thinking that led to these beliefs, and yes, an argument can be made that patriarchal cultures lead to slut-shaming, but where did the belief that sex is wrong come from in the first place?

When I think about critiques of religion, and there are many, I always think of John Lennon asking us to imagine a world without religion, and I do, and I believe most of those critiques would still be around. However, I don’t know if these two issues that I have raised would be. There are obviously moral regulations that people can be hypocritical about in secular circles, but no ethical rules are as absolutist as religious ones, which makes the hypocrisy that much more apparent. And you know, maybe humanity would find a way to severely oppress our natural desires outside of religion, or maybe we would simply be content oppressing ourselves in other ways, but who knows.

Who knows?

 

Post-script: I’m not saying that religious ethical beliefs are bad. I’m saying that embracing some and renouncing others is hypocritical if you also suggest that all of those rules are good and proper. Also, vegans, I’m just teasing you. Hugs and kisses!

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