Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
-Steven Weinberg, Freethought Today, April, 2000
Sometimes, people tell me that religion doesn’t cause people to do bad things, that x and y caused their awful actions instead. Sometimes, I think that’s true. In same cases, religion is just the convenient excuse used for doing what they wanted to do anyway. A lot of religions do a great job giving cover to bad acts. A lot of religions allow adherents to justify horrible behavior. But if religion wasn’t there, they’d find another excuse. All the atheist libertarians, MRAs, and other assorted dipshits are proof of that.
If we eliminated religion, right now, today, those dipshits would still be with us. Many of humanity’s problems would remain. We’re imperfect people. We created our religions, and they contain both the best and the worst of our natures.
But I don’t believe for a moment that the world wouldn’t be better if everyone woke up this morning and decided, “You know what, the atheists are right. There are no gods. Guess I’ll have to base my morals off of things like avoiding harm and getting consent. Huh.” Without religion, good people wouldn’t be told to do harmful things in the name of a god. Without religion, good people wouldn’t be pressured to do such horrific things.
Things like take a knife or a piece of glass, and cut up a little girl’s genitals.
All Malaysians however, do not support the practice. Syarifatul Adibah, who is the Senior Programme Officer at Sisters in Islam, a local women’s rights group, insists that female circumcision isn’t once mentioned in the Quran.
Instead she points to its popularity as a stemming from an increasingly conservative interpretation of Islam. “Previously it was a cultural practice but now because of Islamisation, people just relate everything to Islam. And when you link something to religion, people here follow it blindly, they don’t enquire,” she explained. [my emphasis]
This, folks, is how a few people’s asinine cultural practices end up being practiced by millions of people who otherwise would recoil in horror. It’s how this barbaric stuff ends up passed down through generations for thousands of years, and why people have a hard time even questioning whether it’s right or good. God wants it. It must be right. It must be good.
Without religion, good people would not feel forced to beat their children, believing it the only way to save their souls. I know of Christians who spank their children because the Bible tells them to, and won’t stop despite the evidence it’s harmful, because God said not to spoil the rod. People have beaten their children to death, assured by their holy book that their children would not die.
Do I believe that religion is the root of all evil? No. But I do believe it provides a lot of nourishment to those roots, and sprouts a few branches all its own.
(Yes, I know any ideology can make good people do bad things. But there’s nothing quite as efficient at it as religion saying that God has ordered you to commit x atrocity.)