Is Religion Evil? Is Religion Good?

Is Religion Evil? Is Religion Good? Weighing centuries of war, body counts, abuse http://www.salon.com/2015/02/07/is_religion_evil_weighing_centuries_of_war_body_counts_abuse/
MICHAEL RUSE, Saturday, Feb 7, 2015 10:00 am cst

What’s good about religion? Does it lead to violence?…. http://www.salon.com/2015/03/01/is_there_any_case_for_religion_christianity_islam_atheism_and_my_search_for_balance_and_truth/
Michael Ruse, Sunday, Mar 1, 2015 11:00 AM CST

Thanks to @AnneLeighParrish for posting these questions on Twitter. Here are my thoughts and analysis..

On the whole, the articles are very disorganized. First, I question the author’s credibility and ability to discuss the topic intelligently. He is a professor of philosophy and history of science, particularly biology. So he is not a scholar of world religions, nor comparative religions, nor of theology. These are all relevant. He does not give a definition of atheism, and that is a problem for the critical reader.

Some people give up believing in God or the Almighty because they
a. were hurt by institutional religion, for example, abused by clergy,
b.were forced to squelch all questions or doubts because they were called “sinful”
c. tried to serve as a church/synagogue/temple leader and burned out because of the “politics of religion.”
d.were victims in family life of domestic violence, sexual abuse, incest, and were not believed by the “leaders” they approached for help.
e.suffer from depression/suicidal ideation/grief/alienation and are brushed aside… “If you had more faith, you would be happy all the time.” of “God can take away your depression.”
f.are angry, but learned to push everything down, and so live silent, exhausted, hopeless life

I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, where guilt, shame, and more guilt and shame were the tools used by Church (institutional) and individual priests, nuns, lay teachers, to make people behave.  After leaving the Catholic Church, I joined a moderate Protestant church, am an ordained minister, but the following factors led to my present perspective, which is to stay safe, enter into anything religious with great caution, and to speak out against those “churchy people” who tore down, and continue to tear down plain, ordinary, good people.

My very good friend and I talk about  this, about how religion wouldn’t be so bad without the “manmade” (and I do mean male) doctrines piled upon based spiritual values such as compassion, courage, seeking justice for marginalized individuals and groups of persons. For the GLBTQ good people, there is widespread concern, fear of sharing, and in many cases, ousting from religious institutions.

Back to the articles.  Bad things, horrid things have happened in the name of religion. Good things, very good things have happend in the name of religion. Perversions of religion to justify murder, mayhem, rape, mutilations, alienation – happen all too often. But I am pretty sure that whether religion is out there or not, it is not the primary cause.

If you got rid of all the people, then there would be no evil. I say this, of course, tongue in cheek, because in every “bunch” of people, some will habitually choose to do good, to mend the world a little in their own way. Others, whatever they give as their excuse, consistently choose to act in ways that are destructive.

You surely noticed that Prof. Ruse put Islam in a separate category, as intrinsically evil. As one who has studied the major world religions and spoken with people from various religious or unreligious communities, I can say with some certainty that the basics of Islam are as clean and as dangerous as any other religion.

I don’t know what God is like, but I am pretty sure that the orderly way of the cosmos is not some happy accident.  Humankind made a mistake in drawing God as Father, male, elderly when balanced, sound theologians have written convincingly that any God must have the full range of masculine/feminine qualities and MORE.

No adult is forced to declare him/herself as pro- or anti- religion/spirituality, or as a follower/nonfollower of God. I believe that part of our reason for being here is to “live the questions,” and see how they come out in our own lives and the lives of all the others near and far.

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