As an American, of course, I do tend to focus on Christianity’s idiocy, but they’re all baloney. I tried to find something less offensive than Christianity, but all the other religions fail.
- Basis in the personal revelation of one person or a string of a few loonies. Personal revelation can be lies, misrepresentations, migraine auras, hallucinations, delusions, or hoaxes. Just not a reliable source of information for basing an entire lifestyle on.
- Precarious transmission of the “Word.” Again, lies, misrepresentations and hoaxes are possible sources of “information.” There’s also scribal errors, interpolations, deletions, and organizational or personal agendas to consider. Just because a text is “ancient” is no reason to grant it any kind of status. Just the reverse.
- Fairy tale explanations for the natural world. Genesis is only one of hundreds of creation stories. Every culture on Earth seems to have one. This would indicate there’s something innate about the human intellect that needs answers for things like the movement of the stars and why humans can talk but frogs can’t. The fact that there are so many of these stories leads to only one conclusion: they are all false. The scientific method is showing all of them to be false, too.
- Human qualities of “gods.” The Genesis story gets around this by saying that God made us in his image, not the other way around, but it’s not very convincing if you think about it.
- Tribalism. Us vs. Them. Our group of primates wants to survive and make the other group not survive. If we dehumanize them by making their belief systems wrong, it’s easier to kill them. They may look like us, but it’s not murder if you kill someone who’s different on the inside. How do you know if they’re different? If they’re our neighbors, only their gods will be different.
- Bullshit rules. Rules about food. Rules about sex. Rules about hair. Rules about clothes. Rules about bullshit ceremonies. WTF? I can see how societies might want to regulate some antisocial behaviors, but what’s antisocial about cutting your hair or eating a ham sandwich?
- Bullshit ceremonies. Speaking of bullshit ceremonies, again, I can see how a society might want to put its seal of approval on marriages or say goodbye to the deceased (in a way that won’t bring maggots into the town) but the rest…? Christians have their cannibalistic ritual. Hindus have magic powder that they dribble around. Muslims stick their asses in the air five times a day. Haitians dance around until they believe they’ve been possessed. What a bunch of hooey. I don’t do any of those things and I don’t think I’m missing out at all.
- Life after Death fantasies. This is another commonality. Sure, we don’t want to die. We also don’t want to believe that our loved ones are truly gone when they die, but this life is very likely (like 99.99999%) all there is. Again, the fact that every culture has this fantasy and that none of them have the same fantasy is pretty good reason not to believe any of them. Notice that when people talk about Heaven they never mention anyone but the people they knew in life as hanging out there? And maybe their pets. They don’t think that their granny might be in Hell or that they’ll be sharing praise duty with millions of babies that died from cholera and dysentery before society started cleaning up water supplies.
- Fantasy of being able to make things go your way. This has probably been going on since before recorded history. Make it rain. Make it stop raining. Make the crops grow. Make the antelope slow down. Make the stock market improve. Make my team beat your team. Make the little girl with leukemia survive. None of religion’s promises to change events has ever been shown to make a difference except to give comfort and false hope to the people entertaining the fantasy. Comfort and hope are not bad things, but do you really have to deny reality to feel better in times of stress? And doesn’t it create more stress when things don’t go your way despite praying or dancing or chanting for the supernatural being(s) to intervene?
- Resistance to change. Sure, tradition is one of the things that binds a community but religion gives people an excuse to resist positive change. People are against marriage not because of their prejudices. Believers who aren’t prejudiced seem to handle the idea of people making a lifetime commitment just fine. Ditto, in the old (I hope) days when it was illegal for people of different races to marry.
That’s my list off the top of my head. From what I’ve read about current affairs, history, and other cultures, these things seem fairly universal and they are all detrimental. The population of the world is about to hit seven billion. That’s twice what it was fifty years ago (if that). Our species won’t survive if we allow bullshit to keep us from solving our shared problems.