What we thought about...



27th February, 2006

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Religion: the adversary of truth

Karl Marx was right — religion is all too often the opiate of the people. Frank Hardy agreed, too, adding that religion “teaches them to obey their exploiters”. Legions of ambitious men have sought to manipulate their fellow man, oftentimes without realizing what they are doing, for purposes of personal power or gain; they have found how effectively this aim can be accomplished by appealing to loyalty to, or zeal for, a religious creed. In the name of their religion, people are lulled into an ironic version of sleep in which the chief narcotic is zeal or loyalty to a cause. Many adherents of a creed don't need a leader to whip them into a frenzy — they have been conditioned by years of religious indoctrination to view anybody with a different viewpoint as an enemy of God. In their active devotion to a religious cause, they are lulled into spiritual sleep.

Perhaps social scientists aren't too far off the mark in treating religion as some kind of lunacy. The world has been treated in recent weeks to the shocking spectacle of thousands of devout, sincere Muslims pillaging and killing in the name of faithfulness to a dead mortal — Mohammed. Their devotion to this dead man has led them to rage and fume against a few cartoonists who have dared to smash the icons and depict this mere mortal, long since turned to dust, as a scheming politician who had learned how to use religion to further his personal ambitions. If this kind of behavior cannot be fitly called “lunatic”, then pray tell what can.

For about six hundred years the Christian Church waged war against heretics. Jews, Muslims and “deviant” Christians who would not tow the party line were dragged before the Inquisition and tortured into accepting the official path to heaven. If this kind of behavior cannot be fitly called “lunatic”, then pray tell what can.

And then you have the Hindu view of the world. In the name of various gods, some Hindus are willing to set fire to Christian missionaries and their children in order to protect “their religion” from foreign belief systems. If this kind of behavior cannot be fitly called “lunatic”, then pray tell what can.

Invariably, it seems, religions are at odds with truth. What you and I should be concerned with is not protecting some man-made creed, but with discovering truth. When people are determined above all to defend their beliefs against all evidence to the contrary, truth becomes the victim. The God of truth — the Holy One of Israel and the Father of Jesus Christ — did not commission Moses to start up a new religion, but to reveal vital, saving truths, for the benefit of all mankind, that human beings could not figure out for themselves. When that same God sent Jesus Christ into the world, it was not for the purpose of starting a new religion but for the purpose of revealing yet more truth.

Conviction is one thing; the attitude that says “we are right and you are anathema” is another. Who will deliver us from the ruinous power of sectarian religion and into the glorious light of truth? Thank God — Jesus Christ our Lord will.


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