Is it time to stop defending religion?

Everytime there is a radical Muslim terrorist attack, there is an immediate reaction from both Muslims and social progressives to point out that the majority of Muslims are peaceful and that Islamic terrorists don’t represent them.

Here is such an example:

not-in-my-name

They are of course correct that Islamic terrorists don’t represent all Muslims, and it would be unfair to bundle ordinary Muslims with Islamic terrorists.

However, I question whether being Muslim (or Christian) is defensible, regardless of the terrorism aspect.

The fact is, religious belief is irrational. There is no strong evidence to prove existence of the religious entities that religious people claim exist.

Yet we pussyfoot around the issue saying ‘Everyone’s entitled to their own beliefs’ and ‘They’re not harming anyone’.

And there is a fair point here – as I mentioned in a previous post, religious belief does appear to correlated with some positive metrics, such as happiness and life satisfaction, and lower drug abuse and depression. However, at the the time religious belief tends to be correlated with some negative social behaviour, such as homophobia.

My question is – in the wake of an Islamic terrorist attack, instead of leaping to the defence of the Muslim religion (and other religions) as a whole, why isn’t our reaction ‘Yes radical Islamic terrorists aren’t all Muslims, but man, isn’t religion silly! What’s it still doing around in this modern age – we’ve long since abandoned other outdated beliefs such as belief in witches or humours!’?

I think the reason we don’t do this, is because we don’t want to be an asshole. Most of us probably do know a religious person who we like and respect.  People disagree about various things, of varying importance, all the time, and then it’s a question of whether we let it affect the relationship or not.

Plenty of us also know someone who has outlandishly bad ideas – factually incorrect opinions like opposing vaccination, or believing in homoeopathy, or personal value based opinions like homophobia, or racism, and we’ll gladly call them out on it, even while attempting to maintain a friendly relationship with the person.

I think the reason people are more willing to call someone out on something like anti-vaxxing or homoeopathy is because the harms of those erroneous beliefs are more apparent.

Especially if the religious person you know is a perfectly pleasant person, it (ie. not a vocally intolerant bigot), it’s harder to make a case that there’s something wrong with their belief, even if it’s irrational.

With that said – perhaps it is time to be more vocal about the irrationality of religion. The purpose of criticising religion shouldn’t be to create a culture of moral judgement, but to assist the transitioning of well established institutions that do have their merits, into modern, philosophically consistent lifestyle frameworks.

For example I can imagine religions can abandoning the explicit belief in God and recognising God as a fiction, but continue celebrating their history, culture and songs, and continue congregating regularly, and transitioning prayer to God into daily self reflection.