Some may argue that both are equally annoying, but something I wrote in college still sticks with me today:
The world will never know peace until religion has gone away. For good.
Why? Shouldn't religion fix our problems? Teach us compassion? Should. But then again unicorns should be abundant in the world but they aren't.
1) Religion, specifically the Abrahamic religions, continue to put our fate and control in the hands of some other being. Anything we can't explain we attribute to some other being. This removes our own self-determination in our lives, not just on an individual level, but on a global scale. This is why climate change is so hard to get into some people's heads: the earth's atmosphere and movements and climate are too big for us to affect. Hurricanes are God's will (or punishment for sin). Really? And our impact on the climate had no effect on the increase or changes in hurricane occurrences? Do we really think of ourselves as that small and insignificant that we can't take care of the earth and cure diseases and conquer space? Of course we do, because we're not God.
2) In conjunction with #2 above, religion discourages critical thinking. In some areas, like the 2012 Texas Republican Party specifically have as their core belief:\
"We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (valuesclarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-BasedEducation (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challengingthe student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority."
Take a good hard look at that. They oppose anything that challenges a student's fixed beliefs. Every religion opposes that. To do so is to question every aspect of the religious text, and time and time again when challenges religious texts fail miserably.
3) Abrahamic religions in particular continue the massive war against women. You cannot pray to a God you refer to as a male day in and day out and NOT think of men as superior to women. This has become so ingrained in our culture that women have had to struggle for two-thousand years just to gain equal respect. The thought of paying them the same wage for the same job is actually something America is debating. Like it's something with pros and cons. That's how ingrained into our culture this belief is.
4) Religion encourages illogical thinking. The earth revolves around the sun. The earth is flat. When you die your soul, you, your personhood, remains in a heavenly place for all eternity. Because of 1 and 2 above, many people look past logical fallacies and just nod and go about their business. So much so that their focus in life becomes what will happen to them after they die. But think about the logical behind the assertions of any faith: God is all encompassing, all-powerful, everywhere and everything. Yet man has free will. Why isn't man God? How can man have free will over an omnipresent being? How can there be anything or any action that is NOT God? The cherry picking of the Bible is a good example of how the logical fallacy of "begging the question" is thrown about by Christians - it's in the Bible, the Bible is the word of God, so it must be true.
5) Religion encourages, and is defined by, separatism. This is the crux of the argument: by its very nature, by its definition, religion implies that you are going to receive a reward in the afterlife for believing in something and everyone else who doesn't ISN'T. This creates the need for evangelism, so that those who haven't heard the good word can be saved, but it implies that they are separate from you, and thus, worth less. And why not? You are separate from God and thus worth less than Him. It only makes sense.
But Kev, you might say, where the hell is the optimism that should be abounding in all of this?
Right Here. America is shedding its religious shackles and increasing critical thinking. Women as equals are rising. Logic is prevailing. We are being shown that Iraqis bleed the same as Americans, and that the human race is more powerful than a group of humans. Why this is all happening now is another topic (the internet) but suffice to say this is important, and in some regards, inevitable. As we move forward in the twenty-first century, as more information becomes available within seconds, we will find answers to questions previously answered with a command of "Don't ask." We will drift towards social thought and global action. We will look at ourselves as Humans, not Christians, or Muslims or Jews.
That's something to be optimistic about: equality. Peace.
If you're religious, and this post offends you, ask yourself why. What is it about your own beliefs, and the ever-so-tenuous hold you have on them, that causes you to be defensive about them? Have I struck a nerve? Hit too close to home? Said something you wish you could say but are 'afraid'?
Shed your fear. Forget about what happens after you die. Worry about what you can make happen while you live.
Peace out, and WRITE ON!