Friday, May 28, 2010

Is There a Problem With Churches?

I ended up espousing the polar opposite of the prevailing viewpoint among my generation. Young people today are very likely to identify themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.” I find myself being quite religious, but not the least bit spiritual.

I live by strict moral rules, I have weird dietary habits, I actively try to help people… but I just can’t bring myself to believe there’s anyone watching me and keeping score. I would like to think I act this way because I know that I am part of a community of individuals who rely upon each other.

Which got me thinking… many people complain about “organized religion” and churches while simultaneously claiming there is something greater out there. Is it really the churches that are the problem?

Don’t get me wrong, churches have done bad things, but churches have also done a great many good things. Churches today are particularly devoid of most of the atrocities that could be pinned on them throughout history, limited largely to political intervention that imposes their ideas upon others.

This is a far cry from human sacrifice, crusades, inquisitions, female circumcision, etc. Sure, gay people can’t marry, but we would find it atrocious as a culture if they were stoned to death. Clearly there has been some progress, and hopefully there will be more to come.

Bringing people together as a cohesive group is necessary in order to overcome the obstacles we face in life. Churches are not the only way to do this, though they have proven their ability to do so with great efficiency. I guess I have far more positive things to say about churches than the gods they worship, probably because I find it easier to despise a delusion than it is to despise living, breathing human beings.


  1. I was just thinking the other day.... the word religion has a Latin root meaning "to bind together."

    It seems the new spiritual, but not religious movement that is popping up on the evangelical landscape may be doing just what they are claiming to do.... by not being religious, instead of binding people together, they are creating super-polarities. Christian v. Atheist, Right v. Left....

    eh. Do you do e-mails Ginx?

  2. I'm afraid your understanding of the origins of the word are misleading. "Religio" did in fact mean "to bind," but more in the sense of "to restrain." This is not because it binds people together, but because religion is a tether holding us back (in the sense of self-control).

    I check my e~mails, but I often don't look at it for a few days.


    the blood and bodies of the atheist movement...

    they tried to BULLDOZE the entire METAPHYSICAL DIMENSION...

    they LOST THE WAR......

    you have FORFEIT YOUR SOUL, shermer... you have become an object in the material world, as you WISHED...

    we're gonna smash that TV...

    They had become ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE AND OF GOD...
    you pushed too much and *CROSSED THE LINE*

    degenerates (PZ) or children (HEMANT) - ATHEISTS!

    do you have anything to say, you STUPID LITTLE F*CKER?

    how about I tell you, Mr. Shermer, EVERYTHING YOU THINK ABOUT THE WORLD is


    THE BOOBQUAKE - 911!


    and this is the problem...

    you expect everyone to think like you and to believe like you - in NOTHING...

    I believe WHATEVER I WANT, fuckers...

  4. DM,

    I'm probably wasting my time in addressing you, but I'll try it again anyway.

    Here's the problem: you're waaay more threatened by Atheism than you should be. You say:

    you expect everyone to think like you and to believe like you - in NOTHING...

    I believe WHATEVER I WANT, fuckers...

    And for the most part, you're just wrong about what atheists expect and/or desire. Sure, there are some atheists who really believe that the world would be a better place if nobody was religious. Some, but not all - not even most, I'd bet.

    Most of us don't care what you believe. In fact, most of us want the same thing you seem to be saying here: we want people to quit expecting us to believe the same things they do, and we want to believe - or doubt, or disbelieve - whatever we want, world without end, hallelujah.

    So yes, by all means, believe whatever you want. Just leave the rest of us out of it.

    Because if you're right about what you believe, then it doesn't matter at all what we think about it, or what we say about it. Our voices are unimportant; our opinions change nothing. If you know you're right, why spend so much time pasting comments into the blogs that say you're wrong?

  5. Michael, stop feeding the trolls :P

  6. As you wish. {g}

    Honestly, I try to abide by that as a general principle, but I remain unconvinced that DM is, strictly speaking, a troll. This may indicate a certain amount of foolishness on my part, of course.

    Ne'ertheless, I'll abide by your wishes - it's your blog, after all. I enjoy being a guest here, and I try to be courteous about it.

    And on a completely unrelated note, isn't it about time for another post on heathen mythology? I'm more than a bit curious about why they eat souls...

  7. Oh it wasn't an order, more a good natured suggestion. I tend to delete his long posts, but I always leave it up if someone comments on it. If you want his posts to remain forever immortalized, by all means: reply to them.

    My fiction writing has unfortunately taken a backseat to real life. The ideas are still kicking around, but I haven't put fingers to the keyboard in a creative way for a few months. I hope to do another before my move in July, and after that I imagine I will have some time as I look for employment.

    What else would gods eat? Animals eat plants, we eat animals... it only makes sense that gods eat us. I always thought it was rather presumptuous to assume human beings are the top of the food chain.

  8. "If you want his posts to remain forever immortalized, by all means: reply to them."

    Gah. Point taken.


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