Perhaps one of the primary reasons I feel nothing for religion is I cannot stand universal consensus. If everyone in a group agrees with something, I am instantly suspicious. I am especially weary if people outside the group have different ideas on the matter, but the group refuses to consider them.
I thrive on diversity of thought. I get off on it. I need my fix when it comes to new ideas. I can’t consume the same old stale concepts day after day. Some people find comfort in this sort of thing, but I don’t. I consider it to be intellectually incestual.
In some sense, religions operate in an echochamber. Tradition finds a cozy home in religion, a warm spot to curl up and sit motionless for decades, even centuries.
Sure, there’s discord within any given religion. There is never complete agreement when two or more people are involved in something. However, there is (from my perspective) an unhealthy amount of blind cohesion where religion is concerned.
Take for example the much maligned Catholic Church. I have never met a Catholic who supported priest abuse, and yet I meet very few Catholics who even really recognize what the problem is. I hear the same arguments:
“The Catholic Church is too large to control what every single one of its thousands of priests do, and it’s really a small number who are the problem.”
These are both true statements, and I couldn’t agree more. If a company that ran a daycare had an employee abuse children, I wouldn’t attack the company itself… unless it moved that employee to another daycare facility in another state, where they continued to rape kids.
You see, the real problem is not even addressed in the arguments made by Catholics. The problem wasn’t that the abuse occurred in the first place. In fact, the biggest problem wasn’t even that the Catholic Church covered it up. The travesty was in facilitating the continued atrocity of child molestation.
So why is this not a problem in the minds of Catholics? Because this is not how the problem has been presented when talking with other Catholics. If you repeat something stupid often enough, most people (especially religious ones) will simply believe it and repeat it.
I suspect the primary problem with religious thought is the company kept by most most religious people. Most tend to associate with those who are like them, and in mixed company, it’s considered culturally unacceptable to discuss religion and politics.
Weird, because that’s the only things I enjoy talking about…
But there’s a reason for this: Churches and political parties (what’s the difference, really…) don’t want their members discussing their ideas outside the group.
Well, that’s not entirely true. They don’t want people debating anything that might lead to a member being exposed to different opinions, but they do love recruitment. In a sense, members are encouraged to “share” their ideas, but not to engage in “debate.”
Herein lies the malevolency. How can it be socially acceptable to try to convince others of your ideas (or rather, the ideas which have been shoved down your throat and are then regurgitated for others), yet it is unacceptable to engage in a discussion where the ideas of multiple groups are considered?
It’s a delightfully brilliant solution for maintaining a conservative view of the world, but it doesn’t do much for allowing people to progress and grow in their views. But then again, when has intellectual growth ever been the goal of religion?