Why Religion Must End

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An interview with Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith, in which he argues religion in the modern world does more harm than good.

(…) this whole style of believing and talking about beliefs leaves us powerless to overcome our differences from one another. We have Christians against Muslims against Jews, and no matter how liberal your theology, merely identifying yourself as a Christian or a Jew lends tacit validity to this status quo. People have morally identified with a subset of humanity rather than with humanity as a whole. (…)

I think atheism and secularism are (…) names that ultimately we don’t need. We don’t need a name for disbelief in astrology. I don’t think we need anything other than rationality and reason and intellectual honesty. (…)

There’s no doubt that praying to Jesus for 18 hours a day will transform your psychology — and in many ways, transform it for the better. I just think that we don’t have to believe anything preposterous in order to understand that. [We can] value the example of Jesus, (…) and we should want to discover if there’s a way to love your neighbor as yourself and generate the kind of moral psychology that Jesus was talking about. (…)

Either you can be held hostage by the human conversation that occurred 2,000 years ago and has been enshrined in these books, or you can be open to the human conversation of the 21st century.

Previously on CN:

14 Replies to “Why Religion Must End”

  1. “Religion” put in the hands of a sinful mankind gets all distorted and even in the hands of Christians because we all have that will to make choices how to live our lives. And let’s face it, we daily screw that up. Man made denominations are just that … made up by us and not God, because we’re all the same in His eyes. But a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is what it’s all about and really all God wants. Sadly though many Christians don’t live God’s number one commandment and that is to love others more than ourselves. If we would just put that into practice, we might find that life as a whole, including our relationships with other countries, would take on a whole new meaning and be a whole lot less complicated and a whole lot more agreeable.

  2. your opinion that religion must end, if people should subscribe to it, becomes religion.

    just like how anti-ad ads are still ads.

    if faith ends, if hope ends, what are we truly left with?

  3. I don’t think it’s so much a matter of trying to convince people that religion causes more harm than good. I even doubt that Harris’s book has “converted” a single person who wasn’t already at least partially disillusioned with religion (I haven’t read it so I’m speaking from what’s in the synopsis). More, it serves to predict the line of thought which humanity is sure to follow in the near future if we are able to raise the standard of living for more people around the world, and more people take it upon themselves to become educated in a word of free culture (yes, in the Lawrence Lessig sense).

    I tend to agree with Carl Sagan’s implied notion that as humanity as a whole begins to explore untouched frontiers and learn more, it will eventually begin to rely on and feel assured by its real, observed knowledge of the cosmos rather than superstition, which some parts of various religions could be aptly described as. Even in all its great fallacies, religion has served great causes in the past, to move great philosophical minds out of dormancy and to help people become better human beings, among other noble tasks.

    It will never be neccessary for some kind of mass conversion to take place. No one would need to be forced, and there would be no nation of atheists or any institutions based on an anti-ideology. I believe that any individual or government that forces people to pretend to believe anything is wrong – both ethically and strategically, for their own cause. However, it seems to me that in the coming centuries, we will come upon a time when morals come from rationality, understanding comes from observation, and wonder is embodied in the unexplored nature of our universe.

    The book is entitled The End of Faith probably because it’s a flashy-sounding name and gets it picked off the shelf more often than if it were “Religion is Sooo Last Sunday”. But faith never ends, it only shifts. And faith in the tangible is far more fullfilling than faith in stories asserted to be true by some and not by others.

  4. The bible even states, when the end approaches so shall the end of religion. so it must happen to continue fate.

  5. When humans find diamond, they either use it for good or for bad. Its so powerful and yet fragile that it can create chaos.

    Religion is like that. Its for man, for us. Look at life before Islam and after Islam. It enabled nations to live over 500 years in peace. Look at Spain’s history, ruled over 800 years with absolute proper Islamic Law and it bought knowledge to the whole of mankind, peace was at maximum level. Look at Turkey, the Ottoman’s 680 years of stabilisation and spread of knowledge.

    Yes i agree with some of the things said in this Article. Today we don’t know what religion is anymore because its being used by people for their own political agenda.

    Islam, its used by people (not muslims) by some people so that they can use it to fulfill their own desires. Because its not a system of which where someone owns it so that it can protected unlike government secular laws is protected by army, polical parties, Judges, Law and top educated people. They won’t let anyone use the law to do harm for humans.

    Although its easy to twist the secular law to harm all of us, like if someone from the top leadership can easily corrupt a whole country, or effect other countries and yet the law cannot do anything about it because the power lies on a single man with one mind of its own. For Example George Bush, He has the power to do what he likes, control the army, government, change the law to fulfill his own desires and aims and everything even the Geneva Convensions.

    See how powerful and yet the system is. So no system is perfect.

    I mean, how do we choose our leaders, or does it get chosen by someone. We all want a clever, honest and just leader, a one that we can trust, rely on without a shadow of a doubt and to always serve our needs other than his/hers desires, to serve the nation, humanity.

    Now think, what if our leader is God or if you wanna think of it as Intellegent icon, call it whatever you what, at the end of the day, it can do and think better than us. Why are we so arragont, look at a system if its good and works and WORKED before then why not re-use it. Why invent reality. Yes we need to move on but who said that the system has MOVED on far better and farrer than our thinking and everything.

    Look into the Islamic Law, 1400 years passed and still its like a new law rather than an old one cos the Law is so perfect and FRAGILE its far better than us and our own systems.

    Now Muslims today don’t even understand their own systems because of their own cultural effects. Islam rejects most cultures and if you look into their way of life and the Life Islam gave them. Its like going east and west, completely opposite. One example of Islamic law is that a women must decide and choose the person she wants to marry at her own will and responsibility BUT most cultures that believe in Islam object to this, rather they make their own agenda and stop them getting married to their ideal person and get them married to whom they want. See completely opposite.

    Another example, women in power. Islam puts women at high level. Prophet Muhammad (saw) said heaven is underneath our mothers foot. Who is our mothers? Women, Females. But AGAIN the CULTURES reject this and rather than putting heaven underneath their foot they put the women underneath their own foot. Tell me the difference.

    Taleban, who are they? We don’t know but WE know of this for sure, if you kill someone for the sake of your own agenda, that is not Islam. Islam rejects killing. It says if you kill one man you kill the whole of humanity, if you save one man you have the whole of mankind.

    So now compare Islam with its FALSE believers.

    I AGREE 100% as to why religion must end but we must not hide the truth. You cannot end a system because few people messing it. lets say I want to destroy secular system because George Bush is bad. Well hang on, Bush is not the only person using this system, how about Sweden, Finland, Germany, and United Kingdom and many other countries, they all use the same system, so i cannot say destroy the system or end it.

    To summarise, first learn the system, secondly see it and thirdly test it. If it fails then you are right END it. But don’t go and judge the system because of one man but judge it as the system itself.

    I hope this helps some of us.

    Here is a link for some questions answered about Islam:
    http://www.irf.net/irf/dtp/dawah_tech/mcqnm.htm

  6. This is a useless discussion. You can’t end religion. It’s just an capitalism-sided vision. It’s the same to say: Why philosophy must end, or something.

    And what if God really exists?

  7. As I see it there are 2 BIG problems!

    1. We tend always to change every lovely idea that comes to us into a “religion” – and by religion I mean: laws to be followed with out question!
    2. All the religion have old-fashion criminal gods, that were not actualized by all those things we have already learned trough out our history as humans! Those gods although “good, beautiful, almighty powers, creators of everything that exists, etc…” are always greedy, jealousy and afraid that others (special the little insignificant humans!) will take over their power and put other in his powers!!! And they are always “terrified” by the “evil” they themselves spread around.

    So all these religions don’t make much sense! In one way they say one thing and on the other way they act against what they say they believe! If their followers really believe in what they say, they wouldn’t need to go and condemned others, or kneel down and pray!

    For the ones that need to have a god, at least, create a new better god that will be happy seeing his creation laughing, and loving, and giving hands and caring for ALL the things he has created! Not a hypocrite one that wants his creation humbling kneeling down, not thinking but following, killing the “evil” ones (the others with another similar god!)!

    The problem is that most of the “specialists” in what ever “religion” want the power of leading others and making them do as they like it!!!

    I don’t like any kind of religion. I don’t like anyone to tell me what and how I have to do it. And I think the most important think intelligent people should do is to QUESTION everything.

    angi

  8. religion has never had a spiritual priority, that’s an illusion we all love to personalize and individualize to seclude and blind ourselves from what’s wrong with the world in name of needing to something ridiculous like connect with god or not sin. Rather, religion, before it was called religion, has moved from a sort of scientific explanation/rationalization of how the world works, to a capitalist economic means of funneling money from ignorant people. relative to where we are in terms of technology and reasoning in this comtemporary world, the whole hierarchical concept of god and jesus and sin and heaven or hell, granting humans inferiority to each of these imaginary conceptions, is just bullshit. if you disagree with me you’re high on the comfort and therefore ignorance that religion grants. religion does not have precedence over honest, moral and humane values. that’s another bullshit notion. anything good that can come out of religious practice/belief can occur more naturally/honestly/organically without it. religion is in fact sooo last sunday. for those who disagree, stay high on the old ideas you subscribe/submit to, and see where it gets you in life.

  9. Unless we are left with 70 or fewer people on the entire planet as a result of some catastrophe, the world will never be without belief in at least one god.

  10. I say this as a Christian: the death of Christianity, and any other form of theisim, is inevitable. It’s what will replace us that should scare us all. If loyalty to the whole human race is the only acceptable form of belonging, a new form of tyranny will rise. No traditions, no history, no new ideas that could rock the boat. A world that has no past and no future, Just a static and never-ending present. Anyone who doesn’t meet a global social norm is damned to be an enemy not of the state, but of the statement, and will find no mercy from anyone, for fear of being “Irrational” in an age of pure and infaillable reason. This is the path we have chosen. Not with a hunderd thousand people could you fight this. I only pray I don’t live to see the peak of this new humanity. My heart couldn’t take it.

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