I have looked at quite a lot of history throughout my lifetime and i am very angry at the un-needed destruction that has been caused by religion. I have many things to go over about it. Let me go over the over all destruction. According to research, math and historians, if medieval Rome didn't adopt christianity, the internet and other futuristic inventions could have been invented by the ~1400's! By now we would be 'traveling the stars'.

There were many things that religion (particularly christianity) has blindly prevented to get us to advance the way we should have. ~200 BCE, the library of Alexandria was constructed. It was three floors high (technological wonder at the time) and was the size of a semi-large shopping center. It had almost all the knowledge known to the European and west Asian civilizations combined! Every year it would gain more and more knowledge. But in 391 CE, a group of (you guessed) christians went on a mission from "god" to destroy the library in order to capture the whole of Egypt! They (obviously) lost the mission but they did destroy most of the knowledge in the world at the time. Even most of the history known to the world was destroyed with the museum part of the library. At this point in time christianity was slowly being adopted by the soon to be Catholic Rome. The remaining knowledge was in Greece and a minuscule amount in Rome, due its conversion to Catholicism. And most of Romes knowledge was in the library. Once Rome was fully converted, it was against science and that led to even destroying more knowledge. This was a part in history called the christian dark ages. It went for ~500 years and more knowledge was lost then gained in that time. As soon as the dark ages were over, knowledge was scarce but many intellectuals were Enlighting world wide knowledge. This is why the next age is called the Enlightment age.

Around the late Enlightment age we regained all the knowledge we lost (number wise). The Enlightment age went on for the next 200-250 years (depending on location), and then gave uprise to the modern age which kicked off with the first world war and then the second one. As you know, Adolph Hitler was the leader of the opposing team (this goes for everyone these days) and had a mission. This mission was in the name of god to some extent acording to many books and bibliographies about Hitler. This is probably the most well known way religion has ruined the world. The amount of knowledge we have now would be equal to the ~mid 1400's If religion wasn't as powerful as it has been.

Next time somebody says religion is a good force for a good cause with a good history, tell them the opposite, tell them the TRUTH.

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I agree fully religion has held us back from making advances in many areas.

I wouldn't necessarily say that religion has ruined the world, though they may have dented it quite a bit.

Religion is somewhat quixotic. While Europe languished in the Dark Ages, Muslim scholars continued to advance medicine, mathematics, engineering, and sciences. When during the Reconquista of Spain the last Muslim stronghold fell to Catholic Castile (The Emirate of Granada), Spain also captured the lion's share of both lost Roman and Greek classical thought, and the advances of the Arabs as well. It catapulted Spain into a world power and dragged Europe out of the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance.

When Cotton Mather (everyone's favourite witch-burning uncle in Salem) was faced with a potential devastating smallpox epidemic in Boston, though he was religious by nature he hit the Ottoman Empire's books on how to treat it (the preventative of the day was inoculation). He ran roughshod over his own Congregational Church (the Puritans) that thought smallpox was the will of God, and enlisted the help of physicians across Massachusetts to run a successful programme, likely saving the Massachusetts Bay Colony from a devastating epidemic.

He also set the groundwork for genetic science with his ground-breaking study of corn strains and how the wind affected corn by cross-pollination (a theory then undiscovered).

Not too long after Galileo was punished by the Church for his re-discovery of Copernicus's discovery the Earth was not the centre of all things, the Holy See set up an observatory, which operates to this day, studying astronomy. When Rome's light pollution became somewhat overpowering to the Vatican Observatory, they built another outside Phoenix.

Religion justified slavery in Dixie, and justified the abolitionist movement in the Northeast.

Plenty of war and genocide have had little or nothing to do with religious belief, from the Mongol Conquest to the Huns sack of Rome to British Empire.

Religion is only a philosophical tool (albeit a very flawed one), which can be wielded in ways both good or bad. So can secular government (as in the Iraq War). Take religion away as a tool and the ruthless and ambitious will find another means to achieve their ends (like capitalism).

Mao's "Great Leap Backward" was not an experiment of religion, but of Statism. So to were the "Killing Fields" of Cambodia, and ethnic violence has claimed untold riches and countless lives, such as Rwanda.

 Rabbi Jonathan Sachs has just written an OpEd to the NY Times telling us how wonderful god believers are.  So I fired this one off in 5 min:
 
 

Religious apologists like Rabbi Sachs will always tell us that people who believe in God are the most generous, loving, civic minded citizens we have but will never let you know that they are also the ones who are most likely to be intolerant and abusive toward minorities, women, homosexuals and others.  He will tell you they are always ready to help the poor and destitute, always ready to donate to worthy causes and to put themselves out to help the less fortunate and sick but never tell you that they are also  the ones who most fanatically support efforts cut programs that help the poor, elderly and disadvantaged and students and to keep minorities workers out of unions.  The good Rabbi continues that religion binds individuals into groups through habits of altruism, creating relationships of trust strong enough to defeat destructive emotions but of course ignores the fact that the institution  was responsible  for some of the cruelest and inhuman tortures, brutality, genocides and destruction of native peoples the world has ever witnessed, which they have continued to deny to this day and for which have never been held accountable. They claim that only God, not man, can sit in judgment on religion, and only religion knows what God thinks!

 
 

Your information about the library of Alexandria is quite wrong. The first time the library was (partly) destroyed was because of Julius Caesar in 48 BC. After that, the library stopped being updated, since all the significant documents were sent to Rome. Then was Caracalla's madness to destroy part of the library in around 210. The date you are referring to is the date that paganism was made illegal and archbishop Theodosius ordered the demolition of the Serapeum, which was a great part of the library but had no books inside, only religious objects. There was no mission from god, neither a war to occupy Egypt.

I think religion is harmful and, more importantly, utterly incorrect in its depiction of the stories of life.  As a product of human imagination, I think religion must reflect human beings' inhumanity, ambition, drive, power hunger, ethnic tribalism, sexual insecurities, emotional insecurities, sometimes psychosis or personality disorder....  and more.  

But as for religion being the cause of anything, its harder for me to place blame.  I was going to use the analogy with guns, being that religion doesn't kill people, it's people with religion who kill people.  Then again, I think it's a lot easier to kill someone with a gun than with, say, a pillow.  So maybe guns do kill people and so does religion.

Now I've confused myself.  Good thing I don't use drugs, then I'd really be confused.

I think religion had a partly constructive role in the past, by creating communities where people felt they could trust one another and cooperate. Groups with high cohesion out compete those with poor cohesion. In a disaster, religious organization helps people cope better than anarchy.

However, the benefits of competition pale when problems are global and cooperation rather than competition is essential to protect commons such as ocean health, liveable climate and breathable air.

Nevertheless, I was encouraged to see that a few evangelicals are beginning to face the climate crisis. Secular folk will have to get them to cooperate and care too, if we're to pass on a habitable planet to future generations.

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