The ignorance of religion

Published in People’s Post Claremont-Rondebosch, Tuesay 24 January 2012.

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The comments in the most recent People’s Post show a remarkable ignorance of religion. For example, we have the claim that you need to believe in god to become better morally and spiritually. “Spiritually” makes no sense as there is insufficient evidence to support the idea of a spirit. Morally, however, we know that the opposite holds true. The less religious a society the better the level of education, protection of human rights and the lower the levels of violence and prejudice.

Then we have quotes supposedly showing how the Qur’an condemns violence. Contrary to “explicitly” condemning it, not one of the quoted paragraphs says a thing about violence. They stress justice, or at least the Muslim notion of justice, which if you look at the Islamic countries does not resemble any acceptable version of justice and equality. To claim that the Qur’an doesn’t advocate violence on the innocent is demonstrably false.

Chapter 4 Verse 89: “They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of God (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.”
Chapter 8 Verse 12: “I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.”

In the Hadith, there are also accounts of Mohammed saying that a night-time attack on pagans was acceptable even if exposed their women and children to danger as well as verses saying it would be fine to kill a child if you could tell whether they would grow up to be a Muslim or not.

All you need to do is look around the world to see that greater levels of religion are correlated with significantly worse-off societies and you only need to read the religious texts to find verses extolling the virtues of violence, sexism and prejudice.

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