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Would we be better off without religion?

In the now defunct blog Smoke & Mirrors, Moonflake answers Hemant Mehta’s (The Friendly Atheist) list of questions that are commonly asked of atheists. I particularly like the answer to the question, "Would the world be better off without religion?"

Moonflake answers:

Depends how you got to that point. I don’t think the world would be better off if you banned religion outright. But it would certainly be better if we all became sufficiently advanced in our moral and critical thinking to realise that we did not need religion, and just got on with the business of being better humans.

I think that’s a spot-on answer. Religion shouldn’t have to be banned. In a perfect world, humanity would realize that it’s… well… smoke and mirrors, and could be free to focus on the real world and real people, without using 2,000 year old dogma as an excuse to act badly.

It’s a great vision for the future.

Reality, Death, and Family Cats

There’s a great post on Unreasonable Faith by guest blogger Vincent Skolny (of Avangelism.com) about kids, their understanding of death, and the nature of reality.

He writes about his three-year-old daughter’s understanding of death as it relates to a recently-deceased family cat… and herself.

A small excerpt from the conclusion:

Death isn’t confusing at all: We’re gone and won’t be seen anymore. What makes death confusing and confuses children is pretending that dead people (or cats) are really somehow still alive. Or anything other than what they are: dead and gone.

Reality is seldom as confusing as lying about it.

Religion seems to be an extremely complex avoidance of the simplicity of reality. Sure, if you get down into the details of biology, astronomy, geology, paleontology, and other sciences, there are some pretty tricky details but, in general, reality is pretty straightforward. Obscuring it with unnecessary supernatural explanations seems a bit silly.

Vincent’s daughter’s understanding of death fits Occam’s Razor perfectly.

(Just trivial FYI: The cat pictured in the index icon for this post… you won’t see it in the RSS feed, just on the site homepage… is my recently deceased cat Pokey, who lived for about 18 years old and was a wonderful, wonderful companion.)

Red Meat (the comic)

Red Meat has a great strip today… one that hits home with folks who tend to reject irrational and superstitious claims.

Here’s the first panel… click to see the whole shebang.


(thanks to PZ for the heads up)