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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.


  1. John Pieret says:

    Ummm … In a perfect world, rational people examining the empiric evidence would realize that there ain’t no such animal as a perfect world. In a close-as-we-might-ever-come-to a perfect world, we’d have a secular society where what people believe is nobody else’s business whatsoever … including how anyone goes about “moral and critical thinking,” as long as they leave their neighbors alone.

    1. Dan says:

      I will agree that, in general, what others believe should be their business and nobody else’s. However, since people act based on their beliefs, those beliefs can and will affect others. When someone’s beliefs indicate to him that all non-white people are inferior, for example, it has a profound effect on those around him.

      The populations of our world are connected. We live in societies where our actions can intimately affect those around us… and those all over the planet, so I don’t think it’s really possible for people to “leave their neighbors alone” in that regard.

      Sure, you can avoid discussing religion and politics with your neighbor and frequently, that’s a smart and considerate thing to do (depending on your neighbor!). But our beliefs shape our actions… and actions inevitably will affect our world. To me, that’s why beliefs are important, whether they’re mine or someone else’s.

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