I'm pretty ambivalent about religion. As long as you're not trying to shove your beliefs up my ass, I'm okay with generally whatever you want to believe. Hey, I'm a live and let live guy. In fact, I'm all for just anything you want to do with consenting adults - kinky sex, worshipping a fire hydrant, whatever - if it blows your skirt up and it doesn't hurt anybody, have a nut.
Now, I'm not a religious man. Never once said a prayer to affect the outcome of a certain situation, but I don't consider myself an athiest. I just have to see shit before I believe it. If a big hand comes down from the heavens and shwacks me in the back of the head, I'll get behind it. Until then, I take the story of Jesus and all that spiritual shit like a fable. An interesting story of a good man who sacrificed to right some wrongs and help get society on the right path. I was baptized a Roman Catholic, and learned some good lessons while my religious education continued. How it ended is a story all by itself. However, the Ten Commandments, regardless of their origin, is a pretty good set of rules to live by, and I try to. That said, I've got a problem with the trend happening over the past decade.
I have a big problem with 'God' infiltrating our daily lives whether we want it or not. I have a big problem with religious nonsense taking the place of science. I've also got a problem with the rise of 'acceptable mysticism' over the past decade as well.
Come with me, Sherman, as we fire up the Way-Back Machine. We take you back to a time known as the Dark Ages, a pall that lingered for centuries over Europe and the Holy Land, where science and education once triumphed. A place where, before the Dark Ages, the great civilizations of Greece and Rome, of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Persia, were curious about how their world worked and struggled to determined the natural processes once ascribed to Gods. We are still using scientific principles discovered thousands of years ago. All that was nearly lost in the interregnum which followed the fall of these great societies.
It was how I realized the 'American Century' was over. It was obvious in the final days of the Roman Empire, as it rotted from the inside under its own weight and corruption. As empire eroded, eaten away by 'barbarian' tribes from outside and corruption from within, as the lives of the poor became more hopeless, many turned to those who promised better, maybe even an afterlife that resembled Paradise. They turned to the Church, spurning science for the promises of a better, blissful future if they only followed 'God's rules'. Are you seeing the parallels (fundie preachers, islamist imams)? I'm not gonna spell it out because I'll be late for work if I do. These parallels got me thinking along these lines.
Religion is bad for society. It is bad for a progressive society. Religion is regressive, just as corruption is, clinging to a belief system antithetical to human evolution. And we have to evolve. We just can't help it. Societies which die do so because of stagnation, whether it be corrupt rulers or a strong religious bent, just as a body of water cut off from the flow of the stream becomes scummy and eventually toxic, a civilization that does not progress will eventually die from its own toxicity. Nature will move on, leaving those who do not move with her to wither and die. The historical timeline is littered with examples.
The rise of 'Christianity' in this nation (I noticed it about the time I left the Republican Party over a dozen years ago) signals several things to me. Namely, the average person has little hope for a better future. They are looking to the supernatural to give them the assurance their daily toil will not be in vain when their end comes. It also points up the corrupt nature of our leadership, preferring to preserve their power than to allow our society to move forward along with the natural order of things.
A prime example is the space program. Over thirty five years ago we were able to reach the Moon and put men there. Now it is impossible. By now, had we progressed normally (taking into account the progress we made over the 20th Century), we should have colonized the Moon and been in the planning stages to take Mars, at least. We should be looking outward instead of arguing over abortion and the separation of church and state. The second is the internal combustion engine. Come on, should we really be using petroleum more than halfway through the first decade of the 21st Century?
We have been restrained, our drive to explore and conquer the unknown stifled as our resources have been squandered in order to keep a very small few in 'the style to which they are accustomed'. 'Christianity' is filling the void for true governance. Why else, at this point in our evolution, would we be reconsidering the principles laid down in our Constitution that have served us so well for 230 years?
Call it whatever you want - a self-protection protocol of Planet Earth, human nature, or God's will - a society which stagnates or clings to the past will surely go the way of the dinosaur. We have a chance to stop the regression now, but religion has to be put in its place and so do those who feel it politically advantageous to wrap themselves in the cloak of religiosity. We need to progress, and that means a more liberal way of thinking. Conservatism, in whatever form, is poison, a cancer on the body politic, fanatical conservatism even more malignant, and it must not be allowed to govern our future. Those who don't meet change head on are certain to be run over by it.
Now go see PZ Myers.