Said the bishop to the curate, “I’m afraid you’ve got a bad egg, Mr Jones.”
Replied the curate, “Oh no, my Lord, I assure you! Parts of it are excellent!”
Religion ain’t all bad. Ask any believer.
Here are a number of things that ain’t all bad…
Members of the Cosa Nostra are putting neighbourhood kids through college. Many Sicilians never regarded these men as criminals but as role models and protectors, in the absence of State protection for the poor and the weak. The Mafia ain’t all bad?
Drug cartels are keeping entire South American communities employed – literally feeding millions of what would otherwise be starving mouths. Marijuana’s medicinal properties are well-nigh indisputable. Drugs aren’t all bad?
Not only is the casino industry responsible for tremendous windfalls and for changing lives virtually instantaneously, but it also pays high salaries to both qualified and otherwise unemployable individuals, such as bouncers. Gambling ain’t all bad?
The global arms industry employs millions, pays huge taxes and purports to keep communities and regions and entire countries safe. The arms business ain’t all bad?
Shall we condone these “not all bad” endeavours uncritically? Shall we promote these activities without formal checks and balances?
Shall we, no – do we, accept these practices and products by turning a blind eye to the obvious damage they cause; by referring only to the salutory effects they have? We certainly, and justifiably, do not! Organised crime, drugs, gambling and arms deals are censoriously dealt with.
Religion is far more damaging. History speaks to the fact. Breaking news confirms it. Yet to denounce religion is somehow objectionable and obnoxious.
Indeed, like the curate’s egg, parts of religion are claimed to be excellent. A history of mission. Soup kitchens. A great feeling of belonging. Yet the merit of these claims vaporise before the deafening testimony of aboriginal peoples, children of war and the many who cannot say Shibboleth (See Judges 12.v,vi).
The recent Mighty Men Conference saw 60,000 men yelling hallelujah to being better husbands and dads – religion is good!
These men were called to rule their households, hit their kids and get Jesus to show them to water abundent – no more dowsing for the dedicated, they drill for a thrill. And, of course, to denounce homosexuality, that thumping pain in God’s… neck. A message founded in the living dead and virginal births and trips to Hades and back and interstellar journeys in a jelleba and the complete abandonment of biological and scientific reality is nothing but unadulterated bullshit.
“Religious faith”, says Sam Harris, “represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity – a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible.”*
I admit: Religion ain’t all bad. It’s all abominable.
* Harris, Sam. 2005. The End of Faith. Free Press. London. 25.