- My selfishness is every bit as real as my generosity. My tenderness and bitchiness, compassion and aggression all are ME. Religion's track record of power-brokering and atrocity is every bit as integral as its history of giving voice to our moral instincts and sense of wonder.
It is not the perversion of religion that is playing itself out in Islamic jihad or Evangelical homophobia and child murder. It is religion, period--one face of religion to be sure, but the real deal. It is the timeless face of god-worship that is tribal and intolerant and willing to kill -- as religion always has been under the right circumstances of time and place.
Can we please stop pretending and making nice? People are being tortured to death, starved to death, and executed in the service of the religious enterprise! Do we ever get to run the numbers? Do we ever get to ask whether all of the fuzzy feel good stuff and the sense of meaning and purpose, and the wonderful creative moral communities that religion produces are worth the price?
Because the price is what we are seeing in Somalia, and Nigeria, Uganda and elsewhere: people starving, children burned with acid (I dare you to look at the pictures), gays slated for execution, doctors murdered, politicians and mullahs who commit us to holy war.
Both good and bad consequences of "faith" are the direct products of the agreement we make with each other that it's ok to believe things on paltry evidence, the kind that would never stand up in court, the kind that would never guide the surgeon's knife. It is our willingness to entrust ourselves to authority, sacred texts and our own intuitions, unaccountable to reason and evidence, unaccountable to universal ethics like the Golden Rule. Faith gives us mysticism and murder.
Isn't it time to move beyond belief to whatever the next stage of our spiritual evolution may be?