Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Power of Religion

Blacksburg, Virginia: April 16, 2007. A mentally ill young man murders 32 innocent people and injures 17 others. What happened?

For years, Seung-Hui Cho displayed signs of serious and dangerous mental illness. His family and other acquaintances knew he was batshit crazy. His mother is an evangelical Christian. How did she deal with her son's mental health problems? She prayed. And she took him from church to church, looking for a church that could perform a proper exorcism.

Think about that. An atrocity in the making. A crazy, violent young man. A loving mother. What did this young man need? He apparently needed the help of mental health professionals, medication, and probably institutionalization. What did he receive? Religion. The mother's worldview is so trimmed down by her medieval religious views that, due to her actions and inactions, 32 people died horrific and unnecessary deaths.

Here's the amazing thing: you can't blame the mother. According to the Bible, the mother was right! Demonic possession really happens. And Jesus can heal it. Nowhere in the Bible are psychiatrists mentioned, or anti-psychotic medication. The Bible says this young man needed Jesus. That's what he got, and we see what that got us.

As an aside, where was the mother's loving, all-knowing, all-powerful god on the morning of April 16, 2007? The only honest answer appears to be: In the mother's imagination.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Failing the Ones We Love Most

"We must decline to tell our children that human history began with magic and will end with bloody magic, perhaps soon, in a glorious war between the righteous and the rest.  One must be religious to fail the young so abysmally—to derange them with fear, bigotry, and superstition even as their minds are forming—and one cannot be a serious Christian, Muslim, or Jew without doing so in some measure.

Such sins against reason and compassion do not represent the totality of religion, of course, but they lie at its core.  As for the rest—charity, community, ritual, and the contemplative life—we need not take anything on faith to embrace these goods.  And it is one of the most damaging canards of religion to insist that we must."
                                                                                 - Sam Harris

"We can be as honest as we are ignorant.  If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know."
                                                                                - Robert G. Ingersoll