I recieve the newspaper The Daily Yomiuri in Japan. The following letter to the editor was printed one day, and I was so upset I decided to write a response to the letter. The paper never printed it, unfortunately.
Unlike some of the letters that have been written about your Jan. 13 interview with Richard Dawkins, I happen to agree with the idea that organized religion is and has been the root cause of conflict for many years.
Organized religion's track record has been written in the blood of millions throughout history, and its sordid history continues today. Anyone who denies this is either ignorant of history or is in denial.
In 1816, in a letter to Archibald Carey, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "On the dogmas of religion ("revealed religions" as they were known back in Jefferson's time), as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind."
Jefferson's words are as accurate today as they were back when he wrote them.
I am not against religion. I am, however, against organized religion. I believe that religion should be a private matter. There is no need for a group to tell you what to believe, how to live your life, or what to think. Again, Jefferson said it best: "Religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God.he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship." (Jefferson, Writing, 16:281).
I would not mind seeing all of the churches, cathedrals, mosques, synagogues, shrines, temples and other places of religious gathering replaced by schools, libraries, cultural centers and other places of free intellectual inquiry. I would make all of the various beliefs available for study and then let people choose for themselves what to believe-in private.
Some people might argue that without some kind of religious guidance from some authorative religious body, there can be no morality or order. My answer is that values, morals, and ethics are dependent upon religion and the abundance or lack of them in today's society has nothing to do with a faith or lack of it in a god.
To make this world a better place, people must stop relying on primitive superstitions en masse to nonexistent entities and outmoded ideologies. Instead, they should put faith in themselves and in each other. In order to solve our problems, we need to find strength form within and each other because it exists nowhere else.Michael J. Kerns
I would like to refer back to Michael J. Kerns' letter, on January 27, 2002. If he will forgive me, I will take the liberty of paraphrasing him. He stated that he believes organized religions are the root cause of conflict in the world for much of human history. If all places of worship were turned into scientific or intellectual centers, the world would be free of many conflicts.
I think he has a point, but I don't think he's carried his thoughts far enough. Organized religion isn't the only cause of conflict. Disputes between nations and states have also caused many conflicts and wars. In the interest of world peace, I propose that we abolish all organized nations. This would surely lessen some of the conflict. People can still belong to a nation, of course, if they choose to, but only in private, since public acknowledgements of nationhood are what lead to dangerous conflicts.
But there are yet other causes of conflict. What about ethnic cleansing and ethnic wars? We have to abolish ethnicity. Since it is obvious from watching the United States struggle with racial tension for four decades that we can't be "blind" to ethnic differences by willpower alone, breeding programs should be initiated to equally blend all races together, so there will no longer be any ethnicities. As this will take several generations to take noticeable effect, we should force all people to dye their hair one color, and artificially color their skin one uniform shade as well. This will be difficult to implement with no public nation states, but I'm sure the interests of the many will drive people to conform to this common-sense program.
Ideologies are also dangerous. Fascism and communism have both led to huge amounts of death, almost uncountable, in the Holocaust, Stalin's killings in the U.S.S.R., and the Cultural Revolution in China. All belief should be outlawed as a matter of course, to make our children safe. Only when we are free from ideas and thoughts can the true potential of the human race be achieved!
All satire aside, Michael has identified a symptom of the basic problem, rather than the disease. Organized religion isn't an outgrowth of hatred, it is simply the expressed desire of people with similar beliefs to group together and have fellowship with each other. There are radicals in religion. There are also anti-religious radicals. There are people with hatred for certain ethnic groups, or different ideologies. There is no monopoly on conflict here.
Any time a number of human beings are in one place, there is a potential for conflict. The common denominator in all wars, fights, arguments, and conflicts is not organized religion. It is much more simple, and tragic, than that. The common denominator is us, mankind.Jessica Door