The Logical Fallacies in Defining Religious Identity

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Let it be known that I am not going to make the faux pas of saying, “religion” and solely mean Christianity. Instead, I want to know the consequences of religions in general. And while one may say it’s too difficult a task because there are so many religions, I was able to find 3 things all major religions have in common. First, if a religion does not make paranormal assertions, it is not a religion. Second, a religion is old enough to no longer be considered a cult, (cult + time = religion) and since religions are, by nature, ancient, their moral guidelines usually predate our present moral values. Third, the religion is still alive, (it being still alive allows it to be a religion rather than a myth). These similarities help us to recognize and critique the features that most major religions share. I will try my best to look at these religious characteristics from a humanist point of view (the position that favors evidence over blind acceptance and has the well-being of society in mind).

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Believe it or not, religions make paranormal statements, statements about spirits, gods, the afterlife, etc. and such statements are perceived to be as true as observable facts. Moreover, religions don’t differentiate between facts and myths. One could argue that liberal theologists are an exception because they consider empirical evidence and the use of reason on religious dogmata. Unfortunately, they are not because they say with the same seriousness, “God is real” and “2+2=4”. In their eyes, both statements are of equal veracity. Back in the real world, there is an elementary difference between scientific declarations and paranormal “declarations”. One is based on evidence in the form of validated theories, while the other is based on unreplicable events and fantastical claims.

The lack of an empirical approach while investigating religious matter has only worked in religions’ favor. The moment evidence is not necessary to believe, there is no longer an argument that can be used against cult leaders, conspiracy theorists, homeopathy and other types of swindlers who play with the exploitable nature of humans.

A few, prominent, nonsensical claims in religion are: “the Earth is only thousands of years old, not billions!” (Christianity, Islam, Judaism). “Jesus was able to walk on water!” (Christianity). “Mary the virgin gave birth to Jesus!” (Christianity, Islam). “Buddha can walk faster than you can run because he believes!” (Buddhism) etc.

Anyone looking at these claims from a scientific standpoint should know that the claims are absurd and false. Regardless, religions try to assuage our disbelief by saying those events were miracles, extraordinary and isolated, that to question them would only mean you have a lack of faith. That you are a sinner! Unfortunately, miracles are fake and go against the trusty laws of nature.

Religion is made up of many logical fallacies; a favorite of mine being unfalsifiable statements (“confidently asserting that a theory or hypothesis is true or false even though the theory or hypothesis cannot possibly be contradicted by an observation or … experiment”). Imagine one were to say, “spirits are real”. It is not possible to prove that there are or aren’t spirits. One could pray to God and ask him to save their child when the child dies, they will say, “God works in mysterious ways” or “it was what the man in the sky wanted”.

The use of unfalsifiable statements has many consequences, but I’ll name 3. Firstly, unfalsifiable claims become meaningless. Secondly, because a belief cannot be proven false it is impossible to show it’s wrong. Meaning one’s beliefs prevents one from having their mind changed. They become unable to have logical discussions regarding their religion or beliefs because they’re blinded by a veil of unfalsifiable statements. Thirdly, any average Joe could make an unfalsifiable statement i.e. you say there are lizard people and I say there are spider people. Neither of us can prove the other is right or wrong, and we’re left no better off. The only solution would be to remove logical fallacies from religion because it is nonsensical to argue about logical fallacies. No one will win! Because we both know religions won’t remove logical fallacies, it becomes safe to say that religions are illogical in nature.

As of 2019, there have been 0 diseases eradicated or decimated by prayer. So why do people still believe in false claims of power? Methods such as intercessions and rituals, supposedly, offer believers a way to ask deities for a wish. One may argue that a prayer/ritual is a request rather than a command to deities, so they wouldn’t expect the prayer/ritual to influence reality. The very fact that you’re praying or holding a ritual, however, implies the expectation that in return, something will happen or at least better the likelihood of it happening. We all know the definition of insanity. Why ask a deity for something now, if asking in the past had no effect? For example, someone would not ask for good luck on a test if they knew it was futile.

Other than psychological effects, prayer does not affect the real world. It is merely a method to keep followers in a religion, and ultimately change their ethical framework, belief system, and view on the world.

Due to the age of many religions their vales and views often don’t align with modern vales or views. And they can’t change because it would allow people to discredit them. So instead, religions pick and choose which rules they want to follow at a given time. For example, Islam once viewed slavery as a good thing, it was “the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave the unbelievers”. Once most western countries started to abolish slavery, the Muslim world followed in their steps. As the peoples’ views started changing, religious leaders realized they would have to pick new verses to follow and preach by. Today slavery is view as wrong in the Muslim world, and that God rewards the freeing of slaves. At one point, slavery was deemed acceptable based on bible verses. Now, unsurprisingly, there are bible verses cited that shun slavery. Believe it or not, there are bible verses that were cited for pro-abortion (which at one point in Christianity’s history was okay). Now, unsurprisingly, there are bible verses cited that shun abortion.

The problem with religions has nothing to do with the frequency with which they change their values. After all, it is not uncommon to have one’s values change. The problem is that religious leaders defend their belief by saying it is absolute. Which clearly, it is not…

Women are treated as chattel in the eyes of major religions. For example, in Hinduism, according to The Laws of Manu, “In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent” moreover, “a husband must be constantly worshipped as a god by a faithful wife”. In Christianity, Ephesians 5:22-24: “wives submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the church, his body of which he is the savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” In Buddhism, according to the all-knowing Buddha, “women are prone to anger; women are envious; women are miserly; women are unwise. This is why women do not sit in council or engage in business…” Do note, a less educated population is more likely to be: religious, have higher fecundity rates, earlier marriage, and tends to have a more male dominated society.

As an antitheist, I believe that moral rules are man-made (including religious rules). Rules should be made by a majority of individuals, with a shared goal of bettering society. If adherents of religion would simply open their eyes, they would see that women all over the world are oppressed, maimed, or even killed in the name of religion. They would see members of the LGBT community that are legislated as second-class citizens in the name of religion. They would see physicians that are able to deny pivotal health care in the name of religion. They would see children that are brainwashed with racism and anxiety in the name of religion. They would see charlatans that claim faith is greater that empirical evidence. I question religious identity because I see the truth, they way religion has only hindered the human species ability to grow.

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