True religion

In the wake of the attacks in Paris last night, I once again have reason to write a few words on the corrupting influence religion has on the pursuit of truth and goodness in the world.

Dogmatism & irrationality make people immune to reason. Religion allows people to rationalize their selfishness as something holy, and hardens them to the erstwhile human capacity for compassion and empathy.

When extremists claim divine sanction for their barbaric acts of murderous tribalism, we can call this false piety if we like, or claim that it’s a corruption of the ‘true’ intent of religion; but this is just marketing. With deft and repeated application of the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy, apologists for religion continually redefine religious faith in such a way as to exculpate it from all blame.

And yet the extremists sincerely believe that they are doing what is right and holy; the particularly religious character of this belief both shields it from criticism and makes it extremely resistant to change. If we are to make progress against the ideologies of fear, intolerance, hatred, and violence, we must have the courage to attack the irrationality and dogmatism that lie at the root.