Some Christians are under the false impression that without religion, society would collapse into utter chaos and barbarism. If we were still superstitious, illiterate, ignorant Bronze Age nomads, that MIGHT be true, but this assumption is completely false in today’s modern world.
Just look at what western society looked like before Science and Reason appeared in the Enlightenment. For more than 1,500 years, Superstition reigned supreme. Women who behaved a little oddly were deemed to be devil-possessed witches and either drowned or burned at the stake. Diseases were believed to be caused by evil spirits. People were regularly killed for thought crimes. Stop and think about that: Under Christianity’s long rule, killing people just for what they believed was routine, accepted, moral practice. The Christian Church had absolute control and barbarism was the means of maintaining its control over the populace.
As Science and Reason have advanced and have pushed Religion to the sidelines of power, we have become a much more tolerant and advanced society. Instead of believing that evil spirits or “humors” cause disease and therefore should be removed by blood letting or exorcisms, Science has shown us that the origin and treatment of disease has absolutely nothing to do with supernatural beings, good or bad.
St. Margaret Clitherow is “pressed” to death.
Rather than believing that persons who suddenly fall to the ground, frothing at the mouth, trembling from head to foot, are possessed by demons, Science has shown us that they have a medical disorder. We no longer drown and burn women who act oddly. We simply accept that they are odd. Diseases by the hundreds can now be treated and even cured by scientific advances in medicine, not by holding exorcisms or prayer vigils. These advances in the human condition are due to Science, Reason, and Logic and not due to Religion or its gods.
Therefore, I believe that men and women who place Science and Reason as the foundation of their belief system, and collectively, the foundation of their societies, have a GREATER chance of behaving in a more egalitarian, compassionate, humanistic, and yes, moral, manner than people who believe that the Supernatural controls all aspects of life and that an ancient middle-eastern holy book, written by scientifically ignorant Bronze and Iron Age nomads, is the source of all wisdom, truth, and knowledge.
Religion served its purpose at one time. It gave us a sense of order to a universe that made no sense. Now that we understand that droughts, floods, crop failures or successes, disease, and even death are not caused by invisible gods in the sky, religion, at least fundamentalist religion, is no longer needed.
lengths to suppress learning. Libraries were destroyed and scholars
were murdered. Here, a cardinal, eager to advertise his enforcement
of the Roman Catholic Church’s decree about knowledge commissioned
this painting as proof of his adherence to the church’s doctrines..