The other day, I was listening to a young man castigate "religion". Now, I hear people put down religion all the time, but he was especially vehement about it. In his book, god was everything from a malicious tyrant to a child abuser.
But I put "religion" in quotes because -- as he went on -- it became clear that he didn't really have religion in general in mind so much as he specifically had fundamentalism in mind. And merely Abrahamic fundamentalism at that.
I actually found myself sympathizing with him -- albeit without entirely agreeing with him -- for I subscribe to the school that believes there is far and away more to fault with fundamentalism than there is to praise.
All of which got me to wondering whether or not the age old animosity towards religion in general would be nearly as virulent as it often is if we could just eliminate all fundamentalist religion from the world?
I've gotten that impression not just the other day, but quite often when I visit anti-religious websites. It seems the kind of religion they are most often attacking is fundamentalism. Of course, they tend to generalize from fundamentalism to all religions.
Now, I am not implying that religion -- apart from fundamentalism -- is entirely lovely and wise. Every religion I know of -- even the wisest ones -- have masses of nonsense embedded in them. All, in my opinion, have been outdated in many respects by science. And all of them have at least some harmful teachings.
Yet, fundamentalism is in a class by itself. It is all but devoid of wisdom. It is controlling and manipulative in practice, It espouses not just a few, but many harmful teachings. It's falsehoods are beyond counting. And so on and so forth -- I'm sure you've heard all the criticisms a thousand times.
It's my offhand impression that eight tenths of the criticisms I hear about religion apply mainly or exclusively to fundamentalism. So I wonder where we would be without it?
Would we be more tolerant of religion in general -- even if we did not subscribe to one? What do you think?