Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Early Sunday closing, over the course of its history, has presumably cost the economy untold (but quantifable) billions. A simple-minded (and yes, incorrect) estimate might be that we lose 1/7 of our GDP because we choose to shut down the economy for a day. This reduction of GDP will have led to a lower standard of living, which will presumably have resulted in a great deal of harm, including a fairly well defined number of deaths. Are there any other examples of easily measurable harm done by religion?
As a vocal athiest, I still struggle with the question of whether it's justifiable to claim that religion has been a net force for evil. Sure, religion is obviously incorrect, and that's why I don't believe in it, but I'd really like a more defensible reason for why it's the correct course of action to d-evangelise. Given humanities general lack of interest in truth, I don't see the fact that it's patently false as a knock-down argument; particularly if the person in question has built their life around their faith. Equally I don't see the converse as obvious, people don't simply have a right to be as stupid as they want, particularly when interacting with me (yep, that is referring to that).
Interestingly, the fact that I can ask such a question (whilst still being a vocal athiest) demonstrates that improving peoples life by converting them is not my primary objective. If pushed, I'd have to accept that this probably means that the debate over the reason for the existence of life - and the entire nature of the universe - is to give me the petty little opportunity to signal intellectual ability. Feel free to comment to get in on the self-aggrandising party.
EDIT: Just to be clear; I don't think this is the most important or valid criticism of religion. It's simply an effort to move the debate from unsupported assertions, that inevitably lead to circuitous arguments, to quantifiable numbers.