“An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind” -Gandhi

There is little better deconstruction of selective religion than this. Nowadays religion is used to lend authenticity to things people want to do anyway. Ali’s post citing the one verse in the Koran that refers to the allowance of beating a woman whilst many others appear to contradict that stance is mirrored in Western Christianity. Domestic violence here is frowned upon, and yet it exists and in many areas appears quite widespread. Murder, rape, assault, GBH etc. are criminal offences and yet the “eye for an eye” verse of the old testament is cited and seemingly used for justification to extol far greater international conflicts.

It has always puzzled me how people wishing to use the bible to defend reactionary and fundamentalist positions only ever seem to use the old testament. Is it that they do not know the new testament or simply that they choose to ignore the more progressive teachings in it? After all “eye for an eye” is in direct contradiction to Jesus’ principle that you must forgive those that have wronged you 77 x 7 times – no-one would think of taking that literally and, breathing a sigh of relief, kill their neighbour on the 540th time s/he has wronged them. So why do they cherry pick the parts to take literally? It is because it suits what they wish to believe in nothing more, this isn’t religion it is more a fundamentalist political doctrine based around an outdated notion of theology.

When it comes to the interpretations of the bible itself I remain astonished that some wish to take it all so literally to deflect scientific study. If you had a science book that was 2000 years old you might well expect that much of it would have been superseded by modern studies. That does not degrade the study or the original premise, nor does it do so to the method of study which can well form the basis of future expansion in this area. However to disregard well-researched and backed up scientific principles for something which has been written by a bunch of enthusiastic laymen some 2000 years ago is utterly barking and does the human race neither credit nor good. It seems that the more scientific evidence contravenes what the dogmatic theologians would have us believe the more said clerics seek to bury their head in the sand with a “La la la I can’t hear you” hands over the ears approach.

Islam is purported, were you to believe the hype out of the West, to be the other side of this great clash of civilisations. It is portrayed as a strange, violent, fundamentalist religion to be feared. And yet we are expected to believe the same is not true of Christianity? This in spite of the fact that the two religions are both mono-deist and in fact share very many of the same beliefs not to mention the same figures of worship. In fact of all the religions practised by humanity these two along with Judaism are perhaps the most homogenous. Perhaps therein lies the problem. Besides this great clash of civilisations hardly seems at the forefront when the Western leaders deal with the House of Saud who preside over one of the more repressive regimes in the Middle East.

It reflects poorly on us as societies that we seem to have such basic irrational concepts when it comes to a more metaphysical outlook. Is, and more prevalent, should religion be immune from the scrutiny to which we subject science and technology? If it is then we are destined to be constantly dragged back to a regressive and arcane past by outdated conservative tenets. It is time for religion to evolve or die.

I ought perhaps to declare that personally I think organised religion is horse shit but then many people think the same of socialism which I do believe in so it’s all dogma really isn’t it. It is all about giving you the guidelines by which to form your advanced moral code and live your life. If people choose to do so in an aggressive fashion then they will look for any justification by which to do so. It’s just that religion makes it so easy for the zealots not to even have to work for a bloody reason.