My experience with religion

While I have several times in the past expressed my opinion about religion indirectly, I don't believe I ever wrote about my personal experience with it. I had an opportunity to write up the following today, and I feel that it's as good as time as any to post it.

The reason I have a deep-seated animosity towards religion is because I was taught this crap when I was a kid; for a number of years, I seriously believed it; and then when I started doubting, it took me ten years before I got the poison out of my system.

In my experience, religion totally screwed with my ability to make sense of the world and distorted my abilities to reason and my perception. It foisted upon me a load of prejudice that I had to undo in order to start building a sensible outlook. What I could have used when I was a kid was instruction and help with developing my critical thought and reasoning abilities; what I got instead was an infection with a load of crap the purpose of which was to incapacitate my thinking.

Basically, I hate religion because it tried to hobble me when I was a kid. It failed, but I needed great strength to break away from it, and this strength needed to come all from within myself, instead of people helping me to develop it.

So, I feel a sense of having been betrayed by people who foisted religion onto me. Instead of receiving mental stimulation that I needed growing up, what I received was mental retardation. It feels unjust, and I feel like I had been exploited.

I think the feeling is similar as if someone had raped me when I was little. Be it physical or mental, I don't feel that I did anything as a kid to have earned it happening to me. A kid does not deserve being raped, whether it be intellectually or physically.


verbatim said…
Well religion is just wrong. It take people away from reality and science and poison them with lies and fake beliefs. Luckily my parents didn't let me visit church classes when I was visiting my primary school.

And the thing I hate most about religious people is that they believe only in things which they like or seem appropriate (they are actually forming their own religion but still claiming it is Christianity for example)! If you want to believe in some organized cult, believe in all their views and statements or don't believe it at all.
denis bider said…
Yeah... lots of beliefs pass as Christianity (or Islam), and everyone believes that their own private version of it is True. Some are more reasonable than others. All are crazy to the extent that they follow the Book.

Unfortunately, in each religion, the sheer numbers of those whose versions of faith are reasonable lend power to those whose versions of it are not.
denis bider said…
If anyone is interested, this is part of a conversation about our personal experience with religion taking place over at Amos Anderson's blog. That in turn came from a conversation on Ron Garret's blog. In case anyone is interested in blowing some time and wading through all of that. :)
Rocks said…
Denis, a very good post!
Rocks said…
Nearly a year ago, I noticed an article (I think it was published in Financial Times) which outlined the economics of religion, explaining how religious dogmas distract rational decision-making, notably, thinking at the margin. The article concluded that attending church is a typical opportunity cost of time that could be invested alternatively. Of course, it is impossible to speak about distortions, imperfections and inefficiency if the set of choice over time allocation is matched by the individual preferences. But if chruch attendance is taken as an investment, it delivers low yield of return.

On the other hand, religious liberty is an important aspect of individual liberty, but the question is whether coercion and institutional pressure on the individual life justify the use of liberty through the means of coercion itself.

The question how to solve this is the enforcement of competitive law in the religious market. Religious groups and communities that exercise the highest portion of the market are inclined to act as a monopolist, a typical price-maker that succinctly controls the overall demand on the religious market.

Imagine a small child who is forced to attend the church. Assume he wants to become a genetic engineer and has great productivity and knowledge potentials. However, the religious dogmas may convince him that dealing with genetic engineering is not ethical and that such individuals commit sin in case they decide for studying genetic engineering and doing a job in this particular field later on. The effect is that the boy would be force to decide for something different where he lacks in productivity, research and knowledge. Thus, he'll have to embrace higher costs associated with taking more time to go through the fundamentals of (say) religious studies since the church coercion possibly persuaded him to study relgion. Such distortions and ineffciency result in high opportunity costs regarding the length of investment into education and comparable advantage.

In a broader perspective, I think that the influence of religious coercion is often underestimated. In fact, it is probably a crucial distractor of what economists call "rational decision-making"


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