Author: Michael Stone
In a brave and thoughtful soliloquy, Lawrence Krauss makes a powerful case against organized religion.
In a new video for Big Think titled Is Xenophobia Inherent in Organized Religion?, Krauss declares:
Religion is a negative force for humanity because … it implies things about the real world that are just not true.
While acknowledging that religious myths often bring comfort to some, Krauss observes that making decisions based on those myths often “lead to bad consequences.”
[Religion] has provided opportunities for groups to sometimes do progressive things. But inevitably it’s based on myth and superstition, based on ideas created by Iron Age peasants who didn’t even know the Earth orbited the sun. And ultimately why we should view that as wisdom is beyond me.
Eschewing false moral equivalencies, Krauss takes a particularly brave stance on Islam by challenging the current misguided liberal orthodoxy which attempts to excuse or diminish the violence associated with Islam. Krauss opines:
Now in the current world, I think there’s no doubt that right now Islam is a source of more violence than a number of the other organized religions.
Krauss points out that taken literally the holy texts of the Christian and Jew are just as likely to lead to violence, before going on to make the provocative observation that the problem with Islam is one of timing:
Islam is 500 years younger than say Christianity. And 500 years ago Christianity was producing far more violence than Islam ever is today from the Crusades to the Inquisition.
Krauss goes on to observe “the fundamental difference” between followers of the Bible and followers of the Koran, stating:
… highly religious people take the Bible allegorically… when it says you can stone your children if they disobey you, no one takes that seriously anymore. The difference is that many people take the Koran every word of the Koran as not only divine but literally. And therefore when it exhorts you to violence they take that literally. That’s not done any more in the older religions, in the Abrahamic religions. The Bible still says to do those awful things but people don’t take it seriously.
As the title indicates, the larger theme Krauss explicates is the “us vs. them” mentality that is inevitably associated with organized religion, a mentality which often triggers a dangerous form of xenophobia.
In concluding, Krauss offers a prescription for escaping the bigotry and xenophobia often associated with organized religion and its attending religious superstitions:
… what seems to me the thing that we have to overcome the most is people recognizing that you can be a good person by accepting reality for what it is and questioning everything including questioning the existence of God.
Bottom line: organized religion is a destructive and divisive force which implies things about the real world that are just not true. In addition, and perhaps more important: one can be good without God.
Lawrence Krauss is a Canadian-American theoretical physicist who is a professor of physics, and the author of several bestselling books, including The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe from Nothing.