Thursday, March 19, 2009

god is not Great Chapter 4: A Note on Health

Chapter 4, while making more similar points is much more convincing in its delivery. The premise, of course is how religion has had an effect on health. And we're not only looking at individual health, but at health in the world as a whole.

The opening salvo is perhaps its most compelling: the polio vaccine. A vaccine for one of the oldest scourges of mankind. A vaccine that has been reduced in cost to pennies per dose. And, sadly, also a vaccine that has been declared by Muslim authorities to be a conspiracy against Islamic countries by the United States and UN. It could be argued that this is a cultural paranoia, but regardless of that, it is the religious leaders who are spouting this nonsense. With the vaccine as cost efficient as it is, we could easily wipe out polio the same way small pox were. And yet, such is not the case because of fanatical religion. I have to agree with Hitchens on this point, as I can think of no other explanation for why anyone would willingly encourage the promulgation of a debilitating disease. Except through religion. Even in recent times, as in this week, the Pope while in Africa denounced the use of condoms as a protection from HIV.

This is an unacceptable reality of our world. Religion can, and does cause tragedy. This is of course not to say nothing else does, but it does tend to cause them on a much wider scale.

IN discussion of mental health he brings up one particularly common thing in Jerusalem that I think he has mischaracterized. He notes a kind of Messiah syndrome that is a common occurance among the population of Israel where one person will try and proclaim themselves the messiah. He points to this madness as a result of religion but I have to disagree. Not being an expert in psychology I would still posit that this is just a cultural/religious manifestation of delusions of grandeur not so different than someone proclaiming they are Napoleon. This is madness that likely would have manifested in some way regardless of surroundings. The surroundings and culture simply created the form.

Hitchens makes many other more minor points, but the main ones are as noted. Religion can cause horrible problems, but in truth here, he has yet to show why its anything other than deeply indoctrinated fundamentalists that are the real problem.


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  2. Yeah I think both Hitchens and Dawkins are right on in this assessment. I remember back when I was spiritual I used to worry myself silly. Hell, I had guilt for the most ridiculous things ever. Heh, and not to mention that instead of being assertive and taking action, I prayed for everything from forgiveness to just making it through the day. Now if I want something I go out and get it. If I want a cancer patient to get better, I don't waste time praying for them. Instead, I donate to their cause, visit them in the hospital, and take real action that has a REAL effect on something I like to call "REALITY". And that goes for everything else in my life. ;) For some reason theists have a real aversion to reality. They continue to dismiss, ignore and distain it, while constantly wishing for the apocalypse and the afterlife. I suppose an infinite life of servitude in heaven is worth it huh? I mean, all Jesus wants is for you to "accept that you're a loathsome scrap of mortal garbage not fit to be scraped from the sole of his holy sandal. And that you apologize profusely for being the way.. that he made you…." (compliments of "some grey bloke").

    To be honest, I don't know what Christians think will be so great about the afterlife. After patiently exercising a nauseating restraint on their passions and desires, I suppose they assume that in heaven they get to party like the sinful heathens they've always wanted to be. HA! Fat chance. If heaven existed it would most-likely be the perfect example of servitude, obedience, and slavery (but with clouds, bright light, and magic and shit…).