Religion comes with theology; but most religious people do not indulge in it. Religion comes with spirituality; but very few devout people actually concentrate on it. Religion however comes with huge paraphernalia of rituals, customs, traditions seeped in blind belief and superstition. And most believers actually practice this kind of religion.
This ritualistic and superstitious facet of religion is the most prevalent form the believers practice. It blinds people. It blinds them from receiving new knowledge, stops them from becoming wiser, and curbs originality and creativity. It forbids them from thinking farther and beyond, and makes them more of a robot and less of a thinker.
Religion stems wisdom, stops people from making sense, rationalize, think and reason. It makes them unreasonable and dogmatic. These people refuse to change views in spite of counter evidence. It makes them hang on to blind belief, orthodoxy and superstition.
There are many ideologies and belief systems that make a person blind to reason. So why single out religion in my attack?
Many other ideologies qualify for the same problems posed by religion. However, there is no other potent force on earth that comes close to religion in terms of its extent, depth, longevity and effectiveness. Religion is altogether a different beast.
For example, people who subscribe to an ideology like communism tend to face the same problems cited above. They are blinded. They do not reason, they are dogmatic, and unreasonable. However, communism as an ideology started less than hundred years ago, gripped only certain portion of people, and is already dying. The newer generations coming from the shadow of communism tend to detest it with more vigor than others.
Religion is embraced by more people than any other ideology, and exists for much longer time and continues to increase in efficacy with time. It has killed more people, made more people act barbaric, act uncivilized, commit genocide, rape, and murder than any other ideology.
These are some attributes where religion beats all other ideologies.
Kill and Die
No other ideology produces people with the same level of commitment and fanaticism to kill and die. More religious fanatics are ready to kill and die to defend their belief system and impose their belief system onto others. Unlike adherents of capitalism, communism, or globalization, the adherents of religion are ready to kill and get killed much more enthusiastically. The only other ideology that comes close to this is patriotism (but it ranks lower than religion).
No other ideology gets inherited the way religion does. A child in Christian family is invariably a Christian. For ages, kids born into Christian families tend to be Christians. (In some cases, proselytizing and conversion tend to change the ratios, but the neo-converts tend to practice this inheritance with more vigor). People born into a religious family tend to be religious. That is not true to most other ideologies. A son of communist need not be a communist. A son of capitalist need not be capitalist.
Catch them young
No other ideology seems to target young children the way religion does. Unlike most other ideologies, religion is taught to young children. Indoctrination of religion starts very young and the concept of God and the concept of heaven and hell, sin and blind rules are introduced to kids who are just two or three years old. They are told, ‘God forbids this, God likes this. Do it this way, God will reward you! Don’t do this, God will punish you!’
Not many communists teach their young kids Communism. Nobody says to his three-year old kid, ‘Don’t do this! Lenin will not like it’ or ‘Do this! Lenin will praise you for it’
Curb creativity and original thought
No other ideology curbs creativity and original thought the way religion does. Though patriotism qualifies for the above three attributes, religion beats it on this. Also, it starts doing its job attacking people at a quite young age. By answering most mundane questions by saying ‘God said so, and hence it is so!’ and ‘God created this, and hence it is so!’ the original thought is curbed. By forbidding people from doing things calling it a sin, and imposing mundane habits as if they are unquestionable diktats of god, and introducing prejudices quite early on as if they are unchangeable rules, religion curbs creativity, makes people illogical, prejudiced and unreasonable.
Blind belief is a virtue in religion. Faith in extremely nonsensical things is hallmark of devoutness. Subscribing to most ridiculous practices is hallmark of piety. Many other ideologies seem to prescribe these attributes, but religion does this more effectively – affecting the state and its apparatus, the institutions, society, and the individual.
Abandon and reject rational thought
Other ideologies such as communism, patriotism, nationalism and even racism seem to have evolved and at some level they have incorporated rational thought and results of science, sometimes flawed. But not religion! Religion stands against all rational thought, suppresses debate, discourages empiricism, thwarts logical reasoning, and in most cases rejects the theories and results of science.
We have had problems with other ideologies, either it is nationalism, fascism, Nazism, or communism, but many of these ideologies have not been there forever. They had their own times when they reached the pinnacle and then they subsided. Not religion. People have been fighting over religions since the inception of religion itself. And it has not subsided and it has not let up. More and more people join in throngs and swell the ranks. It has more adherents than any other ideology and the enmities and persecutions continue for thousands of years. Casteism in India would have not have survived for two thousand years if it was not made a part of the religion itself. The same is with persecution of Jews.
Intelligent but lack in reason
It’s not that religious people are dumb. In fact, they can be very intelligent. Some of them could be more intelligent than the entire non-religious people combined. What the religious people lack is not intelligence. What they have given up along the way is their ability to reason when it comes to certain issues of life and society. In face of counter evidence, instead of looking at it and inspecting it, the religious people would like to dismiss the evidence as false. They would like to say, ‘Look! What you say seems to make sense, yet I would not like to get convinced by you’. Religion legitimizes foolishness like no other. It’s like saying, ‘what you are doing is actually foolish, but since it is prescribed by religion, I respect that!’