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Essay On The Problem Of Religion - With A Free Essay Review
Over thousands of years religion has been a faith brought upon us by people that were taught by generations of our ancestors. Sometimes people see it as fact. It is faith not fact and has continued since a great speaker told us it was fact long ago. As man grew and science began to show facts, religion has been proven wrong. Faith is a great thing to have. I had faith that I would see my sports teams win championships. I in no way have a dislike or hatred for a persons religion (excluding the ones that said killing is a path to follow).
A scientist that is religious and believes in god contradicts himself every day. While working, he contradicts his religion. While practicing his religion, he contradicts his job. Life is an amazing thing that started billions of years ago when hot and cold in space bumped into each other creating different molecules. Different molecules bumped into each other creating objects stars and gas. Gas created planets. Planets closer to a star created hard matter (land). With earth being at a perfect distance from the sun, it created life. Long ago at the beginning of man a person said stars were gods. There was no reason understood for life. One man or woman (notice I include women) said a god created this and a lot of people believed it. Another person said it a different way and created a different belief for life (different religions were created). This continued throughout life creating hundreds of religions. Great speakers have always been able to answer a large groups questions off the top of their head. Some of these speakers were sick and wanted death to those with a different belief. Religion (not just white people) has caused most racism. Religion (not just countries) has created wars, though successful countries like ours and Europe, I hate to say it, challenge these religions for money, oil, and democracy. You see, when two different objects (gas, religion, and so on) collided, it created life and war. As man has grown through time, the object of money has risen above religion in the most successful countries (US, Europe, Australia and so on). While in countries where religion is more important you will find the preachers and great speakers that the population listens to, make great money, while the followers remain poor and hungry. Bin laden and Hitler brought their beliefs upon poor people and increased their own profit. They were very sick people that wanted power and money so much they murdered innocent people. They were able to convince religious people that thought killing was a good thing for man (there are many religions that do not do this). There are religions that still respect other beliefs, and know killing for money and religion is not a way to live. Its the preachers of some beliefs (as I said, not all) that are sick. Why didnt Bin Laden put bombs all through his house in case we broke in to capture him. Because being powerful and wealthy was what he wanted, not to die. He and Hitler were not following what they believed. It was power and money. Suicide bombers were told they go to heaven if they if they kill. Too bad they dont know its not true. The hijackers of 9-11 killed themselves and others for Bin Laden not god. As I said, they did not know this. Hitler was the same way.
Jews, Christians, and many other religions may criticize each other, but never wish death upon the other because of difference in beliefs (accept maybe some of the sick ones). They can be friends, or even married, and then teach their children both religions and let them choose (which is a great way and something I have the most respect for).
Discrimination based on race is just as ignorant. A lot of people dont see the greatness of men like Martin Luther King. His holiday and speeches dont just represent the black race. He preached for all religions and race. When he said brothers, he was not talking just about the black race. He was talking about all. He did not want his race to be racist because of the past. Ignorant and greedy people captured slaves for money. The US did not go get the slaves. They bought them. Other African tribes captured rivals and sold them to the British, and then the British sold them to the United States. You see, all three countries had the greed, not just the United States.
The point here is that, just like religion, races have good and bad people. Its sad it had to happen that way, but this country would not be what it is today if that had not happened. Not to mention slavery was brought about long before the plantations in the US. MLK knew this. That is why he was an incredible person that some people did not understand as much as they think they did. Malcolm X was racist just like some of the leaders of the south.
Let me note first that the organization of the essay is a bit haphazard. You begin with a series of assertions about religion: it's faith-based; it's factually wrong; it's contradicted by science. You then turn to a different topic: the origin of life. Then you discuss the origin of religion. Then you make claims about "sick" speakers. Then you blame religion for war and racism. Then you turn to the importance of money in "successful" countries. Then you make a claim about the profit-motive in religious countries. And then you make a claim about the power/money motive of "sick" people. Next you move on to something completely different: Jews and Christians who refrain from killing each other. And you end up talking about racism, MLK, and the history of slavery.
The claims come thick and fast, then, but no apparent logic underlies the way in which this cascade of claims is presented. Your second paragraph, but also the essay as a whole, is about too many things. The purpose of organizing an essay into paragraphs is to allow us to deal with each topic one at a time; that means, one topic per paragraph. Your second paragraph has about a dozen topics, any one of which might on its own be, but none actually is, the subject of an essay.
In part as a consequence of the organizational problem, then, the point of the essay as a whole is unclear. But the lack of clarity with respect to the point of the essay is due also to the fact that there is no thesis, although perhaps it might be better to say that there are _only_ theses, and no argumentative development. You do, after all, make a lot of arguable claims. A thesis is an arguable claim. An essay is an attempt to justify an arguable claim. You have factual and arguable claims, but don't really elaborate or justify any of them.
You might object that the purpose of the essay is to demonstrate what might be called, generally speaking, the problem of religion; or to demonstrate, like the late Christopher Hitchens, how "religion poisons everything." One could conceivably write a coherent essay on that topic (or, like Mr. Hitchens, a book), but if you want to do that, you need to clarify what exactly is the nature of the poison: is it religious belief itself, or is it the desire for power and money. You might want to argue that the two are inextricably bound together, but then you would actually have to make that argument.
But let's say, for the sake of argument, that you primarily want to take on religion as such. And let's say, again for the sake of argument, that you have as a very general thesis the claim that religion is bad. Once you have a thesis like this you can begin to organize your several claims about religion with a view to demonstrating the truth of that overarching argument. Let's take a few such claims from your essay:
1. Religion makes false claims about the origin of life.
2. Religion is the cause of many wars.
3. Religion fosters racism.
4. Religion is promoted by those who are really only interested in power and money.
Forgive me if these are inaccurate representations of your claims, but the inaccuracy won't affect the general point I want to make, which concerns only how we might go about organizing such claims in an essay.
We can begin with a crude thesis:
Religion is bad because it makes false claims about the origin of life, is the cause of many wars, fosters racism, and is promoted by those who are interested in power and money.
That's not the most exciting thesis in the world, but the form of the thesis is reasonable. If we wanted to revise it, we would probably change "bad" to something that sounds just a little less banal, perhaps something more dramatic:
Religion is a threat to the advancement of civilization because
We might then decide that false claims about the origin of life is a very specific example of a more general problem: religion tends to undermine scientific knowledge. Let's say we also want to treat wars and racism as specific cases of a general problem too: religion fosters hatred. And finally let's say we want to emphasize a more essential relationship between religion and power or religion and money. Then we might have something like this:
Religion is a threat to the advancement of civilization because it tends to undermine scientific knowledge, it fosters hatred, and it is corrupted by power and money.
Let's assume now (very much still for the sake of argument) that we think that this version is good enough to be going on with. We then use the thesis to make decisions about how to organize the essay. So we decide to devote one or two paragraphs to demonstrating the truth of each of our claims.
Perhaps we have a paragraph showing the difference between religious teaching about the origin of life and scientific knowledge. To support our main argument (that religion is a threat to the advancement of civilization) we might want to use another paragraph to demonstrate the history of religious interference with scientific learning (from Galileo and Giordano Bruno, to John T. Scopes and even todays attacks on the teaching of evolution).
We might then use the fact that religious hostility to science is sometimes violent (as in the case of poor Bruno) to segue to our argument about religion fostering hatred. We can also deal here with religious wars and intolerance and bigotry. Dealing with those things means giving examples: The crusades, the inquisition, the religious justification of slavery and homophobia and misogyny, all the way up to modern conflicts.
Finally, we might turn to the topic of earthly motivations behind all of the god talk: the accumulation of wealth and power by churches or specific religious figures.
Once we've done all of that, then we've got an essay, albeit a one-sided one. And there is nothing in the world less persuasive than a one-sided argument. (Note: one-sided means considering only one side; it doesnt necessarily mean tendentious.)
So what will your essay have to say to someone who makes the following objection?
It is not religion that is the problem, but man. Man is corrupt, evil, originally sinful, and so on. Religion teaches us this; religion isnt the cause of the problem, but helps us to understand it. We should not be surprised that men use religion for their own nefarious purposes. The devil quotes scripture! Moreover, religion does good. You say it fosters hatred, but it also preaches peace. You say religious people justified slavery, but religious people also were at the forefront of the fight against slavery, and the fight for civil rights. Religious people also objected to wars. They created charities to feed the hungry and care for the sake. And finally, since we are talking about the advancement of civilization, what about all the great religious philosophers and poets and artists and musicians? What would civilization look like without the contributions made by religious people, often under the patronage of religious institutions, to these fields of human endeavor? Religion isn't a threat to civilization; it's the very foundation of civilization.
To get back now to your essay, what you need to do, then, is not only make the positive case that religion is bad, but also think of the best possible arguments that an apologist for religion could make (my previous paragraph is a fairly weak defense, but hopeful it gives an indication of the kind of thing that might be said). Acknowledge those arguments, and then explain why you think they are wrong or why, if some of the claims are true, they are not devastating to your main point: in the long run, religion poisons everything.
Although I don't usually edit essays, I've taken the liberty here of making a few corrections. For example, Ive corrected "where" to "were" where necessary (it might help to memorize the spelling of this question: Where were you?); and I've corrected "threw" to "through" (memorize the spelling of this: He threw rocks through the window, throughout the night). Although Ive not changed the word, I suggest avoiding the figurative usage of "sick" (to mean "evil" or "corrupt" or "sociopathic) because it is poorly defined. Finally, Ive also taken the liberty of deleting your postscript about our need to grow up. Giving that kind of advice to your reader is incompatible with your task as an essayist.
Submitted by: johnryanb
We are at a time when offensiveness, violence and hate have become ordinary in almost every corner of the world. There is news of more bloodshed from a different region almost every day, and the violence targets mostly innocent people.
The terrorist attacks which have taken place in Kenya and Pakistan over the last weeks have once again brought Islam and the subject of violence to the world agenda. Even though Islam is a religion of love and peace -- and quite clearly states that everyone must be treated as first-class citizens regardless of faith, race, language and thought -- how come there is so much violence and pain in the Muslim world?
No religion commands violence. No religion encourages ruthlessness, selfishness, lovelessness and massacre. Violence and the conditions that pave the way for violence develops when ideologies that promote conflict replace the moral values of religion that sees people as equal servants created by God and praises modesty, patience, compassion and unrequited love.
Simply because various terrorists call themselves Muslims, who execute people by shooting them when they cannot get an answer after asking them about the "pillars of faith", who resort to their guns when they hear the answer "Yes" to the question of "Are you a Christian?" and who ruthlessly murder innocents, does not make these persecutors Muslim.
A suicide attack in a church in Pakistan has nothing to with Islam as well. God mentions in the Koran that churches are "where God's name is mentioned much," (22:40) and thus, churches are under God's protection. Anyone who try to damage churches contradicts the command of God.
Conflict goes hand-in-hand with lovelessness. Let's take a look at the Islamic world. Today some of the Shia does not accept Sunnis as real Muslims and there are Sunni who do not consider the Shia as Muslims. However, no matter their differences, both the Shia and the Sunni are Muslims who believe in the same God and the same prophets, turn to the same kiblah (the direction where Muslims turn to while performing prayer) and read the same Holy Koran. There is no difference in the Koran between Sunni and Shia. So why is there enmity instead of finding the least common denominator? Why is bloodshed and hatred encouraged? The answer is simple: Lovelessness. The problem is not sectarianism. Sectarianism is just another name for legalizing hate and violence.
The essence of Islam is love, compassion and friendship. Muslims are obliged to defend and protect the freedom of thought and faith with the command in the Koran, "You have your religion and I have my religion" (109:6) and "...There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned" (2:256). This approach is the best description of secularism and ensures that members of every faith -- and even atheists -- are protected.
Saying that a religion, which has commands "... if anyone forgoes that [retaliation] as charity, it will act as expiation for him.... " (5:45) even for someone who has committed murder, promotes violence is both ignorance and remorselessness. Every Muslim is obliged to believe that killing one person is like killing all mankind and giving life to one person is like giving life to all mankindt (5:32) without distinguishing between religions, way of living and thought.
One of the reasons which lead some Muslims who embrace terror and violence as the "right path" -- despite these explicit commands of the Koran -- is that they drift away from the essence of Islam. When the bigoted mentality that embraces false hadiths (sayings of Prophet Mohammad) that conflict with the Koran is combined with ignorance, a structure of hate and anger emerges.
The only way to avoid this is to spread the true spirit and morality of the Koran, which is love and peace. There are many lessons that the Muslim world needs to take from the Prophet Mohammad, who allowed Christians to perform their own prayer at Masjid al-Nabawi, (Prophet's Mosque) spread his own cloak for Jewish and Christian guests to sit on and who stood up and paid his respects when a Jewish funeral procession passed by him. To learn from these lessons, the Muslim world must know the Koran and our Prophet more closely. They need to explore the beauty of Islam with a reasonable, rational, realistic point of view purified of superstitions. This can only be achieved through education.
The West also has some responsibilities to end the violence; it can be honest and take the first step by recognizing the pains caused by the policies they have followed since the beginning of the 20th century. When this is done, the West can also see that it is an irrational method to attempt to shape the Muslim world in line with their own interests. No doubt, every state first thinks about the welfare of its citizens and country; however, they must know that when they do this in a manner that ignores the rights of others and treats them callously, it will generate a backlash as surely as night follows day.
The only way to solve these problems created by the mistakes of the last century is to build a new civilization. Gunrunning, supporting dictatorial regimes, overt and covert pressure and oppression cannot build civilizations. That can only be achieved by changing people's minds. For this, we need to start a new education campaign together both in the West and the East. Let's teach this peace-loving, forgiving, moderate, compassionate, understanding, mature spirit that God wants from us to all people again. Let's be the teachers of love.
If the prudent, moderate, rational peoples of the West and the Islamic world become allies, we can make big significant changes in little a short period of time. Let's not forget that the good are more greater in numbers, but they don't ally, but whereas the evil become more effective because they do ally and are determined in spite of the fact that they are numerically inferior less in numbers.
This article originally appeared in the Malaysian Insider
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