Religion — Evil or Good

I never went to church as a kid. Arguably, my parents were a little on the atheist side, which might have influenced my view on religion as an adult. But as I travel around the world, I find myself trying to reconcile this idea — is religion evil or good?

Much of the western world today seems to have the belief that all Muslims are evil. That the Qaran is fundamentally built upon violence and world domination. Admittedly for some time I thought the same. That was until I spent about 2 months in a country of majority Muslims, Malaysia. If found people treated each other kindly. They celebrated Hari Raya (end of Ramadan) with all the joy and happiness that most of the western world experiences during Christmas. How could these people be evil? They’re not. No religion is evil and think this is why.

For religion to become popular, it has to appeal to some deep human need. I think in most cases, religion appeals to people who want to make sense of their world. Something to rely on when everything rational seems helpless. In most cases, following a religion is voluntary. In fact, forced religion almost always results in the people revolting. Why would any large number of people follow something that was fundamentally about violence and killing? Our instinct and psychology prevents it. This is why cults have a limit in terms of membership — eventually they run out of the ability to recruit new members. Its also why extremists are the minority and always will be — people don’t want to kill other people.

I personally don’t follow a religion. But I’m finally becoming becoming okay with the fact that others do. My belief, is that I’m human and I care for other people’s well being. I’m confident of being able to make decisions on how to treat others without reading the guidelines. In my gut, I know whats right and wrong and I think deep down most people do. I’m comfortable being able to process whatever messed up things happen in the world. On my own or with my family, friends and anyone I make a human connection with. That’s me, but that’s not for everyone. I’ve never really had to experience anywhere near the level of messed up things that happen to other people in the world, so perhaps that’s why I don’t have a need for religion. I’m not Atheist in the sense that I reject other peoples beliefs, I’m just me, and that should be ok.

At the edges, religions appear wildly incompatible with each other. But at their core, there are fundamental sames. Those sames exist outside of any religion. These are the things we should focus on.