It is difficult to write an essay about my feelings toward religion. The subject is too disgusting, too cruel, too perverted to examine. However it is undeniable that religion has a foothold in the human brain. Since I was a teenager, I have been determined to discover what that foothold is, and more recently, what evolutionary advantage it gave our ancestors. There is no doubt that religion is part of evolution, and to paraphrase Darwin religion is bloody in tooth and claw.

For decades I studied the religions of dead cultures to learn what aspects religions have in common. Like modern religions, ancient deities were used to justify horrific crimes. Like modern religions, those in the historic past have caused crimes beyond number. To examine religion- any religion, all religion, is to look into the dirtiest, bloodiest aspect of humanity.

To say simply that religions’ sins include war, torture, murder, madness, greed, and subjugation is meaningless. Those global terms gloss over the horror of details- the devil is in the details. Yet to catalog and examine what those terms describe requires a stronger stomach than I have.

However, now it is necessary to look at religion’s evil. While nations of the world stir up religious fervor that war mongers require, religious apologists claim that their religion is really the way of peace. Islam claims that the way of Allah is the way of peace. Christians- just as hypocritical in every way- beat the war drum while claiming a just and loving god is on their side. Jews- hiding behind the euphemism of ‘Israelis’ kill, bully and thieve from those euphemistically referred to as Palestinians. How difficult is it to see the lie behind rhetoric? The world is war-torn because their gods do not agree.

Are there any aspects of religion that are good? No. None. In fact, religion takes what is best of humankind’s compassion and ethics and twist it as a tool ready made for those who are willing to set compassion and ethics aside.

Religion allows us all to override humanity’s generosity and compassion. It is imprecise to say that religion created and defined evil. It is religion that is evil.

Nancy Sherer

The Sherer Group
1997 - 2005