To consider antireligion instead of atheism.

The harm of religion is historically evident whereas the presence or absence of gods is not. Ultimately, the continued existence of religion is predicated on the indoctrination of children and suppression of rational thought. Therefore I am against religion but not necessarily against the idea of gods. For all we know gods are computer scientists and we are in their video game.

Preamble, a definition.

Because there is no precise generally accepted definition of religion, it is important to communicate how one defines it before debating it. If not, debates are often fruitless because both parties are not discussing the same thing.

My definition goes as follows: religion is characterized by a group of people—fallible like any of us—who decide upon a set of ideas that cannot be questioned.

Is antireligion racist?

No. Religion is not a race, but a race to the bottom. As aforementioned, it's a group of people deciding upon a set of ideas that cannot be questioned or where at least doing so is discouraged, i.e., dogma. It follows that antireligion is “dogmist” and not racist. Also, there's only the human race. Any further hierarchy among humans is false and folly.

Is antireligion Christophobic or Islamophobic?

Yes, but especially the word Islamophobic has become a dysphemism because it sounds worse than it is. There's nothing wrong with being allergic or scared of stupid or dangerous ideas. Pacifists aren't slandered as “warphobists” either.

People use “Islamophobia” because they feel personally attacked when their ideas get scrutinized. When one's whole world revolves around religion it becomes difficult to separate one's ideas from one's identity, so they take it personally. This isn't isolated to religion, it applies to the populace in general as well. Instead of self-reflection—questioning the validity one's thoughts—it's easier to silence opposition with slander. Dirty, but unfortunately it still works. Not even scientists are immune to it:

“Those who recognized chaos in the early days agonized over how to shape their thoughts and findings into publishable form. Work fell between disciplines—for example, too abstract for physicists yet too experimental for mathematicians. To some the difficulty of communicating the new ideas and the ferocious resistance from traditional quarters showed how revolutionary the new science was. Shallow ideas can be assimilated; ideas that require people to reorganize their picture of the world provoke hostility. A physicist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Joseph Ford, started quoting Tolstoy: “I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”” —James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science []

Are all religions (equally) bad?

No. Consider Jainism, a religion which has non-violence as one of its core principles. To quote Sam Harris: “The crazier you get as a Jaine, the less we have to worry about you.” [] Or the converse, a comment I once stumbled upon: “If Islam is a religion of peace, then why aren't the extremists extremely peaceful?”

The official symbol of Jainism: Jain Prateek Chihna.
—Image: Jain Prateek Chihna, the official symbol of Jainism.

To me, Jainism isn't a religion because of the simple reason that it is allowed to question its tenets []. That's orthogonal to dogma and makes it more of a philosophy rather than a religion. I'd actually be elated if the world turned to Jainism, if only for re-appropriating the swastika—卐—“a symbol of prosperity and good fortune” []. Unfortunately, in stark contrast with Jainism, Hindu nationalism is on the rise and they're taking cues from Nazi Germany [].

Atheism misses the point.

Atheism: “the doctrine or belief that there is no God.” Considering what I've mentioned above, notice the resurfacing problem? Doctrine, dogma. Even though there's as much evidence for Zeus as there is for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, why bother. We can't spy on people's thoughts anyway. As long as people don't act on irrational convictions there is little harm in believing that “supreme” beings exist. If these gods do exist then they're probably computer scientists who built an advanced Age of Empires game. Occam's razor: the simplest explanation is usually the right one []. So, what sounds more likely? Omnipotent gods creating an unfathomably complex being made from DNA, only to make masturbation a sin and watch the consequences? Or the CEO of a video game company deciding that natural disasters must remain an ingame feature because market analysis projects less profits since less disasters means less fun. Given that human greed is still rampant I'd confidently chance a guess which one is more likely. Though, evolution without simulation theory is still simpler than evolution within simulation theory. What the hell do I know. I digress.

Atheism too sparingly addresses the actual crux of its importance: it's not the individual belief in gods that harms—though gullibility is a catalyst—instead it's the collective religious actions that causes most damage. As with many bad things in society, these actions are characterized by “smart” people taking advantage of the gullible, hence why religion starts at birth. There's nothing easier than to mold the mind of a defenseless impressionable child. What begins with a seemingly innocuous form of baptism and communion soon segways into prayer, i.e., scare tactics, which in turn leads to confession, i.e., medieval mass surveillance, resulting in a cult that practices paying for absolution, celibacy leading to widespread sexual molestation [], female genital mutilation []*, witch hunting, castigating homosexuality, foregoing modern medicine for faith healing, capital punishment for apostasy or being an unveiled female… et cetera. These dangerous beliefs and barbaric practices occur to this day.

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” —Voltaire (1694 – 1778)

—Video: South Park: 201, uncensored speech [].

Since religion necessitates the indoctrination of children and suppression of rational thought, I consider it evil. Religion should only be taught in history books. All of it. The good and bad. And if individuals of a ripe age still come to decide they want to be religious, let them. However, these will be few, for it is no match against history and philosophy.

“Find a society that's adopted the teachings of Spinoza, Voltaire, Galileo, Einstein, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and gone down the pits—as a result of doing that—into famine and war and dictatorship and torture and repression. That's the experiment I would like to run. I don't think that's going to end up with a gulag.” —Christopher Hitchens (1949 – 2011) []

– – – – –

* Profoundly unsettling non-visual content.

What should we learn from religion?

There is one redeeming factor that prevents me from throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Religious morals and ethics? No. While religion does contain aphorisms, philosophy has more of them, does it better, and includes logic. Conversely, scripture is vague. While I was delighted to discover riba, “a concept in Islam that refers broadly to the concept of growth, increasing, or exceeding, which in turn forbids interest credited from loans or deposits”, religion always crumbles due to vagueness: “While Muslims agree that riba is prohibited, not all agree on what precisely it is.” [] I.e., if something is considered haram by scholar A, one can simply find a scholar B who considers it halal.

Not only is religion vague, it is dishonest. For instance, let's talk homosexuality. While conversing with a Muslim former colleague A, I noticed that even though the religious say they supposedly want tolerance and acceptance for all, do they actually believe it?

Q: “Do you have a problem with homosexuality?”

A: “Look. They can do whatever they want, but it's abnormal you see?”

Q: “In the strict definition of the word abnormal I agree, i.e., heterosexuality is a lot more prevalent than homosexuality, making the latter rare—“abnormal”. But I don't consider it wrong. Do you? Do you consider it a sin even though it harms no one?”

Long silence…

A: “Yes, I consider it a sin.”

Q: “Okay then.”

Christopher Hitchens was right, religion does poison everything. Even though colleague A said people are free to do whatever they please, following it up with “homosexuality is a sin” arguably exposes his feigned tolerance. Perhaps I'm prejudiced, but it makes me doubt which human rights he would actually try to sustain when push comes to shove. “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” Look, I'm not claiming my former colleague would preach for inhumane laws, but it stresses the importance of why the religiously moderate should more often publicly scrutinize flawed contents of their holy books. If not, look at what happened in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over:

“Women have seen their rights obliterated. The Taliban have prohibited most girls from attending secondary school, banned all women from attending and teaching at universities, and prevented women from working. In December 2022, the group prohibited women from working at local and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The UN Development Program (UNDP) has estimated that restricting women’s employment could cost up to 5 percent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product (GDP). Amnesty International has reported a drastic increase in the number of women arrested for violating discriminatory policies, such as rules requiring women to only appear in public with a male chaperone and to completely cover their bodies. The rates of child marriage have also increased.” —Lindsay Maizland, The Taliban in Afghanistan, 2023 []

Now look at Iran, Mahsa Amini was beaten to death for wearing tight trousers… justifiably resulting in mass protests []. If this doesn't infuriate you—before you remember your stoic principles—well then screw you. Okay, sorry. Let me rephrase. Similar to how Sal Khan's mind gets blown by Euler's Identity, if all of this injustice doesn't make your blood boil, you have no emotions as well []. But before we apostatise en masse, the original question remains to be answered.

The redeeming factor of religion is a sense of community. Community, brotherhood, loyalty, oneness, or whatever is synonymous is sorely lacking in secular societies. “God created mankind in his own image” [], whereas mankind created god in himself. This religiosity makes us normalize thoughts and behaviour that is equally appalling and dogmatic. Money has become our religion, where each is on their own island. Instead of churches we have shopping malls. Instead of temperance we have glut. Instead of altruism we have greed. The former for the benefit of god the church's finances, the latter for the benefit of the economy corporate profits.

In the same vain, despite my fondness, science is not yet inclusive like religion. I still feel it brings with it a certain air of pretence, superiority. Some people pride themselves on being in a club for only a limited amount of smart people. Sorry mister Prof. Dr. Eng., but you're missing the point and widening the chasm. You're not better than anyone, you just won the genetic/environmental lottery. With that in mind it should be obvious that the point of science is to improve the world so everyone could optimally feel stimulated by cognitively demanding tasks, be it art or science or whatever in between. Sadly, now, academia is still highly competitive, oftentimes cut-throat, or downright deleterious:

“Wiles probably was also worried that someone who read the proposed proof might somehow steal it and send it out under his or her own name. This, unfortunately, does happen in academia.” —Amir D. Aczel, Fermat's Last Theorem [].

“Einstein struck a more serious pose when he addressed the Caltech student body near the end of his stay. His sermon, grounded in his humanistic outlook, was on how science had not yet been harnessed to do more good than harm. During war it gave people “the means to poison and mutilate one another,” and in peacetime it “has made our lives hurried and uncertain.” Instead of being a liberating force, “it has enslaved men to machines” by making them work “long wearisome hours mostly without joy in their labor.””

Instead, Einstein continues:

“Concern for making life better for ordinary humans must be the chief object of science. “Never forget this when you are pondering over your diagrams and equations!”” —Albert Einstein (1879–1955) []

To be clear, I'm not entertaining the idea that science should replace religion or that it is in a position to do so. It is not. Not in isolation.

So then, how to fill the void?

With literally everything else. Life is so rich that it is silly to expect one thing to replace religion. For instance, art can make me feel remarkably connected to humanity. Be it literature, movies, singing, or dancing, you name it. Everything is open to interpretation, but as opposed to religion, people who practice tapdancing won't get flogged by a critical mass of zealously stampeding Lindy Hoppers.

—Video: Whitey's Lindy Hoppers' legendary dancing in the movie Hellzapoppin'.

Joking aside, I feel strongly that a Copernican revolution in education is the most promising contestant that could fill the largest part of the hole religion left behind. Education needn't be so sterile, strict, cut and dried. I mean, simply watching the Lindy Hop video above and consecutively realizing that nowadays its main demographic is white people while it has Black American roots [] would provide plenty of fuel for classroom discussions touching upon a myriad of topics students have to learn already, or should learn about.

“Study to be accomplished, not affluent.” —3 Idiots []

3 Idiots is another story perfectly suitable to fill in for religious class. Because while it's addressing pitfalls of the Indian education system, it simultaneously touches upon everything else life has to offer: love-hate, comedy-tragedy, life-death, all without the need for dogma. Within that train of thought—next to nurturing curiosity—schools should way more revolve around philosophy: figuring out what makes life worth living, what it means to lead a good life, how we should treat others, how we can love each other better, et cetera. Yes, those are things discussed in religious classes, but with itself as the answer: being a good Christian, being a good Muslim, dogma. Discard the dogma, just be good.

Be good toward yourself and others. Community is what we should strive for. Doing things for the sake of helping others, in competition with only oneself. Most contemporary mandatory education still revolves around the opposite: molding an obedient working class in a very competitive atmosphere. Art and science for the most part detached. Cold, calculated, but with plenty of distractions/entertainment to keep us from challenging the status quo. Where life itself is concerned we have to figure it out on the go. And unlike trial and error in math class, some mistakes in real life are difficult to reverse despite being easy to avoid.

Imagine an opposite environment where not individual test scores but mastery and cooperation is central []. How nourishing that would be, especially to those with with stifling parents. I'm almost religiously convinced that after having gone through such an education system the students would way more easily and organically learn and remember all the knowledge they're now being force-fed. Moreover, because many parents haven't the foundation to engage in proper parenting, which puts many children on a virtue-ridden path, it would provide a home for those who don't have one. A safe haven to look forward to, something to live for. My goodness, the amount of human potential that still has to be unlocked is immense.

Lastly, Captain Fantastic is yet another story that showcases the beauty of fully unlocking our human potential. While mocking the food industry, contemporary education, and religion, it simultaneously questions itself as well because an idyllic life to one might not be for another. Though, it's stance on religion is pretty straightforward and aptly summarizes this essay:

“First off, Leslie practiced Buddhism. Which, to her, was a philosophy and not an organized religion. In fact, Leslie abhorred organized religion, thought it the single most dangerous fairy-tale ever invented, used to strike fear and obedience into the hearts of the innocent and uninformed. She saw it not just as a source of injustice, but as a crime against humanity…” —Captain Fantastic []

How to apply antireligion?

Don't be obnoxious about it, just as how one should approach veganism or anything else that goes against the grain. Antireligion gets enough of a bad reputation as it is being wrongfully associated with racism, so play your cards right. What does this mean in practice? Lead by example through actions and few words; don't introduce the topic when uncalled for. Don't think you're better than others who are religious—attack the idea, not the person. As in politics, there is no good or bad side, only valid or false arguments. Incorporate the valid wherever it comes from, and learn from the false so one doesn't repeat mistakes.

Forever realise that everyone is a product of their nature/environment. All it takes is a nudge in the right direction []. Therefore, don't divide but “go forth and multiply” [].

—Angelino Desmet; 27 June 2023.


  1. James Gleick: Chaos: Making a New Science, page 38.
  2. Sam Harris: Islam Is Not a Religion of Peace.
  3. Wikipedia: Jainism; comparison with Buddhism and Hinduism.
  4. Encyclopedia Britannica: swastika.
  5. VICE: A New Brand of Hindu Extremism is Going Global | Decade of Hate
  6. IMDB: Spotlight.
  7. Dr. John Chua, PBS: Cut: Exposing FGM [reddit source].
  8. Wikipedia: South Park: 201.
  9. Christopher Hitchens, Talks at Google: God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
  10. Lindsay Maizland, Council on Foreign Relations: The Taliban in Afghanistan.
  11. Salman Amin “Sal” Khan, Khan Academy: Euler's formula & Euler's identity.
  12. Biblehub: Genesis 1:27.
  13. Amir D. Aczel: Fermat's Last Theorem, page 128.
  14. Walter Isaacson: Einstein: His Life and Universe.
  15. IMDB: 3 Idiots.
  16. Salman Amin “Sal” Khan: Let's teach for mastery -- not test scores.
  17. IMDB: Captain Fantastic.
  18. Nicky Case: “Fireflies”.
  19. Biblehub: Genesis 9:7.


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