Religion - Criticism


Main article: Criticism of religion

Religious criticism has a long history, going back at least as far as the 5th century BCE. During classical times, there were religious critics in ancient Greece, such as Diagoras "the atheist" of Melos, and in the 1st century BCE in Rome, with Titus Lucretius Carus's De Rerum Natura.

During the Middle Ages, potential critics of religion were persecuted and largely forced to remain silent. There were notable critics like Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake for disagreeing with religious authority.

In the 17th and 18th century with the Enlightenment, thinkers like David Hume and Voltaire criticized religion.

In the 19th century, Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution lead to increased skepticism about religion. Thomas Huxley, Jeremy Bentham, Karl Marx, Charles Bradlaugh, Robert Ingersol, and Mark Twain were noted 19th century and early 20th century critics. In the 20th century, Bertrand Russell, Siegmund Freud, and others continued religious criticism.

Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Victor J. Stenger, and the late Christopher Hitchens were active critics during the late 20th century and early 21st century.

Critics consider religion to be outdated, harmful to the individual (e.g. brainwashing of children, faith healing, circumcision), harmful to society (e.g. holy wars, terrorism, wasteful distribution of resources), to impede the progress of science, to exert social control, and to encourage immoral acts (e.g. blood sacrifice, discrimination against homosexuals and women). A major criticism of many religions is that they require beliefs that are irrational, unscientific, or unreasonable, because religious beliefs and traditions lack scientific or rational foundations.

Some modern-day critics, such as Bryan Caplan, hold that religion lacks utility in human society; they may regard religion as irrational. Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi has spoken out against undemocratic Islamic countries justifying "oppressive acts" in the name of Islam.

Read more about this topic:  Religion

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Famous quotes containing the word criticism:

    Of all the cants which are canted in this canting world—though the cant of hypocrites may be the worst—the cant of criticism is the most tormenting!
    Laurence Sterne (1713–1768)

    As far as criticism is concerned, we don’t resent that unless it is absolutely biased, as it is in most cases.
    John Vorster (1915–1983)

    To be just, that is to say, to justify its existence, criticism should be partial, passionate and political, that is to say, written from an exclusive point of view, but a point of view that opens up the widest horizons.
    Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867)