I know too many people who think religion is bad for humanity. I can understand their view, but I also think they are looking at religion from only one angle, which may be a distorted view and not fair enough to make one jump to such a conclusion. I’m sure they have their own reasons for being anti-religion, but I find it utterly ignorant to go around with slogans that violently scream: "DEATH TO RELIGION! DEATH TO GOD!"
Most such people believe this way only because of what they see extremist religious people doing around the world. But do these people think they are being any less extremist when they go from one extremism to another? Perhaps the only difference between the Taliban and/or other extremists MAY be that these extremist atheists/agnostics don’t kill others. But, oh, they DO with their beliefs, their ignorance, their blindness, if I may say so openly. They believe that beliefs are supposed to be personal (I believe this, too), yet they go around bashing anyone who believes in God and labels him/her barbaric. I guess they think that makes sense . . .
So here’s my views on religion in regards to humanity - as in, whether it's good or bad for humanity overall.
If we look at religion from only ONE side and consider ONLY the harms of it, then of course it's a bad thing. Let’s take Islam, for instance. No, wait, this applies to ALL religions. If they are interpreted from a male’s perspective, then it’s deadly for humanity – okay, for women at least. But if we could interpret their teachings from a different outlook, a different gender, a more JUST mind, while living in our own time, then perhaps we could have more peace worldwide.
When people argue that religion overall is bad, my response is ... they may be wrong, they may be right. Since religious teachings (of ANY religion, not just Islam) are always subject to the interpretation of the stronger and usually selfish and biased mind, it can have extremely negative impact on society. And that's proven to us already. We have the Taliban currently controlling Pashtun regions in Pakistan; there are Muslims in the east, particularly in the Arab cultures, who consider women too weak to even breathe for themselves; and there’s classical and modern records of wars fought on the basis of religion, only because each religion wants to dominate all others.
BUT if it's interpreted properly, in the present time in which the religion is being practiced, then religion may have a healthier impact. Religion can make you either a very good person or it can make you really evil. One Pashtun leader, named Abdul Ghaffar Khan (because we appreciate what all he did for us Pashtuns, we refer to him out of love and respect as "Bacha Khan") interpreted religion (Islam) in such a way that led him to fight for the freedom of Pashtuns. He interpreted it to mean peace, success, happiness, stability -- ONLY if it's followed properly. He fought for the education of women, the liberation of women from the oppressions, the freedom for humans to be able to speak against injustices and fight FOR justice. There are some others like him who have used religion in a very peaceful manner, though such people are NOT common, unfortunately.
And my point? Simply this: it's ALL a matter of understanding a religion’s teachings and applying them to the time and culture in which you are living. You hear something about it, don't just stick with the first impression it makes in your mind but consider seeing it from different angles. Perhaps your first impression that hits you from whichever angle is not the right one, not the just one. I have personally witnessed (not just read or heard of) the harms that religion (interpretations of it) can do, and my people (the Pashtuns) are currently suffering from it, too. But does that mean I should call for NO RELIGION, NO RELIGION, NO RELIGION -- or carry slogans that scream "DEATH TO RELIGION!"? No, that'd be very dumb and ignorant of me, or of anyone who does that. We must first analyze the situation, analyze the argument, tackle it from different viewpoints, and see where it leads us.
I must admit, though, that people who have suffered a lot due to religion have every reason to leave that particular religion or religion in general (or just stop believing in God, if they choose). They've seen what we haven't seen, they've felt what we haven't felt, and religion doesn't work for THEM the way it may work for us. I have friends who have left religion (3 so far: Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism) only because of what they have been through throughout their life. I respect their decision, and I think anyone who looks down upon them is cursed with a blind heart, blind mind, AND a blind eye.
Then I also have friends who have accepted religion only because of what they have been through in life. For most people who stay in religion, that's their only hope. They *believe* that they'll go to a better place after death, and whether they're right or wrong is JUST a matter of faith; perhaps they're living a false dream by believing that, but who are we to decide that they're wrong?
There exist people in this world who do good only in order to seek some reward from God after they die (or even in this world; for some people, this is good) and avoid doing bad deeds (be it lying or cheating or cursing or abusing others or whatever else they may consider "sinful") only in order to avoid being punished by God. Yes, one can argue that these people are just selfish, but so what? If it helps them lead a good and healthy life, what business does anyone else have regarding them? It's always great to learn about different beliefs, but the reason for that should only and only be so that our minds can open more widely and accept different beliefs, not so we can mock others for their beliefs just because they are different than ours. There's absolutely nothing wrong with not believing in God, believing in more than one God, or being completely against religion and not having any, but something goes oppressively wrong when we deafen and blinden ourselves to the *fact* that we are not always right in our beliefs; there's nothing wrong unless and until we go around insulting others who believe differently than we do.
So whether religion is good or bad for humanity is a highly personal belief/opinion. It can go both ways, and I agree that it can have harmful effects -- but it can also give fruitful results if we let it. We decide which one we want it to be and have NO right to tell others how they should believe, how stupid their beliefs are, and which beliefs they should get rid of it. If we sincerely care about humanity, we'll only educate others in a proper manner and then let the people decide for themselves what's best for them. Only when their beliefs are affecting us negatively should we fight back and stand up for our own, which are not supposed to harm anyone.
P.S. I'm not done here :O I'll post the next part to this in a couple of days. I have a LOT to say on this matter, bahaha.