Religion Is Harming Society And Lives

By Zoltan Istvan | 18 July 2016
The Huffington Post


All around the world, religious terror is striking and threatening us. Whether in France, Turkey, London, or the USA, the threat is now constant. We can fight it all we want. We can send out our troops; we can chip refugees; we can try to monitor terrorist’s every move. We can even improve trauma medicine to deal with extreme violence they bring us. But none of this solves the underlying issue: Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam are fundamentally violent philosophies with violent Gods. Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and others have all reiterated essentially the same thing.

Consider these verses from the Koran:

Koran (3:56): As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.

Koran (8:12): I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

And then consider these verses from the Bible:

Deuteronomy 17:12: Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the holy man who represents God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged.

Numbers: 31:17: Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

Of course, both the Koran and Bible have passages that highlight kindness too—but you don’t get a get-out-of-jail-free card in the 21st Century by being both violent and peaceful. If you beat your spouse, you’re an abuser and can face jail time (even if you’re a loving spouse other times). It’s one or the other in the 21st Century: If you’re a warmonger, murderer, or a terrorist—you’re a bona fide warmonger, murder, or terrorist. And nothing is going to change that.

The fundamental problem with religion is that believers—about 5 billion people right now on Planet Earth—are so sure they’re “correct” on anything and everything they believe. This is, of course, a sure sign of insanity—especially since most of what people believe was taught to them when they were children (and they had no way to filter it out or reason about it).

The only real truth out there, at least while our brains are just three pound bags of meat (and our senses—like our eyes—see just 1 percent of the visible universe), is to know “absolute truth” is something way too complex to understand. The only real thing to understand right now is the Scientific Method—the holy grail of wisdom that reason advocates follow. It states that if you test a hypothesis enough times, and the outcome seems to always be similar, then you can utilize that as a semi-truth and apply it functionally in one’s life (but beware: It could change anytime and it might). That’s the language of reason—the language of science.

It’s the same method of thinking that explains why jet airplanes don’t fall out of the sky. Or why skyscrapers keep standing through hurricanes. Or why we could put a man on the moon and bring him back.

However, it’s not the thinking method that President Obama used to swear on a Bible to get his job on inauguration day. Or George W. Bush when he stopped life saving stem cell funding for seven years during his presidency. Or the Pope when he insists condom usage is a sin, despite it having the possibility of saving millions of lives from AIDS in Africa.

The Scientific Method is also not the thinking method of the pilots who flew into the World Trade Center. Or of the murderer who gunned down people in Orlando. And it’s certainly not the method of thinking that the truck driver used to run down innocent people in Nice, France.

Like the hundreds of millions of other nonreligious people out there, it’s hard for me to fathom how religious people got brainwashed into being this way—this ignorant. But bear in mind, it’s not just religious terrorism that is literally killing us—it’s much more.

Consider how many nonreligious secular people there are leading our nation right now. The answer is astonishing: It’s zero (at least publicly). All 535 members of Congress, all eight Supreme Court justices, and our President believe in God and an afterlife.

No wonder life extension and anti-aging science is basically unfunded by the US Government. Why should the US care about whether you live longer or can overcome disease when you’re all going to wake up in Jesus’ arms after you die? Or in some heavenly Islamic paradise with a bunch of virgins?

I’m a presidential candidate that wants you to live—not in some unknown paradise once you die that no one has ever seen before or can prove exists. I want you to live now, regardless of what craziness or tragedy the world can throw at you. I want your loved ones to live too—and not die because of aging, disease, or terrorism. I want you all to survive as long as you want—and to try to find a perfect world here on Earth. Transhumanist science can give that to us, and it will soon. And maybe in a hundred years, we can all even venture somewhere else in the universe when space travel can get us there safely.

If you want to live—and not be killed or die—make a point to criticize and disavow religion and religious people for being deathist: the idea that death is either welcome or acceptable (whether it comes via terrorism, disease, or aging).

In the 21st Century, fundamental religion is a form of mental disease. And sadly, that disease continues to take lives everywhere, in the worst of ways.

Reprinted with permission from the author.

Zoltan Istvan is a Libertarian candidate for California Governor 2018. Previously, he was a 2016 US Presidential candidate who aimed to put science, health, and technology at the forefront of American politics. At the age of 21, Zoltan began a solo, multi-year sailing journey around the world. He’s explored over 100 countries, many as a journalist for the National Geographic Channel. His work has also been featured in many major television channels, such as CNN, FOX News, and BBC. Zoltan writes futurist and transhumanist-themed blogs for The Huffington Post, Vice’s Motherboard (Transhumanist Future), and Psychology Today (The Transhumanist Philosopher). He has also written for Slate, Gizmodo, Daily Mail, Salon, Newsweek, Wired UK, Singularity Hub, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Outside. Zoltan has started various successful businesses, from real estate development to filmmaking to viticulture, joining them under ZI Ventures. He is a philosophy and religious studies graduate of Columbia University and resides in San Francisco with his two daughters and physician wife. Zoltan is the creator of the Immortality Bus, a 38-foot vehicle shaped like a coffin to spread the message that science can conquer death. He is the author of The Transhumanist Wager, an award-winning, #1 bestselling Philosophy book describing philosopher Jethro Knights and his unwavering quest for immortality via science and technology. You can follow his work at, on Wakelet, Facebook and on Twitter.

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