It is a messed up person indeed who believes that everything that happens to them, good or bad, is a direct result of their actions. If you are rich and sheltered, you may find "God" is pretty laid back, and good to you. . .unless you find yourself in an accident, have a spouse leave you, a family member die, your house burn down, etc. Then you have a choice:
- believe God doesn't know,
- believe God doesn't care,
- believe God is teaching you a lesson or
- believing that he is making you an example for others, so you can show off your faith and how it "works".
Let's just say you are a good and moral person, who always tries to please God, when out of the blue something terrible happens. . . you will find the first two choices horrible, and with any common sense or self esteem, you will believe the third to be wrong as well. So that leaves you with the fourth option, being an example of the right way to react in a tragedy. That isn't likely to build up your ego or anything. . ."Look at me, God must love me more, as those whom he loves he chasteneth."
That was the BEST case scenario mind you, besides turning away from believing God is real. The rest involve justifying a continued belief in a cruel God. Which other then destroying your self worth, because God doesn't care about you in your mind, it also makes you very judgmental when the tables are turned and someone else, or even a whole city or country, has a catastrophe.
What this comes down to is really being childish and superstitious. It is a childish belief that all things have a purpose for instance. We grow up around man made things that all have a purpose in the mind of the Creator. Then we go out into the world and say, "Why is there a tree?" "Why does my body grow?" "Why do I feel the way I do?" "Why did the creation of the universe happen?" "Why" questions are nearly always childish and demand over simplified answers to complex problems. Yet, as adults we still often revert back to our childishness and ask the "why" questions, especially to our kids. "Why did you hit your brother?" "Why are you acting so foolish?" I mean really, what kind of answers do we expect back?!
So, how else is a religious belief harmful? Many people feel that God is the only thing keeping them from going out and murdering and raping people. This is statistically a farce, but yet I have heard this very thing stated by a family member. If you truly have so little self esteem, and think you are that depraved as a human under the curse, then please don't change to be an Atheist on account of me!! It is that mentality that leads those who rebel against religion (but without knowledge) to ditch all morality. Thus we have the depressed, uneducated, homeless, drunks and druggies, and those "Christians" filling our jails. These are Christians who believe that God is constantly beating them over the head, but they are getting him back, or at least not following where "he" leads. (Unfortunately, the conscience is mistaken for God, and in bitterness they harm themselves and those around them in their spite against this imaginary "friend.")
Also, the more desperate a person gets, the statistically more likely they are to believe in a god. It may do little harm for well educated, wealthy people to believe in God, but when the poor and uneducated believe, they are less likely to act, and more likely to just pray. There is a saying among the more action oriented Christians though that goes like this, "God helps those who help themselves." So, if you work hard, and are a successful person by pulling yourself up by your boot straps, it is God that still gets the credit?! In other words, you will reap what you sow. (No God is needed in this equation.)
So while not everyone subscribes to this lazy, complacent attitude of "waiting for God's will to be revealed", or just praying when there is a need you could actually do something about, it is much more likely to find the doers and advocates as well as the humanitarians in the non religious crowd, then the religious. . .at least in my experience.
Depending on your knowledge of the Bible, your sex, gender identity, sexual orientation and age, you will feel more or less accepted and equal to those around you as well because of your beliefs. As you can't help most of those things, except by faking it, religion will alter your perception about yourself, and your ability to accept your true self. Also making it less likely for you to believe others will accept you either. As your actions are intricately tied to how you feel about yourself, it is much more likely for a person with religion induced low self esteem to act out in immoral ways. . .and this is very evidenced in the jail rates of the religious, vs. irreligious.
If you believe that all mankind is born in sin, you are more likely to try to control that sin nature in yourself, depriving yourself of pleasure deemed as "sin" to your crowds reading of the Bible. (Self love, too much money, gambling, alcohol, leaving a spouse, TV, the internet, the theater, cards, etc.) You will also likely try to (out of love and sincerity of course) control the sin nature in others too.
You will be the one to let your poor needy baby "cry it out", as you were taught that they are just selfish by nature and trying to control and manipulate you. It will naturally follow that you will be a disciplinarian who is harsh with your kids, because that picture was given you by your "Heavenly Father".
As a "godly" husband you cannot accept your wife, as you have a job to present her to God as a spotless bride. By your title as her "spiritual head" and "leader", you are by default the responsible one if she acts unsubmissive or acts out in any way. She is not accountable for decisions she makes without the responsible male agreeing to it, according to the Bible. Leading the males to be domineering, and the females to stop trying to take responsibility for themselves.
Speaking of responsibility, a Christian will be less likely to protect the earth, as it is just going to burn when they are taken to Heaven they believe. Of course, some will read into the Bible the opposite in that, like in the garden of Eden, when we were supposedly told to "tend the garden", it meant "the world." And don't think of "planning" to save the world even if you believe that though, because you are told to "take no thought for the marrow". . .and that the heavenly father takes care of even the lily of the field. (Which means that presumably, you won't need to.)
Many religious folk use this reasoning, and that "the end is near" to excuse away not getting a job or planning for their future. This is a real shame, as they find it comes back to haunt them, and then they have the choice of who to blame, or what to do when that strategy doesn't seem to work out.
There is also the fact that classically with a rise in religion, the culture becomes closed to science, progress and free thought. When you believe that your book has every answer that pertains to "life and godliness", it is a closed book on new things. Plus, there is even a fundamental denial of their being anything "new", as the Bible say that "there is nothing new under the Sun." Even now, a discussion of science that would contradict religion (Like my entire blog) will literally get you the death sentence in 13 countries around the globe! Glad I live here in the "land of the free".
So let;'s go over this again, how does religion harm the individual?
- They believe all good and bad are brought on them by their actions.
- They believe they are at best an "unprofitable servant." Horrible for self esteem!
- They also believe themselves to know the truth, be "God's child (and if they are a male especially, they are responsible to share their truth with you.) and have God always on their side. Talk about encouraging pride and arrogance!
- It encourages a child-like thinking, (something the Bible even claims when it says you must become "as a child. . .") in asking stupid questions, and belief in invisible friends.
- It makes people feel they are dependent on God for their morality, (again no self esteem) and thus they give it up if they get hurt while still believing.
- You will have a negative view of your world.
- You will deprive yourself of harmless fun activities you are told are wrong.
- You will have issues taking responsibility for your actions.
- You will believe your lack of planning and responsibility is good and that God will always take care of you. . .leading others to have to pick up the slack for "God".
- The mind becomes closed to new info, and science. Curiosity is killed, as all answers are already known. . .
How does religion effect and harm others?
- You will try to control or evangelize others out of fear for their soul. If you succeed you spread the parasite, if you don't, you often lose the friend or their respect for pressuring them.
- Judgement is inevitable as well as not truly accepting anyone but yourself. So friendships will often be lost, and every time is justified as "persecution" or not fitting in the "world".
- Having control of yourself and others as much as possible (like conservative religion demands) will usually lead to issues with abuse in your family and with your friends if you deem them less godly then yourself. (Very sincerely though!)
- Prejudice against different races, lifestyle choices, and those who do not share your beliefs are taught in the Bible and practiced by still a lot of religions.
- Most wars have been fought over judgment and prejudice. The attempt to control others also stems from self righteousness over being right about religion. Countries with little religion have peace and little crime. (Even with free use of guns like in Norway.) Countries with lots of religion have constant war, crime (Even with guns banned!) and legal abuse of those who are different. Even families turning on each other! Not really surprising though as even the progressive Jesus said that "Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law", and "A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed."
- Countries with lots of religion tend to have a low regard for education, and progress.
If you doubt any of this, look it up, there is a mountain of evidence that I didn't even bother to site this time because it would just seriously bog this post down. If you still don't think there is any harm in religion though, check it out for yourself! I'm just getting it out here to make you think. I hope you've found as I have though, that religion is something to be fought tooth and nail, and the abuse (especially to our impressionable children) not just taken "sitting down". We live in an enlightened world, not in the dark ages after all. Peace to all.