Why do they persist? For one they accompany traditions, a link to the past via rituals that some people have come to enjoy. Another important point is that they provide comfort in times of severe distress, I know from experience how some people rely on faith to deal with the loss of a loved one. And I cannot discount the personal experiences of people who feel that they have been "touched" somehow by an experience they attribute to the supernatural. For those reasons and more it seems that humans cling to these religions long after they have been utterly discredited by science.
Over the years I have come to accept this as a reality, that while I am strangely missing the "religious capacity" which seems to be a general human feature... it's here to stay as a human need whether I like it or not. This leads directly into another question, which is how can civilization thrive while believing in things which are obviously false? You can then probably see how it becomes paramount to try to ensure that the "foolish humans" cling to religious beliefs that are compatible with civilization.
This thought process led to some of the more heated conversations I've had in the past where I had the gall to suggest that Islam is actually worse than the other major religions, which of course received the predictable and offensive retort that I must be a xenophobe racist bigoted etc for making the suggestion. But it remains true that for whatever reason you'd prefer to assign Islam has shown itself to be less compatible with civilization than it's counterparts. This is obviously controversial but it seems only logical that people such as myself who are interested in progressive civil society that Islam should be discouraged and that people should instead be encouraged to take on beliefs which are less destructive to society.
However lately I've been reading the delightful new book by Richard Dawkins based on his Root of all Evil? series, The God Delusion. He makes a persuasive argument that contrary to my perhaps arrogant suggestion, humanity in general is capable of abandoning these kinds of false beliefs entirely. This would make my controversial suggestion a moot point because we would then discourage all religion not just the worst ones.
So which is it? Is it naive to think that we could have an atheistic society without the use of force that was applied for example in the USSR? Or perhaps it is too arrogant of me to suggest that people in general are incapable of dealing with life without the crutch that religious belief provides. As with all life's difficult questions, this will be resolved by a multiple choice poll on HuSi.
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