Schopenhauer on Religion

July 22nd, 2009  |  Published in Religion

 

(A Dialogue between Demopheles and Philalethes)

Detras de la cruz esta el Diablo (Behind the Cross stands the Devil)

Faith is strongest in childhood. That is why the church organizes Sunday School. In childhood, faith strikes roots easier than in older age, through threats and stories of miracles.

For if in childhood a person has certain doctrines repeatedly recited to him with abnormal solemnity and an air of supreme earnestness, without the possibility of doubt even touched on, the impression produced will be very profound and man will be almost incapable of doubting this doctrine and will then not possess the firmness of mind seriously and honestly to ask himself: is this true?

Look what hatred religion has bred amongst the young in many Arabic countries – often confined to being educated in purely religious schools.

The church however understands that to sow the seed of faith is easiest among the children and child-like minded.  And the church impresses certain assertions on them, together with the assurance that to call them in doubt is to imperil eternal salvation.

The discovery of truth is prevented most effectively by preconceived opinion and prejudice. That is why the church so effectively preys on young children.

Religion governs by fear – not by love.

It is amazing that a person of a religious belief, when confronted with another dogma will never pose the question which of the two might be true: his own articles of faith are to him certain a priori. Faith is blind.

Religion is a substitute for the truth, and for philosophy. It is a man made instrument to rule and to restrain the rude and evil dispositions of the masses and so prevent them from perpetrating acts of violence and cruelty. It is a tool to control.

But law and justice should be maintained without the need for religious fear. Religion has placed into man’s hand a powerful weapon and granted him the right to employ untruth as a vehicle for truth. And thus religion will always be in conflict with the endeavor to attain pure truth and knowledge.

God’s lust for glory and domination with frightful ideas of power and vengefulness form the basis of a moral system, which would be in direct opposition to morality.

Religion is a fraud: that is undeniable. It makes a priest into a curious cross between a deceiver and a moralist. For a priest can not teach the real truth, even if he knew it. And thus there can not be a true religion.

The fundamental secret of all priests is as follows: They have recognized and grasped the enormous strength and the ineradicability of the metaphysical need of men: they then pretend to possess the means of satisfying it, in that the solution to the great enigma has, by extraordinary channels, been directly communicated to them. Once they have persuaded men of the truth of this, they can lead and dominate them to their heart’s content. The more prudent rulers enter into an alliance with them; the others are themselves ruled by them.

Yet the weak point of all religions remain that they have to present their doctrines in all seriousness as true, which leads to perpetual deception.

And so eventually mankind will grow out of religion. Faith and knowledge do not get on well together in the same head. We see religion clinging to morality but genuine morality is not dependent on any religion.

What a bad conscience religion must have can be judged by the fact that it is forbidden under pain of such severe punishment to mock it. The Church can not allow freedom of speech.

One day, mankind may reach the point of maturity and education at which it is capable of understanding true philosophy. Naked truth must be so simple and intelligible that it can be imparted to everyone in its true shape without adulterating it with myths and fables (lies) – that is, without disguising it as religion. Religion, that shamelessly considers confessions, hymns and prayer a partial substitute for moral conduct.

There is thus the need for a “Popular Philosophy”, an easy to understand philosophy, as the capacity of most people is very limited. Only simple philosophy can replace the simple faith of religion. The average man will not bother to read and understand Kant – he will rather stay with an easy doctrine that he learned in childhood. But do the “rulers’ want us to learn the truth? Understand their self-serving laws? Why is it that children are taught religious lies from early on but there are only a few courses for philosophy found for children in any school? Such course would drive religion from its place. It would be the euthanasia of religion.

Religion, sometimes appears to be a necessary evil, its necessity deriving from the wretched imbecility of the majority of mankind, which is incapable of understanding the truth and therefore requires a substitute for it. And despite the fact that religion may be an excellent means of taming our wicked race, it is still a fraud, and a pack of lies is a strange means of inducing virtue. Ignorance is the condition for the existence of any religion, the only element in which it is able to live.

It is to be hoped that articles of faith based on nothing but authority, miracles and revelations will be short-term aids appropriate only to the childhood of an educated mankind. And that mankind will evolve and embrace the truth of philosophy in place of a faith based on myths and lies.

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