Over the past few decades, the Western world has been changing. Whereas religion used to be universal, slowly but steady, it has begun losing ground and, especially in north-western Europe, but also in North America and the rest of Europe, atheism or merely a belief in God without an attached religion has become more and more common. As always, not everyone is equally happy with that, and many conservatives see this as a very bad sign for society. But which is better? A religious society, or a non-religious one?
Although extremists on both sides might disagree, both have their imperfections. Religious societies have shown their issues for thousands of years, and even though non-religious ones are still only local and fairly recent, even those have already shown that they aren’t as perfect as they are supposed to be.
But first, let’s start with the issues of a religious society, which can basically be summarised in just one word: morals, and particularly, wrong or extreme morals. If you look at the major monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, you will find that each of them imposes very strict morals onto its believers. Of course, morals are good and they are important, but there is a certain limit to it.
In the case of these religions, that limit was reached. Women were/are forced to work in the household rather than to get a job, gays were/are being prosecuted, many wars have been fought over religion and, perhaps worst of all, those issues are accompanied by an extreme amount of ignorance. After all, as is particularly clear from some parts of the US or certain minority religious groups in Europe, religion can cause closed-mindedness, making progress virtually impossible.
Of course, on the other hand, religion has brought many good things. It has brought us positive morals, it has made people do good things and it has given people hope. Religion is extremely inspiring and the good things that have come from it should not be forgotten, even in a society that is becoming less and less religious.
Still, those issues are real, and it isn’t surprising that, particularly in the West, people have started looking for an alternative: a society in which religion doesn’t play a role. The idea is that it will be a society of tied individuals, in which everyone gets an equal chance to contribute their personal thoughts and in which freedom for the individual is a given. It is a society in which everyone can basically do whatever they want, without being judged, and the idea of it is beautiful.
However, as with all those other Utopia’s before, it’s not something that will happen. Ultimate freedom, if it’s even attainable at all, comes with repercussions, because as wonderful as human beings are, they simply aren’t perfect.
Non-religious societies no longer have the issue of too many morals, but instead, it now lacks morals. Alcohol and drug abuse have increased rapidly, violence and vandalism have never been this common and teenage mothers are forced to drop out of school every day. And despite all that, despite even the fact that freedom for everyone actually seems possible, there is still that extreme ignorance, because as it turned out, individualism hasn’t made us more aware of other people’s views and feelings. It has only made us more aware of ourselves.
Does that mean that a non-religious society is terrible and that the apocalypse is coming? Probably not. Still, it’s something to think about. Right now these non-religious societies only exist on small scale, so perhaps things will change eventually. In the end, it’s up to the individual to decide which society is less destructive. Basically, there are two options: either we choose a society in which people’s lives are ruined by others, or we choose one in which everyone has the freedom to ruin their own. It’s up to us to decide which one we prefer.
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