The Tragedy of the Religious Mindset
by Philip Jonkers
As the tragic slaughter of Hypatia by rabid Catholic “Christians” illustrates, the violent intolerance that is almost innate to religion is causative to a lot of misery in the world. However, I believe that it’s not so much religion that is the most fundamental problem humanity faces, rather it’s the religious mindset in general; the mindset that birthed religion, among other things. While it cannot be denied that the religious mindset is prominently featured in religious people, that mindset unfortunately is not limited to people who practice religion and indeed afflicts us all to varying degree, even the people who claim to have no religious affiliation whatsoever.
What is the religious mindset? It’s the mindset that prefers to condemn rather than inquire; to ridicule instead of to welcome; to be close-minded rather than be open-minded; to be hostile and resistive to change rather than entertain its possible merits; and ultimately it’s the mindset that is governed by fear rather than love. It’s the mindset that prefers to excuse cowardice, to wear complacency and intellectual sloth as virtues, to deflect foreign ideas by cognitive dissonance, and to doggedly cling to that which is familiar and comforting, i.e. the religious or dogmatic foundation.
Besides the obvious candidates, the major contemporary religions, there are plenty of other areas of human life where the religious mindset holds sway. For example, there are numerous people out there who have faith in the sanctity of modern medicine, who simply blindly obey whatever their GP/physician tells them to do. Think for example of the horribly ineffective conventional cancer treatments existing today or the plethora of vaccines that despite of their ineffectiveness and danger are being peddled to the public as if they are the next best thing since the invention of penicillin. With some justification it could thus be argued that the medical establishment has become the new priesthood, in which medical doctors have assumed the role traditionally belonging to the religious priest; instead of wearing fancy religious garments they wear sterile lily-white lab-coats; instead of sporting crucifixes they now are armed with stethoscopes and the psychiatry-recliner has become the new confessional.
Another example is provided by the scores of people who seem to have a rather blind faith in the benevolence of their governments even in spite of, or perhaps precisely because of, a dictatorial leadership. And this faith paradoxically survives even in the case where the leadership betrays the living daylights out of its citizenry and when thus the evidence of any possibly attributable benevolence is painfully absent.
As long as we embrace the religious mindset, we will remain ignorant and our collective psycho-spiritual development will remain stagnant and we will see our bloody history repeat itself, over and over again.
It’s up to us to break free from it by opening our hearts as well as our minds.