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T&T needs more, not less, religion
Atheists promote a world without religion, which they see as the cause of many conflicts, absurdities and cruelties associated with religion: African Catholics denounce the use of condoms, even though unprotected sex is promoting Aids and destroying the lives of many; Muslims and Hindus do not seem to like each other, and their extremists often transform their dislike into atrocious acts of terror; worse, Sunni Muslims seem bent on eliminating Shiite Muslims even though they are all Muslims.
Fortunately, T&T’s small size and constitutional provisions have averted many of these conflicts. Put differently, the statement that religion inevitably causes conflicts is not true in all geographical areas. Trying to discredit religion using statistics as empirical evidence is an example of “lies, damned lies and statistics,” which means that statistics can be used to prove whatever one wishes.
Church attendance is only one aspect of religion, and non-attendance does not prove non-belief. Moreover, statistical correlations of X and Y are not causal statements of anything. On the other hand, atheists are perfectly entitled to believe that there is no such entity as God, just as believers are entitled to believe in God.
The word religion is ambiguous in meaning, and can refer to many things ranging from doctrine, rituals, beliefs, customs or values. Believers may have different levels of belief in different aspects of their religion or different levels of adherence to its rituals and customs. All believers are, therefore, not the same in their belief. What they have in common is a general mental orientation to their “religion,” usually positive.
Since religious doctrine generally emphasises law-abiding behaviour, compassion and kindness, a society with strong religious roots and devout practice is more likely to be stable and law-abiding than one that is not.
When believers come together, they can publicly affirm and renew their faith and receive positive psychological aid or responses from others. Human relationships, especially compassionate ones, are known to counter depression, which must be widespread in our turbulent society. Little acts of kindness and compassion foster the growth of caring communities. And this is generally true of religious groups.
Would religious believers engage in the kind of violence and crime that presently terrorise our country? The historical cultural fragility of our family system and country could be strengthened from either extending the influence of religious values in homes within democratic parameters, or teaching and modelling for students the practice of democratic values in schools.
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