This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
After reading the commentary "Secular disdain for religion not truth-based" (Opinion, Oct. 21) by Paul T. Mero, wherein Mero pulls from his quiver of religious dogmatism the claim that "... there is no civil society without religion," I was left seeking a civil example or two to verify his religious claim on civil society.
Perhaps Charlemagne, a religious sort who brought literacy to the masses. Although, if you didn't join Charlemagne's religion you were killed. In a civil fashion of course. Or maybe Galileo being deemed a heretic, which could explain today's lingering anti-science stance by religion's talking heads and their fervent religious followers.
Mero also stated that condemning religion because of the Inquisition or the Taliban is like condemning Albert Einstein because some people have low IQs. Mero's comment seems less than analogous and more like an attempt to outright dismiss the accountability of religion, as well as diminishing the accountability of religious society for the atrocities it commits based upon, you guessed it, religion.
The sad, yet cold, harsh truth is that history is replete with atrocities and attempted genocides inflicted by religion's society, such as the Burning Times and Crusades. Killing in the name of religion and God seems to be religion's traditional path of civility.
Recently and locally one might think in terms of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, or the attempted genocide of the so-called godless heathens, better known as the Native Americans, by the righteous religious white man in building our supposed civil society.
So it seems more than reasonable to surmise that religion builds its civil societies on the bones and blood of those it kills and conquers in the name of religion. But I certainly wouldn't refer to any of them as being a civil society.
There is much more of this "civility" one can attribute to religion, but honestly, this is all becoming rather depressing.
Many non-religious people see the foundation of organized religion's civil society as being bribery (heaven), fear (hell), loathing (disdain/intolerance for any differing religion or non religious belief), as well as the previously mentioned killing and conquering.
All of which seem counterintuitive as a foundation on which to build a civil society as history and our current uncivil society might attest and pretty much explains why I don't buy into Mero's fanciful notion that there is no civil society without religion.
I would even dare offer that the divisiveness and killing brought about by religion makes religion our greatest obstacle.
I believe critical thinking, education, discussion, understanding, science and history are the building blocks for a civil society.
That Mero offers religion as the lone building block is not surprising, as religious thinkers such as he have always been solely dependent upon their rather narrow and dogmatic semblance of the much wider truths we encounter in our ongoing struggle to attain civility.
Ross McCollin advocates civility and freedom from religion. He lives in South Salt Lake.