Humanist challenge

David Boulton (‘[Who needs religion?](http://www.newint.org/issue370/who-needs.htm)’, [NI 370](http://www.newint.org/issue370/index.htm)) describes the problems that religions cause, including the potentially catastrophic showdown between Islam and Christianity-Judaism in the Middle East. Many intractable conflicts are based on obsolete beliefs.

But his conclusion is to stick with the old tribal organizations that religions are, instead of joining forces with the Humanist movement. Why? Because, he says, religions satisfy a deep, emotional need. Humanism by contrast, he says, is blinkered and anorexic, which is why few people join.

Utter rubbish! Religions are strong, even though their foundation beliefs have been rendered obsolete, because they have long-established social status. David Boulton should consider the privileges that religions enjoy, particularly the way that they use schools, often at state expense, to indoctrinate children. The slow growth of Humanism reveals its lack of such institutional power, rather than any (bogus) psychological instinct for religion.

Thank Reason (not Zeus, or any other mythical deity) the other contributors to [NI 370](http://www.newint.org/issue370/index.htm) did not chicken out, but followed their critiques of religion with ideas for social reform.

(www.humanists.net/belfast), Northern Ireland

mag cover This article is from the December 2004 issue of New Internationalist. You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription. Get a free trial now »

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