This article briefly addresses my religious beliefs, and my thoughts on religion in general:

Background on religion in my life

My mother and her family are Catholic, and while they don’t go to church every week, they do go on major holidays.   My father was a protestant until I was about 14 years old, when he converted to Catholicism.  At that point he insisted that we all go to church on a weekly basis.  This created much difficulty between my father and I, as I did not appreciate being compelled to go to church and go through the Catholic confirmation process.  Prior to this, I did not think much about religion, and just believed what I was told in church and Sunday school.  This forced participation in religion led me to give thought to the matter of God, religion, etc.

My current beliefs

Although church records will list me as a confirmed Catholic, I consider myself an atheist.

Why I am an atheist

After pondering the issue for years, I reached the conclusion that there is no God, and religion was created by humans as a means of maintaining control over populations, as a way of explaining natural phenomenons before the rise of science, and as a coping mechanism to provide comfort in times of emotional distress.

Why I believe that religion is generally bad for humanity

I see religion as being bad for humans at both the theoretical level, and as they are often implemented.

At the theoretical level, religion is harmful to humanity.  That is because religions teach us that there is a higher being to whom we are subservient, and that we are to unquestioningly obey this higher being.  The result is that science is held back by those who fear that human advancement will offend that higher being (or at least undermine the religion’s doctrines).  As an example, churches around the world banned lighting rods, on the theory that lightning was an expression of God’s wrath and should therefore not be stopped from causing damage.  The result was countless unnecessary deaths and damage to property. Indeed, I can’t begin to imagine how many unnecessary deaths and how much suffering could have been prevented, but for the way that religion has obstructed the progress of science (everything from the persecution of Galileo to modern-day obstruction of medical science).  Imagine, for a moment, what diseases may have been cured already, had religion not hampered their research for centuries, and had some of the billions of dollars spent building churches been instead spent upon medicine…

As implemented, religion seems to be one of the most dangerous ideas invented by humanity.  Religion has been used to justify unjust governmental control over populations, and to justify genocide.  It has been used to encourage people to blow themselves up, in exchange for a promise of a everlasting paradise in the next life.  Religion has been used to justify slavery, sexism, and other wrongs too numerous to list.  To be clear, I am not primarily blaming religion for those societal ills, as it is the decisions of malicious humans that are most to blame.  However, without religion, it would be much more difficult for those evil humans to persuade others to go along with their plans.  For example, a suicide bomber will, by definition, die as he carries out his attack.  Given that fact, promises of payment or other benefits in this life are rather meaningless.  However, when a prospective suicide bomber has been taught to believe that there is an afterlife of sheer paradise awaiting him if he carries out his deadly task, then it is much easier to persuade him to blow himself up.

Conclusion

This article is not intended to be an exhaustive treatise on religion, as I lack the time and motivation to write such an article.  Nor do I believe that these 700 or so words will bring a die-hard religious fanatic around to my way of thinking.  Instead, the purpose of this article is give a brief overview of my thoughts on religion (especially since questions about my general religious beliefs are some of the most common ones I receive by email).