Religion is a waste of resources

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Believers spend a huge sum of time, materials and money on an activity that would be better used elsewhere. People only have access to limited resources. Either resources are given to religious institutions that have an overall negative impact on society. Even if they have a positive impact, the resources would be more effectively used elsewhere.

"Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There`s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."

— Bill Gates

"If, as I contend throughout this book, all that is good in religion can be had else-where [...] then all the rest of our religious activity represents, at best, a massive waste of time and energy."

Sam Harris, The End of Faith

Contents

Forms of waste

Money and materials are given to:

  • Build and maintain religious buildings and monuments
  • Supporting priests and ministers with money and goods
  • Filling religious buildings with irreplaceable artefacts
  • Support religious institutional bureaucracy
  • Buying religious books and materials

Time is used on:

  • Learning about things that are untrue or meaningless
  • Attending churches and temples
  • Praying

Resources and opportunities are sacrificed or disavowed: [1]

The alternative uses for the resources depend on our values but religion is an unworthy recipient. If any particular earthly cause requires support, they have be directly supported rather than having the resources pass through the religious middle man.

Religious buildings

"It is sad to see so much time, money, effort, energy and focus being spent on church buildings, their upkeep and expansion, buildings that not only don't even need to exist, but shouldn't exist. Millions of dollars are often wasted on just one of the countless thousands upon thousands of church buildings that litter the landscape, money that could have been used to help transform a local community by showing the love of God in real action to people who are in need. But no, we can't have that! We need to build endless meeting places for our comfort and convenience. Strange, but not one time, not in one single place in all of the Bible do we ever see Christians building a church building, let alone for their comfort and convenience. [2]"

The Vatican is extremely wealthy, which seems to go against Christian teachings.

"First of all, if someone is critical of the Vatican, are they also critical of the Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 6 Bible-icon.png)? By all accounts, the Temple of Solomon would have made the Vatican look rather poor by comparison. Should the Israelites not have built the Temple of Solomon? Should they have used all the resources that went into it to feed the poor instead? [3]"

This is a tu quoque red herring because it does not address the original point. The Temple of Solomon was in the Old Testament era and Christians claim to follow New Testament teachings of Jesus.

The Vatican museum contains thousands of priceless artworks and artefacts.

"The Vatican views these buildings, historical documents, and works of art as belonging to all peoples - they are merely under the care of the Vatican. They are not for sell because the Vatican doesn't view them as its personal property too sell. [3]"

A defining characteristic of religion

Some anthropologists consider the resource cost to be a defining characteristic of religion:

"Roughly, religion is a community's costly and hard-to-fake commitment to a counterfactual and counterintuitive world of supernatural agents [4]"

Since religion is so resource intensive, we should expect it to be an evolutionary disadvantage or it is accompanied but some evolutionary benefit.

References

  1. Scott Atran, In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion, 2002
  2. [1]
  3. 3.0 3.1 [2]
  4. Atran, In Gods We Trust, pp. 4, 264, 2004

See also

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