Religion has been a primary catalyst of war, genocide, murder, rape, destruction, oppression, segregation, and a million other overlapping offences during its reign over the human race; however, all of these I can forgive of religion, for one simple reason: It’s human nature, we’d do it anyway. The four horsemen of the apocalypse aren’t fictitious, they’re simply the personification of four common atrocities that have ravaged humanity since its inception two hundred thousands years ago. No, I can forgive religion of all these monstrous offences, because it’s just the convenient excuse. If we didn’t have religion, we’d inevitably think of some other scapegoat in our efforts to maim and kill and conquer one another.
However, there is one thing that I can never and will never forgive religion for (and note that I’m talking about the entirety of fundamentalist religion as a whole here; I’m not criticising any particular pious individual), and that is the promotion of an under-appreciation of the world around us; because to try and deny, forbid and oppress an understanding of the process of natural selection and evolution is throwing a tarp over the greatest masterpiece ever conceived.
The big bang, to people like myself who accept it, was essentially an explosion of paint and colour across a vast blank canvas, and on this vast drawing bored, hiding in a tiny corner, invisible in relation to the ‘bigger picture’, sits our tiny, insignifant planet. However, this minute detail is in no way left undecorated, as we see this remarkable process taking place. For a little over (relatively speaking) four and a half billion years, the Earth has been a sheet of paper upon which the greatest of paintings has been applied. Evolution is not a dull theory, or a boring process, or even a slow necessity. Evolution is nothing short of an unparalleled, unfathomable work of art. Every species or land mass or anything that blinks into existence and then peacably or violently fades out of this world is a tiny detail sketched in and rubbed out by a great artist. Every single line drawn is moved and refined and redrawn a trillion times over, until this unimaginable scene begins to take form, ever-changing, constantly improving. To this day, this great artist remains hungry and determined, never satisfied, moving seamlessly from one detail to the next, fluid and rapid, while patient and accurate.
And this artist isn’t a man-made myth or god: a bizarre conjurment, created out of fear to explain what primitive man could not yet understand. No, this artist, the most remarkable detail of all, is simply chaos itself. To deny the power and skill and accuracy and attention to detail with which chaos has designed and refined this world of ours is the greatest crime, and also sorriest missed opportunity, any man or woman can commit, for to be blind to this chaotic masterpiece, is to turn away from the most beautiful thing mankind could ever behold.