Has religion ever been less relevant?


Last Updated on 2022-07-08 by Joop Beris

The current corona pandemic worsens, claiming more victims and forcing countless millions to self-isolate. As of writing this, the World Health Organization reports just short of 2 million confirmed cases and over 123.000 deaths worldwide. The race is on to find a cure or a vaccine and governments the world over struggle to find ways to cope. Economies have ground to a halt and many people are out of a job and out of money. A global recession seems unavoidable. In the middle of all this calamity, people turn their eyes towards heaven in the hope of relief or a miracle. As an atheist though, I am forced to ask: has religion ever been less relevant?

It’s probably an unpopular question to ask at the best of times and many people may think I am trying to rob people of hope. But even to the deeply religious, there must be this tiny voice at the back of their minds that goes: all these prayers aren’t working.

Unanswered prayers

For me, unanswered prayers were one of the things that caused me to doubt and finally drove me away from religion. Since the start of the pandemic, how many prayers do you estimate were said? By how many millions of people? And how many people became ill and died, regardless of those prayers?

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I could go on listing initiatives but I think I have made my point. It should be painfully obvious that none of these initiatives, however well meant, made an iota of difference. The situation is worse than ever and corona is still here. A vaccine may be a 12 to 18 months away. If there’s a god listening, it is clear that it either doesn’t care or is unable to do anything for us.

Has religion ever been less relevant?

Which brings me to my original question: has religion ever been less relevant? Before we had a germ theory of disease, people could be forgiven to think that there were forces at work that they might beseech with prayer and ritual. But in these modern times, clinging to religion seems a false hope at best. How many more prayers do the heavens need before they do something? And how many more scam artists claiming to know the will of god must we suffer before we all see through the charade?

For better or for worse, we are alone in this crisis. While it doesn’t hurt to say individual prayers to a supreme being of your choice, gathering for worship and wasted effort to organize days of prayer isn’t helping, it’s making matters worse.

I think Jim Morrison said it best when he shouted: “You can not petition the Lord with prayer“. That’s because there’s either no one listening or no one willing or able to help.

“You can not petition the Lord with prayer!”
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