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Why it is dangerous to use faith or religious faith as a crutch
 
MAIN ARGUMENT
 
Religious faith is often seen as little more than a crutch. Even if religion disagrees, it does at least say that many believers are in fact using it as a crutch. It is obvious that if some believers can be using a crutch some religions if not all are only crutches. No crutch religion will admit what it is. It ruins the crutch if it does. A crutch is a necessary evil. It is always a sign that something is wrong and it gets you through it but it doesn't fix anything. By definition you have to keep trying to get to the point where you can cast the crutch away and by definition you are not an island so others must assist you and encourage you to do with the crutch less and hopefully get rid of it. It is an insult to defend those who make money or get status out of giving the crutch and implies that the person is so weak that they cannot do without them. It is bizarre how some would understand religion as a crutch and then argue that is a reason for protecting it and not criticising it.
 
ANALYSIS
 
Faith should be embracing the truth as your friend. Without that honesty it is not faith at all. Faith should be a fluid process. Religion has people adopting faith for they fear what it is like to think for yourself and feel alone. If you adopt faith for that reason then your faith is not about truth but about what suits you. It is not about truth but about practicality. Faith that serves as a crutch or a shield to avoid fear only leads to irrationality and self-deception and bigotry and to bigger fears and an extremely rude awakening. Unless you look at the truth in the eye you are unnecessarily risking your health or mind or wellbeing not to mention that of those around you. It is said that faith is fine, but not when it comes to solving social problems or figuring out how to make the world a better place. Believers prove how skin deep and escapist their faith is by keeping it out of social problems - no Catholic urges pharmacists to incinerate condoms. If you partition your crutch to avoid it being challenged that shows you know fine well that it could be rubbish and you are acting like a child. The popular view that you should challenge a person's moral beliefs but not their faith is a bizarre, insane, stupid, unfair and dishonest one. What you believe about morality matters more than your religious beliefs! Unless you witness gently and kindly to the truth you are part of the problem caused by people setting up their religious crutches. And why would you encourage people to fake faith or to make a crutch out of skin deep faith? That is mad.
 
Nobody will sacrifice much for religion or morality if their power depends on how comforting or useful they are. The crutch religionist will get nasty to defend his crutch so there will be no sacrifice done in the name of tolerance! Crutch religion leads to bigotry and indeed is bigotry.
 
THE CRUTCH
 
Atheists and many believers claim that religion is a crutch for getting through life. In other words, faith in the religion is the crutch.
 
If the faith is misplaced then it is not good for the person and this danger outweighs any comfort it may bestow. Mere belief in religion alone cannot be a crutch - it needs action to express and reinforce it.
 
Belief alone will not get you a good wage. You have to work for it. Belief and acting it out would then comprise the crutch.
 
Thus if the belief is nonsense or hypocritical then the person is not enhanced by her or his belief but deformed by it. True self-respect is about embracing truth and not being afraid of negative emotions or pain. You have nothing to gain from tormenting yourself with fear and worsening your suffering by refusing to accept what cannot be changed. Sufferers should try not to fear the suffering continuing. A crutch faith means you are more interesting in thinking you are good and having others think it than in actually being good.
 
If religion is said to be a crutch, then it might be said that religious people are being accused of being useless and of having a broken psyche and need the
crutch. To treat religious people as permanently handicapped or as children is not a positive argument for religion - it treats it as a necessary evil. Some see that as extremely patronising. If religion helps one get through life, it need not be a crutch. It might only be a help.
 
A crutch faith is an oxymoron. Real faith is built up by facing reality and is open to changing its mind. Using faith as a crutch indicates that you don't trust God or others or reality enough to care about the truth.
 
A crutch can leave you not knowing if you can walk on your own. A religious crutch always leaves you in such ignorance.
 
People claim that their religion comforts them. They think it is their crutch. What they may not realise is that the real crutch is their belief that human nature is basically good and trustworthy. When all is said and done, we want others to care for us and that is the care we need even more than God's care. Faith in human nature is the only crutch we need and it is the best crutch. It is a crutch that is soon discarded for you get your sense of meaning in life from helping and valuing others. God cannot substitute. Believers in God who have no friends are still unhappy. This is a humanistic crutch. Our article is attacking the supernaturalist or religious crutch.
 
The use of religion as a crutch is routinely challenged by religion itself (for example Christians are told they are doing something wrong if their religious lives are easy) and by other people and the media. Life experience alone refutes it. Do not let yourself feel bad when people accuse you of taking away the faithful person's crutch for they do that themselves. They themselves to not tolerate those who use proselytism as a crutch. Those who proselytise feel their life has no meaning unless they pressure society to conform to their religion and way of thinking.

Jesus' teaching that we must love God totally and our neighbour as ourselves and be willing to embrace the cross and to call ourselves useless when we do good works and to pray in secret to avoid praise and that some of our loved ones will be cursed by God forever in Hell all mean that Christianity is not to be used as a crutch. It cannot be with terrible doctrines like that. In fact, to discard such a faith is to do yourself a favour.
 
Many religious people teach that doubt is a terrible sin that will be punished in hellfire. This teaching leads to religious people becoming very hostile when they are invited to doubt or if their doctrines are challenged. They fear condemning themselves as bad people fit for Hell.
 
Some say people believe religious lies because these lies are more comfortable than the truth. This is incorrect. People believe religious lies because THEY THINK these lies are more comfortable than the truth. A problem arises when each religion claims to be the most comforting!

If you have a Christian faith and that is your crutch then what makes you think you have the right to lead others, especially children, to think that it is the best crutch for them as well? A crutch is a crutch and it shouldn't matter if it is made of ash or another kind of wood. The one crutch is not right for everybody. You deserve to have your crutch broken for you are showing your arrogance and intolerance. These are part of your crutch too.
 
Another reason they get mad when one suggests to them that their faith may be incorrect and that they need to think is that they have been indoctrinated as children. Children are manipulated to become prisoners of the indoctrination for life. They will always be at least partly afflicted forever. Religion manipulates people to think that those who indoctrinated them were good and wise so anything that questions that wisdom is feared. They associate questioning or criticising the faith with criticising those who influenced them to believe and who indoctrinated them.
 
People avoid the truth for many reasons. They may have something to hide. They sometimes wish to try and pretend that they are what they are not. They intend then to mislead others too. Deception always has a ripple effect. To lie to yourself is to be open to lying to others and to give them your false self.
 
If you doubt your ability to think correctly or accurately about religious matters, that can be scary. So you relieve the fear by imagining that you don't need to think for you got the answers on a plate. Catholicism says that you need the infallible Church to guide you and it filters what it wants you to hear. It tells you that you suffer from original sin which is not completely removed by baptism. This skews your head and heart when it
comes to God thus you need God to look after you through the Church. This is gross unabashed manipulation.
 
When religion claims to give comfort and strength in facing life's sometimes horrendous difficulties, that gets people's interest and attention and sometimes devotion. But it is unfair how people make such claims and show no regard for people who find it makes their pain worse or people who get nothing out of it. And nobody is interested in investigating if the "help" given really is good enough to justify the existence and promotion of religion. If you need a crutch, you need to be open to finding out if there is a better one!
 
Religion is often seen and used as a crutch and so is spirituality. Spirituality is when you create a faith for yourself without a religion ordering you what to believe and do. If we need a crutch, it does not follow that we should make religion a crutch. Surely, being optimistic that things will never get too bad and that you will cope with whatever happens is the only crutch you need? It may take patience to grow the wood to make the crutch from, so work on the patience.
 
As for using beliefs that are devoid of evidence and logic as crutches, do we take on beliefs we know are rubbish in order to use them as a crutch? The problem with the religious crutch is that you must not know it is there. That is dangerous for what if one day you find the crutch? You need to know the crutch is there to avoid falling into any danger. And if you are misled you risk leading others into harm too.

THE BAD CRUTCH AND THE EVEN WORSE CRUTCH
 
Religion can be a crutch. Some people use it to delude themselves that life will be okay. Others use it to delude themselves that they will be okay despite their sins. Sinners use religion as a crutch in order to do evil and feel little or no guilt and to avoid the fear of being punished for sin.
 
Violent people and terrorists create a scary environment for themselves. Yet they seem to think that the evil they create will never destroy them. And even if it does, a paradisiacal afterlife awaits. If you exact violence and facilitate it, you create danger for yourself. Even if they do not explicitly believe in God, they certainly think something supernatural is caring for them. Not all supernatural beliefs need be explicit. If it barks like a dog and walks like a dog then it is a dog.
 
The religious person who feels good from believing nonsense is in a bad though happy place. Using invalid arguments to convince people of the truth of religious doctrine might habituate them to bad reasoning habits in general. It is certainly an attempt to open them up to developing that bad habit. It is a kind of seduction and dishonest and is pure manipulation. It's bad medicine even if it cures something. The cure is a dodgy one and the risk of a the cure ending up as bad as the disease is always there. Here is an example of such a cure. It is people arguing that their children and others need religion to encourage them to be good and to survive life.
 
And it is disturbingly influential.
 
The main argument Catholics and other religionists use to promote their religion is that we need religious faith to deal with the trials of life. That is actually admitting that the atheists are right to see religion as a crutch. And for religion to be a crutch, it must necessarily be based on the manipulation of the vulnerable. Those who find it bewildering that something so superstitious and hypocritical as religion should have such respect in society to the degree that examining religion critically can be frowned upon have a right to be so bewildered. Religion is allowed a degree of duplicity that nothing else is.
 
Some people have a religious or existential angst that they cope with by believing in God and prayer or by following a religion. They think life is no good to them without them. In other words, they think all that matters is them. Getting out there to do good instead of dwelling on the problem is alien to them. They might use crutches and props to cope but the illness and suffering is still there. It is like inflicting a headache on yourself and using aspirin to deal with the symptoms.
 
THE DANGERS OF THE CRUTCH RELIGION
 
*Making a person feel good through errors and lies is actually cruel in itself. Truth is good in principle - it is not its job for it to suit us but us to suit it.

*Encouraging a person to use religion as a crutch is saying that that if they fall prey to some charlatan that is okay and if they give money to religious leaders who are really just taking advantage of them that is okay too. Paul is an example of a person who taught that if you believe in what he says you will get all you want from God. “Be not wise in your own eyes. God shall supply all your need.” Philippians 4:19.
 
*Encouraging people to use religion to lie to themselves and to create a crutch will influence and draw others into the same vicious circle.
 
*It risks making them less likely to labour for change - they can end up settled in their delusions.
 
*Real security comes from facing the truth and accepting it - what if you see through the lies and delusions fed to you in the name of comforting you? Real coping does not involve taking short-cuts but taking the right road relentlessly and starting again on the road should one wander from it.

*You won't throw yourself as forcefully into doing good if faith tells you that error is good when it comforts or if God lets people suffer terrible diseases for a good reason.
 
*Pain and suffering warn us that something is wrong and needs fixing. Using excuses to ease them is trying to blind people to what they are saying.
 
*People who encourage you to bury your pain with a crutch may give you short-term comfort but in the long term there will be dangerous and painful symptoms. Traumas buried deep will make themselves known in far-reaching symptoms.
 
*Religious comfort is based on the notion that evils such as suffering and depression are coordinated by God and do not happen at random. Though it is not a realistic thought, we like to imagine that nothing terrible will strike ourselves or our loved ones but that these things will happen to other people. This is blaming the victim. The victim has done something to deserve the evil things or the victim has made choices unwittingly which get in God's way which means God has to make her or him fit his good plan by sending bad things to her or him. The evil and suffering were directly or indirectly caused by something the person did or didn't do. The atheist who realises this has more right to claim to be offended by religion than religion has to claim that the atheist has offended it.

* If religion is a crutch, is it not more accurate to say that it is more complicated than that? There is no single crutch. It is crutches not crutch. The religious person uses several religious crutches. If you see the crutch as an intentional lie, think about how many lies are needed for the crutches! The crutch seekers pave the way for religious charlatans and expose others to the dangers.
 
* Miracles - signs from God - are presented by religion as proof that its unbelievable message is true. As they are signs, they make the message believable or do they? If historians found the miracles of the Bible God convincing - the fact remains that that God sanctioned the death penalty in one of its most barbaric forms against people who committed adultery or homosexuality or who were caught worshipping other gods. Jesus supposedly claimed to be God so he took responsibility for those evils if he did. The miracles are not about making you happy but about getting you to believe in divine evil and condone it and whitewash it. They are needed as a crutch to overcome your natural revulsion. Religion may say that those who say miracles are not believable are making a huge leap of faith to argue that because things normally happen a certain way, they can only happen that way. But surely if the evidence points to the existence of such a vile God we can conclude that the evidence is misleading?

* The notion that all religion is really good so that anything bad is not religion is ridiculous. It makes one religion as good as or as true as another. If a religion is not true, then it is opposed to what people should and need to believe. It is opposed - perhaps unintentionally - to what God wants people to believe. To suggest that all religions are equally good insults the victims of bad religion and enables bad religion to thrive. The notion that we all have our crutches and religion is a crutch enables the problem of religion too. We do not need a religious crutch and that is that - even if we are fond of crutches. If religious faith is a crutch that does not excuse it. The only right reason to belong to a religion is thinking it is true - and religion itself teaches that. The crutch is an abuse of religion.
 
THREAT TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH
 
I find the argument that religious belief is a crutch and should not be challenged by unbelievers to be outrageous. It is enabling the destruction of freedom of speech. Do not insult believers by saying they really want that!
 
We must remember that if you think you cannot live without your crutch, you may be wrong. Perhaps your crutch is not as important to you as you think and you are kidding yourself?
 
The notion that religious faith should not be criticised for it is a crutch is a threat to freedom of speech and the right to tell people what they may not or do not want to hear. Our need for truth and our freedom cannot be sacrificed to religion. It is particularly bad when religious people pass on their prejudices and crutches to little children who cannot reason or understand things the way they can.
 
We all have dodgy beliefs some of which we use to help us through life. This does not justify the argument, "Religion should be unchallenged as it is just another dodgy belief. We all have our crutches". Religious belief are different from other bizarre forms of belief. It is different to say a belief that your well water has some anti-acne properties. That is not a huge matter and you will not treat it as a fact - not really. I mean you will not insist that science verifies it and condemn anybody who disagrees. Religion treats rubbish and minor things as huge matters and wants its meandering doctrines to be recognised as facts and by implication forced on the world if possible. A weird idea about your well is nothing in comparison to God which by definition is a huge issue.
 
There is nothing wrong with inviting or helping a person to challenge their own beliefs. It is important to reflect your atheism and your humanism in your life. Do that and you won't need to speak up for them much. You won't need to annoy people or rub your atheism or humanism in their faces. Help them to see that we all use the perception that life will be okay and that is the only crutch we all have in common. It is in fact the only crutch we really need. Help them to see that the truth is important. They will agree with those pretty easily. Then you can move on to helping them challenge their own beliefs without offending or hurting them.
 
If they cannot stand hearing that their faith might be in error, they are suffering from religious addiction. They need help. They need to be challenged but in another and perhaps gentler way.
 
The religionist who listens to the person who tells her why she should wean herself away from religion may say, "I regret that you are taking my faith away from me." But nobody ever can take one's faith away. We never ever change anybody's minds. We give them the tools so that they will do it themselves.

 

The religionist needs to stop being a child and fearing those who want her to become more in tune with facts and with commonsense.
 
We all have the feeling that we will be okay at some point in the future. We all have that crutch in common unless we suffer depression or something. This is not a religious crutch though the person might mistake it for a religious sentiment. Challenging that person's religious dogma then is not the same as challenging his or her crutch.

If the sceptic about religion is criticised for criticising somebody's crutch, then why does nobody care if the sceptic uses criticism of religion as his or her crutch? It may give her or him a purpose in life and makes him or her feel they are doing something about religious belief which they regard as a slippery slope to craziness and violence. After all, if you need religion as a crutch, you will invent new crutches for yourself every time you get dealt a blow in life. Depending on a crutch requires the creation of new crutches in order to maintain your crutch. Lying to yourself (and thus to others - you have to manipulate others to agree with you so that you feel good when you think they believe the same nonsense as you do) becomes a skill.

You would expect the Roman Catholic to feel that God somehow became man and now helps her or him and walks along her or his side. But they don't stop there. They end up telling themselves despite the evidence, and despite the facts, that Peter was a pope and the first pope and there has been an unbroken succession of popes since. They start adopting other crutches such as that Mary appears here and there and so on. Bizarrely, you will find Catholics who do not mind their belief in God being challenged but who do mind if some Catholic doctrine, such as that the pope stands in the place of Jesus on earth, is challenged. That they are using religion to justify prejudice and not as a crutch could not be more obvious. Prejudice is their real crutch.

They hate truth and use lies as a crutch for dealing with that hatred of the truth for they want to invent their own truth. That kind of crutch is plainly vicious and bad. If it acceptable to endorse such a crutch then the very reason freedom of speech is wrong. Freedom of speech is allowed so that people can voice their right and wrong views so that the right might be sorted out from the wrong and glow.

Some say it is better for atheists and sceptics to get out there and help people instead of trying to challenge somebody's religious belief. But you can do both at the one time. The atheist can do good on the basis that he or she wants to be the god for others for there is no God to care for them. The atheist should focus on the worst aspects of religion and the biggest risks that emerge from it.
 
Also, if we are to enable religion being used as a crutch by saying nothing against it, where do we draw the line? Do we put religious cranks in power though they will give their faith a role in public life? Surely their faith has to be challenged. It would not only be fine to do so but necessary. And we must remember too, that we live in a democratic society. Letting religion be, leads to religious people voting religious people into power.