What is the reason for the resurgence of the Taliban? How did they retain such influence and authority despite their history of oppression and brutality? It is because of the power of religion. Despite its obvious shortcomings and lack of credibility, religion remains the dominant ideology, not just of Afghanistan, but of humanity.
Religion is why Afghanistan fell to the Taliban. There was no opposition to the domination of the religion. The Taliban will now consider their victory divinely ordained and their Islamist extremism divinely sanctioned.
Who is to blame for religious extremism? It is not just the fanatics. It is all believers, including moderates, who continue to be wilfully deluded by these false ideologies, who are to blame. They give religion its undeserved legitimacy.
Muslims in Afghanistan and elsewhere regard non-Muslims as infidels. It is easy for the Taliban to target the Afghan government as an illegitimate puppet of the infidels. As was shown by the Afghan witnesses in testimony in his defamation trial, it did not need Ben Roberts-Smith, with the Christian Crusader badge on his uniform, to convince even non-Taliban Afghans that he was an infidel.
This animosity is inherent in the religion. The Koran is rife with exhortations against infidels. The policies of the Taliban and of the now latent Islamic State are all mandated in the Koran. This includes the subjugation of women, who are designated as inferior to men, who can be beaten, who must be veiled, and whose testimony and inheritance is worth less than that of men. It is all in the Koran.
But people cannot be blamed for following their religion if they have no choice, or if they have had no opportunity to know any better. But those who have had the opportunity, and can know better and should know better but still perpetuate religion, they are to blame. All those who, despite having a choice, continue to blindly follow a religion, are to blame. Those who preach, those who follow, those who promote and those who indoctrinate children into religions, they are especially to blame.
Where did religions come from? Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad? There is no evidence, dating from the time, that any of these people actually existed. History is written by the victors. In those times religions were always the victors. This has not changed.
All religions are based on creation myths. That is, they are unsubstantiated, they are not in accordance with the facts. Religions are not in fact true. This would be the case even if gods, demons and spirits existed. But there is no evidence for the existence of any of these figments of the human imagination. The incompatible truth claims of religions are ignored, as if alternative realities are perfectly acceptable.
Unlike Iraq, the allied invasion of Afghanistan was justified. But the entire "war on terror", prosecuted by religion-obsessed Americans, has been a debacle. All it has done is increase the motivation for religious violence and oppression. The power of religion can only be diminished by use of reason and evidence.
The return of the Taliban is proof we are still living in a religious Dark Age. But this is not peculiar to Afghanistan. It is true everywhere, including in Australia. Here, religions are tax-exempt. They are free from anti-discrimination laws. We now give more funding to religious schools than we give to universities. Our national leader cites divine intervention and the work of the devil as having an influence on actual events. Enough is enough with this nonsense.
We are facing so many issues where rational judgement and action is essential for our survival: the pandemic, the climate emergency. Now more than ever, we need to use our capacity for reason and to evaluate evidence before forming beliefs. These are the key weapons in the battle of ideas. In Afghanistan, apart from a stand taken by some brave atheists, these weapons were never used. Enlightenment cannot be secured until religion is rejected. We, and rest of the world, remain beset by the pathological mass delusion of religion. It's time to grow up. It's time to wake up.
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