Let’s assume that some people will always be emotionally weak, and will take the placebo with dangerous side effects called “religion.” If asked, “Would you be able to accept that life ends when you die,” they’ll freak out. Of course, torture can be worse than life, and someday I think people should be born with a suicide switch in their head that they can flip if they’ve been trapped by enemies and are being subjected to extended torture without hope of escape.
In the medium term, I don’t think we can get rid of religion. I think we need to do what we can to make Christians stop believing in hell. It’s a devious thing that destroys the basis of their religion, although it won’t help with the fundies.
In the long term we might be able to make people get rid of it, and then we can have the kind of truthful governments that we desire, where things are decided by referendum. (I’ll write about that glorious future in another post.)
Until that happens we will have to persuade by emotion rather than logic and facts, since most people don’t know how to repose themselves and think yet. We still need mechanisms that reduce the influence of the idiots. (And no, I don’t even think the political center are praise-worthy. They’re still usually Christians after all, who rely on a very broken moral compass and easily fall for fallacies, etc.)
Since that’s the case, we will have to lie. This is a problem with Christian morality. When dealing with irrational people, (especially prejudiced people), we sometimes need white lies, including lies that protect ourselves. Normal reasoning doesn’t work on the true believers.
Thus, the most we can hope for right now is to make Christians more tolerant by erasing their remaining belief that people of other religions won’t go to hell. (Should be easy since the Pope is hinting at that, and theology will follow what he says.) Of course, inter-faith dialogues aren’t actually tolerant as religious people believe, since they’re still bigoted towards agnostics and atheists, but when there are enough atheists openly out there, I think Christianity will be forced to reform itself. And then if any reformed Christian looks at the bible, he’ll see the passages on hell and either turn into a fundie, or (hopefully) be unable to remain a Christian.
On an unrelated note, the point on Jesus being a corporate logo
and the Pascal’s Wager chart that shows if atheists are right nothing happens which is cool too.