Essay:Why Heresy Is Good And Blasphemy Is Bad

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This essay was originally written on the Heresy page to illustrate the point that heresy and blasphemy are not equivalent. However, I used definitions of my own devising, so on further consideration, it is not suitable for mainspace.

Blasphemy is not quite the same thing as heresy, and blasphemy is arguably more severe. Blasphemy is not merely disagreement with a religion: it is active disrespect or the expressionWikipedia of hatred towards said religion. Blasphemy entails flinging verbal or physical abuse at (a) religion, its members, its doctrine, its institutions, and/or its god(s). Heresy is simply a difference of opinion (generally within the confines of a specific religion), which may even take the form of constructive criticism (e.g. "I like most of your doctrine/dogma, but I feel that there are a few points that are doing your faith more harm than good"). Blasphemy is insults and defamation, and is practically always destructive in its aims (e.g. "Fuck you and your sky daddy and everyone who's stupid enough to think he's real!!").

Religion should not be regarded as immune to criticism,[citation NOT needed] as its tendency to resist change and adaptation means that many religions have elements of their doctrine which can be regarded as morally questionable at best, if not outright repugnant (misogyny, homophobia, classism, endorsement of slavery, etc.).[citation needed] However, religion's nature as a means of promoting social cohesion and establishing and enforcing a moral code for society,[citation needed] as well as being a set of best practicesWikipedia for going through life,[citation needed] means that most religions also advocate for and promote several things that a rational person ought to regard as commendable (altruism, charity, mercy,Wikipedia compassion,Wikipedia self-restraint,Wikipedia etc.).[citation needed] Religion, like any human endeavor, has good and bad points, which means that attacking religion as a matter of "principle" and advocating its absolute destruction with no regard for the good works it does is every bit as wrong and foolish as blithely excusing its more harmful aspects and grotesque abuses of influence.[citation needed]

Many of the negative elements of religion can be somewhat excused by the fact that religions are reflections of the cultures and times they were established in; back when Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. were being codified, things like strict gender roles, slavery, xenophobia, and homophobia were necessary evils to varying degrees that, despite being harmful and morally wrong, were legitimately useful for the survival of people and societies,[citation needed] with this "necessary evil" status being a consequence of the limitations of technology and the information available to people at the time and the general harsh realities of life (such as famine,Wikipedia disease, and aggressive neighbors).[citation needed] However, as technology has progressed and society has evolved, these necessary evils have stopped being necessary,[citation needed] and continuing to support them indicates cluelessness at best and depravity at worst. Most secular institutions have gotten the memo and abandoned such harmful beliefs and practices, but religion has a tendency to cling to centuries-old or millennia-old sacred texts and traditions codified into dogma, which stagnates it, undermines its mission (a set of best practices that isn't up to date soon ceases to be "best"), and puts it at risk of becoming out of touch with the world.[citation needed] A little bit of well-intentioned heresy is healthy for religion and for humanity as a whole. Blasphemy is not.