"Human nature" doesn't explain anything at all

When you point out that many religious ideas are a toxic influence on the mind, you are often met with the refrain that it is not religions that are at fault - it is human nature.

Here is why that argument is ridiculous.

Human nature is such a wide-ranging and all-encompassing label that it is completely useless as an explanation or a solution. It can be applied to anything.

  • Why do people steal? Human nature.

  • Why do people rape? Human nature.

  • Why do people climb mountains? Human nature.

  • We do people fight each other? Human nature.

  • Why do people eat chocolate? Human nature.

See what I am trying to say? You can literally use the "human nature" response to react to anything that human beings do.

Solutions to social problems can't be that generic. They have to be narrower and more specific. Using a label like "human nature" to explain anything is just lazy. And in this instance, it feels deliberately disingenuous. As if it is being used to shield religion from the scrutiny that it is owed.

Think about it. Would we use "human nature" as an explanation for corruption or disease or robbery or murder? Would we shrug and say "oh it's just human nature" in any of these cases? No, right? Then why does religion get a free pass? Why are we so eager to put religion on a pedestal and why do we insist that it not be questioned because it is "human nature" that is the real problem?

Not only is "human nature" a useless explanation, it is also a non-solution. Human beings cannot stop having "human nature" any more than birds can stop having wings and still be birds. We are human. Pointing it out as a way to explain away harmful behaviour is neither here nor there.

Religion however, is a set of ideas. And this set of ideas has been a bad set of ideas for a really long time. Once we start acknowledging this fact, we can then go about discarding religion, or reforming religion (to each her own). But in order for that process to start, we have to first accept that there is a problem. If we keep responding to these issues with "human nature", we will never get out of any of the messes that plague us.