It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but if so, it will be necessary
first to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion.
These aren’t words penned by a so-called “new atheist” here in the 21st century. No, they came to us from more than 80 years ago by Bertrand Russell in the essay, “Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization.”
Russell is responsible for some of the simplest and most lucid arguments against, not only Christianity, but religion in general and toward a more secular approach to the education of children and the making of a better society. I think he would find it alarming and disconcerting that we are no further along than we are in slaying the dragon, although perhaps encouraged that more people around the world are identifying as nonbelievers (and even in the United States Congress).
By taking a softer line on concepts like eternal punishment, downplaying its stance on evolution and new-Earth theories and by embracing popular music and culture, Christianity, in particular, has saved itself from complete extinction for decades or, perhaps, centuries to come. The good thing about logic, however, is that holds water regardless of whether it is spread by Lucretius, Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, and the logic of the Christian religion is self-defeating.
As Russell pointed out in the same essay:
The world, we are told, was created by a God who is both good and omnipotent. Before He created the world He foresaw all the pain and misery that it would contain; He is therefore responsible for all of it.
While people like myself think that mankind would do itself a great favor if it would drop this fearful reliance on religion sooner than later, as I have said before, Christianity will persist so long as people view death as a proverbial event horizon between an eternity of rewards and punishments rather than the simple loss of consciousness that it actually is. As Mark Twain famously said:
I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.