But too much of traditional religion seems to be based on dangerously simplistic conceptions of human life and its troubles, leading people to see conflicts not in terms of the complex conflicting interests and situations of the different parties, but rather as a war between "good" and "evil", "virtue" and "sin", good guys and bad guys . . . It’s the temptation to disregard the complexities in these and other domains that strikes me as one of the most frightening risks of standard religious thinking.There is a danger that, instead of acknowledging the complexities of ethical problems that face in society, many religious groups often only provide – and sometimes try and force – ridged, uncompromising solutions. For example, religious groups often regard their idea of moral behaviour as being more important than the general well-being and health of people. Examples include the Catholic church's ban on contraception; the resistance against legalising prostitution; the lobbying for abstinence-only sex education; and the recent religious protest against calls to vaccinate young girls against cervical cancer.
I still often wonder if a two thousand year old manuscript is actually equipped to provide absolute answers to all the ethical dilemmas that we face today. Advances in technology have introduced new problems that the writers of the Bible could not have anticipated in their wildest dreams. Stem cell research, assisted suicide, cloning and abortion are examples of very tricky issues for which there are no easy answers. Religion can certainly play a part in finding answers, but when it insists that it has some form of monopoly over morality and ethics, it hinders our ability to think of creative solutions.