Monday 27 April 2009

Another word for religious faith: gullibility

No God could give us the divine faculty of reason, and then hide himself so that we could not comprehend him unless we set reason aside in favour of faith. He would not hide behind mysteries, and miracles are the lies of men, not the word of God. By the same token, if there is a God, the cosmos would be one of his greatest works, and he definitely would want us to admire and marvel at it. But the Church acting in his name didn’t even want us to look. The Church knew Man would get smarter and ask annoying questions. So from the very beginning, the priests stressed that faith was the most important thing, that questioning the faith in any way was a crime, and that all the stuff that sounds crazy is a “mystery”. They labored to ensnare young and unformed minds. They worked desperately from the beginning to crush the merest thought about other gods and other faiths – monotheism has a strong undercurrent of cowardice in it, a stark terror that the faithful could ever be exposed to other religions and other gods. And they labored for centuries to prevent religious texts from being translated into vernacular dialects so that the common man could read God’s words for himself, without the priest’s help.

Listen to their sales pitch:

“Hello, you don’t know me, but from the minute you were born, you were condemned to spend all eternity in flames. You are responsible for the sin of Adam and for the crucifixion even though they happened long before you were born. Everyone is guilty no matter what, so we own you no matter what. But listen to everything we say with any questions, and give us money every week, and you’ll go to a really nice place when you die. You want proof? See, there ya go with the questions! It’s a mystery. Sorry, ya gotta buy the whole package: God, the devil, heaven, hell, creation, miracles....Here’s another: this bread and wine will change to human flesh and blood by magic, and then you’re going to eat it. Here’s another: this is a bone belonging to one of our greatest members – pray to it and your prayer will come true....Hey, we’re flexible people! It only took us a couple of centuries to admit that man is an animal and the earth is a satellite!”

As Christopher Hitchens pointed out in “God Is Not Great”, the notion that God is not only infallible but also the designer of everything doesn’t really hold water. The universe is a disordered mess, in our own solar system life cannot be sustained on eight of the nine planets, or on much of the earth’s surface either, and the sun is destined to explode and kill everything eventually. Ninety-eight percent of “God’s” species have died out.

Likewise his finest creation, the human body. Right after it’s born, God insists we cut off the foreskin – did he make a mistake? Did he really think things through when he added appendices, tonsils, vestigial tails, male nipples, body odor, halitosis, baldness, wrinkles, blindness, deafness, haemorrhoids, warts, a dozen baby illnesses like colic...? And I know women were supposed to be God’s afterthought, but seriously – he had to give them menstruation, PMS, menopause, and put the clitoris in completely the wrong place? A little joke on the girls? Oh, yeah, and childbirth, which speaks for itself.

Let’s take a moment to embrace the delusion of religion, here.

“God is my special, magical, invisible friend. He can do anything, but you can't see it. Of all the trillions of creatures in the world, he knows he, he loves me, and that makes me better than you. When I do something bad, he washes it away. And he will make me live forever, even after I die, although you won't see that either. He's magic!”

You see how stupid it sounds, stripped of all the mumbo jumbo? If my eight-year-old came to me with a story like that, I'd make her scrub toilets until she came to her senses.

God is the guy who told Bush to invade Iraq.God is the guy who told the Yorkshire Ripper to murder women. God is the guy who told David Koresh to kill 70 people. God told Pat Robertson, a presidential candidate who wanted his finger on the nuclear trigger, to prepare for the End of Days and the destruction of the world. God is the guy who talks to crazy people through the Tin Foil network.

Crack open your Bible, and read it as though it was a script for a play. The first three speaking characters are a supernatural being (Jehovah), a manufactured man (Adam), and...a talking snake. I mean, seriously.

Thomas Paine in “The Age of Reason” ridicules the logic of the testaments: “Having thus made an insurrection and a battle in heaven, in which none of the combatants could be either killed or wounded, put Satan in the pit, let him out again, given him a triumph over the whole creation, damned all mankind by the eating of an apple, there Christian mythologists bring the two ends of their fable together. They represent this virtuous and amiable man, Jesus Christ, to be at once both God and man, and also the son of God celestially begotten, on purpose to be sacrificed, because they say that Eve in her longing had eaten an apple.”

The silliness of Christian logic intensifies the closer you get to the linchpin of their entire reason for being, Jesus’ death and resurrection. If Christ had to die, why not disease, old age...? And if he had to die for our sins, why did he bounce right back out of the tomb two days later? Wouldn’t his sacrifice actually mean something if he actually, you know, sacrificed his life? If the cosmos is filled with inhabited worlds, does that mean Jesus had to go from world to world to world, dying in one after the other, over and over? And why is it that the people directly descended from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Jews, are the ones who insist that Jesus didn’t magically rise from the dead and fly into heaven a month later?

Paine again, on the alleged rising of saints from their graves at the crucifixion: “It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told. The writer of the book of Matthew should have told us who the saints were that came to life again, and went into the city, and what became of them afterward, and who it was that saw them — for he is not hardy enough to say he saw them himself; whether they came out naked, and all in natural buff, he-saints and she-saints; or whether they came full dressed, and where they got their dresses; whether they went to their former habitations, and reclaimed their wives, their husbands, and their property, and how they were received; whether they entered ejectments for the recovery of their possessions, or brought actions of crim. con. against the rival interlopers; whether they remained on earth, and followed their former occupation of preaching or working; or whether they died again, or went back to their graves alive, and buried themselves.”

When the priests of yore wrote the Bible, they were trying to take advantage of man’s limitless ignorance, to try to explain virtually the entire known universe: the origin of the world, and birth and enumeration of the Jewish people, the laws governing daily life, the rules for food, the rules for cleanliness, the rules for sex, the rules for worshipping God, the works. But whenever science catches up to religion, religion loses: geology has shown that hell ain’t down there and that the story of creation is dead wrong; archaeology proved that man descended from apes. Fifty years of astronauts have shown that the earth revolves around the sun and that God and heaven ain’t up there; nothing but space dust, broken satellites, and Buzz Aldrin’s golf balls.

Science disproves heaven, hell, and now the soul....Advances in neuroscience are pinpointing the brain functions which correspond to what we would have called the “soul” in less enlightened times. Our individuality and personality, our loves and hates, our morals and spirituality, all correlate to brain function. Scientists have proved not only that these functions are indivisible from the chemical processes in particular parts of the brain, but that drugs can alter them. The brain processes are the physical basis for all aspects of the “soul”, and they all stop when we die, so the notion of a soul surviving the body and going on to heaven in rubbish. This is an even greater challenge to religion than evolution. This is why some theologians are taking the easy way out – rejecting the scientific results. Too much truthiness.

If the God team got all that wrong, why should we believe the other obvious nonsense like the resurrection? The concept of God is like man’s appendix: in an earlier age it might have had a purpose, but now it’s merely dangerous. And Iron Age artefact, like cannibalism, slavery, human sacrifice, torture and war.

When human logic blows holes in the theist's argument for God, the theist simply redefines the term. "No, what I really meant by 'God' is...". Some post-medieval theists even went a step further, insisting that anything that man and science cannot explain -- or explain yet -- automatically belongs to God. As though the theists are simply using "God" as a big box in which we can dump everything that we don't understand. That's like defining God as a big filing cabinet which we use to organize our own ignorance.

A close reading of the Bible and subsequent religious history shows organized religion to be, in reality, a colossal fraud aimed at generating revenue. The Torah dispenses with God’s commandments in a couple of paragraphs, but then spends endless chapters describing the massive pile of offerings which the faithful must give to the priests to support their lavish lifestyle. And it’s been that way ever since.

It was this greed which finally killed the golden goose: one greedy cleric, the Archbishop of Mainz, wanted to hog two bishoprics for their revenue, while another, the Pope, want a ton of money for Saint Peters. So the Pope gave the archbishop his bishoprics if the archbishop, in return, agreed to raise the money for his church. The archbishop hired a bunco artist named John Tetzel to raise the money, and Tetzel started the indulgence circus, complete with sales jingles to separate the suckers from their money like PT Barnum. Then Luther heard about it and the real trouble began.

Unsurprisingly, Christianity has been clinically linked to weak intellectual actuity: Mensa reported that 39 different studies correlated religious belief, and lower intelligence and education – because evangelical Christianity demands that you swallow a gigantic pack of lies. The reason they target children is obvious: no sane adult would swallow their nonsense.

If you read the Bible from the beginning, as a mere work of literature, you find immediately that the most interesting character is…Jehovah. This character is childish, cruel, capricious, jealous and emotionally insecure, constantly demanding love and attention, imposing impossible demands, and throwing appalling tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. He’s Scarlett O’Hara with a taste for mass murder.

Only people who are truly gullible could possibly stick with this “God”.

The guys who claimed to be God’s spokesmen, Moses and Aaron, said that God made a promise to his people in the Old Testament. God then allowed his people to be thrown out of the allegedly “promised land” by unbelievers, driven into exile and slavery by Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians, overrun by Romans, chased all over Europe for 2000 years, and exterminated in the millions by Hitler. The middle third of the Bible – a full third of the book – is loaded with references to Jehovah’s decision to break his word and throw the Jews out of Israel, and send them off to Babylon – and all along the way, the Israelites insist that they deserved it.

The Jews who obeyed the Torah got hosed. Pagan idolators who did everything imaginable to break God's laws, like the Romans, the Huns, the Goths, and then the feudal lords of the Middle Ages -- they got to conquer the world. A little practical joke on the "chosen people"? Like Tevye the dairyman said -- yeah, Lord, I know we're the Chosen People, but could you choose someone else for a change? And God’s people stuck with him.

The greatest empire of all, Rome, swears loyalty to your God, under Constantine. Instead of looking after his people, God allows the empire to collapse into a century of civil war and then destruction by hordes of pagans who ain’t never heard of your God. And God’s people stuck with him.
Let’s see, the Crusades. God’s self-appointed spokesmen told all Europe that God wanted the Holy Land in Christian hands, and that God would never allow you to lose if you led an army to retake it. Six or seven armies you sent there, and God abandoned you. You even led an “army” of thousands of children to their deaths. And God’s people still stuck with the Man Upstairs.

The Black Death. God sent a pestilence to destroy Europe. 50 million God-fearing Christians, a small army of priests, prayed to God for mercy, and were slaughtered anyway. And God’s people still stayed with the program.

For 50 years you had a pope in Rome and a pope in France, each insisting that he was infallible and the other was an imposter. A century later your popes indulged in such an appalling pattern of corruption and vice that the Protestant reformation was virtually inevitable. Yet again, rival churches, each claiming that only their church had the true link to the Almighty. Shortly thereafter, Spain’s inquisitors were killing in the thousands, and exterminating hundreds of thousands in the New World. And Gods people stayed with the team. Or, now, teams.

A guy named Galileo proved the Bible wrong; instead of admitting they were wrong, the men of your church threatened him with torture if he didn’t shut up. Later Darwin shot more holes in the Big Book, and explorers from Yuri Gagarin onward saw heaven firsthand, and there was no God there. And through it all, God’s people stuck to him.

God’s spokesmen claim to be the world’s moral authority. So...the Holocaust. Biggest moral issue of the last century. The world waited for the Pope to denounce the Holocaust. Nada....This was all while your priests were molesting generation after generation of altar boys and schoolchildren.

Your religious leaders were caught in one sexual peccadillo after another. Bakker, Swaggart...And you stuck with them.

Oral Roberts capped his lifelong career of lies by claiming that if the God’s People didn’t give him eight million dollars, God would kill him. The God people not only believed him, but actually gave him the money.

Your religious leaders told you abortion was murder, and if you gave money to them and to the Republican party, it would be outlawed. You gave them hundreds of millions of dollars, and they never came close to banning abortion. And now they’re planning to hornswoggle you with yet another doomed holy war against gays.

So how many times does Lucy pull away the football and watch Charlie Brown fall on his ass, before Charlie Brown gets the message?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gr8t article!