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Religion Cannot Win. October 17, 2010

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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Religion cannot win. It simply cannot maintain any level of higher morality, higher moral values, better quality of life, or any other measure related to human social norms. I suppose it is presumptuous for me to claim that any of these things are the true goal of religion. But if not, then religion is reduced to nothing more than worship of a god or gods, in order to appease and perhaps gain entrance to eternity, or some other prize after our bodies physically die. That makes religions seem less appealing to me.

I have seen no evidence whatsoever that religious people are any better than non-religious people, and there is certainly no evidence that suggests one religion produces better morals than another. What with terrorists acting in the name of Allah, or Christians murdering abortion doctors, it is apparent to me and many others, that religion by itself is unable to satisfy humans as a method or approach to living better lives on this planet.

Being an atheist, having abandoned the idea that there are any real gods out there who are concerned with our species and how we live our lives, I can say with great certainty that my personal moral standards are higher than the highest self-proclaimed “men of God” in the largest denominations of Christianity ever known, including any and all Popes who ever lived. And my basis for such a claim is the simple fact that I have never stood before any large crowd of people and proclaimed that I have superior knowledge of a god, and that I am speaking on behalf of said god. I have never told anyone that they must behave a certain way in order to avoid eternal hell, or gain eternal life. That, is immoral.

Religions and gods have come and gone for millennia, and although it seems there is no end in sight, I have more faith in the human race to shake itself free from the shackles of all dogmatic thinking, all imaginary gods, and all outdated moral sets that create massive division among otherwise happy and healthy societies. There is simply no way that the major dogmas hidden behind Jesus Christ, or Allah, for example, will remain unchallenged, or blindly accepted by everyone as time marches on.

Religion is a tool of fear and control, directed by men who literally have nothing better to do with their personal time on earth. Many of those men have been disgraced by scandal or blatant hypocrisy while standing before their flocks, and their imagined god. And slowly but surely, the flocks are shrinking, and finding better ways to think about why we are here, and where we are going. Humans have all the tools they need to make their short and unique lives the best they can be, without the need for a god or a preacher, or an ancient human named Jesus to guide them. Heck, if you like the way Jesus lived his life, then you should be willing to live your life in a similar way – now there’s a true challenge!

Peace, and may religion die sooner, rather than later!

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Are you a Pretender? November 22, 2009

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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Do you pretend to believe in God? I used to. When I stood in Church on Sunday mornings, after being dropped off by my parents, I could barely understand anything the priest was saying. I’m sure most of it was scripture from various sections of The Bible, but it was so difficult to understand, and impossible for me to remain interested as a young boy. I wonder how much more interested I would have been as a child if The Bible had been presented as ancient mythology? As I remember back to those times, I was definitely hiding my disbelief to some degree. What I can’t quite figure out though is, why was I doing that?

Why did I find it necessary to pretend to listen and care about God and Jesus and all of the other mythology I was being taught? None of it mattered to me, really. But there was something causing me to pretend, and not to speak out about it. I wonder if it is the same phenomenon that causes people who know that Santa is not real, to keep it a secret for those who still believed? Somehow, it feels the same, but there was definitely more mystery behind the God belief, as well as a Church full of adults who could have been blindly believing in something they had no way of knowing was real or not. Did these adults examine the idea at all, or did they just swallow it all without question? Why does religion have such a stranglehold on the human brain? I won’t claim to know the answer, as I am not qualified to speak authoritatively on such matters. But I am free to talk about the issue from a personal perspective. I was simply afraid to speak out.

There is a brief period in the lives of many children where they are afraid to talk openly about Santa Claus in front of their peers. I think it is based on the fear of ridicule. Most of us outgrow Santa, and we realize that what he is supposed to accomplish every year is physically impossible without magic. So we are reluctant to mention it at some point among our friends because we are afraid of being ridiculed, and even afraid of being the one who ridicules. If my best friend still believes in Santa an I was the one who broke the news to him, I might cause him embarrassment or shame. If that same friend already knew that Santa was a myth, then I would be the one embarrassed if I mentioned my belief. That period though, doesn’t last that long.

So it could be with religion as well. It is entirely possible, and very likely in my opinion, that many people inside the Churches every Sunday are simply pretending to believe. They are afraid to drop the pretense based on fear of ridicule. They are well aware of the social system of out-casting non-believers, and they are not about to risk such ridicule. So they pretend. What’s the harm in pretending anyway?

If God were real, you would never get away with pretending anyway. What a sad conundrum for people – force yourself to believe, because it’s impossible to trick God – to be in a state where they must suspend disbelief in order to please a non-existent, mythological character from an ancient book. After all, Hell awaits those who don’t believe. How much more powerful can the message be if it doesn’t hold your eternal happiness hostage? Just keep pretending.

I have told my kids to pretend to be happy. It wasn’t exactly original, but it came to me as an interesting experiment. I would tell them that they did not have to actually be happy, they could stay as angry as they wanted, but they had to “pretend” to be happy. This way they could be angry and no one would have to know that they were actually angry. When they were younger, it worked fairly well. It didn’t take them too long though to discover that I was tricking them. To pretend to be happy was satisfying enough to get them out of their funk. Maybe that’s all that religion really is.

If an adult can pretend to believe in God, then the only possible way this could harm them is if God were real, and He knew they were merely pretending. Family and friends would never know the difference, and when death finally arrives, there will be no witness to the final destination of the pretender. The person died a “good Christian”, and no one was the wiser. I wonder if it is worth it to spend your life pretending though?

With the experiment I used on my children, I ended up telling them that I was only trying to get them to realize that being angry was a state of mind, and one that they can turn off and on as needed. They could choose things that are worth getting angry over, and ultimately control their anger so that it doesn’t control them. I believe it is healthier to distinguish between pretending and reality, so that the two don’t remain ambiguous when it comes to who you actually are. When I “let go” of pretending God was real, I was finally free from hiding my feelings. I didn’t run around screaming about it, but I was definitely freed from the bonds of religion and its grip on skepticism. I no longer worry about what others think. I am getting more comfortable as time goes by.

It may not be easy to stop pretending to believe, but it is not impossible. You have to consider questions like: What would the universe and world look like of God were not real? If God were real, would he really allow such suffering as we see today? If God were real, and He held the title of all-loving creator of humans, would He allow innocent babies to be slaughtered for the gain of one group of “selected” humans? If God were real, would you even need to pretend? If God were real, wouldn’t you know without a doubt – wouldn’t everyone know without a doubt? If God were real, would atheists still exist?

Think about it – and stop pretending, you’ll feel better when you come out of the closet and free yourself from the mythological stories and beliefs of people who had no idea what the universe is, or that the earth was not flat, or that gods didn’t control lightning, love, nor require sacrifices from petty humans. Let go, now.

Who Needs Preachers Anyway? October 21, 2009

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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Can anyone step up and tell me who in the world assigned any particular human to the task of leading everyone else by preaching the word of a god?  This vocation, as it is deemed in modern society, is a result of the proliferation of the vast number of churches dotting the landscapes of cities across the globe.  A church MUST have a preacher, a priest, a pastor, or some other form of proselytizer in the pulpit in order to share the word of a particular god.  But why?  And by who’s authority?

I give you Matthew 6:5-6:8

6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

I am sure I am wrong about this, but to me, this is a very clear message that one need not go to church at all.  What can a church, and its preacher, give you from God that you cannot get for yourself, according to the book of Matthew?  I know what I think about this vocation.

In my humble opinion, there is literally no way that groups of humans would bother going to a church if there were no one to lead the congregation.  It is necessary because people prefer to follow someone else, to avoid thinking for themselves, and to be a part of something social, such as a church.  I think most children attend by force, and most adults attend through fear or guilt.  I know that many claim to attend for the sheer enjoyment of the words of the preacher (some preachers are excellent speakers!)  But this is really no different than going to see anyone speak on a topic of enjoyment to the listener.

But these people, leading the congregations in their places of worship, are no different than you and I.  They have no special powers, no special connections to their god, and certainly no divinely inspired calling.  They are as much a part of the working class as anyone else, they have a job just like you and me.  Some of them are selected through a formal process, others are hired, and still others are selected by their congregations.

I think some of them probably offer more practical advice than divine wisdom!  Having said that, I believe that if there really is a god out there, He never intended to create “religion.”  The intention was to allow humans to live among one another, take care of each other, and find their place in everlasting life through a personal relationship with God.  However, since God is completely silent, religion is necessary to keep the flocks of sheep in line.  Get back in your closets believers, have your own relationship and stop pandering to your church like some hopelessly lost soul.

If God is real, he knows exactly what you deserve – no church, or preacher will ever change that fact.

Is It Possible To Know God? October 11, 2009

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My previous blog alluded to the fact that no one knows for sure if they will make it into heaven. I can’t say with certainty one way or the other, because I don’t believe heaven is real. But I do know what I have been told, and what I have read on the topic. For me, I use Christianity as the basis of this thought, since it is the one I am most familiar with. Can any human being know God?

The Bible is the ultimate authority on Christianity as far as I’m concerned.  This includes both the old and the new Testaments – you cannot have one without the other (there is disagreement among Christians on this however.)  So The Bible provides all sorts of attributes, stories, descriptions, and other material that are used by millions of clergy, preachers, pastors, and other religious authorities and leaders regarding God.  Many of these people claim to have personal relationships with God – whatever that means.  One thing they all seem to agree on is this:  God is perfect, humans are not.  I can agree with this idea for the sake of making my point.

If God is perfect, and humans are not, then how would it ever be possible for a human to know God?  Logically, the imperfect nature of humans precludes them from knowing the perfection of God.  How can the two things be compatible at all?  Apologists would argue that they know what God wants through his teachings, therefore they know God.  Some might even argue that to know God is to know only that humans are imperfect, therefore they know God.  But what useful thing can result from this level of knowing God?

I contend that mere humans can only know about God.  They can only know what they learn, what they are taught, and what they conclude on their own regarding the god they choose to believe in.  There are no human authorities on God.  God is equally knowable by everyone by His very nature.  No human knows God – so don’t hold anyone as an authority on the subject, because no matter how much they claim to know, they are only human, just like everyone else.

Why is this important?  Because there are too many people who blindly follow the empty rantings of idiots who claim to have a superior understanding, or some divine connection to God.  Those same people take hard earned money from gullible believers in the multi-billions of dollars.  Where does God ever say to do this?  When has God ever appointed that His message be provided to the masses by self-appointed humans who seem to be living lives full of wealth and material things at the expense of everyone else?  As far as I’m concerned, if you want to know God, just believe, help the less fortunate when you can, and behave.