On matters of belief…

This is the map of the strength of religious belief in the world. It very closely corresponds to the map of the GDP distribution in the world…

As some of you have noticed on my Facebook, I had recently been engaged in active accumulation of various sources of information regarding some of the world’s mythologies considered, for whatever reasons, as ‘holy’ and most commonly known as ‘religions’.

This hunt had been inspired partially by the events of one crazy Monday (and specifically, the evening of that crazy Monday).

Some of the people who know me not but have actively engaged in the lively discussions that followed have, somehow, jumped to the conclusion that I had just that week discovered a grand set of YouTube videos that have ‘opened my eyes’ and made me want to share… Well, that’s wrong. My viewing of all organized religions as canonized mythologies that had long outlived their purpose in this world and should slowly retreat to the same realm ancient Greek or other myths have gone to has not been shaped overnight, and definitely not after watching a video or two. That organized religions and the idea of a personal god are, to the large extent, nonsense, is a conclusion I have began my journey to way back when I had first read the first of those story books – the bible – at the age of 7. Since then, absolutely every field of knowledge and pretty much all observations of this world available to me have confirmed my premise.

Nevertheless, the ‘witch hunt on the believers’, or what one of the most outspoken of the people who have invited themselves, by commenting on my posts, into the discussions on the topic, had labelled ‘cyber bullying’ (aka asking some simple questions and making some simple points) had unfolded last week in full bloom on the social platform that had only recently become such a predominant forum in people’s lives. In the course of all the madness that followed, I have acquired some valuable links to sources that illuminate different aspects of religion for what it truly is – an irrational belief system, that often justifies emotions and actions that a rational human being would not normally conceive of otherwise (such as strong hate, sense of absolute righteousness, some divine insight, and all the way down to abuse, whether physical or mental or verbal, denial of rights and murder, even on mass scale).

Of course, all of the above foes can be also justified by many other causes. I doubt, however, that people are so happy to hate unless they are acting on a premise that those against whom their actions are taken are ‘less deserving’ of an equal, respectful treatment than the in-group. Religion is one of the strongest, most emotionally and communally vested venues for creating a very potent sense of the in-group, privy to the understanding and knowledge no one else can possibly grasp (until and unless they choose to take a leap of faith and, in defiance of any reason and logic, as well as evidence, decide to accept one of the numerous myth books out there as their source of absolute, uncontested truth and moral and practical guidance for living a life). It is equally potent in providing countless justifications for unequal treatment of anyone from any of the out-groups. Whether this is simple vocalized or implied condemnation to eternal residence in hell or outright persecution does not matter: the point is, anyone outside of the believing community, whichever one it is, is viewed as inherently inferior to those who are ‘in’.

Now, many might argue that in many modern churches of whichever religion the outsiders are welcome and no one is viewed as inferior or unworthy. I humbly disagree. The premise of pretty much every religions is that it holds THE most ULTIMATE, uncontested truth and knowledge. By the virtue of that premise, anyone not fully being a part of the belief group in that given religion is, by definition and however ‘welcome’, in a sense ‘not there yet’ in understanding, not yet fully aware of the ‘absolute truth’, the ‘ultimate path’ and the ‘proper way’, whatever any of those might be. I am not even going to mention the male-dominated system of most organized religions. A priest at a church or an imam can preach for hours about equality of men and women, if they choose to, but please show me how many females hold high-ranking positions in their churches… Finally, any all-welcoming and non-segregationist new-age developments within the religions most prominent today are nothing but a marketing strategy. Regardless of the good intentions, if any, simultaneously truly belonging to and accepting a set of beliefs proposed by any of the holy texts is a paradox. It is an impossibility, for segregation and discrimination, as well as condemnation of everyone else outside of the in-group, are all inherent parts and premises of the holy texts. What it means in practice is that one is either a ‘true believer’ in one’s faith, OR a tolerant, all-welcoming human being. The moment a church or a person within it begins to nudge-down on the inherent segregations of any sorts, they stop being a true part of that religion and simply become those who loosely cherry-pick some of the most suitable bits and pieces of their favorite book for their purposes, whether public or private. The ‘true believers’ thus, by definition, are segregating in nature of their thinking and premises. They operate on the self-validating, and however subtle (although mostly it’s not subtle at all), premise of moral and intellectual superiority to everyone else. Once someone starts viewing someone else as morally inferior, however, or inferior in any other way, then the wide pathway to all sorts of abuse, discrimination and the like is paved. And, scarily, it starts like this.

You are welcome to read some of the preserved discussion threads on my Facebook (unfortunately, two of the most lively and thought-provoking threads have been deleted by the FB account holder on whose wall they took place, while in one of the threads on my wall the hateful comments in all caps have been deleted by their original author…) for some entertainment. Note that I do not claim to be extremely ‘politically correct’ in the discussions that took place, but I just the same think that ‘political correctness’ has reached its limits in this world. So here are some links:

The discussion originally with Dianne (who then deleted her comments and myself from her friends list), following her spiteful remark on my FB status that concerned equal rights to all and gay marriages specifically (she lashed against it on the basis that ‘god never intended for there to be any gay marriages’), can be found here. You can guess what she said by the replies that still remain.

A parallel discussion happening at the same time as the one with Michael (the thread to which the original link was leading. Unfortunately, that original thread no longer exists…) was happening here.

The discussion that followed my eternal damnation from Michael’s profile can be found  here.

And something ‘miraculously’ preserved – one of the threads on my wall that still bears Michael’s commentary here.

After all, when one is faced all the time with dialogue partners similar to Wendy Wright (what a name!), whom Richard Dawkins deserves a monument for not punching during the entire interview (below), it is very soon that all the extremes of political correctness wear off.

Based on my arguments, I have been labelled an ‘atheist’. I had also been labelled unknowing of what I’m talking about (although evidence suggests otherwise). Very incorrectly so, or at least only partially valid. I AM a 100% atheist, for countless reasons, when it comes to any myth-based religion involving a personal god (please look this concept up before assessing my position in the future – I had had to repeat myself about 20 times over within a single discussion thread and at least 4 times to the same exact person, who seemed to have completely by-passed me mentioning my very specific rejection of the existence of a very specific type of a god – a personal one. Btw here are logical reasons for my rejection). I just the same claim to not know (and to there possibly being no way of ever knowing) about the existence of some force that could be called ‘god’ or ‘divine’ for a lack of a better word. That, however, would have to be an indifferent FORCE, not a conscious entity obsessively involved with every single thought and action of, out of all things and species in the universe, human beings (how very egocentric of us to ever even conceive of that, by the way!). It could be the sum of all laws governing the universe, or an energy that is present in all universe when it’s broken all the way down to the smallest particles. Something truly omnipresent in a sense of having no spatial limits of form, size, location, shape or any other form of physical or psychological characteristics (the minute a ‘god’ becomes an entity separate from everything else in the universe it, in my eyes, stops being ‘god’ that is omnipresent. Let alone when it gets limited in size, shape, gender and character… I won’t ask you to correct me if I’m wrong because something just tells me I’m not 🙂 ). Something truly omniscient in a sense of either being or holding (or both) all information in the universe about everything in it – every atom, every aspect of the universe. A personal god cannot know, for example, what are the experiences of the other gender than that attributed to it, or of the animals, bacteria, rocks, galaxies… It thus similarly fails to be omniscient the moment it becomes personal or defined in any similar ways. Finally, an omnipotent deity won’t impress me by fiddling with one little planet in the universe all the time. In fact, if that’s the best that ‘god’ can do, then god is one of the biggest losers ever. A truly omnipotent force will be powerful enough to initiate a set of general processes in such a way that they would inevitably lead to a specific outcome – like a universe as we know it. Granted that our universe (for all the tiny bit we know about it) may not be the only one that ever existed or will, and even the laws of physics and nature that we deem to be universal may differ in either other universes or even in some specific corners of our own, implying omnipotence of a god only capable of doing some lousy few tricks (on a galactic scale, causing a flood isn’t really a major thing. Floods happen, actually, pretty regularly for other reasons than miracles. And some are even man-made… are we then so powerful as the ‘god’ is, since we can cause floods?…) here and there is nonsense. Actually, we’re more powerful than a god because people can pray all they want for something but it’s getting off of one’s ass and doing something that gets it to happen. Same goes for disease treatment – prayers don’t work (or the little children that died of treatable conditions because their parents chose prayer over treatment would still be alive…). Medicine and treatments are much, MUCH, by a HUGE margin more effective than ‘god’ in helping other people. Prayer, at least evidence shows, helps make people… more miserable, if anything!

So this is the general set of premises upon which I dismiss any personal god in general. Then of course come specific religions, but that really means little because each has simply their own version of personal god(s) to it and thus are invalidated on the general premises.

Still, for the fun of it, allow me to present you with just a few of my questions and concerns addresses at, specifically, Christianity, since this was the subject matter of the manic monday chat, that have remained unanswered still. Further on, I will also post links to the sources that I have come across in my week-long ‘crusade’ of information gathering on the topic.

The question that I specifically can’t find answers to is, just to name the most burning one, the question of incest.

Incest is a sin punishable by death in Christianity. So:

A) Adam and Eve are our parents. They had two sons, one killed another. Thus you’re left with Adam, Eve and their 1 male child. According to the bible, these two guys have been taking turns shagging Eve in order to populate the planet. And the same behavior, in turn, was carried on by their kids. Case in point: the entire population of the planet is engaged in incest. That is, if the bible is correct.

B) Some try to argue that this story is allegorical. Fine. But then there was the great flood that killed off all living things except those who fit on one boat. Let’s leave alone the fact that, just looking at how many species of anything there are, this would have to be a by far bigger boat than could ever be built – let’s say, as Christians do, that this happened. But then again we’re down to 12 people of Noah’s family, who consequently shagged one another to re-populate the earth after the great flood… And managed to breed like rabbits with kids of all races and colors in the few thousands of years since the flood that lead us to our current 7billion population… Riiiiiiiiight…

Hence C) WHY is incest a sin at all when we are all, clearly, according to the bible, bastard children? This is my question. All without exception – we come from a single family of 12. I’m not even mentioning the fact that if god indeed tried to populate the earth with people that way, we’d all be dead by now. By the merit of mutations that happen when close relatives interbreed – the exact reason why incest was prohibited and still is. One can refer to the latest european royal families, take some period before WW1, to see it happening just in a few generations: genetic diseases were passed on, they were all each other’s distant cousins, and pretty much not one lived to an old age that was expected even by standards back then, many had problems with fertility and you simply name it. I didn’t get an answer, because the answer would have to would be “well, those stories weren’t really literally true”. From there, of course, all Christians are aware it’s the road only to “well, then NONE of the bible is literally true then…” and boom their body of ‘evidence’ goes out of the window. Thus it’s a question that remains unanswered…

Another question that remained unanswered was my medical almanac question…

Imagine you have a headache. I come to you and say “I KNOW what will DEFINITELY as the ONLY thing cure it”. You ask “what”; I say “bleeding”. You ask me “how do I know for sure it’s the right thing?”; I say “the smartest doctor of all times told me so”. “Where did you get the doctor’s words from?” “Ah, from this highly esteemed medical almanac written a few hundreds of years ago”… Then you’d ask me “but what makes you think it is effective and valid now, a few hundred of years later, and how are you so sure that that doctor was right in the first place?” I’d say “well it’s WRITTEN HERE IN THAT ALMANAC that it’s effective and that this doctor said so, DUH!!!!!!!!!!!” to prove my point….

If you hereby want to be treated by me – please take a number and stand in the line to be bled… (Somehow I don’t expect to be very busy in the upcoming days…)

I’ve asked Michael specifically to answer this question that could convert me to Christianity on the spot: “would you consider a doctor like myself for your treatment, and would you consider my argumentation of the proof of the exclusive effectiveness of MY cure over any other to be anything like valid?”

I never got an answer to this either…

Instead, I got a bus driver explanation for why ‘god’ wants us to ‘behave’: Michael tells his kids that if they don’t behave well on the bus, the driver may be distracted and cause an accident. Somehow in his eyes this explained why god wants people to obey some rules. Unfortunately, when I pointed out that if the bus driver is wasted (or, adding here, out of his wits crazy… or might have a heart attack on the go, or micro-sleep…) he’d kill all the kids regardless of how stellar their behavior might be…

A few more comments and I’ve earned not a patient, in the spirit of Christianity (as in, being a good ‘servant’ of god, a patient ‘messenger’ of ‘his word’… patient to guide the ‘lost sheep’ back onto the path… basically, in a course of a courteous conversation pointing out why I am wrong, what am I missing in my reasoning and showing me otherwise) explanation or talk but a condemnation in the form of de-friending on FB and blocking me from viewing his account. Dianne, when I asked her what her problem with homosexual marriages is when we are all children of incest, according to the bible, has also de-friended me… I just hope that Jesus still loves me though (LOLLL)

(He also loves lesbians…)

I’m not alone asking questions that remain unanswered. Many YouTube channels are devoted to that same purpose. Tough questions for Christians is just one (he also started questions for Islam in a new series),

while Why God Won’t Heal Amputees is one of the most popular ones.

And here I rest my case. Much has been written, so I leave the word to others but myself, as I am not a single source of the similar conclusions. Thus, introducing you to some rational thinkers’ propaganda material:

George Carlin was one of the most poignant thinkers in our world, one of the most clear-spoken, intelligent and critical thinkers. Although he presented many of the points in the form of comedy, they nevertheless are no less valuable and valid.

Here are his general thoughts on religion.

Something on related customs (like swearing on the bible in court).

Here is his view specifically on the 10 commandments.

And a few more punch-lines :).

Jim Jefferie agrees here, too…

YouTube users have been very vocal in creating their own channels challenging the canonization of some of the ancient myths… I guess this is a glimpse of hope :). I hope there will be more channels like this (or this) and the like on the web.

Moving on from the comedy domain to fact-gathering…

Excuses to Christ mythology… And the channel of GodAlmighty, whose amazingly well-researched videos tackle the issue of the origins of the biblical myths – NOT to god or Moses, though… 🙂

A very well-reasoned channel of a reformed Christian. Not just some reformed Christian, but a person who believed to the bone, spoke in tongues and, ironically, lost his beliefs through the ceaseless search for understanding god’s purpose.

I suggest to watch this whole (it would take around 1.5 hours). Very insightful and moving.

An extremely telling documentary on religion in general, simply called Religious.

An examination of whether religion is the root of much evil by Richard Dawkins is found in yet another telling documentary.

Part 1

Part 2

Not all is lost, and there is hope, as one can see from the conversion story above. Sometimes the path to healthy non-belief (in personal god(s)) begins with the simplest questions and/or thoughts and not with an elaborate search for the god’s purpose like the one shown above. Examples of such questions can be found in many places all over the web. For example, I’ve stumbled upon this reddit thread where users share what got them to get started on the path leading away from their specific superstitions. Some stories from the converts can be found on Richard Dawkins Foundation website. By the way, his The God Delusion, as well as the book by Christopher Hitchens God is not Great, are texts I consider worthy of being mandatory materials in schools. Many thinking critically people have examined the holy scriptures for their moral validity, if any. Here are just two sites devoted to the cause. There exist numerous clusters on the web of people gravitating to free though rather than blind belief. Just to name a couple, Freethought Nation or the many atheists’ blogs. Or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster that I adhere to :).

A glimpse of hope even came from a very ironic and unexpected direction.

And to end on a more positive note, a few videos with great quotes from healthy non-believers:

Finally, if you still think you were lucky enough to born into the ‘right’ faith – maybe this  very short list of some of the world’s deities will illustrate just what are the odds of such amazing luck (I’d suggest to mute the video as the backdrop song is a bit too noisy, unless you’re a fan of such stuff 🙂 ).

Hope this was fun. Also hope the information here, if anyone deemed it worthy to actually check it, was worthy. Till the next post! 🙂


About in shade

A cocktail of personality traits hard to digest for some but ultimately soothing for those who can. I observe, enjoy, travel, interact, photograph, dance, contemplate, write and love my way through this life's countless occurrences. This blog is a way to share with the world and its people some of the treasures they give me every day.
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4 Responses to On matters of belief…

  1. Pingback: My memorably manic, mad Monday | In Shade

  2. debatanu says:

    The entire concept of GOD is just to instill in our heart a so called superior being which would guide us in making the correct judgement. As when making a decision we all know the good and dark sides of it, so by bring in this picture of “the perfect being” it would make us take better decisions. So as per my view the entire episodes of heroism and magic are all but to glorify the perfect being.

    • in shade says:

      Anthropological and Sociological studies illustrate that the concept of a superior power had been initially created as a tool for filling in gaps in understanding of the natural events, such as seasonal changes, rains, thunder, day and night. Paired with the natural tendency of the brain to form patterns and of the human brain to personify objects and subjects, it is no wonder that personified gods have emerged so early in human history. Later on it became a tool of power and manipulation, which it remains largely to this day. Just as an aside, if there really was a ‘perfect being’, it would least of all need any sort of petty glorification from humans – creatures absolutely unfit and incapable of either grasping or understanding perfection simply by the merit of there being no such thing in nature to refer to. Might just as well direct our efforts to more hands-on causes with actual positive effect on the lives of actual real creatures instead ;).

  3. Pingback: Declaration of the war on global terrorism | In Shade

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