Sunday, October 17, 2010

Christianity: Why don't they captialize smallpox?

ATHEISM: Cogito ergo sum

(I think therefore I am.)

While I’m on this metaphysical kick I might as well deal with religion.

David Strauss (1835) said: “Religion is no more than a myth in a particular historical form.” Nietzsche said: “Christianity is the morality of the heard – a slave morality.” Actually, all religions are nothing more than a heard mentality. Ask no questions, fall in line, chant the creed, open your purses, and march lock step over the cliff singing Onward Christian Soldiers (or whatever chant of compliance the dogma demands) and your reward will be life after death: trust me on this.

Most religions require a belief based solely on faith. The reason, of course, is that no religion can stand up to logical scrutiny. Religions persist today only because man can not accept the finality of death. Now, I’m not an expert on all religions, but I have been subjected to more than my share of Christianity. Therefore, Christianity (as the representation of religions in general) is the cult I can discuss.

The basic premise of Christianity is that if you are willing to hand over the social and mental control of your life to the cult you will not actually die but transition to some wonderful place where you will live with gods as an immortal being.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, only man could invent a heaven devoid of all the earthly pleasures, and sell it to the punters. The Christian heaven is portrayed as a bland existence: a seven-day-a-week church service where you sit around and praise God. Now, if you could convince me that heaven was a wild sex orgy with beautiful necked women nymphomaniacs, good Bourbon whiskey, and fine cigars you might be able to convert me. But then again – I doubt it. Beside that, my wife wouldn’t approve. It is obvious that men invented God but women invented heaven.

Let’s explore the Christian myth. It all starts with this young girl in her early teens. The girl is pregnant and betrothed to her much older uncle (who believes, because of her young age, that she’s a virgin.) Now it’s pretty obvious that Joseph ain’t bright. Supposedly, Mary convinces him that yes - she is a virgin - and yes she is pregnant. Now even in my most drunk and hung over times this argument wouldn’t work on me. But as it turns out uncle Joseph is told that an angle of the Lord…: and he buys it.

Now there are two things memorable about this tale. First, as a carry over from the Old Testament, it reinforces the belief that if young women aren’t virgins they are somehow soiled. Second, it is the only incidence where a woman in the Bible is shown in a positive light, or as anything other than a husband’s or son’s subordinate. Women should be up in arms because of the way they are portrayed in the Bible, but good Christian women accept their sinfulness and their lowly status. Remember, you are not allowed to question.

Where did this story come from? Who wrote it down? What language was it written in? When was it transcribed and in how many translations? I’m sure any fundamentalist could answer these questions. They can also dispute Darwin and the origins of man. One thing we must remember is that it was written at a time when an ass drawn cart was cutting edge technology.

Next, we find this man/god with his disciples. This puzzles me. Christians are so homophobic, yet Jesus spurns the attentions of women and relishes the company of men? You definitely can’t say he had heterosexual interest.

The whole saga ends with a bloody human sacrifice. If you talk about the Incas offering human sacrifices people will shake their head in disgust, but Christians flaunt human sacrifice. They proudly walk around with icons of a human crucifixion hanging around their neck. Now come on. What kind of a sadistic god would demand a human torture and sacrifice to “take away the sins of the world?” What the hell is that suppose to mean?

All bullshit aside, exactly what was accomplished here?

God the father: now that’s an oxymoron. This father is so petty that he readily inflicts pain, suffering, and even drowns his children. It’s a good thing He’s not female and doesn’t live in Texas.

None of this makes any sense, but if you are willing to believe it you’ll never have to die; you will just transition to some better place where you can sit around for eternity in the company of God.

Another carrot on the stick that Christianity uses (beside everlasting life) is prayer. You want something in this life – all you have to do is put your hands together and pray and God will grant whatever you desire. Prayer gives you a direct line to a God whose only interest is taking care of good Christians’ needs. Children pray for new bicycles, adults pray for personal success and wellbeing, football players pray to make a touchdown.

During every minute of every hour of every day one or more women are being raped, numerous children are being molested, people are dying of starvation and disease. We have people being tortured and murdered and yet God seems to have nothing better to do than make sure a particular pass receiver catches the football as he crosses the goal line. Maybe we’ve uncovered the truth here. God is a sports junkie. He’s so into manipulating football, baseball and auto racing that he doesn’t have time for fire, famine, pestilence, rapes, murders and all the other boring calamities heaped on mankind.

Did you ever notice that most of your mass murderers and serial killers were Jesus freaks who claimed to be acting on orders from God? I believe the less violent ones end up as TV evangelist.

It’s pretty obvious that most of the troubles in the history of the mankind can be linked to religious differences. Even today we have Jews fighting Moslems, Christians fighting Moslems, Hindus fighting Moslems (Moslems seem to ask for it) and Protestants fighting Catholics. If you look at underlying causes you will find that most political conflicts, if not directly – then indirectly, spring from religious differences.

Six hundred years before the birth of Christ, Greece was the center of civilization. For six hundred years the Greeks promoted education, science and ethics. The progress and the strides were incredible. An atmosphere of inquiry fostered brilliant thinkers:

Thales was an astronomer (circa 585 BC). He believed the earth began as water.

Anaximander believed all life came from the sea and that man evolved from fish. He also made the first maps of Europe.

Pythagoras is known as the father of geometry.

Empedocles stated the earth was round.

Leucippus described the atom about 420 BC.

Socrates promoted a method of enquiry.

Plato (about 350 BC) founded the first university and wrote ‘The Republic’ outlining the idea of city/state.

Aristotle founded universities for the study of ethics, politics, biology and poetry. He is known as the father of Logic and Ethics.

Diophantus – Algebra. Ctesibius – the water clock. Euclid – geometry. Hipparchus – trigonometry. Aristarchus – diameter of the moon, and the earth rotates around the sun. Archimedes – physics and mechanics.

Had this atmosphere of enlightenment continued where might mankind be today?

Now we have the rise of the Roman Empire. (Note: we always speak of the Greek Civilization and the Roman Empire.) For a number of reasons Christianity (why don’t we capitalize smallpox?) got a start and found a fertile atmosphere for growth in the Roman Empire. With the decline of the Roman Empire the Christian Church came into power. Because Science, enquiry and logic are always the enemies of religious dogma, the church closed the universities, burned the libraries, and restricted books and knowledge. This is the beginning of what we know as the Dark Ages. For a thousand years the Roman Church and her inquisitors presided over the Dark Ages. Any ideas contrary to Church teachings were considered heresy. People were tortured and executed for expressing new ideas. As late as the sixteen hundreds Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for writing that the earth rotated around the sun. Even the famous astronomer Galileo was tried for heresy and forced by threat of torture to recant, for publishing that the sun was the center of the universe.

Partially because of the great plagues and the advent of the printing press “The Church” lost it grip and mankind was able to struggle out of the Dark Ages and into the Renascence. I marvel that here, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Christianity still holds court on science, progress and reason.

Politics and religion is a deadly combination. Even though our Constitution guarantees us freedom from religion, Christian factions are always trying to insidiously insert themselves into government policy making. The religious-right, represented by the Republican Party, crusades to limit our freedoms of choice, freedoms of speech and freedoms of expression. Religion thrives in an environment of ignorance, and fundamentalist Christians try to legislate ignorance through censorship, misinformation and control. I vehemently object to the inscription In God We Trust appearing on our currency, swearing So Help Me God during legal proceedings and opening prayers at the beginning of government functions. Organized Christianity would like nothing better than the power to hold court and punish anyone whose actions or beliefs are contrary to their narrow religious points of view. We constantly point to the human plight in Moslem theocracies, but we should be vigilant, for the Christian “right” would like nothing better than to turn our country into a Christian theocracy and be able to legislate and enforce their dogma.

Christians at a soldiers funeral.
We have had fundamentalist try to place their Ten Commandments in our court rooms; they have tried to change our Constitution to reflect their bigotry against homosexuals; they have managed to have their god acknowledged on our currency: and in thirteen states (Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia) they have been able to pass laws to restrict sexual freedom between consenting adults (including married couples) in their own homes. Their anti-sodomy laws make a criminal offense of both oral and anal sex. They also strive to outlaw the teaching of Darwin and mandate the teaching of intelligent design (an oxymoron) in certain geographic areas in our public schools. The list goes on. Their covert attempt to defeat the separation of church and state and to create a Christian theocracy is the end gold of this cult.

It’s not funny. I view religion beyond contempt. It would be amusingly funny and entertaining if the consequences were not so serious.

My objections to religion:

1. The creation myth

2. Blind faith and allegiance

3. The virgin birth and other miracle fantasies.

4. Glorification of human sacrifice

5. Transubstantiation (cannibalism)

6. Intolerance, bigotry, racism and pious outrage.

7. Sexual repression

8. Female phobia: contempt for women.

9. Repression of logic and reason

11. Censorship

12. Proselytism

13. Blatant contradictions with science

14. Resurrection and after life myth.

15. Required belief in gods, demons and angels.

16. Opposition to stem cell research, birth control, sex education, abortion…

From the earliest times religion has been the undercurrent of divisiveness which has polarized groups of people against each other. Religion has caused wars and persecution on a massive scale. Murder, rape, genocide and torture have all been justified under the pious mantle of religion. Even today most of the atrocities against humankind have at their base religious differences.

I recently spent three years as the principal of three schools in two Yupik Eskimo villages in Alaska. These two villages are accessible only by bush plane, but are connected by three miles of dirt road. At one time there was a single Native village on the river at this location, but the introduction of two different religions by white missionaries resulted in a split among the people causing prejudice that sometimes results in violence. Part of the politics of being the principal for these two villages was to mediate the bickering between the upper village (Catholic) and the lower village (Russian Orthodox) when it affected the children in our schools.

This is a microcosm of what is happening in the world today. The major conflicts of the twenty-first century: the wars and genocides and atrocities against human beings, can be attributed, in the largest part, to religious differences.

Let’s take a look at the current wars and warring factions:

• Balkans: Orthodox Serbians vs. Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbs vs. Bosnian and Albanian Muslims.

• Caucasus: Russian Orthodox vs. Chechen Muslims; Azerbaijan Muslims vs. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians.

• Ethiopia: Muslims vs. Christians

• India – Pakistan: Hindus vs. Muslims

• Indonesia: Muslims vs. Christians

• Israel – the Arab world: Judaism vs. Muslims.

• Iraq: Sunni Muslim vs. Shia Muslim vs. Christian

• Kashmir: Muslims vs. Hindus

• Northern Ireland; Catholics vs. Protestants

• Palestine: Judaism vs. Muslims

• Shri Lanka: Buddhists vs. Hindus

• Sudan: Muslims vs. Christians

True Believers

Jonestown: more true believers
 As we move into a time when nuclear proliferation can not be contained we face the prospect of religious fanaticism bringing an end to civilization. The Muslim religion is by far the most dangerous ideology in the world today, but let us not underplay the more subtle drive by the other world religions to move us backwards to a new Dark Ages.

I have no problem with people choosing to follow a religious belief and avowing their compliance to its dogma. My problem is when these same people believe they have the right to force me to their compliance: if you don’t believe in abortion – fine – don’t have one; if you don’t like homosexuals – don’t become one; if you want to drink the cool aid – fine – lock the door of the church and go to Jesus; but, leave me the fuck alone and stay out of my life.

One last point to grind on: I object to being labeled an atheist. I am a logical, educated, reasoning, seventy year old male and a citizen of the United States. People who wish to identify themselves with a god-cult have every right to call themselves Christians, Moslems, etc. However, I do not require a label to exclude myself from a cult membership.

Dubito ergo cogito ergo sum.
(I doubt therefore I think therefore I am.)

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COMMENT: Ben Franklin said, "I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that all doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false."