Category Archives: Religion

Of Norman Bates And Christian Apologetics

As a non-believer, with no recourse for returning to faith ever again, there is still value in watching debates over the claims of Christianity, if for no other reason than having all I’d taken for granted debunked bit by bit, showing the susceptibility of the human mind to absorb lies, if they are inculcated early enough in life.

I realise why the issue of blind faith is so important in Abrahamic religions – as religious institutions are aware that merely accepting doubt is a guaranteed path to non-theism. If you tear down one brick, admitting that at least one claim of said religion is absurd, the rest will soon crumble, like a house of cards.

It is enough to realise Noah never filled his ark with elephants, penguins, kangaroos and tarantulas, which somehow would’ve made their way from all corners of the Earth and all terrestrial ecosystems to one boat in the Middle East, to understand that some things in the Bible are undoubtedly fictional. And from there, this shadow of doubt is cast upon each claim it makes. Which is why apologists do their best to uphold even such laughable absurdities as Noah’s ark.

Those who still ardently believe do so because that is their core intention and no logical argument seems to be able to shake it. Nonetheless, there are many who took the path of intense Bible study and came out of it as atheists.

Watching Christians debate reminds me of a futile, sweat-inducing strife, the inability to let go of a long disproved concept, hanging on to it by any putrid, disheveling thread. In this strife, so-called holy texts are taken apart letter by letter, in the frantic search for historical facts, logic or meaning. And although the results are always flimsy, there is always some detail to imbue with sheer emotion, to be presented as a wonderful discovery.

It reminds me in a way of the inability to let go of a dead person, taking it to a pathological level.

You can embalm a cadaver, sit in on a chair, groom it, speak to it and even mimic the voice of the dead person to speak in his or her name. You can look for signs of communication, interpreting every trifle with great enthusiasm. You can deprive yourself of sleep to induce a trance and hallucinate, thinking you’ve had a real conversation.Yet undoubtedly, this is the product of your own mind, and you will never achieve this real time communication, as much as you may stage or mimic it.

If this person’s energy or soul exists out there, in a different layer of reality, it’s impossible for you to know with certainty. And whilst this is subject to imagination and speculation, one thing is clear: what you have in front of you and speak to is a cadaver which cannot hear you or answer back. That direct communication is over; it only carries on in your head.

It’s the same with this relationship with an absent, silent God you have no proof of (as by default you cannot have any). You can interpret coincidences as signs; you can thank him for helping you find your keys as someone, the same instant, needlessly dies of cancer across the road from you, but you imagine God is there for your every need, however small. You can engage in role play by praying and pretending to know what God’s message is, when observing what happens next, interpreted as concrete results or lack thereof – either way, “God’s will”.

Needless to say, this is a terrible waste of time and energy.

And century after century, it carries on – the attempt to put flesh on the imaginary bones of an imaginary God; to manifest him somehow.

Many former believers admit to having difficulty letting go of the imaginary friend called Jesus (not very strangely, no one seems to be missing Jehovah that much, when starting to lose their faith). Jesus embodies their hope, their love and feeling of purification through self-sacrifice; their resilience. These are all beautiful concepts and it is heinous of religion to get people to place them outside of themselves, to make them feel that when they let go of this Jesus character they also lose what made life worth living for them.

Ample documentation exists to prove Christianity is yet another man-made system of beliefs, achieved by borrowing elements of older religions. But even in the face of that, Christians refuse to let go of the delusion – because they feel they’d be losing a part of themselves.

That is the surreptitious, perverse nature of it all, which keeps this machine going.

Refusing Doubt – The Mental Barricade Of Religion

Having had many conversations with religious people over the last few weeks, Christians to be precise, I have come to some conclusions regarding their attitude towards the idea of an equal society, where all beliefs or lack thereof are respected in the same manner.

Religions based on proselytism seek the political domination of the area they exist in.

When living in the midst of a religious majority, in countries where laws are generally inspired by secular principles , non-believers are tolerated as long as they are not too vocal or, Heaven forbid, they try to influence or change the status quo by eliminating dogma from laws or politics, seeking to ensure religion is not imposed in any neutral environment, shared by all.

If and when non-believers raise concerns in that sense and try to diminish the imagined superiority of said majority to dictate how things are run (as it happens in the case of LGBT rights or contesting the role of religion in education), the backlash is immediate and comes with a seasoning of moral outrage.

They have no doubt regarding their right to impose their dogma on others. They refer to tradition, as if it were unheard of for traditions to change. And suddenly, they refer to themselves as a monolith, throughout history, although nothing could be farther from the truth.

Respecting others’ beliefs is a false claim, when what they really seek is to “save your soul”.

Intricate mental gymnastics are employed when trying to justify to themselves that agnostics or atheists, when formerly religious at least, are automatically wrong to have abandoned their beliefs. I will paraphrase some of the replies given to me:

Your soul is, really, crying out for God, otherwise you wouldn’t have this preoccupation of sharing your opinion on this subject. Those who contest God the most are those who need him the most.

You must’ve had some emotional problems, of feeling unloved, so you turned against God and all you claim as evidence is just confirmation bias for your decision.

It’s all about your ego, as if you had a brand new toy you want to show off.

All this, as if searching for truth were not a purpose in and of itself, as well as the refusal to believe in a lie (or a potential lie, when at the doubting stage).

This brotherly love, in this particular context, turns queasy, since one realises they are sometimes treated with kindness in the communal hope that they might one day be brought back to Jesus.

Respect for a person’s mental faculties does not enter this context, let alone and admission of the possibility that the person might be correct, at least partially. This so-called goodness is a masturbatory exercise, anticipating to be proven right in the near or far future.

Which makes sense, really; you don’t apply a modicum of consideration to someone else’s processes when you are convinced your point of view will be vindicated sometime by an all-knowing, all-powerful God. Which is why religion is so toxic when it comes to human interaction.

They accuse others of Neo-Marxism while arguing for the propagation of potential falsehoods “for the good of the collective”.

The world would crumble without religion. We would revert to a beastly nature and society would dissolve. Everyone arguing against the respect for dogmas is playing a part in a Neo-Marxist conspiracy to deprive mankind of its divine connection.

It appears as though this modern red scare, becoming clearer by the day, could not have succeeded in adding to the ideological tension, internationally, without the aid of religion. Whereas the left does exaggerate (and it often does), a new type of hysteria has arisen over the last few years, proved to be partially pushed by online Russian propaganda. Namely the right and far-right’s conviction that there is an international conspiracy, rooted in atheism or satanism or both, to eradicate the “true religion”, namely Christianity, through reforms demanded by the left.

Whilst more eccentric theories such as the belief in reptilians or a flat Earth are not so widespread, for obvious reasons, the theory of a sustained persecution of Christians in secular countries is something in the vein of Ebola. It stretches from lamenting the so-called war on Christmas (which they still see as genuinely connected to Jesus, despite undeniable evidence to the contrary), to congregations warned of the dangers of vaccines, seen as a tool of depopulating the planet (again, in spite of all evidence of the diseases now eradicated through vaccination).

There is no end in sight to this. Just as the radical left is driven by a false sense of knowing it all and having absolute moral superiority, the religious right is driven by the presumed need to defend the status quo “in the name of God”.

There is a truck-load of cognitive dissonance regarding what is known and unknown about God.

On the one hand, when discussing this world’s atrocities and the apparent divine uninvolvement in them, Christians for instance claim God’s reasons are unknown, and therefore cannot be judged by us mortal, limited humans. That is the basic response to every question involving why does God allow so and so to happen.

On the other hand, and sometimes in the very next breath, a Christian will claim to speak for God, by claiming this is what God wants or does not want, this is what God feels and this is what God will do.

No comment needed here.

The unwillingness to doubt implies a lack of basic intellectual honesty in debating non-theists.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of religion is its power to provide unwavering convictions to its propagators, to the point of rendering them unwilling, and through that temporarily incapable of opening themselves up for an honest debate.

Since their stance is combative from the very beginning, coming from a point of presumed moral superiority, there is no getting through to them with hardcore data or logical arguments. These just do not penetrate that shield of apriori “nothing you say will ever make me doubt”.

Which renders the whole conversation rather pointless.

Confessions Of A Former Homophobe

Religious tolerance is on everyone’s lips nowadays, yet increasingly difficult to sustain, depending on the circumstances. Tolerance is far more easily attained when equality is present – when a religious group cannot push back the rights of others, justifying it as a crusade and needing no other reason than that.

For me personally, as an agnostic (regarding the possibility of a universal order, yet not regarding the artificiality of existing dogmas), this is not directed at one in particular, but rather at the concept of having a state religion, whether officially consecrated in laws or not.

This comes in the context of my country of origin, Romania, being in the process of “defending the traditional family” by modifying the Constitution to have it state that marriage is “between a man and a woman”, by this making sure that any attempt of legalising gay marriage will not be successful in the near future. As things are now, 70 to 80% of voters agree to this measure, partly driven by the feeling that there is an international conspiracy to subvert Christian nations. This is disseminated through part of the media and on a large scale, in churches.

And I can say, not without a fair amount of shame, that a few years ago I used to think like them, when this delusion added to the Christian base of my education. In order to see religion realistically, one must step outside of it and look at it from a distance, just like one has to when wanting to see the whole mountain and cannot do so while sitting under a tree at the foot of it.

In order to see the poison, the distortion and brainwashing one is subjected to when growing up in a religious country.

In this political context, of the need for a culture shift in order for everyone to have equal rights, a false need for preservation is foisted in people by propaganda, which makes them think a so-called soulless western world seeks to upturn their values and impose a Neo-Marxist tyranny upon them. Nothing could be more false.

They are arguing for a fossilised ideal, which was never a reality and can never be – the so-called sacredness of the traditional family, which is, as we speak, laden with a large number of divorces, child abandonment, infidelity and insecurity, on every level.

Moreover, their views on gay people are even more divorced from reality. Their main argument resides in the Bible, in a country which is not a theocracy, yet has managed to maintain a level of religiosity and ignorance enviable by Middle-Eastern theocracies.

For a member of Parliament to cite the Bible as a reason for discriminating against part of the population they are representing seems unreal in 2017, yet that is the reality.

And this reality is quite grim. Because gay people cannot wait for a few generations to enlighten themselves. They need these rights now. In this day and age, they are living as couples in secrecy, because of the risk of facing a backlash if found out. In the current year, in Europe, this is totally out of place. And yet, when this is debated by politicians, Biblical views are cited as relevant.

It’s quite baffling, really, the influence these archaic, unfounded views continue to have.

That other people’s sky goblins have to be shown reverence, or at least a modicum of respect, by those who do not believe in them.

That anyone should think an infringement on their presumed right to discriminate is an infringement on their “freedom of religion”.

Religious brainwashing is not limited to the countries where violence against infidels is encouraged. Christians lead their own “holy wars”. And some of them explicitly target people who are born with a different sexual orientation, and who have done so throughout history.

 

Heaven – The Selfish Mirage

As a child, I often wondered how would marriage after widow-ship fare with Heaven, if a person was supposed to remain with their spouse in the afterlife. Namely which equally legitimate spouse would be one’s eternal companion.

That, of course, was only one small question regarding this mysterious promised land of peaceful green pastures, where everyone, from infants to the elderly, would dwell until the end of time (or outside of it). Well, everyone minus most people on the planet, since the path to “salvation” is supposed to be so “narrow”, so narrow the troubled souls of the living would have to compete in arduousness in order to squeeze into the fortunate convoy.

Arguably, Hell is a much more grotesque and disturbing concept, yet in its own way, Heaven is as well. Atheism aside, if one is spiritual, the whole idea seems very unfair.

First of all, we should assume that arbitrarily, since God decides who lives or dies, he only allows some people a substantial duration of their existence (growing, maturing, becoming wiser), whilst for others that is cut short without the possibility of fully experiencing life on Earth.

Then, the status of children who die without having been christened comes into question: do they go to Heaven as well, and if not, how is this prospect not morally repugnant enough to make people doubt this religion? Some denominations, such as Orthodoxy, claim no one can enter Heaven without the ceremony in this specific rite. Recently, I’ve come across a fanatic online who didn’t deem such people worthy of a conversation on religion, regardless of their views, which is beyond medieval.

There’s something about clinging on to people who have died that seems a bit selfish, from a spiritual perspective – in terms of imagining they’re simply waiting for one’s presence, stacked on a vaporous shelf somewhere, looking down at the living they left behind.

As someone who believes in reincarnation, I find it more reasonable to think that when souls are freed from their mortal bodies they move on to different experiences and continue to grow through them. Reincarnation has long been studied and at times the search revealed cases where coincidence could only be claimed through the sheer belief that this phenomenon is impossible. The work of Dr Ian Stevenson alone is proof that this subject is anything but fiction or wishful thinking.

 

 

Will Most Christians Side With The Right Wing Again, As History Repeats Itself?

In the US at least, right-wing voices are intermingled with that of conservative Christians, all seeming to reach for the same goals, in the grand scheme of things. Of course Christians are greatly diverse, ranging from denominations and their hierarchies to individual believers.

This concern is mostly rooted in the declared support by the current administration of Christian causes, such as promoting religion (and creationism) in schools, stricter abortion laws or a halt in the progressive social engineering (the gender theory etc). While championing for these causes, Christians are being lured into supporting other policies which objectively conflict with their belief system – based on warmongering, xenophobia and corporatism. In terms of warmongering and xenophobia, this phenomenon is oddly reminiscent of the rise of the right in Europe during the 1930s and 40s, in the 20th Century. Though some claim this comparison is a crass exaggeration, there are parallels to be made.

Over the next few years it will be interesting to observe how they will react to the political shift towards isolationism and the ethnic purges envisioned by those favoured to reach power in Europe, as well as those already in power in the US.

Some reactions are positive (in terms of solidarity with the genuine underdog), such as participating in the creation of sanctuaries for immigrants who risk deportation. Indeed, many churches have joined this initiative, together with a number of synagogues and mosques.

The strong message from certain voices is not so encouraging, as many try to get people of faith to engage politically, putting all their support towards the new rise of conservatism, in a manner so uncritical one could compare it to the creation of a cult of personality.

“God will curse Trump’s opponents and their children and grandchildren”

Perhaps no type of rhetoric is more cringey and deserving of a spewing bucket than that of snake-oil-peddling Inforwars&Co, Alex Jones once claiming Trump had been touched by the Holy Ghost, on the night of his inauguration.

Christianity is, nowadays, in the positive sense, associated with humanitarianism, which stands in contrast with most reform ideas conservatives argue for.

Please pardon the minimal research and of-the-cuff nature of this post; the only certainty is that the following years will be very interesting and the true nature of many will be revealed, as individuals and collectives.

 

 

 

“Male And Female Friendships Always Turn Sexual”. Fuck Off.

A few years ago, this peculiar idea came to me, and I still stick by it – puritans and supporters of promiscuity are of the exact same mindset regarding human nature. They just choose to tackle it in  different ways.

Basically, some people – most people? – think that when a man and a woman become intellectually and emotionally close, in other words good friends, things degenerate into a sexual relationship, or the desire to have one, at least on one person’s part. The general idea is that “things get complicated” by default.

Pardon me but I think that’s complete bullshit. Not just because I have male friends, but because I find this entire concept artificial and a product of indoctrination – both religious and “progressive” simultaneously.

Hollywood doesn’t help, by always using narratives involving a man and a woman who, by the end of a film, are by default expected to become sexually involved. Apparently there’s a marketing issue involved as “successful” films have to contain a certain percentage of what everyone wants to see, which is why so many blockbusters follow a certain pattern. Unfortunately, that marketing ploy, combined with an (un)healthy dose of gossip mongering, leads to distorted perceptions in real life, whereby two people of the opposite sex who become close start looking “suspicious” to others, causing the assumption that another type of intimacy is present.

For quite a few years, I’ve been of the opinion that monogamy simply makes sense, as it raises the chances of a stronger family unit (chances, not guarantees, of course) and reduces the risk of getting an STD, which sadly is a rampant phenomenon today. Also, it’s safer to know where one is spreading their genetic material, as proven by the few (but incredibly creepy) cases of couples finding out they were actually second degree relatives. Reality beats fiction, as usual. For that same length of time, people have called me a number of names, regressive being the mildest. Debating the matter has led me to a peculiar conclusion.

People who argue that we are polygamous by nature and can’t help engaging sexually with those we are attracted to, or bond with in general, basically share the view of puritans, who think the same (but fear and reject it instead). 

Both views are based on the exacerbation of the animal side of human nature. Both are based on the idea that acknowledging someone’s attractiveness is a bolted impetus to act on that observation and one remains by default at that level, without managing to rise above it (naturally, not by forcing the mind) and form beautiful, long-lasting bonds. And that emotional bonds eventually lead to such thoughts.

Religious folks are brought up with the neurosis of remaining pure, both physically and mentally, to the point of fearing interaction with other people, for no other reason than fearing their own reaction to them.

Progressives, at the opposite pole, think there is no harm in interacting sexually with as many  people as one pleases, at random, though medical statistics have shown that to lead to a rise in STDs  and abortions, and potentially mess up people emotionally as well.

Reality, of course, is very different than the foundation of these views.

One can form intellectual and spiritual bonds with anyone, transcending barriers such as sex, age, race or whatever you can come up with. Provided that those bonds are genuine and not predatory, of course (I’m referring to the age aspect when minors are involved).

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I think the popularisation of this concept – that we are little more than animals – is yet another attempt to drive people apart or make them fear a deep connection to each other.

I agree, as any sensible individual would, that the family is being massively targeted nowadays and ideological groups create needles acrimony.

But I believe it doesn’t stop there. I believe the ultimate goal is to isolate every individual from others, at all cost, and that this needless fear of bonding is part of it.

 

Religion And Creativity

Some say religion, as a spiritual matter which does not interfere with most other aspects of a person’s life, is relatively harmless if one does not engage in proselytism and bigotry. There is at least one instance, to my knowledge, of it interfering with someone’s vocation, when said vocation is artistic and involves creativity, which is based on free thought.

Below I will detail a few qualms I personally dealt with as a writer, for years on end, back when I considered myself a Christian (though never a practicing one).

Unless it glorifies God, all art is supposed to be pointless

Writing for the love of it is therefore a fruitless endeavour one only wastes time on, unless their purpose is to convey a message which is in accordance with religious teachings. Which basically invalidates everything related to purely human experience, including the dubious and sinful, from religion’s point of view. Logically, it would put writings which are intended as morally neutral in the same category. Investing one’s limited days on Earth, energy and emotion into something vacuous would therefore be a waste of time.

One is told they are either “of God” or “of the world” and should not become attached to anything the world offers, as it is a distraction from salvation. In this context you can end up asking yourself if writing is really worth it, if it may well be in vain.

The energy flow and writer’s block

Being stuck in a restrictive paradigm means filtering every thought through your value system, automatically, without even being conscious of it. This leads to strong internal conflict as you’re actually repressing and censoring yourself. For a person who naturally thrives on the creative act, that can be soul-destroying.

Writer’s block, I suspect, might be directly related to this process of limiting or stopping the transcendental flow of energy and the connection to the collective subconscious, which allows access to ancestral wisdom. Dismissing intuition; stopping budding thoughts and hypotheses about the world can only lead to stagnation, which is an unnatural state for the creative mind.

We often hear of  artistically prolific people using substances which stimulate the mind, making it race, to the point of achieving revelations (non-religious ones) about this confusing human experience. More often than not, when expressed, their findings ring true to many others; they are relatable as they strike a chord inside their very core. They gain access to timelessness, to values and ideas far beyond the preconceptions every human being is brought up with.

Filtering thoughts through the tight net of religious permissions means slowing the mind, missing the mark, being constantly thrown off course and never reaching those higher states, unless they can be associated with religious origins. The mind wastes away trying to reconcile the natural and the artificial in order to excel; it’s basically like living with a disease which halts development. One’s path is littered with minutiae, with the imaginary guilt of having violated the ultimate law.

We can plainly see that in the SJW generation as well, as it treats ideologies much like religious dogmas. Every minutia becomes an issue and reality itself is reduced to a source of constant discontent.

 Adult humour and adult themes in general

Though the whole message of a book might not be to actually promote principles contrary to religious teachings, even the inclusion of down-to-earth situations with a neutral attitude can seem “problematic” (I have developed an allergy to that word since SJWs have started using it so frequently, but it is appropriate here).

As someone who employs humour and humorous contexts as often as possible, I’ve found myself coming up with some which were hilarious yet involved sex outside of marriage, adultery, prostitution etc, with no condemnation whatsoever or negative consequences arising from those situations. Which is when I started asking myself – am I promoting this? Am I contributing to the minimisation of the negative effects these aspects have? If I published this, would it be able  to impact someone negatively, even in the slightest?

This is the level of needless guilt someone can experience because of indoctrination, instead of reveling in the fact that they have an open mind (and heart) and refuse to condemn others for behaviours society regards as transgressions. It’s not promotion of said lifestyle choices but merely describing facts of life. Whitewashing life is not possible. We are all prone to error; I know from experience that the little wisdom I have acquired is a result of making mistakes and analysing them in hindsight.

Language

As are risks and mistakes, profanity is also part of life; obstinately choosing a “clean” vocabulary deprives characters of their individuality, of their spontaneity. Letting the energy flow, engaging with the situations they are facing, makes language flow as well, in a multitude of directions.

When you allow that, they take on a life of their own, so to speak, independently of your views and standards of optimal behaviour. Or language.

Proselytism and propaganda

It’s only natural for writers to approach narratives which are close to their hearts and values. And it can be amazing as long as characters are allowed to be individuals with fully developed personalities and not just automatons or loudspeakers for a certain point of view – which religion can certainly cause.

The risk of pedantic, preachy dialogues, I fear, is directly proportional to the level of indoctrination in a certain direction (not necessarily religious, of course). And it’s then that it becomes transparent and feels artificial, and obviously appeals less to others.

There is definitely more to say on this subject, yet these are some important points, hopefully useful as well.