Category Archives: Religion

The Wankery Of Guaranteed Divine Protection

It’s quite funny when one mostly has atheist or agnostic pages in their FB news feed, yet somehow gets Christian propaganda every few days. Some groups actually target non-believers.

One recent example was an inspirational tale of how a young woman was nearly mugged on a back alley one night, the only thing keeping her safe being the two angels walking beside her.

It goes like this: when walking home on a dark street to take a shortcut, a young Christian woman saw a man in a doorway and immediately prayed for safety. He left her alone, but went on to mug someone else passing by, whose guardian angels must’ve been sleeping on the job. Oddly enough, the lucky girl heard about it the next day and went to the police to see if she could help identify the thug. As soon as she pointed him out, the thug confessed and told the story of her having had “two tall men by her side”.

Of course no location or names were present in the story; that might lead a person or two to try to verify it. Though such an outlandish story would need chances of verification in order to not be dismissed straight away.Apparently, the mugger was able to see angels (an extraordinary ability not many hardcore Christians have).

And of course it’s rather odd that being pointed out by the one he’d actually mugged was not enough for him to confess. She was the first to go to the police and give details, accurately enough for him to be found and taken into custody. But the climax (his confession) only occurred when the second one turned up. Not to mention the second one (angel girl) had no proof this had been the same person who had mugged the actual victim.

So basically, a guy who mugs women and doesn’t give a shit about the victim identifying him suddenly confesses when recognised by someone who has no proof of any wrongdoing on his part (who just passed him by in the street the same night). Makes sense, right?

But let’s indulge the story for a second. Even so, it would be no proof of the mugger actually seeing a couple of angels. Perhaps he was stealing to feed his drug habit; who knows what he was on and what else he might’ve seen besides the “two tall men” who weren’t actually there.

As a disclaimer, I’m not saying I don’t believe in apparitions; they are common throughout the world, yet equally enigmatic. I don’t, however, believe spirits can be brought into manifestation at the drop of a hat, by simply wishing for it. And I don’t believe in guardian angels who presumably allow all kinds of atrocities against innocent people daily, yet are credited for intervening sometimes.

The moral of the story might be either one of these:

  • Putting oneself in risky situations is fine provided you ask for protection from your guardian angels;
  • The victim of the mugging didn’t have God on her side;
  • We should thank God when others are harmed instead of us;
  • God loves people so much he lets anything happen to those who aren’t smart enough to pray to him in real time;
  • Angels are protection mechanisms needing activation (unless you ask them for help in real time they remain dormant or stand by and watch).

I wonder then why people are turned into martyrs for Jesus across the planet. Presumably they pray for safety as well, but the “two tall men” never show up.

The Law Of Attraction – Not An Absolute

For many years now, this law has been predicated as the key to ultimate success – attracting positive elements into one’s life by visualising them or reaching certain levels of inner peace.

To an extent, it’s verifiable, as is the reverse – pessimism is likely to keep attracting the negative, perhaps because an individual is unwilling to take steps in the other direction. However, there are limits to this theory, as there are limits to the idea that one chooses which body to incarnate into, which I don’t find particularly plausible.

There are methods of improving one’s chances which apply to anyone anywhere, yet they’re mostly related to physical care or skill development.

Hope also seems to help people stay alive; however, it doesn’t guarantee survival when greater forces are at play, and it certainly doesn’t guarantee the accomplishment of a person’s highest aspirations. There’s a theorising of hope going on at the moment, with systems of rules being developed and paces one must presumably go through in order to successfully apply it. It’s a coping mechanism and raw human emotion, not  an up-the-ladder strategy which is subject to regulation.

  1. This “thriving theory” is aimed at people with a pre-existing level of comfort. A level of subsistence (at a minimum) is necessary.

Whenever I hear a seemingly uplifting video on how life can be turned around through sheer attitude, I can’t help but think of all those who are stuck in famine-stricken countries or otherwise desperate situations they cannot change. I doubt a copy of “The Secret” would make a difference in their lives when they are struggling to subsist. Wishing on it will not fix a draught or a corrupt political regime.

Hence I conclude the theory is addressed to those who are doing well enough in terms of survival, but not well enough compared to their aspirations.

I hear people in conferences, in well-ventilated venues, going on about how each individual should live in order to achieve their full potential. How most people “are doing it wrong”. And I can’t help but think of those in a mud hut or a tent in a refugee camp, unable to access the “life-saving” advice on “how not to do it wrong anymore”.

This cannot be a universal principle if it doesn’t apply to every single person. If “the universe wants you to thrive and it’s all up to you”, why are so many trapped in hopeless situations?

2.An individual is, sometimes, not able to subtract him/herself from the conditions of a community.

Connected to the point above – we often hear that “it’s up to the individual to improve their chances in life through their attitude”. This certainly doesn’t apply to those living under genuine oppression, extreme danger, in war zones etc. An individual can only do so much but cannot help the impact of their environment, not even to the point of guaranteeing personal safety, let alone thriving. It certainly cannot be said they attract negative things into their lives when those things are common occurrences around them.

3.Hazards are a real issue.

There are, according to some theories, children “choosing to incarnate” into bodies which die before birth, during birth for lack of medical attention, or shortly after, when bombs happen to strike their houses. The only spiritual explanation would be the one religion is trying to forge – “God’s will, God knows what he’s doing”.

Whilst the real explanation is that some fuckers gave the orders for the bombs to be dropped. Are those people a part of God’s plan? I don’t think so. They make their own decisions. They could always decide differently.  If “the supreme creator” gives everyone free will, those bastards upon whom hundreds or thousands of lives depend also have free will. It’s human, not divine action. It happens in real time, not as a part of a “divine plan” “every soul agreed to beforehand”.

The same goes for natural catastrophes – was there a plan “up there” for thousands to incarnate in a certain area just so they could all be struck by the same tsunami? Or was it a random event created by tectonic plates, because this is the kind of planet we happen to be living on?

If this happens at all, it must only happen to some (I can’t dismiss a possibility I can’t invalidate). There are case studies overwhelmingly in favour of reincarnation. But there is nothing to indicate, to my knowledge anyway, that it is voluntary down to details.

4. It implies blaming the victim (of hazard, other people’s actions etc), just as religion does.

Fundamentalist Christians, some of them anyway, are of the conviction that if someone has enough faith, they will be healed of just about anything, and will thrive financially. That is how the “prosperity gospel” operates, church upon church collecting pensioners’ last savings, promising a better future through faith.

In a similar fashion, there are alternative healing methods out there, based on “making peace with life and everyone around you”. There are testimonials from those who claim to have been healed from deadly diseases simply by forgiving everyone who had ever wronged them.

I’m not disputing the role of the psyche in healing the physical body; a positive attitude certainly seems to help.

However, let’s not slide into (and some Christians do) insulting theories about how people who weren’t healed “just didn’t have enough faith”, or alternatively, “were not at peace with life and those around them”. Not everything, and surely not every disease, can be solved in such manners.

In conclusion, this doesn’t seem to work universally, regardless of a person’s conditions. It works for some people sometimes and that’s about it.

 

Identitarian Religion – A Small Conundrum

Increasingly, there is talk of people abandoning mainstream religions, particularly in Europe, to return to ancestral traditions, namely Paganism. And whilst that sounds interesting (a return to communion with nature and spirituality without the constraint of dogmas), something does puzzle me.

It concerns the enmeshment between this revival and present day ethno-nationalism.

Namely, it is not uncommon for Pagans to believe in reincarnation. Which entails accepting the possibility of having been born multiple times in multiple locations, overtime. In fact, many people who describe their past life memories recall having lived in a different country than the one they were born in in their current lifetimes.

Obviously, that is at odds with claiming to have roots in a single ethnicity, culture and tradition. Not to mention claiming racial purity (which, when tested, often doesn’t prove biologically accurate anyway, not in one lifetime, let alone many).

It seems to me those who believe in reincarnation and spirituality based on natural archetypes (not a limited dogma) should logically be more inclined to consider themselves “citizens of the world” than those of other religions.

Just a thought.

Things The Religious Should Never Say To A Non-believer Reloaded

Since the last post on the subject is comprehensive but by no means complete, here is another list of common retorts which, if you’re lucky, will not cause a brain aneurysm.

  1. It doesn’t matter if the claims of my religion are historically accurate.

You cannot expect anyone to respect the so-called validity of your claims given that you yourself don’t even care if they are true. How’s that for arrogance?

Your presumably 100% correct values come from the same sources as those tales you don’t care to verify. And yet you want them to remain unchallenged, as if you could somehow arbitrarily separate what matters and what doesn’t in your dogma.

Your religion is based on characters which either exist or don’t and events which either happened or didn’t. You can’t subtract part of the story and still hold on to the claim of absolute truth.

You can’t claim to know the nature of the seen and unseen world, the afterlife and the future based on a book which, well, just might’ve got part of the past wrong.

2. It’s actually just a metaphor.

If some absurd-sounding stories are simply metaphors, what should we make of the rest? Who decides what’s a metaphor in there and what isn’t? Maybe the bearded man in the sky, presumably possessing hands, is just one big metaphor as well. Face it – you have no certainty regarding any aspect of it, and yet you promote it all as truth.

3. Only idiots would try to verify the Bible by taking it literally. It was written for enlightened minds which can actually decipher it.

How about you keep it for yourselves then (oh enlightened ones) and stop trying to convert the world. Face it, that makes no sense, for a god trying to reveal himself to the masses to pass down such cryptic information that only a few, with great mental strife, can make sense of it. It is either simple enough to be passed around in mass conversions, to be understood by anyone, or reserved for a fortunate few. You can’t have it both ways

4. All religions actually worship the same god under different names.

How is it then that the god of some commands them to kill those worshiping a different god then? And that the so-called sacred principles between religions are so at odds with each other they have caused wars? If everyone is inspired by the same deity, how come dogmatic differences constitute the sole reason for clashes between confessions and sects, let alone different religions?

5.You should shut up and respect the majority opinion. The majority is always right.

I bet you wouldn’t claim that if the majority opposed your views; I bet the persecuted minority status would suit you quite well then. The majority was not right when engaging in lynchings, witch burning or, should your claims have any validity, crucifying Jesus.

6. Pascal’s wager is valid.

In other words, if you believe in God to play it safe, just in case there is a judgement in the afterlife, you can’t lose.

I mean, it’s not like in the event of it all being false, you would lose anything by organising your entire life (presumably, the only life you have) around a lie and letting it dictate your smallest choices. It’s not like that would limit you needlessly and ruin your chances of truly understanding the meaning of life, right?

The cognitive dissonance is just so blatant; their ideas are so contradictory they cannot maintain a coherent thought pattern in a single conversation.

 

Things The Religious Should Never Say To A Non-Believer

This list (pardon the tacky title) is the result of a few years of fairly frustrating interaction with religious people, some of whom, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, had the best intentions and were either seeking to build a bridge or give helpful advice (the latter, presumed as such).

You will understand why sanctimonious remarks from otherwise intelligent and affable people, friends included, provoke more nausea than the knee-jerk reactions of zealots who simply wave you off to Hell. Many of these remarks come in the current socio-political climate of the “West fighing for its values”; some, however, are unrelated.

And yes, I’ve heard or read all of the following, quite recently, as a response to discussing my apostasy. Perhaps at the time I answered in a fairly polite manner; however, the intrinsic reaction would have translated better as follows.

Parenthesis here – I’m not even an atheist/ materialist, as I know there are phenomena worth exploring on the level of energy use, transcendental experiences etc, which cannot be reduced to mere coincidence. Foreseeing a future event with great accuracy in a dream would be a good example. However, the term atheist is often cast on me as a label (many believers cannot tell the difference; there is a clear line between those worshiping their god and the rest; specifics are often unimportant). I can’t say I mind, though it’s not entirely accurate.

1.”You must be miserable without God; you must feel so alone; atheists are dark and suicidal. They need our help and our prayers.”

My honest but less than polite response would be stop masturbating. Psychologically and emotionally, of course – at the thought that you’re in a much better place, than, conceivably, a non-believer could ever be. That what gives you elation must give everyone else elation and lacking it must equate depression and dark moods.

Needless to say, these people have their own emotional struggles – yet if you dare mention one of your own, however common among humans, they immediately make a connection between that and your lack of belief. Everyone struggles with issues at some point, regardless of religion or the lack of it.

I find this assumption and afferent compassion disgusting. First of all because it is divorced from reality. Former believers experience relief, at least in the long run (some do feel lost for some time); certainly not misery, at the realisation that there is no sky goblin perked up in the attic, listening to their every word and thought and potentially condemning them for it (much like the Stasi, I might mention). I do feel alone in that sense. In a good way. That my thoughts are my own and there’s no one writing them down in a “book of judgement” which notes my brain’s activity more arduously than a corporate accountant.

Stop assuming the role of a benevolent saviour in my direction. Stop masturbating, that is.

2.”Atheism is a fad nowadays; a cool label. You’re just going with the trend. It’s trendy to attack religion. You’ll get over it.”

Might I mention, you totally inconsiderate person (which came to replace some other term), the many years I’ve spent reflecting on all this, feeling doubtful, guilty and fearful, and endlessly analysing my decision, with all the internal struggle that involves.

I didn’t just “sign up to another club”. I had a lot of life-changing reconsidering to do. I had to question all I’d previously thought, in terms of moral applicability. You don’t just give up your religion because a new fad has arrived on your doorstep.It’s far more complex. Far more intimate and far deeper than that.

To cheapen, reduce and trivialise someone’s decades-long experience of religion can only be the product of a fairly simple mind.

3.”God has a plan for all of us, yourself included. If things go wrong in your life, it’s because you have not accepted his plan for you.”

Although I know the thought of a divine plan gives people comfort in times of struggle, such as bereavement, one has to think of the cognitive dissonance of praying to and worshiping a God who allows all imaginable atrocities.

You’re expecting your life decisions to fall out of the sky, instead of employing your brain. And then you delegate your own mistakes or misfortunes to God’s plan, while thinking someone else’s are a result of their absence of faith and being misled by the devil. How arrogant.

4.”I’ll pray for you to find your way back to God; he will help you if you just let him. I just know you’ll be back someday.”

Of course you think so; you can’t possibly imagine people existing separately from your divine Sim Farm. “It matters not. He is your king.” (Braveheart).

In your mind we’re all ants depending on his mercy, on his benevolence, on his tolerance. We are all ant-like in the sense that we cannot successfully oppose physical forces greater than us (illnesses, earthquakes, the weather, accidents, other people’s use of force etc). However, what we think and feel is ours and ours alone and not lorded over by someone else, earthly or otherwise. At least that’s the capacity we have. Of course, brainwashing gets in the way.

When you interact with me and at the back of your mind have fantasies of converting me, perhaps you should look for like-minded company instead.

5.”You’ve been brainwashed by cultural Marxists, who seek to attack our traditional values; you’re giving up your religion so you can embrace the ideology of sexual minorities.”

Look who’s talking about brainwashing. And by the way, opposing bigotry is not an ideology and neither is belonging to a minority the religious love to pick on. It’s someone’s nature, not a doctrine others convinced them to adopt.

These proponents of falsehood project by seeing artificiality in other people’s attitudes; everything is a conspiracy meant to upturn the religiously-inspired order of society. It’s called being reactionary, not objective or realistic. History has had its fair share of reactionaries and, like it or not, cringes when looking back on their views.

6.”You’re just not ready to understand that the world could not function without religion; we would all become animals; someday you will (this coming from a self-declared fellow agnostic).”

Really now? I could cite five hundred sources disproving that claim, since the beginning of time to present day, when murderous religious fanaticism is perhaps the greatest danger we all face. I could list religious wars, genocides and atrocities; torture and maiming which goes on to this day, witch hunts, the delaying of scientific progress for centuries, slavery and what not.

But something else comes to mind first – you must have little love or respect for the people around you, to claim that they are not capable, on mass, to behave decently towards one another without adopting a fairy-tale as their moral pillar. You basically argue that it doesn’t matter whether those beliefs they organise their lives around are true, as long as they can, presumably, be deceived into better behaviour.

In other words, you place yourself way above them. You don’t think they can handle the truth with their measly minds; only enlightened people such as yourself can. And those trying to make them see it are doing them a disservice, leaving them prey, heaven forbid, to their own nature (which you also share but distance yourself from). In that regard you demean the species far more than you might perceive an evolutionist does.

7.”Something terrible must have happened to harden your heart, so now you see only darkness in the world and blame God for it. You’re just angry with life; someone must have let you down, and now you reject God’s love.”

There’s such desperation to think apostasy could never be the product of an honest intellectual endeavour and sincere self-reflection. Anything but the kitchen sink is envisaged as the potential cause. Such desperation to think intuition is completely valid when resulting in faith (this is what I believe and feel in my heart, therefore God exists), yet invalid when renouncing it, and that apostasy is caused by flimsy external circumstances.

Darkness has its role, or should I say realism. I could not, without vomiting, raise my arms to praise God’s love in my direction for, let’s say, having survived a shipwreck, when everyone else around me drowned. It’s a matter of being honest about things. Survival is a matter of luck and/or resilience, not God’s presumed love. Other people’s love or altruism towards me is of their own doing, not something planted in them by the supreme puppeteer.

8.”Your preoccupation with religion shows your heart is actually crying out for God, otherwise you wouldn’t give it a second thought and you wouldn’t be talking about it to others.”

It should be common sense to realise that when someone has spent decades believing and regurgitating lies, when they do eventually abandon them, they have a natural drive to deconstruct all previously held falsehoods, especially when those around them keep spouting them.

When someone starts to see how much religion had affected their life, from their perception of themselves to their interaction with others and propensity for falling into political traps, they naturally reflect on every single aspect.They seek information regarding these falsehoods and often share it.  Seth Andrews (The Thinking Atheist) explains this in all its complexity.

The needless guilt and mortification, the needless fear of being spied on every second of the day by an invisible bookkeeper, to the degree of censoring their thoughts. The bigoted things said to others, which cannot be taken back. People who come out of cults often turn against them vocally – and who can blame them? Brainwashing causes anger.

There is, of course, a degree of anger – not necessarily towards those who unwittingly carried out the indoctrination, having been subjected to it themselves as children, yet towards the phenomenon per se.

9. “There are simply people who don’t concern themselves with matters of greater importance than their measly day-to-day experiences and pleasures… “

And then there are those with such delusions of grandeur they think they are among the chosen who will inherit the Earth. There are those who engage in social engineering in their own heads – who should have rights and who shouldn’t, which categories deserve respect and which deserve ostracism (sexual minorities for instance) etc. The world is a board game for them and they think they have it all figured out.

They are preoccupied with conspiracies upon conspiracies by those who seek to “upturn the natural order” (as if laws and cultures had not evolved throughout time, from one generation to the next, and their understanding of things were flawless). And in the end, these illusions only produce a thin smoke around them, if not gas, in some cases, as only a negligible minority of wannabe social engineers actually reach positions of influence.

Rejecting such futile arrogance is not, in any way, based on reducing one’s preoccupations to trivialities, as non-believers are often said to do. It’s simply the awareness of one’s limited perspective and limited possibilities of influencing reality – not to mention the quest to develop as much empathy as possible, as to avoid seeing enemies everywhere.

10. “I don’t think you’ll actually go to hell; you’re a good person; Jesus will take that into account. I’ll pray for you and God will listen to me.”

This is a poor way of saying “the afterlife system I believe in is so grotesque it involves the people I love and like spending eternity in a pit of fire and boiling tar, with imps shoving pitchforks up their behinds, while I spend eternity in peace and harmony”. Instead of admitting that, they give imaginary passes to those they want to maintain a relationship with in their earthly lives.

Either admit there is no such place or shut up about it. You might actually think you’re doing me a favour by interceding on my behalf to your imaginary sky goblin.Your condescending benevolence and ad hoc advocate/saviour role, from a presumed position of superiority, is so delusional it is sickening.

11. “You’re doing God’s work without being aware of it.”

This patronising remark comes when a believer is confronted with actions which fit the moral pattern they adhere to, at the hands of a non-believer. Since morality supposedly comes from God and atheists or agnostics are “of the devil”, the only way to get around liking and approving of non-believers is to think they are secretly on God’s pay role and are secretly carrying out his plan.

I hate to tell you but I don’t want a place in your imaginary Sim Farm where everyone is a property of your God. I know you built this whole world in your head, allocating a small plot to each individual you know, according to your God’s criteria – the saved, the potentially saved and the rest. Either like me for what I am or leave me alone. I don’t belong in your fantasy.

Years ago, Christopher Hitchens made this claim, seen as hyperbolic by many – that religion poisons everything. Upon analysing it, though the claim might seem exaggerated or frightening to the struggling-to-be-religious-and-get-along-with-others type, it is actually very accurate.

God is in your family, in your marriage, in your bed, in your community, in your likes and hobbies, in your intellectual ventures, in your state policy, in your country’s international affairs, and first and foremost, in your head and heart, like a ballooned Stasi, judging and censoring everything down to your most intimate thoughts.

And therefore, religion does affect, or should I say poison every aspect of your life, or at least has the capability to do so, if you take it seriously enough.

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.