Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Friends, ever since humans began to walk on two legs their minds have been muddied and confused by religion. It seems to be part of our genetic inheritance, this unfortunate predisposition to believe in things theological despite the fact that there is not the tiniest scrap of scientific evidence to support any of the improbable, wildly conflicting claims that various religions make. Religion, like a drug, enslaves us. And once enslaved, religious differences continue to divide us. Why do we allow it to continue? Where did it come from?

In ancient times, primitive man tried to come up with explanations for that which he didn’t understand. Human imagination has always been active and fanciful and humans are infinitely gullible so it wasn’t long before 'theology' began to intrude into the thinking processes of mankind.

Ancient theology often concerned itself with the worship of physical things like the sun and stars and distortions of animate things like snakes and lions and eagles. A trip to Egypt will reveal many strange objects that were once worshipped with extreme devotion. The Greeks moved away from the concept of worshipping objects and, in a burst of unusual irrationality, created for themselves an invisible, spirit-based group of Gods who, interestingly, possessed many human foibles.

In a parallel development, the Jewish people were developing their explanation for the mysteries of the world via the concept of Yahweh, a single, all-powerful God, one who was stern and punitive. Then followed the Buddhists, the Muslims, the Hindus, etc. Of course, all over the world, there are signs of a host of other religions, most of which, like humans themselves, came and went with great regularity and about which little is known.

But some things are fairly common to the hundreds of different religions (past and present) with their thousands of different Gods. Religion requires that people submit to the beliefs as prescribed by religious officials. Religion requires that people financially support the infrastructure of their religion. Punishment is promised in the next world for those who don’t submit to the demands and edicts of religion. Cruelty has often been part of religious ritual with the sacrifice of animals and enemies and virgins to appease the Gods being commonplace. Cruelty has frequently been used to try to force conversions or to punish wrongdoers (the Spanish Inquisition). And of course there has always been fierce competition between religions for disciples because the larger the number of converts, the more powerful and rich the religion became.

Of course, religious belief can be a powerful force. During a teenage period, I was possessed by religious fervour. I prayed devoutly, carried a Holy Book around in my pocket, bored numbers of people witless with my ramblings, even considered becoming a preacher. Then a voice inside me began to ask questions, things like: How come God, who made the world and everything in it, makes deformed babies? How come there is so much hatred and killing in the world? How come God made diseases like cancer and things like earthquakes and tsunamis? How come there are so many other religions, all of whose believers are going to burn in Hell along with unrepentant sinners? How is it possible that such a terrible fate as burning forever in a fire could be the work of a God of Love?

There were no convincing answers to these universal questions. Gradually my faith succumbed to my intelligence and, eventually, I wondered how I could’ve believed such anachronistic nonsense. I am now an atheist who generally adopts a live and let live approach. Except when it comes to war!

Unfortunately, different religions have all too often fought against each other trying to achieve domination. The Crusades are one example. The ongoing war between Christians and Protestants in Northern Ireland is another. The partition of India resulted from conflict between Hindus and Muslims and there is still hostility between them on the borders. The recent bitter war in the Balkans was fought between differing religious groups. The examples are many.

In our current world, wars exist in many places. In most cases, as in the past, it has a religious as well as a nationalistic and/or imperialistic basis. There is always hatred for those perceived as enemies who are called derogatory things like infidels or heathens or evil. So where does this leave peace? Nowhere!

In the Middle East, we now have the situation where Jews and Christian Evangelicals have combined under the leadership of the Bush Neocons who also represent the Capitalist Religion with its Great God of Greed. The whole of the Middle East is ablaze as Muslim nations, fearing annihilation and the loss of their oil, gear up to try to protect themselves. Worryingly, the Neocons and the Israelis have put nukes on the table thereby upping the ante. The world seems poised on the edge of nuclear war. Madness prevails.

If we could get all religion out of the human equation, ban it if necessary, allow people’s minds to clear, they would see the ridiculous reality of themselves arguing and fighting about nothing more than fanciful myths and primitive superstitions. Then we might have some chance of living together in peace.

But first someone has to locate the theological tap inside us that continues to drip its addictive, illogical, divisive poison and turn the bloody thing off!


Mary Walsh said...

I am amazed that this article has gone some hours without a response and then common sense reigned and I realised you'd not got around to vetting the responses hence "No comments yet".

I think most teenagers go through the washing machine that is religious fevour when we're young and stupid and believe we can fix the world's ills with prayer....

Fortunately Daniel you came to your senses in time, and left the den accordingly.....

To my way of thinking religion is just a "cop out" to hand responsible over to some other obscure being because people need someone else to blame, plead with, rely on and give purpose to their mindless need to do things by rote...say the rosary, novenas, chant, bow up and down, ring bells...The worry beads....

The management of these powerful organisations known as religions that sponge off the tax payers with their selfish relief from paying taxes...despite enormous elaborate buildings, latest cars and shares in most commodities, including food and gambling.....

But they are so very very clever because they have thousands and thousands of workers spending their spare time volunteering to keep them in the manner the CEOs, bishops, cardinals etc etc.. have grown accustomed to.

I have yet to see a thin, pasty face church person with rags on their backs, holes in their shoes, and driving a car more than two years old...

Believe me, the Churches have a vested interest in staying around for as long as possible - When you're on to a good thing - Stick to it!!

Slavery can be a state of mind, as well as the body. It takes courage to accept responsibility for oneself.....

The world would be a much nicer place without the hangups that is created by religious leaders...teaching people how stupid they are to think they could actually think for themselves left to their own devices.

Daniel said...

Mary, you are the first person to comment. But then it was worth waiting for. Your kind of comment means more to me than a few glib words that mean nothing.

Some of the things I post are challenging to say the least. Some people find them too confronting. This is not a site that is into trivial pursuit though I try to have a bit of fun sometimes.

Didn't see you on Webdiary and I haven't heard from Syd. I wonder how his resolve is standing up. Cheers.

pissed off patricia said...

There are a lot of lazy people who would rather just say everything is god's way than take responsibility for their own actions and deeds.

Coffee Messiah said...

Although I have always felt, who am I to judge, I always ponder why so many people do follow so blindly and without question.
Religion surely keeps alot of people in line, albeit a hypocritical and squiggly wiggly one! ; (

betmo said...

ahh.... my pet topic! :) i can only speak from personal experience- and my well meaning mother sent me off to church until i was at the 'age of understanding' and able to decide for myself whether or not to believe. i am glad for the period of indoctrination- because i truly got to make up my own mind. i always really tried hard to believe- but even as a kid- i couldn't figure out why god wouldn't talk to me. i think that christianity anyway- can't speak for the other religions but i can assume they are the same- are lazy religions. you troop off to church on sundays- if the church is full it must be the obligatory holiday. and- communists did try to stamp out the claptrap- but apparently, it worked about as well as prohibition did here. what that says- i don't know.

why do people continue to believe in this crap even in the face of science? you got me. it is willful ignorance. i watched a program last night that traces the cain and abel story back to the ancient sumerians- so you tell me. i mean god wrote the bible right?

Daniel said...

Yet, my friends, despite these obvious truths, most of the world's people are caught up in some kind of religion.

As an atheist, I wouldn't mind if all those people were Buddhists because they are peaceful, happy, humble people in the main. Cheers.