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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Problem with Religion is...

A very very long time ago, one of two things must have happened:

  1. Someone noticed a lack of instinctive organization in society (in other words, people were not working well with each other in order to keep society stable).
  2. Someone wanted to control the general populace.

It's possible both things happened. The point is, there was a need for a system of control that would allow some level of uniformity to how society ran. At some point someone realized that they didn't have to be accurate when the questions of existence and life were asked. That someone would explain that it was God's will. In other words, he could and did lie. How do I know he lied? Because there is zero proof of a supreme being.




No God. At all.

And that's the problem with religion.

The whole thing describes a system that was made up to control us all. Sometimes it is used for good things, like bringing communities together and providing a support structure for people in need. Other times it's used for bad things, like 9/11 and the Inquisition and possibly even the biggest mass shooting in American history, the Orlando Pulse shooting which happened just the other day.
But let's go back to that first person to lie to that other person who asked "why are we here?" That first person uttered an explanation that was complete fiction. He had to because science probably wasn't even a word yet. He may have thought:

"This person really needs some answers to make him feel better about life--who cares if it's not true? He trusts me and it'll make him feel better!"

Or he may have thought:

"This guy is a fool and I can manipulate him for my own ends with a good enough story about why he exists."

Regardless, the result is the same: humans for millennia have been making choices based on seriously false assumptions. There are people who believe that God will send his only son back to us at some point in an event called the Rapture. These people believe, because they Believe, they will be whisked off to heaven once Jesus returns. As a result, they do not plan to have a full life. In the documentary Waiting for Armageddon, one young woman laments, through tears, that she really wanted to have a family but she knows the Rapture is coming, so…

Then there is Omar Mateen, who, as of this writing, is believed to have been a Muslim, possibly gay, man who was apparently disgusted when two men kissed each other in front of his family. He took that disgust, to a gun shop where he bought some guns and ammo, which he then took to a gay club and murdered almost 50 people. It seems like he did it because he couldn't make the reality he saw there line up with the reality that was explained to him by his faith.

This is the same thing that happens when a Christian "pro-lifer" decides to kill an abortion provider. They think "this isn't right! God says we shouldn't do this! I have to act now and kill this person who is murdering helpless little babies!"

Religion creates a schism that most believers are able to ignore. However, there have been many people throughout the history of human civilization who either could not ignore that schism or chose not to. The Crusades are a good example of this. Christians believed that they should possess what their holy book had told them was holy land. So they marched into the Middle East and tried to conquer the folks that already lived there. Thousands of years earlier the Old Testament told the Jews to do the same, so they marched into the land that would become Israel and claimed it as their own, even though someone already lived there. But it was OK because their god told them "it's cool!"

This same land is in dispute to this day--all because of what some people's religion told them.

Years ago, when the US Congress was trying to decide what to do about Climate Change/Global Warming, one politician spoke up, explaining that God had given the planet to humankind to do with as we pleased. He further described how he was sure God was going to take care of this one for us. All these years later, we all know, CC/GW has gotten noticeably worse, with extreme weather patterns, rising sea levels, melting ice caps, wild fires, and more, all providing visible, measurable feedback from an ever-warming planet.

And yet, so many of us, too many of us, still believe that it's OK to believe in a supreme being and all sorts of other Biblical teachings from thousands of years ago that were, themselves, ripped off from other religious texts that were written even earlier, none of which are based on modern scientific findings.  In other words, they don't describe the reality we actually live in.

From my perspective as an atheist, it's like someone turning to the Holy Teachings of Jedi Master Yoda or recognizing how Superman died for our sins and was later resurrected. Not only are these people fictional, but they are wrong. Sorry, Master Yoda, but there IS "try." In fact, you make a false equivalency--"try" represents an intermediate state, where as "do" or "do not" are definite states. So, not only is there a "do," and a "do not" but there is also a "try." But I'm getting off topic…

The problem with religion is… that it's fictional and likes to pretend it isn't.

Essentially, religion is like those "work from home" scams where you call up and the person on the other end is just trying to get your credit card number from you so he can start charging you excessive amounts for essentially nothing in return.

Sure, you might get a class or two on how to build a website that might make you a couple of bucks, but then, you'll also feel better about life pretending God has a plan for you.

Or, you can accept the reality that there is no God, that you won't get rich off of your blogspot blog and that guy who blew himself up in the Middle East the other day isn't going to get to sleep with 72 virgins in Heaven.   Mainly, this is because there is no heaven.

"There is no god, so let's murder 50 people in a nightclub!" said no one ever.

When you discard the trappings of belief, the world becomes more simple--more straightforward. There is no more pleading with God for winning lottery tickets or an answer to why your child has leukemia. It is simply life in a universe that is actually quite hostile to our existence. Life, therefore, becomes much more precious than it is under the rules of most religions. If you die here, don't worry, there's life after death. Except, there isn't. So shouldn't you cherish what you have and leave behind a world where you will be remembered fondly?

Instead, the names Omar Mateen, Osama bin Laden, Dylann Roof, and many others will be remembered only as killers.

That's the problem with religion, it pretends that there is a reason why, and when that reason doesn't line up with the facts staring back at us, some of us decide that we should rewrite reality on God's behalf and kill a bunch of black people, gay people, Muslim people, Christian people.

The problem with religion is… obvious.

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