Friday, 18 April 2014

Why I am not an atheist - Organised Religion - Theologians - Librorum Prohibitorum (The Index of Forbidden Books)

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“Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.” - Christopher Hitchen
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Everyone, without fear of ridicule, rancour or recrimination should be allowed to practice whatever faith, whatever belief they hold in their hearts as long as they do not attempt in any way whatsoever to persuade others to do the same. Be you, Jew, Christian or Muslim, hold true to your beliefs, maintain your traditions peacefully faithfully as your forebears did before you. Keep those things held sacred to you close to your heart maintaining your link to your particular deity. However, do not expect or attempt to, by whatever methods available, convert children or the educational system to your own ends. Education must be secular in its teaching.

It may seem only right that parents of faith would want their offspring to follow in their footsteps but this desire to bring guidance to children must accept that fact before faith takes priority when educating the young at school. No educational system should exist that does not accept evolution over divine creation. By the same token, all schools should have a menu of philosophical systems that juvenile minds can learn of and adapt or adopt at their whim.

I have been lucky in my life in that I have only ever met decent Jews, kind Muslims and, by and large with the exception of some evangelists, good natured Christians. This is because modern monotheists practise what I call censorial religion. This is faith guided and shaped by the natural morals of all free thinking humans who have not been so indoctrinated by the unpleasant dogma found within the Torah, Bible and Koran.

I know of no Jews who would stone me even though such a practise is part and parcel of their old faith. "You must stone him to death since he has had tried to divert you from Yahweh your God." Deuteronomy. I know of no Christians who burn pagans, persecute Jews or wage wars "And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. …From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron  and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty" Revelations. nor do I know of any Muslim who would practise decapitation on non believers: Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is worse than carnage." The Koran

Islam is under the world's microscopic eye for it has members of that faith who do commit violent obscenities against fellow men. This is an evil act and should be punished accordingly. It should be remembered though that Christians, I should say historically and not contemporaneously, have done equally vile things to those they deemed non-believers, sinners, practitioners of arcane  arts.

Right Wing Evangelists, in whatever shape or form they take, scare me. Anyone who rigidly adheres to the words of any given book, especially when it was written more than a thousand years ago, transcribed from often illiterate sources by those seeking to wield power and thereby subject to errors, are nothing less than stupid and at worse dangerous to mankind.

Man evolved. This is not a theory it is a proven fact. The only theory is to find if evolution is the only method. Perhaps mutation has also played a part. Faith too has evolved, has changed. These changes are witnessed by the passage of time and documented by historians. Islam is, by and large, a beautiful faith followed by some of the kindest people I have ever met. Islam too is evolving, it too is subject to that same censorial shape changing method.  It needs to.

Christians are fine examples of this evolving, consensual ethic. They have, as can be plainly seen, moved from the extremes of Christian faith to a more humanist, perhaps Pantheist way. The first branch of Christian Organised religion was that overseen by Emperor Constantine - the Roman Empire.  Roman Catholicism was then challenged. Why? A number of Christians did not like the way that particular branch was going. They collectively held a census, broke away, formed another branch. Protestantism (another confounded 'ism' was founded.) 

Historically, and not so far in the past, Christians have committed wicked deeds. Any and all who refused to follow their path, worship not only their god but in the manner best described by the hierarchy of the church, suffered. There was only one book of wisdom, even though it contained very little of that, and if you dared to read, or worse write, another the outcome was as dreadful as it was swift.



"Fired by the same inborn death drive, the three monotheisms share a series of identical forms of aversion: hatred of reason and intelligence; hatred of freedom; hatred of all books in the name of one book alone; hatred of sexuality, women, and pleasure; hatred of the feminine; hatred of the body, of desires, of drives." - Michel Onfray

When we wonder who first gave credence to anti-Semitic hatred look no further than Christianity which under the guidance of Emperor Constantine ignited a crusade of torment and torture wielded against anyone, group or individual who failed to adopt the doctrine of St. Paul. Those who fell under this dreadful purge were not only Jews but also Pagans.



Witch Trials and Judaic persecutions continued well into the eighteenth century and beyond, certainly in the case of the Jews. Both Britain and America were guilty of taking what appears to be a great delight in inventing creative ways of mutilating fellow humans in the most barbaric of ways. They turned torture into an obscene art form.



This, of course, has changed. Most Monotheists would not dream of imposing their will on their fellows. Why would they? Is not the supreme being capable of doing that himself? Judging by the acts of some modern day Muslim's you would think Allah was paraplegic and incapable of sorting things out himself.

Time has taken a breath and breathed the gift of life, of humanity into those old archaic faiths. They have started to move away from their past crimes against humanity but far too slowly in my view. We still huddle in groups, in packs. Yes, I know we are social beings, pack animals and that we seek and need the approval of others but why are we so sheep like? Do we really need to congregate so? Does this somehow enforce the individual belief into something stronger? If we are sheep then who are the shepherds and can they be trusted?

This brings us neatly to Theologians. Theologians are those who study the improbable  grant themselves degrees, then stand about in a mutual back slapping exercise whilst they quote ad infinitum from a book that, or so they claim, only they truly understand. They strike me as being as willfully stupid and equally deceitful as their historical forbears who insisted only the elite, and they alone, could read Latin to the ignorant. It was and remains a case of jobs for the boys
  
"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed,
it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris
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Theology - power, corruption and lies. What a waste of time and intellect. The world needs surgeons, scientists, care workers, nurses, teachers  and what do these guys do? Why they study the might be of myth and promote themselves as wise beards. Who needs them? What purpose do they serve? What they do is insert another foil between people and their god. They are just like those medieval misfits who lorded themselves over the faithful. Historically only the clergy could read either the Greek translations or relied upon the Latin Vulgate. The following is from a Christian, an Evangelical website....

."Having God's Word available to the public in the language of the common man, English, would have meant disaster to the church. No longer would they control access to the scriptures. If people were able to read the Bible in their own tongue, the church's income and power would crumble. They could not possibly continue to get away with selling indulgences (the forgiveness of sins) or selling the release of loved ones from a church-manufactured "Purgatory". People would begin to challenge the church's authority if the church were exposed as frauds and thieves. The contradictions between what God's Word said, and what the priests taught, would open the public's eyes and the truth would set them free from the grip of fear that the institutional church held. Salvation through faith, not works or donations, would be understood. The need for priests would vanish through the priesthood of all believers. The veneration of church-canonized Saints and Mary would be called into question. The availability of the scriptures in English was the biggest threat imaginable to the wicked church. Neither side would give up without a fight."

I have been accused of being simplistic; of over simplifying something deep and highly intellectual. The suggestion is that I have not sufficient intellect or learning of the Bible to pass comment. Herein lies the deceit. It is of course poppycock..The peripatetic preacher spoke his words to the working man so they would understand. Organised religion,has taken the simple truth and made it complex for one purpose and one purpose only - to wield power and gain control. They have effectively wedged themselves between God and his people.


So is it right to suggest that because, both historically and contemporaneously, religion of one sort or another has committed the most heinous of crimes that all people of faith, all religions are bad? If you read the likes of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Ayaan Hirsi Al, Christopher Hitchens and many other modern day atheist, you would have to say they have a point. I have read all those books and I find their arguments against organised religion irrefutable.

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” - Richard Dawkins


But there is something that bothers me slightly. Yes, we see how evil religion can be when in the hands of extremists and yes, it is no good saying that Muslim's who decapitate people in the street or bomb buildings containing innocent people aren't really following Islam for they are. The same can be said for Christians, the IRA spring to mind and some right wing evangelical  factions in the USA, who live by the biblical word of taking an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. As painful as it may be for Muslims and Christians to admit being good people themselves is not enough, their faith does allow for those acts. The Bible and the Koran have passages declaring these acts to be right. There is evil in hose sacred tomes but also, if sparingly, some beautiful bits too.

"Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice." Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Still those doubts niggle. Should we now enter an age where we with our humanist morals challenge organised religion condemning those of faith, those who have lived by a consensual, evolving faith? Do we have the right to be so patronizing? Worse, by declaring myself an atheist am I not merely reacting to a violent doctrines existence? Is my so called atheism not just another violent reaction against an existing threat of further violence? Is not the threat, that fear of brutal, unthinking violence that we see time and again or our TV screens an animal instinct that makes me turn against that which perpetuates violence which then triggers an emotional response? 

Atheism is just another club, another group as is Humanism and Pantheism (which in itself borrows heavily on that age old philosophy, Taoism) as are all the other branches of non-faith. Having such groups only defeats the one objective we all should strive for  - to stand alone within a group without fear of being individual. Of sharing the same morals, the same principles but without the need to form cliques, groups or faiths.Do we really need another 'ism?'

Richard Dawkins suggests Pantheism is simply 'sexed up' atheism. I think it more a case of it having taken the sound advice of Lao Tzu, if indeed such a person lived, along with the wisdom of Confucius and mashed it all up a bit then presented it as something new. In fairness, I could easily be a Pantheist if not for the way it lends itself to tree hugging. As a hand me down second rate Taoism it has a point. After all did not Spinoza sort of outline such a way? Albert Einstein certainly bought into it much to the annoyance and attempts to disprove this by the Christian right.

I don't think we need such beliefs any more but as long as my neighbour keeps himself to himself, practices his faith quietly within the walls of his home; as long as he inflicts no injury nor makes criticisms of those who do not follow his path, he has every right to do what he chooses? We need religion to have its grip on society loosened. No faith schools. What we don't need is for counter quasi-faiths to pop up, collecting people as they go to form yet another 'congregation' whose very actions might lead to only more antagonism.
The problem remains that by having bibles and other books of faith, by having rules written down there will always be those who take every word as being the word of God. Ideally this aberration should be erased from our lives.  Having well intentioned alternative groups does not resolve the problem, it does not help at all, it merely creates more division.

We need to change the way people think. The only way to do that is by education. Schools need to stop teaching the Bible, the Koran or any other book of faith. Fact, science and logic must be the way we humans measure our existence and of all things we are part of. Philosophy is a subject which falls within a schools curriculum and that is the only way monotheism should be learnt along with Spinoza, Nietzsche, Plato and all the rest. 

My suggestion to all those of faith is to maintain it, to practice it. You don't need Rabbis, or Priests or Mullahs. You don't need synagogues, you don't need churches, you don't need mosques, you don't need new age science based alternative organisations, and you sure as hell do not need Theologians.. Speak to your God, your Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, one to one. For while those corrupt organisations exist they prevent you from connecting with the one thing you want. Go alone. Go direct but keep it to yourself - please. And for gods sake let us all live in peace. 



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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

1 comment:

Cara H said...

This is my consensus. I was raised Catholic and had quite a fear of fire and brimstone growing up. I was pretty devout and was worried for the souls of non-believers, but I never tried to push my religion on anybody. As I grew older, I began to question what kind of deity would send people to a fiery hell for not believing in it, as this seemed pretty egotistical, which, I felt, would not be a quality of a benevolent Creator.
When I was 18 I became interested in nature religions. Oddly enough, I found out that there are a lot of very inflexible Wiccans and New Age types out there, and I became disillusioned with that line of thinking.
At this point I'm sort of a Buddhist with some Pagan tendencies. I respect Jesus Christ as a teacher and highly evolved soul. I have a lot of problems with organized religion overall, as I feel that in many ways it has done more harm than good. I also tend to feel that organized religion is really more political than spiritual.
I don't care much for inflexible minds of any sort, whether they be religious zealots or acerbic atheists who feel that anyone who has any sort of spiritual beliefs is a backwards-thinking throwback.