Sunday, October 22, 2006

He Popped the Question!

No, not that question. Concernedengineer asked the question that many combative and devout believers get around to eventually:

“I am compelled to ask: Considering the fact that you do not believe in God, why are you so obsessed with Him? Perhaps you have a clever answer ready, or perhaps you will come up with one. But before you do, do you suppose that it is possible that you are so obsessed, because you were designed to be?”

I’m in the game because of people like you, and the Pope, and Oral Roberts, and Charlie Manson, and Ronald Reagan, and the Ayatollah Khomeini, and every Jehovah’s Witness that ever walked up my driveway. I speak out against the toxic river of religious propaganda, from the endless varieties of bibles being endlessly printed, to the shitty little fear mongering tracts. Let’s not forget the “inspirational” art like the Sistine Chapel, and stained-glass windows, designed to awe and cow the viewer with majestic imagery. Breathtaking illustrations that are necessary because what they depict is not observable in nature. Then there’s the schlock art of little angel statuary and those creepy disembodied praying hands. And then there’s the satellite propaganda. All the superstition-mongering fictional portrayals of alive-dead zombies and evil spirits like Freddie and Jason and Damien. All of the realistic portrayals of pseudo satanic utter bullshit subtly reiterating the whole “magical beings with overwhelming powers locked in a cosmic battle between anthropomorphized good versus anthropomorphized evil” scam.

Religion is a scam. The motivation is money and power. This is a gold mine, and the exploiters don’t even have to get their hands dirty. It’s a pyramid scheme, and an awful lot of money finds its way to the top. Once you remove the unassailable and made-up god from the apex, then the next tier becomes the top. Here you find the cold-blooded egomaniacs, full of feelings of entitlement, showing all the traits of the belligerent and bullying alpha male. They are alpha wolves, wrapped in the sheep’s clothing of “god’s servants.” It’s the perfect cover, almost. These are the Popes, and Cardinals, and Bishops and Ayatollahs and David Koreshes and Jimmy Swaggarts and anyone else who assembles or maintains a fiefdom of followers. On the lower tiers, you have the priests and ministers and rectors and other volunteers that whole-heartedly buy into this myth and willingly resell it because they do not understand for whom they are actually working. Below that, you have the wide base of parishioners.

Now we get to the interesting part. No scam could possibly have lasted down the centuries if it was all take with no give. Anyone who openly endorses the scam gets something in return. Artisans are hired to build and renovate churches. Dressmakers, Tailors, Caterers, all get a taste at the weddings and other rite of passage events. Then there’s the burial industry with its various expensive products. Politicians are given the seal of approval as long as they proclaim themselves to be “god fearing folk”. Even the lowly parishioners get something. They get reassurance as a temporary cure for the very fear and paranoia their indoctrination into the spooky bullshit world of god and the shi-tan and angels and devils created. They get fellowship, or the filling of a primitive tribal need to belong and not be ostracized from the group. They also get an earful that tells them to fear those outside the group. They get one other thing. In exchange for their self-esteem, and independent thought, they get an all-powerful invisible father figure in the sky that, they are told, loves them. They are forever children in the tribal pecking order and never become complete and self-sufficient adults. They are told that their own inner dialogue is controlled by forces outside themselves, and hence will never trust their own judgment without hesitation and self-doubt. They never become alpha contenders and pose no threat to the real group alphas, the clergy.

One of the great ironies of this construct is that the clergy have a deep seated, mild disdain for these paranoid, somewhat delusional, and immature creatures they helped to create. They take no responsibility for the fact that their indoctrination made their followers the broken people that they are. Many of the wolves and jackals at the top of this pyramid truly believe that without their control, ordinary men and women would run amok. Far more likely, ordinary people would be far less susceptible to being made into human sacrifices that are then held up as examples of “heroes”.

If you want to understand a thing, a good first step is to observe what it does. In the same way that it is easy to ascertain that a watch is an instrument to tell time, one can observe that religion is an instrument of control. Religious indoctrination is an effective method for creating followers that can be manipulated through emotional appeal and by creating symbolic attachments. Modeling the pageantry and symbols of Nazi Germany on the church was a deliberate act to make use of the emotional triggers created by the church, and it worked well. The flashy uniforms and rituals of the US Marine Corps are designed to take advantage of the same triggers in the men and women who are America’s shock troops. Religious indoctrination creates humans that are more likely to follow a waving flag into a hail of machine gun fire.

Religion encourages uncertainty in the physical laws of the Universe, and therefore a general inability to discriminate facts from bullshit. Some Christians, for example, might believe that at any second, they will go “poof” and be assumed into heaven. If they cut a finger while using a knife, they might believe that something they did “wrong” days ago caused them to “deserve” this as a “punishment” and some external power made it happen. This is a total refutation of the laws of causality, and would be called paranoid if the external cause was attributed to a human instead of some invisible super being. The idea that magical beings can perform magical acts and contravene physical laws at a whim creates a world view where nothing is certain. If nothing is certain, then anything is possible. This engenders a mental state that will believe any assertion that is made repeatedly and with assurance. This is because the person can doubt, but that doubt can be eroded because such a person is incapable of certainty and susceptible to a strong alpha personality. This is why you can find people who whole heartedly believe in one or more of the following:

Miss Cleo really is a psychic
The moon landing was a fake
The Loch Ness Monster
The Saucer People will come and take us away
L. Ron Hubbard, Joseph Smith, and/or Jim Jones were prophets
Coffee enemas can cure cancer
Psychic surgery
Bigfoot
John Edward really talks to dead people
Your favorite scam here, ad nauseum

My cable company transmits no less than three religious television stations, grinding out their assertions 24-7. In addition, there is a steady stream of religious/superstitious themed programming. There are religious people that believe that it is their duty to indoctrinate others into their belief system using fear and veiled threats of eternal torture in the alleged afterlife. This is called extortion and/or coercion in the secular world, and is arguably immoral. This is not even the tip of the iceberg in terms of the constant religious jabber. This is why I stand against this unending parade of bullshit, and like a certain legendary little boy, I repeatedly assert: The Emperor of the Universe is naked, and absent, and made-up.

14 Comments:

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

Brilliant. Well thought out and executed. I wish that I had summarised it all that succinctly.
I always want to smack those in your face pudknockers with something EXACTLY like this.
I still don't know exactly why but I do have a lot of nonconfontational believers in my life and I get along fine with them. For the most part we just leave it alone and they know that if they say something that belongs in a purely scientific context that a small tornado of sarcasm will be arriving shortly.
I know that I should bolster my resolve like you have but let me just say thank you for reminding me to stay vigilant.
I hope that the end of this administration may well bring back a renewed interest in progress and hopefully the dogmatic jingoism will be put back in the bottle.

 
At 8:43 AM, Blogger kalanchoe542 said...

If you don't believe in bigfoot, you've never seen my brother.... ;-)

 
At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Lauren the Ghoti said...

breakerslion, ev'body...

Here's something to take a look at.

http://www.wired.com/news/wiredmag/0,71985-0.html?tw=wn_index_10

It's also the cover story of the print edition. I see it as a good sign that the anti-superstition movement is finally coalescing and gaining some much-needed attention in the mainstream media.

Whatchu think, Willis?

So Inquireth The Ghoti

 
At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Lauren the Ghoti said...

Oh, and one for concernedengineer, so he won't feel left out:

"LUCASVILLE, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio executed a religious cult leader Tuesday for murdering a family of five followers who were taken one at a time to a barn, bound and shot to death. The youngest was a girl just 7 years old.

Jeffrey Lundgren, 56, died by injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.

"I profess my love for God, my family, for my children, for Kathy (his wife). I am because you are," Lundgren said in his final statement.

The evidence against him in the deaths of the Avery family -- Dennis, 49, Cheryl, 46, Trina, 15, Rebecca, 13, and 7-year-old Karen -- was compelling.

Upset by what he saw as a lack of faith, Lundgren arranged a dinner hosted by cult members. Afterward, he and his followers led the family members one by one -- the father first, young Karen last -- to their deaths while the others unknowingly cleaned up after dinner.

Lundgren shot each victim two or three times while a running chain saw muffled the sound of the gunfire.

Lundgren argued at his trial in 1990 that he was prophet of God and therefore not deserving of the death penalty.

"It's not a figment of my imagination that I can in fact talk to God, that I can hear his voice,"
he had told the jurors. "I am a prophet of God. I am even more than a prophet."

Lundgren formed the cult with about 20 members in the northeast Ohio town of Kirtland after he was dismissed in 1987 as a lay minister of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, an offshoot of the Mormon church.

He said God commanded him, through interpretation of Scriptures, to kill the Avery family, who had moved from Missouri in 1987 to follow his teachings."


concernedengineer, I look forward to your rationalizations. Please remember, this psychotic murderer has every bit as much evidence to back up his religious claims as you do - i.e. zero.

So Pointeth Out The Ghoti

 
At 6:16 PM, Blogger breakerslion said...

lauren the ghoti:

I'll read your link and get back to you. Meanwhile, be careful. They really hate it when you point out that they're more likely to poison your well than the other way around. It ruins their nice simplistic definition of evil.

Kalanchoe542:

I think I used to work with your brother. Seriously, there might be some unfortunates in the woods with extreme hersutism, but mostly I think it's people who like a good hoax a little more than I do. Always remember: When making crop circles, empty beer cans spoil the effect.

HE:

Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. I too have friends who are non-confrontational and quite devout. I don't argue because I don't have the heart to try and take their grown-up Santa away. The church is their community, and most of what they do there achieves positive goals. I'd hardly be likely to change thier minds in any event.

 
At 5:38 PM, Blogger Kristine said...

"...do you suppose that it is possible that you are so obsessed [with God], because you were designed to be?"

Designed to be obsessed?

Doesn't that open the door for the rationalization of major books-I-don't-need/can't-afford purchases, rainy-day cry-marathons while watching someslop/anyslop that Jacklyn Smith stars in, and my late-night penchant for nachos?

BTW, I believe that John Edward talks to dead people. I have a nutball neighbor who talks to trees. (He's not a tree-hugger; he's just a flippin' lunatic.)

I just don't believe that the dead people or the trees talk back.

 
At 7:32 PM, Blogger Drunken Tune said...

kristine,

Brillaint! Like BamBam from the Flintstones, you quash the bug of insanity under your club of uncommon sense. All faiths and pseudosciences cower when they hear your call of "Bam! Bam!" and a mighty whoosh of the club.

Splat!

 
At 8:20 AM, Blogger breakerslion said...

Kristine:

I'm still chuckling. Yeah, and Dahmer was Designed to have an appetite for "long pig".

Points for the correction. I never hear Edward say so much as "Say that again? I didn't get that." So he believes that dead people talk to him, not the other way around.

What does one say to a tree? "You look leavly?" Blame the pain killers for that one. Minor surgery yesterday on a malfunctioning knee.

 
At 9:48 PM, Blogger Kristine said...

Yikes, sorry to hear about your knee. I have tricky knees myself.

Knees are so divinely designed! [Shakes fist at sky.]

I haven't seen my crazy neighbor around for a while (he was living beneath someone's porch during the summer, I kid you not) but he would talk to the tree, or the hydrant, and at one time to my bag of cucumbers, as if it was me or someone else that he was mad at. He caused this big, bogus standoff with the cops this past spring. (I blogged about it last April.)

He's a Southern Baptist, BTW. I overheard him telling that to the Mormons in our 'hood who were getting so desperate after having every door slammed in their faces that they started chasing people down on the sidewalks to convert them (JHC, you must think that I live in nutball central!). Now, then is when I needed my club, Drunken tune! Well, it was quite a busy summer.

Lauren, I read that article in Wired, and I thought the author was condesceding as hell. He was all, "But even we readers of Dawkins and Harris find something that makes sense in this mediocre, New Agey canned cliched hip sermon that asks for our money, and plenty of it." People rolling on the floor, crying, speaking in tongues. Yeah, man, where do I sign up? Bleeehhhh!

 
At 12:37 PM, Anonymous ConcernedEngineer said...

Lauren,

There are psychotic people in the world.

Some of those psychotic people claim to follow God.

That doesn't mean that everyone who claims to follow God is psychotic.

This isn't rocket science. This is basic logic.

 
At 1:04 PM, Anonymous ConcernedEngineer said...

By the way, there is evidence to back up Christianity. I presented the titles to several books a while back. There is historical and archaeological evidence of the existence, the teachings, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

In a courtroom, it is not necessary to present evidence to remove all doubt, but only enough evidence to remove reasonable doubt.

But the thing is this: It is painfully obvious that we are all supposed to love one another. Those who choose not to really try to do that - God will conceal Himself from that person. "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings."

If there was enough evidence to convince you intellectually, but you still wouldn't repent, then God will simply not let you find Him. He will give you over to your own desires. He will give you over to a depraved mind.

Peace to you.

 
At 10:32 PM, Blogger Delta said...

I repeatedly assert: The Emperor of the Universe is naked, and absent, and made-up

Wow, what an awesome ending statment. Very good post breakerslion, I agree wholeheartedly with everything said.

 
At 10:00 PM, Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

That was long but really great - you sound too much like me. Honestly you could convince me I wrote it myself.

jeZuz, concernedengineer - please stop with chinese water torure already!

 
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