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
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.