I have often written that non-theism or ‘atheism’ is the natural condition of the universe into which we are all born.

Most atheists—perhaps all, because by definition—conclude the same, realising that non-theism is the default situation of a godless universe [although pace to Richard Dawkins, who prefers to cautiously allow that we cannot be entirely sure of this]. Nevertheless, whatever else, children are all born ‘atheist’ in the sense of not knowing anything of gods until elders start instructing them.

Religion is a taught fiction—which explains why there are so many religions and why so many gods.

Inevitably, indoctrination is directed first at unsuspecting and trusting children because they are the most easily drawn into the tangled web of belief and deceit that accounts for so much of our religious, social, world population.

When a believer asks me directly the driving question, I answer firmly that natural rationality and commonsense point to religion as being nothing but a giant fraud—and a deep-rooted long-lasting fraud at that.

By the same token, the gods that religions embrace are merely the deliberate poetic and literary inventions of story-tellers.

Gods exist nowhere but inside the heads of believers, and occupy and distort their valuable, limited, neuron-circuit space where unprejudiced clear brains should be.

Why does the human race go on suffering such beliefs, when in other so many other endeavours we benefit handsomely from the great works and discoveries of the scientists and engineers?

How long will it be before we break the cycle of worship and free the minds of our leaders who keep on believing the impossible about the irrational?

One would think that it is the duty of schools to teach the truth, the scientific truth, and nothing but the truth.
If this was done, science would win through, slowly but surely.
But not all schools do so. Many teach untruths under the banner of religious freedom---and religion is all lies. Again I say: Religion is nothing but a giant fraud.

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How long will it be before we break the cycle of worship and free the minds of our leaders who keep on believing the impossible about the irrational?

I don't want to give up hope, but I don't think that you or me will see it.

Religion is easy, it provides an answer even to questions that have not been asked yet, and I think that these answers will continue to be accepted for a long time.

One would think that it is the duty of schools to teach the truth, ... If this was done, science would win through, slowly but surely.

Most definitely, that's why we should not give up hope, in the end science holds the key to truth, being the most adaptable and successful tool for increasing our knowledge and understanding about reality. Science will hopefully continue to lead us towards the truth (about reality), as it has done for us so far. That's why it's so important that each generation has the best possible science education.
The problem is not just how long this has been going on, it's how successful it's been for the individuals who position themselves as the conduit between the divinity and the followers. I'm afraid it's going to be difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate entirely. In its earliest practice, these myths were probably created to help establish order and authority when human social groupings exceeded Dunbar's number, and they proved quite effective in that purpose, so effective they grew to embody the adage "power corrupts. absolute power corrupts absolutely."

It would be one thing if it were only con artists and charlatans who assumed leadership roles in religious organizations, but it's not that simple. Certainly they exist, but they are outnumbered by those who believe that they believe, and furthermore, that they are empowered by this belief to act on behalf of a divine being. This leaves every faith-based group subject to the underlying psychological issues and prejudices of their leader, who is only peripherally aware (if that) how much their own issues affect the way they preside over their congregation. As you move up the hierarchy in any large organized religion, you find leaders who are even further under the influence of their circumstances, which then include politics and matters of finance -- and by the fact that the higher they are in an organization, the more people they have who will willingly ignore anything but the most overwhelming evidence against them. Jim Bakker probably still had faithful followers even after he was put in prison.

It's an insidious cycle, and I find it difficult to hope for a time of true enlightenment, not just because the leaders are imbued with so much power, but because the people they lead are so eager to be led. It puts them in the comfortable position of not having to think, of having all the answers to everything (even if most of them are "because He said so, that's why.")

I welcome any refutation of my rather defeatist outlook. Please, please tell me I'm wrong about this dismal assessment. Please.
Nice stuff Larry and right up my line of thought on child abuse through religious indoctrination..hardly lets them stand on their own two feet without help the rest of their lives.
The answer to ending the influence of religion is rather easy, its implementation could be difficult.
Here it is in three simultaneous steps: -
• The removal of all privileges, especially tax-free privileges
• A legally enforceable age limit for the exposure of children to religion (I suggest 16 years of age)
• The will of all atheists and anti-religionists to see the two above points through

BTW, Claudia, I feel you are very much on the wrong track.
Steve, the answer to religion is not at all easy. Marx called it the opium of the people and he was utterly on the nose about that. Weaning ANYONE from an addiction certainly starts with cutting off the source material of the addiction, but then you get to deal with WITHDRAWAL, never mind the irrational and doubtless angry response from those who don't want their security blanket taken away from them.

As for removal of tax-free status, at this moment, I would expect that to be as easy to pass through a legislature as getting gays the right to marry, and recent evidence shows that to be none too popular an issue, either. Legally enforceable age limit? They'll home-school their kids in their dogma and they won't blink. Trying to legislate this will be like what happened when Prohibition got pushed into place, and that worked just SWELL ... NOT!

Sad fact is, the old ones will likely have to die off and the younger, less affected ones who have seen through the guise of religion take their place before anything substantial is going to change. My estimate is at minimum 100 years before we have anything remotely resembling a society untainted by the stupidity of faith ... and I'm probably being overly optimistic.
Sorry about the delay in replying to your response:
I feel that mostly you are so right. I didn't say it would be easy and it will be a long fight and we MUST prevail.

We must; "endeavor to persevere" (Chief Dan George in 'The Outlaw Jose Wells')
Well Dr. Meaden,

I am firmly convinced that "true believers", those that are in power and actually believe all this will never rise in the hierarchy of their religion. You must be astute in finance, power and politics, dedicated to the preservation of the church and lastly quite cynical and outwardly religiously fervent.

I am quite sure that Catholic bishops on up are well aware of the sham that is their "religion" and would have never attained thier positions had they run around with a finger in the air yelling "jesus has risen". Not possible.

There are people out there dedicated to good works and yet possessed of "shaky faith"...it is all they know so they reaffirm their faith and plough on. I for one believe that it would be more honorable to wash dishes and help people.

I do not believe the pope or any of his minions believe in God...quite impossible on the evidence.
Dear Terence:

Religions in general have deeply influenced how we speak, how we read and write and how we mark the passage of time. Much of its power resides in the fact that religion teaches us how to deal with myths – stories that are, at heart, about everyone.

In particular, Christianity, the religion invented in Europe by the Europeans of the first and second century, has some of the most obvious effects on art and literature through the ages.

Christianity has inspired some of the greatest and most famous art created in the past two millennia, and this goes beyond overtly “religious” work.

Why do we seal wine bottles with cork?

Where did the Taj Mahal get its dome from?

What has an eight-foot giant who spent his time bending iron bars got to do with free education for everyone?

Who invented the limerick?

Where did musical notation come from?

Why was the world’s first fully literate society not in Europe, Asia or North America?

And what is the proper behavior when using the public baths?

All the answers to these questions and more are connected with Christianity and the mark it has left on our heritage.

Today, the majority of people in the West are not longer Christian. In western Europe in particular, most people now inhabit a post-Christian society, where the outdated norms of Christianity are no more binding than the outdated norms of, say, the Vikings’ religion, or that of the Romans.

Christianity has made in impact elsewhere, however. It is the largest religion in the world, and is followed by approximately a third of the planet’s population. It has spread beyond its ancient heartlands in Europe and the Middle East to North and South America, Asia, central Africa and the Pacific. It is, by any standard, a significant element of modern culture. But it has played a major role in history too. Without Christianity, today’s world would be very different in many ways, quite apart from the obvious “religious” ones.

Of course, Christianity had many things wrong – the Crusades and Galileo’s trial, for example –but it has also promoted education and learning, in everything from the first universities to the first fully literate society. All of us, whether we know it or not, are the heirs of our Christian past.
Claudia, indeed, Christianity has left marks … of all sorts:

• A manufactured book of nonsense which:
o Contradicts itself too often to be credible
o Presents a malevolent, petulant deity in its first half and an apparently forgiving yet scapegoating deity in its second
o Whose primary contributor never met the Carpenter yet occupies the vast majority of the text
o Has little or no relevancy to 21st century life, yet which is purported to be Absolute Truth and not to be questioned because it is somehow “special.”
• The Crusades, which presumed that the supposed “Holy Land” was Christian property and no other and which wrecked havoc not just there but in most of the intervening lands
• The Dark Ages, spawned by the church because they insisted on being that single source for all learning, too much of it based in superstition and the aforementioned book
• Not only censured Galileo for telling the truth but:
o Failed to admit to their mistake until the reign of Pope John Paul II
o Failed to say anything about the Third Reich’s “Final Solution”
o Continues to treat women as second-class citizens, despite the fact that a great portion of the rest of the world has at least attempted to rectify this injustice
o Treats homosexuality as a choice rather than the inbred nature which it is and insists that the GLBT community also live as second-class citizens
o Attempts to manipulate secular governments, as in the case of Senator Kennedy, by withholding their “precious sacraments” because his political stand is counter to that of the Church

And this is only the stuff I can think of off the top of my head, and I’m sure that there are many others here who can fill in the multiple blanks I've left.

You state that: “All of us, whether we know it or not, are the heirs of our Christian past.” To this I answer, “More’s the pity.”

I submit that there is no good thing that Christianity or any of its churches has done that they haven’t undone with their monomaniacal insistence on their dogma, their self-righteousness and near utter failure to evolve with the rest of mankind.

Final word: I would heartily suggest you fasten your seat belt, Claudia … for very likely you are shortly to hear further rebuttals from people far more skilled than I am in this venue.
Once upon a time, or so the Cherokee legend goes, a young Indian boy received a beautiful drum as a gift. When his best friend saw it, he asked if he could play with it, but the boy felt torn. He didn’t want to share his new present, so he angrily told his friend, “No!” His friend ran away, and the boy sat down on a rock by the stream to contemplate his dilemma. He hated the fact that he had hurt his friend’s feelings, but the drum was too precious to share. In his quandary, he went to his grandfather for advice.

The elder listened quietly and then replied: “I often feel as though there are two wolves fighting inside me. One is mean and greedy and full of arrogance and pride, but the other is peaceful and generous. All the time they are struggling, and you, my boy, have those same two wolves inside of you.”

“Which one will win?” asked the boy.

The elder smiled and said, “The one you feed.”

So when it comes to making sophisticated moral decisions, which one will win? The selfish brain or the cooperative one? Again, as with the two wolves, it depends on the one you feed. If you allow anger and fear to dominate, you will lose the neurological ability to think logically and act compassionately toward others. In fact, it is nearly impossible to find peace and serenity if your mind is preoccupied by negative, anxious, or hateful thoughts.

Final word: If a person dwells obsessively on the warfare of Science vs. religion, Loren ... he or she can do as much damage to the brain as a life time of alcoholism or drugs.
Claudia, the blunt end of the stick is that you don't know a damned thing about me, yet you have the unmitigated gall to presume to counsel me on an issue I came to terms with years ago. Yes, there is a fury in me, but there is also DISCIPLINE. The two together make an interesting combination, rather like what happens when you take a Helium-Neon discharge tube and place it inside a tuned reflective cavity. What comes out is laser light: focused, coherent, and far more powerful than it might be otherwise.

For what I can see, you have come in here to attempt to present the plus side of an entity that the vast majority of this site's members flatly reject. Please know from my side that, believe it or not, there is at least one aspect to Christianity that I am willing to acknowledge as positive: it's contributions to music and fine art. Beyond that, however, the influence of the church is questionable at best and laughable at worst. The church, its teachings, its dogma, and its practices are as outdated in the 21st century as vacuum tubes would be in a computer, and we have no use for them.

If you are here, you indicated on the application that you are a non-theist. Is that the case, or are you yet another in a series of charlatans who have come here to lobby for a cause we will not accept? If you are a theist, then you are an intruder here, and I think you will find that we know all sides of the religious coin far better than you can imagine ... and we do not need your help to appreciate ALL the influence it represents.
Yeah ... but I'll KEEP the Mozart Requiem, thankuverymuch! [grin!]




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