There’re many more reasons not to believe in the doctrines of organized religion. These are ten of my favorites, not necessarily in the order listed. You can probably think of many more.
1. If God is all-knowing, he knows the future before an event happens. So before a baby is born, God knows if it’s going to hell or not. If the baby is predestined to go “there” and God allows it to happen, we have to question if the Divine One is all-good. I wonder if anyone ever cries up from the pits of damnation, after all the condemned are still cognizant and feeling (otherwise it wouldn’t make any sense to doom them to the fiery inferno in the fist place) “Geez, God, what the heck do you get out of watching your own creation suffer in eternal agony? Especially when you could have prevented it. You’re not exactly Mr. Nice Guy.”
2. The Paradox of Voltaire. But allow me to paraphrase it a bit. Think of the human tragedy of WWII: people marched into ovens, atomic bombs dropped on cities, tank warfare. Enough said. If God could have prevented this horror from happening and didn’t, he can’t be all-good. Christian apologists argue that God didn’t do it, humans did. Free will and all that. Bull. God let it happen, pure and simple. It happened on His eternal invigilation, you might say.
Now if God couldn’t have prevented the holocaust, and it certainly appears He couldn’t, then He can’t be all-powerful, omnipotent. To my mind, and to Voltaire’s, it’s got to be one or the other.
3. Historically speaking, the Inquisitors make the Nazis look like boy scouts. I never even looked at the Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) but a couple of friends told me it makes your blood curl, (not my thing; I don’t even like vampire movies). The level of venom and hatred, the relish with which torture is described, the whacky reasoning offered as proof of witchcraft (from blasphemy, a mole on the body as a sign of the devil, to sex with a demon) all suggest that religion has brought mankind during this time around 1487 to the lowest levels of human lust, greed, stupidity and sadism.
In an attempt to defend the indefensible, theologians have denied the Church’s involvement claiming it was the product of a fanatical fringe group, but the Malleus carried the imprimatur of Pope Innocent VII who endorsed the book as the word of God. He happened to be infallible at the time.
4. Religion cheapens life. Life is just a temporary condition as we wait our eternal reward. How valuable is life when young fanatics blow themselves up to make a political and religious point? If someone believes Paradise awaits, with reunion with deceased relatives, seventy-two horis (sex angels) or the beatific vision, the fear of death is diminished. (Beliefs help determine behavior: if you believe it’s going to rain, you carry an umbrella.) One becomes more willing to risk life, especially when called upon to take up arms by leaders of the nation. Just think, WWI caused the death of 35 million who sacrificed their lives for the benefit of the economic interests of the ruling classes. Religion made it possible.
I believe that there would have been a lot less war in history if most people were non-believers. If young draft-age persons believe this life is all there is, they’re much more apt to say, “Hell no, I won’t go.”
There’re many other examples of how religion cheapens life. One that comes immediately to mind is the lives of many nuns and monks. Sixty Minutes had an interesting program last year about the Monks of Mount Athos in the northern Aegean Sea. The monks spend most of their time praying and chanting in a communal trance. They did the same thing, every day, day after day for their entire lives at the monastery. No laughing, no family, no women, just constant adoration and supplication of Christ. Some monks were praying even while eating or doing routine activities of daily living. They literally spent their entire life waiting and wanting to die so they can be with their Jesus.
5. The Holy Scriptures are chock full of inconsistencies, fallacious statements and illogical conclusions. Why would Moses, the supposed author of the Pentateuch, refer to himself in the third person? If God is just, why would He kill everybody in the world during the Great Deluge? In the same chapter of Exodus that God decrees, “Thou shalt not kill,” he orders the massacre of thousands of people. The story of the fig tree is especially mind-blowing. Christ shrivels up the fig tree for not bearing fruit in the off season. God made the fig tree the way it is: what the heck is He pissed off about?
Then there are statements that are just plain WRONG. I always got a kick out of how wrong people can be. Like the record studio manager who told Elvis Presley to go back to Tennessee and drive a truck. Or Neville Chamberlain when he got off the plane from the Treaty of Munich waving a signed piece of paper and declared, “There shall be peace in our time.” Wrong!
How about President Lincoln declaring in the Gettysburg Address that “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here”? Now that’s gotta be one of the wrongest statements I ever heard.
Giuseppe Verdi was rejected from the Conservatory of Milan because he was a country bumpkin and didn’t have good posture on the piano stool. Sophie Tucker was told she was way too fat to make it on Broadway. The Boston Red Sox traded Babe Ruth. How about Adolf Hitler telling his generals as he launched Operation Barbarossa, “all we have to do is kick in the door and the whole rotten Russian government will collapse like a house of cards.” (Paraphrased.) Now this stuff is Wrong!
What’s this all leading up to? Well, the New Testament has the wrongest dumbest statement I ever heard. Totally wrong, totally naïve, totally off the mark: “The meek shall inherit the Earth.” Two thousand years is long enough to wait for something. If it doesn’t happen in two thousand years what’s the sense of making the prediction in the first place? And even if it ever comes true, that’s what the meek will get: dirt.
6. Religion has impeded and stultified human progress. In fact, during the Dark Ages, progress was brought to a standstill for centuries until the Age of Enlightenment. In the City of God, church leader St. Augustine of Hippo told acolytes not to question the dictates of their superiors. Just accept and obey. Don’t even talk about religion and ‘til this day people still have aversion to discussing religion with friends and relatives. The saint sitting at the right hand of God did more than anyone to stifle and obtund the human spirit, the relentless asset of the human condition that has driven and guided our travel through time: curiosity. How’s this for an epitaph? “In all history, I did more to deaden, anesthetize, suppress and stupefy the human mind than anybody who ever lived.”
It’s absolutely dreadful how many great scientists were persecuted and even immolated for telling the truth. At the time of Copernicus, scientists were afraid to open their mouth until Galileo finally came along a half century after the Revolution of Orbs in 1550. In Mirror Reversal, I tell the heartbreaking story of Lucilio Vanini, who was the first man since Anaximander of the Ionian School (c. 800 BC) to theorize that mankind might have evolved from earlier life forms. Vanini wrote 250 years before Darwin and is barely remembered by even the most erudite scholars. Church officials robbed him of greatness and erased his name from memory—like he never existed.
The history of medicine is filled with atrocious abuses by the Fathers of the Church. Until Sigmund Freud, mental illness was considered demonic possession. Until Louis Pasteur, common illnesses like the flu were considered the work of the devil. Sadly, even tragically for humanity, ether and other anesthetics were neglected because Church leaders thought pain and sacrifice were pleasing to God and men shouldn’t interfere with God’s will. Ether was discovered by alchemists as early as the 1250s, but not used in surgery until the 1850s. That’s six hundred years of pain and suffering, especially for women in childbirth, all unnecessary because of eccentric religious beliefs.
7. To me, by far the worse crime against humanity engendered by religious belief is the separation and divorce of humanity from nature. From Mirror Reversal:
“That’s why I’m disgruntled with religion,“ she went on, “The world’s religions are meme complexes that make victims care more about a world that doesn’t exist than about the real world. Carriers of the Christianity memeplex care more about a Virgin Mother made of wood or plastic, and throw garbage and chemicals in Tethys, the real mother of life. They can experience Tethys, drink water, smell salubrious seawater, dazzle in her wonderful properties, swim in her, even enjoy euphoric pleasure just looking at her in the moonlight of a summery dusk. And as religion separates people from nature, it encourages and rewards people for making babies in a dangerously overpopulated world. The leaders of the church hierarchy don’t give a damn—‘cause they believe the world is going to be destroyed anyway.
In other words, the Mother Ocean has been so wonderful to us and we reward her with garbage, poison, filth and radioactive waste. Because of religious superstition we don’t appreciate nor even acknowledge that Tethys is the mother of all life over four billion years ago. Instead people pay adoration to a sexless Virgin Mother who insults humanity by refusing to accept even our most basic human characteristics: we are viviparous mammals. Our reproductive modus operandi involves infernal fertilization and internal gestation. Let’s revel in its beauty, serendipity, and pleasure.
The Immaculate Conception is an insult, a miracle thought up by self-alienated prudes.
I line a like from Mirror Reversal: Our present-day bodies just happen, through millions of years of evolution, to be the containers or temples our consciousness resides in. If nature through natural selection gave us bodies that looked like cars, should we be ashamed to show our exhaust pipes?”
Consider the shocking and monstrous photo below. At first sight it looks like some sort of grotesque disease—a skin tumor or an abscessed boil of some sort. What freak of nature could have caused it?
Clearly it has to be the work of some opportunistic, low-life parasite that has no feeling or empathy for the host that nourishes it. To me, it looks like the work of the scalp ringworm, Tinea capitis. This ugliness couldn’t possibly be the work of a creature that can think and has positive feeling for the mother that gave it life.
YOU ARE LOOKING AT THE VALE MINE IN THE CENTER OF THE AMAZON RAIN FOREST, THE MOST BIODIVERSE PARADISE ON OUR BEAUTIFUL PLANET.
8. Humans have to learn to live in harmony with nature or we’re going extinct. Religion prevents us from doing so because worshippers believe we were put here by a patriarchal God and the planet is going to be destroyed anyway with the second coming of the Messiah or the Holy Prophet. On the other hand, science teaches us that we grew out of the planet: the atoms of our bodies are the stuff of the Earth—even in the same proportions of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen by weight. Ammonia that seeped out of deep oceanic vents was the key ingredient to supply nitrogen that provided the chemical stability to the primal RNA replicators. Science convincingly accounts for how we got here; Big Bang theory gives us a good idea how the universe got here. We don’t need asinine myths anymore to make sense of being alive.
We share the identical genetic code with every other creature on the planet, plant or animal. No matter what creature you can think of, from an unctuous jellyfish in the middle of the Indian Ocean, to a tiny polyp on the Great Barrier Reef, to a lackadaisical hippo soaking in the Zambezi River, we share the same genetic code. Each of the 64 codons translates to a specific amino acid along the ribosome assembly line. In humans, the codon CCU translates to Proline, in vampire bats CCU calls up Proline. In humans AAG translates to Lysine, in the Gone With the Wind sprawling oaks of Tara, AAG calls for Lysine. In humans GUC translates Valine, in the hard-featured giant Mekong catfish, GUC calls for Valine.
On and on it goes 64 times for any creature you can think of. Each codon translates a specific amino acid in exactly the same way. We are connected to every living creature on the planet at the molecular level.
Religion conditions worshippers to believe we have a soul (whatever that is) and all other life on the planet does not. Of our 30,000 genes, many are exactly equivalent, letter for letter thousands of times, as those of a lowly fruit fly—the gene that separates and develops the head from torso, for example. I remember talking to a Christian fundamentalist who had a hard time accepting that we “evolved from apes.” I have news for him: It goes back in time a lot further than that. We evolved from viruses and most of the genetic material we pass on to our offspring is non-coding, parasitic DNA junk. So much for Intelligent Design.
It’s this divorce from nature that results in the tragedy of the Vale Mine in the photo above. If we had a worldview, and religion, based on the revelations of science, the Vale Mine and other outrageous atrocities against nature wouldn’t be tolerated. Humans are a product of nature. The degradation and desecration (making un-sacred) of nature is crime against ourselves—it’s masochism. I’d say it stems from the Church’s belief that we’re born evil. Masochism is, after all, often a consequence of guilt. As a species, as we defile and violate nature, we punish Homo sapiens.
I recently saw a shocking Science Channel documentary about the six massive rings of non-biodegradable garbage floating aimlessly in immeasurable, gargantuan tonnage in the world’s oceans, just deep enough as not to be seen by passing ships. The garbage mostly comes from the run-off of river banks and beaches, garbage dumps and river deltas where it all collects waiting for a storm or heavy rain to carry it out to the mother ocean. Would this tragedy be happening if worshippers accepted Tethys was the mother of life rather than Holy Mary? Treating her like a cesspool is how we repay her for being the mother of life.
9. From the King James Version: Gen 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
How could this be the command of a sane deity that cared about the health of the planet and life on it? What bronze-age goat herder or fisherman cursed humanity so malevolently? It’s so sad that one stupid line of Holy Scripture could have such a devastating effect on the entire planet. The owners of the Vale Mine in Brazilcould point to this line and feel justified at this wanton atrocity and insult to nature. The Bible says “subdue” the Earth, doesn’t it?”
Ever since high school human population growth has been the cause célèbre of my life. Just as Mitt Romney journeyed to France to convert people to the wondrous tenets of Mormonism, I felt it was my calling to warn people about the danger and folly of overpopulation.
Just think, when New Year’s Eve 2013 arrives in a few months, we can look back a century and consider what the celebrants of 1913 were thinking. They had no idea what the rest of the century held in store for them. In a little more than a year WWI broke out, 35 million dead. A year after that the Great Flu of 1919, 50 to 100 million dead, a tenth of all humanity. Less than ten years after that the forced starvation of eight million Ukrainian farmers who refused to collectivize. Ten years after that, WWII with over 50 million dead, 15 million in Russia alone. Then in quick secession the Korean War, Viet Nam, Cambodia, AIDS, and Yugoslavia. HIV alone is estimated to have killed 25 million with 35 ceropositives (infected with HIV) still alive. In addition, the United Nations World Food Program estimates that 900 million are living in life-threatening hunger and 15 million children are staring to death every year.
Take a guess at the population of the world in 1913. In spite of these horrible calamities and immeasurable loss of life, the population growth curve has barely flickered. It’s a relentless multiplicative growth curve that keeps accelerating faster and faster. The world recently hit the seven-billion mark a few months ago. In 1913, the world was composed of 1.5 billion people. World population has quadrupled in a hundred years, and that’s in spite of the horrendous calamities mentioned above.
An important point about Paul Ehrlich and The Population Bomb. Written in 1968, the work was way ahead of its time. Professor Ehrlich of Stanford came under a lot of criticism for dire predictions that never came true. A friend of a friend told me that he was disappointed and dejected about the efficacy of his life’s work. He predicted that the population of India, for instance, would never reach 200 million before famine set in. (Professor Ehrlich could be listed on my WRONG list above.) But he had no way of knowing about the work of Norman Borlaug who revolutionized agricultural output per acre. Using new genetic techniques, such as backcrossing and enhanced used of fertilizer, he doubled and trebled the amount of food that a farm could produce. By 1970, just as The Population Bomb was listed on the Times Best Seller list, Borlaug was winning the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing on the “green revolution.”
The concept of eutrophy in biology refers to one species, usually a primary producer, taking over an entire ecosystem. You’ve probably seen it many times when passing a pond where humans killed all the fish, resulting in an “algal bloom.” Similar to a supersaturated solution in chemistry, the condition is extremely unstable. Any invader, a mating pair of fish that feeds off the algae, can upset the entire eutrophic system. A pesticide-resistant pair of greenbugs, a type of aphid, could destroy an entire industrial mega-farm in a matter of weeks. It won’t make any difference what the company shares are worth in the NYSE.
In other words, biodiversity results in environmental stability; eutrophy results in perilous instability. WE HAVE TO LEARN TO LIVE IN HARMONY WITH NATURE. Why doesn’t the Bible mention this evident scientific fact when it’s so important to our survival and the survival of all our planet’s passengers?
10. So that brings us to Reason #10. Where the heck are the pope and other religious leaders when it comes to intervening on behalf of suffering humanity and our unconscionably violated oceans, forests and mountains? Pope Benedict probably thinks we must have faith in God’s divine plan. But the universe is indifferent to us and God Almighty has never intervened in the affairs of mankind except when He appeared to his dozen friends at Easter Time—as if that’s proof enough that He exists.
Reason #10 is the strongest reason of all not to believe. Religion is endangering four billion years of evolution and all life on the planet, and as far as we know, perhaps the known universe!
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