At the micro level -- individuals and local churches -- religion often provides comfort and community. However, at the macro level of organized religion, the consequences of belief systems based on the supernatural become clear.

Because they all make exclusive claims to God, the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) have been THE most persistently divisive influence in all of human history. If you doubt that, just turn on the news or visit the library or Google it. Their conflicts have caused, and continue to cause, endless grief, suffering and senseless death.

Most of those who try to snatch the reins of political power do so via some means of mass influence: race, ethnicity, provincialism, patriotism or religion. Religion is a particularly effective vehicle because their adherents have already been conditioned to dogma. Despots recognize a good thing when they see it. As Adolf Hitler said, "How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think."

The hidden purpose of religious dogma is to get people to accept the supernatural. Undoubtedly, the big dog of dogmas is: "The Bible is the Divinely Inspired Word of God". If you buy that, you're lost to reason. If you base your faith in the Bible because it's God's word, you're saying your faith in God is based in your faith in God. Circular logic. You haven't asserted ANYTHING other than your faith as a personal choice.

The supernatural - including God, heaven, hell, Allah, Satan, jinns, leprechauns, devils, angels, Santa Claus and tooth fairies - is an invention of the human imagination. The following is for those who believe in the supernatural.

Faith and logic are antithetical. If religious adherents would admit that they believe for PERSONAL, rather than logical, reasons, THEN they would be honest about their "faith". But it's dishonest to claim faith on a logical, rational, basis - faith is a personal position, not a logical conclusion.

Faith and doubt always go hand in hand. Faith without doubt is BLIND faith. It takes a closed mind to sublimate doubt to the point of blind faith. Normal people leaven their faith with a little common sense. Doubt always nibbles at the edges of their faith. After all, without doubt, faith would have no context, no purpose, no meaning, no point. Would it?

Because there is no evidence for anything supernatural (including God), NOBODY can claim ANY knowledge of it. Anybody who does is lying or delusional. It takes suspension of disbelief to believe in the supernatural: one must convince oneself that the impossible is possible. That is what dogma is for. Dogma is the opposite of curiosity. You have one life, one quest: yet you choose to surrender it to something you can't possibly know anything about.

When people talk about faith, they're usually talking about the supernatural: God, angels, miracles, etc. There is, of course, lots of doubt involved because the supernatural is entirely outside the human (natural) realm. It's not so much that God or angels can't exist . . . the real point is that NOBODY has access to the supernatural and thus NOBODY knows ANYTHING about it. Anybody who claims to have faith in something he knows absolutely nothing about is actually confessing to placing his imagination before, and above, his intellect: this is known as fantasy.

Fantasy has its place . . . but not where life decisions are involved. Placing fantasy above intellect is surrendering your quest for meaning. You are surrendering the meaning of your life to your religion; to your version of God.

And that's fine. Just be honest about it. You made a leap of faith. Your faith is a personal position - not a valid logical conclusion. If all religious adherents would admit this, fundamentalist fervor would disappear. Therefor: war, persecution, retribution, retaliation, and other mindless acts of violence in the name of God would also disappear. Despots would have one less vehicle of control. If we all understand that we're just practicing personal preferences, there's nothing to fight about.

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Comment by Atheist Exile on July 16, 2009 at 8:51pm
Hi again, Aliendreams,

It's funny, I feel the same about your own arguments, in general. In this one case, about Sam Harris, I could relate to your suspicions: I too have wondered if his atheism leads his politics. The potential certainly seems to be there. But when it comes to his carefully chosen words, whether on video or in books, he hasn't asserted anything overtly biased, in my opinion.

I've read his books and watched every YouTube video, by Sam Harris, I can find. If you've actually seen or read bias on his part, I'd be very interested to know the URL or book page involved.

As for individual worship versus organized religion, I was trying to describe the subtlety of the connection between the two. Most Christians I know are pretty normal but lack rationality in matters of faith. Although their religion is a handicap to logic, they don't seem like raving lunatics to me. Just flawed.

But then, who isn't flawed in one way or another? I'm not sure, but I think real fundamentalist zealots are the minority in most religions. The problem with organized religions is actually a political one: the more vocal, proactive, adherents control the agenda while the more passive ones don't understand or don't pay attention.

Sam Harris calls these passive (moderate) adherent's enablers of the fundamentalists (zealots). And I agree. So, although there's a stark contrast between most adherents (benign) and the religion (malignant) they subscribe to, one must recognize that the organized religion would not exist without adherents and that the moderate adherents condone, and thereby enable, the fundamentalists who drive the religion to excess.

I hope that makes sense. Yes, most adherents don't give their religions enough thought. It's just something they were raised to believe in. Most are good people. But they empower, directly or indirectly, institutions with long histories of abuse and human stagnation.
Comment by Atheist Exile on July 15, 2009 at 11:04pm
LoL, Carver,

Do married people talk that way? :-)

Sorry you had to witness that. It's just a lover's spat and I'm sure I'll be getting an apology . . .

. . . when hell freezes over.
Comment by Jim DePaulo on July 15, 2009 at 10:13pm
Here I was reading a blog and encountered a class 5 shit storm - you guys aren't married to each other are you?
Comment by Atheist Exile on July 15, 2009 at 5:45pm

Since your insulting and confrontational post on a prior blog thread of mine (on abortion), I've done a search on your name here. It seems you have a lot of fans . . . and a lot of enemies. Some people might like your curmudgeonly persona but your history here goes way beyond merely grumpy.

You're a bully.

You don't speak for everybody. You don't speak for AtheistNexus. You have no business telling other people what they should or should not discuss. Get over yourself. Nobody appointed you site censor and if you're assuming the title for yourself, you presume too much.

This is an atheist site. We are freethinkers. I don't want or need ANYBODY telling me what is relevant, appropriate or meritorious. If I want to join in a discussion about abortion, I will. If I want to blog about abortion, I will. I don't give a rat's ass what you think about it.

Being a physically big person, I was raised not to be a bully. I was also raised not to run from a fight. That combination has led to a personal history of standing up to bullies. I've never had to stand up to an online bully, like you, but I don't imagine you're any different than any other bully: you're insecure. The only way you can feel good about yourself is to make others look bad. It's disgusting. You're disgusting.

I see, from your history, how you operate. You're a troll as well as a bully. You and I both know it, even if your fans don't. It is tragic to me that an atheist network like A|N supports somebody like you and that other so-called freethinkers actually encourage you. You and your minions remind me of hyenas. It's truly pathetic.
Comment by Atheist Exile on July 15, 2009 at 4:34am
Why are you commenting here, as if you're friendly, after your previous post to my blog? Until you apologize for your unwarranted attack, you're a coward and an ass as far as I'm concerned.

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