The biggest problem religion faces in hawking its wares is that its primary product – god – is unavailable for examination, mostly because it doesn’t exist. Yet religions continue to insist with zealous ferocity that their god is out there and that it must be acknowledged, worshipped, and obeyed. As a primary result of this, the game of religion necessarily becomes a shell game, which has its deity hidden behind mysteries and obtuse dogma and holy books which require interpretation for supposed full understanding. As I stated in my blog, “Nobody Can Show Me God,” part of this necessity has involved playing Hide and Seek with Yahweh, progressively moving him to more inaccessible locations, either on this world or off of it, as human knowledge expanded. The obligatory requirement remains to this day: that whatever god there is must remain undiscovered.

This game of peekaboo at one time even extended to the holy books of religion and was one of the reasons why owning a bible in English in England was a one point a capital crime. The bible in that day was as much a mystery as god was to most people, because it was originally written in Latin, a language of the church and scholars and not available to the general public. As such, it gave the clergy exclusive access, reinforcing the “we know something you don’t” paradigm and fortifying their authority. The bible in English completely removes this exclusivity and opens up the possibility of an ordinary person reading, studying, and critiquing the contents of the bible. Such a development could lead to parishioners asking questions of their vicar or priest that they weren’t prepared to answer and challenging their previously unassailable authority. Indeed, in the modern day, it has resulted in a thorough-going analysis of the bible by Steve Wells, publisher of The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible.

Religion faces not one but two problems in the midst of all of this. First, if there were a god out there and it were to reveal him/her/itself, the game would be over. The question of god’s existence would no longer be a question to be debated but a solved problem … which instantly creates a NEW problem. If Yahweh is out and about and available to the general public, why would we need a third party to intercede for us? While churches might still stand, those who have hawked religion at us would become superfluous and unnecessary. Thus, maintaining that veil of vagary is essential to the continued health of religion. The only problem with this scenario is that it would require a god to exist, an initial condition which currently fails to obtain and is likely to continue to be so.

The other problem, however, isn't just more pernicious and threatening; it's more likely. If the word got out generally that there was no god, no heaven, no hell, no afterlife, that the whole endeavor was entirely a human invention, the game would be just as over. Yahweh's hand will have been called, and he will be seen as bluffing not just a busted flush but a non-existent flush. The lie of supernatural beings would become public knowledge. And, as with the first circumstance, the power, prestige, and influence of the church would be irrevocably lost.

This is the fight in which we as atheist activists are engaged: to strip away the mysteries and expose religion for the fraud it is, including the god they peddle, the non-existence of heaven and hell, and the alleged reality of the human soul. These mysteries were either not meant to be solved at all or at least not in this lifetime. Faith was supposed to bridge the gap between this life and the next. The problem is that faith is insufficient for those who insist on questioning, on examining, or in short, who are skeptical. Once this is accomplished, there is really very little left of substance, but then that’s the nature of make-believe.

That which doesn't manifest – or hidden to the point where it cannot be found – is indistinguishable from that which doesn't exist ... and that is the message we have to get across.

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Comment by Michael Penn on July 21, 2018 at 10:39am

Location of heaven and hell? Hell has been said to be deep inside the earth. Many preachers claim this with scripture references to back it. I'm afraid heaven has went the same way as god. They have both went into some other dimension so as to protect them from people like us who want evidence. It's mental sleight of hand. Now you see him, now you don't. God can pop in and out any time believers want him to and we cannot stop him. (Crafty little bastard isn't he?)
As for heaven we get pearly gate images and surrounded by a big wall. Are we wanting to keep something in or keep something out? We have streets of gold. Not very useful if used as a street. It seems plain to me that this is all just made up.
Then we have those who claim today and forever that they "have a soul." Wrong. They became a living soul the bibble said. I suppose you could also be a dead soul. Believers need this device for comfort in their world of fearing death. This way the departed are instantly in heaven. I'm reminded of the gospel in which Jesus said "do not touch me for I have not yet ascended to my father." It appears very much that we are not able to touch him after this ascension as well.

Comment by Loren Miller on July 10, 2018 at 3:14pm

And yet they all fall flat on their faces.  At least with Big Foot or Nessie, the search is HERE.  How anyone could research heaven or hell is beyond me, but then I would consider it a waste of time in any case.  The only way my attitude would change is with that magic word: EVIDENCE.  If they ain't got any, they're just wasting their time and mine, and I have better things to do with mine.

Comment by Frankie Dapper on July 10, 2018 at 3:11pm

It is interesting to note how believers in occult or paranormal are trying to prove their claims.  Weirdos are out looking for bigfoot, yeti, the abominable snowman, sasquatch, ghosts,  loch ness monster et. al. Paranormal proponents try to prove telepathy and teleportation. 

Nobody to my knowledge is searching for location of heaven or hell. Nobody is searching for the soul or demonstrating its departure from the body upon death. Yes, some try to corroborate stories in bible through archeology. But that is missing the forest for a fern or twig.  If it is real then give me evidence. Jesus fucking christ at least try to do so. 

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