THE HOLY FOOL Beliefs & Rituals

Beliefs and Rituals

Mental Illness?

Why Go To Church?

Why Believe?

Consequences & Solutions

The Bible Explained

The Challenge of Absurdity

Defeating Superstition

Coping with Believers

News


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“There’s a sucker born every minute”

Get the book 'Nihilism', by Freydis

Few things are more embarrassing to witness than a flagrant display of belief in the ridiculous, especially when it occurs in people that are clearly smart enough to know better – if they would just try. Religious people are not all fools, although the vast majority excel at foolish thought and behavior, they just suffer from a weakness that predisposes them to slavishly adopt the facile beliefs surrounding them, especially when it comes with the imprimatur of authority. People that always want to do what is 'right' don't ask questions and will follow the rules regardless of the logic, or lack of it, underlying those rules.

Think of the most idiotic, asinine, foolish rituals and practices imaginable and some religion or cult somewhere has turned it into a sacred tenet of their belief system. The list of examples is nearly endless but a few are listed below. And remember that these religions and cults maintain that they alone are the one true faith and all the others are just heretics.

In many places in Africa it is quite polite when visiting friends or relatives to express one's sympathy with them for having such "ugly" or "unpleasant" children. The idea is that witches, always on the lookout for nice children to "eat" will be fooled by this naive stratagem. It is also common in such places to give children names that suggest disgrace or misfortune, for the same reason. [1]

Lightning burns down many Amish buildings but they refuse to use a simple metal lightning rod because it would contradict God's will. Many Amish won't even use buttons on their clothing.

Japanese doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo ('supreme truth') was founded by Shoko Asahara who fancies himself the reincarnation of Jesus, among other things. Blind in one eye and nearly so in the other as a result of congenital syphilis, Shoko Asahara naturally gravitated towards a career in acupuncture. Aum Shinrikyo’s beliefs consisted of hastening the arrival of an imminent apocalypse. Recruitment consisted of kidnapping, drugging and brainwashing. After their botched nerve gas attack on a Tokyo subway most of the key members were arrested and the remaining cast of flotsam changed their name to Aleph, generally repackaging the cult. Despite the façade change that was pre-planned anyway, Aleph remains wildly unpopular amongst the Japanese public - go figure. Aum Shinrikyo had some highly educated scientists working on their arsenal of weapons of mass-destruction, demonstrating that in a country where education consists of rote memorization rather than independent learning even educated people can fall prey to their own gullibility.  

Fun times in Mesoamerica - gimme that old time religion!The Aztecs, considered 'deeply religious people' by historians, performed human sacrifices in the most brutal and painful ways possible because they believed that if they stopped appeasing the god of death the world would end. This 'powerful' religion (and empire) proved to be no match for a few dirty Spaniards on horseback. 

Buddhism doesn’t technically have a god-deity but in practice the once human Buddha, often in the form of obese and gaudy statues, comes remarkably close. Buddhism fulfills the standard religious mold because it's based on escaping life, Earth and reality in general rather than in simply addressing it head-on as the Nihilist does. Buddhism like all beliefs forsakes the issue of the here and now for a fraudulent and impossible goal i.e. higher spiritual planes, nirvana, etc. Careless diet finished off Buddha Siddhartha who was sickened by tainted pork. The great Buddha died as he lived: carelessly ignoring the immediate significance of reality for escape in fantasy.

Tantric Buddhism of Bhutan: And the kernels of corn? They are the calculus of devotion. Each time the gray-haired woman named Tum Tum prostrates herself, she slides one of the 108 kernels (a sacred number) across the floor. In three months she has moved the kernels 95,000 times—1,000 prostrations a day—and will continue until she reaches 100,000. "Sometimes I get so tired I fall over," says Tum Tum, whose knees have left grooves in the floorboards. "But I won't stop. This is our tradition." [4]

Cargo cults sprang up as a result of the culture shock, invasion and infection, created by the American military bases built throughout the previously isolated south Pacific during World War II. Keep the faith: salvation and prosperity will arrive any day now...The astounded natives didn't know what to make of these new people and their mysterious machines but they began to believe that all of it really belonged to them and not the thieving white man – they just had to lure it back. The cargo cult worshippers began to mimic the devices they had seen, making wooden copies of rifles, radios out of pots and rope, and idolizing dollar bills and photographs. All they had to do was parade around acting like American soldiers and soon the giant metal ship would land and bring heaven along with it! Needless to say the believers are still waiting.

Cargo cults are an intriguing example of seemingly foolish rituals because they demonstrate the fundamental nature of belief: the human mind unsystematically grasping at explanations for unusual events using a forced context consisting of the limited range of everyday experiences.  As the cargo cults show, the anthropocentric and teleological views of reality are fundamental flaws characterizing all belief systems.

The Catholic Church excommunicated many animals even as recently as the 20th century including eels, dogs, horses, and rats, to name a few. Ecclesiastical (religious) courts even put animals on trial. France in 1522 put all rats on trial for damaging barley crops but the case was eventually adjourned without verdict because the rats never showed up in the courtroom! And when court orders failed to alter the behavior of the offending animals or insects it was blamed on Satan. These numerous and lengthy legal trials against animals were funded through tithes paid to the Church by the public, i.e. taxes. [6]

Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, a serial pedophile, built a religious empire called the Legion of Christ with assets in excess of $20 billion. Yet, although his predatory sexual activities were known to Catholic authorities, it wasn’t until 2010 that the Vatican officially stated that, after decades of refusing to punish Maciel, his behavior "constituted real crimes … devoid of scruples and authentic religious sentiment." Maciel, called a “disgrace to humankind" by one of his victims, operated with impunity inside the patriarchal Church, using his unchecked authority to force obedience and silence upon his victims. [13]

The Church of Christ, Scientist (CCS), otherwise known as Christian Science, was founded by Mary Baker Glover Patterson Eddy who wrote the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. CCS preaches that evil and sickness are just illusions but with faith they can be overcome, spiritual powers are stronger than physical, and even denies the existence of all matter including the human body. Christian Scientists are notorious for refusing to receive medical treatment for themselves and their children with predictable consequences for everyone except the believers.

A Jewish sect known as the Essenes took observation of the Sabbath to a new level by refusing to use the toilet at all on that day. They considered using the bathroom an unclean act in the sight of God and as a consequence their latrines had to be located out of sight of the village, and not a minor distance either, scrolls from about 2,000 years ago indicate a distance of over a kilometer. This distance didn't even offer any health benefits because of the particular waste disposal methods the Essenes used, spreading disease and parasites. [2]

Members of the Followers of Christ, and other Christian groups, believe in 'faith-healing' and refuse to allow themselves or their children to receive medical care, no matter how serious the illness, because to do so defies God's will. Unsurprisingly to everyone except the faith-healer followers, their avoidance of medical care even leads to the death of their children, and has put some of them in court on murder charges.

In Haiti, land of voodoo, a major worry is that witches will steal the body of a recently deceased relative. In order to prevent this from happening they will bury thread and a needle without an eye in with the body because this will keep the witches occupied for centuries as they attempt, in vain, to thread the needle and then forget about stealing the dead body. [1]

Hindus believe that certain animals are so sacred they can only be worshipped and never harmed. Consequently, cows wandering through a town will cause traffic jams and leave steaming piles of waste everywhere even as the humans live in disease and on the verge of starvation.Load of bull: behold the great god Nandi - bow down before him in worship! Because Hanuman the monkey God is highly revered, aggressive monkeys are a common plague on rural Indian villages. Using their attentive monkey senses they are quick to detect weakness in the humans and often take over entire villages, carefully targeting the soft throat and genital regions of any puny human foolish enough to threaten their new domain. All efforts to convert the monkeys to the peaceful ways of the Buddhist and Hindu have met with failure; hopes remain high.

Lacking an abundance of ATM cash machines, and displaying a concern for women typical of nearly all religions, Hindu men that need a quick buck can, and do, burn their wives alive to collect the dowry.

Islam requires its followers to pray five times a day facing the direction of Mecca, preferably with the knees and forehead on the ground and the ass in the air. A Shiite Muslim beats his head with a sword and bleeds for Allah.Islam strictly forbids pork and alcohol as well as any depiction of the human form, so for instance cross-walk signs in Middle Eastern countries will feature black silhouettes with the heads rubbed out! Despite the fact that Islam is one of the simplest religions around followers find no lack of details to interpret in different ways and then kill each other over the disagreement, as evinced by the bloody religious civil war in Iraq brought to you courtesy of the faith-based leadership of one George W. Bush.

In the tribal Islamic country of Yemen, the practice of marrying girls to adult men is common practice, frequently resulting in the slavery, and often death, of the girls. In 2009 some in the government tried to pass a law setting 17 as the minimum age for marriage, but it was repealed as being “un-Islamic”! In Yemen more than a quarter of females are married before the age of 15.

In July 2008 Saudi Arabia’s religious police that enforce Wahabist Islam announced a ban on the sale of cats and dogs, resurrecting an old rule in order to prevent men from using the animals as a means of meeting women, i.e. walking a dog in the park. [7]

Christianity isn't the only religion that has a problem with the human body in its natural form, conservative Islam even forbids unclothed bathing.

Genital mutilation is either highly suggested or outright mandatory for Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and many primitive tribal cultures as well. Various forms of self-inflicted mutilation can also be found in many religions and cults. Mutilation ceremonies are often conducted as a means of indicating the believer’s faith, suffering and devotion for God.

Followers of the Jain sect often wear scarves or surgical masks to prevent breathing in an insect and snuffing out the life of a reincarnated soul.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, notorious for endlessly pushing their ‘Watchtower’ tract onto anyone who can fog a mirror, refuse to serve in the military, salute a flag, or celebrate any holiday or birthday – apparently because their religion forbids them from forming an allegiance to an earthly power. JWs also believe that only 144,000 people will go to heaven and that they will remain behind to take over the Earth after everyone else is killed when the world ends … soon, really, it will happen any day now!

Jews and Muslims believe that their animals must be slaughtered in particular ways otherwise the meat is 'unclean'. Unfortunately for the animals, scientific evidence, and modern sensibilities these religious slaughtering methods are torture killings.

They bleed to death in what government advisers say is "very significant pain". … Religious slaughter is exempt from the provisions of the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995, which insist that creatures such as cows, goats and chicken be stunned first. Under the Jewish shechita system, kosher cows, lambs and poultry have their throats slit and then bleed to death. Halal animals also bleed to death, but some of them are stunned after the incision is made, depending on the interpretation of the Koran. [5]

Even the non-religious end up supporting these practices when they buy meat because the extra cuts are sold in the regular market without any markings indicating how the animal was killed. And the scale of this activity is enormous. In Britain alone over 100 million animals a year are killed by kosher (Jewish law) and halal (Islamic law) methods.

Jim Jone's People's Temple follower expresses their beliefLunatic cult leader Jim Jones, infamous for forcing his flock to drink poisoned punch in the jungles of South America killing over 900 in mass suicide, came from the mainstream Christian denomination Disciples of Christ. But what pushed him over the edge?

For decades missionaries have been flying into Sub-Saharan Africa and spreading the Christian faith like a wildfire. The natives come from far and wide eager to get a free meal as much as they are to hear the gospel message delivered by enthusiastic and convincing white people, so strange they may as well have beamed down from a different galaxy. While the missionaries claim millions of saved souls by promising an unverifiable posthumous salvation, the unstated price is the present turned into a living hell. After the missionaries fly away on a silver bird the new foreign beliefs mix with ancient tribal superstitions, then add endemic over-population to the cocktail of mental poison and consider this little black nightmare coming at you straight out of Uganda. Praise the Lord and pass the machete it’s the Lord's Resistance Army led by former Catholic altar boy turned professional psychotic Joseph Kony. A victim of the LRA in AfricaThe official mission of the LRA is to turn Uganda into a theocracy based on the Biblical Ten Commandments. The LRA spreads fear and gains recruits by capturing and mutilating children and forcing them to kill their parents – and that’s on a good day. Christian missionaries, Joseph Kony and the LRA are powerful testament to the words of Voltaire who once stated, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

Ancestor worship is a resilient tradition in Chinese culture, never fully extinguished by secular Maoist Communism. The tradition called minghun (afterlife marriage) involves burying a dead woman along with a dead unmarried man, after a posthumous marriage ceremony, in order to ensure his happiness in the afterlife. Although illegal it is not uncommon for profit-seekers to kill women and sell them as ‘ghost brides’! Minghun is just one particularly egregious belief-practice characterizing a culture that places a higher value on women dead than alive. [3]

The Holy Book of Mormon originated from metal plates buried in a forest in New York that were discovered by Joseph Smith, Jr. after supposedly being guided to the secret location by God, Jesus and an angel named Moroni. Smith hid behind a sheet and translated the mysterious symbols to his followers using special glasses found with the plates. The origin of the Mormon religion reads like a joke without a punch-line, yet the estimated 10,000,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) apparently really believe what’s written in their holy book. The Mormons didn’t get to be so numerous on the basis of an appealing set of beliefs; they got there the good ol’ fashioned way: brainwashed from birth. They're ordered to marry and have children if they want to attain the ‘highest levels of divinity’. Brigham Young had between 28 and 49 wives (but who's counting, right?), and although polygamy is no longer officially sanctioned by the Church of LDS, it is nonetheless still practiced. Polygamist Mormons have turned their religious beliefs into a financial scam because the second (third and fourth, etc.) wives are viewed by the state as unmarried single women with children (where present) and no assets, so they qualify for taxpayer-funded welfare benefits.

The Mormon Church’s polygamy, or “plural marriage” as they call it, is yet another demonstration of the manufactured ‘word of God’ being used to manipulate the young and the gullible and to justify otherwise unacceptable or harmful behavior. In this case, religious-based polygamy is just a trick to try and sanctify raping children. Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Texas, and now convicted of sexual assault on children, had at least 78 wives. Twelve of Warren Jeff’s wives were 16, and another twelve were 15 or younger. Taking his inspiration from the sacred Book of Mormon, Jeffs encouraged other men to trade their teenage daughters for child brides of their own. [16]

Orthodox Jews take adherence to rules and rituals to an extreme, refusing to use mechanical and electrical devices or do any kind of work, including cooking, driving, or cutting hair on the Sabbath. Public transportation is shut-down on the Sabbath, and rabbis control all Jewish marriage and divorce in Israel. [8] Influential Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv proclaimed that Jews can’t wear Crocs shoes on Yom Kippur because they're too comfortable. Halacha (Jewish law) forbids the use of any electrical devices on the Sabbath, so Orthodox Jews have specially built (Shabbat) elevators that operate without the need to touch any buttons or switches. But even that’s not safe enough because some Jews argue that simply the weight of the rider still increases the electricity used and therefore violates Halacha! [11]

 

Adding insult to injury, upon marriage Orthodox Jewish women have their heads shaved and the hair turned into a wig for them to wear! [10] Yes, the G-d of Orthodox Judaism is a very active deity obsessed with minutia, and not surprisingly just about everything that happens is caused by God. Otherwise, like all forms of Judaism, it's based on a severe form of exclusivity where all gentiles are the lowest form of life and all Jews are the highest; multiple, and often imaginative, forms of duplicitous behavior stem from this warped belief.

Judaism, known worldwide for its wealth of 'wisdom' and 'wholesome traditions', has its own version of the Taliban who exert enormous influence within Israel. Jewish fundamentalists enforce G-d’s rules vigilante style by assaulting women who dress or act inappropriately, like wearing red clothing because the bright color attracts attention. They also demand and receive gender-segregated public busses (women sit in the back – waaaay in the back), vandalize clothing stores they don’t like, and torch music and electronics stores for ruining souls. "Three years ago, a son of Israel's Sephardi chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, was accused of kidnapping a 17-year-old boy, beating him at knifepoint and terrorizing him with snarling dogs because he had sought the attentions of the accused's unchaperoned sister." [9] And that’s just in their free-time when Zionists aren't shooting Palestinians in the guts and building settlements with oversized Israeli flags on stolen land.

Religious vigilantes operate in a society that has granted their community influence well beyond its numbers — partly out of a commitment to revive the great centers of Jewish scholarship destroyed in the Holocaust, but also because the Orthodox are perennial king-makers in Israeli coalition politics. [9]

Traditional Jewish religious laws exert enormous influence upon society in Israel, even trumping secular laws. Jews in Israel can only get married under Halacha rules, and these rules have no minimum age limit for marriage. Throughout the world the slaughter of animals through torture killing, and every other aspect of diet, are regulated by kosher rules that are so arcane and bizarre that not even the Rabbis can agree on them, but they make a small fortune putting their kosher stamp on as many food, and even non-food, products as possible. Kosher marks can even be found on laundry detergent, revealing that it's all just a scam anyway – and you get to pay for it through the added price!

In Roman Catholicism, Catholics are forbidden to eat meat on Friday as decreed in the law of abstinence. In a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, the Catholic is required to convert the non-believer; and of course the kids will be raised Catholic. And there will be lots of kids unless the Catholic parents disobey the Pope, because the use of contraception is a sin according to the Church.

It's now well known that many priests have been found guilty of child abuse and pedophilia. Despite what Church officials have stated, shocking incidents of pedophilia were not rare or isolated but were in fact systemic, and occurred over a period of decades in Catholic schools, reformatories, orphanages, and other institutions around the world. Even more appalling, Church authorities knew what was going on but chose to cover-up the acts and shield the perpetrators, rather than stop the sexual-abuse of children under their control. And it’s not just sexual abuse either, the Catholic Church, and associated enterprises, has always been a bastion of physical violence and psychological abuse targeted at the young and vulnerable. The Church’s perversity is pervasive, persistent and it extends all the way to the top. The Pope’s brother, Georg Ratzinger, was in charge of a boys choir that a former student described as being run on "a sophisticated system of sadistic punishments in connection with sexual lust". [12] The Catholic Church has unequivocally demonstrated the terrible hazard of unaccountable authority while totally undermining the supposed moral righteousness of their religion.

Saint Nicholas was a bishop in Turkey, martyred in the year 305. St. Nicholas is better known today as Santa Claus and once did double duty as the patron saint of pawnbrokers and beer drinkers. Sadly you may need to find another deity to pray to as you binge drink since Nicholas was un-sainted by the Catholic Church in 1969.

The Seventh-day Adventist church is based upon the hallucinatory visions experienced by Ellen Gould White after sustaining a serious head injury. The SDA church is fanatical about vegetarianism, the imminence of Jesus’ second coming AKA the end of the world, and the fact that the seventh day of rest is on Saturday not Sunday! The infamous Branch Davidian cult leader David Koresh split off from the SDA church.

The Church of Scientology originated in the early 1950s with fantasy fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard and his Dianetics book. With a belief in past and future lives, miracles, mystical Thetan’s and bizarre space alien interactions Scientologists target Hollywood celebrities to add credence to their supposed path to spiritual self-improvement. Yet Hubbard’s Scientology has nothing to do with science and everything to do with the perpetual mental and financial servitude of followers. Children are contracted for up to a billion years of service to the Church that now enjoys tax-exempt status as a religion. The entrapment of children is furthered with their ‘Delphian School’ using ‘Study Tech’. The Church reaps millions of dollars from believers charging them for ‘audits’ that lead them to higher ranks in their hierarchical pyramid, and the large personal investment further compels Scientologists to believe and follow along, while intimidation and harassment keep most from fleeing the worldwide cult. [14]

People that follow animistic religion in Siberia are careful to watch what they say and how they express it because malicious spirits eavesdrop on conversations and will attempt to sabotage human efforts. Yet by simply using metaphorical language when discussing important topics they are protected against the machination of evil spirits because the spirits, despite superhuman powers, cannot understand language expressed in metaphors. [1]

Apologies to any religion, cult or belief system not maligned or listed. Gullibility is divine, thus sayeth the Lord.

Can I get an ‘Amen’?!


Mental Illness or Mental Religion?

When some people fervently believe in ghosts or when they follow commanding ‘voices in their head’ they're treated as delusional, crazy or even psychotic. These people are given medical treatment and brain-chemical balancing drugs in order to manage their mental illness. Yet when people profess the most intense beliefs in certain other things no one has ever really seen, such as demons, Allah, God, angels, heaven, hell, and so on, these people are treated with the greatest of reverence and The Spectrum of Belief, by Freydis, 2012social respect and even made into leaders and wise gurus who become rich from the donations of their faithful followers!

What is the difference here? The fantasies and delusions are equally foolish whether it’s the belief and obedience to a psychotic voice in the head or an imaginary deity residing in some magical place no one can see. Religious beliefs should be placed in the same class as mental sickness or any other serious psychological disorder that degrades the quality of life and the individual's ability to deal with reality.

One of the fundamental (but understandable) flaws with modern psychology is its assumption that sanity is defined using the mental character of the majority as a benchmark. But this standard isn’t really objective, it’s subjective and merely based on a relational comparison that's used incorrectly to define an aberrant standard for mental health. Just because many people believe in something that doesn’t make it valid, and just because a lie is repeated a billion times that doesn’t make it any more truthful than it was to begin with.

Why Do People Go to Church?

For many people church attendance is just about gaining a level of acceptance and trying to find solace with others. Church is about the comfort that comes from fitting into a crowd where the shared belief is just a common delusion. Another unstated benefit of church attendance is the intellectual equalization effect, which is especially appealing for lukewarm minds. It can be quite comforting to be with a friendly crowd that all hold the same childish beliefs because it puts all the members on the same (low) intellectual plane.

Many people say that religion doesn’t really hurt anyone because at least it gives people something to believe in and a reason to work together but those benefits can be gained from any idea-set as long as it’s consistent. All people are really gaining from religion is the comfort that comes from a life of staid habit and the illusory elimination of ambiguity from knowledge. By pretending to hold an absolute truth life becomes much easier because sides and boundaries are clearly defined and everything becomes black and white. This is just like saying life is easier as a slave because you don’t have to think for yourself and someone else makes all the tough decisions for you. It may be true but it is hardly a desirable status!

Why Do People Believe?

Beliefs are difficult to explain using standard terminology precisely because they seem to defy common sense. Human beliefs are so often detrimental to the individual, forced to maintain them with considerable effort against all evidence to the contrary, that the model of the meme was introduced to try and explain the phenomenon.Toss 'em out! Memes are used to explain how beliefs can take hold of a mind and spread even though they are so often surprisingly useless to the believer. Memes are the equivalent of genes except instead of being part of physical reproduction they function to reproduce ideas. However, just like a virus memes need an external host with which to replicate, hence the human mind works quite well as a vehicle to convey and magnify ideas and beliefs without regard to the benefit of the host but merely for the benefit of the meme and its increased propagation.

Despite the convincing appeal of the meme model, other explanations can suffice to explain the spread and tenacity of beliefs such as simple human social dynamics – the need for acceptance, the protection that comes from cooperation, and the stability that comes from consistency and habit made even more stable through artificial, reality-immune constructions.

Religion thrives where people feel economically insecure and uncertain about their future

Individuals that lack a sufficient sense of personal efficacy in life, be it of thought or action, will default towards authoritarian modes of living where everything is divided between the powerful that dominate and the weak that submit. But in reality personal power is all in the mind and outside of obvious physical limitations everyone is only as constrained as they think they are. Post to minimize harassment from Mormons, Jehovas Witness', etc.And this is another reason why the stranglehold of religion on the mind is such an insidious threat – it intentionally constrains the efficacy of the individual and it engenders the belief in a fundamentally false authoritarian view of reality based upon the exploitation of one group over another, just as God dominates his creations and the priests deliver orders for their flock to obey, and so on down the line. Further, in this warped world of faith, salvation can only arrive from an external, and by definition, more powerful source. The only real ‘salvation’ that can ever be achieved has to be self-motivated, but this is why people that have a weak sense of personal efficacy also lack any sense of personal responsibility – I have no power to control my life therefore nothing I do is my fault. Welcome to the hell that religion and belief creates.

“No matter what the Church authorities tell you to do – do it. If it’s right, it’s right. If it’s wrong, they’ll be accountable, not you.”
Chauncey G. Webb (Mormon) 1903

How this strong versus weak power distribution forms is never fully explained except through tautology and the excuse of divine intervention. But in practice the ‘strong’ get to the top because they create their own free will, they seize opportunities and lead an active and engaged existence. While the ‘weak’ achieve their status because they accept the authoritarian order and agree to live a passive and unengaged life disconnected from responsibility and any sense of real efficacy.

Always remember: belief is a choice

The lesson of Nihilism, contrary to religious belief, is to not run from life, 'evil', and the world in general but instead to meet it head-on with aggression and aplomb.

The Bible Explained

Anyone that actually reads the Bible will realize that 'the good book' is full of terrible behavior examples, gratuitous violence, sexual perversion, nonsense rules and glaring contradictions; but mostly it’s simply a hopelessly confused and practically impenetrable mess! From cover-to-cover the Bible just doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. Comprehending the Bible is made even more difficult by preachers and theologians who pick and choose bits and pieces so they can present the message they want to convey, without regard for context or accuracy, for their thirty minute sermon to the flock who only reads bits and pieces of the Bible themselves.

But the incoherency of the Bible transitions into focus if you read it recognizing that God, particularly in the Old Testament, is really invoked not as reason to explain events but as an excuse and a justification for contemporary authorities to get away with words and actions that would otherwise be unacceptable to most everyone, and indeed that the people would reject outright and probably flee from for their very lives!

I also gave them over to statues that were not good and laws they could not live by; I let them become defiled through their gifts–the sacrifice of every first-born–that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord. – Ezekiel 20:25-26 (NIV) [15]

When you read the Bible through the perspective of tribal rulers exploiting the fears and superstition of the people to sustain their blood-soaked and thoroughly despotic reign of terror and error, while gratifying their debased desires in the process, the pieces of the picture start to fall into place. The Bible isn’t a guidebook, it’s a screaming warning in the form of a maniacal depiction of what not to do (and what not to let anyone else do as well)! And this makes the Bible all the scarier because so many believers really do try and use it as a rule-book to live by.

Belief and Purpose: The Challenge of Absurdity

I’ve stated before that a reduction to the level of survival is a convenient basis for a common cause, but what exactly does a person really need for survival? Food, shelter, and clothing are tangible, standard issue necessities sufficient for a non-sentient being. But humans have complex minds attached to their physical bodies and they've evolved as social creatures that exist within, and because of, collective interdependence. Consequently, a sense of community is another element necessary to human survival. Because humans have a conscious awareness of reality they also have another need, which is a sense of identity, or to put it another way, a social context with which to place themselves in relation to other persons and objects in time and space. Finally, every person needs a sense of self-worth and a purpose within that context of community and identity otherwise they are faced with a very potent absurdity that must be mentally rectified one way or another to maintain sanity.

When community and the necessary sense of social bonding to others breaks down individuals become isolated and alienated from their social and physical environment. Individuals cut-off without any social context lose their sense of purpose in life because the individual either cannot deliver any value to society or what they can do or produce is not needed by society, consequently they lose a sense of purpose in life. If this situation carries on long enough then existence becomes an absurdity for without any purpose or point to anything the individual lacks any reason to continue the struggle of life. Thus the thinking goes that ‘if I'm worthless, then so is everything around me, and life is pointless’. At this stage the individual becomes like a computer on a classic episode of Star Trek that self-destructs when faced with a reflective non sequitur as the ego returns conflicting and erratic output from the irrational input.

This is the unstable and anti-social state of mind that the school shooters find themselves trapped within. Full of anger from an ego cheated of its sustenance these kids ask themselves: 'if no one wants me and I have no purpose, then why am I here?' The resulting spree of violence and self-destruction from this chain of thought is sometimes referred to as an expression of nihilism. But nihilism is a result not a cause of anomie! A society that makes vast segments of its own feel worthless and redundant is a society on the road to ruin anyway.

It may well be that school shooters are acting rationally but basing their actions upon irrational input; however this alone is not enough to produce the outburst of deadly violence. Psychotropic drugs have been used by nearly all of the school shooters. Anti-depressant medication, such as Prozac and Luvox, can lower inhibitions and in extreme cases the individual begins to live in a dream where the counter-balancing force of intellect is no longer sufficient to prevent the emotional response from taking over. When this is combined with a conditioning to violence through an immersion and obsession with shooting and killing, such as through movies and games, this individual may eventually act out in a deadly school shooting. 

The religious and superstitious take another track to the absurdity of existence, they argue: “… since I am here, then I must have a purpose!” However, this is merely employing an absurdity they like to counteract an absurdity they don’t like. Superstition and religious beliefs are just a means of psychological self-preservation in a situation that is full of apparent absurdities; they protect the ego by mitigating the influence of the simplified logic of self-destruction. Like a duckling that will follow the first thing it sees after hatching from its egg people also imprint by adopting whatever belief system they discover upon self-awareness, usually the beliefs of their parents, and so the cycle continues.

But what is religion and spiritual belief really about, what is it trying to find? Religion is really just the attempt to find some sort of cosmic meaning that comports with subjective values and generates a divine purpose behind everything, but since such a thing doesn’t exist it must be concocted! These convoluted efforts to circumvent absurdity indicate the importance of purpose and self-worth to the health and survival of the human psyche. Widespread feelings of inadequacy compound the problem as they are propagated throughout cultures influenced by the incestuous echo chamber of corporate driven mass-media, promoting unrealistically high expectations and standards in wealth, beauty, and social esteem (fame). Today many people work longer hours not because they actually have to but because they think they have to; they need the extra cash to compete for the status symbols of living based on mass-consumption. Instead of one car, now they need three. Instead of one television sufficing, now they need three – one for the bedroom, one for the living room, one for the den. Instead of a 1200 square foot ranch house being enough for a family of five, now a family of three needs at least a 2800 square foot home. The issue is: given that competition is instinctive, what do we compete for when we already have everything we need?! So, this is not really an issue of competition, which is woven into human nature, but rather the character of the competition itself and the metric people are using to rate their self-worth.

In an environment of foolish competition it becomes imperative that we reassess the values that are driving us to collective self-destruction one individual at a time. Today we live in a cultural environment that is largely antithetic to human mental and psychological health and one that even promotes anti-social behavior through TV, music, films, and a broad assortment of media, while many physical structures fracture community and direct human interaction. A surfeit of primary desires such as food, clothing, personal time, and entertainment – far beyond the survival level is such a recent phenomenon in history that human nature has not yet evolved an adequate response to deal with it. Consequently, self-destructive behaviors emerge such as eating to sickness and obesity or promiscuous sex until death by virulent disease.

"Our brains misfire when presented with a situation to which we have not evolved a response." - Evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers, 2005

Although teenage school shooters are probably the most visible product of the absurdity of existence without meaning they are by no means the only expression. Indeed modern existence has become a veritable carnival of self-destruction. The hedonistic lifestyles of many gay men are another example, for once one assumes a completely homosexual lifestyle their purpose as a biological being is entirely negated for they cannot reproduce and their sense of chronological context is lost. Without a biological purpose or context homosexual men have a redundant existence, and for many in this state all they have left is to seek short-term pleasure even at the cost of a painful death by horrible diseases in the longer-term.

The existential dilemma is largely a problem of social redundancy. An individual that has no sense of purpose becomes introspective and depressed. Thus as social and economic redundancy has increased in modern society so has depression, suicide, and similar deleterious mental and physical conditions.

There's no such thing as meaning without context, for such a situation is an absurdity. Meaning is a subjective creation that emerges from the confluence of four primary elements: food-shelter-clothing, self-worth, identity, and the social context of community. Individual purpose is meaning directed into action; the solution is action in a social context because purpose, just like life itself, is a tautology – you create it by doing it.

Defeating Religion, Superstition and the Culture of Stupidity

The gap between the world of the believers and the faithless is so deep and profound that it really marks a rift in the species, a biological differentiation between the thinkers and the drones. Everything in our modern world from space travel to electronics to modern medical care is a result of the rational thinkers, the people who have ceased to believe in and use God as their guidance at least long enough to function productively according to rational thought. The sky won’t come crashing down upon us all when we challenge the authenticity of religion and beliefs. The public once believed that when a train topped 50 miles an hour it would crash into a wall of air and that human powered flight was impossible because God didn't give people wings. Faith never built a train or an airplane – careful objective research, engineering and construction did!

“A lot of folks want the supernatural – they want something special. They want to believe in something, but they don’t know which way to go. You put the right thing in front of them and give them half a reason to go for it, and they will.” – Duane Laflin, 'magician for Jesus' explains particular appeal of his act even to an adult audience, 2008

The essence of belief is escape; it is about inventing a comfortable lie to avoid an uncomfortable reality, a reality that many believers are completely incapable of processing. A surprising number of humans are simply unable to exist in a universe that doesn’t revolve around an anthropocentric, self-centered perception of events that provides them with answers to every question in monochrome simplicity. Believers are incapable of interfacing with reality because reality requires independent thought and responsibility.

Our biological evolution operates on a scale far in excess of our own lives. In the meantime we have to operate with the material already present, such as it is. We can’t directly change the religious faithful because their beliefs are carefully constructed to be immune to common sense while the believers are programmed to be resistant to all reason and logical counter-arguments. But we can do it indirectly by changing the environment, by altering the cultural landscape. The majority of religious followers are not really beyond hope; they merely follow the course of least resistance along the cultural topography, like a river down a valley. The path to collective health and sanity requires a revision of the constraints of culture, ambient values and the standards of acceptability. We have to begin to make the cultural environment less friendly and tolerant of superstition, foolish belief and other forms of willful stupidity.

The promotion of superstition and belief in paranormal phenomena dulls people's minds and establishes dangerous misconceptions about reality in our society. Such efforts have to be countered. [...]
For many, the regressive belief in superstitions and miracles is an escape from the hardships of life. Once trapped into irrationalism, they become more incapable of mastering reality. It is a vicious circle, like an addiction. They become vulnerable to exploitation by astrologers, godmen, dubious pseudo-psychologists, corrupt politicians and the whole mega-industry of irrationalism.
– Sanal Edamaruku, 2012

Mock the Christians and every ridiculous notion they hold so dear but can never prove or substantiate in any way; make them embarrassed and ashamed to continue believing in their childish fantasies. The religious should feel embarrassed not because they can never be anything but hopeless losers but because they don’t really have to be hopeless losers! Since believing is a choice, religion is a case of optional maladaption to the environment. Where is the excuse?!

The world's poorest countries have the most religious people

Mock all the religious be they Mormon or Baptist, Sunni or Shiite, Orthodox or Hassidic or anything else. The world is too small and dangerous to allow collectively suicidal beliefs to perpetuate and inflict suffering upon everyone regardless of whether they’ve earned it or not. No more excuses for gullibility; no more special exceptions for foolish behavior, and especially not for the fools that promote it. Instead, promote intelligence, criticism, healthy skepticism, and a challenging intellectual environment that doesn’t roll over and die just to make people feel good about their self-inflicted disabilities.

Coping with Believers and Religious Zealots

A considerable portion of email comes to me from people asking for help in dealing with coworkers, neighbors, and strangers who are outgoing moral conservatives, religious fundamentalists, self-righteous Christians, and the like. ‘Is there anything I can say to them that will convince them otherwise, or at least get them to tone-down the threats of me going to hell as a nihilist, atheist, or anarchist?’

The rest that haven’t had to deal with religious opponents might be thinking, ‘why does it matter?’ It probably will be an issue at some point, but regardless the stakes are higher than you might realize. Ideally, everyone should be free to believe whatever they want, yet in practice conflict is inevitable because the more fervent the believer the more strongly compelled they are to try and convert everyone else to their faith. Indeed, most religions mandate proselytization and conversion, even by force if necessary! So in reality there’s just not much space for freedom anyway. And the stakes are high when moral conservatives are relentlessly trying to dumb-down school textbooks to support ‘creationism’, God and capitalism, while theocratic maniacs are involved in bloody wars to get their claws on power. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that if you aren’t fighting back against superstition you’re going to be under their thumb in no time. Once reason and impartial consideration are thrown out in favor of faith, no one is safe. So, consider what Voltaire said: "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities," and remember that those atrocities done in the name of God may one day be done against you and your family.

Media Resources

Suggesting a book or a film for the religious-type to learn from is usually of limited effectiveness because they always seem to have their own books and movies that will reassure them otherwise. But, even if only for your own benefit, here are a few that I’ve found beneficial:

The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins. The author takes a very step-by-step approach to establish why God is a sham, why it matters to all of us, and what we can do to move beyond superstition and into a stage of healthy living.

The God Who Wasn’t There by Brian Flemming (DVD). This is a great one to watch, made by a former Christian who realized that the contradictions and overall absurdity of Christianity, and religion in general, are simply too much to believe in. He goes on to explain the origins of Christianity, how it became a myth through centuries of elaboration, and that Jesus Christ may have never even existed.

Where’s the Appeal?

Since supernatural deities are bogus, everything that flows from that belief is equally misguided; and since everything that the believers have is either demonstrably false or unverifiable, where’s the appeal in it? In order to efficiently address the situation you need to get an idea of the religious mindset that you’re up against. The previous writing here, such as Why Do People Go to Church? explains much of the psychology and social factors involved. For many believers God and faith offer certainty; with faith they finally ‘know’ something that can’t be rescinded or made obsolete through progress and development – 'the God I follow is in charge and as long as I follow orders I have nothing to worry about'. This (imaginary) certainty gives the believer an anchor in the stormy sea of life. The believer looks out into a big world and sees that technology is constantly rebuilding everything around us; secular culture is continually growing and changing, and that science (being a process of hypothesis and verification) is constantly being revised. But for the believer, ‘God and my Holy Book are always the same!’

Conquering Fear

Much of the resistance to dumping belief is simply a fear of the unknown and the ever-present threat of damnation and hell for disbelief. But which hell are you afraid of? If you’re a Christian then you’re going to Muslim Hell, and vice versa. You can’t believe in every God, so what makes you sure the one you chose isn’t the wrong one? There’s a multitude of ways the absurdity can be thrown back in the face of the believer. Humor and satire are very effective ways of revealing foolishness masked by routine and tradition.

Ultimately it’s not enough to highlight foolishness, we have to offer something that’s appealing and reassuring without the need for faith and religion. Planet Earth is filled with unique experiences, interesting places, different people and ideas. The universe is filled with mind-bending oddities and peculiar forces that are waiting to be discovered and explained. There’s no real reason to fear it or to concoct myths in order to hide it from an open mind. Existence is much brighter and rewarding without specious rules and imaginary barriers.

What can I say to them to make them change their mind?

People do change their minds about important matters, but it only occurs after deep consideration, frequently only after years of internal debate and personal turmoil. So, there’s really no single thing you or anyone else can say that will instantly change minds. Some despair that after working on enlightening a believer they realize, after another week of church and Bible study, the believer is right back at the beginning! The social network that the religious have is the major force holding them in tight orbit around their stellar black hole of faith. Unless you can convince them to stop going, the best thing to do is start (or join with) another social network to counteract the onslaught of superstition. This can be done a variety of ways, a word-of-mouth meeting at a friend’s house, online forum, or scheduled event.


News

Study reiterates that belief in God and religious teachings don't make people behave better; that award actually goes to secular people. 06.11.15

 

Religious demand for ivory causes slaughter of endangered elephants 18.10.12

 

Ultra-orthodox Haredi Jews terrorize children 31.10.11
 

Nigerian traffickers use black magic to trap women in prostitution -

"Without faith in ancient, traditional beliefs, this modern form of slavery would not exist." 07.04.11

 

Study finds that religion is going extinct where it isn’t popular anymore because it no longer confers any status or social utility, 22.03.11

 

Christian fundamentalists bulldoze South American forest for cash, 05.10.01

 

Praying man let his daughter die, "If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God. I am not believing what he said he would do." 02.08.09

 

New Jersey Rabbis arrested for human organ trafficking, corruption, and money laundering. 24.07.09

 

Time and energy are limited in life, that’s why priorities are so important. Violently protesting a parking lot in Jerusalem that's open on the Sabbath must rate right at the top of the list for Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel. 27.06.09

 

Official investigation reveals Catholic authorities committed  chronic and wide-spread child-abuse in Ireland. 20.05.09

 

Following tradition Pakistani tribesmen bury five women alive for wanting to choose their own husbands, 30.08.08

 

Seventh-day Adventists pray for lower gasoline prices, 07.03.08

 

Brigitte Bardot criticizes Muslim slaughter, French government fines her for 'racism', 06.03.08

 

[In Nigeria] a new and terrible phenomenon is leading to the abuse and the murder of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children. And it is being done in the name of Christianity.
From: Children are targets of Nigerian witch hunt, by Tracy McVeigh, Observer, December 9, 2007.

 

Man 'marries' dog to beat curse
The wedding took place at a Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu state. The "bride" wore an orange sari with a flower garland and was fed a bun to celebrate.
From: BBC, November 13, 2007.

 

English fraudster gets 20 years for US church scam
Most of the 900-odd victims of Liverpool-born Welsh, 63, had one thing in common: they fell victim to his callous manipulation of their religious faith.
From: Guardian (UK), July 14, 2007.

 

Notable story in Jewish national mythology comes under scrutiny
The new paper is only the latest in a series of attacks on the original Masada dig, which some scholars now think was colored less by scientific rigor than by a desire to enshrine the desert fortress in a national mythology of heroism and sacrifice.

Once a pillar of Israeli identity — army units used to be sworn in on the mountaintop, shouting the sentence "Masada will not fall again!" — the Masada story fell out of favor as Israelis became less comfortable with glorifying mass suicide and identifying with religious fanatics.

The very story of the suicide, as recounted in dramatic detail by the 1st century Jewish-Roman historian Josephus Flavius, also has come increasingly into doubt. Many scholars now believe it was either greatly exaggerated or never happened at all.
From: New research questions some Masada remains, by Matti Friedman, AP via MSNBC, June 22, 2007.


1. Religion Explained – The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought, by Pascal Boyer, 2001, Basic Books.

2. Toilet tied to tale of Dead Sea Scrolls, by Alan Boyle, MSNBC, November 15, 2006.

3. Ghost brides are murdered to give dead bachelors a wife in the afterlife, by Jane Macartney, The Times (UK). January 26, 2007.

4. Bhutan's Enlightened Experiment, by Brook Larmer, National Geographic magazine, March 2008 vol.213 no.3, p. 132.

5. Halal and kosher meat should not be slipped in to food chain, says minister, by Martin Hickman, The Independent (UK), April 7, 2008.

6.  Weird History 101, by John Richard Stephens, 1997, Adams Media, p.126-131.

7. Saudi religious police ban pet cats and dogs, AFP, July 30, 2008.

8. Like most any other religion variations in interpretation lead to different behavior patterns and some Orthodox Jews will break Sabbath rules in emergencies. Nevertheless the point still remains that these kinds of harsh holy orders do exist and are usually obeyed by followers of the faith.

9. Jewish 'modesty patrols' sow fear in Israel, by Amy Teibel, AP, October 4, 2008.

10. The Thirteenth Tribe, by Arthur Koestler, 1976, Random House publishing, (first American edition), p.157.

11. Rabbinical ruling causes havoc on elevators, by Tia Goldenberg, AP, October 26, 2009.

12. Pope's brother linked to new claims of child abuse by clergy, by Jerome Taylor, The Independent (UK), March 9, 2010.

13. Mexico hit hard by Vatican's repudiation of Legion's founder, by Tim Johnson, McClatchy, 11 May 2010.

14. What happens when you try to leave the Church of Scientology?, by Lawrence Wright, The Guardian, 23 April 2011.

15. For a very revealing look at the Bible in all its shocking glory check out: Ken's Guide to the Bible, by Ken Smith, 1995, Blast Books.

16. Fundamentalist sect leader jailed for life for sex with child brides, by Ed Pilkington, Guardian, 9 August 2011.

“Without hesitation, holding nothing sacred, strike out both right and left, only illusions will be shattered" – Blackheart, 2010

   

 Content & Design By Freydis
Updated: November, 2015
Created: 2005