Commentary - Religion
Before the, "age of PC diversity," everyone, even the religious, called beliefs that had no rational or evidential foundation, superstition. It now considered wrong, everywhere, and in many places a crime, to point out the absurdity of beliefs and practices of the superstitious. While superstition is the source of every kind of evil practice, from international terrorism to localized torture and mutilation, but it one is not supposed to point out it is the absurdity of people's beliefs that are the cause of these horrors.
There are many kinds of superstition in the world, but the most common is religion. No religious person believes his religion is superstition, but recognizes that the teachings of other religions are certainly superstition. Every religious person believes this of the other religions. It is the one belief common to all religions that is correct.
Except for those that make their living from religion, and there are a great many who do, religion and its practice adds no material value to the life of any individual. In fact, any of one's time, energy, and effort that is spent on religion tends only to impoverishment, because that same time, energy, and effort cannot be spent in activity that is materially profitable. Those to whom religion is important and worth their time and effort obviously to not see their life in this world as valuable else they would not squander it on that enterprise called religion that provides no value for this world. Most religious admit this is the very case. The value they look for is in another world, which they are sure they will gain, because their religion promises it to them.
There is no God, Nothing is Permitted
In our article, "What is Superstition", the reason human beings prefer their superstitious beliefs to truth is explained thus:
At the heart of all superstitious beliefs, sometimes explicit, but always implicit, is the promise that there is something more than reality, something above reality, something which cancels the requirements of reality, a secret that enables those who know it to rise above mere reality, to defy it and get away with it. Superstition, which is never called superstition, is a magic wand that makes exist what in reality cannot exist, a metaphysical wild card that makes one automatically a winner, the universal "get-out-of-jail-free" card that allows one to escape the consequences of their choices and actions, the flying carpet that defies all of reality to give its owner a free ride to success and happiness.
The universality of religion is usually attributed to same essential need of the human "soul," but, the real reason religion is so widely embraced is because, in all its flavors, it offers a promise of what in the real world one knows they can never have. While religion is promoted as something that appeals to human virtue, its real appeal is to humanity's basest desire, the desire to escape the truth and the demands of reality.
In our article, "Truth and Superstition," under, A Secret Loathing, we said:
Reality is ruthless. Defy reality, and it will destroy you. Refuse to work, and you will starve. Refuse to learn, and the mistakes you make in you ignorance will kill you.
Reality is demanding. You must conform to the nature of reality all the time, because the moment you let up, it will strike you down. Stop paying attention, just for a few moments, while driving on the highway at 70 miles per hour. Don't bother paying your bills for a month. Forget you insulin injections for a day. Just forget where little Sarah is for a few minutes a while at the Mall.
Reality is cruel. Disease, death, disaster strike without regard to anyone's position or opinions. The world is full of destruction and misery, though most of it is created by other men. But all of nature is cruel and the entire chain of life is one of death, killing, and being killed.
Reality is unforgiving. You've made a mistake, but the law forgives you, your parents and friends forgive you, you even manage to forgive yourself, but reality never forgives. It may be a forgivable mistake, but the dead animal cannot be made alive again, the pregnant girl cannot be made "unpregnant", (at least she can never have her virginity restored), you cannot cancel what you have done, not ever!
Have you been unfaithful once, then you will always have been unfaithful once. Did you steal something once, then you can never claim always to have been honest. You do something stupid and loose an arm, leg, or put out your own or someone else's eye. You may never do another thing so foolish again, but the arm, leg, or eye will never be restored.
Mankind, generally hates reality, just because mankind does view reality as ruthless, demanding, cruel, and unforgiving. What mankind wishes for is a reality that is pliable, easy-going, kind, and forgiving. At bottom, mankind hates reality, hates the necessity of having to work hard all the time, hates the necessity of having to learn so much, hates never being able to act on whim, or passion, or impulse without consequences, hates knowing they cannot do wrong and get away with it, hates knowing you cannot get something for nothing.
What mankind wants is exemption from consequences and a shortcut to success, wealth, happiness, or whatever else their current whims and fancies convince them they want. Reason does not show them how to have or achieve what they want the way they want it. Reason only enables them to understand the truth that describes reality as it is. They don't want truth, either. The truth just condemns them for their hate of reality.
Religion doesn't condemn them for their hate of reality. Religion tells them, they are right. Religion tells them reality is pliable and easy-going, in fact reality "loves" them. Religion tells them they do not have to work hard, that their works are worthless anyway. Religion tells them they do not have to learn so much, because it is not knowledge that matters anyway, only what they believe. Religion tells them they can act on whim, passion, and impulse, and that they ought to, because it is God working in them. Religion tells them they can do wrong and get away with it, all they have to do is confess their wrong and they are forgiven.
And that is secret of religion.
The anarchists, according to Dostoevsky, said, "God is dead, everything is permitted." But the anarchists got it backwards. Reality does not permit anything and reality does not allow anyone to get away with anything. Reality never forgives, only God does. Reality never provides anything free, only God does. Reality never condones evil, only God does.
"God is dead, nothing is permitted. You cannot defy reality, you cannot defy the truth. To refuse to learn the truth and to live by it is to court disaster and tantamount to suicide. It is what every religion teaches one to do.
The God of most religions is amoral.
Morality has no meaning where there is no possibility of choice between good and evil. Most religions teach that good and evil are determined by the fiat decisions of their God. This belief is the source of all such statements as, "without God, there would be no moral values." It means that good and evil are not based on any rational principle but on what God decides, and since there is no principle behind those decisions, God may say whatever He pleases it good, and it is.
Here is an example. Suppose you or I make or build something, and when we are finished we look it over and claim, "by George that's good." If we are not deceiving ourselves, it means we have evaluated our work against some standard and determined that it meets that standard. Now when "...God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good..." (Genesis 1:31) it only means He said it was good, because there was no standard he had to meet, since He determines the standard.
By this understanding, God is amoral. God is not capable of choosing between good and evil, because for God, there is no evil.
While such religious people are free to call their God, good, holy, righteous, and just, these descriptions really have no meaning, at least not any meaning we give to these words when applied to any other beings or things in the universe. Anyone could be good, holy, righteous, and just if they were the ones that determined what goodness, holiness, righteousness and justice are.
If God is truly good, Holy, righteous and just, those values must be determined by something other than someone's whim or will, even God's. They are. They are determined by truth.
The religious are fond of saying, "if there were no God, there would be no absolute standard of right and wrong." If there is an absolute standard of right and wrong, than God must be subject to it. A standard is not absolute if it depends entirely on someone's fiat declarations. Such a "standard" is not even objective, but totally subjective, depending on the latest whim and mood of God, and can change anytime God's mood does. That is hardly absolute.
The gods of some religions are also immoral.
That mistaken view which makes God amoral is not as serious as those views of God that reduce Him to a subjective tyrant, subject to irrational passions of great affection one moment and extreme cruelty the next. The God of these people is immoral. They may describe Him as amoral, meaning that whatever He does is right, because he is omnipotent (the ultimate right makes right argument), but in His actual choices it is obvious they attribute to their God, certain principles to which their God is subject, thus justifying what He does.
It is unsafe to trust the promises of any God who is not subject to the truth. If truth is whatever God says, there is nothing to prevent Him from saying He has changed it.
A God who determines morality, or truth, or reality, cannot be trusted. This is the God of all those who wish to control men, and they, of course, are always the conduit through which God speaks to men. Whenever you find a religion that changes it principles or positions at various times through the actions of councils or the proclamations of its leaders, that religion's God is one of those that cannot be trusted.
The God of the many Moslems and most Christians is a murderer and teaches His followers to emulate Him. The God of the Mormons is an bigamist and teaches His followers to emulate Him.
When men presume to shape their God into a God they can "relate" to, they always end up with a God with the same moral weaknesses as their own. When men are determined to know the truth, whether they like it or not, and pursue it, at all costs, they discover their God's standards of are always higher than their own, and are forced to conform to His standards or fail to know Him at all.
There is nothing wrong with religion, but every religious organization is evil. Most religious organizations are also dangerous.
According to the Bible, Jesus Christ came to do away with organized religion. Christianity, as that words pertains to all the organized religions that call themselves by that name, is the enemy of the cause of Christ. He came to reconcile men with their God. He, by his own testimony and the testimony all the writer's of Scripture, is the only mediator between God and men and the only means to the reconciliation between them. Every organized church that exercises any authority, in doctrine or practice, is usurping the authority of God and the Lordship of Christ.
If you belong to a religious organization of any kind and your religious beliefs are taught by that organization, your religion is wrong.
The basic problem with doctrine of any organized Christian church is the assumption that God cannot or would not write a Book that can be understood by those for whom it is written without the help of some self-appointed religious authorities, teachers, or expositors to explain it to them. The fact is, the, "official doctrines," every brand of organized Christianity includes some doctrines that are not only mistaken, but contradictory to everything taught in the Bible.
No matter what one believes about the authority of the Bible, if a religion claims it is established on that authority and its teachings contradict that same authority, there is not reason to believe anything that religion teaches, and every reason no to.
Choose God over Government. God is willing to rehabilitate anyone, if they choose to be rehabilitated. The government also seeks to rehabilitate. The difference is, government seeks to rehabilitate everyone, whether they choose to be rehabilitated or not. Also, government rehabilitation never works, but God's frequently does.
Government and God, for most people, serve a common purpose. Most people are so certain of their own inadequacy to achieve or acquire what they want in life they must look to some other agency to supply what they believe they want and deserve. The two agencies that offer to provide that are religion and government. Most people embrace both, the one to cover temporal material concerns, the other to cover eternal spiritual concerns. In actual practice, they frequently get the two confused, and look to their God to supply material needs, and to their government to answer specific moral questions and provide support and a climate suitable for their religious convictions.
Furthermore they are confused about the differences in the nature of God and Government, frequently attributing to Government attributes that are true only of God, such as unlimited power, wealth, or wisdom. In fact, the government has no power, except the power of a gun, or that which others are compelled to supply; it has no wealth, except what it confiscates from its citizens; and, as for wisdom, well, it is almost always wrong, and when it makes a right decision, it is only because it has exhausted the field of wrong ones.
Finally, there is a false belief that government and God work hand-in-hand to accomplish a common purpose. In fact, the Bible teaches that God uses governments, which are almost always rebellious against Him, and He uses them to give people exactly what they think they want, and they are always very sorry when they get it.
Nowhere is the creative genius of man more perfectly exemplified than in the creation of his gods. He is able to take the Scriptures, any Scriptures, it seems, and from them create a God to his liking that he convinces himself and others is the one true God. And once convinced, he and his followers not only feel justified, but righteous jubilation in condemning, excommunicating, and burning at the stake anyone who does not see that their God is the one true God, and they know their God will reward them for it.
Almost all theology and religious teaching is an attempt to make God understandable to man, in some way it is supposed He is not already perfectly understandable. The result is that God, when the theologians and religious teachers get through with Him, is always something less than God. This is because the method of making God more approachable and more familiar is to make Him more like man.
Interestingly, when God actually became a man, when he was more approachable than ever, we would think, if the theologians and religious teachers were correct, the world would have flocked to and embraced Him. Did they? Of course not. They hated Him and killed Him and were very glad to be rid of Him, so they could go back to practicing their religion. Most religion today fulfills the same purpose in a more subtle, less violent way.