Propter Hoc: Religion

By Elli Leimone

     

         I will not tackle every specific religion, rather focusing on Christianity because I am surrounded by it and have been effected by it more so than any other. But be aware, you can replace any of my points on Christianity with any other religion, and the end result will still have the same solution.

         I would like to begin by saying I spent the first seventeen years of my life as a churchgoer and ‘follower of Jesus’. It was only when I detached myself from the safety blanket of my parents and religion, allowing myself the freedom to explore the world of knowledge and my own mind, did I realize how closed off I was from the mind boggling, beautiful wonders of everything else in the world.

         Why is there electricity in our bodies? How do our bodies go every day without us consciously controlling certain functions, like beating our hearts, or breathing and blinking? Why do we have an appendix if we do not use it? Exactly what are germs? Why do animalsgrow into so many different shapes, sizes and colors? How do leaves know it is going to rain, or flowers know to bloom in the direction of the sun? Will the sun burn forever? What is a galaxy? What makes the Aurora Borealis shimmer and appear? What happens when stars, great big balls of neon colored gases, die? How does a planet form and grow stable enough to create and support life? And what is the possibility that there is actually life besides our own somewhere else out there?

         These are all questions that have intelligent, in depth answers, and yet a god could not seem to answer me, which led me to wonder how true his existence could actually be. If a god did not have these answers or, at the very least, find some of them important or stunning enough to put in a book intended to be his forever-legacy, how can he be god? How can he be all powerful, all loving, and all knowing if he fails to mention something as important as germs that, when left uncleansed, will result in disease and death?

         Some may say god made science, but why would he make science if he knew it would become crucial to mankind, and yet so abhorrent to his existence? Others will say that they are okay with not understanding everything, but there is a crucial problem with this lazy, melodramatic reasoning: nobody is expecting you to know everything. As a fellow human being, I expect others, as well as myself, to at least make an attempt at being competent and logical. Because when you ‘don’t have to try to understand’, people - your kids, friends, students, followers, etc. - will come to you for answers, and you won’t have any. Where answers are unknown, trust and dependence falter. But more importantly, when you have no interest in understanding, you weaken us and prevent our progression as a species. You don’t save a rotting limb. You chop it off.

         Theists of whom I converse with every so often have a tendency to tell me that I am young and confused, while praying that I find my way back to the deity I ‘abandoned’. Not only does this insult me, it reinforces my view on religion, in that it is lazy, pretentious, and narrow-minded. The religious always want to tell me what is wrong with me, never giving me answers other than verses froma contradicting book orinterpretations of that contradicting book. This may sound like an overdramatic claim, but it’s not. The bible preaches constantly to its followers that they are imperfect sinners and don’t deserve their deity’s forgiveness. Of course they are also constantly told that they are forgiven and loved completely by their perfect deity, but my point is they are also constantly put down so they feel worthless because they don’t deserve this forgiveness. This is a process called Stockholm’s syndrome, but I’ll touch on that in more detail in a later chapter.

         I have found sources that provide me with more answers and more security than I have ever felt or heard credited to a god or any of their books. And no one can say that god gifted me with these answers and this security, because he would have known I would have forsaken him, which is unforgivable, so there is no ‘finding my way back to him’.

I cannot help but be angry at religion and those who spread it. Angry for implying that I could know answers by just having faith in them or their gods or their books. I would put my science textbooks against any religious literature in a heartbeat, and I would win any conceivable argument with a basis on anything other than faith. The same cannot be said for arguments based on faith. Religious beliefs are hindering, and I hold everyone who worships a deity responsible for attempting to hinder methroughout my life.

         Understand I am not blaming every theist – Christian, Jew, Muslim, etc. - for what religion has done, I am blaming religion for what it has done to them. It is manipulative and threatens either eternal pain or eternal slavery after the only thing we can be sure of as intelligent beings: death. Every birth is not consistent, life is definitely not consistent, but death is simply that. Death is when a life force ends. It returns to its original form as energy and fades back into the universe. But there is nothing else after we die, and this scares a lot of people to the core. It should, but not to the extent that we end up creating fantasies that hinder our advancement and actually accelerate our demise.

         School is no place for religion, for instance. When exposed to religion at a young age, children are more vulnerable than ever to be indoctrinated and manipulated, whether intentionally or not. And religion teaches you to rely completely on something you cannot reach with the five senses. How is that not confusing to a six-year-old’s imagination and his six-year-old spongey brain?

         Would any adult believe me if I told them there was a bright pink walrus with wings standing in the room with them? Hopefully not, because there is no evidence to consider that there is. You cannot see, hear, smell, taste, or touch the bright pink walrus that I claim to exist in the room. You would probably call me crazy if I stressed enough that I believed it. But if I instead told you there was no such thing as a bright pink walrus with wings and it wasn’t standing in the room with you, you would agree with me.

         So, no, I am not blaming every theist for what religion has done. What I DO blame theists for is not questioning the things they devote themselves to so intensely; namely their faith, because this they claim to be their sole purpose for existence.

         Is it sensible to strive for proficiency when you do not know why you are striving for it? Nobody loves a god first and then is taught of him. Someone has to teach you first, and then you become attached, most likely, through hardships, sacrifices, and even a little indoctrination.

         I understand why it happens. What I do not understand is, for example, how there are grown Christian men and women reading, preaching, and performing demands and desires ofa contradicting book written well over two thousand years ago, accepting everything it says without any scrutiny.

         Jonah survived inside of a big fish for days. God - who has no physical being that man can lay eyes upon - supposedly ate with Abraham and wrestled with Jacob (and won only by injuring the man’s hip). Samson slayed one-thousand men with the jawbone of an ass, right before he lost all his strength overnight due to his head being shaved.A donkey saw an angel and then spoke human language to his master (presumably in Hebrew).

         These sound like stories you would tell a kid at bedtime.

         Entering ‘the holy place’ without wearing bells can result in death. Houses and clothes can have leprosy (and the cure is, strangely enough, incantations and the blood of a bird). You can only find happiness after death through god and his son (who is also him). If you don’t worship him, and only him, and follow everything written in the ‘good book’ verbatim, then you will burn for eternity in hell by fire and brimstone.

         These sound like stories you would tell a person if you wanted to convince them to do something.

         I have a quote from an author named Annie Dillard that I’d like to share with you:

 

“Somewhere, and I can't find where, I read about an Eskimo hunter who

asked the local missionary priest,

‘If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?’

‘No,’ said the priest, ‘not if you did not know.’

‘Then why,’ asked the Eskimo earnestly, ‘did you tell me?’”

—ANNIE DILLARD

 

         (ROM 2:13-15) suggests that even those who don’t know Jesus Christ have the assurance of heaven, if they ‘perform the law’ without knowing it exists. This is backed by (ROM 5:13), suggesting that not understanding your actions are sinful means that you aren’t being sinful, and (ROM 10:14), which basically reiterates by saying, “And how can they believe in one of whom they have not heard?”

         What I get from that is this: people in other parts of the world - who haven’t heard of Jesus, god, or Christianity and don’t worship any other gods or religion – are exempt from the law because they don’t know it exists. That means they can’t be punished for their sins, because they don’t know their actions are wrong.

         And yet only those who except Jesus Christ as their ‘lord and savior’ can enter the kingdom of heaven (JOHN 14:6, JOHN 3:16).

         How about this: Are you a religious Christian? Do you make mistakes? Could some of those mistakes have been considered sinful? Most likely, right? (1 JOH 1:8) “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” It would be wrong to claim that you do not sin or make mistakes, because that would insinuate that you are perfect. Nobody but god is perfect. And yet, (1 JOH 3:9) “Whosoever is born of god doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of god”.

         Christian’s cannot sin. But that is a blasphemous claim. So Christian’s do sin. But they can’t sin. And yet that is a blasphemous claim. You see where I’m going with this?

         The definition of perfect is to be ‘pure; right; correct; without flaw, fault, or blemish’.

         So howcan evil spirits come from god (ISA 16:14-23)? Why would he flood the entire world, killing everybody from innocent infants to the frail elderly? Why kill every first born son of Egypt or plague them with disease and famine? Why, if God is all-good, do we have reason to fear him? If he is all-knowing, why pray to him? If he is all-loving, why does he anger? If he is everywhere, why erect centers of worship? Why, if he is perfect, does he have reason to be jealous?

         If he punishes us with cruel acts, why give us free will when it is very clearly not perfect? If he made us to love him, why give us knowledge of ‘hate’? How is he perfect and still capable of creating something that has flaws, faults, and blemishes? Why were we seemingly ‘created’ only to fail?

         None of these questions have intelligent, in depth answers, if some of them have any at all.

         And when a Christian says that we are not meant to understand god’s reasons, ways, or being; how are we supposed to serve him with loyalty and love when we don’t know if we’re going to make a mistake that wasn’t specified or explained in the bible? Child abuse and torture were not written into the bible among the list of things ‘not to do’, but that doesn’t make it right. We know it’s wrong because it is simply that; wrong, and inhumane. Every good person would agree with this, including some, if not most, of the religious.

         We don’t need religion to understand that flooding the world is wrong, or that murder is wrong. We don’t need religion to know that raping and molesting children is very wrong (and yet the Vatican seems to somehow rack up billions of dollars every year in lawsuits). It is very possible, and much easier, to live life happily and prosperously without a god. It is very possible, and much easier, to know right from wrong without religion. If god exists, than he not only lets evil exist, but created it. Religious prayers don’t stop sickness or war or pain. Churches don’t house an ever-growing population of homeless people. So why do we need them?

         We don’t.

         It is not necessary to have faith in a religion to be a good person, and yet most theists passive aggressively ensue this. Religion is condescending and prideful, in that it preaches eternal ‘happiness’ after death, but only if you obey their particular god. It seems that if we were to get rid of religion all together, things would be better off for us as a species. The Dark Ages (Christian’s slaughtered tens of millions of people); The Holocaust/WWII(Lutherans inspired the Third Reich, which burned six million Jews); the Inquisition (Spaniards flooded South America and took over the region); many religions degrade women and children;inspires the persecution of homosexuals; slavery; the burning of witches, mediums, wizards, and anyone simply accused of using magic, which once upon a time included seducing a man simply by being beautiful and in the same room as him…

         And yet the majority of us refuse to see the problem.

         Religions are nearly as old as we are. They came from our first attempts at trying to explain the world around us with brutally primitive intelligence. One of the firsts, we believe, is worshipping the sun, at one point called Amen Ra. This makes more sense than religion today, because the sun is what allowed their crops to grow and their cattle and families to thrive. Not to mention we can see and feel the sun.

         As decades and centuries passed, the number of religions began to grow more and more, because different opinions were formed on how we came to be, how life exists, etc., etc. Once upon a time, we thought the world was flat and sea monsters were a legitimate hazard. People caught on to how easily followers were manipulated through things like ‘faith’ and ‘beliefs’, which later inspired aspects of society, government, marketing, and tons of other stuff, and still does today.

         It’s not necessarily the fault of the people who fell for it, they didn’t know any better. They were unintelligent, because the world was still a mystery to everybody. It is easy to fill in the blanks whenquestions have amazing, unimaginable answers or the right ones are never asked in the first place. They never knew something could be ‘microscopic’, or considered that there was something beyond our earth, moon, and sun. They didn’t know to ask these questions, and much more complicated questions, until the men and women who founded these ideas thought of them.

         Compared to us, the ‘smarts’ of people hundreds of years ago could be considered the equivalent of a dumb ape’s. And in another century or two, when science has studied and realized any new number of different things we don’t know now, our ‘smarts’ from this time period will also be considered the equivalent of a dumb ape’s. But if we continue to allow things like irrationally duplicitousimaginary friends to enable us, we will never be able to reach our true potential.

         With so many religions, and all of them claiming to be the ‘one true faith’, who do you believe?It’s not possible to worship them all, but if you pick one of the hundreds of religions that exist, the odds that you will pick the right one are severely against you, and everyone thinks they pick the right one.

         So, wouldn’t the most logical answer be… none of the above?

 

“Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able?Then is he impotent.

Is he able, but not willing?Then is he malevolent.

Is he both able and willing?Whence then is evil?”

DAVID HUME

 

“I contend that we are both atheists.I just believe in one fewer god than you do.

When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,

you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

STEPHEN HENRY ROBERTS

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