SIF-less is not a sexually transmitted disease

Why religion?

A starting point could be a discussion of what are three principle reasons that lead humans to any superstition:

Selfishness
Ignorance
Fear

or as I call it SIF

Selfishness
This is normal. You are selfish. I am selfish. Everyone is selfish. Ok, more accurately self-centered. The human mind only makes decisions - all decisions - based on a simple rule = toward pleasure and away from pain. You may say that sacrifice in its many forms contradicts but it doesn't really. If a person gives, the actual motivation is pleasure. The "giving" or "loss" feels better than "not giving" or "keeping." Even in its ultimate form; suicide, it is an act of an individual exerting power and choosing a less painful alternative. This is difficult for many people to accept - especially theists. We are told our entire life to think of others first and not ourselves. The abrahamic's each profess to be "giving," peaceful and only trying to save humankind from eternal suffering and death. History would disagree with that description and not only do the holy books of each describe torture, blood, death, destruction, punishment, and horrors too numerous to list but the people of these faiths have long ago exceeded their divinities in every category. Even the bible references "love your neighbor as yourself" - let me emphasize the "as yourself" part. That would certainly seem to imply that self love is normal and acceptable. On this single point, I would whole heartedly agree.

This isn't a bad thing or a good thing - it is just the way a normal human mind works. Of course, when you focus exclusively on our own wants (not needs - there is a difference) to the intentional exclusion of others it becomes a negative thing and that is where religion comes in.

Being selfish is not a stated principle but that is exactly what prayer is. Logically, If a god is perfect with a perfect plan and is all knowing and all seeing - there would be no purpose to asking for things? Actually, it is a tradeoff for blind belief. You see, it works like this; you give god your complete and total "self" and you get to ask for special favors until the big payoff of eternal life. Like a child who is taught that doing something good deserves a reward the obedient get to avoid all kinds of bad things. It doesn't actually work but since they had the belief that it would in advance of asking they will find "miracles" when they look. There is also the adage - god always answers prayers but sometimes with a resounding "no." This way no matter what happens it is god's will. It is just a miniature example of the eternal life promise - be a good sheep and you get to live forever (after actually dying of course, we don't want any complaining customers coming back). Just in case god doesn't fix it or give you what you want there is always the good old devil to blame the bad stuff on. This leads me to . . .

Ignorance
Belief without critical thought is easy - exceedingly so when that that belief is presented by parents or trusted adults to children. Ignorance isn't stupidity. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge not a lack of capability. Many intelligent people do not understand brain surgery. That doesn't make them stupid but ignorant. I don't profess to completely understand the human condition, the entirety of science, what happens after death or any of life's mysteries. Philosophers, scientists and thinkers throughout history have examined these questions and even with the constant efforts of religion to squelch them there has been progress. Humankind knows a great deal of the answers and more are resolved every day. Still much to learn but at least someone is trying. Theism works hard to stop human knowledge because it is in opposition to mystery. Mystery binds frightened people together because what we don't understand, we fear . . .

Fear
No person in even relatively good mental health wants to die or suffer. Certainly nobody wants to spend an afternoon burning in a fiery pit of some sort, never mind an eternity. When someone tells you that you have the choice to agree with a belief system without question or an invisible person/thing/creator/whatever will punish you for ever and ever in the most horrible ways, you start trying to find reasons to believe. Does that sound caring, loving, gentle or even nice? Kind of makes that pushy car salesman seem like a great guy eh? Regardless; that is what children all over the world are told. It is reinforced directly and subliminally throughout life. It isn't surprising at all the vast numbers of people are bullied into whatever is the local religion. The whole "foxhole" thing is just trying to say that when a person is in danger or frightened they are incapable of dealing with it without a magical/invisible protector; i.e. we are all cowards. Fear works. Death is certain and since humans are in-fact selfish we tend toward hedging the bet at linking ourselves with the idea that it is possible to live forever. It is a way to rationalize our fear of suffering and death.

I suggest that not focusing your life on your selfish "wants," working to improve our state of ignorance and learning to overcome natural fears might just give you a case of SIF-less. I know I'm working on mine.

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