Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Belief and Faith

"When a man has once brought himself to accept uncritically all the
absurdities that religious doctrines put before him and even to
overlook the contradictions between them, we need not be greatly
surprised at the weakness of his intellect"
-Sigmund Freud: The Future of an Illusion

"The religious man has no trouble believing the ridiculous and only wonders why he's so much better at it than everybody else is. This he takes as a sign from God."
-St. Brian the Godless

What is a belief?

If I think that I have a belief, I’m not sure. But if I believe that I have a thought, it implies certainty.

Belief is a tricky subject. The words “belief” and “faith” both imply thinking something is true without evidence. Most of their definitions seem to entail this. And yet, most believers see it quite differently, as beliefs somehow trumping mere thoughts, as in being preferable and somehow superior to them.

If I think that there may be a God, or even if I think that there is a God, I am still open to discussion. If new data comes in, I can change my mind easily enough.

But if I believe that there is a God and have faith in it, there can be no more discussion. My mind is closed to new data that may disprove my belief. Forever.

In the Christian mind, belief and faith are seen as very good things indeed. They are held up as the optimal mindset. In my mind however, they’re anathema to human growth, both personally and as a society.

As little children we are asked by our parents to believe in many things. In a Christian home, belief in God is a central tenet. You have to believe, or you’re bad, evil, and wrong. You have to love God with all your heart and mind, even if you can’t see Him or really talk to Him, and even if the things that He does make no sense. Even if there’s not one shred of hard evidence for His existence. Even if people that call themselves believers and faithful seem to do a lot of bad things in the world. Against all logic and reason, you must not question. You have to believe, or you’re bad, bad, bad.

There are benefits to belief and faith in God. They make understanding an incredibly and possibly infinitely complex reality, utterly simple. GodDidIt. Period. Next subject.

Having belief and faith makes thinking about one’s own death much easier. If you’re good, you’ll live on forever in heaven, playing cosmic badminton on clouds and watching people you didn’t like in life fry in hell on the widescreen. Such bliss! Of course, if you’re not good you burn forever in hell, because after all, God loved you and you spurned him, and he’s a jealous, wrathful, shallow God who cares about such things a lot. But of course you’re good. You know this because you believe in God, so you’re good by definition. So no need to worry about the place downstairs. You’ve got Pascal’s Wager covered.

So what end product does this produce in a person?

It produces a person that is absolutely sure of their own rectitude at all times. They know that they’re right about their God and about reality, and thus that all other faiths and non-faiths are miserably wrong, and even evil. They do not question themselves, since to do so is considered evil. If you have the audacity to question them about their faith, they automatically "know" you to be evil and perhaps even satanic, so it will only reinforce their own position. They see this life as a game, a conflict between good and evil, presumably represented as God and Satan. If you point to any crack in that logic, you’re the stupid one in their eyes. And on the side of Satan as well. Nice way to dismiss it.

The end result of this is a self-serving egomaniac, not a spiritual person. Pride kills real spirituality like Raid kills roaches.

The senselessness of all this, the affront to logic that it represents to any person not involved in the religion, is astonishing. And yet, the faithful “know” that God is real, and all the rest, to the exclusion of all evidence offered. “God works in mysterious ways.” How many times did I hear that litany as a child? Too many to count. If you rephrase it to more reflect the reality of the situation, the more accurate version reads “God works in illogical and seemingly evil ways completely contradictory to how we insist on seeing Him in spite of all that.”

If we sometimes marvel at pederast priests, or at serial killers that are leaders of their congregation, or at the hypocrisy of an abortion clinic bombing, we need to remember that we’re not dealing with people that think about things at all; they merely believe and as such are enormously handicapped in this life. They are blind to reality, having willingly rejected it. They are easily led, by anybody that knows the right keywords. They have been taught never to question themselves, so how could they know that they’ve let themselves become deviant? They can’t even see the reality that we’re judging them against, so how can they know when they’ve deviated from it into a self-congratulatory psychosis? They cannot.

So in that light, I have a question for all True Believers, those with Absolute, Unshakeable Faith.

Can you think, or do you just believe that you can? And how would you know if it was only the latter?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Where Do We Get Our Morality?

Morality is doing what is right no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told no matter what is right.
-H. L. Mencken

Fear of God is a barrier to real morality, not a path to it.
-St. Brian the Godless

I’ve heard so often from Christians “We get our morality from God.” In fact, it’s common to hear them say that atheists have no real morality since they (we) do not believe in God. They say that we atheists do not have consequences so we have no reason to be moral. That we believe in evolution, survival of the fittest, which they interpret as “nature red in tooth and claw” and so they assume that our atheist morality is based on survival and killing off the competition. They believe that they get their morals straight from God, and that we get ours from the animals. This allows them to see atheists in a bad light, as inferior to their clearly superior and God-Inspired system of morality. Which, of course, is how they wish to see us. Seeing atheists as posessing real morality is antithetical to their deeply-held belief that they are morally superior to us for their belief in God. And they need that belief. It’s what keeps their egos inflated properly.

Atheists argue that morality evolved as a necessary trait when we “went social” in a big way. When we started to live in tribes and communities and cities. We always displayed “moral” behavior toward our children and families as do many lesser creatures, but now it has evolved to also extend to complete strangers due to the necessity of living in close quarters to said strangers.

Perhaps. I mean, we certainly developed empathy as a survival factor, caring about others, being able to imagine being the other person, imagining looking through their eyes at their problems and situation. It’s an extension of caring for ourselves and our children. And if you’re truly empathetic, morality follows, unless you are unable for some reason to empathize with all others. For instance, if something blocks you, such as a belief that says that others are clearly inferior to you, are evil, or are otherwise lacking in goodness and rectitude.

Someone, a Christian, recently asked me “So where do you get your morality from?” and without hesitation I replied “From my empathy and my imagination. I look around me and see the problems that confront us and separate us and I feel the loss, the sadness, of all of us not being able to get along, and then I imagine a perfect world somewhere in the future where such problems do not exist anymore. Then I work backwards from there to here again and can thus see what is serving us now and what is not. For that perfect world to occur, we have to learn to love all others, accept all others, and empathize with all others without reservations. Period. It’s obviously the answer. So, there’s my morality.”

My morality is thus based in my empathy and my imaginative ability to see what we need to do and how we need to act, in order for the world to ever be at peace. I may have evolved my ability to empathize and my imagination, but my morality wasn’t so much selected for directly as it was a necessary result of those two things being a part of me already. My morality exists because I can empathize with all others and can imagine a perfect future where we all do, and cannot see any other way to get to that future but to start working toward it now. And I can see that it’s the only correct path. So could Jesus. Not so much many of His present-day followers, unfortunately. Since they believe that their morality comes from God, an outside source, they often cannot see any need to develop it within their own hearts. For them, the fear of hell is their morality. And fear-based morality is not morality at all. It’s obedience under duress. Not a fertile source for the love necessary to really be moral. But an excellent source for the egotism necessary to look down on all others and find them lacking. And that’s no way to Love Thy Neighbor, in my opinion.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Gentle Jesus meek and mild
How come your old man's so wild?
Killing people left and right
Showing off his godly might
Destroying mankind in a flood
Cursing us with boils and blood
Froggies rain down from the sky
All of the firstborn must die
You're so nice and kind and good
Always doing what you should
You never even talk of hate
So why is daddy so irate?
With him it's threats and death and fear
He never even sheds a tear
One small misstep, one tiny sin
And then he doesn't let you in
He sends you down to meet his friend
And there you'll meet your fiery end
(It burns your flesh both night and day
Until the last stars fade away)
He loves us not, or so it seems
Unless he loves to hear our screams
He made us to be what we are
And punishes us when we get that far
You are his son, or so they say
And yet you're both like night and day
I wouldn't want to get you mad
But are you sure that he's your dad?
-St. Brian the Godless

We’ve all heard the phrase “God is Love” but what does that mean, really? If the God of the Christians is love, exemplifies love, then I think we have a problem. Because we will have to redefine “love” as something that in no way prevents God from punishing many of us eternally with searing agony for merely doubting His divine existence. We have to redefine love as something that allows for the loving Creator torturing His creations. How can torture ever be love? Especially when you consider that the torture will never end, so it’s not as if it’s to teach you a lesson. After you learn the lesson, you’re still stuck in hell forever.

Christians love to talk about how Jesus is God incarnate. By God we must assume that they mean Yaweh. (Or Jehova if you follow the error of early German translators) If that’s so, then why is Jesus nothing like His Father from the Old Testament? Compare Leviticus to any of the Gospels in content and tone. The latter sound loving, at least the parts with Christ’s message delineated in them. The former couldn’t be more evil if it were written by Old Scratch himself. Your son gets drunk and loud sometimes? Take him to the town and have the men of the town stone him to death. Problem solved. Your slave needed a beating? If he gets up in a day or two, no harm, no foul. If you kill him, then you’ve sinned. So don’t kill him, just beat the living crap out of him. Avoid vital organs as you pummel. There’s even a quote about throwing the babies of your enemies to the ground, onto rocks. Dashing babies to death is somehow love?

Nowadays, getting stoned doesn’t mean what it used to…

Modern Christians (of the hypochrist stripe) seem to have no problem reconciling the two extremes in one identity. God is love, but God is also torture. God made us all to love him, but if we don’t, or if we simply can’t find enough evidence for His existence in the creation that He made in order to believe in Him, then our Loving Father has no problem consigning us to the cosmic incinerator, for the rest of time. Sure. No problem with that. It all makes sense. Providing of course that your logical mind has been neutered.

Y’ever burn your fingers? It HURTS. Now imagine that all over your body, all the time, forever. Foever. Forever. Somehow, that is love. God loves us, except when he decides not to anymore. He made us to be what we all are, and then punishes us when we aren’t what he wants us to be? Can’t He get it right?

It’s all well and good to say that the ways of God are mysterious, but logic is like mathematics. It’s implacable, even in the case of the Deity. If the Deity behaves contrary to logic as regards to the question of love, then the Deity is proven not to love, at least as we understand the word “love” itself. There’s no mystery about it. Love never involves torture. The two concepts are incompatible with each other.

The words of Jesus Christ indicate to me a philosophy of loving all others unconditionally. As a skeptic I might try to make a case that even Jesus Himself never existed as an historical figure (we have virtually no hard evidence that he ever really walked the earth) but I cannot deny the beauty of the words attributed to Him. And as a logical person I also cannot deny the ugliness of rest of the Bible. So where’s the disconnect? Why does this disparity exist? And it’s not only between Yaweh and Jesus, it’s also between the words of Jesus and the rest of the New Testament.

The simple explanation is the one that Christians cannot allow themselves to hear. That the transcendental beauty of Jesus’ philosophy was recognized by the early church founders and was seen as the perfect bait for a trap set to ensnare the minds of the simple people. Starting with Constantine or even before, these people were the early precursors to Niccolo Macchaivelli. The Old Testament already existed of course, and by writing a new one with Jesus as the star but with plenty of control mechanisms implanted into the surrounding texts, and connecting it to the old, they gave it gravitas. They made it credible. They needed a carrot, and found Jesus. They needed a stick, and there it was in Leviticus and the rest of the Old Testament.

It’s brilliant, really. And it still works like a charm. No better control mechanism exists. Macchaivelli would be proud. Or come to think of it, perhaps old Niccolo learned his dirty tricks from the masters who practiced and perfected them centuries before. The founders of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Does Christianity Dumb You Down?

"Jesus loves me, yes I know
Cause the Bible tells me so
That is all I need to hear
And so I know I'll never fear
Nothing else is in my head
Except a book by guys long dead
Science isn't telling me
What I can and cannot see
I never, ever take a look
Since I only own one book
Jesus is my only thought
When others ask me what I've bought
I’d rather pluck out both my eyes
So that I can't see the lies
That Science tells us are the truth
I think that Science is uncouth!
Telling me that things fall down
And how a cricket makes a sound
And how planets spin around the sun
And how the gears in watches run
I do not need to hear the facts
I only need religious tracts
And prayers to our Great Lord above
Who blinded me with Bible Love
It feels so good to be so dense
To live behind an iron fence
To shelter fragile minds from truth
(Indoctrinate them in their youth)
Feed them tales of God above
And all of His undying Love
And how he put things in this place
Plain as the nose there on your face
That seem to say that He's not real
That's just the lying Science deal!
He put them here to fool us guys
When we try to use our eyes
We know better, yes we do
Science is at best, untrue
At worst a strange Satanic plot
To show what is real, and what is not
Why should we care what is real?
We still have the Christian deal
Believe in God, at any cost
And look to others like we're lost
Hope for God to make it clear
When the Rapture cometh near
With nonbelievers left behind
You'll all be sorry that you whined
Of how we're descended from some beast
(I don't believe it in the least)
“No Thanks” I say to Science stuff
I think that I have had enough
Of facts and reason, Truth and Hope
I'd much prefer to be a dope."
-St. Brian the Godless

Does Christianity Dumb People Down?

Christianity needs it's believers to believe in it utterly and without reservations, but it cannot be proven in any way, being at its core completely unreal and fictional, so it necessarily must destroy a person's ability to reality-test. It accomplishes this by presenting side-by-side options to the believer which are contrary and negate each other, insisting that the person believe both, on pain of hell and damnation of course. So, God is Love, but if you doubt it He'll burn your ass in hell forever. This type of thing, over and over, will eventually erode the person's ability to even see what is real and what is not. Which is the point. The indoctrinated Christian insists on seeing the world as an expression of their belief system. They cannot merely examine the world and draw conclusions. They must make it conform to their beliefs. So when reality differs from their beliefs, they have to find a way to explain it to themselves somehow. They have to find a loophole. Thus we have the apologists, trying with all their might to make the unreal seem as real as the real.

For two millennia the religion has survived and flourished by convincing people that it's real. So it's pretty good at it by now. It has developed an "apology" for everything a rational person might advance as an argument. Christians often can spout chapter and verse of the bible in response to an argument. They've been told that the Bible is the Word of God, so while they personally won't tell you that they know everything, they will of course say that God knows everything, and since He wrote the Bible and they've memorized it, they can feel that, in effect, they do know everything, at least everything they need to know.

This is of course, PRIDE.

And it's funny. I've heard that it was a sin or something.

Opening Post on Religion from St. Brian

"Religion is most like a computer virus for brains. It comes complete with instructions for development and propagation of the virus, and code that prevents the person from deleting it or noticing that it doesn't conform to reality. It is orchestrated, organized, and officially sanctioned psychosis, made easily digestible and palatable to the masses." -St. Brian the Godless

This is a place for discussion regarding the effects of religion in general and Christianity in particular on society. All are welcome.

In particular we will discuss its deleterious effects on intelligence in general and how religious adherents often behave in a manner diametrically opposed to their stated moral principles. We will discuss the idea of programming and how the only difference between organized religion and a cult is the number of adherents.

We will also delve into biblical parables and stories and discuss how tenuous they are in the face of logic and reason in this modern age.

Whether Jesus ever even really existed as an historical figure will also come up from time to time.

Cultural hot-button issues such as abortion and gay marriage will of course be frequent topics.

Also a topic of discussion will be the increasingly rare variety of Christian that actually does adhere to the words and actions of Jesus Christ as extolled in the gospels. I wanted to make particular mention of this sort of person since they're not a part of the problem society faces, they're a part of the solution. So my DISCLAIMER on this site is that I have nothing against "real" Christians, and bear then no ill will whatsoever. In fact I welcome them as friends.

Spirituality in general will also come up, more in contrast to religion than as a part of it, since in my opinion religion is the opposite of real spirituality.


Writing a blog is an evolving process for me in more ways than one. For instance, I'm trying to soften the tone of this place. On reflection my initial post here was a bit too hostile and narrow-minded sounding. I'd rather focus on discussion rather than casting stones when I'm far from sinless myself. (I hope all the Christian readers appreciate my usage of that last line there)

Thanks for visiting. Please don't hesitate to leave a comment.

-St. Brian