The Trap of Religion

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Religion claims to provide moral and ethical enlightenment as opposed to the pagan anarchy that it views as the only alternative.

But this enlightenment is inclusionary to the specific belief system producing a contradiction to a unified approach to the nature of understanding existence. Despite the denial of adherents that their religion is for everyone it is explicitly for those who believe in it.

Atheism is criticized as nihilistic or amoral since the mindset of theists are programmed to believe that without divine authority there can be no other guidance that provides moral or ethical framework. This worldview discounts the natural ability of the human mind to produce equitable behavior based on reason and logic as sources of moral guidance.

In essence it can be stated that there are two major themes that are addressed in religion – reciprocity and authority, one is meant to appeal to reason and the other to bind obedience.

RECIPROCITY

Do not murder, steal, or lie – These social issues of reciprocity have been addressed in much older laws such as the code of Hammurabi. It can be argued then that these concepts are not derived from divine guidance but instead from evolutional survival traits. Humanity realized long ago that certain behavioral limits must be in place to provide cultural continuity.

AUTHORITY
No other gods before me, no graven image, etc – These rules instill unquestioning authority in charismatic fashion to the belief system.

The problem with charisma is initially it seems so revolutionary until it becomes institutionalized then it reverts to unquestioning domination. Any non-secular form of government suffers this no matter how benign.

Time and again the moral adherents follow dogma and superstition in order to be accepted into a social group or protected from persecution. They become victims of their own philosophical trap of fear based judgement because eternal damnation is very real to them.

This belief system based on ancient custom becomes an attractive and easy alternative to independent thinking. But as history has shown time and again it also provides validation for the persecution of others who disagree or challenge the authority.

However, it has been demonstrated that when religious adherents are confronted with their own violations of these moral precepts in front of peers they will deny the transgression just as often as non-adherents. They will lie to appear faithful thus reinforcing both their concept of original sin in which they can be forgiven and validation of the need for their religion.

This denial exemplifies the fundamental flaw of charismatic moral systems to provide the actual guidance and moral fortitude needed to maintain cultural and societal coherence. Exactly the problem that religion claims to solve.

CHARISMA IS THE CULPRIT

This modified form of hero worship abdicates personal independent growth in emulation of an idealized archetype that bears no relation to shared reality. We can look at the current culture of modern day celebrity as a symptom of this delusional preoccupation with personality.

Without such coherence, the continuity of society is subjected to a cycle of conservative and liberal extremes that only keep existing power structures in place. However currently these existing power structures are still based on feudal caste systems that prevent true social mobility by solidifying population control into the hands of the few powerful elite.

So if we are seeking true enlightenment using religion then we are going backwards by definition as it is sometimes translates from latin as lego “read”, i.e. re (again) + lego in the sense of “choose”, “go over again” or “consider carefully”.

Consider carefully then just where you place your faith.

SOURCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ancient_legal_codes 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reciprocity_(social_and_political_philosophy)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charismatic_authority

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199704/the-truth-about-lying

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/22/study_religious_more_likely_to_lie_for_financial_gain_partner/

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13 thoughts on “The Trap of Religion

  1. newchristiantruth September 9, 2014 — 10:17 am

    With all due respect some people need religion for some sort of order in thier life. Without it they would not be able to function in society. People were made to follow, therefore, they must.

    1. I’ll argue it is that kind of thinking keeping Humanity under self imposed subjugation enabling personality worship and mob mentality responsible for more suffering than it prevents.

  2. newchristiantruth September 9, 2014 — 3:00 pm

    I do understand what you are saying. May I add that some people are driven out of fear and/or weak minded to the point of easily being manipulated by someone else who is a poser. If someone is being driven into religion out of fear then they will most likely stay. Have you heard of Eddie Long or Crefelo Dollar who scare the money out of thier church goers pockets with the notion that if they don’t tithe that God will hate them and make sure that they are broke before monday noon? Followers such as those are more common than not. They are led by fear and not the love of any God or god.

    1. I had not heard of Creflo Dollar (what a name), – when I did search for him the first image that drew my attention was Mr. Dollar under the word “arrested” – on family violence no less – http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/18738248/rev-creflo-dollar-arrested-on-family-violence-charges

  3. newchristiantruth September 9, 2014 — 9:35 pm

    Yes he was arrested and charges were filed against Eddie Long for pedophilia. 4 church boys says he forced them to perform on him on church grounds.

    However, they still have a congregation that faithfully attends church every Sunday without question and they help pay for their private jets, ivory pianos, RV’s and leisure trips out of the country.

    Those same people that are paying them millions of dollars are catching the bus. Why? Because Crefelo and Eddie say they love the Lord and have convinced them that if they question this instead of tithing that they all go to hell.

    So why do these people continue to line these guys pockets instead of paying their light bill? Because they are convinced that if they do not have religion or a god to follow or someone posing as a god, Eddie and Crefelo, then they go to hell when they die for not praying hard enough.

    People like this need religion in order to maintain some frame of reference for being productive in society. Without religion they would be lost because they know nothing else and have been told that they should know nothing else, or they go to hell.

    Fear holds them to this instead of any logic.

    1. If we accept fear comes from ignorance then education becomes the alternative in order to change peoples minds. We then as rational thinkers need to bear the responsibility to educate for the sake of future generations not to be subject to the same fallacies.

      Accepting that things cannot change becomes our failure by not challenging beliefs that contradict observable and tested scientific theory.

      Believing people cannot change also contradicts scientific theory as time has repeatedly shown people can change their worldview when evidence overwhelms their bias.

      As evidence I would put forth the religious belief of the flat earth idea that was proved wrong and is now accepted by everyone as fact.

      It was those who kept working to change that worldview we can thank for alleviating that particular ignorance and giving us the opportunity to go farther.

      We now have the same task to move Humanity forward so previous hard work and sacrifice are not lost to those who use ignorance for their own gain.

      Atheism is good example of this challenge to the perception of religion being the only absolute moral authority when it perpetuates obedience through intimidation like eternal damnation.

      It does not help that atheists become so embittered and frustrated as to lose sight of the greater enlightenment possible by the challenge. I find myself guilty of that as well but that doesn’t make me a condemned sinner requiring forgiveness, only human like everybody else.

  4. newchristiantruth September 10, 2014 — 7:19 am

    Education is the key to stop ignorance. However, the person has to want it. If someone is stuck in a solid flawed belief system and others are enforcing this flawed belief system then they will see no need to listen to anyone other than the validators who are misinformed.

    Christians like me and Atheist challenge the belief system and push people out of thier religous comfort zone by actually reading the Bible and other texts and exposing what is not taught in church.

    This further aggravates the Christian who is already under a belief system and more than likely has some insecurities.

    Forgiveness is another subject. How can forgiveness be taught correctly if someone is already under a belief system that’s giving them bits and pieces of information interpreted incorrectly.

    And for some people who have lost everything, religion is all they have left. If you take that away from them it could spiral them into a very dark place.

    People who are in that space should be left alone if that’s all they have.

    1. But isn’t that the trap of it…this gets me into thinking more along the lines of “reverse proselytizing”. Using the same techniques evangelicals use to manipulate the hopeless into only accepting that narrow understanding but instead we have to find a way to reveal through reason the harsh truth that places the people I think you are speaking of in this mental darkness. Telling people they have no hope reinforces the idea and keeps the narrative in place.

      For me, a reality of no everlasting life is a metaphysical slap in the face but it is the only verifiable outcome of this life we have.
      Why not see it or “sell it” (metaphorically) as the freedom to live your life now, not for the now but in the sense that this is the one chance we have to create our “limited” eternity. There is song by Rush that goes, …”learning that we are only immortal for a limited time”.

      I explored this idea in my short story called the Atheist Afterlife.

  5. I question the whole definition and the notion of atheism itself. By some people’s standards I am an athiest for even daring to question the Bible or anything in it. Is there such a thing as an atheist or is ‘atheist’ a label that’s given to a person who asks logical questions about religion and seeks answers that will not be found in a Bible. That’s going in circles. Right?

    The trap is taking a child with an impressionable underdeveloped mind and imposing and forcing a belief system on the child that is made up of bits and pieces of the truth. And then when that child asks as question the belief system is further enforced with a hard bible hit to the head telling him/her you’re not allowed to ask a question or God will get you. Then, the ‘ruled by fear’ is set in concrete.

    The secondary trap is getting older and having the same questions you had as a child and told again that if you ask that God will punish you some sort of way for asking.

    Therefore four choices are left.

    1. sing the song and dance and play the part of a christian for everyone else’s viewing pleasure to prove something and refrain from being a bad christian by asking questions

    2. continue to ask questions and study beyond what you’ve been told tell them all to kiss your foot and continue to search for the truth and tell them for the joy of religious debates

    3. continue study in secret and feel guilty for going against the grain but keep it a secret that you’re actually studying

    or

    4. Become an atheist and continue to argue from that perspective

    Everlasting Life – I like your idea and your book sounds interesting.

    I have a friend that worships Krishna. According to him we live 10,000 times or more until we balance our karma. I respect my friend and her beliefs. She is a very beutiful person who I love drealy.

    I don’t worship Krishna, but, what if she’s right? How can we prove or disprove? If she is right then why try so hard in this life if we get a second chance or 10,000 more? The faster we do right the better it is for us.

    Most relgions have some form of reincarnation or physical rebirth. Reincarnation is in the bible several times but God fearing christians flat out deny it. Christianity is the only religion that does not teach this belief. I question that.

    Evangelicals – My family has a saying. “Catch a fool bump his head”

    TV preachers prey on the insecurities of the crowd. Money, physical ailments or restrictions, and social status. I went to Crefelo Dollars church one time. I listened very closely to his first live televised sermon. It took him 2 hours to state that the reason God hasn’t blessed everybody yet is because we don’t tithe enough. 10% isn’t enough. He went on to say the if we give more to God then he will give more to us and then we’ll all be rich. He also stated that if people are still in wheelchairs or have any medical problems its because the faith is weak and not enough prayer. Stronger faith, more money and additional prayer will get people out of the wheelchairs, stop all health conditions, and make you rich.

    As I looked around in shock and disbelief at what was flowing from his mouth I saw people buying this tripe hook, line, and sinker. Including the person I went with. He rakes in $100,000 a service and he has 2 or 3 services over a weekend. Not a bad gig huh?

    Tammy Faye and Jim Baker have got nothing on this guy! I do not question an afterlife. I question how its being presented to us.

    Sorry for the wordiness. I very seldom have the chance to talk to someone like you about these things. 🙂

    1. Not a problem, discussion is what this is all about, I’ll give my current thinking on atheism…

      I’m realizing more and more that there are two issues happening here, Atheism (from atheos – meaning without god(s)) and Anti-theism which appears as the rejection of god(s). Anti-theism pardon the euphemism “throws the baby out with the bathwater” and rejects our passionate emotional side in favor of analytical truth. I see that as an impediment now to moving atheism forward. If you have ever watched the South Park episode entitled “Go God Go”, it satirizes a future in which atheist factions battle each other over what to properly call themselves. It’s pretty funny and at the same time revealing that if atheists do not focus on our similarities then we are trapped by our differences just like religions.

      Taking a look at your site I agree with your strategy of pointing out the differing interpretations of scripture. It’s important to raise awareness of the possible philosophical interpretations as all wisdom comes from unlikely sources. You treat it like ideas and this is important work, don’t stop. There was a time when this was the norm and I discuss this change in “We can’t see atoms so god must exist” – https://ronngreer.com/2014/08/07/we-cant-see-atoms/

      But I also trace this back to a fundamental precept of monotheism which is “no other god before me” where this mindset automatically disables any rational discussion outside of the religious context. It sets a narrow standard in which there can be no possibility other than the version of truth offered by the interpreter. Hence you being labelled atheist for questioning.

      Fundamentally this makes sense, we have to choose a direction in life. However due to a lack of differing opinion or perspective usually the easiest choice becomes default. We are scared of the unknown and rightly so but to step back philosophically denies the great work done by our predecessors to advance human knowledge. Early indoctrination institutionalizes the belief structure adding to it’s validity. e.g. teaching children to believe uncompromisingly rather than contemplating choice. It validates a belief that one cannot compromise or change one’s thinking in accordance with the environmental or social changes that occur.

      These discussions and arguments side step a greater purpose of enlightenment which we all appear to be seeking. Then our discussion needs to focus on a greater enlightenment provided by both science and spiritualism but still grounded in provable fact. Recently, I had a discussion with a online friend about a different word to use other than spiritualism because of the “new age” baggage it brings with it. He suggested exocentrism, like “an external centering” …placing yourself in relation within the larger context of everything else.

      One conclusion I have about atheism is that is seeks to use scientific method to address the metaphysical part of our existence, Anti-theism discounts any possibility of metaphysics. That conclusion in atheism however does not include everlasting life or an eternal judgement but places results in the here and now. It forces a very harsh truth that this life, for all the evidence we have is the only life we have and you have to accept that when it’s over it’s over. Lights out, the party goes on but without you.

      You can read An Atheist Afterlife here – https://ronngreer.com/2014/08/28/an-atheist-afterlife/

      By contrast, any alternative we have yet developed to this “pessimistic” outcome to existence has proven as distraction leading to the problems we have been discussing. It may be horrifying to some when compared to the promise of divine existence but that alternative is living this life for a promise of the next. Which others like atheists find just as abhorrent. An Atheist Afterlife explores a mid point between the extremes of everlasting and purely temporal existence. At least I hope it does.

      I think the religious fundamentalism we see today is in response to the release of free thought enabled by the internet such as the conversation we are having now. This method of writing and formalizing your thoughts into words forces the contemplation and examination that real time conversation lacks at most times. It is that deficiency the opportunists like evangelical, politicians, and con men have used for generations to keep humanity in the dark.

      We live in times of great promise, like always.

  6. newchristiantruth September 14, 2014 — 4:56 pm

    I look forward to reading your link. I am questioning that when we die its over and we are no more. There’s so much evidence suggesting otherwise. Is it all true? No. Do I believe every single one I hear? No. But I do believe two ways.

    #1. People who say they have past life experiences. Is it really a past life experience or do memories pass down through DNA and resurface later. Making you think you’ve been somewhere or done something?

    #2. What if Krishna is right? I’ve been told that there is no such thing as recycled souls. However, several ancient religions believed whole heartedly in it. So there must be something right?

    No other Gods before me

    This is misunderstood due to the off kilter interpretations that churches give for this commandment. Since I’ve been studying I see that something definitely went on thousands of years ago that’s not going on now. There were power trippers in the sky talking all kinds of smack out of a window, or floating around or what not.

    If I am a poor human being trying to pick and apple and a flying city or something comes up with a tall scary looking guy in a window yelling at me to worship him. He’s in a ship with speakers, lights and a motor, and I’m just standing on a rock, barefoot, in some sheep skin picking an apple. Chances are I will worship him. Then if he tells me no other gods before me. Then that makes me think there’s more and I’m going to be in trouble with this strange guy if I talk to another guy in a crazy flying ship. So what would I do in a situation like that? Conform! He has the power.

    Whatever flying jerks invaded the atmosphere years and years ago had power and flashy toys to back up their madness. A simple minded human may not have known any better because he was scared to death. So he just did what the guy said thinking that he’s a God. If he did well he was rewarded. If he did poorly the consequences were dire depending on how much of a power trip they were on.

    Kind of like the HR department.

    I know my story is out there and sounds crazy, but, what if it really happened?

    Atheism and Antitheism. I see your point. I can also see why people would be, or could be either one. That’s why I don’t judge on that. For example is someone was abused as a child and the only solace they got was “honor your mother and father” I can see an new born atheist right there. How about filing a police report instead of using a Bible verse to justify abuse.

    South Park.
    I’m the only girl in a house full of guys. I’m overruled for the TV most days. So I’m very familiar with South Park and I should be able to score a touchdown for any team by now.

    I saw the episode where they had a Christian rock band. Is that the same one? It was wild. I just remember laughing a lot. King of the Hill had something similar with Bobby stuck in a religious cult. I was forced to watch that one too. Laughed till I cried.

    1. You’ve packed quite a bit in there.

      Questioning the finality of existence is open to interpretation. However I would have to challenge anyone on the evidence to support any form of eternal life or continued metaphysical life.

      Consider near death experiences are just that, “near”. So to draw a conclusion based on an event that has not been completed does not seem to account for all the possibilities. But still, Occam’s razor should be applied.

      Past life recall as race memory inherited from DNA I could find possible as hypothesis. But there would need to be scientific evidence to construct a working theory.

      Reincarnation in accordance to Hindu beliefs are just as subject to skepticism as the claims of everlasting life of Jesus or Mohammad. Belief systems cannot be accepted by either number of adherents or length of time the idea has been in place. I’ll return to the world is flat analogy as example. Lots a people believed it for a long time but was proven wrong.

      Humans seeded or influenced by aliens in a “Chariots of the Gods” scenario? Could be, but more likely human desire.

      Claims that the pyramids were of alien construction insults the laborers and artists that gave up themselves for the endeavor.

      The Nasca Lines in Peru may only be able to be seen by air could be just as easily man’s ability to imagine they could be seen by gods or visitors.

      But we should first give credit to our ancestors who toiled in earnest belief even if their direction was misguided.Their achievement though isn’t diminished.

      Same I would say that monotheism was a necessary step to atheism from polytheism. From the many to the few to the one then to none. For me it all comes from myself, that is who I converse with, plead with, and laugh with. But I exist with others just like me so we have to work out these rules of engagement called civilization. So, the atheism I see does not advocate anarchy only seeks to remove the excuses for it.

      May be simplistic, but complication causes trouble and we all have enough of that.

      South Park – You are thinking of Faith+1

      http://southpark.cc.com/full-episodes/s07e09-christian-rock-hard

      Go God Go is in two parts—

      http://southpark.cc.com/full-episodes/s10e12-go-god-go

      http://southpark.cc.com/full-episodes/s10e13-go-god-go-xii

  7. Nasca Lines. I watched a documentary on PBS. The shapes of the lines like monkeys or hands, the bird and so on were found on pottery as far away as Cuzco and Machu Picchu. They were transporting different grains and other goods in these containers. That documentary convinced me that those lines were some sort of out door shopping mall or some kind of identifier to let the delivery guys know what city to deliver whatever goods that particular town needed. Kind of like a postal system with an address.

    Belief systems are hard to change without solid serious evidence. Even after evidence is presented some people still want to hold on to what they beleived either out of fear, wanting to be right, or they don’t know what else to believe.

    What I’ve found makes atheists become atheists is either reading the Bible in its entirety and unable to get any answers or overly strick parents who literraly beat their kids over the head with a Bible. There’s extremists in every belief.

    Past lives, future lives, dna, memories. We will never know. We’ll find out when we die but then its too late. That’s the beauty of all!

    I’ve seen all kinds of unexplainable things. Due to that, I discount nothing. It can’t be proved or disproved so all one has left is a choice to believe or not to believe.

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