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How Religion Works and Why I Don't Believe It

By Punkerslut

Image by Havok
Image: "Kalisti 28" by Havok

Start Date: July 19, 2001
Finish Date: July 19, 2001

     Religious beliefs vary from scientific and historical beliefs in that when someone debunks evidence for a theory of science or history or shows that theory to be logically incoherent, we no longer believe in that theory. However, when someone debunks the evidence for a religious belief or shows that religious belief to be logically incoherent, or even if the religious belief was asserted without evidence in the first place, we still believe it. That is, many still believe it. When something does not revolve around evidence or logical coherency, it is no longer a legitimate belief insomuch that it has logical roots, but it is dogma insomuch that it is unfounded and baseless.

     The religions are always different, but the mechanics always the same: purport a theory that appears to somewhat logically coherent and threaten the nonbelievers while rewarding the believers. The semi-logically coherent statement takes a noticeable phenomenon and supports it with outrageous claims. Statements like "Mercury is responsible for holding the world," "Birth pain is caused because God punished Eve with it," "Women came from rib bones," "Jubal is the inventor of the flute and harp," etc. etc., all explain phenomenon, for example, but the error with these statements is that they are fictitious, because we already know the origin of these things. Gravity is responsible for holding up the world. Birth pain is caused by the stretching of nerves. Females were necessary for the evolution and development of non-Asexual species. And the flute was not invented in 3890 BCE according to the Biblical records, but it was invented 200 BCE in Greece and Etruria.

     The type of logically coherent statements that are prevalent in all religions are statements that - although they certainly could be true - take a stretch of the imagination. For example, it is possible that the universe exploded at this moment, randomly forming our brains and our thoughts. Thoughts, being physical matter, could be randomly formed together to the degree where you could be formed in such a manner. As Descartes stated once, we could all be brains in a vats (BIV's), or jars, being fed strong stimuli. This is true. You certainly could be a brain in a jay belonging to a scientist and your emotions and beliefs about the physical world could simply be this scientist feeding you special chemicals or hormones. But this is all simply a lesson in Epistemology and Metaphysics. I haven't tied in exactly how God ties in with this, but I shall.

     The problem with the concept of God is that this unseen and non-demonstrable being could certainly be true. It is possible that God could have created this Universe. However, it is just as likely that Allah, Buddha, Yahweh, or any other God of the +3,000 religions has created the Universe. There is no reasoning or evidence of this supposed God and all attempts to reintroduce God into the intellectual sphere through Faith have failed. The same method of faith used to believe in God could be used to believe in any other God or invisible, pink unicorns. It is inobjective. Science is objective in its pursuits and unprejudiced. Science has yet to lay down evidence for this unknown God.

     God is similar to Santa Claus. Both beings were taught to you by your family and community. Both live far away. Both have not been seen or demonstrated. Both have magical works: one has flying reindeer and the other has flying angels. Both work their magic when you're unconscious: asleep or dead. You write letters to Santa and pray to God. They both threaten you with hell or no presents. They both reward you with heaven or presents. I suppose on significant difference between the two is that when I found out they both weren't real, I wanted Santa Claus back.

     The mechanics of the religions are to point out flaws in reality and claim that they may fix them, even when such flaws are illusionary. They become literal salesmen. Just as a salesman for a vacuum cleaner may point out that there are minuscule molecules of dirt deep in your carpet, so will religion point out flaws in life, and just as a vacuum cleaner salesman will offer a solution at a cost, so will religion offer a solution, only at a much higher cost. Here are some examples of this trade phenomenon occurring within the world...

Vacuum Cleaner Problem: "Look at these dirty spots deep inside your carpet!"
Vacuum Cleaner Solution: "But if you buy our vacuum cleaner, it will get the stains right out of your carpet!"

Christianity Problem: "You sinned and now you're going to hell!"
Christianity Solution: "But if you accept Jesus Christ as your savior, you will be saved!"

Hinduism Problem: "You're going to be reincarnated as a cockroach!"
Hinduism Solution: "But if you accept Hindu doctrines, you will be reincarnated as kings and nobles!"

Buddhism Problem: "All life is pain and suffering!"
Buddhism Solution: "But if you accept Buddhist doctrines, you will experience no more suffering!"

Judaism/Islamic Problem: "God is really angry... and he'll kill you and your family."
Judaism/Islamic Solution: "But if you do what he says, he promises he won't!"

"Religions are like glowworms; they shine only when it is dark. A certain amount of general ignorance is the condition of all religions, the element in which alone they can exist. And as soon as astronomy, natural science, geology, history, and knowledge of countries and peoples have spread their light broadcast, and philosophy finally is permitted to say a word, every faith founded on miracles and revelation must disappear." Arthur Schopenhauer, "Religion -- A Dialogue," reprinted in The Works of Schopenhauer, edited by Will Durant (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, 1955), page 485.


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