Sunday, March 18, 2018

What's the Harm?

Among the many insipid arguments one hears from believers (and sometimes even fellow non-believers) is that there is no harm in letting other people believe what they want to believe.  The problem with this argument is that it is necessarily based on two mistakes:  First, failure to consider all the evidence and, second, failure to consider the relative weight that should be given to actions that cause harm compared to those that are beneficial.

When someone makes such a statement, it is almost certain that it is based only on the person's own limited experience.  The religious people he knows personally don't seem to be harming anyone.  For example, the person's grandmother or mother take comfort from religion and seem completely harmless.  I say that this has to be the basis for the argument because even a little bit of research or exposure to the wider world very quickly belies the assertion.  A person who says such a thing absolutely must be relying only on his own experience because the experience of the wider world shows that religion is quite harmful.

Thus, I would suggest that a first part of the response to such an assertion should be to point this out:

"You must be thinking of the seemingly harmless religious people you know personally."

Then follow it up immediately with the assertion that the person needs to research this:

"If you would do the slightest bit of research on the harm done by religion outside of your friends and family, you would see that religion is quite harmful."

It would probably be best to break off the discussion at this point because the person has already shown an incredible ignorance of things outside his immediate circle of family and friends (or an inability to care about what happens outside that circle).  He will not believe your assertions, whether they be vague or specific, and will attempt to provide innocuous examples of his own.

If you decide to follow him down this path, then the key to continuing is to remember that such an assertion can only be made by ignoring the relative gravity of the harm or good that come from religion.  This is something they do not grasp.  To them, the fact that religion causes people to give to charity or some other "good" act is enough to prove that it is a force for good.  They either do not see or refuse to contemplate the fact that the harm caused far outweighs these good acts.

Religion Cannot Ever Be a Harmless Delusion

Religion Cannot Ever Be a Harmless Delusion II

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Religion Is a Weapon of War

"Certainty about the next life is incompatible with tolerance in this one."  Sam Harris

Imagine that you are the leader of a political body such as a nation.  Now imagine that you want to go to war with another nation.  How are you going to get your people to kill people that they don't even know?  You have to convince them that the people of the other nation are somehow evil, immoral and a threat.  Why should the people of your nation believe these things about an entire population of individuals that they have never met?

Well, if your population is indoctrinated into a way of thinking that allows them to think of their own group as separate from others and morally superior to them as well, then the desired enemy will be seen as an out-group and will therefore be seen to be owed a lower moral duty.  If you continue this process by demonizing the target population, and by escalating the conflict to a matter greater than life itself, then suddenly killing members of the out-group may be seen as morally acceptable--a moral duty even.

This escalation of the religious or moral conflict with the target population is accomplished with the threat of eternal damnation for getting it wrong.  Thus, the other population becomes a threat that could infect your loved ones and cause them to lose something greater than life--the afterlife.

The net result of this process of demonizing is the "weaponizing" of a population, turning otherwise peaceful people into hunters of the "other" like guided missiles but more sophisticated than any that our current technology can devise.

This use of religion is particularly necessary when the target population shares many traits with those who will be tasked with killing them.  Killing another human being is not an easy thing to do, especially if it must be done at close range.  Killing someone you see as the same as yourself is even more difficult--because such people are more likely to be seen as members of your moral in-group.  Religion is essential in removing such people from your in-group and making them members of a group deserving of death.

Thus, when you hear about how religion does good in the world or is otherwise benevolent, you can reply:

Religion is an essential weapon of war--it is impossible to wage a war of aggression without it.

Or, depending on the context, you could say:

The purpose of religion is to turn the population into weapons of war.

Emperor Constantine understood this aspect of religion (christianity in particular) very well and put it to good use.  Today's modern christian warmongers implicitly understand it as well, in my opinion.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

They Are All Liars!

I have pointed out on numerous occasions the extent to which believers are dishonest.  They frequently tell bald faced lies.  They engage in systematic and nearly uniform intellectual dishonestyThey will do nearly anything to make sure that the marketplace of ideas is never given a chance to honestly evaluate their claims so that there is nothing to impede their efforts to brainwash the entire population.

Today there was news story regarding the recent "religious freedom restoration" law in Indiana that illustrated the way in which religious people are bald faced liars (especially when their religion is concerned).  The christian owners of a small pizza place in Indiana announced that their religion would prevent them from serving pizza for a gay wedding.

Almost in the same breath, the owners insisted that they were not discriminating against anyone.  Obviously, refusing to cater gay weddings while agreeing to cater straight weddings is discrimination.  How can such a bald faced lie ever pass through the lips of a supposedly honest christian?  Simple, their entire worldview is a lie.  They live in world of lies that they tell themselves everyday.  They are so accustomed to telling lies where their religion is concerned that they are unable to distinguish the truth with regard to it.

In a way, this isn't surprising.  After all if a person can't tell himself the truth, it's nearly impossible for him to tell anyone else truth.  What is religion except a giant lie that a person tells himself.  For religious people, the "truth" is whatever makes them feel about themselves and look good to others.  They are pathologically dishonest.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

They Are All Hypocrites

Some time back I told a religious relative that "religion is how bad people feel good about themselves."  This is one of the many purposes of religion and one that I believe figures prominently in the popularity of religion.  It is an essential part of the attraction of religion both for true believers and those manipulative psychopaths who use it to control others.  It allows the believer to feel good about himself without justification and thus also allows the psychopaths to manipulate the believers more easily into doing things that would ordinarily make them feel guilty.

I received the predictable reply that this may be true of the "hypocrites" but wasn't true of true believers.  This is, of course, how all religious people will see it if you point out hypocrisy in their religion.  They see it only as an indictment of the human frailty of some members of their religion.  They will almost certainly not admit to hypocrisy themselves and will never see it as an indictment of their religion itself.

I think, however, that it is an indictment of their religion.  Hypocrisy is built in to religion.

Hypocrisy is defined as "a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess."

Clearly the key pretense is that of having a virtuous character.  Moral and religious beliefs are relevant only if they cause the person to behave virtuously.  If someone doesn't follow his alleged moral or religious beliefs, then that person is the sort of hypocrite that even the religious would label as a hypocrite.  My point is that possessing moral or religious beliefs do not necessarily make one virtuous.

What makes this hypocrisy part and parcel of religion is the notion of third party forgiveness.  Believers almost always think that if they do something wrong, they can get forgiveness for their transgressions through religion.  This forgiveness, however, is an obvious fantasy.

If a person has transgressed, the only source of legitimate forgiveness is the party or parties who were harmed by the transgression.  Getting forgiveness from your invisible friend--even if he were real--is hypocritical.  It is a pretense to a virtuous character that one does not really possess.

This is the inevitable result of refusing to engage in critical thinking.  And, what do you call someone who is less than critical?  "Hypocritical", of course.  In fact, that is the literal meaning of the word hypocritical.  The prefix "hypo" means below or less than.  To be less than critical is to be hypocritical.  They are all hypocrites.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pointless Debates

I have urged those who read my posts to avoid debate with believers because it is both futile and dangerous to the non-believer.  The religious, however, are frequently insistent when it comes to trying to discuss religion.  One way to put an end to such efforts while simultaneously giving the believer something to think about is to say:

It is pointless to debate someone who has rejected both reason and honesty.

Depending on the scenario, you may feel the need to give a brief explanation concerning how faith is the rejection of reason and how belief in one supernatural hypothesis while being totally skeptical of others is not honest.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Politics and Religion

Religion is necessarily bound up with politics because religion encompasses the worldview, beliefs about morality, and (most important) social status of believers.  Religion and politics are more than simply inextricably intertwined; they are different sides of the same coin.  Yet, those anxious to defend religion often try to deflect criticism by claiming that the numerous bad deeds done in its name are "political" rather than religious.

Claiming that religion is separate from politics is another of those baldfaced lies that the religious try to slip into debates.  Like most of their lies, they have convinced themselves it is true.  And, if you look at it from just the right angle, it can seem true.  After all, one's personal beliefs about the afterlife don't seem to have to much to do with politics. 

The trouble is that the only way to sustain this viewpoint is to pretend that religion is a far smaller part of a person's life than it actually is.  You have to ignore the mountain of evidence to the contrary as well as the obvious logical implications of believing in a religion.  You have to pretend that religion is a circumscribed and simple set of beliefs instead of a worldview.

The only believers who can legitimately make this claim are deists and the like who believe that a god exists but who don't make any claims to knowledge about the nature, thoughts, and edicts of god.  Consequently, I think a good reply to this claim is to point out that a person who claims to be speaking for god in some fashion is essentially claiming that everyone on Earth needs to listen and obey.  If that isn't a political statement, I don't know what is.

After all, one is claiming to be imparting the wishes of the being that allegedly made the entire universe, including the Earth and all of us.  The thoughts and wishes of such an entity, if it existed, would and should be of paramount importance to us all.  Such an entity must be in possession of a great deal more knowledge and wisdom that any human or group of humans and such an entity must also possess a great deal of power of one sort or another over us all.

Combine those implications with the ways in which religions everywhere seek to coerce human behavior through threats, promises and other manipulations, it should be easy to see that all religions are political and not an aside but as their primary concern.

Frankly, to a nonbeliever it is obvious that religion has always been political.  It is clear that even in its very genesis, religion was political because it was always meant to be a way to manipulate the behavior of others.  Even its simplest and most basic function, conquering the fear of death, is political.  The goal is to get people to accept their own death and the deaths of others with a minimum of grief and attendant disruption.

Consequently, if you hear this ridiculous canard, I recommend saying:

If your religion claims to know what god wants from mankind, then it is political.

or,

When you claim to speak for god, you are making a political statement because you are claiming to know what everyone should think or do.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wake Up and Oppose Theocracy

Today I just want to post a link to a wonderful article about the recent debates on Bill Maher's show over his fact based criticism of Islam.  If you aren't aware of the debates, suffice it to say for now that all he did was cite facts regarding the violence and intolerance so clearly prevalent in Islamic societies and was told he was intolerant and racist for doing so. 

The article explains very well why the criticisms leveled at Maher are just wrong.  Enjoy.

Wake Up and Oppose Theocracy:  Bill Maher, Rula Jebreal and the Urgent Islam Debate.