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.