Class Warfare Blog

January 21, 2018

Why Can’t Atheists Just Shut Up About It?

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:24 pm
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There is a pervasive feeling among many Americans that there is a war being made upon Christianity, when in actuality Christians are part of a class of people called theists, people who believe in the existence of a god or gods so that includes Christians, who are making class war against those who do not so believe, atheists. This has been going on since there have been religions so it is nothing new. For example:

  • Plato, in his construction of the ideal state, made “impiety” a crime punishable by five years imprisonment for the first offense and death upon a second conviction.
  • Jesus, who is offered as the fount of love and compassion, threatened nonbelievers claiming they will be thrown “into the furnace of fire” where “men will weep and gnash their teeth,” just as “the weeds are gathered and burned with fire….” (Matthew 13: 40– 42).
  • Thomas Aquinas, the great medieval theologian, taught that “the sin of unbelief is greater than any sin that occurs in the perversion of morals,” and he recommended that the heretic “be exterminated from the world by death” after the third offense.
  • Our political waters have been so poisoned against atheists that in 1958 a mere 18% of Americans could abide the idea of an atheist president. (Recently that number has climbed to 58%, possibly due to atheists speaking out?)

So, those thinking that atheists should be silent are saying that we should suffer their iniquities in silence. But, by not being silenced, we are fighting back, and as the poll result above shows, making progress. We should have learned to fight long ago but it is hard to think when you are being burned at a stake.

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Without God How …

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 1:35 pm
Tags: , , ,

 

There is a class of people called theists, people who believe in the existence of a god or gods, who are making a class war against those who do not so believe, atheists. This is called a class war, if you didn’t know. Part of that class war is fueled by theist’s minds being poisoned against atheists based upon false claims for their religion. Here are a series of questions that theists put to atheists that expose these false beliefs:

Without god, what is left of morality?

Without god, what purpose is there in man’s life?

If we do not believe in god, how can we be certain of anything?

If god does not exist, whom can we turn to in a time of crisis?

If there is no afterlife, who will reward virtue and punish injustice?

Without god, how can we resist the onslaught of atheistic materialism?

If god does not exist, what becomes of the worth and dignity of each person?

Without god, how can man achieve happiness?

These questions are based upon assumptions or claims that are made for religions that actually have to basis to exist whatsoever, well other than being fiction created by men. Allow me to answer these questions based upon my view that religions exist solely because they serves the interests of secular and religious elites by controlling the behavior of the great masses of people to serve those interests.

Without god, what is left of morality?
This has been discussed at length here and elsewhere. It is based upon the illusion that religions create moralities when, in fact, the moralities existed prior to the creation of the religion. Beyond that, people suffer under the illusion that religions reinforce moral codes, by encouraging good behavior, and without that all of us would revert to a savage state of “might makes right” or the “law of tooth and fang.” This is actually propaganda of religions themselves with no basis in fact. The simple truth is that, around the world, the less religious a state is, the more peaceful it is.
If you accept their argument, then you are being conned by the religious into thinking the existence of the religions and the elites who live off of them are essential, when they are not and instead of doing something proactive to encourage moral behavior, you are deferring to an institution which doesn’t really do this.

Without god, what purpose is there in man’s life?
Again, this has been discussed at length here and elsewhere. The simple answer is that most religious people cannot answer the question “What is the purpose of life?” Many Christians say it is “to serve God.” Consider for a minute that, if the only reason for the existence of a religion is to control the behavior of the masses, including you and me, for the benefit of the elites, who does this belief serve? Basically, this says that our purpose is to serve not others, but God? Who benefits from this? Not you or me, unless you believe other things, that are also untrue. (Some religions go so far to insist that doing “good works” for others will not get a reward in the after life, only belief in their claptrap will do that. They are actively discouraging us helping one another!) Please read on.

If we do not believe in god, how can we be certain of anything?
If you realize that certainty is a false goal, it will help you. We actually cannot be absolutely certain of anything. We can be very certain of many things. But “gods,” or at least the words put into god’s mouths, promise absolute certainty. So, have you every had a moment of religious doubt, that some part of it wasn’t right, even a tiny part? I doubt you can be human and not have had such a moment. Therefore, you are not absolutely certain of your religion, otherwise you never would have had any doubts at all. If you admit such doubt to a theologian, they will blame you; it is your fault, because of your weakness, you have had this doubt. Blaming the victim is a common aspect of such scams.
The desire for absolute certainty is understandable. But it does not exist, so anyone who promises it to you is trying to control your behavior for their benefit, not yours.

If god does not exist, to whom can we turn in a time of crisis?
If you believe that a god consoles you in a time of crisis, what does this consolation consist of? If your child is lost and in danger, is your child returned by a god or by a search party of your fellow human beings? If a loved one gets sick, who will be responsible for their getting well: doctors or gods? If we were to be invaded by a foreign army, would you expect a god to repel that army or would you rather trust our army?
Consoling is what human beings do for others they love and respect and sometimes for total strangers. They basically say that they understand, that they also feel grief, and that life will go on. That is where consolation comes from.

If there is no afterlife, who will reward virtue and punish injustice?
This is an abomination. This tells people that if things are done that are evil to not resist them because punishment will be meted out in some spiritual realm that no one has ever seen. Oh, and you will be rewarded for your virtue in a neighboring supernatural realm. Just do not expect the fruits of your labor to reward you now, because those are being skimmed off to serve the elites.
I have always marveled at priestly classes who surround themselves with priceless architecture, paintings, statuary, furniture, etc. We are told this is necessary to impress the secular elites with the “power of the church.” Hmm, is the similar display by the secular elites to impress the religious elites? Why would the religious want to impress the rich and powerful by showing that they are rich also? I would be much more impressed by modesty and simple living, such as can be seen in Buddhist monks. (They are better only in quantity, they are supported by “alms,” that is gifts of food and other things from “believers.” They also participate in a system that allows the elites to subsist off of the labor of masses.)
Imagine if your home were robbed and the thief dropped his wallet during the theft and his driver’s license clearly identifies him, would you accept from the police that there was nothing they could do but the culprit surely will be punished in the afterlife? Who benefits from an infinite delay in punishment for bad deeds? Who benefits from a infinite delay in rewarding your virtue? What would you think if your boss came up to you and said “That idea you came up with will make millions, maybe billions, for the company! This is really exciting! Thank you. Someday, I am sure, you will be rewarded.” Think about how that would feel and then ask yourself, who would benefit from such a belief here?

Without god, how can we resist the onslaught of atheistic materialism?

Gosh, have you ever considered that the definition of “materialism” is basically focusing on what is real and not on the mythical reality one’s religion is trying to create? In sports or business or the military, what does team building have to do spirituality? I suggest that being focussed on reality could help us decide whether we want good, productive, caring lives, or one’s dictated by people trying to control our behavior so that a very few can be rich and powerful. If you don’t think we have a capability within us, without religion, to know how to live good lives, consider the current stance of the current Pope to avoid condemning Catholic Church officials, including bishops, for covering up widespread child sexual abuse by priests? What possible reason might a religious leader have to not condemn child sex abuse and those who facilitate it? No, Church Lady, it is not Satan, but it is power.

If god does not exist, what becomes of the worth and dignity of each person?
My goodness, can this not be based upon what a person establishes through their actions. Do you really need a god to be able to recognize someone’s dignity? Is a dignity based upon the belief that you were “made in God’s image” or that you are one of “God’s people” real dignity? What kind of god creates conscious beings and then chooses to favor one group of those over the others? Would you praise one of your children and condemn the others because it seems like a godly idea?

Without god, how can man achieve happiness?
Why is it Christians are so unhappy? They look around and see wickedness everywhere. I see acts of human kindness on a daily basis. I am rather a happy person as these things are judged and none of it is god-based. International surveys of happiness correlate well against religiousness. The more religious a country is, the less happy its citizens are. Imagine that.

There are myriad such questions and behind everyone of them is a false claim of a religion:
God is the source of morality.
God is the source of  purpose.
Only God can be trusted and is the only source of truth.
God will console you in times of distress.
God will reward virtue and punish injustice.
God is the source of all happiness.

Now, just for a minute, consider if these are just made up ideas, part of a system designed to control your behavior. Who would benefit from you believing such things? Realize if they were just made up, they are not true, so who benefits if you believe them to be true?

Is it you?

I don’t think so.

But there is a saying that “the rich get richer.” This, as it turns out, is the purpose of civilization. Civilization was designed by the elites for their benefit and this has not changed. In the entire history of civilization, over half of all human beings have been a slave of some sort. Does that sound to you like a system made for you by a loving god? No matter what cause religions to be created, they would not survive if they didn’t keep the masses under control. The elites are few and we are many, so they need ways to make sure we stay calm and not blame them for problems. If we have problems it is because we are sinful and weak, but God loves us and we will be rewarded … later. Just be sure to get up and go to work today, because those profits you generate are needed by the secular elites and if they don’t get them, they will be sad.

By the way, you might note the rules for the masses of ordinary people do not apply to the elites. The elites feel free to break laws, customs, traditions, social norms, whatever. They are above all of that. This is why Catholic priests can sexually abuse choirboys and their superiors cover that up. This is why corporate executives break laws over and over and never go to jail. This is why politicians can become rich in office by taking bribes and suffer no consequences. Oh, and any elite foolish enough to admit they have drunk the Kool-Aid and are true believers will not be trusted by the real elites.

 

 

 

 

January 15, 2018

What Kind of Atheists are These?

Filed under: Culture,History,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:00 am
Tags: , ,

After reading the following excerpts, I will ask you what kind of atheists are displayed based upon their words. Let us begin:

Atheist the First
This is in the form of a conversation between Samuel White Baker and Commoro, a non-believer. They communicated through interpreters:

Baker Have you no belief in a future existence after death?

Commoro Existence after death! How can that be? Can a dead man get out of his grave, unless we dig him out?

Baker Do you think man is like a beast that dies and is ended?

Commoro Certainly. . . .

Baker Then you believe in nothing; neither in a good nor evil spirit! And you believe that when you die it will be the end of body and spirit; that you are like other animals; and that there is no distinction between man and beast; both disappear, and end at death?

Commoro  Of course they do.

Baker (Some corn had been taken out of a sack for the horses and a few grains lying scattered on the ground. Making a small hole with my finger in the ground, I placed a grain within it.) That represents you when you die. (I covered it with earth) That grain will decay, but from it will rise the plant that will produce a reappearance of the original form.

Commoro  Exactly so; that I understand. But the original grain does not rise again; it rots like the dead man, and is ended; the fruit produced is not the same grain that we buried, but the production of that grain: so it is with man—I die, and decay, and am ended; but my children grow up like the fruit of the grain.

Is Commoro a new atheist, a militant atheist, angry atheist, or an agnostic?

Atheist the Second
This book, the Bible, has persecuted, even unto death, the wisest and the best. This book stayed and stopped the onward movement of the human race. This book poisoned the fountains of learning and misdirected the energies of man. This book is the enemy of freedom, the support of slavery. This book sowed the seeds of hatred in families and nations, fed the flames of war, and impoverished the world. This book is the breastwork of kings and tyrants – the enslaver of women and children. This book has corrupted parliaments and courts. This book has made colleges and universities the teachers of error and the haters of science. This book has filled Christendom with hateful, cruel, ignorant and warring sects. This book taught men to kill their fellows for religion’s sake. This book funded the Inquisition, invented the instruments of torture, built the dungeons in which the good and loving languished, forged the chains that rusted in their flesh, erected the scaffolds whereon they died. This book piled fagots about the feet of the just. This book drove reason from the minds of millions and filled the asylums with the insane.

This book has caused fathers and mothers to shed the blood of their babes. This book was the auction block on which the slave-mother stood when she was sold from her child. This book filled the sails of the slave-trader and made merchandise of human flesh. This book lighted the fires that burned “witches” and “wizards.” This book filled the darkness with ghouls and ghosts, and the bodies of men and women with devils. This book polluted the souls of men with the infamous dogma of eternal pain. This book made credulity the greatest of virtues, and investigation the greatest of crimes. This book filled nations with hermits, monks and nuns — with the pious and the useless. This book placed the ignorant and unclean saint above the philosopher and philanthropist. This book taught man to despise the joys of this life, that he might be happy in another – to waste this world for the sake of the next. I attack this book.

Is this author a new atheist, a militant atheist, angry atheist, or an agnostic?

So, what did you answer?

The correct answer is that these were old atheists.

The first example was from the 1860’s! Source: Stephens, Mitchell. Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World. St. Martin’s Press. Original source: Samuel White Baker, The Albert N’Yanza: Great Basin of the Nile and Explorations of the Nile Sources. Commoro was described as a chief of the Latooka tribe in East Africa, and as a barbarian.

The second example is Robert G. Ingersoll. Source: About the Holy Bible, first published in 1894! Ingersoll is the best example of an American freethinker as can be found.

My point is atheism is not “new.” It has been around since religion raised its ugly head. It is simply an expression of doubt when people are told tales that have no support in reality. The reason atheism is characterized as it is is due to the fact that it has been suppressed for so long that people are actually surprised when it rears its ugly head, and therefore think it is new.

Atheism is not new.

These examples show that you can be formally educated or not, black or white, all of those things don’t matter. All that matters is you cherish being able to think for yourself and do not want to be controlled by make believe principles.

 

 

January 8, 2018

Just Plain, Or Not So Plain, Ignorant

I was reading Yuval Harari’s “Sapiens” last night and came upon this. (Despite my occasional cavils, this is a brilliant book, highly recommended.)

The Scientific Revolution has not been a revolution of knowledge. It has been above all a revolution of ignorance.

Shortly after came this:

Premodern traditions of knowledge such as Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Confucianism asserted that everything that is important to know about the world was already known. The great gods, or the one almighty God, or the wise people of the past possessed all-encompassing wisdom, which they revealed to us in scriptures and oral traditions. Ordinary mortals gained knowledge by delving into ancient texts and traditions  and understanding them properly. It was inconceivable that the Bible, the Qur’an or the Vedas were missing out on a crucial secret of the universe – a secret that might yet be discovered by flesh-and-blood creatures.

If something couldn’t be found in scriptures then it was, by definition, trivial.

So, I have to ask: has anything changed? The power of religions is based upon their traditions and scriptures, so they reinforce that power every chance they get. They weave that power into our cultures and politics to sustain it.

And, it is clear that very, very, very important things were left out of scriptures as they were unknown at the time of their writing.

So, has anything changed?

 

 

December 29, 2017

Monotheism Only an Inch Deep

I noted in my reading the other day that the Catholic Church fell all over itself finding a person named Brigit to canonize after the church took over Ireland. St. Brigit’s declared feast day just happened to coincide with the feast day of the Celtic goddess Brigit. An amazing coincidence, no? And, of course, there is some debate over whether St. Brigit was a real person. So, if you can’t find an appropriate real person to canonized, canonize a fake person.

This was the same procedure used by the Romans when they conquered a new people. All of that people’s gods were swept up into the mix of Roman gods. Some equivalences to Roman gods might be noted but if there were a passel of absolutely new ones, well, the more the merrier. The master administrators the Romans were almost guaranteed there would be an office to keep all of these gods straight, and of course there was, a significant one.

It is puzzling that the Romans eventually adopted a monotheistic religion, Christianity, because of all of the problems created by just the idea. Prior to Judaism, polytheism ruled. A few places dabbled in monotheism (Aten in Egypt, etc.) but those efforts failed. Under polytheism, people were quite tolerant of other people’s gods, which made for social harmony. The suite of gods that came with such beliefs had many benefits. While most of these systems had an over-ruling Big Kahuna god (Odin, Zeus, Jupiter, Brahman, etc.), those gods were rarely called upon for help. The lesser gods were much more approachable because they specialized. Each was the god of this or the god of that. If you wanted a good crop of olives this coming season, a believing Greek didn’t go to Ares, the God of War for that; they went to Demeter, the goddess of the harvests. So, there was a built-in incentive to learn all about the appropriate gods and how to beseech them. Also, since there were so many gods and goddesses, there was no Problem of Gender of just the one god. Both feminine and masculine qualities were recognized in gods.

And, if there was a drought, or crop failure, or devastating storm while at sea, the big god didn’t get blamed for that. The smaller gods were notoriously capricious and it never shocked anyone when one of these acted up. As a consequence, there was no “Problem of Evil” to deal with. There was little to no conflict (jealousy, yes; open conflict no) between faiths; many coexisted side-by-side. Like I said, social harmony, much valued by the Romans and all other empires.

Along comes Christianity, a form of monotheistic Judaism on steroids, and all of a sudden, things were quite different. Jews and Christians did not tolerate other religions at all. They refused to acknowledge the divinities of any of the Roman emperors, which was the primary cause of their persecutions by the Romans. The Romans thought them more than a little problematic because of this, so why embrace them?

I suspect Constantine was trying mightily to hold a shaky Roman empire together and thought that bringing Christianity into the fold might normalize their relations with the state. Basically, taking an unruly, more and more powerful group, and co-opting them. (Christianity was not adopted as the state religion of Rome until later. Constantine made it a state religion of Rome.)

The problems inherent in harmonizing a monotheistic religion, though, were quite great. As far as the people were concerned, if there were only one god, then that god was responsible for all of the bad things that happened as well as the good things (aka the Problem of Evil).

The Catholic Church (and all other Christian churches) solved this problem by making the veneer of monotheism so thin as to be almost invisible. Christians, for examples, had more than a few wars over the creation of the trinity: three gods in one! These are not three gods! There can only be one god, so these three … well, it’s complicated. There are not just three versions or manifestations or disguises of the one god. Zeus could walk the Earth as a bull or swan, and still be Zeus; now that was a disguise. The Trinity was and is … a mystery … three gods of one essence, whatever the heck that means. (I think it means “one, not three,” and nothing else.)

Because there was only one god, one had to approach the “all mighty” for even the most trivial of favors, the things always done by demigods in the polytheistic religions. So, Christianity (and Judaism) invented all kinds of god helpers. There were angels and archangels and cherubim, seraphim, and whatnot. What are these other than demi-gods? And to cover the Problem of Evil, Satan was invented. Here is a god if there ever was one. Imagine a being responsible for all of the evil, temptation, and lies, and Republican politics in the entire world … but He is not a god, nope; there is only one god. In any polytheistic suite of gods, Satan would be a major god.

Then there are the Saints. Christians scoff at Roman emperors deifying themselves. (Actually, they had to be dead first, so they had people to do that form them … there were forms to be filled out, rituals and sacrifices to do, etc.) What are saints but deified humans?

St. Brigit of Ireland is apparently a “patron” saint of Ireland, which is another way to say “important” and “popular.” Brigit started out as a Celtic god and ends up being a Catholic saint, serving the exact same purpose: providing a mechanism to appeal to the god(s) for favors. Why bother “Him” if you can pray to a saint to get a small job done.

So, Christianity is “monotheistic” in name only. In its structures, even the Protestant structures with no saints and whatnot, it is still quite polytheistic. This is why Yahweh/Jesus cannot do away with Satan, even though He created Satan. To do so would give the people no source for all of the evil in the world other than Yahweh/Jesus.

Always give the people what they want, otherwise they will turn on you. This is an inherent principle in the structure of all scams. The scam is to appear to give them what they want, without actually giving them anything. A mob “protection” racket is a prime example. For just a small or maybe large fee, the mob will protect your business. Who will they be protecting your business from? The mob, of course.

Some wonder why I spend so much time discussing religion in a class war blog. I do so because religion is one of the, if not the, primary control mechanisms by which the “elites” extract wealth from the masses (us). The current mainstream religion of the U.S. insists that each of us is weak and sinful and can only be saved by turning over all of our decisions to them. Saved from whom? Guess.

And the primary message is that when you die, you will be rewarded and your enemies punished but, whatever you do now while you are alive, just don’t rock the boat. Too may elites are dependent upon your passivity! Remember, you are unworthy … as one evangelist puts it “God only requires from you the honesty to admit that you are morally and spiritually a failure. You can come to Christ just as you are.” He will accept scum like you, but only if you accept someone else controlling your life. Their class (the religious and secular elites) are making war on our class (the hoi polloi/you and me) and their religion is a tool of the oppressors.

A Note on Original Sin Many Christians believe in Original Sin as the source of mankind’s sinfulness. Sin is defined as a transgression of the law of their god. But the Bible describes what is called the War of the Angels, who rebelled against God’s will by refusing to bow down to mankind on the occasion of the creation of man. So, how original could Adam and Eve’s sin be if there were angels transgressing God’s law well before their “fall?” For those who therefore claim that Adam’s sin must have come first; if that were so why would God demand his angels, his perfect heavenly angels, bow down to such sinful creatures? It seems a stupid idea, no?

It seems, rather, that disobedience of Yahweh’s will was commonplace, not something that was so heinous that it should become heritable by all humans … unless, unless you wanted to beat people’s spirits down so low they would jump at a chance of salvation by doing what you tell them to do. (Luigi and Salvatore, your local protection insurance payment collectors, would be proud.)

December 26, 2017

God, the Inspiration of Artists!

At this time of year I see many representations of artist’s glorification of the Christian god (including mundane Christmas carols that I have always loved). This treasure trove of art is used from time to time for justification (aka spin) of the existence of this or that god. “How could a god who does not exist inspire so many artists?” we are asked. “How could such great artistic expression come from less than the most holy?” (♫ Grandma got run over by a reindeer … ♫)

I think folks need to take a closer look at this. I just finished a book on the messages hidden in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by none the less than Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Michelangelo, who only wanted to sculpt, was given the commission to paint the ceiling of a huge chapel, a facsimile of the temple of the Jews (at least part of it—which was a huge insult as the Jews forbade any such replicas being built). This was an offer he couldn’t refuse and which cost him seven years of his life, his most productive years that could have been applied to sculpture, but. . . . His commission was to paint Christian scenes upon the ceiling and then later, the far wall. This was so inspired by God (and the Pope, his patron) that Michelangelo painted that huge fresco, still one of the largest frescos ever painted, without painting a single Christian figure on the ceiling. All of the figures Michelangelo painted were Jews. There were also several insulting messages for the Pope and other prominent people of the time.

This was not a new practice invented for the occasion, Renaissance painters often painted in such “messages,” including insults for their patrons. Artists were also not allowed to sign their works, so it was often the case that a figure in a painting carried the face of the painter. Michelangelo was so insulted when he unveiled the Pieta he sculpted because the viewers insisted that the sculptor must be Roman because no one from Florence had enough skill, that he broke into the site at night and hastily chiseled his name into the statue! Similarly his face and the faces of his lovers appeared in his frescos. One of the faces on the Sistine Chapel’s surfaces is that of his lover of the time (and yes, M was gay)!

Much of this art and music was commissioned at a time when the few rich people who could afford to commission such works were either Princes of the Church or were secular leaders who needed to overlay some religious sanctity atop their secular rule. So, many of these glorious works of art (sculpture, painting, music) were commissioned on religious themes.

To claim that religion inspired these art works is disingenuous at a minimum. The ability to paint or sculpt “on spec” was limited as artists were paid very little, so if you wanted to guarantee a sale, you had better cater to the prevailing “art market.” Since the rich were constantly sucking up to the religious elites, and vice-versa, it is no surprise that many, many glorious artworks were dedicated to such people. To make an argument for the existence of god from such inspiration shows either a complete lack of understanding, a lack of other credible arguments, or both.

I am really tired of the elites pissing in our glasses and telling us it is lemonade. I would find them more honest if they were to swing a pocket watch in front of our eyes, mumbling “You are getting very sleepy, very sleepy … when you awake, you will believe….”

December 25, 2017

Ah, Yes, Of Course … Now I See

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:34 am
Tags: , , ,

Since it is Christmas Day, the N.Y. Times runs an almost obligatory op-ed piece on why Christianity is oh so reasonable (How Can I Possibly Believe That Faith Is Better Than Doubt? by Peter Wehner). This is, of course, pandering to the choir. They somehow didn’t choose to highlight how Islam is oh so right, or Buddhism, or Voodoo. They reached into a sack containing slips of paper and drew out one labeled “Christianity.”

The author goes to some length to explain the roles of reason and faith and how they are not so far apart. (I suspect that author finds the faith of Hindus unreasonable, but that is just a guess.) Here is a sample:

“The apostle Thomas clearly thought so. According to the Gospel of John, the other disciples told Thomas that they had seen the risen Lord, to which Thomas replied he wouldn’t believe until he put his fingers in the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and put his hand into Jesus’ side.

“Fast-forward a week, when Thomas encounters Jesus, who tells him, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas does, to which Jesus replies, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’

“Not seeing and still believing is held up by Jesus as a greater thing than seeing and believing. But I’m not sure I have ever fully grasped what it is about faith that makes it precious in the eyes of God. Recently, with the help of friends — pastors, theologians, authors, fellow believers — I’ve tried to deepen my understanding on that subject.”

I want to unpack just one sentence in this, namely “I’m not sure I have ever fully grasped what it is about faith that makes it precious in the eyes of God.” This is where reason and faith separate … widely. An assumption is made that the writer who put the phrase “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” in Jesus’ mouth is assumed to be “God.” To engage reason, one should consider the question “what it is about faith that makes it precious in the eyes of any one?” Such a question would illuminate other possible sources of the statement that could then be compared with the first interpretation, that the statement came from god.

I, for one, think that faith is prized over reason by anyone trying to sell you a bill of goods. “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes” is punch line to a joke, I believe. If you take a step back and look at a few facts: there are many religions, all value faith over reason, all include statements regarding what we should do and think. All of these are therefore mechanisms to control human behavior. And, to answer the obvious question “Why should I do what you tell me to do?” the answer is either a very large carrot or a very large stick in the form of a very, very, very powerful god.

The only thing all of these religions have in common is their ability to control the behaviors of the adherents … the only thing. Is it not obvious then that that is why they exist at all?

Since getting large numbers of humans to obey by force is a rather daunting undertaking, requiring much expenditure of wealth and effort, it is very much easier to get the adherents to control themselves by creating a culture they can step into, or are born into, and then it becomes invisible. One ends up thinking “what it is about faith that makes it precious in the eyes of God” instead of “what it is about faith that makes it precious in the eyes of any one?” Trying to answer the first question results in one running down a rabbit hole of questions without answers. In answering the second question, the behind-the-scenes controllers and manipulators can be identified and the yoke of control thrown off.

It is a kind of red pill–blue pill moment.

It has been the case, for all of civilization, that the secular and religious elites have operated to control the behavior of the masses, for the benefit of the elites, not the masses. Are you aware of any culture or state in which ordinary people lived in mansions and the elites lived in simple robes in caves? No? I’m shocked, shocked I tell you. Are you aware of any culture or state in which the elites did/do not live in mansions, no matter how the hoi polloi lived? No?

In American culture now the elites have gotten us to believe that they deserve all of their wealth, because they earned it. Interestingly enough, the greatest number of new elites are the “rentier class.” This is the term used by economists to describe people who live off of financial investments. Some of these wealthy people inherited great wealth, then hired a financial manager to expand their fortune through the various financial markets. Just how did they “earn” all of their wealth? What is it about them personally that demonstrates their abilities to earn?

The elites have manipulated our culture to the point that they claim that their god favors them, a sign of which is the fact that they are wealthy. And this claim is made by Christians whose scriptures claim that riches prevent people from getting into Heaven, and that we should all give away what we have and follow Jesus, and … so on.

Reason allows us to take the cultural blinders off, if just for a moment, a moment that might just be a red–pill moment.

After Note In reading the op-ed piece again, it is clear that the arguments, though wrapped in Christian terminology, etc. would apply to any religion you might want to plug into the text, the religious culture is that powerful a weapon in the Class War being waged by the elites on you and me.

December 23, 2017

A Holiday Gift From Me to You

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:27 am
Tags: ,

Since this season has religious overtones, I decided that you might enjoy a bit of fiction that was uplifting, if I may make a play on words.

Happy Holidays!

* * *

Ex Post Rapture or The Rupture(?)

I got up this morning expecting a day much like the others but when I sat at my computer with a cup of coffee to read the news, an explosion of a type occurred. Then I finally got to see some of the videos.

Damn, they were right!

People were rising up through the air! Huge numbers of them! I wondered how the air traffic control systems would handle that but I guess this is one of those “let God’s will be done,” kind of things. There were some rather poignant scenes where most of the members of a family, assembled outside their home to observe the phenomenon, began to rise … but not all. I guess there were some closet atheists in those families. The other family members seemed to express shock and dismay that their entire family wasn’t rising.

This whole thing took place over about a twenty minute period and if it weren’t for smartphones, we might not have a record of its occurrence. Many of the traditional news media outlets were struggling to be able to report, because their staffs were so reduced.

Huh, the Christians were right! Damn! I did not see Jesus in the clouds beckoning his followers to join him, but still that seemed a more likely explanation than, say, a selective failure of gravity to keep those people on the ground or some alien transporter-like machine being employed.

My thoughts then turned to the other events that were promised by the fans of the Rapture, you know the Apocalypse, fiery pits, demons, flying horses, and so on, so I continued to watch scenes of events on the Internet, thinking I was probably getting a more accurate and wider picture than I would get from the balcony of my apartment. After about a hour and a half, all I was getting was looped footage of the rising Christians, at least I assumed they were Christians, and nothing newer, so I guessed the show was over.

What the real consequences of this were to be I hardly guessed but they were real and substantial.

* * *

Overnight, well actually, in less than an hour on that morning, the population of the U.S. declined by about 40% or so. Accurate estimates are hard to come by. The Bible Belt was hit hard and it seems like over 60% of those folks, maybe even as much as 70%, uh, rose.

All of the people who expected us atheists would just go berserk, ravening if you will, were now gone, so the relative calm of the population that was left behind was a confirmation that their criticism of us was unfounded. (As if we didn’t know that.) But I do admit to some anxiety as to whether the lawless part of our society would feel a special license to go about their business with renewed vigor, but that also didn’t seem to happen. Whether it was the demonstrated proof of the existence of some supernatural power that put “the fear of god” into them or whether they were just stunned like the rest of us, I can’t say.

What I can say, is that shortages of anything that seemed in little supply disappeared overnight. Many of the homeless claimed squatters rights in one of the many abandoned homes and, as time told, kept them up pretty well. Nobody begrudged them this because there were so many abandoned homes, it seemed hurtful to tell them to stay outside. There was so much food on the shelves that could spoil, that it was distributed freely so that it would not go to waste. The public utilities, even though short-staffed, seemed to soldier on pretty well.

After the initial shock, there was an adjustment period. So many jobs that were really necessary needed to be filled that people left relatively unimportant jobs to fill them, leaving open a great many jobs for people who were either un- or under-employed. (Finally, we got something trickled down … sorry, old memes are hard to give up.) Since almost no corporate executives were Raptured (that’s what people called it), they lost a lot of their arrogance and no longer claimed their title as a “Master of the Universe.” And after they adjusted to a world of lesser demand, they hired freely out of public spirit, thinking as Henry Ford did, that if they paid well enough, they’d have more customers for their products.

Thousands and thousands of abandoned church properties were claimed via “eminent domain” by the government and turned into secular hospitals, community centers, housing for the poor, that sort of thing. In the legal proceedings some former members of the churches fought those orders but they were denied because they weren’t real Christians; if they had been, well, you know.

Environmentalists, those who were left anyway, were ecstatic as the pressure put on our environment decreased dramatically. The climate change deniers were mostly gone and, in any case, demand for fossil fuels fell way off and coal mines and oil wells were sealed off, to be opened in the future if needed. Many people say they saw the light and would be looking into renewable energy sources. Apparently we would have more time to address our real problems and people seemed to realize, all of a sudden, that this world is all that we have and we had best take care of it. I guess none of us were expecting a better life after we died any more.

People also seemed to lose steam on going to war. Why create hell on Earth if we had the capacity to meet everyone’s basic needs. It just didn’t seem right any more. Slowly, and it was slowly because distrust fades slowly, our militaries shrank through attrition. Recruiters were having a hard time recruiting folks as opportunities abounded elsewhere.

Funny thing is, when we were all thrown together, in the same boat as it were, people started looking at their neighbors and co-workers as just other people, like them. They started caring less about what color their skin was, or what country they were raised in, and more about what their character was. It certainly didn’t matter what religious faith they had, you know, before. I guess that was part of the miracle.

* * *

All in all, this Rapture thing turned out to be a good deal for those of us who didn’t fly away. I do hope those Christians are happy, wherever they are now. Some people are saying things like “the whole world got better when the riff raff were swept away,” and other things like that, but I think that is just being unkind, due maybe to a leftover bitterness from … before. We really don’t know what happened to all of those people. For me, I just hope they are okay. And, I would like to thank them for the better world they left behind. I suspect that is what Jesus actually wanted.

 

December 21, 2017

A Creationist Argument on This Winter’s Solstice

Filed under: Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 11:24 am
Tags: , , ,

Obviously (I hope) this is not to scale!

We have just experienced yet another winter solstice, a date that heralds the beginning of winter. This is followed by a spring equinox, a summer solstice, then an autumn equinox, then the cycle repeats. This is all caused by the tilt of the axis that the Earth rotates about from the plane that it revolves about the Sun. Part of the year the north pole of the Earth points more toward the Sun and part of the year it points more away. When it is pointed more toward the Sun, it is warmer in the North, but cooler in the South, giving different characteristics to the seasons below the equator than above. This 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth’s axis from being perpendicular to the plane it rotates around the sun in, creates four perfect seasons on the planet. Not five, not three, but four, the perfect number of seasons.

Surely this complicated system could not have been created by chance, it must have required a creator.

If you believe this argument, congratulations, you are officially a fundamentalist Christian … and a number of other things equally obvious.

Happy Holidays!

December 15, 2017

God is No Democrat

Filed under: Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:07 am
Tags: , , , , ,

There is a bit of word play in the title of this post, but the core meaning is clear. There is no place for democracy in the Bible. Adam Nicolson says in his book God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible, “The condition in Eden had been one of obedience; a steeply raked social structure was ordained by God; and so crawling to the great could be holy in England too.”

This is not just a remnant of the Old Testament replaced by the New Testament by Christians. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans says quite straightforwardly: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers for there is no power but of God. The powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist, shall receive to themselves damnation.” It is obedience all the way down. (If it were not, would Rome have made Christianity its state religion?)

There is no greater authoritarian than God himself. His will be done. Obey or suffer. There is no place for “one man, one vote.” Men do not get a vote, they get judged.

So, why do I bring this up now? There is talk about declaring this nation a “Christian Nation” and claims that “it always has been.” Evangelical Christians came within an eyelash of getting a completely reprehensible Republican elected Senator from Alabama. They did manage, again by another eyelash, to get a completely reprehensible Republican elected President of the United States. But Christianity and Democracy do not mix. Something has to give, and right now it is democracy that is giving. Our current federal administration wants to do away with the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits religious leaders from politicking from their pulpits. This sounds innocuous enough, but it violates a basic political principle, namely that political money is money that is subject to taxation. If religious organizations are allowed to politic and are exempt from taxation, what do you think is going to happen? (Why the religious cannot see the potential corruption of their churches is completely beyond me.)

Christianity is authoritarian by its very nature. The Grand American Experiment in Democracy eschews authority by requiring the rule of law (the law being the authority, not the law enforcer), by electing rather than appointing its leaders, and eschewing the inheritance of any office, and myriad other ways, of course. But what happens when the lawmakers are captured by Christian authoritarians?

God is surely no democrat, nor should He be a Republican or Democrat. The question now is “Are Republicans democrats?”

 

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