GOD THEORIES MISLEAD PEOPLE by Christopher Drew The origin of god ideas is lost in antiqui

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GOD THEORIES MISLEAD PEOPLE by Christopher Drew The origin of god ideas is lost in antiquity. At least one reason for advocating a god idea was to explain natural phenomena, such as floods and pestilence. Such god ideas affect behavior, like causing people to offer sacrifices. Rulers encouraged those beliefs that reinforced their control. Most surviving religions owe their existence to government support, which continues out of habit. ALTERNATIVES Better explanations have been obtained by freethinking, experiment, free discussion, and free publication. Better behavior has come about by improved political systems, separated from church influence, that base their laws on public discussion, experience, and the wishes of the governed. SCRIPTURES The main reason for writing religious scriptures is to induce desired behavior. One method is to picture a god who created the world and therefore must be very powerful. He is said to write the law. After a few generations, the law is rigidly enforced. New scriptures have to be written in an attempt to soften the unnecessary harshness of the old. The aim of the scripture writer is to build faith and control behavior. He is not primarily interested in recording history, except when he can present it to suit his purposes. The authors of the Jesus Christ myth included teachings directed at softening some of the laws of Moses as recorded in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. IS MAN EVIL? The religionist is apt to view people as being basically evil and rather stupid. He feels it is necessary to press religious observance on them for proper behavior. If you study people you know and understand, however, you will realize that man is a social animal. He chooses behavior that is acceptable to his fellows. He is not intrinsically evil. He doesn't need to be a church member or believe in god to be a useful member of society. He isn't stupid. To obtain belief, the religionist has to teach improbabilities as certainties and often make belief a condition of church membership. The Christian and Jewish scriptures depict god as being extremely intolerant of nonbelievers and infidels. Rejecting people because of their beliefs coupled with a tendency to indoctrinate church youth in separate classrooms causes unresolvable misunderstandings between people of different religious upbringing. The religious can't compromise when the compromise requires abandoning religious doctrine. Religious doctrine has prevented the solutions to many political problems throughout the world. Some of these problems have existed for centuries. WORLD BETTER FOR RELIGION? The religionist is apt to believe that if everyone followed his religion, the world would be a better place. This theory is not supported by history. When one religion dominates, there is corruption at the top level of authority, zero social progress, and persecution of dissenters. The religionist usually explains this as being caused by men and not by the doctrines. He forgets, or doesn't know, that the doctrines and myths were invented to improve men's behavior. NATURE OF GOD BELIEF The believers I have talked to, in as much depth as I can, think of god as a personal friend and a personal guardian. I feel that this is an unhealthy belief. The risk is that the belief is actually believed by both heart and mind, as advocated by most religionists. It is unhealthy because it is unrealistic. Those who actually succeed in certainty of belief are, in my opinion, the most likely to become frustrated. Prolonged frustration leads to antisocial behavior such as irritability, nervous breakdown, alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, and crime. Fortunately, believers are more certain in their hearts than in their minds. In my opinion, skepticism is a healthy attitude, especially if it leads to research. The path to disengagement from traditional beliefs lies in a search for knowledge by the mind. Over a period of months or years, the mind can reprogram the emotional response of the heart. No one should feel inferior because they have allowed themselves to be misled by religion. Religious doctrines and rituals have survived precisely because of their ability to mislead people. WHAT REPLACEMENT FOR RELIGION? None. God theories confuse people. Disengagement from teaching god theories as certainties would reduce human confusion. Social clubs and volunteer work don't have to be church connected. Many religionists fear that religious doctrine will be replaced by a political doctrine pursued with religious fervor. This generally occurred in those countries such as Russia, Poland, Cuba, etc., previously dominated by strong, authoritarian organized religions. In my opinion, all doctrines should be openly discussed and subjected to objective testing. No one value, such as kindness, truth, or freedom, should be rated above the others. Circumstances often dictate which value is most important, such as choosing between saying the truth or being "kind" to a friend. In the discussion of philosophy, the truth must have the greatest value, or the discussion is useless. This puts the religionist at a disadvantage because he cannot publicly admit that he approves of tricking people into desired behavior. The clergy are the same as the rest of us. They want to help their fellow man. They have been led to believe that this is a good way to be helpful. The decision to enter the clergy is usually made at a young age when experience of the world is lacking. They are trained in a seminary. The purpose of a seminary is to produce clergy who will carry on the mission of the sponsoring churches. The seminary is charged with training, not with objective questioning of the myths and doctrines. Promises of faith, obedience, and service are obtained as a requirement for ordination. Such commitments make it hard for the clergy to abandon their calling. When new clergymen begin their ministry, they soon find themselves saying things in public that they don't believe in private. In spite of their vows, some leave while they can still find a different job. Some stay and make the best of it. The best they can do is try to soften the harm done by the official policies and doctrines of the church. Some come to believe that it is acceptable to trick people, and they become professional at it. SCHOLARSHIP Church leaders generally have not encouraged scholarship except for efforts to refute independent scholars. Bible commentaries are church-oriented and are intended to put the best interpretation on the scriptures. The faithful are usually more concerned with strengthening their faith than with research into its historical foundation. They don't read independent scholarship. Nonbelievers are not interested, and they don't read it either. Libraries get rid of books that are not read. The better encyclopedias are quite good, provided the subject is not written by a religionist. RADIO, TV, AND NEWSPAPERS The religionist must be constantly on guard against public criticism of religious beliefs lest the faith of the faithful be shaken. Hence, conservative church leaders are willing to use boycotts of news and entertainment media to restrict unfriendly comment. The religious do boycott, and it frightens advertisers, newspaper editors, television and radio executives, and movie makers. The absence of public criticism of god theories lulls people into assuming that such theories help people. Many people in the media are misled by their own media. HOSPITALS The Jesus Christ myth promotes faith healing over medicine and implies that disease is due to sin. This myth delayed medical research in Europe by 1,000 years. That many modern hospitals owe their origins to religious sects in my opinion shows that the humanitarian instincts in man can overcome religious doctrine. Churches often have money, organization, influence with legislators, and the need for a good public image. Some have low-paid celibates available, which is a competitive advantage. Hospitals can actually be a source of church income, so they remain under church control. UNIVERSITIES Seminaries are needed to train the clergy. If these choose to grow by teaching nonreligious courses to attract students and state support, they can become a university where knowledge is preferred over ancestral beliefs. Universities cost money, so the church usually loses control. The church may lose interest in the seminarians as well if they become infected with zeal for research. POVERTY The cure for poverty is knowledge, self-help, and family planning. Sources of knowledge are suppressed by dominant churches because knowledge often undermines the church teachings. Church scriptures teach dependence on god. They do not teach self-help. The New Testament glorifies the giving of all money to the church. The Roman Catholic church is against contraception. It extends this ban to everyone by secular law where its political strength is strong enough. Charitable efforts to feed the hungry, while blocking long-term solutions, has led to hunger on a gigantic scale. CONSERVATIVE OR LIBERAL? Conservative churches grow; liberal churches disintegrate. The fundamentalist churches are growing in numbers, wealth, and influence. Liberalism allows people to think for themselves. When they do so, they find they don't need the church themselves, and they see no reason why its doctrines should be imposed on others. So they leave the church. Current problems of membership and income of the Roman Catholic church are partly due to the liberalizing moves of Pope John XXIII. CREATION Matter has probably always existed in some form or another. If this is so, it is unnecessary to explain the creation of matter. Attempts to describe god and explain his method of creation bog down in contradictions. Explaining one mystery with another is hardly a contribution to knowledge. Present knowledge of the origin of species is incomplete. The Genesis descriptions of the origins of species, however, are obviously myths intended to show the power of god. The two stories contradict each other. They are presented as fact with no reservations at all. The stories indicate a lack of understanding of the sky and the solar system, so they could hardly be inspired by an all-knowing god. RELIGIOUS WORDS Religious words like god, sin, salvation, spiritual need, atonement, etc., have a vast range of meaning. A speaker uses them to suit the purpose he has in mind at the moment. It is necessary for the listener to guess at the meaning by the way the word is used. This is an exhausting process and makes communication quite difficult. In my opinion, these are nonsense words that cannot be precisely defined as they do not represent a realistic way of thinking. Theology is not real knowledge. RELIGIOUS RITUALS Church rituals have the effect of helping people to be more comfortable with their own religious programming. This is upset by changes in the ritual. Successful churches change their rituals slowly and cautiously. They stay with the old hymns and melodies. The altar was originally used for sacrificing. It has been retained centuries after sacrificing was discontinued. Reform in such areas as birth control, abortion, divorce, and voluntary euthanasia has been impeded by religious doctrine. Believers are apt to follow their church teachings and vote against politicians who stand for change. POLITICIANS The problems caused by religions tend to be long-term ones, such as how Jerusalem should be governed. Politicians need to have quick solutions. Advocating disengagement from religious belief is a long-term solution. Some churches encourage members to go into politics and provide them with supporters. Such politicians are apt to be helpful to their churches. Churches have income and voting strength, which permits them to lobby effectively. It is hard to organize lobbies around nonbelief, because nonbelievers feel little need to reinforce their nonbelief by belonging to an organization. ACTION NEEDED People should neglect their churches, because church rituals reinforce the faith. If this neglect causes guilt feelings, then they should do their own homework on religion and rethink their own personal philosophies. At least some will obtain sufficient conviction and self-confidence to permanently abandon their religious beliefs. *********************************************************** Copyright American Atheist Press. All rights reserved. Printed copies of this pamphlet can be obtained from: American Atheist Press P. O. Box 140195, Austin, Texas 78714-0195. Stock #8235. 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