[cross-posted from A_THEIST Echo]
central Florida is sort of bible-beltish; certainly more than the metropolis
of Miami from which i so recently escaped. [grin]
so, imagine my surprise to open up the local paper and find a guest column by
one D.K. Harris titled, "Religions can enslave their blind followers." it is a
single column cut the length of the editorial page and i reproduce it here
without permission. [any typos are mine and not the author's.]
Star-Advocate; Titusville, FL; 24 Jun 92; Vol. 27, No. 13; Section A, pg 4:
Religions can enslave their blind followers, by D.K. Harris
I am worried -- no, I am appalled and disgusted -- at the increasing
addiction of our society to religion.
Yes, I know that religion has been with us since Homo sapiens first
walked upright, and perhaps longer. It is the nature of sentient beings to
seek explanations. When we don't know the whys and hows, or when something
frightens us, we invent myths to explain it. Thus we have Zeus and Thor,
ghosts and vampires, Atlantis, flying saucers, and a plethora of supreme
beings in nearly every language on Earth.
But we know for a fact that the supreme beings postulated by a dozen
wildly different human-invented religions are, at best, a self-indulgent
fantasy, and at worst, a mind-destroying addiction as dangerous as cocaine.
The very idea that some anthropomorphic supreme being, capable of
creating a universe whose size and complexity we can barely imagine, much less
comprehend, would also give a hang for our rituals and opinions, is so
ludicrous on the face of it that the only wonder is that "believers" aren't
immediately put in psychiatric therapy. Add to that the simple observation
that each and every one of these religions claims to be the only right way and
you have the basis for a consistent and logical proof that religions are
nothing more than human-created myths.
What, then, are the attractions of religions? For those in power,
obviously it is the power itself. There will always be those whose natures
compel them to try to control others, and religion provides the easiest way to
do that for those who have no other qualifications. You don't have to be
smarter, or richer, or better looking, or more popular, to get other people to
do what you tell them to do.
Money is also a factor, though not a necessary one. A great many
religious "leaders" have made their fortunes, as well as satisfied their lust
for power, through their charlatan sermonizing.
For the followers, the attraction is more insidious. Partly, of
course, the appeal is still to that fear of the unknown; of death. Actually,
it is not death that humans fear so much as mortality: the loss of influence.
Another weapon used by all "creator" religions (those which depend on belief
over independent thought) is the appeal to guilt. All humans have something
about which they feel guilty; this is the natural result of the conflict
between evolution's "hard-wiring" -- that which is responsible for our
survival of a species -- and our social training, which is based on whatever
concepts happen to be popular in any given culture at any given time. Guilt is
both a subtle and powerful motivator, particularly when you are not certain
exactly why you are supposed to feel guilty. By doing what someone else tells
you to do, however, you absolve yourself of all responsibility -- and
therefore, of feeling any guilt. The Nazis called it "just following orders."
Religions disguise it in more self-righteous terms, but the same purpose is
Followers derive such comfort from religions because it frees them
from the burden of thinking for themselves, of dealing with problems for which
they do not have the mental or emotional strength. It is in this manner that
religions exactly parallel drug addiction. It is no coincidence that the
number of drug addicts, homeless people, and religion followers all rose
sharply when the Reagan administration closed the vast majority of in-patient
mental treatment wards and left those without the ability to deal with the
real world on their own to their own resources, which, by definition, they did
Religious rank is no guarantee of morality: there have been
adulterers, thieves, and child abusers among the leaders of all religions. If
this doesn't frighten you, then you are not using your mind. Mind control is
slavery, no less so when the slaves are willing subjects; far more
dehumanizing, in fact, when neither the slaves nor those around them are aware
of the existence and extent of their debasement.
i can hardly wait for the fallout. [grin]