Saturday, January 10, 2015

Growing out of your imaginary friend

I've already gone into detail with the recent events as to the dangers of having beliefs that are structured around scripture that was written by people who's society had some very different and morally questionable ideals and values. Today, I plan on explaining why so many of us decide to continue to have an imaginary friend well into adulthood. Considering the tasks at hand in the upcoming century, it's paramount that we evolve into a society that will be ready to face these matters together. After studying debates with various religious intellectuals, a very distinct pattern emerged.

One of the reasons people are prone to believing there's some force behind their lives and the lives of others has to do with consciousness and their ego. Let's take a look at consciousness first and foremost. The argument for a deity(ies) is that we have some sort of soul locked inside our bodies, and because we appear to have such a complex state where we can think, feel and be self aware, that this somehow proves the existence of a maker. There's a problem with this line of thought though. Although science is still in the early stages of understanding the human mind, there are some facts that would dismiss consciousness as something ethereal. For one, there are several examples supporting the fact that we are no more than the sum of our brains. If damaged, we can suffer personality changes. Some even have their entire foundation of reality turned on its head. A good example of this is psychopathy. 1% of the entire world is physically unable to process emotional information like other people. People can have strokes, have underdeveloped brains and their entire sense of reality is shaped specifically due to these factors. Considering the physical realm is what dictates who we are, to suggest otherwise is obtuse and absurd.

Evidence such as this is dismissed though and that's due to the nature of the human ego. The sense of self. It's an underlying feeling that we are somehow extraordinary, unique, special and have been granted some sort of connection. But if you have a stroke one day, depending on the region of the brain that's affected, that feeling will quickly fade, I assure you. Who you are is entirely dependent on genetics, epigenetics and environment. Who we are is malleable. Think of yourself not as one person, but several, depending on the time, influences and the environment that cause you to transition to another. A good analogy would be like a Time Lord from the Doctor Who series. Whenever the Doctor is fatally injured, he regenerates and becomes a new Doctor with all the memories of the previous one however is very different. This, all of this, is influenced by the physical realm and science is on the path to explaining it. The evidence we've accumulated so far however shows no sign of divine intervention whatsoever. So no, you're not special. You might be exceptional and fortunate that your life didn't experience the disabilities or catastrophes that I mentioned. Also keep in mind that since the Earth was around, there have been 5 mass extinction events. That's a rather odd thing to have happen if there is a creator, no mention of it in scripture and the possibility of it happening again. You'd think within what's supposed to be an absolute list of things your imaginary friend would want you to know is that you could very well die from similar events considering you're so damn important. But nah, false idols! Now there's something important that you shouldn't do and need to be aware of!

Another point of context is that without religion, there is no morals. Well considering I've already gave examples regarding the kind of abhorrent moral structure actually found in the scripture revolving around people's faith, I think it's safe to say that this position is indefensible. That is if you're rational. I mean, hate homosexuals, keep slaves, kill non believers, treat women like shit, these aren't really great talking points if you're looking to take the moral high ground. But you don't believe in that anymore? Well it's in your stupid book that's supposed to be infallible, holy and your moral landscape. Making the jump to your imaginary friend instead of realizing that it was a period piece made up by men of that time, is unjustifiable. People treat others with kindness because of evolution. If we were to kill each other indiscriminately, we wouldn't have survived the 100-200 thousand years it took us to get here. Perhaps if so many people who would otherwise be praying to their imaginary friend, actually realized they were talking to themselves, and did something to influence the matter they're praying for, we'd be better off. It's a matter of self preservation and the fact that it's more beneficial to  help than to harm. And it's not something that's inherent because your imaginary friend put it there. People afflicted with psychopathy don't have the luxury of the same moral integrity as others. 1% is a pretty large disparity for a supposed infallible omnipotent being,

People need to start asking themselves why they feel or think a certain way instead of defaulting to their imaginary friend. Perhaps then they'd realize that they're no better than pigeons. I highly recommend that you go through QualiaSoup's entire video library as it's enlightening and informative to that end. It's time to grow up, face reality and unify for the benefit of the entire race.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The price of faith

The events of today gave me pause. I often try to ask the why in regards to events, even those that seem so senseless as those that befell the office of Charlie Hebdo. What exactly does it take for a human being to want to kill a cartoonist and those affiliated with a satirical publication? Religion. A belief system that people adopt entirely due to geography and whatever is the doctrine of that location for that given time. There have been several religions since we've been around. All of them making claims without evidence. Just a simple feeling inside that has lead to myriad different interpretations that there are various or one deity(ies) that somehow give a shit about what we think, what we eat, when we fuck, how we fuck, what parts of our genitals remain after our birth and various other things that make me question the character of these deities and the people that believe them.

I've always been one to accept this nonsense from people who I've made friendships with and family. It's a topic I'd just rather avoid altogether. Mostly because they'd never do the kind of things that were witnessed today. They also happen to be awesome individuals. And yet today gave me pause and a moment of reflection.

What exactly is the price of these beliefs when the worst of us allow themselves to form their own interpretations? These beliefs come from a series of writings that were concocted by humans. Humans that happened to live a very long time ago where things were quite different. These writings, if you actually take the time to read them, have some fairly venomous content. Content, that anyone sharing the same faith could easily interpret and adopt for malicious purposes.

Here are some examples:
On women:
To the woman he said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Gen. 3:16)

On slavery:
"Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him." (Ephesians 6:5-9)

On disbelief:
"I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them" Quran (8:12)

On homosexuality:
"Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done." Abu Dawud (4462)

Quran, Hadith, Old Testament and New, passages like this can be found in abundance. To any rational and morally sound individual, these can be dismissed. The problem is we don't live in a world full of people who, when drawn to fanaticism, have the same ability of omission. As a result, anyone can simply pick up one of these books and fuel the fire of their hatred and bigotry. They're readily available for consumption. Other than the fact that one interpretation is "good" and the other is "bad", how exactly do you convince them otherwise if the ideas are present within your scripture in black and white?

Bear in mind, I don't equate having said beliefs to the ghastly actions of a select few. I do however find that having them available, despite the good nature of most, to be a problem. It'd be like having a law that was passed prohibiting rape with a sub-clause "unless she's really really hot, you have not had sex in 6 months, are really really horny and will use a condom" and hoping people don't take the last part literally because they're good people with morals. No one in their right mind would ever pass legislation like that. There are however societies that are currently using religious doctrine as their primary focus of legislation either by promoting creationism as a school subject or having their entire society under Sharia law. All of this is unacceptable.

It's because of this that I now find myself looking to be more vocal against any and all religions. I aim to make people think and dismiss these beliefs as sheer and utter nonsense. When Christopher Hitchens came up with the book title God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, I thought he was being cheeky and abrasive as a form or self promotion. Now I'm finding myself agreeing with that statement more and more each day. The worst of us have been granted the ability to rationalize the murder of artists and journalist that chose to make fun of a fictitious figure by drawing a fucking cartoon. We're all partly to blame for tolerating belief systems and giving them weight without scrutiny as well as buying into that bullshit in the first place. If your scripture holds such venomous nonsense, it's your duty to amend it or disregard it in its entirety. If you were a rational free thinking human being, you'd chose the latter.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Selective divine intervention

What is it with people who look at certain events and think, oh that must be that magical being I heard so much about that just happens to have been ingrained in our culture and is completely dependent on geographical and timed circumstances. Had this been ancient Greece they'd be coming up with some other deity.

Meanwhile you have cases like Fraulein Fritzl. A woman born in Austria who for 24 years was held captive by her father in a secret corridor in the basement where she suffered repeated abuse and rape. That was her life. Being in captivity for 24 years. Can you imagine? She had 7 children as a result of her being repeatedly raped as well. Picture it for just a brief moment. You mean to tell me that for some reason, x event demanded the attention of some supreme being but in Fraulein's case, tough luck? I repeat, her life was being imprisoned, raped by her father and abused. For 24 years.

How many times do you think Fraulein begged and pleaded for her torture to stop? Only to have it go on, incessantly like a nightmare that not even the darkest corners of the human mind can imagine or fathom. All pleas went unanswered. All. Of. Them.

What's it like to believe in a deity that would just sit idle whilst that is happening? To be able to selectively praise that deity for any beneficial or fortunate turn of events that occur by happenstance yet ignore those that happen like in Fraulein's case? Not to mention the 100 000 - 200 000 years of tribal life human beings had to go through before their supposed deity stepped in and said "hmmm, I should do something about that. Oh I know, I'll flood the whole place and ask someone to kill his kid for me!" It's morally repugnant and indefensible to put any living creature through that kind of hell no matter what the prize at the end of one's life might be.

So what do we have now? An eternity with said deity? Or if inclined, an eternity of suffering and torture. Neither case seems appealing to me considering it's just plain slavery. Not to mention the fact that you get to spend it with a batshit insane deity that's oddly selective and has done some pretty questionable things in its name. No thank you. I'd rather go with the oblivion option than to drink that Kool-Aid. To even conceptualize eternity, think of a bird grazing its wing against planet Earth and every time it goes around the planet it takes a bit of the planet off. Once it's done, that's what one day in eternity will be like. Plus chances are your memory won't be selective like it is now. You get to see, feel and think about every waking moment in pure drunken bliss. There are drugs for that, why not get a head start and put yourselves into a coma?

I hope this diminishes whatever supernatural belief anyone might have or plant a seed to at least question and rationalize what you're selling when you say "god did it". Because, from where I'm sitting, god can seriously fuck off as well as anyone who deems what happened to Fraulein to be justifiable with an all knowing, all powerful being in the mix. I'm sorry to say that the likelihood of divine intervention, considering how selective it is, doesn't really help the case that there is a god. Couple that with the myriad other religions that have made similar claims. But hey, we're on monotheism now! Just one deity away from the actual truth!

Special thanks to Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins for having provided a lot of the ground work for my argument here.