I went to two funerals in the last 2 weeks, one for an uncle and the second for an old work colleague, and what struck me (what always strikes me) is that I find religion a bit weird.
I don’t mind funerals, although I tend to empathically absorb feelings from everyone else and end-up crying, even if I didn’t know the person at all. To me the best funeral is a celebration of that person’s life, their achievements, their memories, and how they touched the people around them. A reinforcement that life is finite and that we only have a limited time to leave an indelible mark upon the fabric of space/time, and to celebrate that mark and ensure the ripples of their life continue to affect future generations.
As an Atheist, I find it uncomfortable sitting in a church. I go because in our society, church attendance is “expected”, but I find myself constantly distracted in analysing the iconography and the imagery, listening to the phasing, pacing and delivery of the priest and others and sensing the mood of the people there. I find it both fascinating and deeply disturbing, to know the whole edifice if built upon a tissue of lies but to see how many people are sucked in by it, many of them quite intelligent people.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to sound superior. I’m not in any way special, I just don’t believe in divine entity who watches over all of us, but I am utterly fascinated by those who do believe, even though I find the very concept of “blind faith”, deeply, deeply disturbing.
I understand some people go to church to foster a sense of community, of belonging, and I can see how that aspect would be enormously attractive, but in order to achieve that, you have to buy-in to a series of atrocious lies. In fact you have to be willing to accept lies upon lies, layers deep, with one supporting the other like a giant Jenga tower of bullshit.
I comprehend that life, and in particular – mortality, is scary. That it can be disturbing and confronting to have to face our own certain demise and that of your friends and family. I know too that people would like to know there is more to life than just this short span of existence.
I don’t want to die either, but I also know it is unavoidable and that no amount of wishing is going to change the outcome. I had no choice in being born and the same rule applies for death.
I can hope all I like, but the absolute truth is – there is no life after death. That is simply a refusal of people to accept the facts of death, bolstered by a bunch of manipulative arseholes, prepared to take advantage of people’s fears and reassure them with a series of lies about some mythical deity who looks after us all and will see us right when we die, so we can all be together again and not be sad any more.
So, every time I go to a church, I have these feelings of annoyance surface at the stupidity and futility of it all, and I wonder how and why people choose religions because I will never understand it.
Despite statements which say the mythical deity is ubiquitous (everywhere), religious people are compelled to trudge along to some grand, very elaborate and often quite expensive building so they can sit around listening to a man tell them how great the mythical deity is.
“You are the best mythical deity”
“We love you mythical deity”
“Thanks for being a mythical deity”
“You’re so powerful mythical deity – you made the earth and the stars”
“You are the only one true mythical deity”
“Thank you for listening to the private thoughts inside my head mythical deity”
“Please watch over us mythical deity – like we are children or sheep”
This doesn’t just happen once, it goes on for hours, repeating the same pathetic, pleading lines as though under some form of threat or duress, or like an insecure child seeking constant reassurance from an abusive parent. I find this terribly disturbing.
Although, even more disturbing is the mythical deity’s demands for ongoing praise, which would imply some severe mental disorder. To always be needed, told you are the best, the only one that matters, to demand you be thanked for every possible little thing you ever did, even the bad ones – is just freaky.
I mean, if I was that powerful, I reckon I’d know it, I wouldn’t need a bunch of ignorant obsequious cretins telling me something I already knew, and I certainly wouldn’t want them telling me over and over again, unless I was some sick, disturbed freak with a serious mental impairment who craved attention and if he didn’t get it would become violent and kill or maim people. But I’m so big and tough, nobody can stop me, so instead they resort to placating me through praise, so I’ll be less inclined to KILL THEM ALL!, as I have done in the past, in a fit of rage.
Lots of people ask the mythical deity for lots of different things, but even though the mythical deity is everywhere and can apparently read minds, it doesn’t always have the time to grant wishes. Depending on what you pray for – results may vary:
Please MD I lost my car keys – LOOK UNDER THE COUCH YOU IDIOT!
Please MD my daddy went to church every day can you help cure his cancer – SCREW YOU AND YOUR WHOLE FAMILY!
Please MD let there be the right amount of milk to bake a cake – FOR YOU MY DEAR – PRESTO 1/2 A CUP EXACTLY!
Please MD can you save millions from starvation or war – HEATHENS CAN DIE!
Please MD save this premature baby (who just happens to be surrounded by the best technology humanity can muster) – OK. AREN’T I GREAT?
Apparently too, there are people who are able to talk to the mythical deity or to whom the mythical deity speaks. These people are held in high regard and they get to look after the elaborate buildings. The mythical deity says these special people aren’t allowed to get married or have sex, which tends to exclude most normal people. So you end-up with a collection of hypocritical fruitcakes who hear voices in their heads, think gay people are abominations, believe that women are inferior, stop people protecting themselves against diseases and unwanted pregnancies, think abortion is the worse sin ever, but also like having sex with children. These people often claim they do lots of good, but mostly they simply repeat the lies from the mythical deity’s book, collect vast amounts of money (mainly from people who can least afford it), which is all tax free when it is sent deity HQ where the maddest of them all sits on a gold throne and rides around in bullet-proof cars. Some of these people are good, they do help the poor and perform acts of charity, but many of them are merely fascists who like telling people what to do.
Scarier still, this big, freaky, violent, mentally disturbed mythical deity apparently wrote a book based on bizarre lies like; people flying with wings on their back, defying gravity and living in the sky after they die.
There are some stories about meek people and how we should be good to each other but also lots of disturbing dreams about monsters and scary things, stories about incest and infanticide, wars and atrocities, hatreds and vendettas over land, women and belief in different mythical deities, people being raped and killed and eaten by whales, how the mythical deity got pissed-off and killed every single creature on the face of the planet except for those in a boat because people were doing bad things. Honestly? People are doing bad things and the best the deity can come-up with is to kill all the people and every single species on the whole planet, except for a few you encouraged to go into a boat. You couldn’t just kill the people doing bad things? Where exactly is the omnipotence?
The grand work of fiction doesn’t seem to mention DNA, instead it cites that women are made from a man’s rib and the tale of a talking snake who suggested 2 people should seek knowledge, but doing that somehow made every single person evil until some guy – the mythical deity’s son (conceived because the mythical deity raped a married woman), who was a good cook with fish, bread and wine apparently, walked on water, mostly hung-around with groups of young men, wandered around the desert and disappeared for a while, didn’t much like bankers, and was a bit of a political activist that got him nailed to a cross and he died. But afterwards his body went missing and some guy who was clearly stoned on mushrooms claimed he saw him flying in the sky.
But wait, the story gets even more believable… since the mushroom vision, it now means people are still evil, but they can stop being evil only if they cannibalise flesh and blood of the mythical deity’s son and take a bath. When they die they get to live forever with the brutish, nasty, vindictive, mentally disturbed mythical deity, surrounded by people a lot like the Eloi from HG Wells “The Time Machine”.
Bad news however is, if they don’t become cannibals or believe all the bizarre stuff written in the mythical deity’s big book of insane lies, the mythical deity is gonna make sure they go to a horrible place after they die and be tortured forever with all the interesting people who don’t waste their time praying to a mythical being.
Surprisingly, a book written by a deity capable of creating the whole universe and everything in it, in just 7 days, should have a few references to basic scientific principles like gravity, the earth revolving around the sun, our galaxy being one of billions of others, basic medical practices, hygiene and a basic understanding or literacy, mathematics, biological and evolutionary principals. But alas, none seem to be mentioned, which is strange for a book designed to provide a basis for living and understanding the world. If you didn’t know it had been written by the great mythical deity, one could easily assume it was instead composed by a bunch of ignorant, opinionated, misogynists around 800 years ago and loosely based on a series of wives tales, myths and children’s stories from an age when groups of uneducated nomadic people roamed the desert fighting over land, water and women. But of course, we know that isn’t the case, because the book say so.
Amusingly, this book gets held up as a model for behaviour and as the truth about the origins of our species, our planet and as a replacement to science, despite most of the things in it being ludicrous or outright lies. We even want to teach school kids about this book and all those insane lies, instead of opening their minds and encouraging them to seek their own answers. We’d rather see our kids cower in fear of some brutish, mentally disturbed bully than taking risks and learning for themselves.
That’s kinda why I’m not a big fan of religion and why I will never understand it.