Here is an email I received in response to one of my essays on religion.
You have packed a lot of big questions into that tiny paragraph. It would take a book to properly answer them.
Certainly the thousands of death threats I have received from Christians based on my sexual preference and the violent attacks on my gay friends and the unbelievable cruelty of Christian parents to their gay children convinced me Christians were meddling whacko busybodies. I then had a look at their strange beliefs in more detail and decided they were literally insane, hoth is the psychiatric sense of delusional and the legal sense of incapable of telling right from wrong.
Calling the bible God’s word is pretty far fetched. Even Christians acknowledge it was written by anonymous ordinary humans. The bible is only one of thousands of holy books making this claim. None, including the bible, offer any evidence at all to back the claim. If God exists, certainly he bears no ressemblance to the Christian description. I describe why I think that is an essay on what we can infer about the nature of God, if he exists at all.
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous, proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (born:1941-03-26 age:74), The God Delusion chapter 2, page 31
From where I stand, Christians are pathetic. They are like children who cling to flea-bitten, filthy security blankets. Your question is in a way like the child’s question, If I give up my security blanket, what will replace it? The answer is nothing. You don’t need anything; you just think you do. Your blanket is just a placebo, a Dumbo’s magic flying feather. It does nothing for you, other than creating a false sense of security and is actually doing you considerable harm. You value the blanket/Christianity highly out of a tradition of dependence, not because the blanket/Christianity has any intrinsic value.
Another analogy of how I see you Christians, is you are like a pet owner fanatically devoted to an arthritic old dog, that has lost control of its bowels and vomits all over the place. You don’t see the dog as he is now, but as he used to be. You can’t face the current reality so you insist to everyone the dog is in absolutely perfect health and insist they pretend to agree.
The notion that anything special has to happen after you die strikes me as childish. It an egotistical refusal to believe you are impermanent, that eventually you will have to get offstage. Nobody asks what happens to bonobo chimpanzees, mosquitos or duckweed plants after they die. Genetically we humans are almost identical to chimpanzees. We are just a species of animal that has evolved a few tricks that let us temporarily dominate the planet. Why should humans be special? Why should humans alone have an afterlife?
I have been under anaesthesia. I did not dream. My consciousness faded away to nothing. Until I get better evidence, I presume death works the same way.
However, I have always been fascinated by after-death speculation and by near-death experiences. I have personally had out of body experiences and many experiences which don’t fit into any rational category. Of all the speculation I have heard, the Christian myth is one of the least plausible. It bears no ressemblance to anything else in nature. It smacks of illiterate human invention. It is in no way related to my own transcendant experiences. Christianity is like a cheap plastic imitation of what a religion should be.
If it turns out my consciousness continues after I I die, I won’t be astounded. However, if it turned out the Christians are right I would be utterly gobsmacked. I find even the Hindu elephant god Ganesh more plausible. Other than being gay, which I did not choose, I live a life more in keeping with Jesus’s teaching than almost any Christian I have ever met. How many other people ever gave away all their wealth and belongings including a fully paid-for four-bedroom house to to help the poor? So logically I should be in reasonable shape, on the off chance any of the tens of thousands of religious after-death myths turned out to be true.
It seems to me, the more religious a person is, usually the less ethical they are. See my essay on Kristianity for a list of famous Kristian con men. Kristians imagine their religion gives them a get out jail free card that excuses all manner of unethical behaviour.
I have a personal life philosophy. I try to reason out what is ethical and what is not from first principles. I consider it lazy and revolting to mindlessly adopt the obviously silly beliefs of a seriously flawed religion like Christianity out of lazy, herd-mentality, sheep-like fear of thinking for oneself.
I have codified some of what replaces religion in my life in three essays:
I have written seven groups of essays vaguely related your questions:
If the troubles from environmentalists cannot be solved by the jury box or at the ballot box, perhaps the cartridge box should be used.
~ James Gaius Watt (born:1938-01-31 age:77), Secretary of the Interior
My question to Christians would be, given that the bible is so full of error and inconsistency, and so totally in conflict with archaeology, science and common sense, why do you pretend to believe it is the infallible word of God? Surely God would create something infinitely better than that, something clearly superior to any human creation. Why do you persist in such an outrageous lie? You seem so desperate to cling to something to tell you how to run your life, you are willing to cling to something obviously fraudulent and untrue. You clung to the first religion at hand, without even a cursory glance at any of the other ten thousand religions. How can you possibly be so certain yours is the best? The only reason you chose it was proximity, aside from childhood brainwashing. Secondly, why would you want to associate yourself with an institution that has become synonymous with child abuse? Here in Canada, the major denominations, the Catholics and Anglicans, are financially on the ropes from paying out for lawsuits for aiding and abetting their clergy molesting children.
Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
~ Isaac Asimov (born:1920-01-02 died:1992-03-06 at age:72) Russian-born American scientist and prolific writer
the discussion continues on 2008-03-04.
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