Friday, July 17, 2009


"The Eye of God"
or, The Helix Nebula?
You Decide

First, congratulations are in order for this, our 100th post! So congratulations, Rick!
Why thank you very much.
Some of my dear readers may remember that this site's very first post dealt with God (in the form of Morgan Freeman) directing me to begin this endeavor. He even said it was okay if I made arguments against his very existence. He doesn't care... He's God... and knows he exists, and doesn't need us to believe or disbelieve in him, her, or... whatever.
So let us spend some time examining our old friend God, or religion more accurately, and its place in the modern world.
Last night while watching an episode of the comedic animated show, "Futurama," (my late night television viewing habits when I can't get to sleep are somewhat suspect) a familiar theme presented itself to me (my lovely case manager, Erin, should be surprised by this line of dialogue, "Who would have thought that Hell actually exists... and is in New Jersey!" Bender, the shows mischievous and amoral robot character easily was seduced to become addicted to rushing large voltages of electricity through his systems, much the same way that alcoholics become addicted to alcohol. His friends provide an intervention, and he discovers salvation through becoming involved in robot church activities and dogma. His friends soon cannot stand this new and improved, goody goody Bender, and seduce him into relapse, setting up his speedy departure to Robot Hell (in New Jersey!).
In real life those addicted to alcohol and drugs often turn to religion, or spirituality to help them solve their problems, indeed they are often coerced into religious based programs, and forced to attend that program's particular brand of philosophical lectures, or services. Those of you who have been courageous and industrious enough to wade through the Salvation Diary series, are well aware that the Salvation Army ARC program basically forces its "beneficiaries," to attend two evangelical church services a week, submit to "Work Therapy," and a host of other conditions to "be allowed," the rehabilitation services the program provides, as well as food and housing.
So, despite these institutions often being labeled as charities, their goals are often not altruistic at all. The rehabilitation is a byproduct of their activities... salvation and conversion are their ultimate goals, ingestion of new converts the reward for their services. And a very good case can be made that the powerful are willfully taking advantage of the weak to bolster their own ranks.
Being an atheist I do not believe that God, spirituality, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Shiva, Mohammed, religion, or any other entity has anything at all to do with any individuals eventual long term sobriety. I would rather attribute their success to environmental pressures, genetics, and psychological considerations. The idea of God, or a "higher power," as a tool helps them, as well as many others who face dire circumstances. Of course men (and women) are social animals, and getting together in groups with others who face a similar problem is usually quite helpful.
Erin once professed to me her love of mathematics, an interest I do not share. Naturally, being the idiot that I am, I asked her how she could reconcile her belief in God and Heaven with her fondness of tackling problems that can be empirically solved and proven. She was kind enough to respond in an Email to me at length that she did love truth and things that can be proven, but that she could feel God's presence in her very core, that she has always sensed him, and that he has played a beneficial and integral part in her life. She also feels no great need to prove his exitance, and never attempts to do so.
Now this is the position of the Theist, and I love it, and would never attempt to sway her to any other position, especially on something that obviously means so much to her, and which I could never provide proof otherwise. If that works for her I think thats great, and more power to her.
I have heard that argument for the existence of God many times before. My own dear sister, Cheryl holds the same, or a similar belief. I have to point out however, that their belief is "feeling," based, a psychological phenomena, and always subject to individual interpretation, and resistant to independent investigation.
There are so many arguments for the non-existence of God since the advent of science that I hesitate to go into it. Now remember, science is not some independent evil entity out to disprove or humiliate other's cherished beliefs. All it really is, all it ever has been, is a three part method. Come up with an idea, test that idea through experiment, then have the results severely reviewed by peers. That's it! A self correcting process that has revealed the secrets of the universe to us in such a relatively short time. It reveals truths about us, our world, our bodies, and the cosmos that may be contrary to certain closely held personal beliefs, but it is the only tool thus far developed that we can consistently apply to our lives that can be quantitatively explained and understood. None other exists.
I will continue this discussion elsewhere, but let me present the main thrust of my concern about cultural values, and closely held overt religious beliefs in our modern world, which has been exhaustively commented on by Sam Harris, and others.
Despite the personal benefits that Erin, my sister, and millions of others derive from their belief in a God that is beneficial to them, organized religion has always been an instrument of the powerful to subjugate the weaker masses. It is currently being used to implement political ideology, subvert feminine equality and health, and promote provincial rationalizations that have no place in our current state of progression.
When ones highest possible ideological goal is to kill as many innocent believers of a dissimilar faith and culture as possible, as has been the case throughout recorded history, I believe it is time to consider the possibility that our species has outgrown the need for religion, especially in this time of nuclear and biological weaponry.
I don't think that we can afford God any more.

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