Monday, April 19, 2010
when I reflect on the success and longevity of religion I would attribute it to several factors:
1. Its ability to reinvent itself
2. Its ability to undermine the self worth of believers
3. Its ability to spread fear and intellectual dependency
My neighbour and I were talking about the Christians that come around the neighbourhood each month. I guess I see about 6 of them each year. Most come in pairs, some come with their children. My neighbour is a Catholic. He suggested I don't like how they are always trying to get money from people. Well proof enough that there is no God perhaps; but one must concede that they do need money to survive, and I dare say the rich dislike parasitism as much as maligned community members who have lost confidence in religious institutions. His point however was that 'They mean well'. Being a Catholic, he looked at me like he saw a ghost. Fortunately he has long since repressed my atheism, so he is nice to me again. There was about a month when he avoided me.
The reason I suggest that Christians are not well-meaning is because people only look at Christians in a superficial sense. Christians of course vary in their degrees of moral rectitude. Most people would consider their moral righteousness in terms of their 'giving spirit', or their 'commitment to God'. I simply look at the extent to which I can have a reasonable conversation with them. The reason for taking this approach is because:
1. Money given was money taken from elsewhere. I'm not suggesting Christians don't earn money, but I do suggest those that give in the name of altruism are fakers seeking moral superiority. Anyone needing to peddle such influence usually has a guilty conscientious.
2. A person who is not reasonable is open to any action. A reasonable person can still be deceitful, but they have to rationalise, and this places them in a position in conflict.
Now I must confess that I am rather provocative with Christians because I now have the freedom of not being employed by such people. On the surface they are rather friendly and non-judgemental. But when placed in a position of conflict I have found that they tend to lose control. The problem is of course their lack of mental efficacy. The reason they lack mental efficacy is because from an early age their minds have been sabotaged. Until non-Christians who are simply the product of a bad education system, they have grown up with an anti-life (i.e. anti-reason) philosophy. That does not stop them trying to rationalise it.
This week I joined a local philosophy group. Unsurprisingly these people are all over 65yo Christians. Why people bother to take an interest in philosophy just prior to dying I will never understand. I learnt it from age 19yo, and if I knew its importance I would have studied it from 15yo. Mind you, in a world of contradictions, perhaps I needed more life experience before I could accept such 'provocative ideas'. Regardless over 65yo is too late.
The next problem is that they are reading a Christians interpretation or rationalisation of philosophy. They are reading 'Think' by Simon Blackburn. The problem with this book is that it is a rationalised interpretation of philosophy. It has intelligibly pieces of other philosophers like Schopenhauer. The implication is that Christians are not challenging themselves. They are getting the same sanitised version of the truth that they get at church. There can be utterly no respect for facts or reality if:
1. You do not challenge yourself by reading other material (giving you greater coherency or integrity)
2. Seek to resolve practical problems (giving you grounding)
Another example. My parents have never in the last 20 years of knowing me sought to understand my values. I have challenged them on a great many issues, and yet they are not honest enough to engage in a reasonable manner. It is the psychology of Christians. You might ask why I am lampooning Christians if they are not terribly Christian? The reason is that they come from Christian households and they went to Christian schools with the same destructive impact on their 'young minds', which was never corrected by having children. By the age of 10y0, when children start to question their parents, such parents undermine their children rather than embrace the facts of reality. Of course many children cannot espouse coherent philosophy. But don't under-estimate a child's capacity to identify a contradiction in their parents. Parents in the formative years will laugh off the 'honesty' of their kids. e.g. Daddy, why is mommies skin so wrinkled. When a child retorts to a parent, Christian or otherwise, and they don't have an efficacious mind, they are inclined to attack the child rather than deal with their own issues. The implication of this is:
1. The child is denied validation
2. The child is attacked or abused physically or mentally
This is why social problems persist in society; because people do not have sufficient respect for the facts of reality. They would prefer to undermine those who provoke or challenge us to think rather than actually solving personal problems. It ought however to be apparent that teaching faith (i.e. The opposite of reason, accepting without evidence) is going to sabotage a person's mind.
Why do they do it? Simply because they cannot confront their own shortcomings? People will say that their fear makes them selfish. But its not in your self-interest to sabotage your mind or anyone else's. This is why Christianity has been so insidious. It spreads the myth that values are subjective; so people self-indulgently don't seek to reconcile their values with facts. i.e. Objectivity. People only take an interest in a delinquent child from the age they start to commit crimes. The problem of course is that its much harder to solve problems at this level.
So you might ask yourself - how do you stop Christians rationalising that they are good people. Well, you withdraw your moral sanctioning of them. They cease to be 'well-intended' and you start treating them as intellectual cowards who would rather sabotage their minds, and their childrens, rather than confront (and resolve) the challenges in their life. The greater 'sin' is allowing another generation of people to be injured by religion. The other great travesty is the moral ambivalence that 'non-Christians' have, such that they were raised in Christian households unable to develop a coherent sense of values. They are insecure, but they know enough to know that there is something wrong with 'institutionalised religion'. Many would conclude that the problem is the people. i.e. Humans are evil by nature. But no one questions the underlying philosophical premises shaping these 'lost souls'. They were of course lost before they discovered religion. Religion appeals to vulnerable souls, but it does not help them. It gives comfort by deluding them into thinking that love or values are not rational, or conditional. They live on a succession of reduced expectations and rationalisations.
Those of you who are inclined to argue with Christians to save their souls, you are wasting your time if they are espousing baseless assertions. There is no way a rational argument will convert them. If you recognise that they are responding with intelligible arguments, then you have a chance. But bear in mind that they are still challenged by their social identity with the church. It might not be as strong as the entrenched 'cultural identity' of a cult, however it is nevertheless the basis of their security system. You would have to offer a comprehensive repudiation of religion, as I have attempted to do in these blog entries.
My thanks to those who give me feedback. Glad to know I am influencing people. I'm particularly pleased if people tell me why that appreciate the arguments I make, or what difference it has made to their thinking. The reason being I want to know people are 'really' getting it, and not rationalising.
When I was young I was so passionate about learning. I retain that attitude today. There is no fear of learning from any source. Science was no doubt a key, as it developed a respect for objective reality. If we can teach people to give primacy to facts, to have confidence in their cognitive ability, so they need not fear the world, then society will be a far better place.
Andrew Sheldon www.sheldonthinks.com
Attention all atheists!!
In fact anyone who has had an interesting encounter with a Christian which involved manipulation, deception or blatant rationalisation. This is research or material for a forthcoming book. I am not suggesting that all Christians are criminals, dangerous or threats to society, but I am suggesting that Christianity is a basis for moral inefficacy. There is a reason why Christian nations are always at war. There is a reason why former Christians (or children of Christians) have a tendency to drift into cults and extreme religious groups. Thank you for any life experiences you can recall. ----------------------------------------------- Andrew Sheldon www.sheldonthinks.com