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September 28, 2007

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The deeper one goes into theoretical quantum physics one begins to see vitality and intelligence not a cold universe acting like a machine in constant motion. I have read some of Dawkins material and he pretty much stays away from consciousness and spends most of his time attacking religion. Attacking the lack of logic in religious beliefs is like attacking kindergarten.

Raised as a catholic and taught some pretty illogical religious beliefs I suspect he feels duped and now is striking back. His brother on the other hand writes with much more compassion and understanding of the human condition. One has to wonder what experiences Dawkins personally experienced to make him so hostile to religion.

William, Dawkins is justifiably hostile to religion when believers look upon their chosen faith as being objectively true -- as contrasted with an art form, or myth.

Dawkins is a scientist. Scientists have the corner on knowledge about objective reality, the kind of reality that you can see, hear, smell, touch, taste.

Like the New Scientist article that I wrote about said, when religious people stray onto science's turf, they shouldn't be surprised when defenders of that turf, like Dawkins, point out how religion doesn't have an objective leg to stand on.

Religious belief is fine so long as believers simply say, "I believe..." But when they add "I believe this is how the world is," then they need to come up with evidence.

No religion can do that. No religion can show that it knows something about objective physical reality that science doesn't (of course, if it could, then that bit of knowledge would become part of our base of scientific knowledge).

So this is why Dawkins is so dismissive of religion. It talks a lot, but it can't back up its beliefs with facts.

"the god delusion" is a big disappointment for any real seeker. Actually, the title is very disengenious. Dawkins sets up his arguments using very superficial definitions of god, old time religion stories, and then proceeds to knock them down. He does not address the arguments brought out by Realitivity anywhere, ever.

I don't accept his standard dodge either "we don't know yet". He has to admit that the most vexing quandaries, the hard ones, are not only a long ways from being understood but, in fact can never be known.

The book should be called "how religions evolve."

Lou

The End of Religion: Prerequisite for a New Era

“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do.
No one to kill or die for
And no religion too.

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one.
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.”
John Lennon, from “Imagine”

There have been numerous articles written and published in numerous magazines, both mainstream and new age, about clearing out the old to make way for the new. It seems both practical and widely accepted that to create something new, or bring something new into our lives, we have to make space for it; inviting it in so to speak. Many of us have guest rooms in our homes to provide space for new visitors, we have periodic garage sales to empty our storerooms in preparation for new stuff, and Hollywood suggested that we “Build it and they will come!”

Yet, as regards our religious beliefs, we are constantly exhorted to cling to tradition, to hold fast to the most ancient and most unbelievable beliefs. We are also told to accept these beliefs on faith and never, ever question either ours or others, for that would be rude, heretical, intolerant and completely unacceptable.

As a teacher, it is both obvious and practical to me that a prerequisite for learning is the knowledge that my knowledge is limited. There is no need for learning, and no possibility of learning, if I think or believe I already know. To learn, I must acknowledge that I know little about what I want to learn about. To learn, I must also be curious to know. As Cat Stevens sang “I’m on the road to find out.” (He went on in the same song to express the essence of religious ignorance by saying “cast out the devils and pick up the good book now.”)

Religious ‘leaders’ want to tell us what is true and what to believe, without question. When we have questions, we are told it must be accepted on faith and that the ‘books’ their knowledge comes from must be accepted as divine and infallible. We are further pressed, threatened even, never to question the ‘authority’ of these books or the authority of those who have appointed themselves divine interpreters of these books.

The result is that in 2000 years of western, religious thought, we have not made any room, any space for any real, current, spiritual experience. All we have are global wars between peoples with primitive, absurd, dangerous, and completely closed and defined beliefs about god, the world and each other. There is no space for learning because there is no space for doubt and not-knowing. There is no space for learning because there is only self-righteous belief. There is especially no space for learning because there is no curiosity about “finding out.”
Why do we cling to these beliefs, even when many either know or at least suspect they are archaic, based on an ignorance we no longer have, and obviously violent and destructive?

Mostly we continue to believe these archaic stories because we are afraid. We are afraid of the unknown. So afraid that we are not even curious about what we do not know. Why are we afraid? Any thorough reading of any of the ‘good books’ would strike fear into anyone’s heart. The so-called gods of the Bible and the Koran are scary fellows, full of narcissistic demands and threats, always punishing and destroying people, always exhorting their followers to kill the infidels and stone to death anyone who is the least bit different from what is demanded. These ‘gods’ are jealous and insecure and full of contradictions. “Thou shalt not kill” is contradicted by innumerable orders to kill the pagans and followers of any other god (there must be other gods to compete with, or so it seems), and the final glory will be exceedingly gory due to the ensuing war, famine, pestilence and death. Except for those who believe?

Read this stuff enough and who would dare not believe! I have even heard agnostics say they sometimes pray to be better safe than sorry!

This can be a frightening world. Death is both an unknown and a given, so it is understandable that we be afraid. We have all seen a spider kill a fly and the results of car accidents. We don’t like pain and want to avoid it. Yet shall we continue to accept the ridiculous fabrications created by our primitive ancestors to assuage their fears? Shall we continue to sanctify ignorant, perverse dysfunctions? Shall we continue to kill because some brainwashed, indoctrinated sadists, dressed in rich, ceremonial robes or coarse linen sheets have instructed us to throughout history under the threat of eternal damnation? Are you, we, still so deluded?

Religion is very much like organized crime. Religious organizations and criminal organizations do not pay taxes. They both extort money from those under their ‘protection.’ (protection money or tithing, both done as systems of externally enforced reward or punishment). Both have distinct and strict hierarchies with godfathers and ‘godfathers.’ And each organization has the ‘truth’ and is at war with the others. Yes, I know you will object and say that this is only true of fanatics and fundamentalists and that religious people have more tolerance of other religions. Tolerance is another word for arrogance. It means ‘putting up with” as you would do for a lesser species and it remains viable only until someone, like Hitler or George Wallace, or Bin Laden or innumerable people from every country and every religion says it’s now ok to exterminate the non-believers as they are sub-human and no better than rats anyway. Each side of every war presents the ‘enemy’ as rats, or bugs or monsters of some sort. And the rule books of every religion except perhaps Buddhism, Taoism and Jainism (which do not claim any god at all but rather a universal, all inclusive Being), say much more about killing others than they do about living in peace with others. Every religion either directly says or implies that its followers are the chosen and saved people while outsiders are pathetic and damned.

Religion has made all of us into victims waiting helplessly for a savior to come and forgive us of our inherent sinfulness and transport us out of this world to a better place. This is just as pathetic as and infinitely more crippling than Disney’s line that “someday my prince will come.” I call this the savior trap. The savior mentality is a result of religious teachings we have created and adopted individually and culturally. The savior mentality motivates us in two very unhealthy and unproductive ways.
• We hope, wait for and expect someone else to take care of the problems we create; someone else to correct and forgive our mistakes. It keeps us insecure, full of the belief that we are too sinful and unworthy to do the right thing. We believe we are victims of either evil or divine forces, instead of perpetrators of evil and good.
• We consciously and subconsciously create crises and wars, creating the conditions we believe will bring a savior, or make heroes and saviors out of us. Biblical fiction, like Revelations, has influenced us to believe that the prerequisite to the coming of a savior is war, disease, pestilence, famine and total destruction. So, we have been creating such miseries with the false hope and assurance that if things get bad enough, someone will be sent to bail us out. Even if such a ridiculous idea could come to pass, it’s better to live responsible, peaceful lives and simply eliminate the need for a savior.

Religion keeps us from ever growing up.

Religion also teaches us to glorify suffering and to distrust and condemn pleasure. Religion glorifies martyrs, people who suffer and die for their beliefs. Jesus was a martyr who died for our sins and therefore we are saved, especially if we keep giving him our sins. Somewhere we got this crazy idea that someone else can take responsibility for the harm we create and relieve us of our due through their suffering. Suffering itself, therefore, has become deified and glorified. It became a badge of honor for a ‘saint’ to receive the stigmata (bleeding hands and legs and side) because they then suffered as much as Jesus.

Muslims love martyrdom. They believe that to martyr oneself while killing unbelievers will earn them a place in paradise. They believe god loves them for killing themselves and others. The Bible tells Jews and Christians the same things and in the past (and likely in the future), they acted much like today’s Muslim martyrs. Today Christians and Jews are a bit less aggressive in following the dictates of their god.

Jews have proven themselves to be the most adept at suffering; the most adept at deifying suffering. Jews are the chosen people, chosen to suffer more than any other people. Their holocaust beats out any other holocaust in history and their suffering is greater than any other people’s suffering, greater than the suffering experienced at Hiroshima, greater than the suffering of the Hotoos and Tootsies, greater than the suffering inflicted on women during the inquisition, greater than the suffering the Christians inflicted on Native Americans in North and South America. The Jews even seem to forget that Hitler killed millions of non-Jews as well.

Our religious beliefs are the causes of all this suffering. We are victims addicted to suffering. We are truly religious about it. We worship it.

Just look at how so many re-enact the crucifixion every year and how they wear the symbol of Jesus’ suffering around their necks. That’s how people with insane beliefs say they show their love. “I love you Jesus because you suffered for me.” People who truly love another want to relieve them of their suffering, they don’t celebrate it. Wearing a cross around your neck is like wearing the gun that killed your beloved around your neck.

Religion makes us crazy.

We are told by followers of monotheistic religions that there is one god and that everything that exists was created by him. Yet the rule books for these religions tell us to kill each other. So, god created all of us and god wants us to kill some of those he created? And then there are evil forces that compete with god for our souls. Were these evil forces also created by god? They must have been, but why? It doesn’t make much sense. And if all creation is created by god, and therefore sacred, isn’t it logical that the creation is the language of god, the word of god? So why do we continuously kill and destroy the real words (creations) of god by the dictates of the words of men disguised as sacred and divine literature which we call scripture? What is sacred, life itself or these books we revere so much?

Religion makes us crazy.

Now you might object to all I have said on the grounds that religion has brought much good to the world.

Such as?

Whatever good has come from religion has not been the result of the religion but simply an outbreak of enlightened and ethical human behavior. That’s right, we can engage in ethical and/or unethical behavior without god or the devil’s dictates. Every religion and indeed many secular philosophies have put forth the Golden Rule. Even physics explains the law of karma. We have finally realized (a few of us, anyway) that we are not separate from the world and everything in it. We breathe the same air, share the same atoms and molecules and depend on the global systems of water circulation, air circulation, heating and cooling. Yet even today, religionists deny their humanity and physical dependency on this earth by claiming their home is in heaven (The sky? The name of a shopping mall? Another planet?), thereby relinquishing any responsibility or accountability for what they do here.

There has been a great deal more killing than saving in the name of god. The hungry can and should be cared for by the well fed without concern for religious rewards in heaven for doing good deeds. Islam considers killing nonbelievers a good deed as have Jews, Christians and Hindus.

Perhaps our ancestors needed ethical imperatives dressed in the fear of an avenging god, perhaps not? Yet we certainly do not, especially when many of the imperatives are obviously unethical and not in anyone’s best interests.

We don’t need religion.

Religion is a curse, not a blessing and it is a creation of our own egos (the Deceiver, Satan, Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, these are projections of our own mental constructs). The god of the Bible and the Koran are projections of the ego. The ego is an identity each of us develops as a means of protection. It is an idea, a construct that is made up from true and misperceived experience. It is also a compendium of ideas told to us and modeled for us by others for their own convenience. We have been told who we are by others and often encouraged to accept what we are told without question, often with threats of death and damnation. If our daddies were intolerant despots, our concept of god is likely to match that described in the Bible. Our curiosity has been thwarted, repressed and buried. You are a good boy/bad boy depending on what you do in someone else’s estimation. You are a believer; you are an infidel, etc. We come to accept these identities and then we defend them if they are challenged either by life or by others. These identities become so strong we go to war to fight for them. Religious identities are among the most rigid and crystallized and unassailable structures possible. These identities separate us from reality and from almost any possibility of opening to any reality we are unaccustomed to. That is the nature of the ego. It is contracted, defensive, illusive and deceiving. We must recognize the lie of it, relax it and let it go. We must let go of all of our religious identities to be able to allow space for a truer, larger, more inclusive identity as humble and necessary parts of a whole creation, a whole consciousness. This connection and participation in a total reality is truer and is even scientifically evidenced. Our religious beliefs are founded on ignorant and dysfunctional fiction.

What possible experiences might arise if we accepted as a starting point that what we think we know about god, the soul and the universe is wrong. What might arise if we looked at our beliefs about god, where they came from and how both absurd and dangerous they are and let them go. If John appeared today on a street corner proclaiming what he wrote in Revelations, even those who pray for the predictions of revelations and those who capitalized on religious elitism by writing left behind books would just consider him for what he is, chicken little in robes. Yet so many believe in and long for his prophesies of 2000 years ago!

What experiences might arise if, instead of defending beliefs laid on us and accepted by us from others, we inquired into our own experiences in relation to the world and each other. What if we looked into how we are all interconnected? What if we started to directly experience and wonder about this mysterious and wonderful creation, what it is, how we affect and are affected by it? What might arise if we inquired into the nature of consciousness itself? What might we learn if we approach everyday and every experience with the humility and truth of our not-knowing combined with interest and wonder and curiosity?

Better to read Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White than the Bible by who knows who.

It is, however, difficult to let go of self concepts so deeply entwined in our being. We believe that we are actually Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Americans, Saudis, etc. As hard as it is, it is vital to the continued health of creation and the future of our world to challenge these self concepts. It is also incredibly freeing to realize that we are not limited to who we think we are.

So, begin asking yourself who you think you are. Look carefully and lovingly at what you do and what that tells you about your beliefs. Look into what you feel when someone says something about you or another person. Do you become defensive? Are you protecting something you believe about yourself?

If you have ideas about whom you are, look into where they came from. Those who gave you those ideas about who you are were most likely wrong. Reassess and discover, find out something new taken from your current experience.

Let go of religious identities. Make space for consciousness to expand. Open minds and hearts to the wonders of creation and take part in it. It is all happening right now and , for now at least, this is where we live. Don’t desecrate the gift of creation, the gift of life, in the name of some dubious, concocted, fear-based theology. Don’t kill your brothers and sisters to fulfill the spoken or written prophesies of lunatics.

Make room in OurSelf for a new era.


Some suggestions for letting go of religion and religious beliefs:

For Christians:

• Create a ritual to lay Jesus to rest. Jesus has suffered for our sins long enough. How would you like one of your relatives or loved ones who has died to be plagued, even symbolically, by millions of living people’s childish and selfish demands? That’s what we have done to Jesus. Isn’t it about time we let him rest in peace?
• Take a picture of Jesus, wrap it in nice cloth, put it in a nice box and bury it. Give him your thanks for hanging around so long. Tell him that by his example, you have become more mature, realizing that he was your brother and he taught you what you needed to know to become your brother’s and sister’s keepers. Tell him that you do not need to be saved and he is free to move on. Invite friends to share in the ritual and perhaps to take part. They can be of any religion. Perhaps they will move on too.
• Write Jesus a letter of gratitude and say goodbye. Say to him what you would say to someone you truly loved who has passed on.
• Remember that Jesus had nothing to do with Christianity. It was developed and sold to the people after he was dead. I doubt he would be happy about what has been done in his name. Jesus and Christianity have as much to do with each other as 9/11 and the Iraq war. Christianity was fashioned and sold (and continues to be sold) by politicians and priests, emperors and televangelists based on insufficient and manipulated intelligence. Jesus didn’t create Christianity. The Iraq war was initiated using the lie that Iraq was connected to the 9/11 attack. It was fashioned and sold (and continues to be sold) by politicians and would be emperors based on insufficient and manipulated intelligence. And do not kid yourself, it is another religious war pretending to be otherwise, based on arrogance and ignorance.
• Disassemble the cross as a symbol. It will be a great relief for this world to end the constant crucifixion, to refrain from laying the responsibility for our suffering and poor decisions on a savior. I would guess that Jesus, having been a loving man and a carpenter, would never have taken a job making crosses to use for crucifixions. If he wouldn’t do it and we claim we are trying to be like him, we shouldn’t do it either. Take the cross(es) you carry apart and use the wood for something else, perhaps whittling a different symbol of interdependence.
• Develop a less hierarchical, more egalitarian attitude. When you see pictures of the Pope or bishops, or priests all dressed up in their impressive, gaudy ceremonial robes designed to instill a sense of authority or piety, imagine what they would look like in their birthday suits. If that is too gross or weird for you, imagine them in oversized shorts carrying a skateboard. Would their grand proclamations and hierophantic demeanor mean as much or exert as much influence on you if they were skateboarders? Besides, they don’t know more than you about your relationship to divinity and to creation. The books their ideas come from are pretty incomprehensible and their official lives run parallel to the story of The Emperor’s new Clothes. Develop the eyes of the child as Jesus recommended and you will see right through the costumes and masks.
• Give the money you would give your church to environmental groups or to feed the hungry or prevent disease. If you have a fish on your license plate, help save the oceans and the real fish before we run out of food. No one is going to do a fishes and loaves thing except for us.
• Tell your religious ‘leaders’ they should pay taxes like everyone else.
• Tear out the pages of your Bible and use them for sheet composting. The ink and dioxin in the pages are not good for the environment but then religion is worse for the environment. Sheet composting keeps the soil moist and increases the number of earthworms. Earthworms are healthier than religion. (or, finally read the whole thing and recognize its absurdity and destructiveness and then compost it).
• Go on a hike into nature (creation) instead of to church. Nature is the True Church of Creation. Redwoods are much more inspiring than any man-made architecture.


For Jews:

• Stop circumsizing (genitally mutilating) your male children. We do not need to brand our children as a sign of either possession or specialness. If you want your child to feel special and chosen, tell him you love him and leave his penis alone.
• Have a ritual to become unchosen and an equal part of the rest of humanity. Chosenness hasn’t done much for the Jewish tribe.
• Release yourselves from your covenant with Yahweh. Renegotiate. There wasn’t any time designated in the Bible so just tell god that you’re out and you want to just be like all the rest. Put a picture of your son on an altar and then tell god that you won’t sacrifice your children no matter who suggests you do, god or criminally insane presidents all included. Take the picture off the altar before an angel appears to save your kid and regain your own integrity and authority.
• Write a letter to Moses telling him you have become vegetarian and animal rights activist because he suggested we should not kill.
• Have a potluck get together and invite gypsies, homosexuals, transvestites, intellectuals, artists, the disabled and simple-minded, and all the kinds of people Hitler tried to eradicate. Celebrate your lives together, dance and feast and give thanks for life. Let everyone know we are ALL chosen by Life to live and make a pact that you will never let anyone do what was done and never do to others what was done and never wait around for some fictitious god to come to save you.
• Recognize the suffering of all peoples, animals, etc, letting go of your belief that you have a monopoly on suffering and that your suffering is the worst (best?). Dismantle your mental altars of suffering.
• Dress better, especially the men.
• Give the money you would give your temple to environmental groups or to feed the hungry or prevent disease.
• Tear out the pages of your Old Testament and use them for sheet composting. The ink and dioxin in the pages are not good for the environment but then religion is worse for the environment. Sheet composting keeps the soil moist and increases the number of earthworms. Earthworms are healthier than religion. (or, finally read the whole thing and recognize its absurdity and destructiveness and then compost it).

For Muslims:

• Tear out the pages of your Koran and use them for sheet composting. The ink and dioxin in the pages are not good for the environment but then religion is worse for the environment. Sheet composting keeps the soil moist and increases the number of earthworms. Earthworms are healthier than religion. (or, finally read the whole thing and recognize its absurdity and destructiveness and then compost it).
• If you want to be a suicide bomber, do it alone.
• Have a funeral and going away party for Mohammed, letting him rest in peace.
• Go for anger management counseling and stop taking offense at everything and anything anyone says about your beliefs or your religious ‘leaders.’ Develop a sense of humor.
• Create college scholarships for women and give them the respect they deserve. Listen to them and learn from them.
• Take some seminars on dressing for success.

In conclusion:

None of us are Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. These are belief systems (unbelievable ones), mental constructs we have learned, lies and suppositions we have accepted as true. And we have colluded with each other never to challenge our own or other’s beliefs, under penalty of death and damnation.

For right here and now (where life is occurring), we are all brothers and sisters. Humans, animals, plants, all things are parts of an interrelated, magnificent, wonder-full creation. This is our world to live in and share and it was not created for us alone.

We are all in IT, TOGETHER.

IMAGINE!


Read The Second Coming, The Last Parable of Jesus by Luigi Enrico Pietra d'Oro

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