Monday, September 27, 2010

Western Religions Insatiable Appetite for Death

Killing in the Name of...

Religion is replete with examples of pernicious atrocities perpetrated by those who claim to be doing the will of its god(s); many adherents believe that god is with them every step of the way as they unabashedly commit one vile act after another. Religion has strong divisive effects as well; it endorses an "us versus them" mentality. In modern history, it has given those in power the hatred and bigotry necessary to terminate untold numbers of innocents who did not share their beliefs. It's incomprehensible that so many people died based on a spurious faith; slavery, genocide, systematic execution and so much more can be directly attributed to the teachings in the Bible. Jesus never condemned his own actions of the OT, nor did he address acts of slavery or genocide. Other Western religions do not generally fair much better.

Christopher Columbus

The king and queen of Spain, during the period of Columbus, were endorsed by the Catholic Church because they exemplified the ideals of the Catholic Church. These are the same monarchs who started the Spanish Inquisition and were granted permission by the Catholic Church. The Spanish inquisition was designed to weed out Jews and nonbelievers via exile or even execution when acts of heresy were committed. It was a religiously and politically motivated process. Ferdinand and Isabelle had decided that Spain was a Catholic nation and everyone was forced to convert, through coercion if necessary.

In 1492, Columbus did sail the ocean blue, courtesy of Ferdinand and Isabelle, but it wasn't to spread Christianity in Asia. He was in hot pursuit of gold and, to a lesser extent, fine commodities like spices and silk, as Marco Polo brought back from China. Gold was scarce in the Caribbean Islands but "Indians", as Columbus and his crew called them, were not. The Arawak people were plentiful on the island of the Bahamas, which was the first island Columbus graced with his presence. The Arawaks were an agricultural and egalitarian people by design. The women were given all the same privileges and respect as the men. Interestingly enough, they had no religion to speak of but were still a generous society that expected mutual reciprocity among its members. Columbus himself stated, “When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone…” This naive people went out to greet Columbus and his crew, only to be ultimately rewarded with torture, enslavement and mass execution. Driven by greed and his god given rights, Columbus forced the Indians to search for the gold themselves. When they failed, it had deadly consequences.

Columbus continued to deliver slaves to Spain, since the "fields of gold" he dreamed of were far from ubiquitous. Columbus was brutal to the Indians and full of religious zeal as he reported his dealings with the Indians. “Thus the eternal God, our Lord, gives victory to those who follow His ways over apparent impossibilities,” said Columbus when speaking to the King and Queen of Spain. The Arawaks were not cowards; they managed to put together an army of resistance that was swiftly eradicated by the Spaniards superior weaponry. When prisoners were found, they were either hanged or burned alive. Of the 250,000 Indians living on Haiti, only about half of that remained after Columbus got done brutalizing them. Some resorted to suicide, and they even killed their own infants to spare them from the Spaniards.

Bartolome de las Casas, a young priest and vehement critic of cruelty toward the Indians, transcribed Columbus’ journal and told of some of the nefarious actions of the Spaniards. Las Casas stated that the Spaniards, “thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades”. Las Casas recalls one particular event where, “two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys.”

Puritans and Pilgrims

The so called Puritans appealed to the Bible to justify the forceful taking of Indian land. They quoted verses like Psalms 2:8 and Romans 13:2. Romans 13:2 states, “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” The holier-than-thou Pilgrims, far from sitting down and having a peaceable fellowship with Indians, were mostly concerned about taking Indian land. The ever amicable Indians, masters of the land, were more than happy to share their agricultural methods with the ungrateful pilgrims. There, indeed, was a sort of dependence which the English had on Indians to supply them with their abundance of corn and other crops. For the sake of survival, relations between the Indians and English remained friendly for a time. But, the ultimate goal of the English remained fixated on the acquisition of more land, at any means necessary.

The English raid of the Pequot village was case in point. They set fire to their wigwams while families burned alive from the inside. William Bradford, a contemporaneous historian, stated that after securing an easy victory “they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to inclose their enemies in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enimie.” Again, an “us versus them” mentality that reeks of a false sense of superiority based solely on the ‘good’ book.

Obviously, Christianity isn’t the only religion responsible for the death of untold numbers, other examples abound. The Aztec civilization routinely sacrificed thousands of people to the gods (think Apocalypto). Then, there was Hernando Cortes who was obsessed with the acquisition of gold and was blessed by the deputies of God. He slaughtered Aztecs by the thousands.

In Conclusion

We could also discuss the 50 million people that Africa lost as a direct result of slavery, but that may be another post altogether. You know…the act that was customary in Biblical times and never denounced by Christ. I wonder what effect it would have had if Jesus would have simply stated, “enslaving others, despite their physical or ethnic differences, is never right.” Surely, one person who could have been rescued from slaveries injustices would have been worth the additional ink. Africans were packed in like sardines upon ships for up to sixteen weeks at a time. Pregnant women, in the process of giving birth, were often cast out to sea; they were often too weak to deliver the baby, so they were discarded instead. Where was god when all of this was happening? God has the omniscience and omnipotence to stop such atrocities but fails to do so. He could have denounced slavery before it ever got started. Sure, he said to "love your neighbor as yourself", but were slaves really even considered neighbors? On the contrary, a piss poor job of communication leaves the Bible open for all kinds of deleterious interpretations.

God could have done any number of things to stop the genocidal intentions of the Spanish and English but failed to do so. God laid out the perfect example of how to deal with superfluous neighbors in the O.T., kill them all; you ruthlessly take everything from the society, including the women, for yourself.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Christian must Believe #5

that love is a very different concept to god, whom we are created in the same image. Most of us guys would love it if someone like Jessica Alba or Gwyneth Paltrow loved us and wanted our commitment. But, none of us desire any ill harm to come to them solely because they don’t care about us. Most of us work with attractive females and, hopefully, most of us don’t desire anything harmful to come their way when they reject us. There are also child and parent relationships that are less than ideal, but I doubt that many of the members in these relationships demand love or eternal damnation. This sort of compulsory love is not really love at all but some kind of egotistical desire to control.

We are meant to love something that we can’t touch, hear or see. When we reject the god hypothesis based on spurious evidence, we are subject to NEVERENDING punishment in hell. This is something we did and deserve for not loving a “being” who doesn’t even talk back. We are told that we are bad from the very first breath we take, in very dehumanizing fashion. The only cure is derived from a faith and obedience to this covert “being”. Our finest active examples on how a person should live are supposed to be coming from the Christian leaders and devout followers of our time. Curiously, the statistics of divorce, abortion, pornography and much more are nearly identical among Christians and secularists. This same group generally rejects science when it contradicts the teachings of scripture. We can also look back in history toward the church and Christian leaders of the past; the picture is not so rosy. We continue to see people who reject scientific advancement for the sake of Biblical inerrancy. Indeed, medical science was probably set back by as much as a thousand years because the church would not allow people to examine cadavers. We have seen some of the most nefarious acts committed by the church because of the unparalleled power given to them, such as witch burning and Constantine’s crusades; let us be thankful that America’s founding fathers saw the importance of the Separation of Church and State. Indeed, Christianity gained notoriety via the sword, not reason.

The Christian faith tries to convince people that they are wicked and need salvation. The salvation comes from a "omnibenevolent" being who will place you in hell for not believing and following him. I have to wonder who the wicked one is; the one who knew, with foresight, that certain people he was creating would fail to acknowledge him and spend eternity in hell, yet he created them anyway. Or, the one who rejects the whole enterprise based on a lack of convincing evidence and sound logic. How am I more sinful than god himself? I would never cast anybody into an eternal lake of fire FOREVER. Especially, if that person was someone who I loved so much that I gave my own child to save in the first place; to say that god doesn't send anyone to hell is a bogus assertion. God created hell, lucifer and allowed for the appropriate conditions which ultimately place a person in hell. God is omnipotent so all of these factors could have been deleted or altered in favor of a more humane eternal destination. As stated before, he knew that the very being he was creating would ulitmately land in eternal damnation but disregarded his omniscience.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Don't Touch That!!!

Growing up in the Bible belt, you can be sure that two things are going to be shoved down your throat: 1) masturbation is wrong and 2) premarital sex is wrong. So, what’s that teenage boy, who produces millions of sperm per day, to do? The Bible doesn’t speak on masturbation but there’s plenty of evidence suggesting that it’s very anti-sex, unless you’re married. Even then, Paul doesn’t always encourage marriage in the ‘good’ book. He preferred that everyone was like him and masturbated while denying that he did so. If it was really such a big deal, you would think that it would have directly been addressed at least one time in the massive volume we call the Bible. Maybe, it would be better if we cut it off like Jesus suggests if it causes sin. I’ve heard all sorts of suggestions on how to avoid ‘shaking hands with the unemployed’. The one time pastor of my church, and president of my high school I attended, suggested running as an effective means to curb those lustful intentions. That’s right; he set all of us teenage boys down for a talk about sex and how you’re just S.O.L. until you get married. I wonder if the good pastor knew how hypocritical his words were. Over half of evangelical pastors admit to having viewed pornography in a given year.

It’s really a shame that prior Christians like me had to grow up with so much guilt as it relates to acts like masturbation. The same Christian leaders that are telling you that it’s wrong are the same ones having adulterous affairs with other women, or men; their the same ones viewing pornography on a daily basis, probably using the churches internet. Masturbation is a perfectly natural act across the mammalian kingdom. Indeed, even dolphins enjoy getting a ‘massage’ from a nearby jet spray. Ask most any cognitive-behavioral psychologist if masturbation is okay and they will most likely give you an unequivocal “yes”. But, most Christian leaders would tell you that it’s sinful. God really is concerned about what you do with your Adam Acorn; you can wash it but just don’t enjoy it, okay. Give me a friggin’ break.

And, then, there’s this whole ridiculous notion that waiting until marriage is the way to go. You’ll just enjoy it so much more if you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing; it will be so much more special that way. I say that having a bit of experience and understanding of how to pleasure the opposite sex is actually a good thing. I’m not saying that learning together for the first time can’t be fun, but it’s going to take longer to really get proficient at love making if you have no idea of what you’re doing. People can tell you how it’s done and you can even watch videos but, like riding a bike, you’re not going to be very skillful without prior practice. This whole line that, “if you have already had sex before marriage, there will be nothing to look forward to when you get married” is a crock of shit. Sex doesn’t become stale and boring if you’ve had sex with your partner before you marry them; you just didn’t end up delaying the gratification as long. Sex is a lifelong adventure and there are plenty of books exploring different methods of foreplay and positions of intercourse; not to mention,there is plenty of sperm to go around. It’s an odious assertion to tell two people to wait until marriage simply because there won’t be anything to look forward to otherwise. I don’t know about you, but I would like to know ahead of time if I’m going to enjoy having sex with this person that I intend on spending the rest of my life with.

In other related news, Christine O’donnell just beat out establishment favorite Rep. Mike Castle in Delaware’s GOP senate primary, with help from the Tea Party. For those who don’t know, O’donnell is the president and founder of an anti-masturbation youth ministry called SALT (The Savior's Alliance for Lifting the Truth). Also, she believes that people who get AIDS deserve what they get and shouldn’t be shown any sympathy. For a hearty laugh, please watch the following video and bask in its novel levels of idiocy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Prospect of Death

As World Suicide Prevention Day just passed us by, I find myself having to continually readjust my thoughts on the issue of suicide and the unavoidable event of dying we will all experience one day. As a Christian, I simply believed that suicide was wrong because my church said so; dying wasn’t so bad because an eternity in heaven was waiting for me. Indeed, the church makes dying seem like the best thing that could ever happen to a person. This is probably one of the reasons the elderly find the church so appealing; it gives them false hopes of a new life in paradise. Needless to say, my perspective has been forcibly changed since becoming an atheist.

Suicide seems even more asinine to me since it took around 3.5 billion years of evolution for me to get here in the first place. I’m only here for what might be described as a ‘blink of an eye’ and even that is probably an exaggeration. In the case of suicide, a person is given this amazing gift of life and then throws it all away. You won’t be back for a second chance and the ‘movie’ keeps rolling on without you. Until evidence proves otherwise, there’s not going to be a heaven where you worship god forever, while some of your buddies spend their days roasting in an inferno. We aren’t going to be reincarnated or ever experience the profound state of consciousness again either.

At the same time, I realize that we are a very emotional species that don’t always think rationally, by any stretch. We rely on ill-advised habits like smoking to get us through a stressful day, not putting much thought into the deleterious effect it has on the body. We ingest heavy amounts of sugar that can likely result in the early onset of diabetes. In short, many of us prefer immediate pleasures over longevity of life. Some slightly less sane individuals, like Evel Knievel, embark on dubious ventures such as jumping over canyons on nothing more than a crotch rocket or cascading over a seemingly impossible number of cars. These daredevils care more about the thrill of life than life itself.

There have undoubtedly been times in my life when I wished for death. I remember earnestly waiting for Jesus’ return since things seemed so bad. Having OCD and a multitude of other possible psychiatric diagnoses, I’ve had more than my fair share of hopeless feelings about life. Instead of being upset when catastrophic world events occurred, I would be hopeful that the end was coming soon. It’s this line of reasoning that makes certain Christians so dangerous; they don’t care about the world around them, or the prolongation of the species, because they see the end of the world as a time for better things to come. Who needs science to help keep the world intact when Jesus is coming to save the righteous, and judge the wicked? This is why some Christians can be viewed as a hindrance, or even an enemy, to science and reason. Now that I recognize how precarious life is, I prefer to see how long I can ‘keep this ball rolling’. I’ve found a new passion for life, study and science as I have alluded to in the past.

As I was lying in bed this morning, some pretty disturbing thoughts came to my mind about my own demise. I newly recognized that after only a few generations, my memory would most likely be blotted out forever. Furthermore, any of my surviving off spring or extended family who thought that they would see me again one day will unfortunately never likely do so. After enough time, no one would know that I ever existed or even necessarily care. This is an admitted struggle for someone who realizes that there probably isn’t a life after death. It’s a blessing and curse of being able to examine the meaning of life as us Homo sapiens can. We are also capable of pondering upon our own death which makes religious belief more understandable. People wanted, and still want, to believe that there was/is something lying outside of their present existence, waiting for them when the time comes. I want to believe that someone will remember me when I’m gone but it’s not going to happen—and probably won’t bother me when I’m dead anyway. It certainly didn’t bother me when I wasn’t around for the first 13.5 billion years of the universe as we know it.