I don’t like religion

I don’t like religion; this post is 2500 words long. You have been warned.

* * *

I have deep, indeed I might say vocal, problems with religion and the whole concept of God.

To be honest, I hate religion. I hate the lies in it, and those lies acting on the world; I hate the injustices it perpetrates; I hate the deceitful and unclear thinking it propagates; I hate the twisted hell it portrays the world as, and I hate the servile, apologetic mindset that sees such a world as good.

To think of it! This world as the work of God — this world, with parasites, tsunamis, rape, poverty, tooth decay and fatal diarrhea — this world is the work of your God? He could do no better? He couldn’t make either the world or the human animal better than this? Or wouldn’t? If this all was a result of impersonal, amoral natural forces, its nature would have no implications; nature is neither good nor evil, and makes ugliness as much as beauty — but if this all is the work of a Creator, that Creator is responsible for every damned flaw and crime in it.

This world, as a piece of His plan — even worse. If He means to have a better world after this, why this blasted vale of tears? If He can conceive of a soul in Heaven, why this before-death of uncertainty and pain? Does He think that a rape victim, a disease-ridden, famine-slain inhabitant of some pestilential slum, will be better equipped for eternal bliss? Has He not heard of trauma? Does He not consider the cost of this fucking training camp for Heaven? No goal, no hidden or subtle plan, is worth this much suffering and waste.

(And if there was a Heaven, the people there would be cowards and slaves for not overruling their Lord and bringing relief to us. They would know Earth, and Heaven; don’t even consider their knowledge of those in a hypothetical Hell, for their knowledge of Earth and those that cried on it would be enough to sour their joys forever. You, probably being a compassionate person, will feel uneasy thinking of Darfur, of Somalia — what would those in the eternal sunshine of Heaven feel, thinking of us? It might be happiness to shrug and say God will deal; but goodness, no.)

And that the chief architect of this twisted horror would claim it His right to give us laws, and to judge and punish us for breaking them — we have a word for that, when humans do it: it is tyranny. Mere strength does not give one the right to rule; if you make children, or create other sentient beings, mere making does not give you the right to rule them. As for intrinsic goodness, any damned villain can claim that — let the blackguard step down, justify his ways and laws, and see if we re-elect him. If He is not an impersonal force of nature, He can cease from acting; if He would not be a tyrant, let Him ask for our consent before subjecting us to His appeal-less kangaroo court of Heaven. (But no — the thought police in priestly gowns says Big Father cannot appear directly; will not deign to answer directly; but He loves you. And it is merely your stubborn selfishness that keeps you from groveling at His feet, and licking His toes. You should be ashamed for your pride.)

Such a God — it would be the blackest treason against humanity, against all decency, love and pursuit of good to give worship to such a monster. It would be a similar crime to stay a second from the pursuit and punishment of such a monster… if He existed. Without Him, the world is amoral; with Him, immoral.

And, finally, that people would think this all good; think this imaginary monster was worthy of a special place, a special category, just to excuse His crimes; that people would worship the wretch, that people who would with revulsion deny any of their fellow human beings such worship give that abject, mindless, slavish, adoring, uncritical love to the sky tyrant that gives them nothing but silence and plague in return… is enough to make me hate, pity and recoil from any and every church, religious service and sentiment of religion. Their God is not worthy; no God could be worth worship with this amoral world, this divine silence, to answer for.

Mind you, religious people are not evil; they’re just terribly, stubbornly, heartbreakingly happily mistaken. The religious ideas and ideals are evil, terrible, despicable, ugly — but they also confuse and blind you, and the people are hoodwinked by tradition, wishful thinking and simple human stupidity. (And their willingness to accept something because a Big Guy says it; no other justification needed, and doubt is bad unless it leads back to God. God says do not kill; that is moral. God says kill those fags; that is moral. What children play with Simon, adults play with God.)

Here the thought may rise that the author is raging against some unhip Old-Testamental God, and Jesus is better — but no, the god above, the god of hellfire and universal dominion, is Jesus. Yahweh of Old was a petty rules freak with anger management issues; but Jesus was a megalomaniacal psychopath: his message was his way or hellfire.

And the supposed sufferings of the man Jesus arouse nothing in the author but disbelief and scorn: a single crucifixion is not enough to punish God even for His own sins!

And His forgiveness — what, He needs this charade to change His own mind? To save us from the hell of His own implementation and design? Is He mad?

And a single day on the cross, a day of whips and nails and pain — there are millions and millions and millions of human beings that have suffered worse for years, for their entire lives — are we supposed to be impressed by Jesus’s little charade? Oh, poor widdle godling, He stubbed His toe — away, you hellish puppet! Away, you monster, tardily come to pretend you are one of us! You are a worse pretender and hypocrite than any in fiction or truth; you, Jesus, are a worse criminal than any of your glassy-eyed follower fanatics! I spit on you and your cross!

You come from infinite power, with the surety of returning thereto, and you dare to say this single day of pain, or thirty years of mortal life, mean anything to you?

What did you risk?

What did you lose?

Nothing, you sick, pestilential, celestial fuck! Judas should be worshipped for betraying you; you did not even have the decency to forgive him for the part he had to play for your narcissistic little Easter pageant. You are not a hero; you just play one, and kill those who do not applaud.

But to not be too hard on Jesus, what of humankind — are we the work of a God? We, we descendants of monkeys? If so, are our flaws not from nature, but from the hand of a God? Not only do we have souls, but they are God’s work?

Is so, then what malicious and careless artisan is He?

We are creatures plagued by fear and paranoia, suspicion and desires that make our lives at times joyless, and at times a living hell. We are good enough to maximally suffer for our failures and evil. Our bodies are weak, easily injured, prone to delirium and crushing pain. We know enough health and hale days to always fear infirmity and injury. There is no escape from pain and indignity with these supposedly god-tooled bodies, minds and souls of ours. What small comforts of medicine we have, are recent inventions; our inventions, because God would not provide.

So are we to think that we are the work of an all-wise, all-good creature? That this — look around you, damn you — that this is what He, all-wise, all-knowing, chose to create? This is how we are made in His image?

If any God made us, he is a villain; a lover of pain and misery; a capering devil that takes amusement from the degradation and humiliation of human beings… but that is known already. What has he asked for, but our submission, our admission of weakness and frailty, vows of love of poverty and deprivation, our mewling praise for His bloody throne?

We are made as God wishes; our nature tells His nature.

As for other religions, other gods — if they too claim to be the makers of this world, they are responsible for all it contains, and their blame increases with their reputed power, wisdom and agency. If they claim humankind as their work, they are responsible for all the grief and pain the defects in that work have made us prone to. If they claim the power to judge us, they deserve to be hated; if they claim the right to teach us, they deserve to be torn to pieces for the abysmal unclarity and wickedness of their teachings, for the corruption and human evil they allowed their prophets and religions to fall into. And if they claim what they cannot show, they all deserve to be called untruths, lies, phantasms, bitter comforts and enemies of humankind. Their houses deserve to be dark and empty, their names curses spoken with disgust and pity; their followers deserve better than those scarecrows and the world of uncaring horror they imply.

There are those who would say religion in not a matter of creeds, of truth statements; fuck them. The mere existence of God would make this world into a living hell. It is simple, and uncomplicated: God does not get to play by special rules. If His actions would be evil for a human being of great power and understanding, they are evil for God. If His demands would be excessive, His inaction damnable, His methods crude and cruel, given His powers and knowledge… then they are. If we will not judge God, how do we know Him from the Devil Himself? Only a desperate apologist, a spinmeister of diabolical cunning, would place God in a special category whose inhabitants may freely do whatever they want, and never be judged for it.

Would you invoke a free will defense for a man who let his daughter starve? Be beaten to death? Be raped, stigmatized and reviled? Hey, maybe that’s what the daughter needs to grow to be independent and adult — how misguided of us to think the father, standing next to this all, would raise a hand to interfere. How dare you judge the father!

Would you call a father the best of fathers, if he poured fire, flood and plague on his children? How naive of you to protest; he just couldn’t find a better way to raise his little ones. And if the little ones fight, and lie, and kill… oh, the children! Who would blame the father!

It does not matter what the details of God’s nature and creation are: that this world is as we see it, and that there is a God, inescapably point at that God being the most horrific monster ever conceived, a Satan beyond all Satans, the worst devil, and worse for calling himself good.

I am also not cool with the practice of religion. When a survivor of a disaster thanks God, I want to spit in her face: sure, thank God, you worm: He killed the others, but spared you. How nice of God. Do you think the dead are thanking Him in Hell?

When people pray for something… sorry, I mean, when they are begging for some small thing, like health or the life of a loved one, and God is silent and flips a coin for the answer… well, I want to shake them and ask why they bother. Doesn’t God know already? Will a bit of groveling make a difference? Is God that hard-hearted, or that difficult to convince that you really would like your mother to not die?

And when the answer is not a miracle (it never is) but a toss of coin for one of the mundane outcomes, when God gets away scot-free no matter the hurt and the upset, and people actually go on their bellies and thank God for the lesson and say they’ll be stronger and God was so good and did so justly, surely for some greater plan… I don’t know if I am more disgusted and upset by the actions of the petitioner or of the petty god. No tyrant ever was so successful with brainwashing; no terrorist ever gave his hostages a Stockholm syndrome so good.

And when people praise God, and ignore all the evil that is God’s fault if the good is His work — I retch. People could not do evil if God willed otherwise; Satan could not act; a tsunami could not kill; but God is too prissy or too lazy to intervene. He has excuses, and people to make excuses for Him. This world is apparently as good as it can get; don’t bother thinking how Heaven fits in all this. Our ignorance is too delicious and precious to Him.

And the worst part of religion is that it hobbles our ability to speak, to protest. We are not meant to know, or understand; hence shut up. We need God; to suggest otherwise is gauche, so shut up. God is as God-men say; to show otherwise is shrill, strident and rude, so shut up. And the words! What is a “sin”? Some vague bad thing the authorities disagree about. What is “faith”? Some virtue that involves very dodgy decision-making. What is a “soul”? Why, a magic thing that no-one has ever seen. What are fate, meaning and purpose? Metaphysical ghosts that are assumed to exist, much to the detriment of all useful discourse! All religious talk is about ill-defined things that have never been shown to exist. And what is God? Why, it is a superlative with no properties except an endless thirst for respect.

Maybe it is just me; maybe I’m viewing this all from a weird and skewed angle. Maybe there is enough good in religion to offset the falsity and evil of it.

But then again, I could dredge up much clearer controversies, like sexism and racism, and say that maybe there’s something in the old, venerable thing, much celebrated in the old arts, much enthroned in the society, the family, the state; much beauty, heritage, community, bonding, comfort, and peace of mind in a private, personal sort of way, despite the lies, absurdities and evil… but I will not, because that too would make me feel like a dishonest asshat. If there is genuine good in religion, it deserves better company; and good, decent religious people deserve better than religion.

I don’t like religion; I guess I could have said that in one line, but saying it with a bit more emotion makes me feel I’ve expressed my point more clearly.

12 Responses to “I don’t like religion”

  1. Psilomelane Says:

    I share your general sentiments, but only made it about halfway thru your post — you had long since made your point by then, and the piece felt as if it was quickly bogging down. Just a little editing advice: write more concisely, don’t use florid, anachronistic terms (would you ever actually use “blackguard,” “blackest treason,” or “brigand” in spoken conversation?), and don’t refer to yourself in the third person.

  2. Christ-Follower Says:

    So could I simplify you rant and say “Why would a loving and all-powerful God allow the world to be corrupt?”

  3. hifzan shafiee Says:

    I don’t think you hate religion. You still believing God, but not Jesus. It just my theory.

    Why would a loving and all-powerful God allow the world to be corrupt?
    God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” (Ex. 20:20)

    The answer is in your book already. My book tell it more details.

  4. Sigma Says:

    Beautiful. And I say that with no sarcasm. I agree with every word.

  5. Masks of Eris Says:

    Psilomelane, you’re right, of course; for some reason when I’m really incensed I seem to lapse back in time a century or so. Probably a mechanism to avoid undue scatology. This author is… err, I thank you for the advice.

    Christ-Follower, yes, that’s more or less right; mine isn’t exactly new hat in the God debates. (I don’t know if “corrupt” is a good word here, though it is good traditional Christian theology. If this is a corrupt world, then there is the possibility of a non-corrupt one, traditionally Heaven or Paradise or whatever; which raises the point of, why did God create this awful world when he could have made just that glorious non-corrupt one? This is probably terribly naive theologically, but still.)

    Hifzan, well, I don’t agree; I’m a fairly certain atheist, but it’s just a pain to preface everything with “if this was true, then”. And I’m not all that okay with the idea that it’s good or moral that God would use fear to keep people in line, or make the world a horrible place just to see how the people behave. (Shouldn’t God know that already?) It just seems that if there’s an endstate where there are happy people in Heaven with God, then He should have skipped this Earth thing and created everyone straight into Heaven, as good as the people who get there are.

    Sigma, thanks!

  6. Christ-Follower Says:

    Ok, here’s my deep perspective.
    Christian theology (and my beliefs) say God is perfect.
    God created the world.

    However, when He created Man, He wanted Man to freely love Him. Sure, God is all-powerful so He could have easily forced Man to bow down to Him but He cannot force Man to love Him, because He wants Man to love Him out of…well… love and free will, not out of requirement or force or anything else.

    So Man, now has free will. Then once Man realizes that he has free will, he desires to be greater than God and wants control. Thus, Man disobeyed God and imperfection (or as theology says, “sin”) entered the world.

    From there it just snowballed into the mess that we have today.

    Let me know if you have any questions about anything theological. I’d love to answer them.

  7. Psilomelane Says:

    If the judeo-christian god were “perfect” (as demonstrated in part by omniscience) it would have already known the experiment of human free will and voluntary love was bound to fail. This would tend to imply that either this god is not perfect, or it is indeed omniscient, as well as bored and sadistic.

    But more elementary, an omnipotent god could not only make its human creation bow down to it, but could will man to genuinely “love” the god while it was at it. And the notion that an unimaginably powerful entity able to create all the vast universe and all within it, but still somehow needs the absolute obedience, admiration, and love of humans it pretty silly and pathetic. It would be akin to scientists creating single cell organisms in the lab, but then becoming genocidally enraged when these cells don’t bow and sing hymns to he or she.

  8. Mr Wibble Says:

    Rants can be therapeutic catharsis. I disagree with Psilomelane. The emotional prose is well served by a ‘florid’ and ‘anachronistic’ lexicon. That one would not use such a vocabulary in speech is not relevant.

    I don’t like religion either. A scabrous disease of the mind that future generations will regard as we do bubonic plague or paedophilia. (I’m an optimist.)

    To paraphrase Russell, we stand at the doorway of a golden age guarded by the dragon of religion. So wield your pen and keyboard as you would a sword.

  9. William Lawson Says:

    It’s amazing how many people know so much about what little they know. In effect, beliefs form the boundaries of our imagination (e.g., plant an oak in a flowerpot and you get a tiny oak tree), and arguments for or against is like arguing as follows:

    “There’s a monster in that closet!”
    “No, there’s not…you’re just imagining there is.”
    “Yeah, well you’re just imagining there isn’t!”

    Of course the argument can go on forever because there’s no way to look in the closet and ‘verify’ either belief. Because it has no door. In fact, it only has existence as two sides of belief.

    End the argument, and the closet simply evaporates…thus removing another imaginary fence which ‘contains’ one’s further view. ;-)

  10. Margaret K. Westfall Says:

    I read two posts today that I suspect you might enjoy, as you like to ponder the whys and hows of human belief and rationality.
    the site is: http://lesswrong.com/

    The two posts are: http://lesswrong.com/lw/5kz/the_5second_level/ and http://yudkowsky.net/rational/virtues

    Actually, I read and enjoyed the one on excuses as well – and the one on words. I think I should just confess to enjoying the site.

  11. Christ-Follower Says:

    Psilomelane, I don’t intend to start an argument. It’s just what Christians believe. Some of it has to be taken in faith. As a theology student, I can explain most, but not every thing about Protestant Christianity.

    God isn’t some harsh, robotic entity. He’s a loving and merciful Father and Lord.

  12. Psilomelane Says:

    Christ-Follower:
    It’s not necessarily an “argument”, but rather a discussion: each party expresses their points and counter-points. In my view, saying something like, “It’s just something christians believe,” is intellectually lazy. You stated your opinion that the judeo-christian god is “perfect,” and I countered with what that might imply, if this god is, or is not indeed “perfect.” As a “theology student,” I assume you have something a little more substantial to offer than so quickly jumping to, “Some of it has to be taken in faith.” As a christian, how do you personally contend with the “problem of evil” — have you come to terms with the implications of this classic religious question, and if so, how?

    According to most sects of protestant christianity, what is the fate of those who refute the contention the christian god is loving and merciful, and those who do not accept god in the form of jesus christ as their “personal savior”?

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