We see right-wing theocrats attempting to take over our country, and wonder why it’s happening.
It starts with the fact that many Americans are raised by parents telling tiny kids that mysterious, supernatural beings like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and an invisible Sky God exist and are paying attention to us.
Centuries ago, children were told that Thor, Loki, Zeus, Hanuman, Coyote and thousands of other invisible gods and demigods existed.
In almost all cultures, children are programmed to accept mythologies and other claims without questioning them.
Critical thinking is actively discouraged by religious vertical hierarchies that claim to be supernaturally authorized.
This helps explain why tens of thousands of Catholic children and their families endured sexual abuse from religious officials without protesting early or fiercely enough, or at all.
Fable acceptance coached early in life encourages children to believe magic and supernaturalism are established facts that can be relied on to explain the unexplainable.
This early enculturation is a big reason people so easily turn to religion, Q-Anon, astrology, New Age woo, “miracle cures,” snake oil, cultists, pseudoscience, anti-vaxx, science denialism, creationism, “intelligent design,” astrology, palm-reading, psychics, and many other irrational, illogical paradigms, especially when they’re suffering.
Humans are born with a mind that insists on finding answers and eliminating suffering.
They often feel that any answer, no matter how ridiculous, is better than no answer.
The ability to embrace fictions rather than evidence-based reality can make a person susceptible to being conned, which explains why a sizable percentage (if not large majority) of Trump, GOP, Q-Anon, MAGA cultists are hardcore evangelical Christians.
When your mind has been programmed from birth to passively accept fantastical claims made by “authority figures,” it’s easier for a skilled, evil salesman like Trump to worm his way into your mind and control it.
Religion and other unscientific ideas came along because humans needed them. Life felt harder without them.
Scientific studies show sincere believers who control their lives and thoughts to comply with what they believe is contained in old books such as the Bible, Talmud, or Koran often have more peace of mind, better health, less worry than scientifically-minded, rational, non-religious people.
This is totally understandable. Religion is the “opiate of the masses.” If an atheist experiences a horrible life event, the atheist has no comforting deity or worldview to fall back on. The religious person has “the opiate.”
Atheism and existential despair are often but not always inherently linked.
In contrast, when a religious true believer experiences a horrible life event, they mitigate the upset, suffering, and implications of the event by telling themselves it was God’s will, God is in control, God loves you, God will not “test” you beyond what you can endure, the dead loved ones are with God, and other comforting ideas.
It doesn’t matter to the believer that these ideas are mere claims without evidence, because when you fully, blindly believe magical ideas, they work at a neurotransmitter level to boost dopamine and other feel-good chemicals.
The true believer will often actually “feel better” in bad circumstances than someone who has no religion to rely on.
Religion can provide comfort, order, social networking, plug-and-play ethics, epic heroes, reassuring fictions about what happens after death, vertical hierarchies, ceremonies, customs, pageantry, a sense of belonging, affirmation, forgiveness, a sense of purpose and meaning.
Atheists have no invisible being or comforting ideology to turn to. No pastor, priest, mullah, or rabbi. No holy book that contains “all the answers.”
They know from observation and science that the only life we provably have is the one that starts at conception and ends when the heart stops beating and the brain dies.
So if believing in unscientific myths helps people be happier and assuages fears of death and the unknown, what’s the problem?
One big problem is many of these myths are propagated as actual facts by individuals, tax-exempt businesses (churches, etc.), politicians, and cultures.
I got to age nine before realizing my parents lied about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny.
It hurt me that they lied; their explanation for why they lied made me distrust them.
Lying to children, especially by installing deity belief systems into them before they have a chance to understand reason, science, and consent—that’s not good parenting, it’s brainwashing.
It took me longer to realize my parent’s claim that an invisible sky father was in charge of the whole world had as much evidence and reality as their claims about the fat, bearded dude flying around with reindeer.
Big laugh for all of us that when I first discussed this with them, they admitted they themselves no longer believed in an invisible sky father!
My real father explained why. He had carefully read the entire Bible, something even most MAGA Christians haven’t done.
He decided that even if the invisible sky father of the Bible existed, the Bible god was a mean, stupid being.
As my real father pointed out, a fair reading of the Bible reveals:
- The invisible sky father is an incompetent deity who makes terrible mistakes and later regrets them.
- The invisible sky father made humans and yet allowed Satan to exist, knowing ahead of time Satan would corrupt humans, transforming the perfect Garden into a sinful, harsh planet.
- The invisible sky father got so angry at humans that he drowned all life on the planet other than what could fit on one handmade boat.
- The invisible sky father also had another fit of rage, during which he murdered all inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all life on the vast plain around those cities.
- The invisible sky father was still angry, even after all his previous destructive vengeance, and demanded the ultimate blood sacrifice. So the sky father raped a married virgin (Mary) by proxy (using an angel to do the deed), and later set up his only son to be tortured and murdered.
My real father stated that even if this god actually existed, he’d want nothing to do with him.
By its very nature, religion encourages people to think they know more than everybody else...because they’ve got a direct line to a god or god’s book.
They’ll tell you confidently that the creator of the universe pays close attention to whether their team scores a touchdown, listens to their prayers, speaks directly to them.
Some may even believe their holy book should be law of the land.
Of course, it’s only their interpretation of the holy book that counts, forget the hundreds of Christian sects, each with its own unique claims about what the holy book says.
Some of these people become invasive zealots, forcing their way into government and social issues, insisting their god beliefs take precedence over secular society and rational peoples’ beliefs.
We see them on SCOTUS, where they make specious rulings to force women into gestation slavery.
We see them insisting every fetus is sacred and should be born.
We see them every time a gun nut kills people—they offer thoughts and prayers rather than commonsense regulation of technology that is only meant for one thing—shooting people and other animals.
We see them insisting that only heterosexual humans are acceptable to the sky father. Anyone who loves someone outside the heterosexual box is a sinner going to hell.
We see them trying to take science out of schools and force ludicrous creationism in.
We see them referring to ancient stories for which there’s no solid proof as if those stories are established historical fact.
We see them actively trying to install a Christian theocracy in the USA.
One truly troubling fact is that every self-proclaimed Christian I’ve ever spoken to has been less knowledgeable about their Bible and “savior” than I am—and I’m an atheist, lol.
I told a Trump lover that Jesus repeatedly condemned rich people. Look it up, I said. The Trump lover said he’d never heard that at his megachurch, and God wants us to have all the money and toys we desire.
I reminded a Christian pacifist that Jesus said he came not to bring peace but to bring a sword.
Ironically, I also told a Christian gun fetishist that Jesus repeatedly counseled against using weapons, with the prime example of what Jesus did when Peter drew a sword as Roman soldiers came to take Jesus away for torture and crucifixion.
The gun lover said this pacifism incident was only for Jesus in that one moment, not meant as guidance for modern Christians, and if Jesus came back today, “He’d be locked and loaded with automatic weapons.”
The gun lover even went so far as to refer me to a South Park episode in which an armed Jesus rescued Santa Claus after Santa was kidnapped by Saddam Hussein! That episode is hilarious.
When I told an Islamist his prophet Muhammad reportedly had sex with a nine-year-old girl, Aisha, the Islamist first became very angry, then argued “this was the custom in that time, and our prophet has all rights from Allah to whatever female he desires.”
When I told adherents of Hasidic/Haredi Judaism that their aggressive, isolationist, ultra-conservative Zionism and apartheid against Palestinians are unethical and stupid, they spit on me.
When I told followers of New Age, Q-Anon, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra and other profiteers who spread vapid woo that they were victims of non-critical thinking and misleading mythologies, they reacted with near-violent hostility.
When I told astrologers that the position of planets at time of conception and/or the day you’re born have nothing to do with your chances of finding a suitable romantic partner in your 20s, they laughed at me like I was pathetically ignorant of Jupiter’s immense psychological power over humans.
And on and on.
The bottom line is, when you ask a faith believer to consider reason and science, they often react with victimhood and vitriolic pushback.
One main takeaway from this discussion is obviously it’s hard for humans to live without having comforting fictions to smooth life’s rough edges.
Many times I’ve realized if I believed an invisible sky daddy or other magical helper was on my side, it might make me “happier.”
An atheist is alone in a challenging world, with no god wisdom book to count on, no religious authority to command what to do or think.
When I die, I die. No sky father loves me. No tortured son of sky father died for me. No hell below, no heaven above. John Lennon said it long before I just did. When he was murdered, some religious people celebrated his death, claiming it was “God’s punishment” for this song...
So of course it’s easy to understand why people embrace religion and other magical things. Life is easier if you believe in magic. Gives you a cushion, especially in times of loss, grief, injury.
But I’m one of those people who feels compelled to rely on facts and reality. I just can’t, or won’t, let myself believe in magical entities.
Of course, if a God, his son, daughter, prophet or supernatural public relations spokesperson presented themselves to us now in full view of the entire world, when video cameras are everywhere, we’d be more sure these beings existed.
Isn’t it puzzling that all these gods, prophets, miracles, people coming back from the dead, angels flying around…none have been seen since the invention of photography and videography.
What kind of god intervenes on a planet, then disappears, never to be seen again, leaving behind only old books that have been revised, altered, edited, cut up, mistranslated, and misinterpreted…so nobody really knows for sure what they say.
What kind of god persona would create a world—knowing ahead of time it would go so badly that most of its human inhabitants would end up in hell.
What kind of god brutally murders his own son?
What kind of god authorizes his prophet to have sex with a pre-pubescent girl?
What kind of God creates Lucifer, then allows the pitchfork baddie to live as a force of evil that ruins humankind?
These are questions open-minded, truth-seeking people inevitably ask themselves about religion and other unscientific paradigms that claim to explain our existence, origins, and what our behavior should be.
And in a democracy that cannot survive unless it has plenty of intelligent voters capable of discerning truth from faith and fiction, it’s essential that more Americans become more rational, scientifically-minded, evidence-based.
Unfortunately, you see people who claim to be “progressive” here at DK reflexively lash out against anyone who challenges archaic beliefs and promotes realistic thinking.
What’s funny is that the late, great comedian George Carlin long ago satirized the follies of religion. He was viciously vilified and threatened for it by “people of faith.”
But Carlin got the last laugh by incorporating their attacks into his comedy.
Have fun with this euphoric Carlin video compilation, but be warned...he’s not a fan of religion or gods, lol...