This isn’t about he-who-shall-remain-undrawn

I haven’t done a bit of proof-reading of this behemoth of an entry, so please excuse the many errors that I’m sure it contains. Grammar is very, very low on my list of priorities these days!

I’m sorry for my lack of posting. I had a few good days, but maybe got a bit excited and spent too much time on my feet running around with a smile on my face, and now I’m suffering for that ambition. It’s my birthday in a few days (on Thursday I’ll be thirty-seven) and if I was a betting person, my money would say this is the last birthday that I’ll see. I can’t begin to put into words how horrible and difficult the last while has been, and I don’t like to think about it. I had wanted and expected my next post to be about making candy — and I do have some nice lollipop molds made but haven’t found the strength to fill them — but that hasn’t happened yet. Later in the week I’ll have some much-looked-forward-to time at the hospital, hopefully giving me an explanation as to why all the much needed functional bits of my body are dying and being filled in with useless connective tissue… So let me channel all this pain and sickness I’m feeling into a suitable subject, something more deserving of death — the religions of the world, every last one of them.

Be warned, I feel a long, rambling, repetitive entry coming on.

Religion is by definition divisive. I mean, it’s bad enough that Muslims want to eradicate Christians, and Buddhists want to murder Hindus, but even when you have relative religious harmony, the religion fractures and then you have Sunnis killing Shiites or Catholics torturing Protestants. Religion is perpetually divisive. It will always be that way because it’s a scam. Everyone at the top (or with the desire to get there) knows that it’s the easiest way to trick stupid people into pushing you to the top of the power and wealth structure as you use “god says so” as the excuse for whatever evil helps you get your greed fulfilled.

That’s why I get so mad when atheists — people who should know better — have this sickening idea that we need to be respectful of religion, that we need to treat it as some special cultural beauty. A good example of this is BoingBoing who has been supportive of atheist movements such as The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Dawkins, Hitchens (“God is NOT great”), although recently “Xeni” (ie. the more exotic way of saying Jennifer, appropriate for the most self-obsessed member of BoingBoing, which is saying a lot next to Cory “Have I Mentioned My Latest Book” Doctorow, although he at least is promoting work-product of substance rather than just desperately seeking approval as he ages well past the point where young nerds find him alluring — and don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy Cory’s posts and don’t want to sound like I’m speaking ill of any of the staff other than the two obvious tumors that are slowly eating away at the site), backed up by rabid asshole moderator “Antinous” (ie. the cooler way of saying Tony for a guy so pathetic in real life that he needs to abuse his moderator status online to feel tough), seems desperate to show her affinity for Muslims, with many long articles espousing the beauty of the burqa and other facets of Islamic culture that are repulsive enough on their own without the foul backing of religion. I have no idea if there’s a Muslim-specific reason, or if this is just a further demeaning obsession with the noble savage, glomming onto it in a desperate need to exoticize her white-bread background that she works hard to obfuscate. They deleted my account for objecting — politely — to the site promoting such things. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, because Xeni and the moderation staff have a long history of not only being incredibly rude and ignorant to readers while expecting groveling loyalty in return, as well as abusing their power as moderators with actions including arbitrary banning and censorship, but retroactive editing of entries and comment threads to make themselves look better and hide their violations of common decency. Still, I occasionally post in the forums in the hope that Mark or Cory or someone else there will finally grow some balls and stop BoingBoing by being destroyed. I recently wrote on their “how awesome is Ramadan” photo series (nice photos, terrible subject),

* * *

Re: http://www.boingboing.net/2010/09/24/30days.html

It really sickens me to see BoingBoing continuing to kiss the ass of Islam, both in promoting its cultural validity and in censoring opposing viewpoints.

And that’s not because of some problem specific to Islam. That’s because 99% of the problems in this world stem from the barbarously ignorant thinking that is built on the stone-age foundation of religion. Islam is just a small, but strangely untouchable, part of that vile landscape that we should have ditched ages ago in favor of rationality. Until people who know better summon up the courage to publicly declare that RELIGION IS WRONG, we’re never going to be rid of its evils.

Wanna label this post bigotry? Then you’re missing the point. As Dilbert put it, since when is ignorance a point of view? Religion is ignorant, and you’re promoting ignorance and all the horrible things that grow from its fertile grounds.

Go on, censor this. But realize that BoingBoing’s decision to take a “respect religion” stance rather than an honest atheist stance makes you a part of the problem as you contribute to the longevity of evil.

* * *

Of course it wasn’t posted, but I didn’t expect it to be. Anyway, every time I mention BoingBoing people come out of the woodwork and tell me their own stories about how they’ve abused their power and instead of fighting against censorship and various information age abuses of power become abusers of that power themselves, but this isn’t really about BoingBoing and I don’t want my point to get diluted as everyone takes easy pot shots against people who can embarrass themselves well enough without anyone else’s help. So I want to shift back to the problem — people who are not victims of faith, still choosing to prop up those abusive institutions. So let me wrap up by saying — alright, a burqa might be aesthetically beautiful from time to time, but what it stands for — and I mean not the abuse and denigration of women, but the abdication of ration thought — is vile.

Along with atheists propping up religion in the name of respect — a suicidal attitude, because trust me, religion does not respect atheism in return — I really despise people with wishy-washy modern soft liberal faiths. People who ignore the parts of their holy books that are so completely nuts that no one born in the last couple hundred years could possibly agree with it. The people who make excuses for their faith and create fantastical dialogues to explain why they should believe parts of the Bible but not others. The people who pick and choose which commandments to follow. The people who are able to have friends of other faiths. Holy books are pretty clear on the fact that they are the absolute and unerring word of god, yet the number of people who are fanatical enough to actually suspect intellect far enough to believe that are the minority. And the rest? They know perfectly well that it’s at least mostly bullshit, yet somehow they can’t publicly admit that it’s ALL bullshit. To say nothing of how problematic it is that at any point in time there are tens of thousands of different religions on the planet, each claiming to be the sole true faith, and that this kaleidoscope changes constantly with new religions appearing and disappearing at the whim of the priest class using it to achieve their personal desires, be those desires young boys and other abusive personal indulgences, or be it a more ambitious power game.

Some people say that religion should be tolerated because “it gives people hope” or “it removes the fear of death”. I tell you though, as someone who is dying and has contemplated death and its consequences quite a bit lately, I am very thankful that I’m not hoping for heaven or fearing hell. First of all, in a great many religions, getting into heaven is a difficult thing — for example, in Christianity, if you have just once in your life blasphemed against god, you’re damned. There’s no forgiveness for that sin. But even if you think you’re good in the eyes of your faith, you have to be 100% certain that you’ve chosen the right faith. In the absence of evidence, how do you know that you’ve chosen the right one from all the myriad of goofy ideas humans have proposed? Do you really have the massive ego that lets you believe that yours is the one true faith? And if so, why is your god so incompetent that he has only managed to preach (let alone preach successfully) to a minuscule amount of people? Or is it not incompetence on his part, but cruelty, letting the vast number of people suffer without the right religion? Maybe religious folk spend most of their lives clinging to double think that lets them ignore this obvious problem, but I’d have trouble believing the lie up until the moment of death. No, atheism is much more comforting. Atheism is the celebration of life as all there is, as all that has value. Religion on the other hand rejects the value of human life, and puts that which has value beyond its bounds. All religion is in a way a death cult.

And why does all this perpetuate? Sure, there are people who willfully choose ignorance as adults, or confusingly, change religions, but for most, religion is forced on them as children in an act of supreme cruelty. The ideas of religion and of a god are forced on them as babies, ingrained as deeply as possible as reality, but, unlike Santa Claus, when the childrens’ critical thinking causes them to question the validity of the superstition, instead of telling the truth as with Santa, a full-on assault on critical thinking is launched. Children are forced by parents, backed up by massive institutions and cultural traditions, to reject intellect and logic and all the things that dragged us out of the stone age, and “believe” in something that’s completely nonsensical. I can’t imagine the damage this does in other areas of a child’s ability to reason. I’m quite certain though that much of the double-think that goes on in the world, that drives most of the world’s evils, is given a huge head-start by this horrible conditioning.

As I said there, almost everything that’s wrong with the world — war, class-ism, corporatism, racism, poverty, and so on — can either be traced directly or indirectly to religion, or would be much more difficult to occur if we lived without religion. And atheists that tolerate or worse yet support religion, wishy-washy liberal Christians and Muslims and whatever, all the people out there that are willing to tolerate religion, all this evil is propped up by you. It survives because you help it. There is an ocean of blood on your hands.

Getting off track a bit, along those lines I’m really bothered by the success — leading by double the popularity of the number two contender — of anti-bike-lane swollen manhog Rob Ford, who’s running for Toronto mayor. His angry platform is over-the-top divisive (gems like Toronto would be better off without any more immigrants, keeping Toronto pink and piggy rather than yellow and brown I guess) and among other nutty tidbit includes ending Toronto’s long tradition of street festivals, from marathons to parades to gay pride I suppose — especially gay pride, knowing Rob Ford who has a track record of calling AIDS a gay disease (his response to being told women are getting it to was “tell them to stop sleeping with bisexual men”) — suggesting that these events could be held in parks instead. In a way he’s Canada’s equally ignorant parallel to American nutcases like Christine O’Donnell, and his debating skills have often done little more than showcase his ability to make racist outbursts about his opponents. Unfortunately it doesn’t help that the number two contender, George Smitherman, is an openly gay MPP, amplifying the bigotry that helps drive Ford’s suburban attack on the downtown (thanks a lot Toronto amalgamation, so much good is coming from that). I worry that if Smitherman was straight that he would be far higher in the polls. It sucks to have to give that any thought, but such is the world Rob Ford drags us toward.

But my problem with Ford isn’t that he’s stupid or a bigot or any of that. My problem is that he’s divisive. He runs on a platform of “the majority is right”, rather than recognizing that Toronto is a city made up of a diverse group of minorities. He’s realized that by pandering to the mainstream in the most offensive way — his platform really is “FUCK THE MINORITY VOICES” — that it’s much easier to get those mainstream voices than to try an figure out how to work for all Torontonians. Hell, his response to abusive police tactics with G20 protesters was “the police were too nice.” His response to anti-poverty groups was “get a job”. He’s only a small step away from running on a platform of “burn down Chinatown” and hoping that there are more racists in Mississauga and Vaughn than there are those who find his bigotry offensive (I’m not sure what his actual feelings are on Chinatown — he’s said, “Those Oriental people work like dogs. I’m telling you, Oriental people, they’re slowly taking over.”) He’s actually running on the mainstream asshole platform. The same platform that brought us segregation and slavery and so many other abuses that have been fought against for the last hundred years. It’s sickening, because by the numbers he’s going to win by a wide margin. The job of mayor is to unite this wonderful city and move it forward, not just to find the biggest bully and bankroll him. Rob Ford should stick to what he’s good at — getting DUI charges and getting arrested for beating his wife. Anyway, another sickening example of what it’s like to live in a world where mass ignorance and abuse of the minority view is upheld as valid.

Religion helps foster an environment where it is possible to believe that not only are you right, but those who live different lives are worthy of eternal damnation. I appreciate the irony in people saying “but aren’t you calling for some sort of genocide on religion”, but again, “since when did ignorance become a point of view?” And really, all the beautiful things that people think come from religious cultures… Guess what? They came from people, not from god, and all that beauty will still be there after god is long dead, and the evil people who’ve abused religion and the ignorance that stems from it will have less to hide behind, and it will be much harder for them to rape the world with impunity — in the words of Dylan, “with God on their side”.

But let me end on a more positive note. Killing god is a positive, life affirming thing, and as I said, if atheism is seen through the eyes of faith, it is a religion that is obsessed with life and living. It makes one value the world around us and value the people around us, and helps us see the interconnectedness of all life… And it can be understood, and with understanding we deepen our connection to all things. To me that’s much more wonderful and much more magical than any primitive fraught-with-conflict superstition.

27 Comments

  1. Andrew wrote:

    I agree. My wife and I are raising our children without religion but they are not atheists. They have no opinion at all on the matter. If you don’t push a religious view on children they tend to have no interest in the subject at all. God is a human creation that requires humans to perpetuate.

    Monday, September 27, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Permalink
  2. Kaitlyn wrote:

    I know wishy-washiness is a big part of the problem, but from one Atheist to another, what can we do to kill god?

    Monday, September 27, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Permalink
  3. Jim wrote:

    I was at a funeral recently and the hollowness of everyone’s belief struck me even more strongly than it had as a kid. “He’s in a better place now,” they say, “he’s in heaven.” An eternal paradise of bliss and contentment… and then they cry because he’s gone. The level of doublethink necessary is staggering. They don’t even really believe, they believe they believe.

    Monday, September 27, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink
  4. Robin wrote:

    My 6-year-old son told me this story today when I asked who he’d sat next to at lunch today (first day at a new school):

    “I didn’t know, but I sat next to a kid who believed in God! I tried to tell him there was no god and he asked ‘where did your mom come from, then?’ so I told him, ‘from her mom, of course!’ and then he said, ‘no, god made her!’ and I couldn’t convince him that it didn’t make any sense!” I don’t know what this community is really like, yet, and if there will be any social repercussions for his outspoken atheism (he doesn’t believe in the easter bunny, santa, etc either. I used to perpetuate those cultural traditions, but when he pieced together the truth I confirmed his hypotheses.)

    I completely agree that it is damaging and dishonest for atheists to operate from a ‘respect religion’ platform. Thank you for saying it.

    Monday, September 27, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Permalink
  5. Augustus wrote:

    Thank you Shannon.

    Monday, September 27, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Permalink
  6. Andrew wrote:

    I totally agree with the religion thing. People are always ready to ridicule someone somewhere for a belief in something that they themselves can’t comprehend, but when it comes to religion, the majority in society see it as totally acceptable to believe that there is a man in the sky who looks down on people and watches everything they do.

    Also agree with what you said about the wishy-washy religious types. Those people who tear out pages of their bible because they don’t believe this or they don’t believe that. Then you get religious people who are against fundamentalists (such as the Phelps family), but in actual fact, those fundamentalists are the people following their religion of choice in its entirety. They are the true faces of the religion, and the wishy-washy people are still brainwashed but have difficulty accepting the truth about their so-called faith(s).

    Religion is just a means of controlling the population. I think it’s just a smokescreen for the people in this world who seek to control us.

    “They don’t even really believe, they believe they believe” — that’s so true, and I think the reason for that is because religion is nothing more than blind faith.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 2:31 am | Permalink
  7. Elk wrote:

    Needs more LSD.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 4:20 am | Permalink
  8. Shannon wrote:

    “larratt, shannon david” or “lysergic acid diethylamide”? :P

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 4:26 am | Permalink
  9. starbadger wrote:

    download “breaking bad”
    be careful to watch in order

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 5:42 am | Permalink
  10. JonnyButts wrote:

    I’ve always enjoyed when you write about religion. I recently watched the book of Eli. Not sure if you bothered to watch it but this line stuck in my head for weeks afterwards.

    IT’S NOT A FUCKIN’ BOOK! IT’S A WEAPON. A weapon aimed right at the hearts and minds of the weak and the desperate. It will give us control of them. If we want to rule more than one small, fuckin’ town, we have to have it. People will come from all over, they’ll do exactly what I tell ‘em if the words are from the book. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again. All we need is that book.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 6:30 am | Permalink
  11. Shannon wrote:

    Breaking Bad is great, I’ve been recommending it to everyone.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 6:41 am | Permalink
  12. starbadger wrote:

    I think most of the readers here know what a range of life choices is “larratt” and if not they need only go to google and type one word “larratt” and there is the confirmation.

    Nothing wrong with your rant against the church but in broad terms it’s more the instrument than the motive for man’s inhumanity to man.

    It is as simple as

    das leben das leben isst

    and for the benefit of readers

    ist in english is “is”
    isst in english is “eat”

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 6:56 am | Permalink
  13. MissJanet wrote:

    Speaking in tongues
    “Religion ist heilbar!” means
    “religion is curable”.
    I’ve always been someone who believed that it is respectless to mock someone elses religious feelings (and I’m soooo totally tolerant, you know, ain’t I PC?), but in the last years I find myself growing more and more tired of the shit that is said and done in the name of the lord. All the nonsense between muslims and christians, who after all, believe in the same god, it is ridiculous and stupid.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 9:09 am | Permalink
  14. HARDKORY wrote:

    It is absolutely affirming to see a man denounce all religion in such a strong way while being faced with both the most beautiful of things and the most wretched of things.
    It breaks my fucking heart when I see people I love wasting away their life praising a false god because they think there will be eternal life after death. As if we don’t need to progress in this life.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Permalink
  15. starbadger wrote:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberta_Eugenics_Board

    it’s safe to attack religion

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Permalink
  16. Tomasso wrote:

    Re: Kaitlyn “what can we do to kill god?”

    well first you have to find him, good luck with that

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Permalink
  17. Hamish wrote:

    My son came home one day a year or so ago and explained to me that a schoolmate of his told him he followed the ONE TRUE GOD. Ethan asked him who that would be and he responded, “GODZILLA!”

    I want that on a t-shirt.

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Permalink
  18. Shannon wrote:

    That is the greatest quote ever!

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 4:11 am | Permalink
  19. Linda wrote:

    http://lolgraff.com/2009/08/14/happiness-funny-graffiti/

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink
  20. Shannon wrote:

    Along those lines vaguely I got a laugh out of this shirt’s comic appropriation: http://www.cafepress.ca/dd/8256645

    Vicar: And if you don’t believe in God, Timmy, God’s going to torture you forever and ever.

    Timmy: But why, Reverend?

    Vicar: Because he really, really loves you!

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Permalink
  21. Danielle wrote:

    Thank you, Shannon. I needed that insight re: religion today.

    Also,
    http://www.fordonford.com/

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink
  22. LotN wrote:

    Yes. And the truth is such more amazing and life-affirming than any story a human has yet to come up with. I love being free from religion (after being raised Catholic).

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Permalink
  23. Colin wrote:

    Go Shannon!!! Bring IT!!!

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Permalink
  24. starbadger wrote:

    http://www.survivorhunks.com/DirkBeen/

    When Dirk Been went to Malaysia he took with him a luxury item that made his fellow contestants uneasy, and which ultimately proved to be his undoing. It was his Bible, which he spent reading hour after hour day after day. Not that being religious is a sin because it isn’t, but when one’s religion makes others uncomfortable ~ others who hold your fate in their hands ~ it’s probably a good idea to make your Bible-reading less of a spectacle.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 7:21 am | Permalink
  25. espviper wrote:

    In the old days I loved reading your political and other cultural rants, Shannon. I’ve missed them.

    I cannot agree more. Religion is a blight. Have you seen “Touching the Void?” A great movie that also illustrates facing death with no concern or care for “god”.

    Thanks for writing this. Your long rants are always appreciated. And thanks for many years of being you.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink
  26. Tobias wrote:

    Honestly Shannon, you sound like you’d fit in quite well with the community over at http://reddit.com/r/atheism

    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 12:41 am | Permalink
  27. Popecatapetal wrote:

    “…for example, in Christianity, if you have just once in your life blasphemed against god, you’re damned. There’s no forgiveness for that sin.”

    I agree with pretty much all of the post, except for this bit. I was raised Catholic, and it’s always been taught that you can be as bad as you like, as long as you go to confession and repent for your sins (not quite in those words). So as long as you confess to a priest and get your Last Rites before you die, you get to Heaven.

    Weird.

    Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 4:34 am | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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