Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I simply do not understand religious people

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to cause offence or tarring all religious people with the same brush here. Plenty of religious people are lovely, I have no doubt. Hell, some of my best friends are religious.

But when a rabid Christian lobbying organisation intimidates a cancer charity into refusing a £10,000 donation, that’s the point when I really start to wonder about the whole bloody thing. (This is, you’ll be unsurprised to hear, the same maniacs who kicked up such a fuss over the broadcast of Jerry Springer: The Opera that BBC executives ended up receiving death threats, and who also have links to Robert Kilroy-Silk’s Veritas party.) Hat tip to Harry’s Place.

I really don’t understand the attraction of religion. I mean, most of us have given up on the idea of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny by the time we’ve hit double figures, right? As nice an idea as they no doubt are, they’re simply not very believable, when you get down to it.

“Behave yourself and Santa will give you pressies; be naughty, you won’t get any.” After a few years, you start to think – hang on, I’ve never actually SEEN this Santa chap, have I? This is all a scam, isn’t it? Yet so many of us still maintain our faith in that other great scam: “behave yourself and God will let you into Heaven; be naughty and you’ll go to Hell.” Yeah. Riiiiight. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Etc.

Anyway, the point is, what’s so wonderful about this God chap that so many people are prepared to cause so many other people so much grief and hassle in His name? And if He does exist, do they really think He’d approve of all their self-righteous bullshit? If the old beardy bloke is knocking around up there somewhere, I think it's time for a few of those old thunderbolts we used to hear so much about. Time to get all Old Testament on their arses - they're taking Thy name in vain, old son. (Oh, and while you're at it, a cure to all diseases and a spot of World Peace wouldn't go amiss - you are all-powerful, after all... It's about bloody time, don't you think? Cheers.)

Enter the Comments section, stage right, hoards of offended Christians utterly missing the point and asking me whether I seriously think this is worse than Islamic suicide bombers, no doubt…


Blogger Justin said...

I heard about this on the Today show this morning when they interviewed David Soul and some misanthropic self-appointed guardian of public morals/diseased ego/limelight-seeking fuck from Christian Voice.

The Devil, however, had the best joke - David Soul said the action was "unchristian."

Me, it's got me so blood-spittingly angry I can barely think coherently. When you boil down the teachings of Jesus I think it comes to "be nice to each other" not "impede the work of a charity trying to help people who are suffering just so you can further your own fundamentalist agenda".

2/23/2005 01:31:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

Ah, but you have your own religion, don't you? The European Union, a utopian idea you cling to despite all evidence to the contrary. Rather like an evangelical reading Darwin.

By the way, I'm sure God will not strike you down for your impiety - He's used to this sort of thing.

I, though, find it rather ungrateful - He didn't have to make you, after all...

Iechydd da!

2/23/2005 01:37:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

True. But at least I know that the EU actually exists...

I suppose you could make a case that I've come up with a bizarre, heretical interpretation of gospel "the EU is bad" truth, much like those Cathars who decided to start worshipping Satan as a good God couldn't have created a world as fucked-up as this one, but then we'd end up getting lost in a highly confusing conglomeration of extended metaphors involving gnosticism, manicheanism and neoplatonism in which we'd probably all end up concluding that it's actually us who don't exist, and the EU is a metafictional construct created by an amnesiac monk in a lunatic asylum. Or something.

Actually, that might not be too far from the truth.

2/23/2005 02:23:00 pm  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...

Religious crazies can be a problem, sometimes a dangerous problem, sometimes a humorous problem. They often step all over freedom when granted power but never to the level of atheists with power. As much depredation as has been caused by religion over the years it pales in comparison to the human destruction caused by atheists in the 20th Century. Pol Pot, Mao, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin (and family) did not understand religion either, Nosey, and they accounted for the arbitrary deaths of 150 million or so (give or take a few; who really keeps track ya know). Based on this performance if atheism was considered a religion it would probably be banned from public office.

Not saying that atheists are necessarily a bad lot; just not very compassionate when granted power. A spiritually autistic chicken farmer from Bavaria may be a good neighbor as long as he's raising chickens. Putting him in charge of the state police may be a problem though.

Give me an old diseased buzzard with a prayer fetish like Osama any day. At least he believes in something except himself and the latest political flavor of utopia. Somewhere even he will have limits to his depravity. He won't cause near the damage of those more enlightened guys I mentioned.

BTW Nosey, Hitler agreed with your assessment. In Mein Kampf he said that the day he threw off the foolish constaining bonds of Catholicism he felt "as free as a new foal in a meadow" or some such translation. Sorry, but I can't envy you and the Fuhrer that feeling.

Maybe you can just lighten up and tolerate those religious kooks. Ranting about their peculiar habits is OK but what harm are they doing. None really, and neither you or I know whether or not they are right.

2/23/2005 04:29:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Ronnie - yep, athiests are all murderous shits. And black people all have a great sense of rhythm...

What harm are they doing? Well, as pointed out in this very post, this group alone has successfully deprived a well-meaning charity of a sizable amount of money and caused unecessary fear to the families of various innocent television executives (many of whom were not even connected to the decision to broadcast a play which had, in any case, been running successfully in London for a good couple of years). Add to that the innumerable acts of "religious" violence over the years, from Christians vs. Lions to the various Crusades, jihads and fatwahs, not to mention the denunciation of the use of condoms and subsequent spread of STDs like AIDS, I'd say there's been quite a bit of harm caused...

Other than that, for future reference, might I refer you to this?

2/23/2005 04:45:00 pm  
Anonymous Hew BG said...

Leaving aside that this thread is effectively dead twice over (Godwin's Law applies, plus invocation of Godwin's Law), I am more concerned with your frankly scurrilous attack on Father Christmas.

If you are to be believed, then who is it who puts a stocking filled with presents at the end of my bed on Christmas Eve? eh?

Not the EU, I can tell you!

2/23/2005 05:33:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Hew - if the EU constitution is passed Santa will have to be abolished anyway - both his workshop and his 24 hour dash round the globe are in violation of various working time directives, and reindeer shit is almost certainly classified as hazardous biological waste under section 6,431/d (part xiv, paragraph 12) of the 1978 Treaty of Upper Silesia.

2/23/2005 05:39:00 pm  
Blogger Jarndyce said...

OT but I don't think the Cathars actually worshipped Satan, merely held him responsible for the 'worldly goods' thing that we are surrounded with, which they completely rejected. And right there you can see why the Catholic Church weren't over keen on them...those sort of ideas can catch on.


2/23/2005 06:12:00 pm  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...

No old boy (is that correct?) all atheists are not murderous shits, but the ones I mentioned were. Funny that none of them were Christian, or Muslim. And equating the evil disapproval of condoms to events at Dachau or the Gulag is a bit of a stretch. I think if you had offered either of those populations the choice between where they were and fucking without condoms most would have preferred the latter... even at the risk of STD. I'm all for condoms by the way, for a multitude of uses. Neat things, what.

And I know some black people have no rhythym. I've actually danced with some. Louisiana is over 20% African-American, New Orleans over 50%, so we get to meet quite a few. How about you?

Seems the problem isn't with these folks religious beliefs, it's with the effect these have on some of your institutions. That's not their problem, it's yours. You live in a free country... nobody can force you or your institutions to do anything. If it bothers enough people they can take all of that pent up anger, stop whining and go out and stop it.

2/23/2005 07:01:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

None of them were Christian or Muslim because you chose the list. But how about all those religious leaders who have called for death to pagans / the infidel? How about the Reformation and Wars of Religion? How about those supposedly Christian founding fathers and pioneers in the United States who wiped out thousands of Native Americans? How about the supposedly Christian Empire-builders in Africa, India and the like who indiscriminately slaughtered the natives? Brigadier General Sir Reginald Dyer, who ordered the Amritsar Massacre, was a regular church-goer. I mean, yeah - he only killed hundreds compared to Hitler's millions, but still. Part of his reasoning was that the people he was turning the guns on were heathen savages.

The thing that has to be remembered with religion is that if you are a believer then anyone who doesn't believe what you do is - by definition - wrong. Most major religions have tried forcible conversion at various stages; most major religions have considered those who don't believe and who resist conversion to be somehow less than human. Most religions have advocated the killing of non-believers.

Of course, it's also worth noting that, technically, no one who professes to be Christian or Muslim (by most interpretations of the Koran) is actually a follower of either of those religions as soon as they murder someone. That doesn't mean they don't believe in God. It's an utterly pointless operation, but if one were to tally up all the people who have ever killed someone, those who profess to believe in God would greatly outweigh those who don't.

Oh, and by the way, estimates are currently that 24.5 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have AIDS. That's more people than Stalin killed - and let's face it, AIDS is a death sentence (and a particularly nasty one at that). 4 million people caught AIDS in Africa in 1999 alone. That's twice as many as Pol Pot killed. The numbers are comparable to those killed by the atrocities of those you mentioned.

Naturally, not all of this can be put down to religious disapproval of condoms. But condoms would have helped immensely, and many African religious leaders are vocally against the things.

But still, if they're believers then when they die they'll go to Heaven.

That's alright then.

2/23/2005 07:57:00 pm  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...

Good discussion... you've brought up most of the anti-religious clunkers that folks like to quote when they spew hatred of the despised "believers"

Got news for you guy. Were all gonna die of something eventually. Attributing the deaths of millions of Africans to lack of condoms and claiming it to be religious murder is a bit specious. AIDS isn't a death sentence; birth is. But that makes it real easy; since religion doesn't keep people from dying we can blame every death ever on religion (or sin, like the Church does). Good thinking.

Religion didn't create AIDS, Mother Nature did. The Nazi's created Zyklon-B. The deaths that I attribute to the atheist dictators of the 20th Century were directly created and caused, a result of a practiced, planned, and considered determination to slaughter, not some misguided cultural reaction to disease prevention. And you could probably cover Africa with condoms without preventing the spread of the disease, since much of the problem lies with ancient cultural norms, lack of communication, tribal attitudes, and mostly plain disinterest, as hard as that may be to believe. Can't factor that in though... wouldn't give you a chance to blame religion.

No sale old boy. You're indulging in a bit of Whig history here, trying to judge those of another age by current societal norms. The guys I mentioned were post-Enlightenment, modern practitioners of the art of murder, well aware that the people that they were killing were real people. There's no contemporary religious nutcase(s) that have caused anything comparable in human suffering.

Good try though!

BTW I'm a culturally Catholic agnostic. Oppressive religion has caused great harm over the ages, but nothing approaching what you would like to represent. Placing the mediocrities you mention into the same league as a Hitler or Pol Pot is an insult to such luminaries.

It does offer religion as a convenient straw dog though. No need to confront culture, economics, human nature, or personal responsibility.

Don't take this to heart guy. I'm having a little fun.

Do you feel that Communism, Nazism, and Wahabbism qualify as perverse secular religions?

2/23/2005 09:55:00 pm  
Blogger musafir said...

Good post. Enjoyed some of the comments too. I invite you to look at my post dated Jan.7th if you have time. "Books: Armageddon, etc.
Heaven, hell, and other more mundane matters"

Title of the blog is Musafir's Musings,

Keep writing.

2/23/2005 10:07:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Ronnie old son, I've decided not to take any of this internet business to heart, no worries. Same goes for you, old son.

Religion didn't create AIDS. Stalin didn't create the freezing cold of the Siberian wastes. Stalin ordered his enemies to be sent there; they died. The Pope decreed condoms were "immoral" or something; Catholics in Africa and elsewhere didn't use condoms. If Stalin was responsible for the deaths of those who died in forced marches from the Gulags (after all, he didn't force them himself, he merely gave the order), then by the same logic if one single person has caught AIDS and died because a Catholic who was HIV positive didn't use a condom because of their religion, it is the Catholic Church's fault. They gave the order.

The thing is, I'm not talking about the manner in which people were killed - the psychos you mentioned have got most religious types beat in terms of sheer unpleasantness when it comes to that (although the Spanish Inquisition's methods come close). I'm talking numbers.

Taking the dispassionate statistical method, you're off the mark a bit with the Whig thing. I'm not judging crusaders by today's morals. Killing people has always been considered a bit dodgy. They made excuses for the people they killed just as the Nazis did for their victims. Just because they made excuses doesn't make it any less wrong - now or then.

The Holocaust almost certainly beats - in terms of sheer numbers of dead - all the Crusades put together. But as a proportion of the world's population at that time, those who were killed by the Crusaders is probably fairly comparable to those killed by Hitler.

Don't forget that in the 11th century, the time of the 1st Crusade, the population of Britain was only about 3-4 million (and it remained at about that level until the late 17th century); it's now 15 times that - just under 60 million (and Britain's population has grown at a lesser than that of the world as a whole). Expand that, and 100,000 dead at the time of the 1st Crusade is proportionately equivalent to about 1,500,000 dead now. If they'd had larger populations to slaughter, they would have done.

But hey, we've got so far off the original topic now it's getting ridiculous, and we're both just arguing for argument's sake here. I don't especially believe this stuff - I'm just not a fan of organised religion. It's just politics by another name - only with these religion things you are required to have total devotion to the party, and you go voluntarily to be lectured by the whips every Sunday (or whatever) to keep you toeing the party line.

Musafir - good blog. Do you by any chance have the dubious pleasure of being a Muslim in America in the current climate? I can't say, if so, that I envy you...

2/23/2005 11:51:00 pm  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...

Ok guy... enjoyed the exchange. I'd rebut but this could go on forever. I don't do this much but I had some time on my hands waiting around in this hotel room.

I've marked your blog and I'll come back sometime to see how you're doing. I'll make some predictions first and we'll see how I'm doing later on.

1) NATO is dying and will soon be dead. Everybody is smiling and saying nice things about the old bat at the bedside but for all practical purposes she's on life support.

2) 'W' will be nice for the next four years while he does exactly what he wants. No more "old Europe" stuff. No reason to insult someone you don't care about and aren't counting on.

3) No US president and congress will ever ratify Kyoto or the ICC accords as they currently stand. 'W' is taking the heat but it's really not just him.

4) Russia will become America's primary ally.

Now to get home for some decent cafe au lait and beignets.

"Laissez les bon temps roulez."

2/24/2005 12:14:00 am  
Blogger Doug G said...

Just a little correction ... the Nazis didn't invent Zyklon-B, a commercial pesticide they were originally using for delousing in the camps. They just asked for a version to be manufactured without the odorant. Zyklon-B was formulated by the Nobel prize winning agro-chemist Fritz Haber; a German Jew, patriot and decorated WW1 veteran, who feld the country in the 30s. His employers owned the patent though.

2/24/2005 02:57:00 pm  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...

Right Doug... thanks for the info. If I recall Haber was the German genie of chemical weapons during WW1, the man who designed and implemented the first chlorine and phosgene attacks. His wife, a fellow chemist, disagreed with his use of scientific knowledge so vehemently that she killed herself in protest during the First War. Like many German Jews who gave their all for Germany during the Great War his loyalty was rewarded with hatred and exclusion. It's a pretty sorry tale.

Thanks for jogging the memory of an old retired chemical officer.

2/24/2005 09:47:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2/25/2005 12:45:00 pm  
Anonymous David said...

Christian Voice is also against the EU. Because God is.

By entering into the structures of the European Union, the UK actively and consciously gave away the sovereignty entrusted to her by God. (See: 1 Sam 10:1; 1 Kgs 1:39; Ps 9:17,17; Prov 16:12; Is 30:1-3, 31:1-3) The Treaties of the EU make no mention of Almighty God, and the contracting parties set up what amounts to a super-state in their own name. The European Commission, an unelected and sovereign bureaucracy, makes the law on its own authority.(From 2nd commandment)

2/25/2005 12:47:00 pm  
Anonymous -ronnie in new orleans- said...

Good God, David!

Are you serious?

2/25/2005 04:14:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Ronnie - sadly yes, yes he is.

2/25/2005 04:26:00 pm  
Blogger musafir said...

No, I'm not a Muslim living in the United States. Was born a Hindu, I don't pray to any god. The way things are going in this country, people like me could face persecution. I should be gone by then. But as long as I'm around I shall continue to protest--
raise my voice, tap the keyboard against bigotry.

2/25/2005 05:41:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sheesh the state of some of these peoples minds !!!

Please, come on try to understand, how can God have an opinion about the EU !!!

You know, if there was a Bible that was like 300,000 years old i'd actually take notice. But knowing it's only really 1,700 years old at the most about a man 2000 years old ... and compiled by various dubious authors puts me right off. Am I reading Gods words or some pent up guys personal opinion?

A quick side-sweep ... I wonder if after the Pope pop's his cloggs, whether the Churchs all suddenly modernise? Hmmm be interesting, I wonder if they will wheel out a Prophet that spent a week in the desert and had a 1 to 1 with the big man himself, coming back with 10 PDA's full of useful COMMON SENSE


3/01/2005 05:28:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm ... to go back to the original subject ... (nice wanderings though, I didn't know about Haber etc.). I would object less to the Christian Voice telling the cancer group not to take the donation if they'd offer to make up the expected donation themselves.
Put their money where their protests are. I doubt they will. The people in charge of kind of group is neither christian nor charitable.

3/09/2005 02:57:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly do not understand religious people either, and I'm a deep down Christian. Understand the difference? I have accepted the gift of forgiveness for my sins from God. God paid for my sins by giving his Son Jesus. Jesus was murdered for my sins. I did not deserve this forgiveness nor did I earn it. I'm not claiming to be righteous... I'm any thing but. I'm scum next to perfection... Claiming I'm a Christian is not claiming I'm perfect... I have just simply accepted a gift given to me. It's available to you and everyone. Don't make it complicated, just accept the gift that is offered to you. I will go to Heaven and live forever... not because of something I've done or for being a nice guy or attending church... I just simply let Jesus take over my life. What does that mean? I just tried to be kind and forgive and put others before me. Case in point... I'm not going to bash you and telling you shouldn't be angry. We are all angry... but God is teaching me what to do with that anger. I'm just a regular guy that has turned to God for answers... through prayer, I tell him all my thoughts good and bad... he understands. I tell him of the pain I have because of the terrible things I've said and done to people in the past. I chose to shed my old self... the old jerk I used to be... the guy I hate and am ashamed of... Jesus came back to life and so have I. I've put my dark life behind me... I've become a new person. God understands and continues to bless me... Guess what guys... I have a beautiful wife and two wonder girls and over $1,000,000 in the bank... 15 years ago, I was divorced, broke and angry. I prayed to God to help me and he did. I'm not saying you will become rich from prayer... that's just what happened to me. God will answer your prayers beyond your wildest dreams. Do you think I'm full of crap?... I'm not making this up... This is the truth... turn to God when you have nowhere else to go and he'll put in a wide highway for you to follow. Honestly, if I'd read this 15 years ago, I would think "What a freak". But I look back now and think "What a lonely lost guy".

10/12/2005 03:34:00 am  

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