Agnosticism vs. Religion
"Brother, can you see those birds?
They don't look to heaven,
they don't need religion,
they can see."
- R.E.M., "Undertow"
I've always been perplexed how people can believe in something that not
only is completely unprovable, but has such incredible amounts of
against it. This is religion: a belief in something that's
illogical, and requires constant reinforcement. Inductions into
happen either from birth, so that the person never has a chance to
otherwise, or during a moment of mental weakness, when the mind readily
accepts even the most impossible hopes in order to achieve
Conversely, egression from religious beliefs, though rare, occur when
individual with an open mind has limited exposure to religious dogma
is allowed to explore new ideas and draw logical conclusions.
People often ask me what my religion is. When I tell them I
none, I get one of these 4 responses:
OK, so I paraphrased (a little). And of course, my
is usually one of these four:
- "Hey cool... I respect your decision and am not going to judge
it, regardless of my own personal beliefs." (The world needs more of
- "Oh, you're a filthy God-hating Atheist (or Satanic) heathen,
- "No religion? No, you misunderstood... I mean, what sect of
of modern day socially-popular religious spin-offs are you a follower
- "Oh? So what awful event in your life turned you away from
Light that is Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Please tell me, I
am your friend, I want to help you see the Light and Know Love and Know
that He Loves You No Matter What Even Though He Will Send You To Hell
not believing that He died for your sins! And once you're all
I want you to join our church and help support the mind-narrowing
My point is, I don't NEED a religion. And neither does anyone
- "Thank you for respecting my beliefs and not judging me based on
- "Eat shit and die."
- "See you in Hell."
letter (similar to #4 above) and thoughtful, well-rounded reply
“An agnostic is somebody who doesn't believe in something until
there is evidence for it, so I'm agnostic.” - Carl Sagan
Where Did Religion Come From?
Religion, historically, was a way of explaining the
Imagine if you will: the date is 50,000 b.c.e. ("before current era"
the unenlightened), and a group of primitive villagers, sitting around
to dinner around the ol' campfire, witness a bolt of lightning streak
the sky. The villagers are perplexed, amazed, and above all,
(of the unknown), but then the shaman of the tribe steps in to explain
this phenomenon, for, after all, that's what she does. But,
of telling them that the great streak of light was the result of two
charged air masses colliding and releasing gigawatts of charge, she
them that it was the God of Ugg getting pissed off at them for not
them a portion of their yak brain chowder. Obviously, the shaman
made up this little tale -- she doesn't know what it is either, but she
doesn't want anyone to think she doesn't know or she'll lose
control over the other villagers.
One hundred years later, however, the current tribal shaman, taught
by his predecessors all about how the God of Ugg makes lightning, truly
believes it himself. It's what he was taught, it's what he knows,
and the original shaman died with the secret that it was all just part
of a big lie, invented to ensure that she and all of her prodigies
continue to control how the tribe acts, and since no one has the smarts
or the balls to challenge the idea, it sticks. "Sacrifice your
to Ugg, she has been defiled." "Give your leg of mutton to Ugg,
he will strike you with lightning." And most importantly, "Come
my church, pray to Ugg, and give me your valuables, so I can tell Ugg
send you to the great hunting ground in the sky."
Now here's the ironic part: 52,000 years later, we know what makes
lightning strike. Yet we still believe in Ugg. God,
Allah, Buddha, whatever you want to call the mythological omnipotent
of our own creation, he's still around. Science has explanations
for almost every question we ever had, and yet we still have
We still believe that there is some "great hunting ground in the sky"
we will go to if we follow the shaman's advice explicitly. And we
still believe that someout there, in that vast expanse of space,
gives a shit.
"I condemn false prophets, I condemn the effort to take away the
power of rational
decision, to drain people of their free will--and a hell of a lot
of money in the bargain.
Religions vary in their degree of idiocy, but I reject them all.
For most people, religion is
nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain."
- Gene Roddenberry
If there is really some God out there (and I never dispute the
possibility that there may be), then this being is way too powerful and
busy and wouldn't care if you are good to everyone, go to church, say
prayers, tithe until you're broke, and die with the firm belief that
on your way to Easy Street. Likewise, this being wouldn't care if
you kill your family, rape your pets, paint swastikas on synagogues,
churches, torture children, or even (gasp) renounced the teachings of
Jewish extremist nutcase who got himself nailed up 2000 years
In all likelyhood, the "miracle" of humanity is probably no more
than the existence of other parasites on earth's surface: we're a
accident, and our existence is neither determined nor guaranteed.
"By simple common sense I don't believe in God, in none." -
"Dear God, don't know if you noticed, but
Your name is on a lot of quotes in this book
And us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look
And all the people that you made in your image
Still believing that junk is true
Well I know it ain't and so do you,
- XTC, "Dear God"
Normally, I wouldn't focus on one particular religion, since they're
equally wrong. But Christianity is unusually flawed and
destructive because it's based on intolerance of others and is
practiced by such a large chunk of the population. Actually,
it's not so much the religion, rather the many followers of it who seem
to think they're Holier than the rest of us, and therefore can control
our lives for us. Not all Christians are grossly intolerant,
probably not even the majority, but as the moderates are doing nothing
to temper the ferocity of the extremists, they share the guilt equally.
"Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody
religion that has ever infected the world." - Voltaire
America is an especially interesting case, as it has a certain
little document called
the Constitution. This is the rag upon
some long-dead old farts created blueprints of a country that quite
became the greatest nation on earth (or so's the general concensus of
anyway). Now, in these old blueprints for democracy, certain
are layed out: bicameral congress, three branches of Federal
all that rot that no thinks twice about. But, there's also a
addendum at the end that sets a few things that these old guys thought
of as important -- basic human rights. These little "amendments"
guaranteed a lot of things: limiting the Federal government's
authority, the right to protect one's self against
all that crap that we now take for granted. They also guaranteed
something else, something important enough to earn the first slot: the
right of Freedom of Speech, and Freedom
of Religion. Why? To attempt to prevent the
of religious persecution against believers of dissimilar religions that
governments have been guilty of for millennia.
Unfortunately, this Freedom of Religion has never fully manifested
since various Christian morals and values, ranging from mostly harmless
to utter raping of the Constitution, have wormed their way into many
lawbooks over the last couple of centuries. Today it's
particularly grim, since in the old days, politicians mostly kept
religious views confined to their private lives, and that behavior has
changed. Listening to any
election-year Republican (and sometimes even Democratic) candidates'
you'll no doubt hear the candidates flaunting and exaggerating their
religious beliefs, throwing around the name Jesus indiscriminately and
whoring themselves to the small but powerful Religious Right. The
consequences for future legislation concerning things like personal
and choice when these bozoes get elected simply cannot be good.
I see them emphatically declaring their totally mindless submission to
their make-believe deity, I feel close to vomiting... I am perpetually
aghast that more people don't understand the gravity of a politician
for office in a sovereign Republic who freely expresses their willing
their "true king."
Now, Christians (in the U.S.) say they are pro-America, One Nation
God", purple mountains shedding grace all over the fruity plains,
Yet, they don't seem to actually care
about the Constitution. Here
are just a few of their anti-Constitutional beliefs:
In short: Christianity is the biggest threat to freedom, intelligence,
creativity, and progress of all kinds of the last 20 centuries, this
- "This country was founded on Christianity." Any historian
K-mart sweater and clip-on bowtie knows that the Founding
Fathers were mostly Deist and Unitarian, meaning that they belief
in God as a sort-of scientist that created the universe and then
off. Christianity didn't swing in to any real extent until the
1800s. And no, the Pilgrims don't count, because all they really
founded was America's perpetually shitty treatment of the red man, as
as our totally ludicrous fear of sexuality.
- "There should be prayer in schools." The basic concept of
Church and State" means that there should NOT be prayer in a state-run
education system that requires children to attend; or if there is, it
be held after hours. No in-class time can be given for "optional
praying", as it makes children who don't pray feel like there's
wrong with them.
- "We need to elect politicians that will pass moral laws."
Morality is highly subjective. The last
thing this nation needs is the government controlling our
thoughts. This country was founded on the basic principle of
practicing whatever religion or moral system you want, as long as you
do so in a community-friendly manner. Legally imposing one set
of moral beliefs violates the principle of Freedom of Religion, even if
it's a moral code shared by the majority.
Fun Facts About Christianity:
- The Bible does indeed contain a passage that seems to
a sin. This is the line:
"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is
However, since this is the Bible, you have to take it literally!
Therefore, straight men and gay women are okay in God's eyes, while gay
men and straight women are going to Hell. Remember, you can't
with a man!
* Side note 1: Of course, Christians ignore many, many things in the
Bible, such as prohibition of eating pork and wearing clothes made from
mixed materials, and of course "Judge not, lest ye be judged," so it's
kind of funny that they picked this one to take to heart. Most
this is a line some priest or monk inserted somewhere along the line not
because of homophobia, but because the union of one man with another
produce new little Christians.
* Side note 2: When you think about it, a man can't lie with another
man as with a woman... it's physically impossible, unless he has a
So you're alright screwing men unless they have a vagina, which I
isn't an issue very often.
- Many Christians will try to turn you
into a Christian by quoting
of the Bible, "proving" that Christianity is the way to go because,
all, God supposedly wrote the Bible. However, they do not
that disbelief in the Bible goes so far as to disbelieve the Bible is
God's word and will continue to quote passages to you as if it were
Because it is their only basis for arguments, you can almost
win an argument with Christians over anything religous just by saying
the Bible is God's word. Give me other evidence."
- Some Christians are so full of their own self-righteousness as to
far as to condemn other less "holy" Christians who haven't "truly"
Jesus as their savior. As the story goes, Mr. Christ died for our
sins -- and in a great big cosmic switcheroo, we all get to use his
reputation when we face the Big Guy after we croak in order to get into
heaven (since even one tiny sin any time in our lives automatically
us to Hell -- or, as some religions believe, just by being born, conceived through the
Original Sin of sex, we're sinners at conception!), and the only way to
achieve salvation is to fully
Jesus into your life.
Of course, if we don't accept Jesus, we get to suffer an eternity
of absolute, neverending torment in Hell. Nice little deal
This particular scare tactic works especially well in converting
since it's so vivid and preys on the inherent weakness of the human
The most interesting part here is that Hitler, who killed millions of
people and caused the most destructive war in all of humankind's
truly believed Jesus was the savior, and therefore is going to heaven
to this policy... while people like Gandhi, who didn't believe in Jesus
(not to mention the billions of people throughout history who have
had any exposure to the Bible or Christianity) are suffering eternal
Rather strange policy for a god who claims to love his creation.
"What was it that Adam ate that he
wasn't supposed to eat? It wasn't just an apple - it was the fruit of
the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The subtle message? Get smart
and I'll fuck you over -- sayeth the Lord. God is the smartest -- and
he doesn't want any competion. Is this not an absolutely
anti-intellectual religion?" - Frank Zappa
Is There a Cure for
"I told the priest, don't count on any second coming
God got his ass kicked the first time he came down here slumming
He had the balls to come, the gall to die and then forgive us -
No I don't wonder why, I wonder what he thought it would get us."
- Concrete Blonde, "Tomorrow Wendy"
It depends. Take this simple test to find out the malignancy of
If your answer is "yes" to all of these questions, your religion is
curable. Maintaining spirituality can be (and often is) healthy
and productive, but you don't need to blindly follow the religious
dogma concocted by shamans and sham-artists thousands of years ago to
be a good person and lead a productive, healthy, happy life.
Agnosticism is the truest freedom there is... the freedom to say "I
- Are you willing to give up all the lies your parents, religious
and peers have been feeding you from birth about how, if you're good
do exactly what they say, you'll go to a nice pretty place full of toys
and games and happy people floating around in the clouds which doesn't
- Are you willing to put up with all the crap that people will
be giving you for not being a mindless zealot like everybody else,
day to day supressing your true emotions in the belief that it will
fool God into believing you're a good person, worthy of going to heaven?
- Can you deal with the fact that, once you're religionless, your
and brainwashed family and friends may ostracize you?
- Are you really ready to start believing that once you're dead,
your spirit will cease to be, and the only thing that will remain are a
few memories and some records that will both be lost a few dozen, maybe
a hundred or two years after you croak?