The perfect religion

Sent in by Andrew Hawkins

I am a 39-year-old male. I grew up in Somerset, UK. It was a pleasant semi-rural existence. My childhood is full of pleasant memories with a loving family. At about the age of 15 I joined the boys brigade, an organisation with religious undertones. We had to go to church services once a month. I suppose that all of those church services must have played their part in me becoming a born again Christian. Billy Graham was on a tour in 1984. I went to see him at Aston Gate football stadium. The sheer numbers of people there overcame me. I was also overcome by the showmanship of the event. On that fateful night I became a born again Christian. I was 18 years old.

Being a red blooded male and highly attracted to the opposite sex and being a Christian is a very difficult thing to do. I was heavily into masturbation and I tried and tried to stop but I couldn’t. I prayed and prayed that Jesus would take these feelings away. He never did, of course. I took communion and one day I read in the bible, I can’t remember exactly where, that he who drinks of the blood of Christ and desecrates his own body will spend an eternity in hell. I remember saying sorry to Jesus and asking for forgiveness but that one paragraph really took hold of me. I remember being really frightened, upset and angry that I was going to hell. Slowly but surely I remember slipping out of Christianity and so I hoped for a long life before I was to face my fate. Hell, when you are in your twenties is a long way off. I remember my Christian friends would pray for me to come back to the fold but they really didn’t know what the problem was.

At this stage in my life I was studying hard to go to university. Once at university I met my wife to be she was a Christian and I told her that I used to be. She then explained that I wasn’t going to hell and that I was misinterpreting that part of the bible about desecrating your body and drinking the blood of Christ. And so I became a Christian again.

After university I started work in Birmingham and my housemate had a Richard Dawkins book, which he lent to me. The book was “The Blind watch-maker”. At last there was an explanation for this life. I began to read other books on evolution. I read a very interesting book about Darwin machines. A Darwin machine is anything that has come about by the same processes that govern evolution. A religion can be said to be a Darwin machine.

1. It has improved due to the process of natural selection.

It has been improved upon century after century and it is still being improved upon. There are many different interpretations of the bible each one being better that the last. By the process of speciation various sub-religions (denominations are created). Many religions are in existence and many, over the thousands of years of humanity, have become extinct. Only two seem to be ahead of the field. Christianity and Islam.

2. It is open to mutations. – There are many different denominations

Looking back on my time as a Christian I can honestly say that I didn’t feel the presence of Jesus, not once. Not once did I see any evidence. One thing I remember which illustrates the absurdity of blind faith is a friend - who went on to be a minister - saying, “God will always answer your prayers. He may answer it with a ‘No’ but he will always answer your prayers”. I can honestly say that I never heard of one prayer being answered with a ‘Yes’.

Looking back another facet of religion and Darwin machines strikes me. The great religions have gone through many different improvements. The improvements are such that they make the religions seem perfect (not quite perfect because of all the contradictions and because not all accept it). Here is not the time to illustrate the contradictions. All the readers of these testimonies have heard them. If I were to create a near perfect religion how would I make it?

1. It would, of course, worship the creator of the universe. What is the greatest thing that a human can imagine? Why, God, of course.

2. There would be a prophet or Son of God to whom you must interface with God.

3. For all non-believers I would say that they would face eternal damnation and for all believers they would have eternal bliss.

4. I would make its moral code close to the natural moral code that all humans have. The moral code would be difficult to adhere to but I would promise rewards for following them.

5. For proof I would perform a few conjuring tricks like turning water into wine.

6. For all of those having doubts about the process of blind faith I would say that if they leave the religion they would face eternal damnation only their damnation would be more severe than the unbelievers.

7. And, of course, everyone loves a martyr. To start the religion I would die for it.

Does this sound familiar?

What am I now? I am a humanist. Which really is a sub-label for an atheist. I am tolerant of people’s beliefs. I can understand why people become involved in church. It is a great social centre. People feel a need to belong to a large social group. But, on the other hand, people feel a need for the truth. And I would prefer to live my life in truth and to hell with eternity.

6 comments:

Harlequin said...

The Abrahamic Cults are more or less the ultimate Darwinian Machine in Meme form.

All three, rather like the fetching and quaint description of the AK47 in 'Pulp Fiction' are good for wiping out every other mutha in the room when they take root. When they don't have others to kill, they fight themselves for more meat. In the end, rather like the parasitoid the meme is, it will probably wipe out it's host, since there will always be refinements (heresies) and there will come a time when two are equal. Then the victory of Pyrrhus is all that is left to man... only unlike the long dead king, we shall already be undone.

Ever cheerfully

Grandpa Harley

freedy said...

I agree that churches thrive on the human need to belong.
That's precisely why they're so dangerous and incestuously cult like.

They grow like weeds and kill off all other forms of altruistic- social organizations.
There simply is no room,time or money left for alternative fellowships.

Anonymous said...

Freedy, thats a short post but with a lot of good stuff in it

I know a lot of Christians - very much the evangelical type whose entire lives revolve around their churches, a bit like the american mega-churches.

Every night of the week, they are out enjoying themselves, "involved" in their local church activities - absolutely no room for anything else in their christian ghetto.

And of course, ABSOLUTELY sure that they are SAVED...

Sad thing is, a lot of these people are mainstream middle class professionals who should know better.

The meme is strong....

Alan said...

Hi Andrew, good testimony. Dawkins' Blind Watchmaker ultimately kickstarted my disbelief, too. I realised at gut level how natural selection worked, and how incompatible it is with supernatural design. I once knew some Christians who said "God created us using natural selection as the mechanism" but once you've read Blind Watchmaker you realise what cock this is.

Dominic D said...

Dear Andrew,

Here are a few thoughts going in the same direction as yours.

THE IDEAL RELIGION

Why Do We Need God?

One might ask; why do we need God (or several gods)? This may seem arrogant but once again we are probing objectively every aspect of the subject.
Some might say that we need him to protect us, to which was ask, ‘against what’? To which some might answer, ‘to save us from ourselves and from our sin’ (but was there ever one?), and to ‘give us hope’ (But of what, an illusion?), etc.
The absence of God however brings us to an interesting paradox. If God does not exist, (let us stay with the singular of God to simplify the text), then there are no laws of God, if there are no laws, there can be no sin if we understand sin in the sense of a breach of the laws of God. Therefore we cannot say that we need God to pardon our sins because without him there are none.
In other words, there cannot be any sins unless God exists but if God exists that does not mean the sins exist. God can exist without there being a necessity for such a thing as sins. Unless we have proof that God has established ‘Laws, divine Laws’, to this purpose, there is no such thing as a divine sin. In fact there is no evidence, (admissible in court), to this affect because there are no veridical, undisputable or accurate scriptures.
Individuals and societies have long understood the need for laws. These laws vary as the societies vary. A breach of a law is commonly known as a ‘Crime’. These laws are laid down for the welfare of the individuals of the said society. Besides these laws, there are moral behaviors which each individual respects according to their upbringing and the degree of their moral conscience.
History has shown that divine laws, in the hypothesis that they do exist, have not changed the behavior of all men and therefore these laws are not sufficient, nor even efficient for the purpose of establishing justice here on Earth. They may be directed to the mind and the heart but not to the human society and the way it functions.
However morally desirable these divine laws may seem, they must be completed by more earthly ones elaborated by men and societies. The freedoms we enjoy today as compared to those our ancestors enjoyed (or the lack there of) are due to legal systems and penal systems, painstakingly put together by myriads of pioneers. The pillar of any democracy is its legal system and more specifically the integrity and independence of its legal system. Kings, Queens, Emperors, Despots, Tyrants and, yes, Institutionalized Religions offer no freedom, only servitude.
What better way to serve a god(s) than to persevere in the quest for equality, liberty, freedom and more specifically justice for all men regardless of any categorization whatsoever. If our quest for abiding to unsubstantiated rules of conduct, that are too often absolute, to please an unsubstantiated god overwhelms our quest for compassion and brotherly love, are we not doing the contrary of what any self respecting and truly loving god would demand?

A Heavenly Democracy

A troubling aspect of the almighty biblical God for example is the fact that he lets his only “begotten” son speak of him as a “king” and of a “kingdom” [Matthew 18:1 & 2][Matthew 16:19]. Surely an almighty god would have found a better way of describing himself and his “reign” or “government”, such as “a heavenly democracy” for example or “a haven for freedom and justice”.
Maybe our problems of society and religion, today, stem from the fact that we should all be living in a monarchy. Democracies are our downfall and shall be destroyed by this God’s wrath, for he is King and will not tolerate any voting in his government.
If we do not acclaim God as our King then we are revolutionaries and rebels. Let us abandon our social and political organizations and governments immediately and let God take charge of everything; that is the call of Christianity today for example. Let us acclaim God as our Lord and King and everything will go smoothly. No need to go to work anymore or till the soil, God will provide. No need for a President, a Congress, a government…God will prevail and provide. After all, are not kings and queens divine creatures and have always been according to the priests of their days? Our history is full of monarchies where it was “God’s will” that the monarch rein. It is as though this Biblical God always needed emissaries to “speak” to us of his will. Who today believes this kind of myth about monarchs? Yet, hundreds of generations have knelt before or died for or died by these self-proclaimed deities. When these Christian King-Gods went to war against each other, what god did they pray to? Can God go to war against himself?
We call them monarchies but they were for a large part, theocracies because behind each monarch was a politically powerful church. We see today the subversive power of the church to transform even democracies into theocracies. When the head of a democratic country is a “godly man” and the country is experiencing prosperity, some proclaim that the country as a whole is run by, or ‘blessed by’, God himself: a biased god.
There is no such thing as a perfect society or government and this applies to democracies as well. Though the ancient Greeks applied the concept of democracy to a whole country, their own, it was a far cry from what democracies are today or what they were as back in the 18th century. What is more, all modern democracies have tremendously evolved since their first inception. Those who claim that we would be better off returning to the ‘moral values’ of the founders of modern democracies better read more history books. They would bring us back to segregation, slavery, the abnegation of women’s right to vote and many other civil-rights issues.
A democracy’s ‘moral values’ for lack of better words, depend on the quality of its system of checks and balances, the independence of its judicial system and the will of the people to respect the rights of all men, created equal. It can only be secular because if it accepts a set of authoritative moral rules from any dogmatic religious institution, it automatically becomes biased and shuts out other concepts of morality.

The Ideal Religion is in You

It is obviously not because all of mankind will have converted and embraced one unique religion that Man will finally know peace and perhaps a simulacra of paradise on Earth. And it is obviously not because we will individually create our own personal religion that will succeed either. It is not by going from a monolithic God or church to a god or church “a la carte” but by finding a go between. To use a political similae, we need to find a mean term between Monarchy and Anarchy.
When a country is run by a person or persons that dictate how things should be done and to what degree, there is no longer democracy. What may exist then is a Monarchy, a Dictatorship, a Theocracy or one of many other types of imperialism or totalitarianisms. If many countries have done away or tried to do away with these totalitarian governments it’s because they know from history that they are all but equalitarian, and they negate individual freedom and individual rights.
Democracy is synonymous of freedom. Democracy is not all of freedom but the people in a democracy choose their laws and rules of society. Several different countries may have democracies but because of the culture of their people, these democracies can be very different in content and function. In all these countries however one major rule prevails; people vote for their leaders and their administrations. Through this process they hope for and often obtain some degree of freedom.
Two thousand years of Christianity have not been able to produce a people, a group of people nor a country capable of applying the simple precepts of a Man that so many take for the son of God. Communities of Monks are perhaps the only places where such an attempt was made. It is less clear however that they ever succeeded. His teachings are not opposed to democracy but they are dramatically opposed to materialism and capitalism (see his parable of the rich man and the needle). Isn’t it ironic?
If God is a god of Justice, surely He is also a God of liberty and freedom. In a Freudian style let us just say, “Where justice is, let freedom be”. Why then does religion lock our relationship with God in such a tight straightjacket of rites, liturgy and mannerisms? Jesus for example was outraged at the way the Priesthood of his time catered to the rich and locked out the poor and dictated who would have access to God (in the Temple) and who wouldn’t.
The ideal religion consequently is one in which moral principles would be taught but where each member would be free to worship when, where, how, and how often he or she wishes. The religion would not teach what god looks like or where he is but would leave god as a mystery to be discovered by each and every one in his or her own time and manner. God would no longer be presented as a punisher of sins but simply as a teacher of right and wrong and someone who understands our plight. Just like a loving parent, He would judge our deeds but forgive our trespasses. If we were to trespass too seriously against him, He and He alone would arrange for us to be punished. If our trespass was against our peers, He would leave it to our peers to punish us here on Earth according to earthly laws.
Millions of members of present day religions really don’t need an institutionalized religion. These people at the very foundation of these religions have already more than what is necessary for happiness. They don’t need a religious institution because they already have in their hearts that which is necessary to be both happy and godly.
They believe that there is good in the heart of Man. They know and practice humility, compassion, justice and kindness. They seek rewards in the hearts and eyes of those they help. They know that kindness begets kindness. They seek earthly rewards of brotherly love and not rewards based upon the positions they may hold or the successes they may have in business. Mother Teresa would have been mother Teresa what ever the religion she would have chosen because it was in her heart to be generous and compassionate.

Truly Yours,

Dominic D

Anonymous said...

Good Luck.

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