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For the Adoration of Atheism

Or: I was an Altar Boy once.

“I was an altar boy once!” I have a habit of dropping that statement into any conversation about religious beliefs that I am involved with. Of course, it is just a distraction, a sort of “blind-alley” comment that steers the talk down a different path, a (as that “smear of excrement” that was once our LNP, Prime Minister a few years ago called ); ” … bbq stopper”.

And I have done it again here, stealing the conversation away from “belief” to religion! Of course, belief and believing has nothing at all to do with religion. I sometimes would follow up on my above comment with; ”The Catholic Church is not a ‘religion’, but an institution!” … One does not need books, tracts and pamphlets to believe, one only needs to wake and feel the weather on one’s skin. One does not need images and icons. One only needs imagination. Does a child need to be taught fantasy, imagery, imagination? … No, but there are those who strongly, fiercely believe a child needs to be taught to believe in the unbelievable!

And I will state my opinion categorically, here and now, backed by every notion of accepted measure of sanity that ALL religion is a human construct … ALL a human invention … there is no supreme being, no omnipotent God … those descriptions alone betray a need, a hunger for an authority to command. “Human, all too human”. And I and any rational human being who has above capacity and dexterity to peel a boiled egg knows it and believes it … even if they do not practice it. If there is one bit of “wisdom” learned early, used universally and passed down with signaled dexterity through the eons of time, it is that the general MOB of humanity is best controlled and corralled with the dispersion and corruption of religo-politico adoration.

But hey … seriously … you’d have to be a mug …

I recall when my own children came to the age of schooling and we were shopping around for what we considered the “best” school system for them. One such system, The Steiner System, seemed to offer a new approach, a gentler curriculum. I never liked the idea of forcing a child to “grow up” before they are ready. I was not ready for primary school at exactly the age of five. So we attended a talk on the subject. The lady who gave the talk was very sensitive, very convincing with references to the gentle awakening of the child’s sensibilities and the action of guiding them through and down paths of least disturbance of their childhood years … opening one door and closing another as they made their way through the labyrinth of awakening to the world … very gently explained, as if in a sort of trance … that and the fact that she grew up just down the road from where I grew up gave substance to the yarn (her brother was forever stealing our grapes as he came home from school).

We took it … it worked out well for the primary years. Good result … ”I believe”. But! … Now, when I reflect on that talk, our perceptions, the lady’s demeanour, OUR DEMEANOUR … our ambition, the lady’s ambition. I wonder; was it really about the children, or about ourselves as adults? As I said above, a child doesn’t NEED belief, it has it in spades … but we adults presume the child REQUIRES indoctrination TOWARD a belief! … And that’s where the quip;”I was an altar boy once” comes in … after all, who, with a rational mind, would freely volunteer for such a position?

The sad thing is that “belief and believing” is an adult concept that masks a deep insecurity within the human condition. So we strengthen ourselves with delusions of many and varied forms … call them “Beliefs”, call them “Religion” … after all, is it not the most craven individuals that arm themselves most aggressively? So we have institutions even in this day and age utilising schools to “groom” the children with their variation of “spiritual corruption”.

But I would promote the idea of a “worship” of atheism. Not substituting Godhead or Gaia or even rough “Mother Nature”, let them alone … they will float along without our assistance. I would emphasise the belief in casual observance of the world around oneself. Step out on a morning and feel the wash of sunrise pour its ambrosia over the body like a soothing balm … or stand transfixed at the noon of the day and hark to the frenzied activity of life at full throttle … then again sit or lay comfortably in the velvet cloak of evening and let slip from your grip those worries and concerns accumulated throughout the working day, let them fall into the miasma of shadows of the coming night. For night is the metaphor of life’s ending … and finally let morphia’d sleep cleanse the mind and wash with dreams away this impertinence of temporal existence.

Atheism is neither a “belief”, nor a “way of life”. I see it more as a shedding of clumsy armour, the relaxing of futile defence against a non-existing fear. For if there has ever been a power more condemning, more controlling and exacting of behaviour so that even natural human activity can draw cruel conviction, it is religious/canon law. There are ample and sensible civil laws legislated by sanity, put in place by unanimous consent and obeyed by the majority that do not require ecclesiastical condescension. So if we have laws to guide us, common sense to inform us and a wide world of wonder to both awe and amuse us, why waste time and temper on another useless chore like bowing and scraping to false Gods?

You know, whenever I see those photographs of the Earth taken from outer-space and they show this cool, beautiful, green/blue/sometimes cloudy orb suspended serenely in the silence of space … it revitalises a belief within me that we are duty-bound and committed to extend ourselves to maintain and revitalise this luscious but lonely garden of delight! We can do no worse thing with indoctrinated discourse, than to deliberately lead the child (and the “child” within ourselves) from a world of innocent wonder, a world of curious discovery to a mendaciously manufactured shadow world of adult doubt and insecurity … through a prism distorted … through a glass, darkly …


81 comments

  1. Kronomex

    https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/atheism

    That is plainly and simply what atheism is to me and until religion, christian or otherwise, can prove empirically (and peer reviewed of course) that there is a mysterious omniscient spook living in the sky who controls EVERYTHING they know where they can get off. Others can believe but when they try and shove their beliefs down my throat…

    The only heaven and hell I know of is what you make of your life here on earth. The rest is fantasy.

  2. diannaart

    Joe,

    “But I would promote the idea of a “worship” of atheism…”

    The religionistas will jump on that like fleas on a puppy. They love to carry on that non-belief is a religion…

    … you do proceed to say:

    “Atheism is neither a “belief”, nor a “way of life”. I see it more as a shedding of clumsy armour, the relaxing of futile defence against a non-existing fear. “

    I call atheism simply an indication of maturity, it is no accident that more scientists or philosophers are atheists than, say, politicians – the ability to reason surely plays a part. 😛

    Although, I would posit politicians, like salespeople, are more about persuasion than holding heart-felt belief. Hallelujah.

  3. Joseph Carli

    diannaart..you will notice I do place the word; “worship” in inverted commas!

  4. diannaart

    Joe

    Of course I noticed. Hence my further comments…but… the religious would not notice or if they did would continue use that phrase as “proof” that not believing in a god is a religion.

    You do understand I am atheist, an atheist who likes to play “devil’s advocate”.

    🙂

  5. Joseph Carli

    Yes. I did notice that you noticed..but I wanted anyone of religious persuasion to notice that I make note of that notice…

  6. John Kelly

    I too, like to play devil’s advocate with my god-believing Facebook “friends.” They cannot tolerate the idea that Atheism is not a religion, always asking me to explain my belief system and demanding I prove God does not exist. They can’t accept that I don’t need one. That is their Achilles heal. And they promise to pray for me that one day I will open my heart to receive the living God. My heart and mind has always been open to receive rational explanations of everything. Sadly, theirs’ isn’t.

  7. diannaart

    Got it…

  8. Florence nee Fedup

    I see a atheism as a belief that no gods exist. What’s more I see no need for a god of anytype.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Peeling a boiled egg ain’t always that easy…sometimes the shell comes off in one go…others it comes off a tiny piece at a time, sometimes taking the good parts with it.

    I was voluntarily involved with Sunday School, Christian fellowship and bible studies as I was growing up. I don’t feel scarred by it in any way. I enjoyed it.

    My real problem is with worship with or without punctuation.

    It really just hit me one day in church as we were chanting responses. The more I thought about the costumes (including you altar boys in red slippers), the incense, the bowing to statues, the vast wealth accumulated by an organisation that was built on the idea of protecting the vulnerable and the poor, the more it seemed just silly. The last straw was when they refused to baptise my children by “welcoming them to the house of the Lord” – I was required to give them up to the Catholics or the Anglicans.

    Church communities are full of wonderful people who truly care about others and who quietly lend support to those who need it. If they stopped the stupid worship crap and their intolerance of people who think/live differently, I would happily be a part of a community that tried to help others. Forget the judgement, forget the fear. Don’t look to god for help through difficult times, offer it to each other.

  10. Joseph Carli

    John Kelly.. “…demanding I prove God does not exist. ” …of course, the futility of such an enterprise lays in their presumption that A GOD was in existence in the first place!..

  11. guest

    Joseph, you have some poetry here, but I am not convinced that you do not have your own Romantic dreamings which are themselves an escape from reality. You quote from 1 Corinthians 13 about seeing ‘through a glass darkly’ because we are led astray by religious dogma, but at least there remain ‘faith, hope and charity…but the greatest of these is charity’ (= love?) often quoted in Christian wedding ceremonies.

    So what do you believe? ‘When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.’ And what have you picked up as an adult? You say: ‘One does not need books, tracts and pamphlets to believe, one only needs to wake and feel the weather on one’s skin.’ Some kind of hedonistic self indulgence?

    Yet you have written your own tract here.

    It reminds me of “Macbeth” (another tract), where Lady Macbeth tells her son his father is dead. And she asks him what he will do now, how will he live? The boy replies: ‘As birds do, mother.’ It is a terrible innocence – such as an altar boy might have.

    So we are to ‘feel the wash of sunrise pour its ambrosia over the body like a soothing balm…let worries and concerns…fall into the miasma of shadows of the coming night…let morphia’s sleep cleanse the mind and wash with dreams away this impertinence of temporal existence.’

    Joseph, it sounds too much like an opium addict’s escape into oblivion. The word ‘impertinence’ – intrusive, out of place, absurd, insolent – is a give-away if it describes human life.

    But you also say that you look at the world and believe ‘… we are duty-bound and committed to extend ourselves to maintain and revitalise this luscious but lonely garden of delight.’ Or is it a vale of tears?

    Ay, there is the rub. Can we ‘maintain and revitalise’ while lost in a haze of self-indulgence? What to do?

    Now I sympathise with your rejection of religion, but another human construct is politics – with or without religion. And that is where we meet the real bete noire, accompanied by its consort, economics. A couple of destructive monsters with their own tracts and pamphlets.

    We have some work to do, Joseph. Mere dreaming will not do it. As Naomi Klein says: “No is not enough.”

  12. Joseph Carli

    Yes..well, guest..we are all products of our nurturing. I cannot escape those triggers set within my psyche that shoot presumptive themes and memes into my vocabulary..much as my vocabulary is severely limited by my education..and now I have run out of time to re-educate myself to what I would dearly like to make clearer.
    Sufficient to say that in my older years I have come to be more aware of how certain politics and directions are manipulated onto a populace neither historically well-read, nor contemporaneously well-informed. But you know..in this world of massive excess and of throw-away consumerism both material and existential…experience has shown me again and again that sometimes the quickest way to a solution of SOME problems is to do nothing at all !….Now THAT has a ring to it of naive and childish, but if one was to reflect and extrapolate that ideal to say that: “sometimes it would be better if we did nothing at all…SAVE look to the care of ourselves, our loved ones and neighbours and the Earth around us”…ie; place a pause on the frenetic pace of life for a week or a month a year…then surely some good would come of such an action.
    But of course….as if!

    Portrait pictures, side by side,
    many years between,
    Time and tide.
    Her lips not now so soft,
    Eyes not so wide.
    So much ebb between time and tide.

    What has one gained
    When a tally done?
    Are pelf and possessions
    Worthy of time gone?
    If a smile is lost
    And bright eyes grow dun.

    I once loved a girl,
    (We both were young).
    Eyes so sweet, bodies so strong.
    Cruel time has left a memory,
    But the girl I loved is yesterd’y.

    So I am now clasped in a hold,
    I cannot stay young,
    Dare not grow old.
    But cannot stop feeling
    What my heart will be told.

    Was life,
    And all its promises,
    But a Judas kiss !

  13. Zathras

    Atheism is a religion in the same way that baldness is a hair colour or that not-collecting stamps is a hobby.

    It’s also a logical fallacy that you can prove the non-existence of something for which no real evidence exists.
    It’s like the belief that a perfectly formed teacup is in orbit around the earth, on the other side of the sun and directly opposite the earth.
    If I believe it to be so, how can you prove it doesn’t exist?

  14. Joseph Carli

    Zathras..: ” If I believe it to be so, how can you prove it doesn’t exist?”…Now THAT has to be what is now accepted and known as ; “The Malcolm Roberts Conundrum”.

  15. Miriam English

    Religion is fragile insecurity masquerading as certainty. That’s what amazes me most. When Islamists become enraged and bully those who dare criticise their silly religion… when Christian fundamentalists trample the freedom of others, while whining at the possibility of their own hate being restricted… when Buddhists talk of peace and nirvana yet place land mines in the way of fleeing Rohingyas… you see how broken all these religions are.

    Atheism is a freeing of the mind. A release from the cage. And those who are still trapped in the mental prisons scream and shriek that we should return to the security of confinement; that we’re wrong and immoral for letting our minds be free. Poor sick bastards.

  16. diannaart

    Thank you Miriam.

    Atheism frees us to ponder the universe or a drop of water without ascribing a paternalistic explanation.

  17. Miriam English

    Zathras, actually you can use religion to disprove itself. All religions provide ample evidence that they’re fake. And it’s easy to prove any religion’s god doesn’t exist.

    How can an infinitely just and compassionate god torture people forever for not believing in his existence on the basis of deeply flawed scriptures? It would be immoral and unjust to torture people for one minute for such a thing… how much more immoral to do so forever?

    Is god all-knowing? How could he be surprised or disappointed that humans sinned? If he knows what we will do then we don’t have freedom of choice and are mere puppets, so unaccountable for any “sin” — any sin would therefore have been directly created by the all-knowing god. If we have free will and he doesn’t know what we’ll do then he is not all-knowing.

    Is god omnipotent? Can he make something that is indestructible, even by him? If he can then he’s not omnipotent, and if he can’t then he’s not omnipotent.

    If he’s not compassionate, just, all-knowing, and omnipotent then why for goodness’ sake call him god and bow to him?

  18. mick loughlin.

    I don’t believe for one minute that the Pope and the rest of the church heirachy believe in god, same with these other scammers running the Islam gig.

  19. Joseph Carli

    Logic and reason seem to have no effect on those who peddle their tragic faiths..BUT..I do believe poetry could be the key that opens the cloistered church door.

    Would I deem the Biblical origin,
    Of what God made as original sin?
    Much healthier I would avower,
    To study the construct of a flower..
    And ponder its beauty for an idle hour.

  20. kerri

    Atheism is truth. Atheism is normality. Atheism is fact. Atheism is reality. Atheism is nature.
    Anything outside of that is a deception created by others to benefit themselves.
    Why religion is still allowed to dictate to society is beyond me?
    It is long overdue that we expunge all religion from political and societal functions.

  21. diannaart

    The one “miracle” for which I have yet to hear claims

    Amputees’ limbs magically reappear.

  22. Joseph Carli

    I am going to put myself out on a limb here with this religious stuff…Below is a short story I wrote some time ago..It tells the story of a nun caught stealing trashy romance novels in a little country town…It , sadly is based on a true story told me by a nun who knew the circumstances of the “event”..
    https://freefall852.wordpress.com/2016/06/26/the-last-lingering-kiss/
    Have a go if you got time…if you want.

  23. stephengb2014

    I used to have something called belief, but I realised after a time that I didnt really believe I just wanted too to fit in with my new found friends.

    Currently I say clearly that I am an athiest, – I like this line from above.

    “I call atheism simply an indication of maturity, it is no accident that more scientists or philosophers are atheists than, say, politicians – the ability to reason surely plays a part.”

    Currently some of my acquaintances want to condemn me for singing in a choir, those choral master pieces, by the masters of classical music. It is pointed out to me that these wonderfull works were obviously inspired by God, and for me to sing them makes me a hypocrite, and an insult to God.

    Well NO, I sing them for their beauty of composition, the extraordinary sounds that were created by these composer’s is a priviledge for me.

    But most of all I believe they were no more inspired by God than the need to earn an income, doing what they undoubtedly loved to do, and getting paid for their love.

    S G B

  24. diannaart

    You’re very welcome to quote me, stephenb2014…

  25. Miriam English

    heheheh diannaart, yes. It’s very telling that all the miracle claims and answers to prayers always look exactly like chance. When you have something clear and unequivocal, such as regrowing an amputated limb, the all-powerful god seems never able to manage it.

    That’s also true of god’s plan for the world. As the wonderful Eddie Izzard says,

  26. LOVO

    “Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!

    But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money!” 
    ― George Carlin

  27. pierre wilkinson

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.

    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.

    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?

    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?
    — Epicurus, philosopher (c. 341-270 BCE)

  28. Roswell

    It’s the darndest thing, LOVO. Someone creates a god, makes him invisible, puts him in the sky … and billions of people are inspired by him.

    It is a him, isn’t it?

  29. Joseph Carli

    But this swindle b y the 3 big ones has been going on for around 2000 years!…2000 effing bloody years!..Keerist!..How dumb must humankind be?

  30. LOVO

    Roswell, God is black…….and she doesn’t care who knows it. ?
    My earliest memory of Sunday School (Methodist) was when at age 4, after being told “God made everything”….I asked “Who made God”… and was put in the corner for being so stupid…. I have never believed since ?

  31. @RosemaryJ36

    Joseph: I am a lot older than you, grew up in the UK (where the RC church was in the background -Guy Fawkes and all that – very suss) in a Presbyterian branch of Christianity, studied the scriptures at a C of E secondary school and was even a Sunday School teacher in my teens. With the monarch as the titular head of the C of E, at that time it was assumed that everyone was Christian.
    Morality and sex started me questioning my ‘faith’ and the utter hypocrisy of so many who called themselves Christian led me to lose that faith – if it ever really existed.
    There are so many questions to which I am unlikely to find answers in my lifetime that I remain an agnostic rather than an atheist.
    Just maybe there is some overall guiding hand but I am not going to let the issue dominate my life.
    I do believe that there was a person whom we call Jesus Christ and I also believe he left us with an excellent ethical system to live by.
    I wish more people agreed.

  32. LOVO

    Jesus was just a failed politician.. 🙂 ….mayhap that is why he appeals to the mad monk 😛

  33. Jaquix

    Thoroughly enjoyed this article. Wevarecsll born “atheists”, but parents pass on what was passed on to them. Always as maxed when someone saved from disaster which killed many others, the times they say Thank God. So God allowed the others to die!? Just don’t get that. Watching YouTube videos of Christopher Hitchens always enjoyable.

  34. Miriam English

    Joseph, there is a slight distinction to be made. Yes, religion is incredibly stupid. It’s astonishing that anyone falls for the insanity of it. But the people who do swallow it aren’t necessarily stupid. There are some very smart people who are religious.

    Religion is an especially pernicious form of brainwashing because one of the rules it survives by is that to question it is forbidden. This neatly stops even smart people from disarming it.

    The best way to undo the brainwashing, I think, is to get its victims to actually read their holy books. There comes a point, if you force yourself to face it, that it just becomes impossible to reconcile with itself. The best way to keep religious people brainwashed is to make sure they only get their religion from a priest or imam.

    Religion is really fragile. It doesn’t stand up to good sense or even close examination, and certainly has great difficulty with criticism. This is why extremely religious people become so angry about it. It’s precisely because it’s so fragile. The only way it can survive is through protective mechanisms that prevent people, no matter how smart, from scrutinising it.

    Everybody has had the experience of trying to discuss religion with a religious person and seeing how amazingly effective the meme’s self-protective features are. Many things are invisible to them; their attention skitters to the side any time you attempt to focus them on certain aspects of their religion. For something so illogical and absurd, it really is remarkable. I’d almost admire it if it wasn’t so destructive.

  35. Miriam English

    LOVO, sorry to disagree, but if Jesus really existed, I think he would have got his following precisely because he wasn’t a politician. At that time there were apparently a lot of rebellious young men trying to get the locals to rise up against the Roman colonial rulers — a pointless and dangerous cause. Unlike the rest, the guy in the Bible talked about pacifism and turning the other cheek. Like Gandhi, that may have fired people’s imagination.

    But there’s actually pretty-much zero evidence that there was a real Jesus. The Romans, who were obsessive record-keepers, have no documentation of him at all. The one thing Christian historians latch onto — a single sentence in the writings of the educated Jewish slave, Josephus — has long been shown to be a forgery. Of all Jesus’ followers, his miracles, the world-shaking events…? Nothing. Not very plausible.

    The myth repeatedly occurs hundreds of years earlier of extremely similar prophets, always born of a virgin, who taught 12 disciples, walked on water, raised a guy with a name similar to “Lazarus” from the dead, performed various other miracles, was killed by the authorities and a few days later rose from the dead.

    My bet? There was some poor pacifist Jew who was killed by the church during the Roman occupation and the myth recrystallised around him one last time.

  36. Joseph Carli

    Miriam E’..: “The Romans, who were obsessive record-keepers, have no documentation of him at all. The one thing Christian historians latch onto — a single sentence in the writings of the educated Jewish slave, Josephus — has long been shown to be a forgery. ”
    Ah!..exactly right..I see you have studied your Roman History.

  37. kerri

    @RosemaryJ36
    The reason for the church of England and the British monarch being head of the church of England, harks back to Henry the eighth. Henry wanted to divorce his first wife Catherine of Aragon, a devout Spanish Catholic. The Pope would not grant him a divorce and so Henry created his own church and named himself as Pope (in essence) . Ever noticed the huge similarities between CofE and Catholicism? This alone should make clear the farce that is religion!

    Miriam English the whole premise of religion is to believe the unbelieveable and not to question why.
    For the human mind to accept this is akin to George Orwell’s doublethink.
    For a mind to accept such nonsense involves a fair bit of self delusion. (Eg; Abbott)
    A bit like priests who believe god wants them to rape little children?
    Why are organised religions more acceptable than cults?? Their premise of an invisible being ie equally ludicrous.
    But spot on with the “Jesus” legend!

  38. Robert REYNOLDS

    It is interesting! I have read Joe’s essay and most of the posts that follow it. I agree wholeheartedly wth virtually everything that I read, both in the essay and in the comments; yet I came very close to being blocked from this site some months ago because of certain critical comments that I made in relation to a religion. Curious!

  39. Jack Russell

    What has always been clear to me is that religion is a tool kit for predators.

  40. jim

    A person said to me “I have nothing against god so long as he doesn’t have anything against me”
    Well I have something against god and that is he has caused a lot of death and pain and also that “he” god has held the human race back by hundreds of years and therefore untoll hardships by this I mean in the sciences we’ve had to stop any prying into using evil steam engines. Galileo and no doudt many others were jailed, locked up as their ideas that where allegelly scaring the church elders. hongy dongy. And then there’s the killing of witches for hundreds of years and then there’s the recent abuse on children entrusted to them religion it’s got to go imho.
    When i die I go to the spirit in the sky.

  41. economicreform

    There is currently a theory which states that our universe behaves like a simulation. That is, a virtual world constructed as an immense program played out using an immense computer. The theory allows that the evolution of celestial bodies and of living organisms can occur according to rules that have been inserted into the universal program.

    Lines of evidence are provided by phenomena predicted by science’s strangest theory – quantum mechanics, and now established empirically. One of these is the phenomenon of quantum entanglement, which has to do with the simultaneous transmission of information over immense distances. Simultaneous meaning far faster than the speed of light. “Spooky action at a distance”, as a skeptical Albert Einstein once referred to it.

    If there is any truth in this theory, then it would seem appropriate to enquire about the nature and identity of the universal programmer, would it not?

  42. diannaart

    Every time science advances, which basically means more is understood leading to more questions such as quantum physics, every time someone proclaims maybe it was “god that dun it”.

    Maybe we will fully understand quantum physics at a future time – sure doesn’t mean we should continue wasting time on ancient mythology.

  43. Wayne

    Interesting article. I especially love the phrase “smear of excrement”. For some reason, it sounds worse than “piece of shit”. I was an altar boy once. C of E. I became an atheist at university. I married an Irishwoman. The eldest daughter did the Confirmation/Communion schtick. When our middle child was around six I picked her up from Sunday school. She said to me: “Daddy, I don’t want to got to Sunday School any more, because all they do is talk about god and it’s boring”. So that was the end of her religious indoctrination, and the youngest child never went. All three are agnostic. Religion was never discussed in our house. I read Miriam English’s letter and your response. Not sure about the church killing a pacifist Jew, as it wasn’t until Constantine converted around 325 AD that its influence increased. I recently I read an article that said that the Romans constructed Jesus to keep the pesky Jews from rebelling, but I can’t remember who wrote it. I might plagiarise a few of your sentences. Thanks.

  44. Wayne

    Just listening to Radio National. Check out a book called “Daughter of Gloriavale: My Life in a Religious Cult” by Lilia Tarawa, about an Australian who started a cult in NZ.

  45. helvityni

    Wayne, nice post 🙂 Very similar to my story, Sunday school killed the religion for me too, I was even younger than your middle daughter, I told mum the teacher is not nice and she lies…

    Husband , who is ex-Catholic, still has his quilt feelings on automatic…Lucky for me we did not have schools based on religion…
    My dad was a half-hearted Lutheran, mum still believed, you were allays supposed to tell the truth; I still find it hard to lie….

  46. Wayne

    LOVO Who made “god”? Why humans of course.

  47. Wayne

    Thanks helvitnyi. I’m not sure about my wife. I think she still has some belief, but never goes to church. My mum is 87 and pretty much an atheist. She says it’s BS and all about control. My dad is 89 and still believes, I cynically think mainly because he is worried about his own mortality.

  48. Zathras

    The real difference between science and religion –
    If all knowledge of both disappeared tomorrow, replacement religions would eventually arise but be fundamentally different from the ones we have today.
    However as for science, we would eventually arrive back at the same place because one is based on fact and the other is based on fear.

    It’s the fear of the unknown and the fear of death in particular that gives rise to religion and as knowledge grows, religion seems to shrink.
    For example, now that we know what causes thunder, Thor seemed to fade further into the background. One by one the old ideas fall away.

    Most people get their religion from Hollywood or Sunday School and have no real knowledge of the truth of and behind their own religions.

    The only things that religion provides is a sense of community and a manufactured degree of consolation for those mourn, but these come at a terrible price for civilisation as a whole.

    For those with a sense of humour and not easily offended, I suggest the Podcasts “The Scathing Atheist” or “God Awful Movies” as an entertaining way to put things into perspective.

  49. townsvilleblog

    This God hoax has gone on for far too long. Unscrupulous people set up cults like the USAs assembly of God cult and live the life of Reilly not paying any tax on their incomes, owning businesses and again not paying any tax on the incomes of these businesses and the gullible Sunday morning christian pays 10% of their income to belong, and in the case of Churches any money collected is also tax free, it’s the greatest racket going, it even surpasses business which claim every thing they use as a taxation deduction, their petrol, where they stay on trips the lot.

    It’s about time the apathetic Aussie got very angry, as the Australian workforce are the only ones paying a fair share of tax, while the others, including foreign corporations pay somewhere between naught and five percent on their massive incomes.

  50. Roswell

    This has got me beat …

    This God allegedly hears what you say. He hears your prayers. He watches over you. He knows what you’re doing, even if you aren’t a Christian.

    Now how many people are there in the world? Seven billion?

    And how many words do those seven billion speak a day?

    One God allegedly hears all those words.

    Commmne oonnnn. Pull the other one.

  51. Miriam English

    economicreform, you have your information a little mixed up. Yes, it has been suggested that the universe (or our local part) is a simulation in some big computer, but it isn’t a theory. It’s just an idea. So far nobody has been able to come up with anything that might give some tiny bit of evidence for it. There is no evidence for it at all. It’s just a cool idea. It doesn’t need deep time or even vast distances to be simulated, just very recent time and local space are enough.

    Quantum mechanics and quantum entanglement have absolutely nothing to do with it. And quantum entanglement doesn’t actually transmit anything, and still nothing travels faster than the speed of light.

    As I said, there is no evidence, so it’s not even worthy of being called a hypothesis, let alone a theory.

    A universal programmer? A programmer of our simulation? If some evidence is found that makes it a possibility, then yes, it would be interesting. You’re thinking that would be a god, right? You might like to read my short play Grace which discusses exactly this possibility.

  52. Miriam English

    Wayne, in the Bible it says that the local church hassled the Romans to have Jesus executed. The local governor, Pontius Pilate didn’t like the idea. He let them do so, but washed his hands of the whole thing. It’s always amazed me that so many Christians think that the Romans killed him. It was the church. The Romans were just being used.

  53. Miriam English

    economicreform, there was the implication in your post too, that we should bow to and praise any such master programmer. I’ve heard a lot of religious people suggest this too about any god and it’s always puzzled me.

    If I imagine myself in the place of a god then the very last thing I’d need is the people in the world I’d created bowing and scraping before me. I’m simply not that needy.

    It’s always seemed to me that religion, in suggesting that their god has an absolutely pathological need to be praised are being incredibly insulting to their deity.

    I’d want any beings I’d created to just go about their lives being good to each other. I wouldn’t give a rat’s arse whether they knew about me or prayed to me or what.

    Maybe I’d help them out at times, but that wouldn’t be conditional upon whether they bowed to me — it would be small-minded and petty to make any help dependent upon subservience. And there’s absolutely no way I’d threaten them with an eternity of torture if they weren’t slavishly obedient to me. That would be insane. I’m not a monster.

  54. Joseph Carli

    Miriam E’..” That would be insane. I’m not a monster.”…and obviously also not God material either!..
    BTW..I read most of your proffered play (above link : “Grace”)..I liked the easy-going flow of thew dialogue, and while I could follow the story-line and its direction and moral tale, I am out of my depth with the twists and turns of the tech-talk…I am now too old to even keep up with the tech-side of this site!..good on you though..love the art!

  55. corvus boreus

    The ‘ programmed simulation’ postulation seems to be variant on the holographic universe idea, with the shakiness of conventional physics at quantum levels explained as limits of illusion or ‘glitches’.
    Both, as philosophical concepts, leave openings for theological.considerations, the possible element of the ‘illusionist/s’ or ‘programmer/s (ie god/s)’. In such a scenario, by the available evidence,I would tend towards believing in design by committee
    Interesting enough ideas for lunchroom discussion between astro and quantum physicists (or post-rave dribbling by half-baked uni students), but not really much help in guiding our decisions and actions as complex biological organisms existing upon/within a planetary ecosystem (ie matter that matters doing matters that matter).

  56. diannaart

    Just because quantum physics appears to be defy our current understanding of physical laws, that does not mean “insert some kind of advanced beings or tech here”.

    Even if there is/are ultimate programmer(s), so what? Do we start building more churches? Would these programmers even want us to do so – as Miriam has suggested what kind of beings require the flouncing worshipful rituals of, say, the Catholic Church?

    The best we can do, is continue to do our best, which is learning about the universe around us, learning to get along with each other and living sustainably on this planet – because if we cock-up this planet, we have no moral right to colonise ourselves on other planets. Of course, the world’s developers are already contemplating making money (power) out of asteroids , the Moon and Mars.

    As for interventionist, vengeful gods… I think we may well be doomed, if there exist the monsters described in the Abrahamic texts.

  57. economicreform

    It appears that I have stirred up a hornet’s nest with the simulation idea. Yes it is an idea Miriam, however there are several well-known scientists and philosophers who have been giving it serious consideration and think the idea has some merit. I did not say that I believe it by the way — and just introduced it for consideration. You can find plenty of discussion about this topic on the web, much of it recorded on youtube videos. Including the issue of quantum entanglement in this context. Simultaneous transmission of information over large distances is a characteristic of a simulation. By the way Miriam, several things travel faster than light (not material particles – that speed prohibition still conforms to relativity theory), including phase waves and some geometrical entities.. It’s just that up to now there has been a consensus belief that information cannot travel faster than light, and quantum entanglement seems to be at variance with that.

  58. Miriam English

    economicreform, “a hornet’s nest” is overstating it a bit. It is an idea that has (rightly) generated interest. As you say, there are a few scientists who are seriously trying find something that might hint at such a thing perhaps being real. So far, they’ve had no luck.

    The idea turns up in a lot of literature. The Matrix is perhaps the most famous. I believe Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night uses that theme too (though without computers of course). I’ve read a number of Shakespeare’s plays, but despite trying a few times to read “Twelfth Night”, I’ve been unable to make my way through more than the first several pages of that one. One of my favorites is “Lilith’s Dream” written by Whitley Strieber in 2002.

    Quantum entanglement doesn’t involve transmission of information.

    Entanglement works like this:
    Alice ties together several pairs of envelopes. Inside each pair of envelopes are cards of the same color — two diamonds in one pair, two spades in another pair, two clubs in another pair, and so on. The envelopes are closed so nobody can see what cards are inside, and Alice mixes all the pairs up. Enter now, Bob and Carol. Alice reaches in and randomly takes out a pair of envelopes, still tied together. She snips the string and hands one envelope to Bob and the other to Carol, who now leave the building, jump into cars and speed away in opposite directions. An hour later when they’re many kilometers away, Bob and Carol phone Alice and at precisely the same time open their envelopes. Alice is amazed to hear that both cards are the same color. She exclaims in surprise, “The cards must have communicated the information to each other, because before the envelopes were opened either one could have been red or black. I had no way of knowing. But opening one miraculously forces the other to be the same color.”

  59. Miriam English

    Joseph Carli, thank you.

    How old could you be? I’m 64. You’re not much older than I am, surely.
    Old hippies are some of the most tech-savvy people on the planet.

  60. Joseph Carli

    Miriam.. Yes, I am only a few years older than you..but it is more of a case of how much I want to absorb. Like medical jargon and psychobabble, it may be relevant and needed but I will leave it to those who can absorb it…every time I hear or read tech-jargon, my brain (the little I have left) puts up a kind of “beta-block” against it seeping in..after all, I look upon memory-at my advancing age- as a kind of stacked shelf…you put another object there and you have to take one away to make space…I would say I was more “people-savvy” than anything else.

    I am a collector of souls ,
    I hear people talk ; I ken,
    I see what they write,
    And I collate,
    I am the watcher on the rim of a far horizon.

  61. helvityni

    Joseph Carli, that’s a good way to be, watching, observing, feeling,… imagining, being creative…

  62. Michael Taylor

    economicreform, being a listener of science podcasts I too have heard that idea discussed, however it’s not the most bizarre one I’ve heard. One that’s been going around for quite a while now is that each cell in our body is also a ‘solar sytem’, as is our own solar system a cell in one very large being.

    They both do my head in just thinking about them. Though I do find either of them more plausible than an invisible god.

    But until something better comes up, I’m going with the Big Bang theory.

  63. Michael Taylor

    Miriam.. Yes, I am only a few years older than you.

    Fake news! ?

  64. Miriam English

    Joseph Carli, as helvityni said, that’s a good way to be (the person-orientation, not the resistance to tech information). I sometimes wonder if I might be a tad too tech-obsessed. Perhaps asperger’s may play a role. My most recent writings have attempted to focus more on people rather than technology. It’s quite difficult. It surprised me that you found “Grace” too techy; I’d thought it had very little technology in it… I’ll have to re-read it with a virtual editor’s pencil in hand. I appreciate the feedback.

  65. Miriam English

    Michael Taylor, each cell a solar system? I’ve never heard of that one. Sure you’re not confusing with the idea of each atom as a solar system?

  66. Miriam English

    I like seeing us as massive colonies of approximately 37 trillion animals — each cell is an animal.
    Years ago I drew a cartoon about it:

    This becomes particularly amazing when you consider our brains that give us our awareness comprise 86 billion brain cells reaching out to their neighbors and stimulating them according to simple rules.

  67. diannaart

    Good thing our cells manage communication and collaboration better than we individual humans – imagine if the cells that make up the heart held to a petty argument.

    Love the cartoon BTW

  68. Joseph Carli

    Miriam..From “Grace”..;
    ” Zoe: [smiles] I was evolving lifeforms inside computers. [shrugs] No biggie… been done lots of times by heaps of people before. I created a fairly simple fractal virtual world and ran the clock at maximum speed so that it produced hundreds of generations a second. [leans forward] I wanted to evolve intelligence instead of designing it. It took a several months…

    Viv: You evolved an AI? “…

    Beta-block up!…. 🙂

    But I did press on and read the rest..and THAT was more of “my style of comprehension”..Do you write many plays and things?

  69. Michael Taylor

    My error, Miriam. You are correct.

    But my money’s still on the Big Bang.

    Don’t like the thought of my body containing trillions of universes. All that responsibility! Me, their god. (And I can assure you I don’t hear their daily prayers).

  70. Michael Taylor

    86 billion brain cells! Gosh, I’ll have to tell my autistic son that.

    When he was just nine years old he could easily grasp the concept of the Big Bang. He could easily explain it to you, if asked.

    When discussing the concept of ‘time’ with him (and I can assure you it isn’t easy discussing anything with an autistic nine year-old) I mentioned that I couldn’t grasp where time began, or whether it would ever end. His comment blew me away: “Have you ever considered that time can go backwards?”

    Wow!

    After talking about things large (the universe) I turned the talk to things small: cells. And what they were and how many we had in our body.

    Confident that he now fully understood everything there was to know about cells I asked him; “How many cells do you think there are in my brain?”

    He clearly had his head around the subject, because he answered … “Two”.

    As he was keeping a straight face, I think he believed the answer.

    We all know he was wrong. Don’t we? ?

  71. Miriam English

    diannaart, thanks. 🙂 Yes, that might be a heart attack. 🙂 But yes, you’re right. Our government could learn from the cells of our bodies and how they coordinate… but don’t tell them about auto-immune diseases.

    Joseph Carli 🙂 heheheh That’s not high tech…. oh… uh-oh… I might be in an alternate reality. Maybe everybody else does think that’s technologically complex. That’s a disturbing thought.

    Thank you for finishing the story anyway. I appreciate it. Yep, I’ve written a few other plays.
    A Loving Soul – I’m quite proud of this.
    Love Honour and Obey – I’ve had a mixed response from this one. I’m pretty happy with it too.
    The Killer – This one is an oddball story, quite different from what I normally do.

    (Incidentally, beta-blockers are a kind of drug that blocks so-called beta-adrenergic neurotransmitters/hormones, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline. It’s useful for stopping certain kinds of heart attacks and some migraines. Some anxiety-prone people benefit from them when going on stage to give a performance because beta-blockers impede the fight-or-flight response.)

  72. Miriam English

    Michael, I find the big bang a bit much to believe. I’m not saying it definitely didn’t happen, but I find it a little difficult to swallow.

    I prefer this: we’ve found that galaxies appear to accelerating away from each other. That would imply that they moved apart more slowly the further we go back in the past. Could it be that the universe has simply always been moving apart? That it never had a beginning? If you look at a hyperbolic curve, one arm of the curve always approaches, but never quite gets to a limit. I imagine the possibility that the universe may have always moved apart, just more slowly in the past, slower and slower as you look deeper into the past.

    I don’t imagine the universe packed into a single point as in the big bang (I always felt that was absurdly simplistic). I imagine the limit as simply closer together, but still with vast distances involved.

    I always liked the Steady State Theory. It always seemed to make a lot more sense to me. Many scientists act as though it was disproved, but it never was; the Big Bang Theory simply became more popular… for all the wrong reasons, in my opinion.

  73. Michael Taylor

    Miriam, I’m shattered.

    You have doubts about the Big Bang theory yet have expressed no doubts in my son’s estimation of the number of brain cells I have. ?

  74. Miriam English

    Michael, no. I think your son merely didn’t finish his sentence. He was probably going to estimate your brain cell numbers as “Too many to imagine.” If he’s anything like me his attention was possibly taken immediately by an ant walking nearby, or a leaf waving alluringly in the breeze, or the interesting pattern of the woodgrain on the floor.

    Pretty good save, huh? 🙂

  75. Michael Taylor

    Miriam, I’m guessing that he probably thought that most people only had one brain cell. So he reckoned I was fairly special having two.

    I’m beginning to think he would be right on the first one. Gosh, the world is being run by idiots.

  76. Miriam English

    It truly is. Gosh. I watched the Four Corners expose on Adani tonight. Our politicians must have their eyes tightly shut in order not to see the scam. Horrifying.

  77. Miriam English

    Back to the topic somewhat:
    It turns out that Kurzgesagt, one of my favorite YouTube channels, did a video a couple of weeks ago on the topic of whether we’re living in a simulation.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlTKTTt47WE

    They make one slight error though. One of their hidden assumptions is that a computer powerful enough to simulate all the people on Earth is needed, but that’s not so. All that’s needed is to simulate one person — me. All other people don’t need to be fully simulated because I’m the only one that I have actual proof exists. The rest can be created on-the-fly as convincing pretense when needed.

    But as I say, there’s absolutely no evidence for it. And it’s smartest to live our lives as if the world is real.

    This also applies to the idea of a god in a kind of reverse Pascal’s Wager.

    Pascal argued that because there’s no afterlife with hell or heaven if atheism is true, but if a god there’s enormous rewards in heaven and enormous risks in hell, so it makes the most sense to live your life as if god is real. This always seemed to me insane bullshit and reduced my opinion of Pascal considerably.

    There are enormous risks to living a lie. We see them every day. On the other hand, living your life with the understanding that this is your only shot at leaving something worthwhile behind feels incomparably important viewed against wasting your life in suffering in the hope of heavenly reward. It becomes especially important when it is so astonishingly easy to prove that all religion is a lie.

  78. diannaart

    Miriam, Joe & Michael, loving the banter.

    My auto-immune disease is in the ascendancy today – so I will be brief (as is my wont).

    Miriam, I fully see the irony of disease versus the cooperation of our bodies – particularly the bacterial section… 😉

    Joe, don’t give up on reading predictive sci-fi like Miriam’s – your brain will work it all out while you sleep… fully recommend William Hertling books as well as Miriam’s of course.

    On the topic of brains, Michael there are people who are fully functional with hollow brains and, as you are aware, autistic people are simply wired a little differently and it is up to us to learn to communicate with them in preparation for the invasion of our lizard overlords…. apologies, got a little carried away.

    How is your boy doing these days, has he revised his opinion on the quantity of brain cells, or simply that his dad uses what he has with dexterity and skill bordering on brilliance?

  79. economicreform

    I’m not sure you have the story of quantum entanglement right Miriam. I suggest reading or viewing how various scientists have described it. By the way, an atom is not analogous to a stellar system — reason being that electrons inside atoms may be thought of as standing waves of probability. It’s difficult to think of macro bodies like planetary satellites in this way.

  80. Miriam English

    economicreform, yep, you’re quite right about the electrons in atoms being described as waves, and that their “orbitals” are absolutely nothing like the orbits of planets. I considered mentioning that at the time, but figured it would be going overboard.

    I’ve read and listened to various scientists talking enthusiastically about entanglement as all kinds of silly things. If you ask a scientist who spends their life doing work on subatomic particles you’ll find they generally agree that no transmission is taking place. Admittedly most won’t describe it as mundanely as I do, but give it a few years for the hype to fall away and I think you’ll find my illustration turns out to be a very good one.

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