Thursday, 19 July 2007

Atheism and Freedom

Atheism offers freedom in a particular respect. It offers freedom of the mind from religious indoctrination. Religion by its very nature, stultifies the mind and leaves one in a none thinking stupor. It does so, because it inculcates the mind with mysticism and such mysticism, befuddles clear thinking and distorts one's ability to fully grasp objective reality.

Of course one may fairly argue, that most of us go round with befuddled minds anyway and all of our minds are befuddled and handicapped with mysticism to a certain degree, whether we are religious or not. This of course, may well be true. But the point is, that religion is one of the very few belief systems, that individuals openly and often proudly say they hold as true, despite the evidence. Indeed, evidence is not needed, or wanted.

If one could prove the religious position with axiomatic facts, then it would not be religion. The point of an individual, being religious in the first place, is that one requires faith to do so and faith relies not on evidence, but an inner conviction of the 'truth' in spite of evidence. In almost any other area of life, we would call such 'thinking' insane. Sam Harris, author of the books, 'The End of Faith' and 'Letter to a Christian' has pointed this out too, to paraphrase, he has commented that, 'in almost no other area of our discourse, do we let such irrational ideas get a pass'.
Once an individual is inculcated with religion, it can very seriously conflict with their view on objective reality... that is, their ability to act objectively within that reality. Indeed, the more 'honestly' religious one makes an effort to be, the more dishonest one becomes, with reference to external reality. This is because, religious 'honesty' as apposed to honesty qua reality, leads to different modes of thinking.

Thinking in terms of religion, is not the same as thinking in terms of common sense. Indeed, common sense and religion are almost always pole opposites and the degree by which one is religious, is the degree by which those poles could be said to be separated. To be religious, almost always means letting go of common sense. But, because of the very nature of religion, it is almost impossible to be 'fully religious' ...meaning, one cannot be religious 24/7. To attempt such a feat would leave one so detached from reality, that one could not possibly function in the real World.

A theist by nature, needs to live within an implicit lie, at least some of the time, if not most of it. What such individuals do, is compartmentalize, so that their religion only takes up a narrow part of their life, so they are only really being religious now and again. This is where the distinction becomes less and less; when one moves from mild religion, to more extreme indoctrination. The religious extremist is so, because he or she, starts to compartmentalize less and less - their religion takes over their life.

One example of almost total indoctrination, which has severed individuals from the reality of living in the real World is the Phelps's family in America. This family believes that the more disconnected from the World they become, that the closer to God they are. By alienating the rest of humanity, they make themselves pure... They believe the majority of the 'outside-world' is living in sin and is going straight to hell. One would almost feel pity for these individuals, but on the other 'side of the coin', is the devastating 'mind-job' they are doing on children in their 'flock'.

The Phelps's family and it's subscribers can be seen at roadsides with placards saying: 'Thank God for 9/11', 'God Hates Fag Enablers', 'America is Doomed', 'Don't Pray for the USA' 'Thank God for Dead Soldiers'. Now as sick as these individuals are, they are a very small minority and not surprisingly, under-subscribed. The same of course, cannot be said for Islam, which is the most highly operative and destructive religion in the World today. The extremists within Islam, are a classic example of what mind distortion through religious indoctrination can achieve, when carried through to its extremes.

For most moderate religious individuals, what the term moderate really means is; being 'religious every now and again' ...for example going to Church on Sundays, reading a few prayers and singing a few hymns...

Religious extremists on the other hand, become so utterly imbued in their religious conviction, that all else starts to recede into the background and the religion starts to dominate every aspect of that individuals character. They start to be guided not by external events within reality, that require objective actions... but instead, are guided by subjective religious edicts, that guide them to action, not because of reality, but despite it. Such individuals often become withdrawn from society and in the worst case scenario, can become psychotic to the point of annihilation, not only of themselves but of others.

Because I personally have never been religious, at least not as I can remember, I have no idea what it is like to 'let go of religion'. But I do know that individuals who have done so, often experience a feeling of mental freedom, that is hard to describe in words. They feel like they have 'cut the mental chains' that were distorting their world-view and their ability to function as mentally healthy human beings.

So, would I go as far to call religion a mental disease of the mind... Yes, I would. But like biological diseases, there are often different strains, some more severe than others. For example, the Christianity of the Anglican church is more mild than Catholicism, but then again Islam is more destructive than both Christianity and Catholicism. But none of the monotheism's get a pass... They all have a vile and bloody history.

In her monologue on "Letting Go of God" Julia Sweeney gives a comic performance of what it is like to lose religion and at the end of the monologue, you are left thinking, losing God, is really losing nothing especially important, it is just a 'phantom of the mind'. But what letting go of God can bring is a new mental freedom, that allows one to think 'outside-the-box' of theistic mind stultification and take a new look at the World, with... 'Eyes Wide Open'.

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1 comment:

pickle said...

good job, however, I cannot help but say, what of those that experience joy from their religion and sadness without it. And have a "be as you are" attitude towards the world and look to be entertained by the differences around them. I would say, that makes them judgemental just like you. Chained, just a different kind of chain. Bottomline, when we no longer need to judge, we will truly be free. All will be free. Till then enjoy your chains and do no harm. Peach