Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Atheism is an "addiction" like gambling? Hardly!
The ancient Persian Demon -god Angro-Mainyus. Did he cause millions of Persians to get addicted to whatever substances intoxicated them? Hardly! Ditto for the fictious "Satan" and gambling!
Well, when you don't succeed (as a diehard fundamentalist) with anti-evolution arguments, there is one last bastion and that is to claim atheism is an "addiction" ("Satanically inspired" - by the way) like gambling! This according to my illustrious pastor bro in his latest online sermon of righteousness.
"Two of the many deadly ( spiritually speaking ) , deceptions that Satan uses to entice people to spend eternity in Hell with him are Gambling and atheism - as BOTH are addictive and soul damning ! "
In fact, this is the utmost gibberish, using not only false analogy but fundamentally fictious philosophical claims.
First, there is NO evidence, zero - for any "Satan"! In many previous blogs, in fact, I showed how "Satan" was configured from antiquated theological doctrines, pagan tracts or pure imagination. Readers might like to consult:
And also, in sequence:
The bottom line in all this? "Satan" is a confabulation, a fantasy, concocted by theologians or fiery Elmer Gantry wannabe fundies to try to terrify the gullible or dimwitted into submission to their control, like a parent might use the 'Boogieman" with his children. It never works in either case, because once people pursue inquiry on their own they are able to detect how bankrupt the entity is and how it possesses no substantial basis.
"Satan" itself probably hearkens back thousands of years before Christianity to the Shaitan of ancient Persian and Mithraic traditions. Indeed, one can obtain a far more cynical reading by delving into the entire history of demoniality. An excellent first book, predating Christian scriptures, is The Egyptian Book of the Dead.
In my copy, which features both the original Egyptian heiroglyphics and their English translation, we see how the Egyptian master deity Osiris was put into bondage by both Set and Sutech (Typhon). Yes, Set and Sutech were "demons" but in the Egyptian telling, ALSO GODS! In other words, they occupied the special perch of an evil God.
Sutech, is actually Osiris' brother, but depicted as a particularly ugly deity with the head of a griffin or crocodile. He is also depicted as an implacable and malevolent torturer. In other words, he's the spitting image of the Christian "Satan", except that the Egyptians are at least honest enough to acknowledge him as a separate GOD. Also associated with him is Bes, a regional separate deity (according to 'The Hierarchy of Hell', by Laurann Paine, p. 35) usually acknowledged as the "god of Death".
Thus, we also have the first honest association of death with a principle of Evil - not at all surprising since death has always been seen as much more baleful and dolorous than life! So why not toss in evil entities, gods to make it more so? Indeed, yet another evil god emerges in the form of Apap or Apepi, which takes the form of a serpent (Hmmmm....where've we seen this before?)
Not to be outdone, the Persians had just as many evil gods, such as Angro-Mainyus, the Persian Lord Of Hell. In Persian scriptures the good God was Ahura-Mazda, but he "was unable to exert any control over Angro-Mainyus when they battled" (op. cit., p. 37). In much the same way, it appears the Christian God is unable to control Satan on Earth, despite the fact the former is supposed to be omnipotent and ominiscient!
When one strips away all the cocklemamey codswallop, only one conclusion is possible: that the Christians (at least the orthodox, like the Egyptians and Persian earlier) worship TWO GODS: God-GOD and Satan! The fact so many fundies refer so much to "Satan" to even account for simple missteps like gambling or drinking, shows they regard Satan as a God, at least in their mythology! (Which is why Paul Kurtz, when he faced off against a Catholic "Exorcist" in one memorable 1990 Larry King show, deliberately called him a "Satanist" since he acted as if there was such a thing, to the extent of enacting rituals to appease or evict it!)
But make no mistake, gambling is not a product of a figment like Satan. It is a disease based in certain centers of the human brain - mainly in the reticular formation - that are the most susceptible to all kinds of addictions, including drugs, alcohol and sex. The treatment therefore must aim to address these brain regions, and that is usually via medications, though sometimes more aggressive methods (such as ECT) can work. Yes, talking out in groups can be helpful, but for most hardened gambling addicts, like drug addicts- they need to go cold turkey. And that means depriving them of their stash or source of addiction, generally by keeping them far from it (in the case of drugs this is done using a halfway house or isolated complex where the addict is fed a regular diet but deprived of any contact that could allow him drugs.)
Now, atheism has nothing to do with any of these notorious addictions, because it is not an "addiction" but rather a mental perspective on the world, life and death, to wit that it features the following principles:
· Only one life to live, no afterlife
· No "souls", only material bodies
· No purposive moral force that demands a particular code of behavior
· There exist modes of behavior that maximize the probability of survival for all
· Current astronomical evidence discloses only one planet with intelligent life - or any life
· Recognizing the above, humans have a vested interest to act as responsible environmental and social stewards and protect their home planet which means forging a rational ethics as opposed to submitting to a false theistic ethics (which will never admit the legitimacy of other theist mores, beliefs)
Now, NONE of the above are the products of "addiction" but rather of serious reflection and thought, often pursued over many decades. In other words, the province of the atheist is not to be treated as frivolous, or the basis of friviolity! In my own case, as I often recounted before in many blogs, I didn't just wake up one morning and decide to be "against God" or choose "not to believe in God". I actually ventured through many different religious traditions, ranging from traditional Catholic, to evangelical, to Unity -Science of Mind, and even Buddhism. In the end, after SERIOUS inner work, I decided that atheism was the most rational response to the universe.
It is for this reason I become very short on patience with people (mainly theists - particularly fundies) who treat atheism as a spolied brat's temper tantrum, or analogize it to the behavior of Pharaoh in Exodus (refusing to release the Jews from his slavery), or now....an addiction! For christ's sakes, get over it already and cease these over the top pseudo-arguments which actually undermine your credibility! Admit...at the very least... we (atheists) are every bit as serious in our philosophical ruminations based on scientific naturalism as you are in your pursuits of godistic reality.
Given this, I become even shorter in patience when I read additional claptrap like:
"And , here again , I agree with that statement . BUT...what atheist bro' needs to realize is that the "extortion" analogy is a two-way street . I will not compromise MY faith in The LORD , Jesus Christ , in return for ANYONES ( Satanic secular ) definition of "love."
And here again, so predictably, he misses the point. (And let's leave out "Satanic" definitions of love, since as I showed, no such critter exists).
In point of fact, no one is asking him to "compromise his faith" - only to pursue the possibility that we MIGHT, might be able to interact as brothers - emailing what's what in our lives, talking on the phone occasionally - without the need to introduce religion into it!
I happen to know this is possible, since for several months - in the wake of our dad's death last year, we actually managed to do it! Hell, I even volunteered to help pay his way to come and attend the funeral, though he unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute. However, we remained in contact for a few months - until for some reason, he felt it incumbent to saddle up on his pastor high horse again and vent against "atheists".
In addition, my wife and I have a dear friend, 'Nancy' whose sister is also a fundagelical. But they get along (recently went to Disney World together) by peaceful co-existence, which is to say, just agreeing from the outset not to discuss divisive issues like religion. Now true, that means "conversion" is off the table, but it's not a big deal when one considers that a family connection is now possible that wasn't before.
Then we have this odious remark:
"Now , even though , atheist bro' is financially secure - it would behoove him to read what Jesus Himself teaches us about money in Matthew 6:19-24 . Planning for retirement , preparing for life before death - is wise , but neglecting life after death is disastrous ! If you accumulate wealth and material possessions only to enrich yourself , you will enter eternity empty-handed in HELL ! "
Again, the way he paints it, all I'm focused on is money and I give no thought to substantial philosophy of life issues! But anyone with two brain cells to rub together can easily see this is belied by the content of my blogs - especially to do with philosophical or religious issues. Hence, I DO devote extraordinary amounts of time to thinking about these matters, it's simply that I don't agree with my brother's parochial theological (biblical literalist) take, or his parochial, personal deity. If indeed there is a deity (and this is a mighty BIG 'if') I am 100% convinced it's impersonal in nature, as both Albert Einstein and Anthony Flew conjectured!)
Nor do I enrich myself with $$$ at the expense of anything like serious life issues contemplation, since to me, ideas, concepts and philosophical ruminations have far more importance than mammon. Thus, to insinuate that money is all I care about attaining is to totally misread my position. To impute I will end up "empty-handed in Hell' is an even grosser insult.
In any case, as I showed already - Hell is also a confabulated fiction:
In the last, as I pointed out: "Hell" is not only retrogressive, but utterly stupid. It is inchoate as a principle for afterlife sanction because its claimed existence (as described by orthodox believers) contradicts the putative nature of the divinity that most of them posit, i.e. with ultra-omni attributes. (Omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, etc.)
The odd and strange fact is they fail to see the fundamental contradiction inherent in their view once they assign the "omnis"! They fail to perceive that Hell must be located within the infinite deity - AS PART OF IT - IF their deity is truly infinite! In other words, the eternal place of damnation must actually be WITHIN God's own Being!
Consider, IF God as infinite is taken literally, this can only mean there is no place where he isn't. Either he is infinite or not infinite. If he is infinite, and HELL also exists, then Hell must be part of the same infinity. It cannot be isolated from it or else we have a condition such as shown in Fig. 2 - where Hell is apart from God's being.BUT - if this is so, then God can no longer be infinite because something exists (Hell) in addition to his being wherein he conducts punishments.So, we have these ineffable logical conclusions:
EITHER - Hell exists but GOD is not infinite.
GOD is infinite, and Hell must exist WITHIN God. (But Heaven does also)
Up to now, I've seen no fundie or evangelical clever enough to resolve the Hell-God=infinite paradox. There could be two reasons: 1) none of them is smart enough to do it, or 2) they know deep down in their little atavistic pea brains that the paradox is logically insoluble because their assumptions are in error. (Or, just as bad, they allow the blatherings in an ancient book to trump the importance of examining the assumptions.)Thus, if they want to preserve their "Hell" they will have to admit their God isn't infinite. If they demand God to be infinite, they will have to jettison their "Hell'.
Now riddle me this, Bat-brother: if I were as totally invested in my material welfare as you presume that I am, would I have arrived at the above basis for major contradiction in your afterlife belief system? I warrant I would not have!
Again, I don't demand we agree on all matters theological, only that you at least allow that I am as serious in my philosophical issues, as you are in your theistic ones.
And oh, btw, if you're going to introduce former atheist Anthony Flew as "leverage" in arguments or claims against atheists, at least have the honesty to concede he will also be in Hell, since his theism is only generic. At no time has he ever "believe in the Lord JC as personal Savior" as your lot demand to be assured of personal salvation!