Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Religious Apathy"? How About Human Apathy?

As readers will have detected in going through many previous blogs - mainly from last year and the year before - I am no big fan of religion, especially in any organized form. I believe that even if one is firmly inclined to seek a deity or some all-powerful universal force, he doesn't require a religion to do so. Or, to put it in the words of the great Psychologist, Carl Jung:

"'Religion is a defense against the experience of God."

This is also why I take a dim view of assorted religious figures marching into various countries and making general pronouncements on the benefits of either their own pathetic belief systems or of the supposed benefits of religions in general. My operative mental dynamic is simple: Until you have demonstrated that you've cleaned up your own damned house, don't come into my house and try to tell me about all of its defects, or flaws. I will kick your ass out.

Such is the case with Pope Benedict (aka Joseph Ratzinger, the former head of The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or Inquisition as known in history) embarking on his recent tour of secular Germany and trying to dictate to Germans what's best for them. I have news for the pontiff: he can save his breath and invest more energy, time and attention in how to prevent more of his pederast priests from defiling young, innocent children! (Indeed, in the eyes of many, he didn't do enough when he was the head of the old Inquisition, as the Catholic sex abuse crisis spread during John Paul II's reign).

Now, in Germany, this Pope had the unmitigated gall and nerve to spout:

"We are witnessing a growing indifference to religion in society. Religion is one of these foundations for a successful social life"

All of which is total, unadulterated bollocks! In fact, the indifference of wide swatches of educated people to religion is predicated simply on the fact that educational attainment and level is inversely proportional to the willingness to believe in fairy stories such as promoted by religion. When one has developed critical thinking skills, especially in science, he will easily be able to see that most of religion is a fabrication and no cost is incurred by dismissing it - any more than dismissing or ignoring astrology, or any other pseudo-system.

As for being a 'foundation for a successful social life', hardly! As SKEPTIC magazine (Vol. 15, No. 2, 2009), authors Robert Kurtzban and Peter Descioloi, point out ('Why Religions Turn Oppressive'):

"Religions are very concerned with people’s thoughts and behavior, seeking to impose control not only on their own member, but on non-members. The long gruesome history of persecutions for heresy and blasphemy attests to this concern”.

In other words, if anything, religions are ANTI-social and inhuman! The fact their dynamic is predicated on mental control discloses that the only "social life" of merit to them is the one they can control. If they were truly invested in humanity and social life, for example, they wouldn't meddle so officiously in people's affairs or bedroom matters.

The Roman Catholic Church, for example, has seen fit to try and tell Catholic couples (since the 1960s) that they can't practice artificial contraception without committing grave sin. In other words, whether they can afford more kids or not, they will either have to have them (or take the high risk of such) or not engage in sex, period. You call this promoting "social life"? How so? How so when a Catholic family that can barely make ends meet increases to the size of 8 or 9 kids most of whom can't be fed properly, or clothed. This is barbaric, not social!

This was what led me ultimately to leave the Catholic Church behind, because I maintained they had no goddamned business telling me that I had to have kids, or was forbidden to use artificial birth control. I told them, 'Hasta la vista', became an atheist, and never looked back. As I once informed my highly Catholic mother: "Catholicism became like a child's confirmation suit which I had to discard as an adult."

My German sister-in -law, Krimhilde, did likewise, because she found the R.C. Church too concerned with small issues, too stultifying to her own spiritual growth, and too hypocritical. She left to became an Eckist.

And so it goes.

Meanwhile, the best testimonial of all to leaving religion behind may be in the statistics delivered in the article in Free Inquiry, Vol. 29, No. 1 Jan. 2009 (p. 24), noting the key index for inequality- the Gini coefficient- is lowest in the advanced secular nations compared to the highly religious ones. In terms of practical applications, a Gini index of zero would denote perfect equality or everyone receiving the same pay. A Gini of 1.0 would be perfect inequality or 1 guy collecting all the marbles. In terms of western industrial nations, most European nations (e.g. Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands) and Canada tend to have Gini indices between 24 and 36, the United States' is currently at 48).

The primary finding that runs likes a thread through all this research is that religious belief and activity is a superficial coping mechanism easily cast aside when the majority in a given society enjoy true (not faux) democratic government, and a secure, comfortable and middle class lifestyle. Those who claim the universality of religion or that it is integral to human nature commit the basic selection effects error, in that they conveniently overlook the data showing broad secularization of western Europe, Anglo-Australia, Canada and other developed nations.

Indeed, in 18 out of 19 of the most prosperous democracies the share of population reporting absolute belief in a god or gods ranges from between as little as a few percent to at most one-half. In some of these nations, mainly in Western Europe, two-thirds proclaim to be either atheists or agnostics.

Meanwhile the U.S., with its historically lower taxes, fewer public safety nets, and more poor than rich (by more than a 25:1 ratio) displays a greater disparity than any other nation. Moreover, it displays a much greater social pathology. Understanding the basis of this pathology doesn’t take a genius. At every point of political contention now, one can hear the Religious screaming that the people "must depend on God, not Government". But what has this wrought?
Well, a “re-balancing” of budgets on the backs of the poor, the disabled, the elderly and the homeless. The results are predictable: loss of health care, loss of jobs and loss of overall security, as well as increase in drug use, violent criminality and prostitution.

British philosopher Nicholas Humphrey, in his superb book Soul Searching, has an excellent explanation for this clinging to God and religion in the U.S.

"Religions and quasi-religions offer remarkably effective medicine for orphaned minds. As Jung said: 'They give a human being that sense of wholeness, which he had as a child, but which he loses when he leaves his parents"

But the key fact which all secularists know, is that when people mature and develop minds of their own they no longer need parents - or religions - to dictate to them how to live their lives.

Thus, the grown up is more concerned in his world with the problem of human apathy - such as to the plight of the poor, growing economic inequality and increased military spending to bankrupt a nation- than "religious apathy".

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