Imagine

674CBCDF-01CE-4446-B59D-A8E4D0E67F8CIn his song, “Imagine,” John Lennon wrote:

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Well, leave it to none other than Rory, A Guy Called Bloke, to pose a bunch of questions about one of my favorite topics: Religion.

Warning. I’m an atheist and I have some strong views about religion. If you are one who tends to get offended when someone questions your believe system, I suggest you stop reading here.

With that out of the way, here are the provocative questions about religion that Rory posed, along with my answers:

Would our world be any different to today [if religion just simply never existed]?

I believe it would be different…and better, with one big caveat. The planet would be seriously overpopulated — even more than it already is — because millions of people who, over the ages, were killed in the name of God and religion would not have perished.

Would the world have begun without some kind of belief system in place?

Of course it would have begun. The world (i.e., the planet Earth) is four and a half billion years old and modern human beings have only existed for only about 200,000 years. So, since humans are relatively new compared to the planet, and it’s humans who have “belief systems,” the planet did just fine without any kind of belief system for billions of years. You’re welcome.

Is religion really needed?

As an atheist, my answer is no. Not for me, anyway. But for some, religion or faith or belief in something bigger than themselves provides comfort and solace. My philosophy on religion and belief in God is “whatever floats your boat.” Just don’t try to sink my boat because it doesn’t look like yours.

Many already say that ‘something’ would have been created to fill that void and if that is the case, what would that have been?

Humans are always seeking answers to questions, some of which, even given present knowledge, may be unanswerable. Hence, throughout human history, humans have invented gods and supernatural beings to fill in the blanks and to answer the unanswerable. So yes, based upon human nature and the need for answers and to belong, some sort of belief system would have been created.

Organized religion, as it exists today, though, is designed to control, manage, and manipulate their flocks, and to create and promote group-think built around superstitions and mythologies. It also tends to divide us based upon our specific set of beliefs, rituals, and practices, rather than unite us based upon our commonalities as human beings.

Organized religion also reinforces the notion of “the other” with respect to those who don’t share the same superstitions and mythologies that they do. That is why so many religions have as their mission converting “the other” to their own beliefs, rituals, and dogma. And those efforts to convert the “heretics” and “infidels” can be violent and deadly. And, to me, that’s not a good thing. In fact, I think it’s the most negative and destructive aspect of organized religion.

Okay, rant over. But this is what you get when you ask an atheist about religion. What are your thoughts?

Curses and Spells

8ECCA349-4791-493D-8664-44D23DBA63FCThis is truly bizarre to me. I read an article yesterday about a Catholic school in Tennessee has banned the “Harry Potter” series of books because a reverend at the school claimed they include both good and evil magic, as well as spells, which, if read by a human can conjure “evil spirits.”

I am not making this up. The reverend, apparently shortly after touching down from his magic carpet ride from heaven, claimed that there are curses and spells used in the books that are actual, real-life curses and spells. When read by a human being, these curses and spells can conjure evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.

Is that not something to marvel at? But wait! It seems that a number of Christian critics believe the Bible makes it clear that magic stems from demonic sources, and that “Harry Potter” books and movies may seduce children away from the religion and into occult practices.

Seriously?

The school’s pastor made the decision to ban the books after receiving a complaint from a parent. He then sent a letter to parents of the kids in the school warning them that if their children read the “Harry Potter” books, the parents may need to surmount an invasion of their home by evil spirits or migrants from Mexico and Central America.

Actually, that’s not true. I am making up the part about Mexican and Central American migrants. I was merely using some levity to offset the tension I’m sure you’re feeling if you have any “Harry Potter” books in your home, and your kids cast a spell on you.

But I was serious about the conjuring up of evil spirits. For what it’s worth, the Catholic Church does not have an official position on the magical book and movie series. Instead, each pastor has canonical authority to map out his parish school’s policies in such matters and to “act in that manner.”

You gotta love religious superstitions, don’t you?


Written for these daily prompts: Word of the Day Challenge (bizarre), The Daily Spur (carpet), Ragtag Daily Prompt (marvel), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (surmount), Your Daily Word Prompt (levity), and Daily Addictions (map).

Yes, I’m Angry

5B25D55D-D91C-409E-B0BC-B5B2E7829AA0I’m upset.

I’m frustrated.

I’m disappointed.

And I’m pissed.

Don’t worry, though

I’ll get over it.

Because what choice do I have?

There’s really very little I can do.

But I am hopeful that, eventually, the truth will out.

And decency and sanity will be restored.

I am optimistic that this madness will end.

I am counting on the survival of our republic.

But just in case I’m wrong

And Donald Trump gets re-elected

I will be exploring other countries to move to.

Being an expat might not be so bad

Compared to staying around

And witnessing the dissolution

Of the American republic.

The Life and Death Paradox

Supreme Court Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Washington, USA - 20 Mar 2018Okay, it’s time to stir things up a bit.

I don’t understand why those who oppose abortion also often oppose contraception. It seems rather paradoxical to me.

Contraception prevents unplanned, unwanted pregnancies, and women who choose to have abortions do so, to a large extent, because of unplanned, unwanted pregnancies. So doesn’t it follow that advocating the use of contraceptives and promoting their availability would reduce the demand for abortions?

But that logic seems to be beyond what many religious and social conservatives can grasp, so they continue to follow the paradox of being opposed to both abortion and contraception.

DAD7BB0F-89CB-4F7F-A4E3-2793DAB675A3In a related paradox, social conservatives often oppose sex education in public schools other than “abstinence-only.” They take this position even though the data shows that there is a greater teen pregnancy rate in school systems that teach abstinence-only than there is when a broad-based sex education program, including teaching about the use of condoms and other forms of birth control, is included in the curriculum.

“Oh Lordy, don’t teach the kids about condoms,” they say, apparently because they believe knowledge about condoms and their use promotes sexual activity.

Oh yeah, it also prevents pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

7CE49602-FC1E-4F86-8736-845B45DE6432And then there’s the paradox that many who are pro-life also support the death penalty. Can you really be pro-life and pro-death penalty? Where is the logic in believing it’s okay to terminate the life of an adult human being but it’s not okay to abort a fetus? And by the way, a fetus is not a baby, and thus, having (or performing) an abortion is not killing a baby.

Sure, those on death row are presumably bad people, but they are living, breathing human beings nonetheless. A fetus is not yet a living, breathing person, but pro-lifers are appalled at the idea of terminating a pregnancy while seemingly having no qualms when it comes to terminating the life of a prison inmate.

Liberals generally support a woman’s right to choose because they believe that a woman should not be forced to bring an unplanned, unwanted baby into a bad situation and that the government shouldn’t insert itself into private matters about what a woman can do with her own body.

And liberals tend to oppose the death penalty because they believe that the government doesn’t have the right or moral authority to take the lives of people, even allegedly very bad people, especially with the growing number of instances where DNA testing shows that some death row inmates were wrongly convicted.

Conversely, conservatives who oppose abortion do so because they believe that a fetus is a “person” as of the date of conception. But at the same time, they tend to support the death penalty because they want those evil, nasty criminals to pay the ultimate price for their crimes.

The question in my mind is whether there is a moral equivalence between abortion and the death penalty. When you get to the heart of the matter, it really boils down to the very sympathetic image of an unborn baby pitted against the very unsympathetic image of a hardened criminal who has been sentenced to death for committing heinous crimes against society.

Am I the only one who finds these matters of abortion, contraception, and the death penalty paradoxical? How about you?

SoCS — Mysterious Ways

e2cd22fc-d18b-40ab-b028-3accb7270d21“It’s less than three months away!” Brian exclaimed. “I’m not ready.”

“Not ready for what?” Ben asked his roommate.

“The Rapture.”

“The what?”

“The Rapture,” Brian repeated. “Here, take a look at this full page ad that was in today’s paper.

Ben read it out load. “Get ready for the Rapture. April 23, 2019 AD.” He handed the ad back to Brian. “Isn’t that what you call ‘end times’ or something like that? Where all true believers who are alive will be saved and will rise, along with the resurrected dead believers, into heaven to join Jesus?”

“Close enough,” Brian said. “And it’s happening in less than three months. I’m not ready, Ben.”

“Well, you know that I don’t believe in all that religious mumbo jumbo, Brian,” Ben said. “But you’re a believer, so what are you worried about? I’m sure you’ll float up to heaven with all of the other good boys and girls for fun and games with Jesus for the rest of eternity.”

“It just doesn’t add up, Ben,” Brian said. “Anna and I are supposed to get married on May 5th. But that will be too late.”

“Why will it be too late?” Ben asked. “Anna’s a good Christian, right? Maybe you and she can float up to heaven together, hand-in-hand, and get married once you’ve settled in. Hell, maybe Jesus, himself, will officiate at your wedding.”

“It’s not funny, Ben,” Brian whined. “I’m not ready for this. Why didn’t God give me some sort of sign so I could have planned for this?”

Ben pulled the newspaper ad from Brian’s hand and held it up. “Isn’t this a sign?”

“I don’t mean a physical sign,” Brian said. “A spiritual sign.”

“I don’t know, Brian,” Ben said, “but haven’t you been telling me ever since we met each other how God works in mysterious ways?”


This little sacrilegious tale, one that I hope doesn’t offend anyone, was written for Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. We are asked to use “ad/add/AD” (Anno Domini) in our post. We can use one, two, or all three.