GOD THEORIES MISLEAD PEOPLE
by Christopher Drew
The origin of god ideas is lost in antiquity. At least
one reason for advocating a god idea was to explain natural
phenomena, such as floods and pestilence. Such god ideas
affect behavior, like causing people to offer sacrifices.
Rulers encouraged those beliefs that reinforced their
control. Most surviving religions owe their existence to
government support, which continues out of habit.
Better explanations have been obtained by freethinking,
experiment, free discussion, and free publication. Better
behavior has come about by improved political systems,
separated from church influence, that base their laws on
public discussion, experience, and the wishes of the
The main reason for writing religious scriptures is to
induce desired behavior. One method is to picture a god who
created the world and therefore must be very powerful. He is
said to write the law. After a few generations, the law is
rigidly enforced. New scriptures have to be written in an
attempt to soften the unnecessary harshness of the old. The
aim of the scripture writer is to build faith and control
behavior. He is not primarily interested in recording
history, except when he can present it to suit his purposes.
The authors of the Jesus Christ myth included teachings
directed at softening some of the laws of Moses as recorded
in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
IS MAN EVIL?
The religionist is apt to view people as being basically
evil and rather stupid. He feels it is necessary to press
religious observance on them for proper behavior. If you
study people you know and understand, however, you will
realize that man is a social animal. He chooses behavior that
is acceptable to his fellows. He is not intrinsically evil.
He doesn't need to be a church member or believe in god to be
a useful member of society. He isn't stupid.
To obtain belief, the religionist has to teach
improbabilities as certainties and often make belief a
condition of church membership. The Christian and Jewish
scriptures depict god as being extremely intolerant of
nonbelievers and infidels. Rejecting people because of their
beliefs coupled with a tendency to indoctrinate church youth
in separate classrooms causes unresolvable misunderstandings
between people of different religious upbringing.
The religious can't compromise when the compromise
requires abandoning religious doctrine. Religious doctrine
has prevented the solutions to many political problems
throughout the world. Some of these problems have existed for
WORLD BETTER FOR RELIGION?
The religionist is apt to believe that if everyone
followed his religion, the world would be a better place.
This theory is not supported by history. When one religion
dominates, there is corruption at the top level of authority,
zero social progress, and persecution of dissenters. The
religionist usually explains this as being caused by men and
not by the doctrines. He forgets, or doesn't know, that the
doctrines and myths were invented to improve men's behavior.
NATURE OF GOD BELIEF
The believers I have talked to, in as much depth as I
can, think of god as a personal friend and a personal
guardian. I feel that this is an unhealthy belief. The risk
is that the belief is actually believed by both heart and
mind, as advocated by most religionists. It is unhealthy
because it is unrealistic. Those who actually succeed in
certainty of belief are, in my opinion, the most likely to
become frustrated. Prolonged frustration leads to antisocial
behavior such as irritability, nervous breakdown, alcohol and
drug abuse, suicide, and crime. Fortunately, believers are
more certain in their hearts than in their minds. In my
opinion, skepticism is a healthy attitude, especially if it
leads to research.
The path to disengagement from traditional beliefs lies
in a search for knowledge by the mind. Over a period of
months or years, the mind can reprogram the emotional
response of the heart. No one should feel inferior because
they have allowed themselves to be misled by religion.
Religious doctrines and rituals have survived precisely
because of their ability to mislead people.
WHAT REPLACEMENT FOR RELIGION?
None. God theories confuse people. Disengagement from
teaching god theories as certainties would reduce human
confusion. Social clubs and volunteer work don't have to be
church connected. Many religionists fear that religious
doctrine will be replaced by a political doctrine pursued
with religious fervor. This generally occurred in those
countries such as Russia, Poland, Cuba, etc., previously
dominated by strong, authoritarian organized religions. In my
opinion, all doctrines should be openly discussed and
subjected to objective testing. No one value, such as
kindness, truth, or freedom, should be rated above the
others. Circumstances often dictate which value is most
important, such as choosing between saying the truth or being
"kind" to a friend. In the discussion of philosophy, the
truth must have the greatest value, or the discussion is
useless. This puts the religionist at a disadvantage because
he cannot publicly admit that he approves of tricking people
into desired behavior.
The clergy are the same as the rest of us. They want to
help their fellow man. They have been led to believe that
this is a good way to be helpful. The decision to enter the
clergy is usually made at a young age when experience of the
world is lacking. They are trained in a seminary. The purpose
of a seminary is to produce clergy who will carry on the
mission of the sponsoring churches.
The seminary is charged with training, not with
objective questioning of the myths and doctrines. Promises of
faith, obedience, and service are obtained as a requirement
for ordination. Such commitments make it hard for the clergy
to abandon their calling. When new clergymen begin their
ministry, they soon find themselves saying things in public
that they don't believe in private.
In spite of their vows, some leave while they can still
find a different job. Some stay and make the best of it. The
best they can do is try to soften the harm done by the
official policies and doctrines of the church. Some come to
believe that it is acceptable to trick people, and they
become professional at it.
Church leaders generally have not encouraged scholarship
except for efforts to refute independent scholars. Bible
commentaries are church-oriented and are intended to put the
best interpretation on the scriptures. The faithful are
usually more concerned with strengthening their faith than
with research into its historical foundation. They don't read
independent scholarship. Nonbelievers are not interested, and
they don't read it either. Libraries get rid of books that
are not read. The better encyclopedias are quite good,
provided the subject is not written by a religionist.
RADIO, TV, AND NEWSPAPERS
The religionist must be constantly on guard against
public criticism of religious beliefs lest the faith of the
faithful be shaken. Hence, conservative church leaders are
willing to use boycotts of news and entertainment media to
restrict unfriendly comment. The religious do boycott, and it
frightens advertisers, newspaper editors, television and
radio executives, and movie makers. The absence of public
criticism of god theories lulls people into assuming that
such theories help people. Many people in the media are
misled by their own media.
The Jesus Christ myth promotes faith healing over
medicine and implies that disease is due to sin. This myth
delayed medical research in Europe by 1,000 years. That many
modern hospitals owe their origins to religious sects in my
opinion shows that the humanitarian instincts in man can
overcome religious doctrine. Churches often have money,
organization, influence with legislators, and the need for a
good public image. Some have low-paid celibates available,
which is a competitive advantage. Hospitals can actually be a
source of church income, so they remain under church control.
Seminaries are needed to train the clergy. If these
choose to grow by teaching nonreligious courses to attract
students and state support, they can become a university
where knowledge is preferred over ancestral beliefs.
Universities cost money, so the church usually loses control.
The church may lose interest in the seminarians as well if
they become infected with zeal for research.
The cure for poverty is knowledge, self-help, and family
planning. Sources of knowledge are suppressed by dominant
churches because knowledge often undermines the church
teachings. Church scriptures teach dependence on god. They do
not teach self-help. The New Testament glorifies the giving
of all money to the church.
The Roman Catholic church is against contraception. It
extends this ban to everyone by secular law where its
political strength is strong enough. Charitable efforts to
feed the hungry, while blocking long-term solutions, has led
to hunger on a gigantic scale.
CONSERVATIVE OR LIBERAL?
Conservative churches grow; liberal churches
disintegrate. The fundamentalist churches are growing in
numbers, wealth, and influence. Liberalism allows people to
think for themselves. When they do so, they find they don't
need the church themselves, and they see no reason why its
doctrines should be imposed on others. So they leave the
church. Current problems of membership and income of the
Roman Catholic church are partly due to the liberalizing
moves of Pope John XXIII.
Matter has probably always existed in some form or
another. If this is so, it is unnecessary to explain the
creation of matter. Attempts to describe god and explain his
method of creation bog down in contradictions. Explaining one
mystery with another is hardly a contribution to knowledge.
Present knowledge of the origin of species is
incomplete. The Genesis descriptions of the origins of
species, however, are obviously myths intended to show the
power of god. The two stories contradict each other. They are
presented as fact with no reservations at all. The stories
indicate a lack of understanding of the sky and the solar
system, so they could hardly be inspired by an all-knowing
Religious words like god, sin, salvation, spiritual
need, atonement, etc., have a vast range of meaning. A
speaker uses them to suit the purpose he has in mind at the
moment. It is necessary for the listener to guess at the
meaning by the way the word is used. This is an exhausting
process and makes communication quite difficult. In my
opinion, these are nonsense words that cannot be precisely
defined as they do not represent a realistic way of thinking.
Theology is not real knowledge.
Church rituals have the effect of helping people to be
more comfortable with their own religious programming. This
is upset by changes in the ritual. Successful churches change
their rituals slowly and cautiously. They stay with the old
hymns and melodies. The altar was originally used for
sacrificing. It has been retained centuries after sacrificing
Reform in such areas as birth control, abortion,
divorce, and voluntary euthanasia has been impeded by
religious doctrine. Believers are apt to follow their church
teachings and vote against politicians who stand for change.
The problems caused by religions tend to be long-term
ones, such as how Jerusalem should be governed. Politicians
need to have quick solutions. Advocating disengagement from
religious belief is a long-term solution.
Some churches encourage members to go into politics and
provide them with supporters. Such politicians are apt to be
helpful to their churches. Churches have income and voting
strength, which permits them to lobby effectively. It is hard
to organize lobbies around nonbelief, because nonbelievers
feel little need to reinforce their nonbelief by belonging to
People should neglect their churches, because church
rituals reinforce the faith. If this neglect causes guilt
feelings, then they should do their own homework on religion
and rethink their own personal philosophies. At least some
will obtain sufficient conviction and self-confidence to
permanently abandon their religious beliefs.
Copyright American Atheist Press. All rights reserved. Printed
copies of this pamphlet can be obtained from: American Atheist Press
P. O. Box 140195, Austin, Texas 78714-0195. Stock #8235. Please
refer to current catalog and price list for pricing and availability.
* American Atheists website: http://www.atheists.org *
* PO Box 140195 FTP: ftp://ftp.atheists.org *
* Austin, TX 78714-0195 *
* Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: *
* FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 *
* Atheist Viewpoint TV: email@example.com *
* Info on American Atheists: firstname.lastname@example.org, *
* & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address *
* AANEWS -Free subscription: email@example.com *
* and put "info aanews" in message body *
* This text may be freely downloaded, reprinted, and/other *
* otherwise redistributed, provided appropriate point of *
* origin credit is given to American Atheists. *