Anyone up for a good rant?
If you are, by all means continue reading, and imagine the following delivered with flecks of spittle and appropriate pulpit-pounding. If you aren’t, by all means find something else to read. I can be diplomatic – even conciliatory – if the occasion demands but I’m not going to be in this case. I cannot un-see what I see, and sometimes I just have to vent. If you find my tone somewhat strident, I can’t say I disagree with you. What you are about to read reflects a very real side of me – one that I have to live with daily. It has largely been shaped by a fundamentalist Christian upbringing that I certainly did not choose to be born into and that I consider a form of child abuse. I hope I’ve been clear. Here goes – let’s see how many metaphors I can mix:
The most urgent task of our time is to kill the hydra-headed monster known as religion. Until we manage to drive a stake once and for all through the heart of the vicious Mesopotamian god who still holds sway over and commands the blind obedience of billions of Christians, Muslims and Jews, all our attempts to wake up an extinction-bound humanity and galvanize them to action will avail nothing. No devout Christian – I’m talking here about True Believers™ who seriously think that God has a perfect plan for this planet and every human on it, is in control of everything that happens and is going to intervene just in the nick of time – is ever going to give a rat’s ass about the looming climate change disaster, or the meltdown of nuclear power plants or the drawdown of ancient aquifers, or the collapse of civilization as the peak of hydrocarbon extraction is passed and our worldwide technological faux-perpetual-motion machine begins to sputter and creak: Jesus is waiting in the wings, ready at his father’s command to ride once again into human affairs, this time on a white horse, vanquishing Satan and setting everything to rights.
Millions of people believe these things. This is madness. As long as people believe such things, they won’t lift a finger to save their own lives, or those of their children or grandchildren. They cannot think realistically about the future so long as they believe it includes a biblically-foretold New Earth where there is no more sun and no more sea and a capital city whose walls are 1,500 miles high. I could name a Senator or two in this connection, and a former Governor who wanted very much to be elected Vice-President (an office whose job description she never quite mastered).
Religion is poison in the well of humanity. It was devised by the ruling class over five millennia ago to secure their power by legitimizing it. The people foolishly bought into that cynical program and have endured slavery ever since: they traded their thinking minds for the empty promise of bliss in the afterlife. Today most Americans live in the most insidious kind of slavery – slavery of the mind – held in thrall by a glut of consumer goods and political platitudes, blinded by the empty assurances of religion to the havoc our unsapient species is wreaking on a finite and vulnerable planet as we drive hundreds of species into extinction every day (I’m using the UN’s figures here) and undermine the very conditions that made civilization possible in the first place. But those so described don’t recognize this state of affairs as a prison and never will because religion keeps them from trying the door. That’s how dangerous the scourge is. Religion is not reconcilable to a human future. Your city’s immensely popular and populous mega-church is the enemy of humankind.
It’s both pointless and evil to concede any intellectual ground whatsoever to people who aren’t willing even to ask honest questions. It’s no longer defensible to placate them with a conciliatory admission of the fact that, after all, we can’t know everything. The “agnosticism-as-the-only-defensible-philosophical-position” stance has got to go. I’m abandoning it and declaring my position: THERE IS NO GOD. To the extent that anything can be proven, this has been. Religion doesn’t have a shred of credibility in the face of what science and reason have brought to light over the past four centuries: it’s had its day (its millennia, actually) and has outlived its sell-by date. It’s shackled us and sucked our blood long enough. It’s time to shutter the churches or turn them into homeless shelters and soup kitchens. It’s time to abandon this pretense of help-from-beyond: time to roll up our sleeves and get to work on problems that have their roots in the real world and that are only soluble – if at all – in real-world ways.
We – humanity – are now at such a pass that only radical revolutionary programs will save us: radical, because the roots of our malaise lie deep in our past; and revolutionary, because there simply is no going back: we’ve burned all our resource bridges, we’ve tripped some serious environmental triggers, we’ve populated the earth with 7.25 billion of our hungry kind, and we’re entering a slow-motion but ominously accelerating economic/environmental collapse that will soon enough be nothing short of horrifying. That’s why we need clear thinking at this of all times. Religion prevents that. Religion is inherently reactionary, and it is helping to seal our doom. If any way out is left us at this stage, it surely begins with a recognition by ALL of us that we’re in deep shit, and we’re alone in this: no god or angel or faerie or any other imaginary being is going to lift a finger to help us because such beings do not exist – so it’s up to us to save our asses assuming they can be saved and that we consider them worth saving.
I repeat: There is no god, the rapture is never going to happen, Jesus has been dead for two thousand years and is never, ever, coming back (get over it!), and any possibility of human happiness is going to be realized by human beings freed from the shackles of sectarianism and working together in full awareness of the price of failure.
I issue this challenge to any believer who might have the strange fortune to encounter this post: that religion you cling to – give it up! It’s a pack of lies, and it’s stunted your intellectual growth and curtailed your life and the lives of those you love. It’s ruinous to your humanity. It’s the root of all evil. You owe it nothing. Be a mensch and WALK THE HELL OUT – and take as many with you as you can. Agitate for legislation to tax the hell out of religious institutions, strip them of their unconstitutional privileges and help drive them into bankruptcy. Let’s quit mollycoddling this scourge and bring it down, once and for all, at long last. This is the greatest challenge of our day, and if we don’t rise to it, we can kiss our time on Earth goodbye (an expression which means, ironically, “God be with ye”).
I don’t know about you, but I feel a little better.
Watch this space for my own follow-up to this diatribe a week from now.