Monday, July 13, 2020

How to Logically Prove Organized Religion is Bunk.

Trying to "prove" or disprove a belief is a waste of time and energy.   But organized religion?  It disproves itself!

Religion, as I have noted in the past, is based on faith and faith cannot be proved or disproved true or false by science, logic, or anything else, as it is faith and faith does not demand proof.

Religion, in a way, could be viewed as Logic for Idiots.   But that would be inflammatory.

The following idea, I think I heard first from George Carlin.   And it goes something like this:
Every major religion in the world has a system of beliefs, usually involving some guy (and it usually is a guy, not a gal) from long ago, who set forth the truth - God's will or whatnot - and probably wrote it down.   And each religion has some sort of book they follow as well - with a set of rules you should follow that conveniently, tend to favor the people running the religion in question.
And almost all of these religions have another thing in common:  They all claim to be the one and only true religion, and that anyone believing otherwise is an apostate worthy only of death.

And this is true even within religions.  Catholics think Protestants are going to hell, and vice-versa, and they have wasted no energy in killing each other over the ages over this point.  Muslims have Sunnis and Shiites willing to annihilate each other over which is the true Islam.

And so on and so forth.  Very few - if any - religions are willing to accept that other belief systems are also valid.   It isn't like Life of Pi where a young boy can find beauty in all faiths and believe them all simultaneously.

No, no, you have to choose, and lately, the religious types are getting quite pointed about this.

But here is where Carlin comes in.   If each religion claims to be the one and only true religion on the planet, and all other religions are completely false, than clearly, a number of people on this planet are following a false religion.

Question is:  Which one is the right one?

And most people will say, "Well, mine of course!"

But as we noted in an earlier posting, the odds are, the religion you think you chose to believe is the one you were exposed to as a child or by your parents.   So, you really didn't have so much of a choice in the matter.

And what are the odds that you stumbled into the "right" religion and are going to heaven, and everyone is following the wrong one? 

Odds are, you're going to hell, not because you did anything wrong, you just picked the wrong flavor of God to worship.

C.S. Lewis, in A Horse and His Boy, posited that those who believed in the great Tisroc (which was a thinly disguised Islam) would still go to heaven, if they believed for all the right reasons.   Not all religious leaders are as charitable as C.S. Lewis.

Logically, it makes no sense - that there would be so many religions, all claiming to be true, and of course, only one really being true.  And logically, it goes without saying, that since faith is not something that can be divined as "true" or "false" there is no logical way of determining which religion, of the thousands out there, is the one true faith.

That leaves an alternative explanation, which answers all of these questions, but does not make religious leaders happy.   Logically, then all religions are untrue.

Think about it.  Each religion claims to be the one true religion and all others untrue.   This cannot be proven logically.   However if they are all untrue, then the assertion that a religion is the one true religion is false, as if that religion is true, then all of the others are untrue as well.

Conversely, we cannot argue, as in Life of Pi, that all religions are true, as each asserts, as a fundamental belief, that the others are untrue, which does not hold logically, if they are all true. 

So, Occam's razor leads us the first answer - that all religions are untrue.

And this is not a difficult thing to parse out.   Faith "answers" questions that cannot be answered - what happens when we die?  What is consciousness?  What is the meaning of life?  And so on.  These answers may be comforting, but since they are based on faith, they cannot be proven true or false.  You have to take them on faith.

So, early on, people came up with answers to unanswerable questions. The world was a wild and mysterious - and often deadly - place, and faith provided answers to impossible-to-answer questions.

And if that was all it was, I would have no problem with faith.   But early on, people realized that faith could be hijacked and that the clan member who claimed to divine the future or connect with the Gods, could stay home in the cave and not have to hunt and gather berries, have his choice of young assistants, and be given lots of booty in the form of sacrifices.  Pretty sweet deal.

And such religious leaders quickly realized they could become leaders-in-fact, and tell everyone else what to do, simply by telling them that their most basic and natural urges were in fact wrong, and that they had offended the Gods at every turn, but that fortunately, thanks to the tribal Shaman, the Gods could be appeased - for a small fee.

Again, this isn't hard to parse out - logically.   It just makes sense and is the most obvious explanation for the actions of religious leaders of all stripes, as well as the excessive violence and wars committed in the name of religion over the ages (basically, fights for power and control of everyone).

There is, of course, another way.   Note that when I said that logically, you could prove that religion is false, I am not saying that you can logically say there is no God, or that faith has no purpose.

What I am saying is that the idea of an organized religion, that denies the validity of all other religions, and then tries to control you financially, physically, and emotionally,is just not a valid proposition, other than for the person running the religion in question.

Which is why I say religion is a fine thing, and I will join the first one than makes me Pope or Head Thetan.   Thanks but no thanks, I will not be a tithing plebe, but rather the guy at the top making all the dough.  Why do it any other way?

Failing that, if you want to commune with God, the admission fee has been - and always will be - free.   You need not a church, a religion, a book, a priest, pandit, Imam, or minister, to become close to God as you see him or her (or as nothing).  It's all right there, ready for your access, free of charge.   We all live about the same amount of time on this Earth, and none of us has the inside track to God - not even the Pope.  No one has lived so much longer than you as to have the answers to the imponderables in life.   Anyone who says otherwise is selling snake oil.

So what's the point of this?  Well, an awful lot of people get caught up in religion, to try to find meaning in their lives, to try to make themselves out as better than you and I, or just to drown out the deafening silence in their lives.

At best, it just drains their bank accounts of thousands of dollars.  At worst, it starts mayhem and violence, as religious "leaders" exhort their sheep-like followers to attack others and put their noses into their neighbor's business - in order, of course, to lead the unbelievers to the path of "righteousness" or a gas chamber.

Organized religion has a lot to answer for.  In fact, pretty much everything.

NOTE:  I started this posting years ago and only finished it today.

UPDATE:  Several readers have written to me with some comments, reminding me that not all religions exclude one another.  Perhaps I was not as articulate as I should have been.   My comments are directed toward the fundamentalist "my way or the highway" versions which exist in nearly every religion on the planet - the sorts of people who kill each other over whose version of Christianity or Islam is the "right" version.   And that still goes on, today.

There are some religions that don't exclude others.  Indeed, even Scientology claims that you can be a Catholic and a Scientologist at the same time.   I am not sure I want to try that - sort of like a fellow I met who claimed one could have a "responsible meth habit".  You go first.

The Catholic church used to be very strict about this - and still is, on paper.  But as they lose more and more parishioners, they are doing outreach to bring them back into the church, which is something they refused to do before.  You set foot in a Protestant church and it was, well, you're dead to me.   As more Hispanics are drawn into these evangelical Inglesias, the church has become alarmed.  A friend of mine works with the church to help put on these "Welcome Back!" services, where the stray members of the flock are welcomed back to the Catholic church and forgiven for their past sins of attending Pentecostal meetings.  I am sure some money changes hands as part of this.

Most people are more relaxed about their religion. As I noted before, my parents were "Cocktail Presbyterians" in that they would invite the minister to their cocktail parties, and that sort of substituted for attending church.   He was a nice man, but gave the most boring sermons you could imagine.

Most religious people, at least in America, are relaxed in their practices, I think.  People skip church and think nothing of it.  Many don't go for years at a time, or only on Christmas or Easter.   Most Catholics I know haven't been to mass in ages (but they still send in money!).   And I think the same is true for Jews, Muslims, and the like.  Hey, what's not to like about bacon, anyway?

But that is not what this posting is all about.  It is directed at those die-hard theologians who believe that their brand of soap is better than all the other brands, and anyone who uses a competing brand should be shot.  We have too many of such folks in the world, and even one is too many.

The very fact that one organized religion believes itself to be the one-and-only-true-religion is a logical impossibility.   You can't have five one-and-only-true-religions, which means that any of them who claim to be the one-and-only are lying through their teeth, and doing so to manipulate us.

UPDATE:  A reader writes that I am "searching for the meaning of life" which is not true (and I always love it when people try to tell me what I think - a neat and dirty trick).   His pitch, that Christianity is the "right" religion because the Bible says so.  Jesus said "I am the light and the way" so that settles that!   Talk about circular logic!   Christianity is the "right" religion because it says so, so shut up!

Problem is, Mohammed said the same thing, as did Moses (no worshiping golden idols!) and I am sure leaders of a dozen or more religions have said likewise.   Belief is belief - it is what you want it to be.  Chances are, your beliefs are what your parents believed, or what is popular in your country, your neighborhood, or your culture.

Pretty scary thought, right there.  The "right" belief is what you are exposed to.  The "wrong" belief is what "those other people" halfway across the world believe.

The meaning of life?  There is no meaning - at least not to be discerned while living it.   Life is very short, however, and in a very short time, we all get to discover the answers, or whether there are none.   In the meantime, enjoy yourself, be nice to other people, and don't obsess about things you cannot possibly figure out in a lifetime.

And never assume that someone else, who has lived a similar short life, has all the answers, just because they wear a robe or talk in solemn tones - particularly if they are holding out a collection plate.

And they're always holding out a collection plate!