Burn All of the Holy Books

Religion is killing us. I’ve said that before and now it seems even-more true. Just take a look at the current events of the past 48 hours.  A presidential candidate is questioning the First Amendment’s mandate of separation of church and state. After 11 years in Afghanistan, the people there are are rioting and killing because their so-called holy book was burned. Today Israeli officials say if they decide to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, they will do so without the prior consent or knowledge of the US.

The Israeli Torah is better than the Muslim Koran. But we Americans ‘know’ that the New Testament trumps every other holy book.  Why? Because ‘they’ told us so. [expletive deleted]

Religion: How banal.  How tribal. How deceptive.  Yet today in the state just 5 miles north of me, thousands of religious adherents will cast their vote to nominate a theocrat for president of this nation. Yes, a theocrat. I do not have the time or interest in proving my point. Thousands of Michiganders though ‘believe’ that religion ought to mix in with government- that it would be best for The People to insert religious tenets into our Constitution.

Whose tenets?

If there is a universal [or multiversal] Deity, and the jury is out on that one, that Deity is in no way represented in these so-called holy books. It couldn’t be.  A Universal Deity would not be represented as an earthly, tribal god. Or gods, as the reality plays out. This Universal Deity would not be masculine. In fact, not humanoid at all. The Universal Deity would not be emotional nor divisive.  Yet we humans projected all of our fears and prejudices upon our tribal god and raised him to the level of Universal Deity. How sad. How scary. How tricky.

Author and bishop John Shelby Spong says in his newest book, Eternal Life: A New Vision, “Religious rituals  were defined as part of the human need to deny, to cope and to pretend that all of these techniques are useful when reality presents us with something that is beyond our ability to manage emotionally.” He refers to that moment in time when homo sapiens at last became aware of their self-consciousness.

I had never thought about that moment those many millennia ago. What was it like? What was it like to look into a pool of water and realized it was I? Dolphins, elephants and some great apes know this, too, but they probably don’t know the rest of the story. The rest of the story is that at that moment we began to figure out that being alive was risky. That we died. That if we didn’t forage or hunt, we, too would be dead. And that the forces of nature were not always kind to the species. And the darkness of night.  Much of all of this is retained in modern children- the childhood fears of the things that go bump in the night.

Life was a living nightmare at the moment that humans ‘knew about it.’  Survival was paramount. Gone were the days of unawareness. Spong believes that the myth about Adam and Eve actually tells this very story of enlightenment in the human species. Erich Fromm wrote, “Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.” The mythical Garden of Eden is a substitute for early human unconsciousness. We didn’t know what we didn’t know and that was bliss. But when we became aware, it was game-over! We were swept out of the ‘Garden’ and into the real and often savage world. No going back. Sin had nothing at all to do with it; religious shysters added that for control purposes.

I will never imagine the Garden myth otherwise; it was human awakening out of our animal slumber. No god, no serpent,  no apple, no misogyny, no sin. Spong writes

 If the species Homo sapiens had not found a way to lower the anxiety that self-consciousness brings and to transform it from chronic trauma into meaning and hope, I am not sure that this step, which we think of as an inevitable part of the evolutionary journey, would have been sustainable. From a survival point of view, it matters not whether that meaning and hope were real or delusional; they were necessary for the maintenance of human life.

To lower their anxiety, he said. Naturally, as my readers expect, religion was invented as that coping mechanism. “If God is an entity whose primary purpose is to still our trembling hearts, then can God really be anything other than a creature of our own making?” Spong continues, “Must this insight not drive us to the conclusion that God can no longer be viewed as anything other than a figment of our imagination, created in our own image for the sole purpose of providing a cushion against the emotional shocks brought on by self-consciousness and the knowledge of our inevitable mortality? No one can look openly at our human beginnings and not wonder in this manner about these things.”

No one except literalists. Or fundamentalists.

One final quote from Spong:

Is the very function of religion calculated to provide us with a believable denial of the angst that accompanies self-consciousness? Beyond those questions is the deeper probe into religion’s origins. Was the development of the various religions a human inevitability? Is the anxiety of self-consciousness so great that only the belief in the existence of an external supernatural deity, who has the power to  come to our aid, will ever quiet our fears? Is God or is religion itself now revealed as little more than a human creation?

Great questions to ponder by those of us who are willing to ponder then rather than believing.

If Spong is correct, and I have no reason to question his motive, then religion was invented to quell our angst after we discovered that death is our final destiny. And that nature does not always work towards extending our lives.

Rather than the line I memorized back in 3rd grade, We were created in God’s image, the truth is exactly the opposite.

Returning to my thesis of burning all of the so-called holy books- why not? After all, they are not at all holy nor, I might add, wholly. They are a collection of man’s cumulative fears about life and especially death. A book of angst and fantasy ‘solutions’ to those fears.

Burn them all! Then, after the ashes settle, let us all probe the real meaning of life- to live it fully!

Advertisements

36 thoughts on “Burn All of the Holy Books

  1. If you wan the perfect example of this mess–look at Jerusalem.

    It’s holy to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, yet they can’t play like good children and share. No, every one of them want it all for themselves.

    1. That’s because it is ‘holy’ ground for all of them. What a joke! It’s like watching children play the game, king of the mountain!

  2. True, Laci, and just look at the Christianity division between the Orthodox and the Roman Church….

  3. “…because their so-called holy book was burned.”

    The Islamists are angry that U.S. troops burned their holy book.
    My question is where is the anger at the prisoners who wrote in
    the holy book and according to Islamic law defaced their sacred
    book. It is my understanding that writing on the pages of the Koran
    is a very serious offense.

    Should the President have apologized for the action of U.S. troops?

    1. That was almost exactly what I asked the TV when I heard about it the first time.

    2. Should the President have apologized for the action of U.S. troops?

      Of course. He’s Commander-in-Chief. Yet the reactionary right decries that [do I need to add, mindlessly?] They’d rather send in bombers and ignite a brand new conflagration.

      1. CLARIFICATION: I meant, where was the anger at the prisoners who defaced the Koran. And yes, the President definitely needed to apologize and I’m happy he did it immediately after the incident. Sometimes the high road (and usually the smarter road) seems wrong in the short run, but is actually the right thing to do in the big picture. Can you imagine what would be happening over there now if they perceived us as not giving a damn about their religion? The extremists prey upon this misconception to rile the people up.

      2. But apologize to Karzi? A drug addict and trafficker. A man who is stealing billions of dollars from first Bush and now Obama. C’mon, M_R, get a little more serious! What can’t you seem to take any criticism of this President. We have a failed Presidency, and yet there is nothing we can do but re-elect him to save whatever is left.

  4. “Today Israeli officials say if they decide to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, they will do so without the prior consent or knowledge of the US.”

    Now, M_R, you don’t really believe that, do you?

    1. It would be only their decision if they had come upon the means to attack on their own. BUT, that’s not the case.

  5. “that it would be best for The People to insert religious tenets into our Constitution.”

    But, isn’t it already done as the Declaration and Pledge say this is
    a country under a God, and guaranteed by the First Amedment?

    1. Neither the Declaration nor the Pledge have any legal binding.

      The Constitution (the law of our land) has no mention of God. As for the First Amendment: It’s purpose is to keep religion OUT of the government. If we have freedom of religion then it follows that the government cannot legislate or enforce laws based on any holy book.

    2. the Declaration of Independence is an historic document with no legal value (see US Constitution Article VI).

      The pledge of allegiance was not a governmentally created institution. It was written by by Christian Socialist Francis Bellamy in 1892 and formally adopted by Congress as the pledge in 1942. The Pledge has been modified four times since its composition, with the most recent change adding the words “under God” in 1954. I heard this change was meant to prevent “communists” from reciting the pledge.

      So, the first is a historic curiousity and the second political posturing.

      Unfortunately, it is political posturing which no one questions in a secular society such as the US.

      Perhaps, more should say it is inappropriate to say “under god” in such a society.

      Then again, one is pledging allegiance to an inanimate object–so, which is a more ridiculous proposition?

      1. “…pledging allegiance to an inanimate object…”

        That’s another problem I have with the pledge. I don’t want to bring religion into anything connected to the government (we all know how that works out) and pledging to a “thing” is just dumb. And for years certain people have been trying to have laws passed dictating how to handle this inanimate object. The American flag does mean something to me, but it’s not like it’s a living thing. And having laws relating to it reminds me of the Nazi laws regarding required respect for the Fuhrer.

        So far I have avoided attending any event where the pledge is recited. I’m worrying about the day I have to swear on a Bible. How do I explain to a judge that doing that means absolutely nothing to me?

  6. “Rather than the line I memorized back in 3rd grade, We were created in God’s image, the truth is exactly the opposite.”

    With that line, you can still say that you are an agnostic? It seems
    you have moved into the secularist camp….

  7. Mr. Mud, your reasoning fills in exactly with how the extreme religious fringe expands in times of uncertainty (i.e. major recession).

    By the way, is it just me or has Mr. Santorum been actually contradicting himself during the same interviews? (I saw you car in the French Quarter parking lot today.)

    1. …how the extreme religious fringe expands in times of uncertainty

      Do you mean like ‘clinging to their guns and Bibles??’

  8. WEDNESDAY FUN: A while back I had my spouse test how easy it was to find out private information about people who commented on blogs. It is EXTREMELY easy, so be careful what you say. The email address you use can lead to all kinds of information about you. OK, that’s the background.

    Many years ago while attending college I worked in a restaurant. The couple who owed the restaurant were very religious. They even had a rule that we were to give gays a hard time so they wouldn’t come back. This worked so well they were even listed as a “trouble” spot in a local directory for this type of activity. Being so religious they were very judgmental of anyone who didn’t follow the Bible to a “T”. They even gave preferential hiring treatment to good “church” type people. Toward the end of my employment I learned that the husband had actually started the restaurant with his first wife (they had one kid). He took up with a waitress, married her and sent the wife and kid packing. Hypocritical, wouldn’t you say?

    Now the fun for Mr. Mud. You are in a current discussion with someone who made the statement “The availability of contraceptives lowered the moral values of the people.” He followed this with his usual good wishes. Well, his email was the one we used for the email information test. While looking at the online information, we noticed his first child by the second wife was born three months after his marriage to her. Sounds to me like someone isn’t reading the Bible correctly.

    (I never repeat gossip, so listen close the first time.)
    (If you don’t have anything nice to say about anyone, come sit next to me.)

    1. Oh, THAT guy! He’s a real hoot. He enjoys writing posts with me in the title and then, complains when I begin to challenge him. The poor soul.

  9. sorry I haven’t been here for a while…springtime adventures and a major 2 day long power outage after a logging truck took out a power line! Incredible, no one was hurt!
    But, speaking of holy books, I am reading the most incredible book now. It is hard to believe it is a true first person story by an Australian, Gregory David Roberts .The book is called Shantaram. Roberts was a heroin addict, at one time after escaping from Australia’s maximun security prison, he was Australia’s most wanted man. He ended up in Mumbai, living in a real slum. In the slum, he discovers real love and the real value of humanity. With his basic knowledge of medicine, he opens a slum clinic and discovers the underworld of the black market of medicine run by the lepers of Mumbai…
    All religions come together here. Hindu, Muslim, Christian. He ends up with the Afghans fighting against the Soviets and the rise of the Taleban. The Taleban of course are fighting the Soviets, but they are being funded by the Americans and the Pakistanis.
    It is such an epic tale and the futility of religion, as well as the wisdom of great teachers runs as a current through out the book. I have to admit, I have never read anything as engrossing, as powerful as this mans story. It’s not over. Shantaram was the 2nd book. Almost 1000 pages. He eventually went back to Australia, was re arrested, wrote the book in prison where the prison guards destroyed his first 2 copies…so he actually wrote the book three times. Now, he is out of jail legally and has his own humanitarian foundation. Now this guy is a figure that makes him a truly secular saint. I would recommend this book to any one who dares to want to change the world. The third book is currently being finished. The first book is his life as a criminal in Australia up to his prison escape. The third book will deal with his life after he went back to prison to finish his original sentence.

  10. In case I wasn’t clear, when he was in Afghanistan, he was with the Tribal Alliance, who fought both the Soviets and the Taleban and were the real heros of the Afghan struggle against the Soviets.

    1. THAT is a powerful story, Microdot. Very powerful and it leads, I think, down the same pathway that Spong is taking me. Spong sees no value in the current set of religions which currently dot the globe.

      Spong, now 80, is wondering what ‘it’ was all about in that he’s much closer to the grave. He is rejecting the stuff of religion and is seeking the path to Eternal Life. He doubts all of the things that religious leaders and holy books say about eternal life. I’m only in chapter 9, but it is clear to me that the fundamentalist idea of a spaceship landing in Jerusalem to scoop up all of the ‘good’ people is at best a cruel joke perpetrated on mindless adherents to an ancient hoax.

      I’m equally certain that he doubts much of any suggestion of the type of resurrection modeled by Jesus. I think of those billions of Christians now alive who ‘believe’ that they will end up at the pearly gates leading down the gold-covered path to eternal bliss.

      I’m sad that my dead relatives believed all of that crap, too. They wasted so much of their lives worrying about sin and punishment that there was too little time left to become fully-functioning humans!

      1. “…seeking the path to Eternal Life.”

        Yep, we are at the stage!

        When my “lights” click off for the final time, I don’t think there
        will be anything else. There is no other side. Simply, it is over.

        Some humans reach “immortality”, but it’s not continuing on in
        another sphere. It is the sum of their work, good and bad. People
        such as Hammurabi, Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Solon,
        Aristotle, Plato, Hippocrates, Alexander the Great, Caesar, Jesus,
        Mohammad, Dante, Columbus, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Erasmus,
        Luther, Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Lee, Grant,
        Adam Smith, Locke, Hobbes, Edumund Burke, Marx, Napoleon, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Lenin, FDR, Hitler, Mao, JFK, or King. And by no means, is it limited to these humans.
        But, it also seems to me immortality is just not for humans. How about Lassie, or Seabiscuit. Events live on immemorial as well.
        Such as Battle of Marathon, Greece, Rome, Defeat of the Spanish
        Armada, Battle of Vienna, Lexington, U.S. Civil War, WWI, Stock
        Market Crash, WWII, Kitty Hawk, the Atomic Bomb, 9/11.

        It seems to me our mark is made here and remains here. We are
        judged here by our peers, not by some being on the otherside.
        To me, there is no crossing over for any justification. These people, or animals, or events live on forever here on earth. The rest is forgotten…….

        1. WEll, well, my friend. Imagine that two graduates of Catholic universities fail to believe in a hereafter! Where did our religion teachers go wrong?? Of course, we didn’t buy into it back then, either, did we?

            1. (Actually, I learned about evolution in Roman Catholic school and was taught to question before believing. I think something happens next, but I’m just a human, early in the human existence, that accepts my ignorance of such things.)

              1. One of my required college courses for my major field at the Jesuit institution was the Biology of Evolution. Excellent course!

                1. Very true, M_R. And NON that is true as well…My Roman Catholic schools taught evolution and squared in with a God by saying that all we had to believe is that somewhere along the
                  evolutionary process God instilled a soul….

    1. Truly pathetic.

      I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.
      John Stuart Mill, in a Parliamentary debate with the Conservative MP, John Pakington (May 31, 1866); this seems to have become paraphrased as “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.” which was a variant published in Quotations for Our Time (1978), edited by Laurence J. Peter.

  11. Hello All,
    I am sorry as I have been very busy and I am coming in late to this discussion.

    That being said, I would add that those who reference these Holy Books for their source for the validity of their viewpoints, do not have the understanding that it maybe “Faith” or even “Poetic Art;” but it is not “KNOWLEDGE.”

Comments are closed.