The perversion of religion

To start with, what is this archaic bugaboo called “religion”?

My trusted Merriam-Webster dictionary offers the following definition:
“Religion is an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a God or a group of gods.”


To me, religion is the refuge of lost souls.
It is a mythology propped by dogmas (principles laid down as incontrovertibly true) that cannot be challenged.

To an enlightened person, nothing should ever remain unchallenged.
Dogmas are the enemies of progress, and religious dogmas are the enemies of humanity.

“From the beginning men used God to justify the unjustifiable.”
Salman RushdieThe Satanic Verses

In a fast changing world, everything needs to be periodically revisited and updated, including religious tenets.

“Intelligent men do not decide any subject until they have carefully examined both or all sides of it. Fools, cowards, and those too lazy to think, accept blindly, without examination, dogmas and doctrines imposed upon them in childhood by their parents, priests, and teachers, when their minds were immature and they could not reason.”
James Hervey Johnson

The two most popular religions worldwide (Christianity and Islam) have long been beacons of intolerance and cruelty. Their motto has long been “You are either with us or against us. If you are against us you deserve to die.”
And died they did (and still do), by the thousands.
It has been estimated that the French Wars of Religion alone (1562-1598) which pitted Catholics against Huguenots claimed at least 2,000,000 victims.
ISIS reign of terror will probably surpass that number.

That’s why I am so deeply suspicious of so-called “Men of God”.

Who are those men, and why should anybody listen to them?
What gives them the authority to say what they so loudly proclaim?
What do they know that any educated person doesn’t know?
Why should anybody believe their often skewed interpretation of ancient, highly partisan documents?

Life should not be regulated by fanatical religious autocrats but by common sense.
Religious wars are just thinly disguised excuses for grabbing power and appropriating what belongs to somebody else. God has nothing to do with it.

Many people are atheists and live happily, unburdened by taboos and fears of all kinds.
To have different beliefs is not a sin punishable by death.

Live and let live!


And yet it moves!

According to the rumor mill, Apple will launch the iPhone 6 this Fall.

What it means is that my six months old iPhone 5 is soon going to be obsolete and probably finish its brief career as a glorified paperweight.
I am not complaining, I am just stating a stark reality.

What was hot two or three years ago will soon lose its shine and be pushed aside in favor of new ideas and products.
Innovate or perish, that’s the way it is.

So, why do some people still cling to ideas articulated two or three thousands ago? I asked myself this morning while shaving.
I was of course mulling over Pope Francis (who I believe is a good man) visit to Israel and all the controversies that it generated.
Islam, Judaism and Christianity have common roots but have been bitter foes for a long time. Yet, they all base their “righteous” teachings on what “prophets” uttered a long time ago.

What Moses, Jesus or Muhammad proclaimed might have been sensible centuries ago, but in my opinion “pronouncements” (just like patents) should have expiration dates.
After a certain time doctrines should be reformulated to accommodate new times.

I absolutely don’t see why after all those years Jews and Moslems cannot eat pork or catholic priests cannot marry.
Does this make any sense, or is it just my iconoclastic tendencies?

Portrait_of_Galileo_Galilei,_1636Many people believed for a long time that the earth was flat. Similarly, people were told that the sun revolved around the earth.
Galileo Galilei thought otherwise and got into big trouble for contradicting the teachings of the Church. He was condemned to spend the rest of his life under house arrest.
“And yet it moves!”
Not cool!

My core belief is that no man should be bound by any archaic doctrine.
We have to live and adapt to new paradigms.
If it feels good and does not harm anybody, do it!

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” -George Bernard Shaw –



Polytheism redux

If you watch the news, you should know that there is some dirty business going on in Africa.
In Mali, (a former French colony) Islamist fanatics have been trying to overrun the country and impose harsh Sharia laws (like cutting off limbs and other niceties) upon the entire population.

Personally, I have long been suspicious and wary of religion. Most of my life, as a matter of fact.
Shortly after I was born, millions of people were hunted and exterminated simply because they were Jews. It was not an auspicious exposure to religion and I have been a steadfast opponent of that practice ever since.

Since time immemorial, various groups have been persecuted for being different, or for not adhering to a prevalent belief.
A long time ago, Egyptians enslaved and abused Jews.
Romans amused themselves by killing Christians, and Jews of course.
During the Crusades, Christians killed Moslems and Jews, and Moslems slaughtered Christians (and Jews naturally).
Later on, during the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598) Catholics butchered Protestants.
Protestants then, during the wars of the Three Kingdoms (1639-1651) cut down Catholics, and vice-versa.
Hindus are regularly killing Moslems and Moslems are bent on eliminating just about anybody who is not Moslem.
And I just touched the tip of the iceberg.
Is it what religion is all about? Intolerance?

People or institutions are usually judged by their legacies; overall, religion’s balance sheet is drowning in red ink.

Over the years, many religions have switched from polytheism to monotheism. It showed a singular lack of imagination!
Personally, the notion of a single god controlling the entire Universe makes my head spin.

Greece-Ancient_11736735-300x225The Greeks whom I always admired were polytheists. They worshiped more than one single god and that makes a lot of sense to me.
To be efficient, you need to have special knowledge of certain subjects and a bunch of specialized deities are better than one jack-of-all-trades.
So the Greeks adopted a form of religion that was eminently logical as well as credible.

In case you forgot, the main Greek deities were:

Aphrodite: Goddess of love, lust, beauty, wife of Hephaestus.
Apollo: God of music, medicine, health, prophecies, poetry, and archery.
Ares: God of war, murder and bloodshed.
Artemis: Goddess of the hunt, wild things, and the moon.
Athena: Goddess of wisdom, warfare, strategy, handicrafts and reason..
Demeter: Goddess of fertility, agriculture, grain and harvest.
Dionysus: God of wine, parties/festivals, madness and merriment.
Hades: God of the underworld and wealth.
Hephaestus: God of fire and the forge with very weak legs
Hera: Goddess of marriage, women, and childbirth.
Hermes: God of flight, thieves, mischief, commerce, and travelers.
Hestia: Goddess of the hearth and home, the focal point of every household.
Poseidon: God of the sea and god of earthquakes as well.
And at the top, Zeus: The king of all gods. The ruler of Mount Olympus and God of the Sky and Thunder.

A solid bunch of guys who knew their trade!

With this kind of organization, you didn’t have to bother the Big Cheese for every little favor you desired.
If you had love problems, you talked to Aphrodite. Money problems? A good bet would have been Hermes. Marital problems? Ares could be the guy.

So, as you can plainly see, polytheism makes more sense than monotheism.
And anyway, if you insist on believing in a single god, you need to be realistic.
We are about 7 billion people on this planet and most of the globe’s population adheres to monotheism. That puts a heck of a lot of pressure on the Big Guy.

With polytheism, when you need help, you talk directly to the deity in charge of your problem; your chances of success will be much greater than waiting for an overworked single divinity to take care of your predicament.

Trust me. If you insist on believing in miracles, polytheism is the way to go!