Nathan Bond's TART Remarks

Religion: Respect? Ridicule!

Suffering… Does religious belief bring relief?

with 38 comments

Patrick van Niekerk writes that religious belief is for many people a powerful defence system – against pain and suffering and sorrow.

With what can this defense system be replaced if religious belief is taken away?, asks Patrick.

I have addressed this very question in an essay of October 2005 – Dealing with reality: An evaluation of the claims of religious belief systems and a scientific paradigm in equipping people to address the core demands of being.

Religion, whatever it may or may not be, is certainly not an answer in itself – to any possible question.

Bertrand Russell, writing in the prologue to his autobiography, declares: “Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

“I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy – ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness–that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what – at last – I have found.

“With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

“Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

“This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.”

Written by Nathan Bond

December 28, 2009 at 12:44

Posted in Religion must go!

38 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Hans.

    Jy maak ‘n stelling dat “Christus die Waarheid is.”

    Wat bedoel jy daarmee?

    Doktor Einstein

    December 29, 2010 at 23:19

  2. Well Hanswors, that’s a typically insightful Hanswors answer (i.e. a bullshit one). And never mind that it took you a full nine months to come up with it. Is it coincidentally the human gestation period?

    Con-Tester

    December 29, 2010 at 22:14

  3. Con-Tester, Christ is the Truth and they are still waiting for it to come.

    Hans Matthysen

    December 29, 2010 at 22:09

  4. And which of near enough 40,000 versions of “Truth” would that be, Hans? Because it’s certainly not the same as yours.

    Con-Tester

    April 1, 2010 at 09:04

  5. Con-Tester, the Anglican are also a by product of the RCC and still seek the Truth.

    Hans Matthysen

    April 1, 2010 at 00:55

  6. Expelled Anglican parishioner alleges dingo tactics by kangaroo court. For an establishment that pretends to defend Truth™, it certainly looks like these people don’t like hearing very much of it.

    Con-Tester

    March 25, 2010 at 10:44

  7. Con-Tester, you would say anything to avoid a discussion on a book of which you find yourself a novice, even though you may have made a deep study thereof.

    Hans Matthysen

    January 25, 2010 at 22:48

  8. Pat, Matthysen has two t’s and one s. It appears that you are not very observant and therefore you are not in denial. You just seem to miss a lot, so how would you ever understand what is written in the Bible?

    Hans Matthysen

    January 25, 2010 at 22:42

  9. Pat jy is n tosser,

    I did the latter part of your request,now you want me to write my “kak praat” insult into a full paragraph,

    Jy het gekry waarvoor jy gevra het, dink maar wat jy wil van my dop leeg of vol, ek is gelukkig nie die een wat n poepol verskuiwing gehad het nie, gat na mond en mond na gat, en nou praat jy kak.

    Please feel free to ask questions, agree with me, disagree with me, compliment me on my opinions or insult me if you wish.

    Pieter

    January 19, 2010 at 15:44

  10. Thanks Con-Tester,

    I just ordered Nigel Warburton’s Philosophy and will give it a read.

    I agree, a real pity about Prom, without any explanation.

    Life goes on.

    Still plenty of wackaloons around. Can’t lift a rock without them crawling all over the place.

    I was reading Die Burger, and boy, this is a nation of superstitious people. And not just religion, the new age nonsense is rife in people’s minds.

    Looks like people just want to believe in the impossible.

    Got to run,

    Later,

    McBrolloks

    McBrolloks

    January 19, 2010 at 08:39

  11. Dankie, Nathan.🙂

    Con-Tester

    January 18, 2010 at 12:24

  12. Hi McBrolloks, good to hear from you again, hope you are well. The sudden and unexplained disappearance of both Prometheus blogs is deeply strange to say the least.

    As instructive and useful as Whyte’s book is, it is important to appreciate that it is something of an informal primer of one small but very important aspect of philosophy. Philosophy is a very wide branch of learning with many sub-disciplines of which logic is just one. A fuller awareness of philosophy’s wide sweep can be got from, among other more technical books, Nigel Warburton’s Philosophy – the Basics, Stephen Law’s Philosophy Gym, and Simon Blackburn’s Think. The last of these is perhaps the most difficult for the lay reader because its style of writing is close to that used in professional philosophical discourses.

    Con-Tester

    January 18, 2010 at 12:20

  13. Hi Con-Tester. Long time since we talked. I miss the old blog a lot. It was a lot of sports there.

    Just wanted to thank you for the book you recommended for me to read about philosophy. Crimes Against Logic by Jamie Whyte.

    I enjoyed it very much. Nice and to the point. Logical and easy to understand. I will recommend it to others.

    Thanks a lot, and all the best,

    McBrolloks

    McBrolloks

    January 17, 2010 at 10:27

  14. C-T, jou vermoëns om ‘n punt te maak bly staan.

    Nathan Bond

    January 17, 2010 at 07:23

  15. …nie dat die einste Jieeeesusss-verhaal eintlik oorspronklik is, net wyd bekend, of dat ek “vermoëns” reg gespel het. Nogtans, die punt bly staan.

    Con-Tester

    January 16, 2010 at 18:26

  16. Dit is seker waar omdat omtrent elke superheld storie tot ’n aansienlike mate ’n oorvertelling is van die Jieeeesusss-verhaal: ’n enkele en opregte ou met uitsonderlike gawes wat die wêreld teen sleg kom red. Dus ook die populêrheid van díe tekenprentjies. Ongelukkig het veels te min mense die nodige vermoeëns om die gelykhede raak te sien.

    Con-Tester

    January 16, 2010 at 18:22

  17. Pieter,
    Kom ek wed jou dat jy nie in staat is om ‘n hele paragraaf vol te skryf met die bietjie kennis wat daar in jou lee dop vassit nie. Soos ek reeds gese het, ek glo nie jy het al enige ander boek of boeke gelees behalwe daai bybel snert en jou comic books. So al skryf jy een paragraaf, sal dit net kak uit die bybel wees, of wie weet, dalk iets oor Spider-man of Superman……?

    PAT VAN NIEKERK

    January 15, 2010 at 23:19

  18. OJA ek het ook nie gevra dat jy my deurdagte stelling moet antwoord, ek het my mening gelig, het sy dit n paragraaf lank was of een woord.

    Pieter

    January 15, 2010 at 10:25

  19. Pieter, se vir my: Hoe wil jy he ek moet jou diep deurdagte stelling antwoord? Om net vir iemand te se dat hy kak praat, getuig van ‘n brein wat nie veel meer het om te se nie. Probeer gerus “Patrick jy praat kak en ek stem nie saam met jou nie want…..blah….blah…..blah….ens….ens….ens…Ek dink nie jy kan dit doen nie, want die bybel en die comic boeke wat jy gelees het jou hele lewe lank het jou nie voorberei om saam met die groot manne te gesels nie.

    Ek hoef nie as n groot man gesien te word om te weet dat jy kak praat nie!! Dit vat gelukkig nie n geleerde om dit raak te sien nie!Ek stem nie met jou saam omdat ek nie met jou saam stem, is dit te moeilik om te begreip of het jy n graad in fisika nodig om te verstaan?

    Pieter

    January 15, 2010 at 10:22

  20. Hans, your theology is a stale farce, even by the execrable standards of standard Christian theology. It is almost as tenuous as your grasp of the idea of how burden-of-proof actually works. Calling for a discussion of your book of collected fairytales may be your latest yawn-inducing mantra, but doing so is not going to convince me or any other apostate that it’s anything more than a collection of fairytales. We may as well discuss the life lessons espoused in a Mickey Mouse comic. It is a Mickey Mouse comic, and will remain one. Can you understand that? Has it finally penetrated? In case it’s not obvious, that means that such a discussion would be utterly pointless, except as an exercise for you to obfuscate the real issue with your own subjective, self-serving, peculiarly Matthysenological interpretation of your book of collected fairytales.

    To get off the hook, present the concrete evidence that you keep claiming that you have. That, or admit that you don’t have any. It’s that simple, really.

    Con-Tester

    January 14, 2010 at 18:54

  21. Hans Mathyssen,
    “Denial is not just the name of a river in Egypt”.

    PAT VAN NIEKERK

    January 14, 2010 at 18:50

  22. Pieter, se vir my: Hoe wil jy he ek moet jou diep deurdagte stelling antwoord? Om net vir iemand te se dat hy kak praat, getuig van ‘n brein wat nie veel meer het om te se nie. Probeer gerus “Patrick jy praat kak en ek stem nie saam met jou nie want…..blah….blah…..blah….ens….ens….ens…Ek dink nie jy kan dit doen nie, want die bybel en die comic boeke wat jy gelees het jou hele lewe lank het jou nie voorberei om saam met die groot manne te gesels nie.

    PAT VAN NIEKERK

    January 14, 2010 at 18:43

  23. Pat, what you have written above my be applicable to many religions, yet it is not applicable to the example Jesus or the Apostles portrayed.

    Hans Matthysen

    January 13, 2010 at 21:58

  24. Con-Tester, you are wrong as you have never indulged in discussing any part of the bible I have quoted you and therefore gullibility in this regard, is on your part.
    I offered no excuse and only stated a fact, that you prefer to ignore.

    Hans Matthysen

    January 13, 2010 at 21:45

  25. Be careful however, because there is also a lot of rubbish out there, written by idiots.

    praat jy wat n klomp kak kwyt raak!

    Pieter

    January 12, 2010 at 14:39

  26. The silence is deafening…..How about some challenges from the holy fraternity. Please feel free to ask questions, agree with me, disagree with me, compliment me on my opinions or insult me if you wish.

    Apart from this whole religion/atheism debate, let us not deny that we all suffer from some aspects
    of neurosis, that we have all been through the mill in some way, that we have been hurt or neglected
    to some greater or lesser extent, that we have longings, unfulfilled needs, that we sometimes or even always feel a painful loneliness.

    If you are religious, can you admit that you find some solace by ‘knowing’ that there is some entity out there who now — instead of your parents — “cares” for you and “loves” you etc.?

    Can you also admit that you have never seen this being, or touched him in a tangible way, or heard him actually speak to you in a loud and clear voice that others could also have heard if they had been there?

    How much can you admit to yourself, in the quiet of your room, about your Pain, and about that tiny little voice that is telling you that perhaps you are hurting deep down, and that perhaps your belief in
    God does not actually help you with certain fears and phobias, paranoid thoughts, bad dreams, nightmares, anxiety, insomnia, headaches or migraines, high blood pressure or other medical conditions that make you feel that you need to pray harder and more fervently, perhaps thinking that God is not listening in some way that he does to others…….?

    Or can you admit that you feel you are not a part of this world, always losing out, envying others,
    craving for some real love and warmth from another (real) human being? What about those never-ending thoughts, “devil-inspired” thoughts, racing mind?

    Can you admit your fear that if you let up praying or reading the bible even slightly, the devil will pounce immediately?

    Can you admit these things to yourself? Real healing starts taking place the moment you can admit and stop denying. The next step is to ask: “If I am not well, and I am hurting, what do I do to get better? Then, instead of only reading the bible and other religious paraphernalia, try to open yourself up to other opinions. If you want to fix a car, you don’t read a book on dress-making.

    Sadly, all that is written in the bible, will not ever help you with those very personal problems that
    only you have known about all these years, and some that you have not even been aware of yourself.
    I think you know that.

    At first, you may find it very difficult to absorb and understand what you are reading. Read it over and over again, no matter how painful, until it makes absolute sense to you. Be careful however, because there is also a lot of rubbish out there, written by idiots. Remember, it is about your feelings of hurt and neglect. Those cannot be exorcised by “positive thinking” and other “think yourself well “
    mumbo jumbo. Soon I would like to provide a list of books that will lead the way. Good luck.

    PAT VAN NIEKERK

    January 8, 2010 at 10:10

  27. Observe some religious guy busy espousing his particular little ’package of wisdom’ that he has put together from excerpts from the bible. What do you see?

    If you look and listen beyond the words, you will hear and see perhaps the whining, the ANGER, the hurt, the fear and a host of other emotions and feelings that are trapped inside of him. His being is trying to expel all of that, but he is not directly in contact with his real self. It is the unreal self that is
    proselytising, urging, pleading, often demanding and trying so hard to invoke you to “just please listen” to him and accept what he is saying. He is on a mission, just like the Benny Hings and the
    Angus Buchans of this world. He does not know that he is doing all of this as a result of Pain that is forever pushing upwards inside of himself.

    Pain, hurt, fear, anger, anxiety, unmet needs. In describing this person, you will find it hard to use
    words like vulnerable, soft-hearted, gentle, and the like. He is not open and perceptive to any other inputs. He is dogmatic. He knows what ‘right and wrong’ is.

    Neurotic people are doomed to go on ‘acting-out’ for the rest of their lives. As neurotics, we project and symbolise all of our inner turmoil onto others, especially those that we sense may not be capable of deflecting an onslaught from us. As a small kid at school you are then known as a ‘bully’

    Husbands bully their wives, their children and their domestic help. Bosses bully their employees.
    Some criminals will badly hurt their victims. Some will kill. Bullying can also take place in much more subtle ways. It can take the form of controlling others by various means, such as overwhelming their senses with constant talking, ‘sucking’ on them emotionally, sniggering constantly at things they say and do, preventing them from expressing any thoughts, emotions or feelings. These neurotic
    traits continue the circle of suffering and insanity. Out of desperation, many then turn for help to the very people they shouldn’t……..

    Pastors, preachers and evangelists then portray themselves, among hundreds of other charlatans and purveyors of bullshit, as healers of these very same people who have been abused, suppressed, been confused and otherwise bullied, as wives and as children. Also, the evangelical bully claims to ‘help’ the husband-bully, by verbally bullying him into another state of submission, and that is “total devotion” to this god from the bible. The well-known tactics of using fear and promises of a better after-life are applied.

    THEN THERE IS ‘THE STRUGGLE”.

    A young girl tries desperately and without success to get her cold and distant father to love her unconditionally, to acknowledge her, to ‘see’ her, By the time she is a young adult, she has been struggling for her whole life. In the meantime, that actual act of struggling for her father, has now
    become a defence mechanism in itself. By struggling, she does not feel her Pain. She now has to go on struggling for the rest of her life. She meets a guy who is kind, caring and loving. Alas, there is no
    struggle there. She does not find him ‘exciting”. She describes him as boring. Remember, if she does not struggle, she is in danger of having all her Pain hit her like a freight train.

    Upon meeting a guy whom she senses, is as cold and distant as her father was, she ‘falls in love’, because now she can continue “The Struggle” which is her powerful pain-killer. In other words,
    she simply cannot allow herself to find that warm and loving father, lest she is faced with her Pain.

    THE DISTANT GOD..

    She could have discovered the bible, some church, an evangelist, or other belief system which would
    have also kept her in “The Struggle” , because the god or deity is equally out of reach, and as long as she prays and pleads and implores this entity, she does not feel her Pain. (She also senses that it is safe to struggle for this god or deity, because there is no danger of him materialising, which would mean her struggle ends there, and her Pain hits her.

    There are many examples of famous people, such as actors, artists and rock-stars who have struggled to reach the top. Again, it is “The Struggle” that kept the realisation and acknowledgment of their Pain away from themselves. When they finally reach the top, they have nothing more to struggle for and….their Pain hits them. Enter drugs, rehabilitation clinics and even suicide. We have seen a few of them try religion. Anything to keep Pain away.

    PAT VAN NIEKERK

    January 8, 2010 at 08:01

  28. Screw-Tin-Eyes,
    Thank you for your welcome reply on the “Tolerance” page.

    Although I am partaking in discussions that are centred around the debating of, and/or the debunking of, and/or the defence of belief systems per se, what I am really trying to get across to all participants to this website, is far more profound. It is perhaps a futile hope of mine that I can open up the discussions and raise it to another level, whilst not losing sight of the fact that this website is all about religion and its opposite, atheism.

    I must admit that I sometimes feel as if I am farting against thunder, what with such powerful intellects who
    contribute so eloquently. I must defer to several writers whose books I have read over the years, and in particular to a person who changed my life completely, by helping me to deal with an illness from within my being, an illness which is so totally universal, that no-one escapes it. Most people suffer from it to a greater or lesser extent. It is destructive. It renders people unconscious and unaware. It destroys families. It creates wars. It is an insidious disease that permeates one’s entire being, wracking it with physical illnesses, mental illnesses, regardless of who you are. It creates extreme anxiety, depression, bipolar conditions, “stupidity” .It turns people into super-intellects who have lost contact with their feelings, their emotions and their bodies. It creates criminals, delinquents, fascists, Nazi’s, Hitlers and evangelists.

    It is caused by both Physical and Emotional hurt and pain, suppression of a child’s or an adult’s feelings, neglect of attending to basic needs, spanking, not allowing babies, toddlers, young kids or adults to cry all of their hurt out. It is inflicted by a smoking, drinking or anxious mother. By a ‘cold’ mother, a distant father,
    parents who preach and talk too much, forever robbing the child of its feelings. Also by a system that wants to mould the child, “build character”, and to indoctrinate with ideations, beliefs, etc. In short, parents who cannot allow the child to grow at its own pace, play, shout and scream, laugh, love, run, jump, cry, ask questions, and so on.

    Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Severe anxiety, Alcoholism, ADD, Criminality, Epilepsy, Autism, “Retardedness” (being intellectually challenged) have been shown to have been caused by damage in the womb, or by a severe, painful and protracted birth where the cord wrapped around the neck or the foetus got stuck in the canal, and were unable to breathe, also breach birth among other traumas. Babies are even affected by Caesarean deliveries.

    This universal affliction cannot be cured by medications or surgery, vitamins or health foods, exercises, massages, “talk therapy”, analysis, voodoo, witchcraft, magic or prayer, or any of the myriad other things that people do. Humans have suffered from this entity for centuries.

    The knowledge to cure this malady may have existed in the past in one or two small “primitive” villages, not as a result of a dedicated study or science, but perhaps purely by accident and because these people had not been messed up to the point where they had lost all contact with their innate ability to listen and perceive.

    That disease is called Neurosis.

    Neurosis is the way in which our beings respond to both physical and emotional pain. Evolution long ago developed an in-built cure for pain. We had lost touch with that cure through the ages, as we developed and became more “civilised”. The cure is so simple, yet once a human being has reached a certain age with all the pain still lurking inside, he or she will become neurotic. That pain is an eternal upwards pressure, always seeking escape. However, for an adult it is not so easy. She will now need professional help — help which is sadly totally lacking in SA.

    Religion causes neurosis, causes religion causes neurosis ad infinitum. Beat your child and he will beat his
    kids who will beat their kids ad infinitum. Alcoholic mothers create babies with FAS, (foetal alcohol syndrome). A severely religious parent cannot “see” the pain and suffering of his/her children. Neurosis
    renders you unaware and unconscious of what is really going on around you.

    The CURE for neurosis is to once again come into contact with that little child that arrested emotional and/or
    intellectual development. That child has an awful lot of hurt feelings, anger, tears and other shit that has to
    come out via the emotions or she is doomed to live in that half-world, that twilight zone of neurosis.

    Massive, deep crying takes place during such a session. The crying can go on continuously for up to two and a half hours. Horrific anger is expressed. (Observe what stupid parents call “temper tantrums” – child gets spanked, forcing all the pain back inside). A “temper tantrum” simply means that by the time it happens the child had never been allowed to cry all its pain out, NOT by being locked in a room to do so,
    but with a parent sitting right there with the child, with love, and just listening. Observe how nature allows that child’s little body to rid itself of all trauma. This may happen many times until all the pain has left.

    In conclusion, religious people are unaware and unconscious. Neurotic people are unaware and unconscious. Religious people are neurotic. Neurotic people embrace religions. The whole world is on this colossal, gigantic pain-killing mission, day in and day out, 24/7.

    PAT VAN NIEKERK

    January 6, 2010 at 17:06

  29. Hans Matthysen wrote (January 5, 2010 at 9:12 pm):

    [Y]ou can’t place [all religions] in the same category.

    Yes, you can. They all exploit the same basic human frailties, namely gullibility, a predilection for easy answers, and a desire for enchantment, self-affirmation and immortality. The rest of your comment adds one more: a preparedness to manufacture any old excuse to avoid facing religion’s bankruptcy.

    Con-Tester

    January 6, 2010 at 14:13

  30. You get religions and then you get “religions”, so you can’t place them all in the same category. Should you really have looked at the life of Jesus, you would know that His life was about, good will towards man. That is a reality you appear to have missed and the backbone of all charities consist of the religious.

    Hans Matthysen

    January 5, 2010 at 21:12

  31. Con-Tester,and everyone I suppose: in short, I have been religious all my life.

    Seker maar altyd ‘n ‘lou christen’ soos hulle gese^ het in daai tyd. Min kerk, net ‘gemaak asof’ ek diep gelowig was, was dit meerendeels vir my. Ek het probeer.

    Slowly, but surely things started not to make sense any more. The internet helped me to confirm that I have been deluding myself all the time, to my shame. Reading about archeology, biology, fossils and most of all evolution and Darwin, made me realize what was fact, and what was fiction. I made my easy leap to reality.

    My parents are not religious, so I think the meme has always been there not to be religious. Peer pressure and living in a christian environment made me accept that way of life. Like I let go of Santa and the Tooth Fairy, I let go of God. They belong to the same group of fantasy figures.

    It was very liberating – not being rid of religion and a god as much (I was never a fanatic christian like some of the lunatic fringe you see😉 so there was no big ‘gap’ left), but knowing what is really going down, what is the truth and how ridicules the religious option is, is a wonderful feeling. It’s like coming out of the atheist closet – I am sure there are still many who are waiting to come out.

    I do think there is a very good possibility that the religious fraternity don’t see a honourable way to concede that they are wrong. And of course ‘it’s the economy (money), stupid!’ So they carry on changing the bible, giving different meanings to old passages, etc. so to make it stay palpable for their followers. They almost force-fit it to comply with the scientific evidence. At the same time keeping safe their very profitable empire !

    screw-tin-eyes

    January 4, 2010 at 22:36

  32. Thank you for the kind words, s-t-e. Your own posts are always interesting and noteworthy. I’m constantly fascinated by the details of the process by which others have come to a rejection of their religious beliefs.

    As for the scarcity of replies from the ‘aspire to the higher’ bunch (😀 ), we’re bound to see some shortly. No doubt, they’ll be from the regulars and contain little that is fresh or convincing.

    Con-Tester

    January 4, 2010 at 11:14

  33. CT, it’s good to read your comments (they never fail to make good sense), as both you and Nathan have a way with words, and I must add clear logic, that bring points home eloquently.

    I do however, equally and immensely enjoy how you use your gifted (descriptive?) vernacular when you take on some of these deluded morons that post on NBTR;-)

    I see the ‘aspire to the higher’ bunch has not posted any comments. Wonder why?

    screw-tin-eyes

    January 3, 2010 at 10:29

  34. A principle that would benefit humankind immeasurably if it was to be acknowledged and promoted!

    Nathan Bond

    January 3, 2010 at 08:24

  35. P.S.: It is never too late to come to one’s senses. Would that more people relised it.😛

    Con-Tester

    January 2, 2010 at 10:50

  36. screw-tin-eyes wrote (January 1, 2010 at 10:17 am):

    I would even argue that without religion a person is capable of a much higher, and dare I say, purer kind of virtue than the forced, brainwashed version you see practiced by some of the religious fraternity. Being virtuous because the bible tells you to be, or god expects you to be, (as perceived by believers) makes for a very forced, and even ‘plastic- show-off version of virtue’ with some christians.

    I agree that virtue based on reason and our innate humanity is far preferable to behavioural constraints that derive from an expectation of a reward of eternal bliss, or variously from the hope of averting everlasting torment. The latter motivations are easily seen to be ultimately egocentric – in other words, they are, in fact, a sham altruism.

    In the case of fundamentalism, religiously motivated “virtue” is all too often injurious, bloodthirsty and frequently downright vile for being completely at odds with the general goodness that exists in people. There are far too many examples of it coming from all religions, and some religions are noticeably worse than others in this regard.

    However, I would also argue that most of the time and for the majority of people, religion is simply irrelevant when it comes to deciding their everyday courses of action. Most of the time we simply act from habit, from familiar circumstances, from experience (and occasionally a little reasoned extrapolation therefrom), and from a consideration of the consequences our actions are likely to precipitate. I think religious precepts very rarely enter into mundane day-to-day actions as they happen. Instead, the religious thoughts occur post hoc in a bid, I suspect, to slot these courses of action into the religious framework of morality. In other words, religious justification for one’s actions is typically done afterwards and for the sole purpose of giving them an apparently independent and authoritarian thumbs-up from outside when they succeed, and an apparently independent and authoritarian condemnation when they fail. In this sense, religion is merely a justificatory crutch, and not a source of right action.

    Con-Tester

    January 2, 2010 at 10:47

  37. I do too suffer. With Russell, and all those who have a social conscience. We have our TVs showing the suffering on the news and we have the internet. But what to do? Throwing money eases the conscience, yes, but does not seem to do the job. We know the complex reasons why.

    What do I tell my children? Both are highly intelligent and have nothing they lack. I want to tell them to live a worthy life. A life that will honour those who are not able to live a life that is dignified, who will never have the chances they have, who will die young, who will suffer through life. I want to tell them: Don’t go forth trying to defy the laws of nature and the universe – i.e. drive like maniacs, do stupid things – that is unworthy, because you don’t appreciate the fact that you are against all the odds in a position to live your life and make a difference. It is unworthy, because if one of those that suffer, could have your life, they would live it with appreciation and care.

    Show kindness, compassion and selflessness. Be humanely conscious of others around you that suffer, especially children.

    Contester, I would even argue that without religion a person is capable of a much higher, and dare I say, purer kind of virtue than the forced, brainwashed version you see practiced by some of the religious fraternity. Being virtuous because the bible tells you to be, or god expects you to be, (as perceived by believers) makes for a very forced, and even ‘plastic- show-off version of virtue’ with some christians. Just watch the evangelists on TV.

    The fact that there are really virtuous people across the board that care about others, shows that it’s a human trait, not a religious one.

    Since dumping religion, and the god that goes with it, I have become more sympathetic towards, and more stressed out by the plight of my fellow humans, as well as animals. I realize that life is short, life is unique to each individual and should be lived to the fullest. It should be lived in a way that brings credit to you as a person and as a human, and make the world a better place. One should aspire not to harm others – not physically nor mentally.

    I came to my unreligious senses way to late in my life. I would love to start again – get the world in the right perspective. Be more pro-active. There was a time that I was quite happy to pray for those that suffered and be done with it – that was easy, right? And praying was going to make a difference. Wrong!!!

    screw-tin-eyes

    January 1, 2010 at 10:17

  38. Having read that, will it finally be understood that virtue doesn’t require religion? Or will Russell’s words be met with “No true atheist!” rejoinders?

    Con-Tester

    December 28, 2009 at 15:08


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: