Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A mythical narrative - rejected

When I was a boy living with my loving, caring parents, I was introduced to a mythical narrative.  A religious narrative.  This story never made any sense to me and I never accepted it as anything other than a myth.  My parents no doubt were moved by good intentions for me, but I now see what they did was to indoctrinate me in this mythical narrative.  Brainwashing was inflicted on me so that I would live by and perpetuate the narrative as they had.

The Narrative

It begins with the claim that there is an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent deity who knew everything about everything, could do whatever it wanted (including either violating the laws of physics or even re-writing the laws of physics), was everywhere all the time, and even knew what we were thinking.  For reasons of its own, it created the universe (in 7 days) and everything in it, including people and the laws of physics.

This deity created us and our world, and promised eternal life to those who worshipped it.  Unbelievers would be sent into an eternity of torment simply for not believing.  The story started with two people who were to become the progenitors of all humans, living in a lush garden.  The man was created from dust, and the woman was created from one of the man's rib.  The woman fell under the spell of a talking snake, who convinced her to eat fruit of the tree of knowledge and she then convinced her man to do likewise.  This was the first sin (acquiring knowledge) and blame for this sin has been imposed on everyone ever born since then.  The man and women were ejected from their garden paradise and went on to beget the entire population of humans.  At some point, this deity became exceedingly unhappy with the human race (the creations of this perfect deity, recall) and murdered all but a select handful of humans with a world-encompassing flood.  After that, at various other times, groups of people angered this deity by straying from what the deity defined as the right behavior and were murdered in diverse ways.  It was perfectly fine to take and own slaves if they didn't belong to the chosen tribe.  Women were the property of their men and could be abused as their men saw fit.  Other tribes were subject to being murdered (including women and children) with the deity's blessing (and assistance, should the need arise).  Rape was not considered important enough to be a Commandment.  Homosexuals were to be killed.

Eventually, the deity who created everything decided it needed to provide an escape from original sin, so it took human form, somehow separate from itself and a mysterious spiritual form of itself, and allowed itself to be murdered by the Romans.  At the end of 3 days, it arose from the dead and rejoined itself to itself.  Now the original deal had been altered:  the key for a human to escape damnation, and a happy life after death, was to believe in the divinity of its human form self as his/her lord and savior.  As usual, unbelievers were still consigned to eternal agony.

Since this deity is omniscient, it clearly knows whatever you're going to do and even what you think, even before you're created.  Your fate is known to the deity even before you're born - you and your fate are created at the same time.  Thus, this deity knows if you're going to accept its terms for you to escape everlasting torture, or not.  But somehow, in such a situation, you have "free will" to choose to believe or not (unless you're born in a nation with a different religion, which is a clear signal that all believers are obligated to spread the "joyful" news that you can be forgiven your ignorance and sins if you just believe in this deity's divine self in human form).  In effect, your human life is meaningless and your fate is fixed in an everlasting pain if the deity created you to be a disbeliever. 

For a certain period of time after creation, the deity was visibly manifest many times, and eventually, in human form, walked among humans for about 30 years before being killed - only to rise from death and ascend to heaven, back to himself.  Since then, the deity ceased to be visible in any way.  If you're going to choose to believe in it, that belief has to be based on faith because there's no longer any credible evidence for the existence of this deity.  In fact, the world as we know it is entirely consistent with the nonexistence of this deity.  It's quite a leap of faith to accept the narrative, so the indoctrination (brainwashing) of children into acceptance of this narrative is a necessary mechanism for its continuance.  For a time, it was considered quite acceptable to force people to worship (or at least pretend to worship) this deity.  It's no longer fashionable but some believers still find it quite acceptable and would do so if they could.  And many force their children to at least pretend to believe in the narrative

Having become a scientist, I've learned this narrative embodies the absolute antithesis of science - belief without evidence.  I never accepted it, but knowing how science works has shown me that the narrative is virtually certain to be mythical nonsense.  I don't "believe" (in an absolute sense) that such a deity doesn't exist, but I find the absence of evidence for its existence to be a compelling argument that it's quite probable that the deity is nonexistent.  The sacred documents are no more credible evidence for the existence of this deity than a comic book is credible evidence for the existence of a real Superman.  So probable, in fact, that my working conclusion is that the deity is a myth.  I leave open the small logical possibility that I'm wrong in that conclusion, but I'm awaiting a convincing demonstration of that.

The narrative (above) is how I was taught about this deity.  I'm not a biblical scholar and I'm not familiar with "academic" aspects of religion, but I'm quite capable of seeing that this narrative is simply preposterous.  It was written thousands of years ago by recently barbaric tribes in the Middle East who obviously had no inkling of how the world would change or how the universe really works.  The idea that the existing sacred documents are literally the words of this deity certainly underscores that the deity in this myth is far from omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent.  There are contradictions, logical fallacies, and even historical errors in the bible.  Despite biblical reassurances, bad, even horrible, things happen to "good people" (believers) all the time.  The deity seemingly does nothing to prevent those things.  People thank this deity for all sorts of things they deem good, and ignore the bad things, and they say nothing of all that humans and science do for other humans.  Many evil deeds are perpetrated in the name of this deity.  This deity manages somehow to be on both sides of warring groups all the time - people who believe that what they do is what the deity wants them to do typically use that to justify awful deeds.  Religious faith isn't necessarily a virtue - it's often used as justification for evil.

Today, apparently, you have to die to get any concrete evidence for the existence of this deity and the reality this narrative - if there is no such thing, of course, death brings nothing but eternal oblivion.  Anyone in the USA who chooses to do so is free to accept this myth as reality, but they're not free to impose their beliefs on me.  And their freedom to accept this narrative is limited to those practices that do no harm to nonbelievers or those who have different religious beliefs.  This narrative is nonsense and not worthy of consideration by a rational person.