Is it really the religion?

Most Muslims don’t want to die. That’s why they have so many doctors.

Most Christians, Hindus, and most of those of every other religion don’t want to die either.

In all religions there is a paradox. If the life after death is so wonderful while this life is complete garbage, why aren’t they all jumping off cliffs and tall buildings or supergluing themselves to the buffers in shunting yards?

Why is there such wailing and misery at funerals? They should all be like those New Orleans jazz funerals. Religious funerals should be less of the doom-laden ‘We are dust, and to dust we shall return’ and more of the ‘Yay! He made it to the good place!’

They aren’t though, on the whole. Because most people, religious or not, don’t want to die. They don’t want their friends or family to die either.

The mad ones do want to die. Those idiots who run to sign up with ISIS are doing so because they think that death at the hands of the Infidel will guarantee them 72 virgins and a bottle of flat stale beer (He doesn’t have to give them the good stuff, they aren’t supposed to have tried any before). It does not say whether the 72 virgins are male or female. Could be 72 fat geeks, pallid from an eternity in their parents’ basements playing World of Warcraft. Oh wait – World of Jihadcraft.

Maybe it’s the same 72 virgins each time but they all look like Bella Emberg’s ugly sister so no Semtex-shredded Jihadi ever touches them. Or perhaps they are 72 stunningly beautiful women but still the same 72 each time because everyone who gets to meet them does so in instalments. When the vest blows, I wonder which part arrives in Heaven first? I bet Heaven’s janitor has a hard time of it. Boom. Then the tannoy. ‘Clean up at the gates again.’

Anyway. They really do want to die. But this is not something unique to the lunatic fringe of Islam.

Some religions believe in reincarnation. The ancient Celtic and related peoples believed so absolutely in reincarnation that they would loan money to each other and agree that the loan would be repaid in the next life. I wish I knew a Celtic bank manager. So they didn’t care about death. It was just an inconvenience.

They also believed absolutely in predestination. This made them fearsome foes. No point in weighing themseves down with a lot of armour. If today was your day to die, or lose an arm, or get a bruise, no amount of armour would stop it happening. If today was not your day to die etc, then there was no need of armour. They fought battles knowing that whatever happened to them was predestined to happen anyway so there was no need to hold back.

But I don’t think the ancient Celts wanted to die. They accepted the inevitability of it but they did not deliberately seek it. They would never have been seen dead in a Semtex vest.

What makes people want to die? Well, I nicked the following from Farcebok (a friend-link from one of my other incarnations). It’s a snippet from a book called ‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ which I once tried to read but the start, at least, is so damn dry. Seems it livens up later. I’ll try it again. Here’s the clip –

“…the fervour of the first Christians, who, according to the lively expression of Sulpicius Severus, desired martyrdom with more eagerness than his own contemporaries solicited a bishopric.” Apparently not an exaggeration (at least from the Roman Empire perspective, which absolutely could not fathom the motives behind such zeal and fanaticism) because it went on with references to some thrown into the amphitheater and promptly irritating the lions to ravage them; cheerfully jumping into the fire (kindled for their execution) and actually seemed to enjoy the sensation of being burned alive; some coming forward to the magistrates and voluntarily accusing themselves, ect. The educated philosophers, themselves were baffled as to the Christian motive and were left to conclude: “…such an eagerness to die as the strange result of obstinate despair, of stupid insensibility, or of superstitious frenzy. ‘Unhappy men!’ exclaimed the proconsul Antonius to the Christians of Asia, ‘unhappy men! If you are thus weary of your lives, is it so difficult for you to find ropes and precipices?'”

Those early Christians were not Celts (as I recall, of Northern Germanic origin) nor were they British or Viking or Maori nor any of the other fighting peoples of the world. They were Christians but they, and their religion, originated in the Middle East. They wanted out of their lives and into the Heaven beyond.

It’s not the religion. It’s the people.

Converts to a new religion – whatever it is – tend to be ultra-zealous about it all. They take it all literally, whereas those brought up within a religion have mostly learned the value of interpretation. Still, even Christianity occasionally throws up a Westboro Baptist Church from time to time. Even out there on the fringe, the Westboro loons don’t want to die. Their founder died recently and I’m betting his reward, if there is one, is more like 72 red hot pokers. Something those ISIS loonies should consider – after all that dismemberment, beheading, crucifixtion, live burials and all of innocent and defenceless people, do they really believe they will go to Heaven for doing all that? Really? Which god are they really worshipping, if he rewards that sort of thing? Think, people. Stroke your beards if it will help. He’s not called the Great Deceiver for nothing, you know.

Christianity does not approve of homosexuality. It says so several times in the Bible but it does not say in there that gay people should have walls pushed over on them, or be thrown from cliffs or hanged from a crane. It’s more of a ‘Gonnae no’ dae that?’ rather than ‘See you pal, you’re gettin’ it, so y’are‘. There is a big difference between ‘ I disapprove of the way you live’ and ‘The way you live is wrong, you must die’ (medics take note).

The Quran does not mention hanging gay people from a crane because the mechanical cranes had not been invented back then. ‘Hang them from a wading bird’ would just have confused everyone.

Religions in general do not approve of homosexuality because organised religion depends on an ever increasing congregation… but that’s a different argument entirely.

The Westboros do not just disapprove of homosexuality. They actively wave banners and shout obscenities at the funerals of soldiers (who were almost all not gay) because they believe that defending the country they live in is tantamount to encouraging blokes everywhere to go in through the out door.

Most Christians do not do this. They disapprove because their religion tells them it is wrong but they nag individual gay people or tell them they will spend eternity having things shoved up their bums (like that’s a deterrent!) or other frivolous things I could think up. I’m on the Ledaig tonight, incidentally. Lightly smoky and pale in colour and at a far better price in Morrison’s than in any other shop in town.

The point is that Christianity does not call for the death of anyone who does not agree with them. It used to, in the Old Testament, but Jesus showed up the New Testament, gatecrashed a wedding, boosted the booze supply and generally gave out a message of ‘Hey, just chill, guys. Stop killing people, yeah?’ then he stuck flowers on the end of all the Roman Soldiers’ little swords. Didn’t help. They killed him anyway.

Christians nowadays mostly don’t want to die. Most of them don’t want to kill anyone else either. Sure, they disagree with a lot of people (including me) on many things and they can get quite vociferous about it but I’ve never had a death threat from a Christian. No matter how far I take my inherent blasphemic nature. They have never threatened to kill whole groups of people just because they think their lifestyles are wrong. Take note, medical profession.

Islam still has that ‘kill them all’ instruction but most Muslims don’t do that. Most just live their lives and prefer to try for conversion rather than extermination, or just ignore the rest of us entirely. For the lunatic fringe, they believe that death at the hands of their perceived enemy is the only true way into Heaven. It is what they crave.

In that clip from ‘Decline and Fall’, the Romans cannot fathom why those who want to die don’t just kill themselves.

It’s because suicide is forbidden in religion. If you want the fast-track to Heaven you have to be killed by the enemies of your God. There is no other way. If you kill yourself then you go to Hell and its eternal dole queue where you are always late to sign on.

The Westboros do not try for this. They don’t want to be buggered to death even though, according to their beliefs, that would get them a soft, chilled seat at God’s right hand. They want to taunt and hurt people but they do not want to die at their perceived enemy’s hands.

The ISIS and their ilk want exactly that. They don’t want to live. They want to provoke their perceived enemy (who had never heard of them until they started their indiscriminate massacre) into killing them.

Both are at the extremes of their religions but the Westboros are American while ISIS are from the Middle East. As were those first Christians.

The death wish isn’t in the religion. It’s in the people. A whole people just looking for a good reason to die.

That’s really quite a sad thing to consider, isn’t it?

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40 thoughts on “Is it really the religion?

  1. xX They have never threatened to kill whole groups of people just because they think their lifestyles are wrong.XX

    Tell the Jews of York in the 1400s, or during the Black death that.

    Or the Sachsen tribes that were threatened with drowning if they did not convert to christianity. (Sound familiar? WHERE have I heard similar in the last few days, I wonder?)

    O.K. I will give you, they APPEAR to have grown out of it, but you DID say “NEVER!”

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  2. ” but I’ve never had a death threat from a Christian”
    I take it you’re not catholic/Irish/Gay/a Hearts or Celtic supporter and have never met an Orange man? Good, one can argue that the Tango Mob aren’t typical and it’s true -their brand of Xian-Fanatiscm goes back to and belongs in the ‘By This Day, I Pray, We Shall Light a Candle’ era. Modern Xianity tends to issue polite Death Threats by proxy from God, End Of Days Fatwas, preferring to believe that someday God will punish all the Unrighteous and that they, the Self-Righteous, will get to watch as HE treads out those Grapes Of Wrath.

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  3. Firstly, I believe Westboro is very possibly a front to discredit Christianity. Strange that the whole world talks about a small ‘church’ in the middle of nowhere. The World’s media love it. I call it a set up.

    Atheism is also a religion. Never forget! Dawkins is proving this more than anyone. Trying to debate with his hordes on his blog and his Facebook page was almost impossible. Most acted like foul-mouthed zombies, very few knowing anything about science and sticking to ad hominem attacks, quoting scripture out of context and generally acting superior when they are clearly just religious fanatics who don’t even know the tenets of their own belief system.

    But it goes way back. Even some of the Victorian natural history museums were deliberately designed to look like cathedrals, but pushing Darwinism.

    As an arch enemy of Creationism, Michael Ruse, a professor of philosophy and zoology, wrote:

    Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint—and Mr [sic] Gish is but one of many to make it—the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.

    … Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.

    American philosopher Thomas Nagel wrote,

    I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including everything about the human mind …. This is a somewhat ridiculous situation …. [I]t is just as irrational to be influenced in one’s beliefs by the hope that God does not exist as by the hope that God does exist.

    And one of Dawkins’ successful tactics is to mix ‘religions’ into one melting point so that his congregation of believers thinks that religion generally turns people into suicide bombers, ‘homophobes’ and general haters, etc. when they have clearly shown to me they have the most hatred of any group of people I have debated with in donkey’s years on the internet.

    Carrying all ‘religions’ in one basket is also disingenuous. I realise people do it without thinking, but they are mostly very different and there is no need for a god or gods to qualify as a religion, so that’s why a worldview based on evolution theory/atheism is a religion. The only difference is that atheism is the only religion (that I know of) which doesn’t have a basis for morality. That’s what makes it arguably the most dangerous religion of all.

    Atheists suffer from a delusion that dispensing with God automatically makes them ‘free thinkers’ and instantly more intelligent than a believer.

    BUT some evolutionists believe there is no free will, so atheists can’t help being arrogant and rude in defence of their Godless worldview and I can’t help but be a follower of Christ. Who believes this?

    Having an atheistic outlook invites ‘experts’ to ask Is Free Will an Illusion?

    Yet, atheists claim to be ‘free thinkers’! There’s no such thing according to some atheists. And in this, atheists share ground with some other religions – like some Eastern ones which say that everything is an illusion. New Age guru David Icke says that the universe is a hologram.

    We all believe in something. For most, it seems, their beliefs are shaped by their traditions or through convenience (like the bloke who said he doesn’t want there to be a God) rather than having earnestly searched for the truth or receiving revelation.

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    • Atheists suffer from a delusion that dispensing with God automatically makes them ‘free thinkers’ and instantly more intelligent than a believer.

      I don’t think that’s necessarily the case, Stewart, although I can see the line of reasoning. Orthodox religion does seem to involve an awful lot of shamanistic mumbo-jumbo and ritualism, and I can see how eschewing all that paraphernalia would seem to free up ones ability to think clearly.

      I think it was our very own Leg Iron who coined the word ‘Apathist’, and I would probably put myself in that camp. I’m an atheist with a small ‘a’. I would never dream of trying to ‘convert’ anyone to atheism, nor espouse my beliefs (or lack of) mostly because I couldn’t give a damn, but also because I don’t really hold any convictions one way or the other. It’s not something I think about, even though I’m now at an age where I’m becoming increasingly aware of my mortality.

      If someone wishes to adhere strictly to a religion, that’s entirely their affair, and as long as they don’t proselytise, then their beliefs don’t colour my perception of them. I think that being a militant Atheist is as stupid as being a swivel-eyed jihadist, scimitar at the ready to aid in the conversion process.

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      • It’s how Dawkin’s followers think (for want of a more appropriate word). They believe that simply by being non-believers they are of superior intelligence, despite knowing next to nothing about anything.

        Not only that, they assume the air of superiority and think they have the right to talk to others as if they are sub-human and boss them around.

        As for proselytising, Christians and everyone else (the majority) have to put up with constant humanist interference. You’re not even entitled to a conscience with them in control.

        If, as they believe, our brains are just computers made of meat which have evolved over billions of years, why should their thoughts be right and mine wrong? Our brains work by the same chemical processes. Clearly, there’s more going on than in people’s mind than chemistry can explain…

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          • It is clear from my many, many attempts at debating with Dawkins’ followers that they are, on average, less intelligent than the average 14 year-old. Granted, he does attract a certain dumbed-down sort on the whole.

            “Do you see a reason why they might actually be so?”

            There is no reason that an atheist should be more intelligent than a believer. Where is the proof? Many, if not most, of the founders of modern science were believers: Newton, Faraday, Boyle, Pascal, Pasteur – far too many to mention.

            If it hadn’t been for religious thinkers and scientists we’d still be living in the 18th or 19th century.

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    • Atheism is not a religion: t is the absence of religion. Your claim is equivalent to the nonsensical statement: ‘Darkness is light.’ And, if you can believe that, then it is no wonder that you are so badly infected by religion.

      Hilariously, you ‘prove’ that atheism is religion by stating: “Trying to debate with his hordes on his blog and his Facebook page was almost impossible. Most acted like foul-mouthed zombies, very few knowing anything about science and sticking to ad hominem attacks, quoting scripture out of context and generally acting superior when they are clearly just religious fanatics who don’t even know the tenets of their own belief system.” So, this is how religion works, is it?

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      • Atheism has become a religion to its fundamentalist followers. Which is why I became an apathist. There might or might not be a God. I don’t care.

        When you have the fundy wing of atheism trying to convert everyone to their way of thinking, that’s a religion.

        As for me, anyone can believe in anything they like. If I have the time I’m even willing to hear about their beliefs – but I won’t sign up to any religion because whether they have any truth in them or not, in this world they are controlled by money-grabbing control freaks.

        If there is a God, I bet he doesn’t approve of that either.

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        • Exactly – it has become a religion. Michael Ruse says that evolution has been a religion from the beginning.

          @Edgar – Like I said, a belief system doesn’t need God or gods to be called a religion. There are plenty such around. Having faith that nothing exploded to become everything, that simple lifeforms (still frightfully complex and which have to reproduce) spontaneously appeared, etc., is pretty radical stuff.

          If I am ‘infected’ by religion, what has caused you to be infected with atheism? Like I said, our brains work the same way. It’s not an infection. The supernatural is real and denying it doesn’t make it not real.

          What makes Dawkins’ followers so agitated, IMO, is that their ‘atheism’ causes cognitive dissonance because they know deep down they’re wrong.

          Like Nagel wrote, “I don’t want there to be a God.”

          I don’t want a LibLabCon government, to be in the EU and many things, but ‘not wanting’ doesn’t change reality.

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    • I don’t think Westboro are a front. They are just useful idiots.

      Icke isn’t the only one who thinks the universe is a hologram. There’s a serious theory in astrophysics which considers the possibility that only the surface of the universe is real, and that everything inside it is an image-projection from that surface. I don’t like that because if the surface is a million light years away, then I typed this a million years ago and it’s only just reached this hologram. So everything I do for the rest of my life, I have already done, and I can’t change any of it. All I can do is wait for the images to arrive. That does not sit well with me at all.

      It would also put a complete kybosh on any serious space travel. Travel towards the surface (the source of the holograms) and your images arrive faster, you age faster and die sooner. Travel away from the surface and you have to keep waiting for the next second of your image to arrive. There’s a science fiction story in there for someone.

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  4. Some scholars believe ‘religion’ connects with religare “to bind fast” … I can see that – it’s like a bra: it’s meant to lift and support, but ends up separating … mainly you from your cash, common sense or worst case from your life.

    It doesn’t have to be a belief in a god (or no god) to become a religion – that’s why the Righteous are so well named by Legs – they are just priests adhering to and promoting the doctrine of Public Health.

    If and when the NWO materialises, ‘Health’ will be the official religion … I mean, our bodies are temples, are they not? 😉

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    • Health will certainly be a big part of the official religion.

      There was a SF short story, long ago (might have been in a Brian Aldiss collection) wherein the establishment had invented portable ‘shrines’ that gave everyone access to ‘The Gods’ (a huge computer). Given such direct access to ‘The Gods’, with personal conversations available at any time, no religion could compete. They all faded away.

      Pure fantasy, of course. People carrying around a portable device giving them instant access to high-powered computer networks? Surely, nobody will ever come up with a God App, will they?

      Maybe they have. I don’t have an iPhone.

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  5. ” Jesus showed up the New Testament, gatecrashed a wedding, boosted the booze supply and generally gave out a message of ‘Hey, just chill, guys. Stop killing people, yeah?”

    This would be the same Jesus who told his ‘crew’ to sell their hoodies for swords? Ok I know that was to fulfill a prophecy. *snork*..in a later edit anyways. But we know his Homies numbered at least two routinely armed with swords? [Luke 22:36-37 “But now,” Jesus continued, “if you have a purse or wallet, take it with you, and if you have no sword, sell your coat and buy one!]

    Maybe but I would be careful about swallowing the usual ‘meek and mild lamb to the slaughter’ and ‘Jesus was a pacifist’ line. The bible tells a rather different story. Not sure I would go all the way , as some -far more learned than I- scholars do and claim that Jesus was the Che of his time but there is certainly evidence for it.

    And while you’re at it you can forget all about Jesus being some kinda Gandhi-esque figure. He was very well funded by the ladies of Herod’s court , whom it probably cost a fortune to keep him in poverty.

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    • Well, the New Testament is necessarily one-sided because only one side wrote it. And as you say, later Popes and at least one King did a bit of adjusting here and there. Including deciding which books were to be included (in the whole Bible).

      I have a couple of paperbacks of those deleted scenes. Some are interesting.

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  6. Some good stuff here, both in Mr Iron’s post & the comments.

    Cobbling a remark passed by Matthew Parris together with what passes for thought in my own head, I am inclined to the view that “I might be an apathist, but I’m proud to be a protestant apathist”. This came to me again after a few days near Carcassonne, in Southern France, where I learned something of a whole branch of European history of which I had previously known nothing. The Cathars. I don’t know much more now, not having had a chance to read the books I’ve bought on the subject, but do have a superficial take on them.

    They were a broadly Christian people who rejected the dogma of the RC church. This was enough to bring an official CRUSADE down upon their heads, thanks to Pope Innocent III. The clue is in the name. Ethnic cleansing in the extreme & the original source of a command from a Catholic bishop to “Kill them all – God will know his own!”. It was astonishing to me, having been brainwashed into believing the crusades were just to do with the RC church vs Islam. Presumably, the Russian & Greek Orthodox churches and others were also at risk.

    Thinking about it all, one ingredient has been missing from the discussion so far. Money. When in doubt, follow the cash. It explains the Cathars, Sunni vs Sufi & a bunch of others like Northern Ireland. Most religions seem to involve a bloke standing in front of a congregation claiming to speak on behalf of God & demanding tribute or protection money accordingly. So, if I recast religious groups as players in a form of gang warfare, it all makes much more sense. At what point does a gang turf war become religious or political? A few privileged & wealthy guys at the top + plenty of useful idiots = doubles all round at the top table. Church, mobster . . . makes no difference.

    One exception – I have never met a genuine Quaker whom I didn’t respect. But they never seemed to try & impose anything on others.

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    • “I have never met a genuine Quaker whom I didn’t respect”
      Yet Quakers have only recently been counted as Xian by mainstream Xians. Almost within living memory they were persecuted horribly by their oh-so Neighbour-loving fellow Xians.

      If you fancy a laugh, ask a Committed Xian (preferably of the Happy Clappy sort) if he thinks “Quakers are Xians?”, chances are he’ll say yes and that the Quaker church in his town is a member of the Churches Together movement (or whatever it is called now). Then ask him “how can they be Xian when they reject the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity?”.

      It is one of the fun facts of Xianity that the Quakers, after suffering hundreds of years of persecution, suddenly became ‘establishment’ despite not renouncing any of their heretical beliefs! Probably because just about every good thing that happen society-wise in the last couple of centuries had a Quaker behind it.

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  7. Blimey! Leg you had better get back to work cleaning to find something to poke fun at. I came here for my daily giggle and got a theology lesson 😦 You have too much time available for thought!

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  8. I am told that when the Koran was being written down, a number of rather silly things happened. The first stupidity was a lack of parchment; they started off writing on only the good sides of the parchments and after a while ran out, so started on the back sides in no particular order.

    To add to the confusion, whilst most of the scribes were writing in Arabic, some were occasionally lapsing into Aramaic which looks very similar, but differs in important details. It is like a holy book being written in Scotland, where one scribe occasionally lapses into Glaswegian dialect for no apparent reason; the end result gets very muddled.

    Then when the transcription of oral legends into written ones was done, the records were put away for long enough that nobody could remember which bit went where. When the records were written out into a book the result was a muddled mess, made worse by repeated re-writings, reinterpretations and general pratting about.

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