The title of this blog is that of a good question I’m often asked. While no religion is absolutely harmless, there are those out there that carry relatively positive messages, and one should be curious as to why I still loop those in with the larger and more destructive forces. There are also those out there that don’t actually even know about the negative side of what they believe, and just believe in private. There are also those who don’t even practice an organized faith, and merely practice whatever spiritual path they choose in the privacy of their own home, without affecting anyone around them.
I’ll start with a religion that I tend to give a lot of grief to, and keep in mind that nothing positive I am about to say was influenced in any way, although that may change if Viacom gets their hands on my work. Then it’ll have more black ink than a military document from 1941.
The truth, in my own heart, about Scientology, is that I truthfully have very little against them. After all, when you stack them up against the other major religions of our time, they don’t have a history of physical violence against dissenters (only courtroom drama). They don’t teach their members to harm others, nor do they officially say that their faith is the only right one and that something bad will happen to you if you don’t believe them. In fact, they are how many other religions should be. They’re quiet and secretive and tend to stay out of other people’s business unless it directly involves them.
Scientology teaches its followers to be healthy, refrain from psychotropic drugs as well as narcotics and excessive alcohol, and even uses physical exercise as part of some of its prayer programs. Truth be told, aside from their mythology and their willingness to sue people on a whim, I can’t think of anything bad to say about them.
The same goes for many of the Pagan religions as well. These religions, although some followers seem to become quite militant about their faith, have a great collection of ideas. Such as the Wiccans who believe in more of a bipolar deity that is both man and woman, who is not vengeful against people of other faiths. The religion teaches peace, love and harmony, which is why it was adopted so heavily among hippies and other peace movements in the sixties and seventies.
Even the practice of LaVeyan Satanism seems to have many positive messages. The message in the Satanic Bible—the beginning anyway—seems to be that there is no devil or god, or heaven or hell. Here and now is your time of torment and here and now is your time of bliss. Live your life while you’re on this Earth and live everyday as if it were your last, instead of spending your life building up to an afterlife that doesn’t exist. Although, the malfunction of the Satanic belief structure seems to crumble in the second half of the book, when Anton LaVey reveals the great secret of the Enochian Keys, which are the spoken invocations of the lord of the underworld. How is it that you can raise the lord of darkness, when as previously stated in the book, he does not exist?
Anton LaVey, as a person, was a great man. He was a man that I feel should be idolized for many reasons. He was laid back and spent most of his days unbathed, in dark rooms in black robes, playing with snakes and having sex with the chubbiest women he could find. He did whatever he wanted in life, and never went out of his way to hurt others, in fact, for the most part, did the opposite. This is far more than I can say about other religious “profits”, especially those in the 1960s, when LaVey came to power with the book, The Satanic Bible. He was charitable, and encouraged others to be as well. And for an old man—as is evident in his latter day teachings such as, the Satanic Verses, and Satan Speaks—he had an astounding sense of humor. In fact, he wrote extensively in his later years about the decline of physical comedy in the world, and how he felt it was contributing to the darkness that currently reigned over the world—he had a fetish for the whoopee cushion.
This was the Anton LaVey that I liked. However, the other Anton was a calculating opportunist who achieved his fame through nothing but shock value. This is the other half of the man, for which I have very little respect. And although he started an institution with the good ideas of peace against children and animals, and an understanding of the ambiguous nature of morality as a whole; he also wrote many musical pieces reciting hymns that resembled Christianity far too much. These were hymns about killing Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians because, he said, “We don’t need them anymore.” I guess as an example of how the seemingly harmless becomes harmful, this stands alone.
The Nordic teachings are another great example of the religious double standard. Whereas the stories of Odin and other deities teach peace and respect, with an overwhelming sense of family and unity, the Nordic beliefs also teach a great war-philosophy, where only those who die during war can truly enter the heavenly kingdom of Valhalla. This could pretty easily explain the war-like values of the Vikings and history’s other practitioners of the Nordic faiths.
Even the more primitive Middle Eastern religions practiced philosophies that were peaceable as well as realistic. They realized that violence could be necessary although, as a last ditch effort. Beliefs like the Sumerian structure were actually—scientifically—close to our current philosophy. Although written a bit more cryptically and abstractly, the Sumerians even believed in something very close to the big bang theory, as well as human evolution. The problem with the Sumerian belief is that eventually, the anti-war stance of the faith became a distant memory, as the people who practiced it started participating in slavery and honed the “conquer and convert” philosophy of the later Muslim beliefs.
The problem lies in the fact that these are mythologies, and practice forms of theology. The problems with theology are many. The major problems are that when you explain the mysteries of time and space, you absolve those to whom you preach it from the urge to try to answer them for themselves. Another issue is the God aspect. The truth in the matter is that there is no superior high being in the world hovering over us like we’re its children. Therefore, when you talk to it, or more dangerously, when it talks to you, it’s only telling you whatever you inwardly desire it to. Such as in cases where people think that God is talking to them, what they’re actually hearing are their inner desires and needs, therefore what they think is a higher power, because of their being brain washed, is actually parts of their own mind. This can be very dangerous, and in matters of the dangers of this kind of phenomenon, one must mention how this is caused by the lack of reasoning, logic and query that can be caused by religious teachings.
Another great issue is schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is so incredibly common among those from families who greatly influence religion. If you combine teachings of religion with an extraordinarily high Intelligence Quotient, you have two possible out-comes. One, the better of the two, the person rejects religion and follows his own path into the world of science or elsewhere. Two, the more dangerous of the two, you’ve got a person thinking that God is talking to him through his neighbor’s dog and telling him to hurt or even kill others. And if you take the stories of the bible literally, believing that God would tell you to do such things isn’t irrational to you, in fact, it’s pretty normal considering all of the people in the bible to which things like this happened.
The greatest danger is what I refer to as the Theo-glitch. Sigmund Freud talked extensively about this in one of his later books. He theorized that religion is actually a glitch in the brain, and it can be worsened with the more faith that is pounded down a person’s throat as they grow. You see, your brain isn’t truly fully developed until you are around your mid to late teens, therefore anything can be very impressionable onto a youth. Stories of things like Santa and the Easter Bunny can advance this glitch, however, nothing causes the glitch to accrue like religion. Santa and the Rabbit are only tales and parents take them lightly. They don’t preach them day in and day out, and they—most of the time—inform their children at a pretty young age that they don’t exist. This is not the way it is with religion. Although the stories are similar, and in many cases, stories of Rudolph and his shiny nose are more believable than certain stories of religious lore, parents never tell their children that God doesn’t exist.
As an example, I’ll use the Son of Sam. Although there were no religious claims of the Son of Sam, he did actually come from a heavily religious upbringing. You see, most people—people who all carry a light form of schizophrenia—would have a little switch in their brain that would say, “Wait a minute, dogs can’t talk. So, how can a dog tell me to kill people?”
The issue lies in the faith of religion. If you take literally the stories in the bible, then receiving orders to kill from a dog is not that far off from reality. After all, with stories of burning bushes talking to people, God telling people to kill their children, God smiting people to win a bet with Satan, and telling entire tribes of people to kill all men up to the first born and take the virgins for delight after all have been slaughtered; the belief in these stories are no more ridiculous than believing that a dog could tell you to kill people.
Therefore, the Summer of Sam began, and a summer where many lived in fear. And it’s not far off the truth to believe that this could have been easily avoided if it were not for his religious upbringing.
You must wonder what children must feel when their told stories of grown men walking on water, and tales of a great and devout heaven waiting for them when they die. One would have to wonder what the youth suicide rate is among heavily religious homes. Well, actually the statistic is quite astonishing. Seven in every twenty-five heavily Christian homes experienced a youth death that was self inflicted during 2008. While, one out of every seventeen experienced a non-self inflicted youth mortality. One would have to wonder how much the belief in an afterlife had to do with these lives being lost even before they had the chance to flourish and hear orders to kill from their neighbor’s dog.
The Theo-glitch is a great part of why impressionable people tend to join cults, whether peaceful but still scary like the Raelians, or violent ones like the Davidians. Many argue that it’s just a persons need to belong that carries them to the extent of buying into the religious rhetoric of these cult leaders. The truth of the matter is this: their minds are conditioned to believe in vast radical stories of gods and prophets, therefore have no logical reason to reject such people who may claim to be one or the other.
If you were conditioned from youth to believe that God spoke to all of these people just a couple millennia ago, and that a person was born into the world from a virgin to be the son of god, who would be martyred but later rise from the dead; what would your reasoning be to believe that this sort of thing couldn’t happen in our own time? What would your reasoning be to disbelieve in what you’re being told? You would have absolutely no reason to reject the radical claims of cult leaders solely on principle. Combine that with the common attribute of cult leaders, this being great charisma, and suddenly your brain has been reduced to that of a four year-old hearing biblical stories from your grandfather.
It takes great conditioning to wean yourself off of the destructive thought patterns that are laid into your mind by religious faith. It’s taken my whole life to let go of the same teachings. As a child, my grandfather taught me a lot of biblical stories and these stories scared the hell out of me when I was young. He was a devout Lutheran, and took the bible word for word. Even at my age, I tend to have irrational fears from time to time, at which point, I need to step back and repeat to myself that everything is alright, and that I have nothing to be afraid of. I need to retell myself that there is nothing rational to explain what I just saw out of the corner of my eye in the dark, and that it was just my mind trying to interpret what I was seeing with something familiar to me. That’s what happens when your eyes can’t interpret what you’re seeing, your brain starts making it up itself. It’s a life long process of weaning and convincing to get yourself into a rational thought process, when your childhood was filled with stories that made the Legend of Tarzan and Lord of the Rings seem like more viably fact related stories.
It is stories like these that I attribute to my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as well. I have no reason to ascertain that if I don’t do everything in multiples of five that my life will suddenly begin wielding negative results. I have no reason to believe that my girlfriend won’t make it back from Florida next month if I don’t follow preordained and irrational patterns. But it is just that: irrational. And much like a phobia, it is hard to talk down with rational thought. It, in synopsis, is my brain acting irrationally and independent of logic.
This brings us to what else makes religion so dangerous. Religion teaches the dangerous pattern of blind faith. Now, it’s not like the bible is the only book in history to teach that things are blind. After all, according to history, Helen Keller was blind. According to Robert Frost, love is blind, and according to E. E. Cummings, so is lust. But these can all be positive things, except for the Helen Keller thing. It is not healthy to believe in blind faith and it is extremely destructive to teach it.
With the teaching of blind faith, you are teaching others not to question things in this world. There is nothing positive that can come from not questioning the values, principles, beliefs and/or actions of our world or nation. If nobody were to question anything, our federal government would be able to just do whatever they wanted without having to first pretend that we care. The time it takes to pretend often gives a head start to whatever democratically elected leader we’re trying to snuff out, or whatever third-world country we’re planning on blowing up next. I’m being a little facetious, but you get the point. The belief that we shouldn’t question anything is dangerous and can lead to a wasted life, a wasted land, nationalism, or even perestroika. I don’t think anybody wants these things, no matter how morally bankrupted because of religion. After all, these things lead to the end of free thought, free speech, and probably the end of the world as we know it. How could a person who questions authority actually believe in dragons, invisible men impregnating cosmic telekinetic Jewish zombies and lions with multiple heads rising from the sea? They wouldn’t.
When a person is taught blind faith, what’s to stop them from believing anything else that’s told to them? This is another effect of the Theo-glitch. What’s the incentive for people of blind faith to question the authority around them, when they’re taught at young ages to just believe and not question? If you’ll notice, we have a pretty shallow medical industry in this country. It is a medical industry where those in charge of the pharmaceutical companies are also in charge of approving drugs and creating new illnesses. An industry as well, that makes no money if people are healthy. Combine that with leaders and spokespersons who tell us that we have the best medical industry in the world, a clear lie when you look at health statistics, and you have a recipe for a complete lack of health. Why would a person who believes that it’s best to just believe because people tell you to, want to question this industry laden with conflicts of interests. It’s just one example of how religion has duped us into the control of those in power by teaching this principle, but there are many more. I know that this is starting to sound a bit Marxist, but in the matters of faith, I truly think that he—like the thousands who came before him with the very same observation—was onto something. It is truly the opiate of the mind.
The Theo-glitch affects of blind faith is what led the Soviet Union to fall. When people again and again believe blindly in their government that they’re going to get paid, even though they haven’t been paid in months and their government is going more and more bankrupt, they’re leading themselves into destruction. This is what happens when people don’t question authority, and the same happens when people are taught not to question anything else. This is precisely how religion and imperialism are one in the same in matters of virtue.
I’ve mentioned before just how defensive people can get whenever you bring up a point that might question their personal faith. This is probably because they’ve never questioned their own faith, therefore they have no answers. Because again, how could a person who questions anything believe in people living in the stomach of a whale, blazing talking bushes, and/or two of every species of animal living on a yacht, and that includes dinosaurs?
If you’ve ever wondered why the Christian right is indeed that, look at today’s right wing party. As they’ve completely strayed from the original ideals of the Republican Party, and even conservatives have abandoned the original beliefs of the party. After all, there was a time when they believed that government would stay out of the lives of its citizens, and that to legislate morality was wrong. Now they believe to the contrary, and the Christian right is aligned with them because of their current beliefs of overall control. One would have to be a complete nationalist who does not know their arm from their bay window when it comes to politics, to align himself with today’s right. Just like one would have to be oblivious to the differences between a history book and Alice in Wonderland to buy into religion. These two entities are perfect for one another and make perfect allies because of their similarities in the philosophy against any kind of questioning of leadership. In both beliefs, it is wrong to question authority.
Just like conservative talk show hosts like to say that it’s wrong to question the commander in chief, the bible says that it is better to be tied to stones and drowned in the seas, than to question the divinity or existence on God. These similarities are basically just accouterments to their other shared beliefs in homophobia, censorship and moral slavery.
The seemingly harmless becomes harmful in a personal scenario. I spoke earlier of the Theo-glitch and its harm to a person’s psyche, in the way that the overt school of religious thinking may make it hard for people to distinguish between reality and fiction. This is evident in a personal friend of mine who is later interviewed in this book. He’s a devout Catholic. He was raised that way, attends church every Sunday, and goes pretty far into the train of thought seniored by Christian Science. This is evident in him as no matter how far out there the things he reads are, he seemingly believes anything that is either put in a book or shown on YouTube. This, to me is dangerous and I’ll illustrate how. He has, as of recent, fallen under the David Icke school of thought. He’s been telling me for years about these secret prisons that the US is building for when it decides to institute the one world government and one world currency, because he listens to a late night talk show that meddles in these particular schools of thought (or lack of thought). I’m not going to say that all of this stuff is lies, but come on, most of it is so ridiculous that a normal and logical person would have no choice but to either change the station or just listen for the entertainment value. However, he believes everything he hears on this show, no matter how outrageous the claim. Just a year or so ago, David Icke was featured on this show, talking about his line of thought regarding the lizard men that are controlling the world and have been throughout history by interbreeding with man and creating a lineage to maintain power over earth. These lizard men consist of George W. Bush, The Pope, Adolf Hitler, Oscar Schindler, and many other prominent people in the world’s history. They either live in the cavernous and hollow Earth, or they live in the stars, but either way, they are from the fourth dimension, and can shape shift because of a special type of gold they develop that they inhale into their body for powers.
A logical person would read this and say, “What?” But to a religious mind, considering all of the stories in the bible that would make the same logical person give the same logical answer, he is unable to distinguish between reality and fiction. This has created a rampant paranoia in him that wouldn’t take a seasoned shrink to deem unhealthy. Because of this, he believes in these tales and even preaches about them quite heavily, especially after having a few. He is not a stupid person, in fact, his knowledge of human nutrition as well as human biology is pretty advanced. He commonly emits signs of very high IQ, but because of his religious upbringing, cannot seem to think to himself that Mr. Icke just might be either lying or just insane. Why would he be able to? Again, some of the biblical tales are just as outrageous as the stories Icke claims to be reality.
Now, this may seem like innocent belief and one might ask how it could harm anyone. Well, in truth, it is just an innocent belief. But let’s say he’s at the voting booth in three years, and there is one candidate that is very intelligent, ideological and qualified for the position he’s seeking, and another who is a bumbling fool such as the leader of our former administration. Let’s just say that he knows he should vote for the person who is more qualified, but in David Icke’s new book, that’s probably just another update of an old one, Icke claims to have seen said politician’s eyes glow bright and skin turn scaly, thus revealing him as a lizard man from the constellation Draco. Where do you think this highly paranoid and highly religious conspiracy theorist is going to lean? He’ll vote for the fool before he’ll vote for a lizard man who wants to hold the reigns of control over our world and everyone in it.
This is where it’s dangerous. I’ll mention later in the book how many people voted for Bush in 2004 just because of his religious beliefs, even though they had no idea where he stood on anything. And if you look at the rest of that statistic, everyone who was voting with the number one issue being economy, healthcare, terrorism, or Iraq, all voted for John Kerry. A person voting for someone just because he believes that an invisible man impregnated a virgin to give birth to his cosmic Jewish zombie of a son is no different than not voting for a person just because somebody wrote a book claiming he’s come kind of reptile man, sent here from the fourth dimension.
And other than voting, what’s to stop this friend of mine from going off the deep end one of these days? He already believes that our own government is plotting against us to kill us—a point that I won’t overtly argue—so what’s to stop him from going on a killing spree of government officials like some of the other nuts out there like the Michigan Militia? What’s to stop him from possibly walking into an office building in Oklahoma and pulling the switch? What’s to stop him from hijacking a plane and toppling a large skyscraper or three? Well, as the past has shown us when it relates to the last two questions, nothing is to stop him. Because wasn’t it religious nutcases from the Michigan Militia as well as zealots from the Middle-East, who were hoping for their forty virgins in Heaven who were responsible for the last two.
You see, something as seemingly harmless as faith would never make a normal person think twice about teaching it to their children. Most of them don’t even realize half of the stories in that book, it’s just become inherent. It seems like people think that religion is genetic. Just because your parents practiced something doesn’t mean you must as well. But they don’t think twice. These cases are usually not the ones that lead to the harm. Again, it’s the cases of overt teaching during the developmental stages of the mind. The overall lack of reason that is necessary to believe the stories in most bibles are true, can only be that of a child. And after these stories are taught, there is nothing to reaffirm a case of reality in the child as he/she becomes an adult. Overt religious teaching strips an innocent child of a very necessary survival component of the human brain: reason.
Reason and logic are pretty essential in a society like the one we have today. When one in thirty people are claiming to have spoken to god, what’s to stop a percentage of those people from whipping up a batch of Kool-Aid for a mass suicide? After all, I doubt God told them to do anything good. You need to have logic and reason on your side when you’re confronted in the airport by one of their cult-members who are trying to recruit you. Without logic, why would you not blindly follow? A person who’s right brain is dominant might actually listen to the people, but right brained people still retain a sense of logic from their left. However, in overtly religious people, there is usually a central (Temporal) lobe dominance, where it should be recessive to the frontal lobe. This is the common ground between conspiracy theorists and religionists also discussed later in the book. Feelings of helplessness, fear and paranoia are great triggers of such a disorder.
Religion becomes harmful on many grounds: whether it be violence to others, the coercion of children, sexual repression, sexism, bigotry, war, or even just the clear hostility displayed at acts of question or inquiry. But there are so many more ways that religion harms that aren’t often thought about. The Theo-glitch is one of those, in the way that it’s disguised so well with the veil of faith. After all, if one person thinks that a voice from another world is directing his actions, no matter what they are, and has mapped out a future that is unchangeable, it would surely be called dementia. However, if a few million people believe in the same concept, and even accept it as reality, it is then called religion. I guess what separates religion from madness is a mandate from the masses.
Either way, religion harms the psyche by allowing madness to exist independently of mental illness. There are even many states and countries that don’t separate “Jerusalem Syndrome” from basic dementia or schizophrenia. Why is that? It is separate, both in its effects, as well as in its foundation and cause. Ponder this: without the concept of God, would you have a bunch of nut-jobs walking around thinking that God is talking to them? Of course you wouldn’t, but don’t try to introduce that theory to a religionist. If you do, then you’re talking the words of Satan, who is supposed to be sent to earth around this time to talk people out of religion. Satan, you know that guy, the talking snake who tempted the rib-woman to eat from the magical tree that ended paradise, with whom she later had a child, who killed his brother, therefore is coursed to be a vampire. It’s funny what you can get people to buy, just by putting it into the right language, or making people believe it’s from an ancient text. However, when it’s worded like that, it suddenly sounds a little ridiculous doesn’t it? Well then, what of splashing magical water onto a baby’s head to protect him from a special baby hell for those who never received magical water treatment? Well, the Catholics believe in it.
When delusions exist independently of mental illness, they become much harder to incriminate. And when it comes from an introduced concept as opposed to a natural one, one would think that the natural answer would be to stop introducing the concept to children. After all, what you tell a child during the period of mental and emotional development is going to affect them for the rest of their lives. Therefore, can we be a little more careful about it? Can we maybe leave the fairy tales separate from what we teach them as reality? It makes about as much sense to teach a child that the stories in the bible are real, as it would to introduce philosophy or linguistics into the biology or home economics classroom. We just need to start thinking logically about what we’re inflicting on children and how it’s going to affect them in the future. However, if parents can’t stop this kind of abuse themselves, what do we do?