In the beginning the Lord spoke to Satan saying, “You shall retain dominion over only one plague with which to torment all mankind. What shall it be?” And Satan replied saying, “Let it be religion – for religion will cause more death and destruction than all the plagues combined.”
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Around the time of the Dark Ages doctors would literally open a patients vein and drain quarts of blood in the sincere belief that they were saving them. Of course this didn’t help anyone and in some cases caused death. Some surgeons would drill a hole in your skull to release evil spirits. If you don’t believe that just Google for it. Plenty of examples can be found to show that medieval medicine was a combination of church dogma and astrology more than medical understanding. Today, some would say medicine has taken a Quantum Leap since then. Actually a Quantum Leap is the smallest leap known to nature. So let’s just say the practice of medicine has moved light-years ahead of those days. Oddly, religion has not kept pace with medicine and is still stuck in those Dark Ages. Religion is still drilling holes in your skull – metaphorically speaking. Large segments of humanity still believe that we can save souls with some form of magic or superstition. It’s rather embarrassing.
When I was in high school we studied the culture of the native American Indians. I remember discussions about the Indian ghost dancers who wore special garments with magic symbols to protect themselves from soldiers bullets. That reminded me of the Mormon undergarments that supposedly have some protective quality. Of course every religion is rich with content for criticism from the Communion to the Jewish Kapparot. I remember thinking… here we are in a modern age and we might as well be ghost dancers around the camp fire. And it was during those days that I began to realize the deception of religion. In church I could no longer participate in chants like the Apostles’ Creed and other rituals.
There was a time in my life where… if I could have taken a magic wand and made all the religions disappear I would have done so. The reason is simple. Religion has been the root cause of more death and destruction than all plagues put together. Why would any rational person want to perpetuate that?
Over many years I have struggled to answer that question. Eventually I realized that – if mankind discovered overwhelming, irrefutable evidence that all religious texts were mostly fairy tales people would still believe in them. You are probably smiling because you know that is true. What does that say about human nature? Are we just superstitious at the core? Do humans have a psychological need for religion? I think that is a huge part of it.
You could almost say it’s in the genes. When you look at early man from the first homoerectus through the 1800’s we see mankind struggling to understand the world. He struggled to explain the forces of nature, fire, and death. And I think it was only natural to invent different Gods to explain what we didn’t understand. So we can’t criticize early man for coming up with religion. But I do criticize modern man for perpetuating belief in primitive rituals and ideas. Instead, we must learn to come together in fellowship without having to worship anything. That does not mean we cannot celebrate exceptional people whoever they might be.
Wouldn’t it be great if the Bible stories were really true? Who would not want everlasting life? I would give anything to make it all be true. We all want it to be true… don’t we. Perhaps that is why it persists. The Bible is a wonderful book. It’s full of beautiful verse, interesting stories, and good advice. But is it the word of God? Of course not. On one hand I feel compelled to make people realize this. But I hesitate when I think of all the people who are lost and alone, in need of love and hope, homeless, suffering from illness, grieving for a loved one, or perhaps imprisoned in a foreign jail cell with only a blanket and Bible. Shall we take away the Bible and leave them with just a blanket? We have to offer them some form of hope but deception is not the answer. We need to face that.
I would ask the reader to think back on a time when someone deceived you. I don’t mean a small insignificant lie coming from a child. I mean something major like a cheating spouse, or a deceitful coworker. I want you to think about how you felt when you were deceived – because only then can you understand how we should feel about this now. Each and every one of us has been deceived about religion and it makes me angry. The only redeeming value is that the deception wasn’t done with malice, but it is deception nonetheless. No one can deny that desperation breeds gullibility and exploitation. That is why there are so many diet books.
Back in January of 2006 I was watching a television program called 20/20. (To be specific 1/20/2006). They were talking about deception in our society and they quoted Adolf Hitler as saying, “A great mass of people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.” I fear he was right.