Saturday, November 7, 2015

Science will always trump religion because it works.

The Seer Stone. Translation device used by Joseph Smith
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

"science will win" in a battle with religion "because it works." Stephen Hawking

When you think about it, in the mass media including the film industry, there are millions of references to religious mythology every day as if it was fact. We are encouraged from the day we are born to treat this mythology as fact and even as science. I came upon a real Christian guy on a hike one day, he had two disciples, I mean trainees, with him. I say real Christian because he didn’t consider Catholics Christians.

I mentioned I was raised Catholic but let his condemnation of me and about a billion other Catholics pass.  I did explain to him what I was taught and he agreed it was accurate. I am talking about the Virgin Birth.  I’m capitalizing those two words as I’m talking about God’s mum.

I explained that I was taught from early childhood that a supernatural being impregnated a Jewish woman without, gulp, coitus, that’s sex, penis in vagina sex, for non-Latin speakers.  It is hard for me to even think of Jesus’ mum having sex. Dirty, dirty, thing.  This Jewish woman had the child of this supernatural being that created the cosmos, all life, in 6 days.  She was married, but never had sex with a human I thought. But then I have different Christian friends, non-Catholics, who say she went on after the union with the supernatural being and had human babies with her husband, the carpenter Joseph.

The holy hiker looked at me with a bit of a smile, he agreed with this interpretation but “We don’t put it that way”, was his response

“Of course you don’t…” I Replied, “It’s so ridiculous no one with any brains at all would believe ii, and the authors needed it to be believable.”  Or maybe they didn’t, maybe they wrote it as tales, myths allegories and it was the exploiting classes that made it fact. After all, a philosophy that says there is nothing you can do to change the world around you as humans are born nasty characters, inherently evil, is a useful one to those whose lives, security and wealth is made possible only through the exploitation of others.
Everything is predestined is a good idea.

Needless to say our conversation and stint as hiking partners ended at that point and he and his two trainees went on their merry way.  The two trainees were foreign born Chinese and he was European American, got to spread the word. I always remind people, victims of European colonization, the role the colonizer’s religion played in destroying their natural belief system and culture.

Anyway, friends have often said to me I am intolerant of religion but this is not the case. If anything, non-religious people are, and have to be tolerant as religion is thrust on us day in day out; in the news, in the movies, in the courts. We are accused of having no morality because the basis for morality is religion.  On that basis the US South should have been a real paradise. One can just about be anything in the US and get elected to office, a cocaine addict, a crook (a prerequisite some would argue) an adulterer, but an atheist, no damn way.

The Obama administration’s health plan is being challenged by Christian groups, employers and universities etc. (including Catholics) who claim their religious freedom is being violated by the provision in the plan that says employers must provide contraception as part of the health plan. They consider it immoral.  They don’t seem to have a problem with the killing of children through the waging of wars on behalf of corporations and profits mind you. Are there any Christian or religious groups that have filed lawsuits or appealed to the US Supreme Court objecting to their taxes being used to kill millions of people on behalf of the US energy industry? What about suits against corporations paying starvation wages?

Despite rejecting the idea that the Gospels of the Christian New Testament or the Jewish Torah or Islamic Koran are divinely inspired, I still and always have, defended the right of people to have these beliefs and express them without fear of persecution. It is in my self-interest to do so although altruism does play its part.

So it’s not that non-believers are intolerant, we just object to, or this non believer does, ideas and views that have no basis in rational thought, no connection to the material world, views that cannot be defended with reason but by faith being taught and imposed on us by society.  A friend of mine believes the New Testament to be the word of god through humans, the words of a divine power. How can one have a serious discussion about that?  If they believe it they believe it. Most people don’t use religious faith to exploit others, it can be many things, including a way of explaining the unexplainable or even a social community or both. It is the ruling class that uses religion as a system of control.

The problem is that society and its institutions, the state, the Universities, the schools the mass media, give these ideas credibility.  Go read the book of revelation and tell me this is real stuff.  Unfortunately, many Christians think it is.  Their support for the brutal Zionist regime in Israel is based on the fantasies written in this and other biblical books. Much more so than Jews, who are a tiny percentage of the US population, it is Christian Zionists that help frame US foreign policy that arms and funds the slaughter of Palestinian children as they whine about birth control being immoral.

If the Freedom Caucus in the US Congress were Muslim they would be named so in the US mass media, we would be reminded in no uncertain terms that they were Islamic as we are about Hamas or any other organization whose composition is primarily Muslim. I say that because Palestinians are also Christian and perhaps some members of Hamas might be. But the so-called, Freedom Caucus are simply “conservatives”. Muslims, like all faiths, claim the words in their religious book are of divine origin. I saw a Muslim cleric on TV the other day talking about a section of the Koran. “And god says…”, he said as he read the passage as if god really said it.  Mohammad might have written it. But like the Gospels, if a Muslim believes Mohammad could talk to a supernatural being and god speaks through him, what can I say to that?

The other week there was an article in Salt Lake Tribune about the “Seer Stone”.  The paper even has a photo of it, the first time a photo of this rock has been published. This piece of rock is very important to Mormons. Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, used it.

Mormons believe the Seer Stone is the rock that helped the founder of the religion translate buried gold plates he found in upstate New York 185 years ago. Joseph Smith, according to his wife, “could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictat[e] a book like the Book of Mormon.”, so finding that rock was, er, a godsend.

According to witnesses at the time, Joseph placed either the interpreters or the seer stone in a hat, pressed his face into the hat to block out extraneous light, and read aloud the English words that appeared on the instrument.”

I am sure Joseph got this idea from the bible where the supernatural being spoke to people through angels and cherubs and burning bushes and winds and all sorts of ways. I am assuming his forty wives were a part of the word of god that were inscribed on the gold plates that Smith translated with the help of the stone.  Interesting little detail that.

But why is such a story given a serious look in the mass media? Why is it not presented as myth and fairly tales, the creation of an active mind?  This is one of the richest religious organizations in the world. They all have lots of money, the established ones, and the Catholic Church is probably the richest although it has had to pay out a lot of money to cover the cost of harboring pedophiles.

Like all of them religion is a powerful tool for controlling people. None of them explain the world. They all block attempts to explain the world. The Catholic Church lets not forget, imprisoned Galileo for supporting Copernicus’ idea that the Earth revolved around the sun not the other way round.

We can all find parts of any religious tracts that we agree with. People choose to accept what fits in to their scheme of things and omit things that don’t.  It’s a substitute for science, reason and rational thought. Belief in god is a personal matter, it is between a person and their conscience and it can mean different things to different people.  I don’t pray as I don’t believe anything is listening. But I always argued that if a person prays, and it gives them the strength to change things for the better, not just for themselves but for humanity, then that is good praying.

The US elections are proving as always a theater of the absurd as the time to elect a new president draws closer.  We have a brain surgeon who is the leading contender for the Republicans who doesn’t believe in evolution. He is different to most of the politicians that attack evolution in order to win the votes of an average person who unfortunately  chooses not to believe it, but accept it themselves in the privacy of their own homes.

Carson, the brain surgeon, really doesn’t believe in it.

Let’s pray he doesn’t get elected.

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