Human beings do not like to think. This is not meant to be an insult, it is just the way we work. Instead, we rely on heuristics, the brain’s go-to technique for making it through the day. Examples of heuristics include concepts like the ‘rule of thumb’, stereotyping, generalizing, and ‘common sense’, and they help us make quick decisions so we can spend less time thinking and more time doing. This, obviously, was very helpful in the past. Instead of staring at a lion and wondering whether or not it was dangerous, the brain categorized all lions as dangerous, therefore bypassing any thought that may have occurred and freeing the person to act in a matter that would ensure their survival. The problem is that we have allowed our heuristic brains to run rampant, relying on labels to define our behavior instead of taking the time to think about our lives. This is especially noticeable with regards to religion.
With the many problems that religion has been causing, many people have shifted their attitudes, claiming to be ‘spiritual’ as opposed to ‘religious’, but what exactly is religion? A relativity safe definition of the word describes it as “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe”. From the Big Bang to Intelligent Design, every nation in the world has their own story to explain the reason for the existence of the universe. Nobody knows for sure who is right and who is wrong, because every story sounds equally ridiculous to outsiders. So what is the problem?
People keep killing each other for a set of beliefs that they never took the time to double check. They follow strict rules in the hopes of achieving some sort of salvation and condemn anyone who disagrees, all the while refusing to examine their own way of life. Human beings differ from animals in that they have the ability to reason; they can explain why they are performing an activity. Without reason, there is nothing to separate our actions from those of an ant, simply moving through life on instinct. We have the ability not only to interact with the world around us, but to understand it as well.
There is no need to attempt to convert anyone from one religion to another, such dealings would do more harm than good. Instead, people must be willing to take stock of what they believe in, separating what is useful and what is not, and discard anything that serves no other purpose than taking up space.
Thomas Paine was somebody who refused to think what he was told. Considered to be one of the founding fathers of the United States, he wrote a number of influential pieces, Common Sense being one of his more popular works. It’s been said that without Paine’s influential words, the efforts of George Washington would have been in vain. Thomas Paine did not preach for people to follow a specific set of rules, nor did he use the fear of condemnation to add to his message. Instead, he advocated people to use the one gift that truly separated them from any other being on the planet; he wanted them to think. One of his books, titled Age of Reason, is a call to all those who are enslaved under the snares of religion, urging them to examine their beliefs before pouring their lives into them.
“All nations of the earth and all religions agree. All believed in a God.”
The word “God” has left many people jaded due to the number of negative associations that accompany it, but if we replace the word with it’s definition, it becomes clear that all religions share their belief in it. The cause of the universe, and the power by which it continues to exist, is what man calls God, and this concept is found in every religion. It is the redundancies that surround this core concept that separate the different religions from each other. Each culture has added beliefs to the concept of God, and in doing so has alienated anyone who is not familiar with the culture or who disagrees with the established beliefs. What is worse is that in creating these extra beliefs, they take God’s name in vain.
This concept can be confusing when you first hear it. Most people think of phrases like “Oh my god” as examples of taking God’s name in vain. Although this may be the norm, it is not correct. To take the name of another in vain means to attribute their name to what you are doing without their permission. For example, if an employee begins shredding papers at his job and claims that his boss instructed him to do so, even though the boss gave no such order, then the employee would be guilty of taking his boss’ name in vain. This is the crime committed by religions and their churches. They all claim that they are on some special mission from God, who communicated His Will to certain individuals in a process known as revelation (revealing). These lucky recipients of God’s revelation in turn publish what they are told and refer to their writings as the Word of God in order to add authority to their message and pass it along to others.
However, these revelations, if they even occurred, are only revelations to the individual who received it. To everyone else, the information conveyed is nothing more than hearsay. The original message must pass through the mind of the prophet, which undoubtedly will result in a filtered version. There is no reason to trust the words of a mere human as the Word of God simply because it can easily be altered. There is no way to prove that the message is in it’s original form unless you were to hear it directly from God. Still, religions establish themselves with these ‘missions from God’, demanding that people learn about them by attending some form of church.
By encouraging people to attend religious gatherings, the church is able to control what goes into the minds of their followers. They discourage ideas that are not in their scriptures and label anyone who speaks against them as heretics. The only option is to believe, and those who do not are condemned to punishment, exile, or, in extreme cases, death. This is akin to planting a tree in a small pot. If you do not allow space for the roots, the tree will not be able to grow. Likewise, if humans are restricted from the pursuit of knowledge, their minds will lack adequate stimulus, and they will not be able to grow. Complacency will always bring deterioration. These missions from God are nothing more than human inventions designed to terrify and enslave mankind.
“The Word of God cannot exist in some written or human language.”
Anyone who has the ability to speak and understand more than one language knows that nothing can be translated with precision. There will always be some words or meanings that are lost in translation, leaving people to arrive at different conclusions when hearing the same thing in a different languages. The Bible, a book that professes to be the Word of God, was written in a number of different languages. The original Hebrew did not use vowels, nor did they have a word for the verb ‘to be’, making it a near impossible task to determine the exact words within the text. Consider the following three ‘words’.
“TH BK RD.”
What does it say? The book red? The bike road? The options, although not limitless, can be vast, especially when you consider placing the verb ‘to be’ in the mix. This language barrier can be seen in another popular language in which the Bible was written; Greek. Greek is what is known as a dead language. It is not in use as an everyday language, so although present day scholars may be able to speak it, they are considered amateur when compared to a mere milkmaid or plowman during the time when the language was alive.
Beyond the fact that the original message of the Bible is lost in translation, the content found in the book is questionable. The Old Testament, especially the first five books, called the Torah, contain nothing more than the wicked history of the Jews, allegedly written by a man called Moses. We are lied to within the first page because it is hard to believe that Moses could have written the books ascribed to him once you take a closer look at the text. Consider the tale of the Abraham and Lot. Genesis 14:14 makes reference to the city of Dan, which was originally called Laish. Judges 18:27 explains that the Danites conquered Laish and renamed it Dan in honor of their father. This event took place after the death of Samson, which is over 300 years after the death of Moses. How could Moses write about the city of Dan if the city did not exist until centuries later?
But let us give the benefit of the doubt and assume that there was another city called Dan, separate from the one that was once called Laish. The book still portrays nothing more than the tyrannic conquest of the Jews. They spread their religion with the sword, refusing to allow converts and butchering all that were in their path. Such activities are barbaric enough, but they have the audacity to claim that they were instructed to commit genocide by none other than the Almighty.
Let us, again, give them the benefit of the doubt, pushing their blatant dishonor of God aside, and assume that it was, indeed, at the request of God that they slaughtered thousands of people. The book of Joshua, in chapter 10, gives them away again.
“The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!”
If in fact the Almighty were behind the incident that allegedly occurred that day, then the text would have read that it was the earth, which revolves around the sun, that stood still, and not the other way around. Such an ignorant mistake could only be made by an individual who had no knowledge of the workings of the cosmos, thus allowing us to presume that God had nothing to do their fight.
The New Testament presents it’s own set of problems by introducing the mystical character of Jesus Christ. The controversy surrounded this individual is overwhelming, but there is one idea above all others that must be considered. If it were the intention of Jesus to establish a new religion, he would have written the system himself, or procured it to be written by another during his lifetime.
So what are we to conclude about the idea of religion. How can we determine if God exists without some sign?
“Does not the creation, the universe we behold, preach to us the existence of the Almighty power, that governs and regulates the whole?”
The Word of God cannot be found in any book or from the lips of any human, for it is held in everything that surrounds us. Creation is the true Word of God. Both written and spoken words can be changed and altered, but none can change the laws that govern our universe. We do not need fairytales from an ancient people to believe in God, we can simply examine the world around us. Such stories should be acknowledged for what they are; metaphors to help explain the mysteries of the universe in terms we understand. Few people can understand how, in the beginning, strong and weak forces broke away from the pure radiation and created a number of bosons , which lead to the creation of other virtual particles that filled the space, eventually condensing into protons and neutrons which formed nuclei that, as the universe cooled, began capturing electrons, leading to the formation of neutral matter that allowed the photons that were created from the constant annihilation of protons and electrons to unite into streams of light. Or, as the Jews put it, God said “Let there be light.”
The fable told by the author of Genesis serves as a simple explanation for the beginning of time; the story was never meant to be taken as a matter of precise fact. However, as history as shown us, the story of creation, as well as other stories that were originally meant to be nothing more than metaphors, have been accepted by many as absolute truth. As a child, it is easy to believe such tales, but as an adult, they become fictitious. Instead of accepting the story as a metaphor, people assume that if it is not completely true then it is false. They lump the meaning behind the story with the fable, and decide that if there were no words spoken at the creation of light, then there must not be a God to create the light in the first place. They ascribe the miracle of creation to laws and processes that do not contain the word ‘God’, yet share all characteristics with the thing they profess not to believe.
“Ït is the fool only, and not the philosopher, nor even the prudent man, that will live as if there is no God.”
As a species, we are learning more about the universe, and as a result, are better equipped to properly describe it. Our perception of the universe has gone from an unclear Polaroid picture to that of a High Definition television. We are learning more about God by studying his Word, that is, Creation. Science, unlike the church, is not a human invention, for we have merely discovered what was already there. Our language suggests that humans, in the past, had created things like mathematics and the other sciences, but the principles for them were already in the universe, waiting to be understood. We used our gift of reason to see what was in front of us.
The wonders that be accomplished through the study of the real Word of God are plain to see, and the extent of it’s uses are unknown. This knowledge is very powerful, and the churches know that, which is why they have spent so much of their time hiding it from the public.
But you cannot stop a yearning that is innate in us all. Children, from their youth, possess a natural awe and wonder for the world around them. They spend all of their time exploring, seeking to learn as much as they can from their environment. Sadly, they are corrupted by the man-made rules society places upon them. Religions have been behind this corruption for centuries. Ever since the Greeks first began experimenting with the sciences, they have been persecuted by the ‘religious’. Throughout the entire common era, the church has banned the pursuit of what it considered ‘worldly knowledge’ in place of blind faith. They spread stories of revelations and preached of miracles that go against the laws of nature as proof of their authority.
“Is it more probable that nature should go out of her course, or that a man should tell a lie?”
The common advice of the church is to ignore any knowledge that does not coincide with their faith. When a facet of their faith does not make sense, they discourage thought, and instead instruct their followers to trust in their alleged Word of God, written by men.
Thomas Paine believed that there is only one true religion, and that it was the religion of the first humans before corruption began to take root. A common justification for Christianity is the fact that it survived for so long while maintaining popularity and even growing. Why would the true religion fade while an imposter thrives? The answer is simple.
True religion is not profitable when it comes to the manipulation and control of others.
Paine labeled his religion Deism, but with any label comes assumptions. Instead of professing membership to a specific religion, it would be more profitable to simply claim belief in the universe, for it is the true Word of God. The laws of the creation never change. Thus, true worship is found in knowing the workings of the universe, a task that unites religion with personal improvement, allowing one to edge closer to God with every bit of wisdom gained.