Religion decoded and made useful


 

 

Beliefs are supposed to mean something. In the Golden Age of Meaninglessness, you get a brochure, not a meaningful belief.

Religion is not dogma. It’s not an excuse. It’s not a means of personal moral superiority, however banal and pointless. It’s supposed to be useful. Religion, in most of its original forms, is a codification of both belief and conduct for spiritual benefit. In many ways, it’s just common sense.

The degraded forms of religion we see today are far removed from benefit, despite the fact that religion in some cases is all some people have. The tedious, pompous and often obsessive forms of religion aren’t much use, however, in delivering value.

Religion basics

Consider the basics:

  • “Thou shalt not be a jerk”. This covers all forms of misconduct which cause injury. All religions have this basic tenet.
  • Worship: Worship what, how, and why? Can you have a real religion, based on “Just add worship”? If you have no idea what you’re believing in, how do you worship it? Unless it serves some useful purpose, seems rather unfair.
  • Belief: Humans only actually believe something they trust. They trust it because they’ve seen it proven in some form. Any other “belief”, however tiresomely expressed, is hypocrisy.
  • Religious deities: One god or many? One god and saints, or whatever, the usual format is to break down religious subjects in to examples, parables, with a story and a range of metaphors. This applies from the Bible to folklore. It’s a common teaching method in ancient and modern societies.
  • The soul: The worst defined subject in human history, the soul is the nominal incarnation of self. It doesn’t have ascribed values, material or otherwise. This lucky concept is the recipient of any amount of babble which is supposed to be good for it. If the average soul could get a word in edgewise, it would tell the babble where to go, or demand that the babble explain itself. “Preaching to the speechless” could also be described as incredibly hypocritical and cynical.
  • The Afterlife: This remarkably poorly defined subject is the reward for “whatever”, the mass of bullet impacts and asteroid strikes life delivers to most people. As explained by people who have no idea what it is, it’s a pretty iffy reward. “Bribed with Heaven and threatened with hell” isn’t much of an improvement. It’s an exertion of assumed authority which can backfire, causing resentment and discouragement. Credible rewards are based on something; this dismally expressed topic delivers very little.
  • “Evil”: Evil simply means injury. Evil is a one trick wonder. It causes injury, in whatever form. Any fool can be evil; it’s a devaluation of oneself and a useless range of possibilities.
  • Good: A rather shoddily defined expression which deserves better. Good can relate to acting responsibly, being kind, or, in fact, acting like a normal human being. If you commit an act of kindness, you know why you do it. True good doesn’t big note itself.
  • Moral pretensions: This is the age-old pretension of being good. It’s false by definition. Actual good is also practical, rather than pretentious. To claim to be good is making a necessity out of a virtue; not a great idea of you don’t have that particular virtue.
  • Morality: These supposed “life rules” have to make sense to be effective. Morals are useful, provided they’re practical and applicable to situations. Otherwise, they’re just more spiritual spam churned out by ignoramuses trying to be authoritative.

Religion in practice

Paul Wallis books, sydney media jam

This book is all about creative ideas. Nobody has yet died of reading it, but it’s a pretty tough call for those not familiar with working with ideas. “Passive voice”, eh?

If you’re thinking that a lot of this is just common sense, you’re right. The original sources of religions were directly involved in practical needs. Why would a farmer, 5000 years ago, believe anything that wasn’t common sense? Imagine telling a subsistence farmer that they need a whole new range of things to not only do, but believe unquestioningly. Not very appealing, is it?

What use is self-promotion by others to people in real need? The original sources of the major religions were positively minded, from Confucius to the latter day religions. The Confucian idea of turning society in to an extended family, in fact, applies as well to the Warring States era as to modern times. Everyone knows extended families work well, too.

The original sources were practical people. None of these people were mere talkers. Jesus and Buddha were fundamentally teachers, and good ones. (For the non-press-release version of Jesus, read The Gospel of Thomas.) The Prophet Mahomet would go out and plough people’s fields himself. Moses was a lawgiver and a source of a code for people who needed cohesion. It’s a very practical approach to living in a wilderness/desert.

Believe what you will, but be aware that none of these sources was anything but useful. If religion diverges from usefulness, it’s obviously not as it was intended.

This wasn’t McReligion. You couldn’t just order a god to go with a side dish of pretensions like you can now. The original sources promoted responsibility, not excuses and evasions. They also weren’t obsessed with materialism.

Some of the best exponents of religion are practical in the sense that their every conscious moment is devoted to helping others. This help in turn benefits others indirectly. Some of them aren’t even members of a religion. They simply practice it, and make themselves very useful in the process. If religion is the process of putting useful things in to practice, however, they qualify as religious people.

You don’t have to be a saint to be a practical religious person, with or without a particular religion. You don’t have to preach about something you barely understand yourself to be effective and practical.

You don’t have to be a jerk, either. However fashionable being a petty little attempt at a real person may be, the jerks are always the useless, the greedy and the mindlessly addicted selfish, causing injury to others.  The one trick wonder is only that and no more.

Believe what you trust, not just any old garbled dogma. Put in to practice what you believe, and avoid injury to others. How much simpler could it get?

 

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Think you’re in the wrong world? You probably are


 

Didn't know that, eh?

Didn’t know that, eh?

Two of the best known people to refer to the world as a non-place were Jesus and Buddha.  Jesus referred to the world as “a carcass” (Gospel of Thomas) and Buddha  as an illusion. There are, however, plenty of non-religious reasons for thinking you’re in the wrong world.

Consider-

  • A supposedly intelligent species which has the stupidity to claim to be the only intelligent life in the universe. When questioned, the excuse is that no other intelligent forms of life are known. Meaning that ignorance is the basis of the claim, which is baseless by definition.
  • A world where whole schools of philosophy can’t even find a reason for anyone being alive at all.
  • A world where science progresses every micro second, yet a 100 year old theory like the Theory of Relativity is assumed to be unchangeable forever, and anything which contradicts it is shouted down.
  • A society which upholds democratic values and yet does nothing when those values are abused.
  • A society which passes endless laws against endless crimes- And merely creates more rich criminals, lawyers and a prison industry while never actually putting an end to crime.
  • A society in which it is assumed that the only answers to the future are those of the past, however hopelessly out of date they’ve become.
  • A political system based on a dichotomy of representation of the rich and the poor, which simultaneously claims the equality of all people.
  • A society in which religions actively promote wars and are parties to crimes for millennia.
  • An economy and employment market mentality which actively prevents people from using the talents that create economic prosperity.

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Consider a world based on denial


 

Wasp2Denial takes many forms. Things are denied as if they can’t exist, not just as if they don’t. People actually make careers out of denial. Now consider – What use is denial? It’s only real use of denial is to deny something false. Denial of something real is simply lying.

Now consider a world based on stating things are impossible. Why? According to one form of denial, it was impossible for the Earth to orbit the sun. The denial, in this case, had the force of law, and it was totally wrong. Now, it’s simply discredited.

Now consider what’s denied in this world:

  • Actual events and situations.
  • Historical events.
  • The value of intelligence.
  • The value of honesty.
  • Many would say that happiness is denied by a world which seems determined to enforce misery.
  • Ideas for the future.
  • Public health, now at its most abysmal level since god knows when.
  • Spiritual experiences which don’t fit dogmas.
  • Scientific information.
  • Social data.
  • Human rights in just about all forms, usually by omission or actual abuse.
  • The right to be yourself – From school bullies to bullying bosses and “associates”.
  • Non-lowest common denominator social positions and roles.

What sort of world is that? It’s basically a false world. A world based on falsehood can’t really be anything else. Falsehood, by definition, is unreality. Buddha said this world is an illusion. So did many others. Jesus said, “He who finds the world has found a carcass” in the Gospel of Thomas. According to the Gnostics, even physical form is a massive limitation, a perversion of pure existence.

Job page 16Yet this world claims that material is superior to everything as if it was a self-evident truth. It’s not. Bricks don’t cry. Power poles don’t fall in love. Toasters don’t have fears and hopes. Roads don’t get depression and anxiety.

If sanity is a rational response to an environment and situations, what’s a rational response to a false world? Insanity? No, because insanity, by definition, is irrational. Irrationality is required to accept delusions.

The natural world is not unreal. The human-denial-based world, however, is apparently nothing but unreal. Facts are treated like lepers. Like the Emperor’s new clothes, the “reality of denial” is invariably a claim of something which doesn’t really exist.

Denial may be based on ignorance, training, or superstition. If you’re told something doesn’t exist, does that make it non-existent? Of course not. Some people don’t believe Tasmania exists. They think it was made up by Warner Bros, or something. It’s the island to the south of Australia. It’s existed in one form or other since the dinosaur age at least.

What does denial achieve? Nothing useful. If it’s accepted, it creates limits. It creates no-go zones. Non-subjects.

Are we poor enough yet page 11Denial is basically a license to ignore facts. If enough idiots deny something, they can basically shut down even discussion of basic facts. One of the most obscene forms of denial is to quote someone who has denied the possibility of something or other. That’s the excuse for denial.

Why deny facts at all? Can you think of any possible good that could come of that? A lot of damage can be done by denial. This sick, polluted world is partly caused by the denial of the dangers of pollution and partly caused by appallingly irresponsible, corrupt, public health policies.

Corporations literally queue up to pay fines to the EPA for poisoning the environment for disaster after disaster, paying enormous amounts of money every year. They deny wrongdoing, of course. The people affected are just as sick and dead, but that’s not even discussed.

Governments simply shuffle the policies and claim to achieve goals which may or may not have anything to do with actual human need. A whole generation is now growing up with a health system which barely equates to a quantum particle of competent management.

Question crossDrugs that don’t work, or are themselves dangerous, have to be literally dragged off the shelves usually after long periods of denial that there’s any problem at all with those drugs. More money is paid, and no wrongdoing is admitted. Denial by silence is still denial.

It’s trite to say that everything people actually like is illegal. It’s also perfectly accurate. Anything which people enjoy is denied tolerance. These things are actually campaigned against, by “moralists” through the ages. Organised crime makes a fortune supplying these things, and is never really prosecuted or seriously threatened.

So- What use is this world of denial and to whom?

Use – None whatsoever. A world which can’t even admit the most basic things about its own existence is not a world. It’s an atrocity.

Whom – Who’s most threatened by ideas and facts? Those with the weakest arguments. Facts are predators to these sheep. Dogma, the greatest denialist of all, is never even really an argument – It’s simply a statement, right or wrong. If wrong, it’s useless.

The religions became denialists when it became clear that even those preaching it didn’t believe what they were preaching. Cynical religious practices are well documented as far back as ancient times.

Politicians became denialists when their politics lost all credibility. The clichés remain, but any pretense of factualism is long gone. The ideologies are long dead; their ghosts bleat on. Denial, feeble as it is, is their only protection against reality. Some people believe in the ideologies, and simply deny that they’re dead. A self-sustaining process.

Denial is usually pretense. Pretense is no defence. If it doesn’t deceive, it’s futile. Against anything or anyone which isn’t deceived, it’s less protection than a Kleenex in a hurricane.

The choice for most people isn’t whether to accept denial. It’s at what point you stop believing in a world of denial. Belief, by definition, is what you actually consider to be true. Denial has no role in real belief.

If you lose a world of illusions and a rotting carcass, what do you gain? Worth finding out, I’d say.

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