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Reflections on the Historical Importance of God

I was reflecting on the post I did yesterday about the decline of religion, even in America. You have no idea what I thought about it, but I’ll tell you this: had nothing to do with what I perceive as the illogic of it, or anything like that. I dwelled on the practical and historical, instead.

Here’s one example of the practical-historical going back to an experience while touring Europe in 2006.

…I kept going back to a place I’d lived an hour from in France for two years in the early 90s, but never saw until I went back those many years later. Here’s the Pont du Gard, as anyone knows, but what’s important is that while it appears to be an ancient bridge and modern monument, its principle function was as a 30-mile-long aqueduct.

The Pont du Gard is an ancient Roman aqueduct bridge that crosses the Gardon River in Vers-Pont-du-Gard near Remoulins, in the Gard département of southern France. It is part of the Nîmes aqueduct, a 50 km-long (31 mi) structure built by the Romans to carry water from a spring at Uzès to the Roman colony of Nemausus (Nîmes). Because the terrain between the two points is hilly, the aqueduct – built mostly underground – took a long, winding route that crossed the gorge of the Gardon, requiring the construction of an aqueduct bridge. Built in the 1st century AD, the Pont du Gard is the highest of all Roman aqueduct bridges and is the best preserved after the Aqueduct of Segovia. It was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1985 because of its historical importance.

pontdugard
Pont du Gard

The Roman engineering is such that in an entire 30 miles—90% underground—from a spring source of water to Nîmes, the total drop is about 30 feet, a foot a mile. It delivered 9 million gallons of water per day, about 100 gallons per minute.

So what? Well, that’s the thing to me. When was it built? Archeological and historical references differ. But basically, it was built around ~0 BC/AD. Some estimates put it at 20 BC; others, 40-50 AD. In other words, this was the least important thing happening in the world 2000 years ago.

Here’s my point: I was a tyke in the 1960s. I was not shown two photos: one of a social misfit on a donkey who needed 12 sycophants and his dirty sandaled feet washed by women—and dried by their long hair—everywhere he went, OR, a picture of a Roman aqueduct built at the same time that supplied a city with 9 million gallons of water daily from 30 miles away, and used great use of subterranain and shady areas to keep the water cool.

How come I wasn’t—how come no kid is presented with that simple choice of kid-ignorant allegiance? …I’m guessing it’s because everyone knows what they’ll all choose. I know what I’d have chosen, especially had their been no caveat that I’ll burn in hell for eternity if I don’t choose the poor derelict.

And that right there is prescient, revealing. And it’s evil. And parents have no idea they’re accomplices to evil like that.

…Later in the day, we went back to Avignon where we’d been the evening before. That’ll teach you Catholics to elect a Frenchman as pope. Ha, Rome got the finger for 67 years. Cool, but that all happened one thousand, three hundred years after that engineering marvel I just showed you.

cross
 

Not impressed…except by the aforementioned finger.

In other news, I’m sure the church was involved in commissioning Brunelleschi to build the world’s most advanced fee standing dome up until we got Football in America; but alas, that wasn’t until about one thousand, four hundred years later.

For those with any interest, all my few posts about my 6,000KM Eurotrek by car, from Paris to Barcelona, hugging the Med to Pizza, over to florence, back up through Italy, Switzerland, Germany and back to Paris in three weeks in 2006, here’s the July 2006 Archive. There’s not a whole lot. I got caught up. Oh, and here’s the specific post that prefigures this post.

Give your kids all the options. Wouldja? I’d have absolutely chosen differently and it would have made for a radically different life.

I love hating God (that’s hyperbole, of course). I wasted 30 years of my one and only life in some part being a subject of his majesty (more hyperbole). No, it was actually quite a wonderful life in many respects. It’s just that had it been up to me, knowing that such feats of engineering were going on at the time of the Jesus Christ hoopla, I’d have chosen to worship those Roman engineers, instead (given that we seem to have to worship something).

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

65 Comments

  1. Kyle Bennett on January 23, 2013 at 16:08

    I want my millennium and a half of history back.

  2. tatertot on January 23, 2013 at 16:34

    I don’t know why, but I would love to hear Lute’s feelings about this…

    • Richard Nikoley on January 23, 2013 at 17:19

      Why, tatertot? You want to see a fight, between my dad and I, and I have to blog in fear over that?

      You want to see us go at it, tell one another to fuck off? Well, it happens. But you have to sit around a campfire for that, with a good amount of drink in you.

      Then you’ll get up the next morning and find breakfast ready, with dad & I in attendance if not cooking it together.

      I share plenty here. I don’t need bullshit like this.



  3. Raymond J Raupers Jr aka Woodchuck Pirate on January 23, 2013 at 19:21

    Hello Richard Nikoley,

    I’m leaving this comment to let you know that I’ve enjoyed my brief glimpse of your blog. I’m not an altruist and therefore don’t seek the conversion of others. I’m also inclined to kill my ego whenever I recognize it. I’m not motivated by fear or greed. I’m motivated toward truth. No valid philosophy can’t be practiced to the nth degree. I’d like you to know that your writing spoke to me, and I shall return from time to time. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to share thoughts or identify common ground. Have a very nice evening.

    Raymond J Raupers Jr aka Woodchuck Pirate USA

    • Richard Nikoley on January 23, 2013 at 22:07

      Raymond

      What a unique kinda comment. I like. Thanks



    • Raymond J Raupers Jr on January 25, 2013 at 18:31

      Richard,

      Thank you sir. May we live in interesting times.



  4. Galina L on January 23, 2013 at 20:20

    Mass-creation of art objects commissioned by church slightly reconciles me with whole nonsense.

  5. tatertot on January 23, 2013 at 20:21

    Sorry to have touched a nerve. I kind of thought maybe he was on the same wavelength as you, really.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 23, 2013 at 22:10

      Tater. Yea, it can be a touch subject. My dad is very tolerant of my musings of how better to inform a child intellectually. He understands I have to blog about it because its how I think it should be. I hate that it implies he and my mom did less than they could have. This is the delema of writing honestly.

      You hurt people you love and I am intolerant of having that rubbed in.



  6. MC on January 23, 2013 at 23:23

    “I love hating God”

    What’s your definition of God?

    My definition of god is: what everything else came from or was created from, what is not bound by time and/or space.

    Everything else is just fairy tales, but the definition I just gave you is simply describing the start point. The question is if that start point had life, or more importantly, intelligence. Even if the intelligence was that of a plant or micro-organism.

    Just random theorizing, but god has seemed like a convenient word to describe “the beginning” or what was always there. I don’t think you meant you hate that. You hate religion. You could have just as easily said “I love hating Satan” Or Jesus. Or Adam, or Eve, or any other character in the book.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 07:34

      MC:

      First off, that was hyperbole, a bit tongue in cheek. I’m talking about the idea of a _literal_ god, not the metaphor which, in the right context is fine with me.

      I don’t necessarily agree with Sean but he does have an arguable point that there are worse things to worry about than religion. Perhaps true, but in terms of things like statism, it seems to me that to large degree they’re two sides of the same coin. In other words, religion sits as the justification, foundation, inspiration for a lot of evil.

      So in the words of Thoreau, “There are a thousand striking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”



  7. Christelle on January 24, 2013 at 01:55

    OK you are trying to make a point by showing images of the Pont du Gard and Avignon but I happen to know the region you describe very well and I thought that you were a little bit misleading with your choice of pictures. Don’t you think the Palace of the Pope is a magnificent edifice? Religions have influenced a lot of artists, musicians, engineers…and they have left marvels to the world. This being said, I am not religious.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 07:08

      Good point, Wooo.

      I have never understood the ‘religion gave us art’ meme. They just co-opted it, stole money to finance it, manipulated it to suit their agenda.

      I got a new one, apropos: NFL Football gave us great TV commercials. ….Well, as TV commercials go, I guess.



    • Joshua on January 24, 2013 at 10:41

      Rich people “gave us” art. Whenever people have accumulated massive wealth, they have often used it to create wonderful works of art and infrastructure.

      I find that the rich people in the church got their wealth by lies, extortion, and theft. The art produced thereby is no less beautiful, but it makes it a little sad for me.

      Rich people also “give us” technology. It’s not until enough rich people adopt new technology that it becomes affordable for everybody else. I love the rich people who bought iPhones for full price at first. Because of them I was eventually able to buy my own smartphone.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 07:09

      Christelle

      My principal point there is that was built 1,300 years later.



  8. 'Mash on January 24, 2013 at 02:12

    Richard, I don’t want to distract from the magnificence that is the construction and achievement of the Pont du Gard, but I just want to make a passing comment of the building project’s cultural and historical context. It was of course built within a pagan (polytheistic or indigenous religious) saturated culture, and its (and similar aqueducts) would have in part served the religious practices of the day.

    “Originally modest, functional building, with a cold pool, hot slipper baths, and a steam bath, the ‘therms’ eventually developed into pleasure palaces. A well-known quip calls them, along with the amphitheatres, ‘cathedrals of paganism.” – Paul Venyne. The Roman Empire.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 07:15

      Mash

      While I’m not condoning any religion, polytheism as religion goes strikes me as a lot more sensible and better reflects what people actually observe. Various gods, none omnipotent, reflecting forces of nature and human drive and emotion, all in various degrees of conflict with one another, resulting in a sort of balance.

      Monotheism reflects none of that. It was just centralization for better manipulation and control.



    • 'Mash on January 24, 2013 at 09:11

      The problem I see with polytheism even hypothetically is the the problem of sovereignty. For example say there were two gods, one of rain, the other of sunshine. Who is ultimately in control?

      The sharing of sovereignty would have to be exactly equal at all times in all places and not effected by any external influence. Or alternatively one would have to be superior to the other and could if they chose to prevent or allow the other to perform their assigned role. The question of purpose the comes into question, for what reason would these two exist? If they existed due to their purpose (i.e. weather) then it would be quiet clear that they are only as sovereign as a function of the existence of the planet. Much like the Greco-Roman gods of emotions, their function as gods only exists as long as there are humans to experience the emotion. This is probably why Greco-Roman gods looked and acted just like human beings, not to mention had themselves the very emotions which apparently were in humans driven by gods.

      Nonsensical even after a shallow thought experiment!

      I think though that the thought is that early polytheistic religions became monotheistic as humans and culture evolved, which I think makes sense after just some casual thought on the matter. But interestingly newer religions and the current culture are pluralistic in their teachings. But I think this stems from no wanting anyone or anything to be sovereign, a kind or rebel backlash against authority.

      I personally think (casually thinking as I write now) that there are three reasons that people reject the god of the Bible (YHWH).

      1. They base their understanding of his character on the model of authority they see in popular religious establishment, and or their experience of people in authority (i.e. a weak or abusive parent/teacher). This which could all be rectified even just on an educational level by reading the source documentation (Bible) with the level of maturity and literary understanding one should have even to properly understand the character of a fictional character in a novel.

      2. Which flows out of 1, that if one dislikes authority one would automatically dislike a god in a position of authority even if that god’s character was the most perfect authority one could ever imagine. In the same way that democracy would work if the majority were so perfect in their interpretation and understanding of what is ultimately best for everyone, that even those who disagree would agree they were right (!?). Or rather easier to explain, a monarchy where the monarch was so perfect in character and judgement that they would always know what was best for all people at all times (ultimately). But of course we know that no human is capable of this, hence why the word ‘holy’ is used for the Biblical God. He is according to the the texts wholly other.

      3. The most important point. That it is quite clear in the text of the Bible that God is so holy, that he is unapproachable and by default we hate him (it is our nature to) which is compounded and demonstrated in relation to the above two points. But interestingly the only means by which one could have any affection for God is wholly the (monergistic) work of God on that person, and the means by which he does this is by the reader reading about his very character. Point number 1 again.

      But anyway, I think that in the most part a lot of criticism of religion is normally founded on personal experience and poor information. I would love to read a critique of religious thought based on the content of the actual religious teaching and systematic framework versus assumption from outside of it. I.e. When even well meaning people say that ‘all religions teach the same thing.’ Even a five year old kid after a casual reading of a two texts could see that this is fundamentally incorrect.

      But the very same thing can be said of pretty much anything such as people’s criticism of science. For example all the shenanigans about evolution which was the point of your creationism being taught in schools post. (Which I have to add I personally think should be left outside the science curriculum entirely).

      The point of this very long comment (apologies) is that we should take care that we don’t heap our own prejudices onto something (anything) and then believe we are making an impartial judgement with credibility.

      Be that coming from a post-religious person, or even post-low-carb person, post-vegan person or even a Augustinian Reformed Christian post-vegetarian cyclic ketogenic dieter person like myself.

      I’ll end this (probably unnecessary) monologue with this quote:

      “Why would the disciples invent a God whose holiness was more terrifying than the forces of nature that provoked them to invent a god in the first place?” – R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 09:18

      “Who is ultimately in control?”

      THAT is the beauty. Don’t you see?



    • 'Mash on January 24, 2013 at 09:23

      Yes exactly.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 10:46

      “The sharing of sovereignty would have to be exactly equal at all times in all places and not effected by any external influence. Or alternatively one would have to be superior to the other and could if they chose to prevent or allow the other to perform their assigned role.”

      Sheesh, I’d like to read this but it is seriously TL;DR for me. Sorry.

      You seem to not understand my point. There are no rain, sun, fire, moon, love, hate gods or whatever. These were human metaphors to assign a certain power that people perceived, so all the conflict was actually people with vastly different allegiance over time owing to which important aspect had been most influential in their lives.

      I don’t know a ton about it but I would guess that it was a decent mechanism for detente. Put your gods in the ring, let them fight it out.

      …Alright, went this far.

      “I think though that the thought is that early polytheistic religions became monotheistic as humans and culture evolved, which I think makes sense after just some casual thought on the matter.”

      Why does it make sense?

      Consolidation of main power and force.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 13:22

      Read too far.

      “2. Which flows out of 1, that if one dislikes authority one would automatically dislike a god in a position of authority even if that god’s character was the most perfect authority one could ever imagine. In the same way that democracy would work if the majority were so perfect in their interpretation and understanding of what is ultimately best for everyone, that even those who disagree would agree they were right (!?). Or rather easier to explain, a monarchy where the monarch was so perfect in character and judgement that they would always know what was best for all people at all times (ultimately). But of course we know that no human is capable of this, hence why the word ‘holy’ is used for the Biblical God. He is according to the the texts wholly other.”

      I don’t even know what to say. Arguably the stupidest Pollyanna claptrap I have EVER read.

      Dismissed.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 13:26

      “I would love to read a critique of religious thought based on the content of the actual religious teaching and systematic framework”

      I’ll put it on my list. But right now, Mother Goose and Dr. Suess are ahead in the line.



    • FrankG on January 24, 2013 at 13:18

      Why stick with just the one god when you can have many… they are called the saints! Be a Catholic and you have it all! In fact isn’t that what the word “catholic” means: :all encompassing?

      Great way to build a following BTW… say you only have the one true god but allow many others for special needs like patron saint of travellers etc..

      While you are at it, why not co-opt all existing “pagan” festivals? I hear they had a rip-roaring time in the mid-winter — around the 25th December each year!

      I also object to atheism being called a “religion” it is not. That requires a belief in the supernatural which I do not have. But I do see the harm that has been done and is still being done by many in the name of their chosen religion — often just an accident of where they were birth.

      While there are many good people who are religious, the major organised religions are divisive and destructive by their very definition: “our god is the one true god, all others are worshipping false gods”, “our holy book is the only holy book” etc.. etc..



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 15:00

      +1 FrankG



  9. Contemplationist on January 24, 2013 at 19:35

    Richard

    As a counterpoint (partly), I’d highly recommend this book by the Catholic anarchist historian Tom Woods

    I believe we can all benefit from multiple perspectives, speaking as an atheist. Also, to be blunt, yes some people need the sky fairy, though many don’t, or at least something like the sky fairy, or multiple fairies (pre-Christian Rome, Greece, India). I guess China would count against this.

  10. Sean on January 24, 2013 at 05:28

    It seems to me that “hating God” is when atheism crosses into a religion of its own. Just as the neo-Marxism of the socialist left has replaced religion for them.

    While I love me some Hitchens I disagree with him more than I agree. And the part about religion being evil is one of them.

    Can religion be evil? Of course it can. There are always going to be people who will twist a paradigm into evil ends whether it’s the religion of Christianity, Islam, Marxism, Hitlerism, etc. Some of those paradigms are inherently evil but I’m not convinced longstanding religions like Christianity are one them. I’ve simply known too many hard-working, generous, trustworthy religious folks to believe that it has some sort of inherent, all-corrupting evil at its core. And of course I’ve known many more stupid assholes that were religious, but those people are everywhere.

    My father grew up with a strict Irish Catholic mother, had to go to catechism all that stuff, and his big teenage rebellion was to refuse to go to church, not sure how old, 17? Religion was tied into my grandmother’s whole value system, the chief of which was hard work and of course GUILT. I don’t think that had he been given the choice between atheism and religion at the age of 10 or something and chosen atheism he’d have been a completely different person.

    Quite frankly, I don’t buy into the idea that the first 30 years of your life was wasted because you were involuntarily brainwashed with religion. Everybody has to work through some shit and it often takes until their 30s to do so. A lot of people never manage it. For some it’s just having overly permissive hippie parents who never gave them enough structure to rebel against in the first place. For others it’s having their dick cut off because of a botched circumcision and being brought up as a girl because gender is just a “social construct”. Okay, that guy really did deserve to be bitter as hell, but it was a religion that destroyed his life and that religion didn’t involve God.

    If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it. -Frank Zappa

    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 07:35

      Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.



    • Sean on January 24, 2013 at 07:49

      It’s a clever sounding little aphorism that sidesteps the point. Atheism isn’t a religion, but it CAN certainly become a religion. Hell, anything including paleo can become a religion.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 08:08

      “sidesteps the point. ”

      Only to those who allow themselves to be sloppy about definitions.

      Words _mean_ things. Specific things.



    • Sean on January 24, 2013 at 08:38

      Yes you are absolutely correct. Words mean things. Paleo means what it says in the dictionary and has never been turned into a religion by some people. Ditto for veganism.

      Glad we cleared that up.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 09:12

      Sean:

      Bullshit. Paleo is still Paleo. It is what it is. People don’t change the meaning of words by becoming overly fan.

      Think, man. Minds don’t create reality, their perceive it, integrate it, categorize it (definitions).



    • Sean on January 24, 2013 at 09:27

      Yes and veganism is just about avoid animal products. No religous zealotry ever flew under that banner. Because words mean specific things.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 13:30

      Thing is, any times I’ve actually referred to veganism as religion, it was hype and if challenged, I’d honestly-intellectually admit as much.

      News flash: I use hype. Often. It’s hype, it’s not _cognitive_ and I understand the distinction.



    • Joshua on January 24, 2013 at 10:30

      I’ve met atheists that I would consider to be anti-theists. So filled with anti-theist zealotry that they are every bit as annoying as your average Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon missionary.

      Maybe it isn’t religion, but it sure ain’t nothing.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 14:29

      “anti-theist zealotry”

      No argument. I’ve met people filled with pro-Breaking Bad zealotry.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIom3LSbB0I&feature=youtu.be

      It’s not religion. It’s a number of things, many annoying, but it’s not religion, which has a specific definition.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 07:42

      “Quite frankly, I don’t buy into the idea that the first 30 years of your life was wasted ”

      I didn’t say that and I would state emphatically to the contrary. What I said was that had I had a full context of information I’d have chosen differently. I imagine that applies to a lot of people. It is what it is, but the primary reason to mention such a thing is so that parents today consider allowing their kids to not be indoctrinated into one particular realign, or any religion at all. I think it’s a good policy. Do you disagree?



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 08:19

      Oops, my bad. I see I did add that in at the last. OK, I’m spanked. Didn’t mean it that way, so I’ll rephrase or take it out.



    • Sean on January 24, 2013 at 08:36

      Now you ruined my followup, you bastard.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 09:10

      Just being “intellectually dishonest.” 🙂



    • Sean on January 24, 2013 at 08:35

      I didn’t say that and I would state emphatically to the contrary. What I said was that had I had a full context of information I’d have chosen differently.

      I don’t understand the distinction. It took until you were 30 to figure out you were an atheist and stop “wasting” your life? Because you were “indoctrinated” into a religion? So parents should consider not indoctrinating their children into their religion?

      I think it’s good policy to raise kids to think for themselves. Nowadays kids are more likely to be indoctrinated by the religion of political correctness rather than a formal religion like Christianity, if they attend public schools it’s practically a given. The solution isn’t to point fingers at something like formal religion but to teach kids to be independent thinkers. Since so many parents also lack the ability for independent thought, this is a big problem.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 08:57

      “I don’t understand the distinction. It took until you were 30 to figure out you were an atheist and stop “wasting” your life? Because you were “indoctrinated” into a religion? So parents should consider not indoctrinating their children into their religion?”

      Yea, pretty much.

      Why deny it? There are tens of millions in that situation. I can tell you have no idea of how real it is to them, especially for the younger ones still dependent.

      “The solution isn’t to point fingers at something like formal religion”

      I disagree. It’s formal religion (and Santa fantasies, or God Lite, before) that conditions people to take indoctrination as given.

      Strike the root. Or, keep hacking away at branches. Given my experience and the experience of seeing tons in the same predicament, I know where my efforts will be directed. I’m no engineer, but I do understand a thing or two about economies of scale, efficiency, etc.

      Perhaps you ought to haul out the textbooks. 🙂



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 09:08

      ….I probably ought add that from about 18-20 the process began. I was basically a believer who didn’t care about it.

      Blogged about part of what began my enlightenment here (after the videos):

      https://freetheanimal.com/2011/06/a-couple-of-noteworthy-videos-for-paleos-whole-foods-and-religion.html

      I don’t like loose ends, so I eventually had to sort it all out. Now I help others to do the same.

      In some sense, I laf at you oh-so-priviledged who got what I’d like to have chosen. You give me shit because I did actually work it out. And I tell it to others and I get flak from the very people who ought to be shutting the fuck up.

      Yea, I get it. You’re rich. You were born with a rational spoon. I’m happy for you. How about shut the fuck up and let others not so privileged pull themselves up by their bootstraps?



    • Sean on January 24, 2013 at 09:34

      I’m what? What the fuck are you on about?

      How about you stop whining like a little bitch. Why am I privileged, who said I was born with a rational spoon in my mouth. Go fuck yourself. I’m not stopping anyone from pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 13:36

      “You’re rich. You were born with a rational spoon.”

      You seriously don’t get the reference? I thought it was rather clever.

      Now, if you were actually indocrinated into a religion, forced to go to church 4 times per week or thereabouts, attend a school where grades 1-12 comprised about 30-40 people, you could never have a second of alone time with a girl, they all wore skits to their ankles, etc., then sorry. You sure could have had it worse and yea, I’m just a bitch for complaining.

      Now, you go fuck yourself. Feel free to make it permanent because I am quite tired of you.



    • Kris on January 24, 2013 at 09:16

      I do understand where Richard is coming from. It is my opinion that he has felt some significant pain at some point in his life.

      I know many people who deal with some devastating issues inappropriately because of their religious beliefs. One example would be a young girl who gets pregnant and is heading toward a miserable life but feels it is somehow god’s will so she welcomes the outcome. Or the mother who enables a severely sick drug addicted son, and prays nonstop, and keeps doing so, convinced somehow that god has a plan for her and her son; consequently her son does not get the help he needs.

      For some life is too difficult and it is comforting to feel there are cosmic arms around you and some purpose for your suffering, but putting faith in a god often breeds irresponsibility or insanity even. Was it Twain who said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results each time?

      And talk about a waste of time and energy – like Dorothy looking for her heart’s desire (or is it that primal agony we all share), who spent all that time being misled, drugged, tormented, kidnapped and almost killed while seeking the great and powerful Oz, who was to give her what she so desperately was seeking- to get back home; only to find that she had this amazing power and ability her entire life without ever realizing it. She did also come to realize that her enemies weren’t as bad as she had thought, while her loved ones, more precious than she had thought, and that in general her perception of reality was always changing. And in the end, none of it was even real. Well folks, hat’s all I need to know about life. lol.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 10:23

      “It is my opinion that he has felt some significant pain at some point in his life.”

      Beyond psychoanalysis, I really don’t see it. I have done very well in life and other than a truc here and there, have had things pretty well. But it’s also because I began to question things pretty early on rather than take for granted and act accordingly. As it turns out, that questioning turned into better results, more questioning, better results, and so on.

      And so what appears to be deep scaring or whatever is really my poor attempt in a blog forum of communication, to express my impatience, at times, rage, at having to waste so much time getting to the pot of gold, so to speak. The pot of gold is merely that sense of real reality that still must be dealt with, but ought really be everyone’s “birthright” or starting place.

      I make no excuses. I’ve done well in spite of living a path I would not have rationally chosen for myself in a million years given just a reasonable collection of real information rather than a collection of competing myths (mom was Mormon, dad Lutheran, and at age 10, they became fundamentalist Christians). So, I basically got 3 false and stupid memes. Unfortunately, all ancient & primitive—or 19th century L. Ron Hubbard—but I never got to choose the “religion” of science.

      Sean is right about one thing for sure. In spite of all that, I saw to my own requirements and interests and here I am. So, it’s easy to say “no big deal,” right? Yes, in my case that’s really true and it could even be argued that I was ultimately better for it, but that can’t be proven one way or the other. I’d have just liked to have had the option of thinking critically and rationally from the point I could have been.

      But I still have a sound portal into that world and it needs serious help, in my view. It needs the _virtue_ of my experience, even if only some dozens or hundreds get it. Some will go on to do what I do. Humanity advances because people care about other people.

      In the end, my ridicule has a purpose and I think I know what I’m doing.



    • Kris on January 24, 2013 at 11:58

      Richard, I never meant for my assumption of your pain and your views on religion to be intertwined. Reading it over, I see it implies that. I did misinterpret your impatience and rage (at times) to mean pain and scarring. Thanks for clarifying.

      I see the passion in your purpose, but just know that many people are content in their comfort zone, don’t like change and have no quest for knowledge especially if they don’t care for the outcome. And there is a little “kill the messenger” mindset going on as well.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 14:48

      Understood, Kris.

      I am a ferociously impatient man, and intolerant. And I hate incuriosity.

      I understand how the passions invoked from that may seem to others.



  11. Walter on January 24, 2013 at 08:38

    Atheism is simply hostile skepticism. And it was turned into religion long ago.

    I am a non-hostile skeptic who enjoys singing baritone in my sister-in-law’s Catholic Church. With me, it is the placebo effect, the same as sitting on the ocean front balcony in Maryland, coffee with cream in hand, watching the Sun come up.

    I know this will sound blasphemous to the atheist, but while watching that giant star rise, God might actually come to mind before Galileo or Newton.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 08:51

      “And it was turned into religion long ago.”

      That’s simply sloppy thinking. Atheism pure is simply no belief in a supernatural deity. Atheism taken to activism is, activism. Can be extreme, over the top, whatever, but it is simply undisciplined thinking and frankly absurd (and oh-so-convenient) to paint it with the same brush.

      It’s a cheap shot.

      There are many ways atheism turns just as there are many ways religious belief and religious activism turns. But they are distinctly different in important ways and you are simply trying to blur such critical distinctions.

      For instance, when we were hot on the trail of Hitler and Imperial Japan in WWII, and because we had to one-up them in terms of destruction and mayhem, one could have said the Allies were just the other side of the same coin.

      That would have been stupid, in the same way you’re being stupid.

      “I know this will sound blasphemous to the atheist, but while watching that giant star rise, God might actually come to mind before Galileo or Newton.”

      Does that make you literally believe? Does it make you fearful of burning in a hell? OK, then. Wanna take a guess how many children fear torture by a God they are supposed to love? There are millions and that fear is very real.

      But never mind.



  12. Elenor on January 24, 2013 at 10:14

    In my impressionable teen years, as an alto in the high school choir, I sang some of the most astonishingly beautiful music. I remember singing Mozart’s Requiem in rehearsal (in a church) before a concert at that church. I was a musician from a family of musicians (opera singers, a conductor, a viola-player…though, as the rebellious middle kid, I joined the Navy instead of the family biz! {wink}), so I could sing my part from memory and without attention, and — as we were singing the Requiem in English — I “listened” to the words. I couldn’t sing the last bits because I was weeping my eyes out. But, (thanks, mom and dad!) I was able to separate out the absolute, unbearable *GLORY* of that music and give thanks that there existed humans who believed fervently enough in the fairy tales to write such amazing and moving music (and build such amazing and beautiful buildings and art and tapestries and and and …) (And yes, wage such horrendous wars etc. {shrug} No good without the bad.). No way on earth could (or would) *I* force myself to believe in the fairy tales… but I’m glad some brilliant folks could.

    There NEEDS to be a system of/for control of the lower-orders. Yeah, yeah, I know: All you anarchists seem to believe that somehow ALL humans can reach a level of intellectual ability to actually manage their own lives on reason and thought. {cue music} “It ain’t necessarily sooooo.” Laying on the religion with hellfire and brimstone goes a pretty fer piece to keepin’ the stupid ones from running wild. (The world, my husband always said, is run by lies and violence, priests and warriors.)

    p.s., You know the difference between a violin and a viola? The viola BURNS LONGER!

    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 13:47

      “There NEEDS to be a system of/for control of the lower-orders.”

      Nonsense. That’s the primitive shit we’ve had now and it’s long past due to dump it.

      Be creative. Incentivize. If that doesn’t work, blow brains out.



    • Raynote on January 25, 2013 at 07:57

      “… and give thanks that there existed humans who believed fervently enough in the fairy tales to write such amazing and moving music …”

      Do you really think that a musical genius like Mozart couldn’t have created that beautiful music if he hadn’t believed all that nonsense? If so, I disagree.
      I think that Mozart being overjoyed contemplating a glorious sunrise over the ocean (or any such experience that moves the human heart) would have written a glorious piece of music!



  13. Sarah on January 24, 2013 at 10:53

    Hey Richard,

    I’m just dropping off a friendly reading recommendation: French philosopher Simone Weil. She was a Jew who wanted to be Catholic but couldn’t stomach the dogma. Her work is a synthesis of Platonism and Christianity, and most people think she’s an anti-Semite for her criticisms of the Old Testament. Anyway, I think it’s great stuff, and she’s about a lot more than religion too. I’m not even saying you’ll like it though, just suggesting some fodder for thought.

    Keep up the good work.

  14. Walter on January 24, 2013 at 12:26

    I think it is the emotion and zealotry (similar to religious zealotry). I often wonder if Steve Allen, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins were students of my paternal grandmother. She despised Christians, especially Catholics. She was brutal.

    As a skeptic, I have never felt the need to ask my wife for a definition of God, or an explanation of the virgin birth, resurrection, transubstantiation, or any number of things she believes in. I know the answers lie in her faith and in the supernatural realm which she visits for one hour a week, which is 0.9% of her 112 waking hours. With weekly Mass and choir practice her skeptic husband is in church three to four hours per week (~3%).

    I wonder how many thousands of hours those three authors spent during their adult lives trying to find those answers. Atheists, or at least the ones I know, demand natural answers to questions about the supernatural. This makes no sense. Skeptics like me and my brother have always known where to find the answers. However, we never had to ask the questions.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 24, 2013 at 14:55

      “Atheists, or at least the ones I know, demand natural answers to questions about the supernatural.”

      That’s contradictory on its face. Other than psychosis, there’s no “answers to questions about the supernatural.”

      If you meant they demand answers to origins, well, you must know different atheists than I. Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, et al never demanded any such thing. Rather, they said that if there are any such answers, it lies in rational scientific inquiry over time. In other words they were exactly opposite to the way you unjustly smear them.

      Now, how much time did you say you spend in church per week? 3-4 hours? Quite a lot for a “skeptic,” wouldn’t you say? Most rather devout I know spend far less than that. Counting weddings and funerals, that’s probably about what I’ve spent in the last 2-30 years total.



    • Robert Ve on January 25, 2013 at 13:06

      “I think it is the emotion and zealotry (similar to religious zealotry). I often wonder if Steve Allen, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins were students of my paternal grandmother. She despised Christians, especially Catholics. She was brutal.”

      She sounds like she was an amazing woman. Pity that you weren’t a student of her. Luckily the aforementioned persons made up for your lack.



  15. […] which point I doubled down. This probably fits quite in line with some of the comment discussion on my latest post. My mom had posted a simple FB update: "Just to let you all know, Lute is down with kidney stones. […]

  16. josef on January 25, 2013 at 20:04

    After I became atheist, I also had a lot of anger at religion/god. Now, the anger is gone and I feel sorry for those poor people that have placed themselves in a cage. As long as they don’t bother me…..

    • Richard Nikoley on January 25, 2013 at 23:51

      I love pretending to be angry and channelling it into writing, myself.



  17. Jesrad on January 28, 2013 at 00:54

    My grandparents lived in Alesses in the Gard, so as a kid I was amazed to see that huge arched bridged, everytime we went to visit them. My father would usually point at it and say “this thing has been standing up for two millenia, despite the many earthquakes and tempests it has weathered, yet it was built entierely by hand brick after brick. It’s a testament to roman mortar, of which we have lost the recipe and can barely equal nowadays.”

    The irony is, we’d usually visit my grandparents for Christmas, and they both were practicing catholics and active in their local church.

    But there are some remarkable things brought by the catholics in those two millenia, most of them philosophical. One is the work of reviving ancient greek philosophy through, for example, the works of Thomas Aquinas, the other is the scholastic tradition which basically laid the early foundations of modern capitalism, and barred the spanish and portuguese from outright exterminating south-american natives by insisting they had souls and thus the same natural rights as europeans. The scholastics also theorized civil liberties against kings’ authority – for fun reads lookup Molina, Suarez and de Mariana 😉

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