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Is God Serious?

Is God Serious? thumbnail

“How ironic is it that having cornered some seemingly unique absence of reality, adherents cannot tolerate views that cling to a different absence of reality?”

We confess we have always found delicious humor in the tall tales that religions tell. If you are a certain kind of Muslim you may believe that the Prophet, may his name be blessed, ascended to his heavenly throne mounted on a centaur.
If you are Christian, you take it as an article of faith that 2000 years ago there was an Arab with a Mexican name (usually portrayed as handsome, white and with a stubbly goatee) who had more powers than Superman (although making time go backwards in Superman-I was pretty cool). The Naz, as Lord Buckley called him, was born from a virgin, could heal the sick, raise the dead (including himself), and turn water into wine (which is way better than having to run down to the package store in the middle of the party).
According to the Book of Mormon, young Joseph Smith used x-ray glasses provided by the Angel Moroni to locate the buried golden plates, inscribed in a heretofore unknown Egyptian dialect, which he translated with the assistance of seer stones. The plates revealed to Smith that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were actually descendants of the lost tribe of Israelites that left Jerusalem at the urging of God c. 600 BC. It was good advice, because the Babylonians showed up 14 years later and laid waste to the city. The escape of the Nephites was sort of like Arthur Dent getting tractor beamed out of the way of the Vogon Destructor Fleet that was clearing the path through Earth’s orbit for a hyperspace bypass.
The Book of Mormon said God cursed the Lamanites by turning their skin dark for disobeying him and rewarded the Nephites by making their skin “white and delightsome.” Presumedly the Native Americans of Smith’s time had drifted a bit from their more obedient ancestors.
Hindus, Buddhists, and Druids share with Jews, Christians, Mormons and Muslims the notion of an eternal soul, although the former believe it reincarnates and the latter think it gets to dwell in a heavenly or hellish afterlife. Mormons are especially cute in how they ritualistically rehearse entry into that afterlife, within the lily white bowels of their tabernacles.
So how is it that otherwise reasonably literate and well-educated people, some of them scientists, scholars or rational professionals, are so willing to believe this claptrap?

One explanation could be the yearning for tribe that we discussed here last month. Chalk it up to the modern world of alienated youth, helicopter parents and cyberamphibian cocooning.

While somewhat satisfying from an evolutionary biology perspective, it still would not explain, for instance, the Middle Ages.

Neurobiological adaptation, on the other hand, might.
At a chance meeting tapside during a science conference in 2005, Danny Brower, insect geneticist, posed an unusual idea to Ajit Varki, evolutionary glycobiologist. Brower said he believed he could explain the origins of human uniqueness among the world’s species.
Brower asked Varki a question the latter couldn’t answer. Given the amount of spare brain capacity, Brower asked, why is there no humanlike elephant, crow or dolphin, despite millions of years of evolutionary opportunity? Why is it that humans alone seem to be able understand the minds of others?
Setting aside the anthropocentric hubris and physiological arrogance in that question, Brower and Varki’s book, Denial, proposed that when humans gained not just self-awareness but an understanding that other individuals are also self-aware and have independent minds, they suddenly became aware of their own mortality. Okay, we can accept that.
Muhammad’s ascent into the Heavens, a journey known as the Mi’raj, as depicted in a copy of the Bostan of Saadi.
Brower and Varki put forward the hypothesis that the overwhelming fear that such knowledge produced simultaneously developed a coping mechanism — a neural pathway for denying reality.
According to Denial Theory, this convergence of self-awareness and self-delusion was a highly unlikely event that has happened only once in the evolution of life on our planet. While some other species demonstrate features of self-awareness, the book argues that humans are unique in the mental ability to deny reality, which has led to the development of religiosity, death rituals and theories of an afterlife.
Of course, this is a long way from proven. We don’t know, for instance, that dolphins are not religious or that elephants do not fret about their own mortality, especially when administered 296 mg of LSD in CIA mind-control experiments. What is not easy to explain is why does every religion have a life after death story? And why are humans the only species that appear to need these? Varki explains that belief in life after death originates from a mutation to deny the reality of mortality and this improbable mutation has occurred so far in only one species.
Reality denial actually has profound physical benefits — allowing those near death to have tranquility, endowing healing powers through faith and well-documented “mind over matter” phenomenon. Some of these benefits extend to social cohesion, encouraging altruism and camaraderie, and self-improvement regimens.

There is also a dark side, and it is very, very dark. Suspension of belief in a scientific reality is grist for the mills of demagogues. It permits unethical manipulators of the faithful to get elected by denying climate change and peak everything or claiming that Russia’s leader possesses supernatural powers to control the rest of the world.

The apostle Paul decreed that the persons who practice adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, “and such like” “shall not inherit the Kingdom of God”(Galatians 5:19–21).
Once you install a bouncer at the Pearly Gates, you can sell indulgences, demand unquestioning obedience to an arcane creed and slaughter apostates. Or simply anyone you don’t like. “Moral hazard” is a ready-made tool for tyrants.
Or, you can simply use your denial gene to ignore moral hazard. How cool is that?
Writes Varki:

As a consequence of this evolutionary quirk we now deny any aspects of reality that are not to our liking-we smoke cigarettes, eat unhealthy foods, and avoid exercise, knowing these habits are a prescription for an early death. And so what has worked to establish our species could be our undoing if we continue to deny the consequences of unrealistic approaches to everything from personal health to financial risk-taking to climate change. On the other hand reality-denial affords us many valuable attributes, such as optimism, confidence, and courage in the face of long odds.

If anxiety about death leads to belief in the afterlife and associated behavioral taboos, it also leads to religions that proclaim themselves exceptional, and not just from the laws of biology and physics.
Mormon membership is over 15 million and rapidly growing, yet Mormons consciously and intentionally retain their identity as a “peculiar people,” believing their unique relationship with God helps save them from “worldliness,” despite all the outward trappings of consumerism.
Ditto Judaism. Ditto Catholicism. The list goes on.
The division between Pakistan and India is all about religion. Same for Ireland, Rwanda, China and Tibet. Same for most of the conflicts in the Middle East. Choose an historic genocide and you will find religious intolerance at its root. How ironic is it that having cornered some seemingly unique absence of reality, adherents cannot tolerate views that cling to a different absence of reality?
There are, among all these strange fantasy cults, a few strains of stoical acceptance, non-attachment, magnanimity in the face of mortality. You can find such gnostic sects hidden away in most of the big religions. If there are heroic martyrs in human history, surely they are the Atheists. They don’t deny death. The higher power they clutch is called science.
Sooner than the 99 percent imagine, the exponential curve of human population will flip to its inverse. It must, because the physical world we inhabit has limits and we ignorantly (as in, to ignore) passed them by decades ago. In that cascading Age of Consequences, with out-scaled megacities nine meals from anarchy, will our religions console us or make matters even worse?
Is coping with the hard realities of existence by supernatural feats of denial really a genetic endowment we should be thankful for?
Superman I

The Great Change by Albert Bates

41 Comments on "Is God Serious?"

  1. onlooker on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 1:13 pm 

    Hope is the quitessential human emotion both the source of our greatest strength and our greatest weakness

  2. tahoe1780 on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 1:24 pm 

    MORT – Mind Over Reality Theory

  3. peaktard on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 1:27 pm 

    i was a paultard and i considered myself a born against catholic. after ron paul i was the 2nd most religious man in america.

    i believe the intelligent tards are trolling god. nobody understand the electron but that doesn’t prevent them from being over confident that they can use the same wiring in their brain to decide wheter god exist or not.

    when we talk about maintaining society and decent way of life, of course rejecting god is a godo thing.

    when we talk about fighting out way to a godo life, god sucks.

    when we need god, it’s an incredible source of strenth. paultards have the highest strength, ISis next, nazitards the next down.

    i was convinced of y2k, h1n1, 2012, peaktard. i don’t believe anymore.

    when it comes to god. i like gunery sarg say. he plays his game i play mine

  4. peaktard on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 1:32 pm 

    in any political movement there’s the inteligensia, the ron paul, doug casey, pastors baldwin, gary johnson, mary ruwart, etc. those are the uppertards

    the true believer forms the core adherents. they’re druggies and alcoholic.

    i dont do any of that stuff but i had paultard strenth and passion so i attended every meeting.

    the core adherents are there because of drugs and alcohol. it was like the amazon of alcohol materialized at every meeting.

    it is addiction mixed with poltics. reminds me of the bear hall pusch.

    i tolerated it for a while but it eventauly almsot got me killed …a bullet in me. now i don’t like tards and drugs.

    i think duterte is right. only a tard with first hand exeprience with druggies and bums like me will know.

    before that i heard some kid beating up a bum and i though the kids should hang. i’d give them a feel shekles now and say job well done.

  5. peaktard on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 1:34 pm 

    our resident nazitard has incredible amount of tard strenth but never measure up to paultards’. they don’t have political movements over there to attract tards. they’re no fun.

  6. Apneaman on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 1:35 pm 

    “So how is it that otherwise reasonably literate and well-educated people, some of them scientists, scholars or rational professionals, are so willing to believe this claptrap?”

    Another piece of the paradoxical puzzle can be found in Terror management theory. There are many commonalities in ‘mind over reality’ theory and Terror management theory and Varki mentions TMT a number of times in the Book.

    Terror management theory

    “In social psychology, terror management theory (TMT) proposes a basic psychological conflict that results from having a desire to live, but realizing that death is inevitable. This conflict produces terror, and this terror is then managed by embracing cultural values, or symbolic systems that act to provide life with meaning and value.[1][2] The theory was originally proposed by Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon, and Tom Pyszczynski.[1]

    The simplest examples of cultural values that manage the terror of death are those that purport to offer literal immortality (e.g. belief in afterlife, religion).[3] However, TMT also argues that other cultural values – including those that are seemingly unrelated to death – offer symbolic immortality. For example, value of national identity,[4] posterity,[5] cultural perspectives on sex,[6] and human superiority over animals[6] have all been linked to death concerns in some manner. In many cases these values are thought to offer symbolic immortality either a) by providing the sense that one is part of something greater that will ultimately outlive the individual (e.g. country, lineage, species), or b) by making one’s symbolic identity superior to biological nature (i.e. you are a personality, which makes you more than a glob of cells).”

    “Mind Over Reality Transition”: The Evolution of Human Mortality Denial

    “Ajit Varki gives an in-depth look at how and why the unique human characteristics or abilities of denying reality, self-deception, holding false beliefs, optimism bias and irrational risk-taking behavior; traits that should be evolutionarily maladaptive, developed, and are part of what makes us human.”

    Excellent documentary on TMT

  7. peaktard on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 1:38 pm 

    i fogot the vast uptard reservoir of jewish writers of the austrian school. rothbard to name one

  8. peaktard on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 1:42 pm 

    if u excuse me one more time guys. don’t mean to spam this place.

    now u know why only nixon would go to china and an anti paultard would become top paultard?

    you kidding me, i couldn’t beat them so i joined. how could i beat the upper tard inteligensia?

    that’s why i’m speaking directly to other tards here. u don’t have to win arguemnt.

  9. Apneaman on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 1:42 pm 

    Sorry tahoe, I was part way through writing my blurb (went out for a smoke) while you posted yours and I did not see that you had put up the same link. No biggy, guys around here are thick and need repetition over & over, it’s the only way they can get it and only for some of them. The things I do for these kids….sigh.

  10. peaktard on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 1:45 pm 

    when my mom prays constantly she’s in fact playing a potent game of mind over matter.

    she isn’t stupid. as a matter of fact i googled on how to care for the elderly and these cats are cunning AF. they do everything thing possible to compensate for degrated physical ability. the jack up the mental agility factor 1000x fold.

  11. ____________________________________________ on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 1:52 pm 

    God is not serious. You are His joke. He doesn’t discriminate or care about pigapes. Pigapes don’t go to heaven.

  12. Apneaman on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 2:13 pm 

    hey, ____________________________. I knew it was just a matter of time until one of you primitive superstitious monkeys would start in with the god and hell and damnation rants. I’m guessing you are a white male American conservative and thus your god is the Jesus blood sacrifice cult. Fuck your fantasy god. Jesus wears girls panties. My dadGod is better than yourdadGod, so there na nann a na na. There ain’t no gods, but the four horse men are real and on their way.

  13. peaktard on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 4:12 pm 

    this is not my argument but we have tards, nazi tard, greater tard, super tard, and upper tards.

    follow that logic you arrive at god. do upper tard care. aall possibilities, yes, no, maybe.

  14. Cloggie on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 4:21 pm 

    Where many here still worry if cement or steel can be produced in a renewable fashion, in the real world the energy transition is racing ahead. This should be taken literrally. Welcome to world of Formula E:

    You can leave your Formula 1 ear plugs at home.

  15. MASTERMIND on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 6:12 pm 

    Conventional Oil Peaked in 2006 –International Energy Agency

    New Oil discoveries by scientists have been declining since 1965 and last year was the lowest in history -IEA

    International Energy Agency Chief warns of world oil shortages by 2020 as discoveries fall to record lows

    Saudi Aramco CEO believes world oil shortage coming despite U.S. shale boom

    UAE warns of world oil shortages ahead by 2020 due to spending cuts

    HSBC Global Bank warns 80% of the worlds conventional fields are declining and world oil shortages by 2020

    UBS Global Bank warns of Oil Shortage ahead

    The Oil Age may come to an end for a shortage of oil. -Saudi Oil Minister Sheikh Yamani

  16. Shortend on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 6:22 pm 

    Ayling said she was grateful to the Italian and British authorities for all of their assistance in securing her release.

    Ayling said that during her kidnapping she was told that “all girls are for the Arab market, and when the buyer gets fed up of a girl bought at auction, he can gift her to other people, and when of no interest anymore, feed her to tigers
    He’s serious ….

  17. Makati1 on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 6:55 pm 

    There is no “god”. No “hell” No “reward” for being a lackey to the priests (leeches) of the world. No “virgins” waiting to make eternity one long orgy. No “help” when you are in trouble. No one to thank when you get a plus in your life. When you die, your body goes back into the minerals and metals that it came from. There is nothing. Like a bulb burning out.

    There has never been proof of a god in 12,000+ years. And there never will be. Just fools who use it as a crutch or a scam. But, believe if you want. Weak people need a crutch. I don’t.

  18. Davy on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 7:39 pm 

    I am not sure what is a worse affront to one’s intelligence, an extreme fundamentalist or an outspoken atheist.

  19. GregT on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 8:14 pm 

    “I am not sure what is a worse affront to one’s intelligence, an extreme fundamentalist or an outspoken atheist.”

    Neither come remotely close to a delusional exceptionalist.

  20. peaktard on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 8:19 pm 

    greg i like hitchens but i don’t care for his atheism.

  21. Darrell Cloud on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 9:09 pm 

    Belief begins where reason ends. For me, God is the uncaused cause. The rest of you may believe what you will.

  22. Apneaman on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 9:47 pm 

    George Carlin — Religion is Bullshit

  23. Apneaman on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 9:52 pm 

    The God Who Wasn’t There [Full Film]

  24. Apneaman on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 9:55 pm 

    Dr. Robert M Price: Jesus Myth

    “Dr. Robert M Price, author and scholar, questions the evidence of a historical Jesus and offers a mythic explanation.”

  25. Makati1 on Sun, 6th Aug 2017 10:29 pm 

    Great rebuttal, GregT. LOL

  26. Apneaman on Mon, 7th Aug 2017 1:34 am 

    George Carlin ~ When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops ~ Full Audio Book – Read by George Carlin

  27. deadlykillerbeaz on Mon, 7th Aug 2017 4:31 am 

    Just who in the hell does God think He is?


    And what the hell is God doing at a peak oil/energy site?

    Another outrage, this God business is really starting to piss me off.

    Especially when He shows up where He’s not wanted, like in hell.

    Like my Grandpa always used to say, “If hell is heaven, well then, heaven is hell.”

    Of course, he was drunk when he said it, but it still made me burst out laughing.

    Quit being so serious about God, goddammit anyhow. Go tell it on the mountain to somebody who gives a shit.

  28. Davy on Mon, 7th Aug 2017 5:57 am 

    “Neither come remotely close to a delusional exceptionalist.”

    Oh yes grehg, a self-righteous hypocrite full of hate

  29. Darrell Cloud on Mon, 7th Aug 2017 6:06 am 

    Not to worry boys and girls, religion is endemic to the species. No civilization has ever existed without its pantheon of gods. It may be cool and self-aggrandizing to push the narrative that the faithful are nothing more than useful idiots. As you push this narrative you widen and deepen the void. Never fear, that void will be filled. Theocracy was the first form of government. As Christianity dies in the west, it will be replaced by a new religion from the east.

  30. Davy on Mon, 7th Aug 2017 6:12 am 

    The wise know spirituality and science are of different spheres of understanding. The wise also know spirituality is not the same as religion. When you mix and confuse the two you get extremism. The wise also admit how little they really know and find humility in that experience instead of blaming and complaining with self-promotion.

  31. Darrell Cloud on Mon, 7th Aug 2017 7:58 am 

    This is an age old cycle. Christian dogma has provided solace and comfort for millions of people through the centuries. The teachings of walk the second mile, turn the other cheek and love your neighbor have helped us commoners navigate interpersonal relationships for generations. Organized religion is like any other organization in that it attracts control freaks and psychopaths. These types of individuals eventually collapse the organizations they infest. The protestant reformation was the direct consequence of a corrupted church.

    Hedonism and nihilism distract the masses during periods of opulence. In the Christian narrative of love and compassion there is a second narrative of what happens to a people when they turn away from the faith. A vengeful and punishing God will wipe the country clean.

    When things go south, as we know they inevitably will, a shattered, desperate people will turn once again to the roots of their faith. Religious communities will be some of the first to reorganize in the new normal.

  32. peaktard on Mon, 7th Aug 2017 8:33 am 

    we need to kill extremist tard preachers if it gets out of hand. some of the things christian churches said about women were on par with what islam said too.

    the state doing a good job keeping tar preachers at bay by requiring 501c status.

  33. peaktard on Mon, 7th Aug 2017 8:36 am 

    i was a paultard and i know how extremist tar preeacher wanted to resurect the old church by forgoing 501c …it’s basicaly tax evasion and a way to kill non-compliant paultards.

    they kill people by assinating their reputation then some unhinged tard will finish them off

  34. peaktard on Mon, 7th Aug 2017 8:57 am 

    religions are just a way to gain power and wealth. islam does it through building permanent structures, enforcing morality, and violence.

    roman built permanent strutures

    before that we have pyramids

    christians built structures, fought, enforce morality, violence.

    they all built structures because they can’t be easily destroyed by single actors. it takes group effort which implies similar religious/political order.

    everywhere there’s structure, it’s assumed the religion owns that geographic region.

    frenc catholic won over irish catholic and that’s why Quebec is french. frenc catholic did this by building expansive cathedrals and name all street after french saints.

  35. peaktard on Mon, 7th Aug 2017 8:59 am 

    it’d be intresting how 3D printing and will destroy religion. if one can ship a 3d printer with a transport plane and put down a structure next to a mosque or church then we have another competitor.

    islam loves building mosques.

  36. Go Speed Racer on Mon, 7th Aug 2017 5:07 pm 

    Religion is Bullshit.
    -George Carlin

  37. Mark on Mon, 7th Aug 2017 5:19 pm 

    Religion = Human superstition institutionalized. Ought to be listed in the DSM as a mental disorder.

  38. John on Tue, 8th Aug 2017 4:32 am 

    I’m from Northern Ireland, we lost over 3000 lives due to religious thoughts….before I wised up l sat in church each Sunday listening to the minister telling us that the other religion was evil that we should not mix with them and their children were born with horns on their heads…

  39. Cloggie on Tue, 8th Aug 2017 4:45 am 

    Although many of the disparaging comments about religions are understandable and generally made by people with higher education, able to find motivation and meaning in themselves, it would be wrong to underestimate its significance for most people with less mental reserves. Religion, a Big Lie if there ever was one, provides life with meaning and comfort. “Yes, life is shit, but at least we’re going to be compensated by God in the afterlife, provided we live pious lives”, says the vicar and imam and the flock agrees.

    Abolishing religion would mean abolishing weak people who can’t carry their own weight. Not going to happen.

  40. Davy on Tue, 8th Aug 2017 5:48 am 

    What piss off lonely oil white men fail to see is the other side of religion. They fail to see the elements of community. They fail to see the belonging and the positive aspect of people who live moral lives. Simple people who are not capably of deeper intellectual understanding. Yes, many of them are uneducated and believe embellished stories of miracles that don’t have any basis in science. Yes, religion is responsible historically for the worst atrocities. The upper echelons of all regions are hopelessly corrupt. This is true across the whole spectrum of religions from the Abrahamic religions to the Buddhist. Yet, at the grass roots level there is something else going on. People who find a community of the faithful and live good lives. There are people here who hate the idea of that.

    I ask the intellectually narrow extremist here what do you believe in? Most atheist here believe in only themselves. I see extreme egos here that parade blame and complain and advocate hate. Is that what you believe in, so what? How are you so much better? Self-promotion that preaching hate and intolerance and that is a belief system? Preaching no beliefs at all and then promote suicide as a personal solution. That is some of what we have among us here. What about those who believe in nothing but Science. Look where science has got us. Science has destroyed a planet. The techno optimist here who claim a manifest destiny of human exceptionalism. Give me a break, the exceptionalism is how exceptionally we can destroy a wonderful planetary ecosystem in selfishness and apathy. Tell me science should be the only belief system after looking around at a world that is a complete mess because of science. Some of you will say it is not science fault but if that is true why hasn’t science fixed things? Science has brought us great wonders that are deadly and reflect Pandora’s Box. How about the de facto global religion of markets and consumerism. Yea, we all indulge in that. Look what remains of that, landfills and foul air.

    I am not religious but I respect some of what religion is because I respect myself. I am good and bad but I am trying to be more. Is that not what many faithful do? I respect and see the good side of religion. I know man will never know the truth so we will never have a religion based on the truth. Humans can’t handle the truth so we will have religions instead. I am a spiritual person who sees and feels something more. I look out at the night sky from my farm and see our galaxy in awe. I see the beauty of nature daily and feel something. I don’t see that in science of civilization but I respect science and civilization because they are an expression of our humanity. Religion is also part of that expression. Hating oneself is not a belief system.

    There is something more than atheism. The basis of atheism is little more than an egoistic world that draws on science to support its view of the individual isolated ego who has found the truth. That truth is based on rejection. Truth that is only rejection but offers nothing else of substance. Who the hell knows the truth? If you only live in a world of science and human rationality then you are truly lost. Science and human understanding is nowhere near enough to understand the universe and its wonders.

    At some point you must give yourself over to something higher in humility. I have never known a humble atheist. Maybe they are around. I feel the same way about religious extremist. No need to elaborate on that because most here hate religion and we get plenty of supporting material. There is no need to be redundant. I admire theologians and philosophers who explore the truth and then become mystics when at a point they can journey no further. They have come to the understanding that they and must give themselves over to the humility of not knowing based on acceptance an honesty.

  41. boat on Tue, 8th Aug 2017 5:58 am 


    Churches provide networking opportunities along with comradery. Kids hanging out with kids with parents in tow. I know 3 ladies who are claimed Christen that now make organic soap together. How do I know? Were building a huge kitchen for them.
    You like huge cliques for world domination. They make soap to rid harmful chemicals while cleaning your skin. Who is weak?

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