4/12/2006

God dang religion

Many people reproach religion, particularly Christianity, because it doesn't hold up to scientific scrutiny. It defies logic and reason. It's not rational. Therefore, it's rubbish. They claim religion is the stuff of petty minds. Or worse, it's a tool for manipulating others. Simplemindedness and manipulation are threats? I wonder, then, when we'll decry reality programming and the Times' Editorial Page.

Hold on a minute. Lots of things are unscientific. Many human endeavors are folly in the eyes of science. If science were the criterion of virtue, we wouldn't play the lottery, write stories, fall in love, marry, draw, paint, sculpt, scrapbook, trick-or-treat, or purchase Glade Plug-ins (they're a waste of money, people!).

When I was a kid, I played baseball. I played with heart and conviction because I believed I'd grow up to play professionally. I was going to be a pro ball player, a star, like Dirk Diggler, only with a cup supporter. I would have none of the backbreaking labor my ancestors endured or the tedium and drudgery of an office job. I was going to play baseball for a living. When I stepped up to the plate, I was taking precursory steps to stardom. I had faith in that. I didn't question the logic of it. You don't question faith. And that faith enriched my experience. I doubt I would have enjoyed the game as much or invested as much heart into it if a sober-minded adult explained to me the folly of my thinking. I'm glad nobody poisoned my innocent fantasy. I'm thankful my parents and coaches didn't explain the statistical evidence that made professional sports a virtual impossibility. If they had, I would have thrown a fork ball into his/her crotch. Then, when they were doubled over and gasping for air, I'd explain how statistically, that should have never happened. The point is, even with the disappointment of having to leave baseball in childhood, my faith, though naive, made the memories richer and fuller.

Sometimes people drink, smoke ganja, or lick a frog head and then perceive things that science claims isn't there at all! These people see and hear groovy things. They conjure things from their imaginations that science doesn't recognize. Their minds break the boundaries of logic and reason. That doesn't mean intoxicants are bad. And certainly the people indulging in them aren't simple-minded rubes. Yet that's how many of us see religious people. Maybe if those preachers toked a fatty before the sermon, we'd show them more respect.

In the early 1990s I hung out with my friend, Hotbox (so named because he'd get high by locking himself in a closet, burning a bag of ganja and sucking the fumes). We'd get baked daily. Talk about a religious experience! Hotbox often tried to convince me that when we watched television, the television was watching us back and transmitting its observations to headquarters in Ogden, Utah, where a conglomerate of government-alien hybrid agents cataloged information on all of us for one nefarious purpose or another. I attempted to palliate Hotbox's paranoia with gentle prods of scientific reasoning. But I failed. Hotbox would hear none of it. Even as I explained the impossibilities of thinking, plotting TV sets, he'd interrupt me with demands to shush, close the blinds and dim the lights. Hotbox was not a man of science. If you gave him a protractor, a compass and a calculator, he'd just fashion them into a homemade bong. His faith lay in a plastic baggie of ganja. His crucifix was his homemade Coleman Grill bong pipe. And I, for one, submit Hotbox is a man worthy of respect.

Every time we sit down to watch a movie, we suspend our sense of reason (and often, our good taste) for a couple hours so we can enjoy ourselves. We allow ourselves to be bullshitted so that we might be entertained. Hopefully that one condescending douche bag won't be in the audience who pooh-poohs all the action scenes and says aloud how "impossible" this or that thing is. Shut up, douche bag, or I'll hurl a Raisinette at your head! This is the kind of guy who tries to convince me that Citizen Kane was a better film than Ghost Busters. Pretentious ass! Everybody knows that Citizen Kane was a steaming pile of cinematic nincompoopery. Alien vs. Predator blew CK away, too. But don't let me get started on the cinematic merits of Alien vs. Predator. The point is, science has limits on its value, and the absence of science doesn't mean a thing is bad.

Today many people are on a crusade to expel religion from our shopping malls, our neighborhoods, our schools, our courts and our lives. Their rationale is, religious convictions lack scientific merit. These people need to have some faith in other people. The anti-religious crusaders were smart enough to figure out that it's all bullshit. Maybe others are, too. And what's the harm in the meantime? Religion offers the chance to see those we love in the next life. It gives us hope for peace and harmony. It has some great ideas on how to treat others and also how to keep yourself on the straight and narrow. I know a couple of dipshit 12-steppers who would be much bigger pains-in-the-ass without their newfound religious convictions. Hotbox comes to mind. Twenty years in prison are enough to scare most of us into doing the right thing. Other guys need the Fear of God. I'm a pragmatist; whatever works!

Some people invoke our Constitution's Separation Clause. But that's a load of crap for several reasons. First, if that were true, the government would have to bulldoze all churches with voting machines and throw all the Catholics from the top window of the Capital Building. Think of the bloodbath every two years! Second, the Separation Clause was written before the government dipped its hands in everything – our jobs, our land, our homes, our finances, our schools, our healthcare system and our retirement funds. Not much is private property anymore. You couldn't even build a church in Monica Lewinsky's cooter. It's government domain! Third, the government is the single biggest propagator of religion. Follow me on this. What is the essence of religion? Faith instead of scientific fact. And if it's one thing you need to have when counting on Social Security or Medicare, it's faith. Indeed, our faith in government knows no boundaries. If God really wants to recapture some of His old clout, He ought to form a committee in Congress that promises free education, universal healthcare and affordable housing all the while soaking the rich, greedy corporations (except Starbucks and DreamWorks). Vote for God for US Congress, Precinct 23!

39 comments:

"AG" said...

"I know a couple of dipshit 12-steppers who would be much bigger pains-in-the-ass without their newfound religious convictions."

Right on!

I like your mix of brilliance and bawdiness.

Bennet said...

I agree that religion provides profound insight, and hope however my opinion is that it also provides limitations when reflected upon as literal fact.
I believe each mind and body possess every bit of evolved greatness that is needed to survive but is limited by rules too broad for each person.

Shamus O'Drunkahan said...

Seperation of Church and State is a joke, as you point out. "God" is woven into the fabric of our flag, from our founding fathers to the current administration.

It's the one time I'm jealous of those god-less Canadians.

NWJR said...

What is this "separation clause" of which you speak? The US Constitution only prohibits a state religion. There is no "separation of church and state" specifically stated otherwise.

(Yeah, I know, the courts have interpreted otherwise...still, you know what I mean).

Carrie said...

HOLY FUCK!

WELL SAID! BRAVO! I'm currently giving you a standing ovation in my mind, and I"m hungover today, not quite in the right "state" to be reading such in depth analysis of religion vs science, but you hit the nail on the head fine sir and I applaud you for it.

I CONCUR!

Lyvvie said...

*pout*

I liked Citizen Kane. But then I have a crush on Orson Welles (the black and white thin version, not the hairy-faced salad dodger of later life. God he was a sexy in Jane Eyre.) And did ya know he did a movie called "Too Much Johnson"

Oh yeah. I have faith.

Frap Gurl said...

I have never licked the back of a frog's head..I thought it was a toad...HEHE!

All 12 steppers are annoying as fuck especially when they try the 13th step with you!

laura said...

i don't know about the faith thing--these are the folks that are turning america into another el salvador with the way they're rolling back our civil rights. don't get me wrong--as a pothead, i love getting high and having faith in things i shouldn't believe in, like having a chance to succeed in hollywood as a writer (yeah right). while faith can be a beautiful thing, it has it's proper time and place. but thinking that duct tape will protect you from chemical warfare if you believe hard enough is where faith can go horribly, horribly wrong. and believing that bush will somehow make us safer just because he looks manly in a flight suit? well, i guess it helps some people sleep better at night. then again, i could have my head up my ass when i still believe that america will someday have universal health coverage...

Blue944 said...

Well said LBB...I think that faith is an important part of humanity...I am not so sure that religion is.

As with most large conglomerations, religion has it's good and bad, but unfortunately most of it is bad. It is just as corrupt as the government. My problem has never been with spirituality, but with organized religion itself. Like most 12 steppers, I would be much more tolerant of religious people if they did not try and convert me.

I understand the need for religion as we are but a curious bunch and unknown must be explained somehow. Since science can not explain the after life, we need something to have faith in.

The Doggy Did It said...

I have tried on several occasions to sit thru Citizen Kane, I fell asleep...that is some booring shit!

I have faith, do I really need to go into a building and donate a large portion of my earnings to prove it??

I think not.

J~

Molicious said...

Outstanding post, LBB. You blow me away sometimes. Which is to say, better than just blowing me.

Painter Beach Girl said...

Amen to that.

I have a problem with people who designate rules based on their interpretation of what the religion is telling them to do as opposed to common sense and using what they know or learn as a guideline, not a rule for their lives. Death is sometimes the result in an extreme example (if you look at the religion I was brought up in) as well as an annoying sense of being judged by those people as well as hyposcrisy.

As for the 12 steppers, I am extremely close with one and I do not disagree with you on that one. I am constantly trying to decipher sometimes whether it is AA talking or the individual. And I want to smack this person sometimes because I find that he uses it as an excuse for not saying exactly how he feels, instead it is what he feels he is expected to feel through what he has learned in AA.

Random and long. Sorry. This was a good entry. Enjoyed it.

NWJR said...

Ah, yes. 12-steppers. The "reformed" crowd.

There's nothing worse than a reformed anything...a person that "saw the light". Someone who quit smoking, stopped drinking, lost weight, found religion, finally stopped voting Republican...those are the most annoying people on the planet.

(I stuck that last one in there to piss you off, LBB, but you know what I mean. Those "ex" people are the worst.)

Weary Hag said...

I won't waste time telling you that I was completely enthralled reading this awesome post because that would be just plain stupid.

What I will say is that I agree with blue944 when he states that it would be easier to tolerate the Bible thumpers if they could just bring it down a notch.

Then too, I suppose they may deem it easier to tolerate the 'fuck you relgion' crowd if they too kept it to a dull roar.

A Catch-22 perhaps?

I think both groups are forgetting just how precious true spirituality is and are working on the theory that the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

nongirlfriend said...

I'm still against prayer in school. Except before an algebra exam.

It's Me, Maven... said...

See, I have no problem with religion in and of itself. Most religions are a belief "system" a particular mode of worship, with a system of related causes and effects.

What I do have against religion is how some folks, I'll refer to them as "fundies," who suspend REASON and suspend RESPECT for their neighbors; suspend the Golden Rule while they're at it. It's all a means to justify hate mongering etc.

I have no problem with prayer in school, provided it's voluntary. I have no problem with recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in school, provided that those kids who choose not to say "Under God" are able to do so, silently, peacefully, respectfully.

Isn't that what the First Amendment is truly about? Live and let live, without government's interference? To believe how we choose, to say what we want, and likewise for our neighbors? We don't have to agree, however, there should be an underlying respect for one another. Slowly, I see with our government's interference, that sense of respect and human dignity is going by the wayside.

Sadder still, some kids are growing up thinking that it's okay to tinker with the Constitution... next thing on the chopping block will be the Bill of Rights...

It's a sad, sad day in mudville!

Elaine said...

"I'm a pragmatist; whatever works!"
AGREED!

Agreed on the whole blog post! (Especially Alien Vs. Predator. I tried to hate but goddamn if that movie didn't just suck me in.)

Science doesn't even know that with each "scientific discovery" they're actually PROVING what religion has said all along. There is a God. (Read Case For A Creator..it will blow your mind). Religion is the story, Science is the proof. Religion and Science isn't like oil and water, as years progress people will hopefully start to see its just like peanut butter and jelly.
Hopefully.

Nobody said...

The bible is a work of fiction, though many would argue to their death about that. But I don't think that religion, per se, is a bad thing, but I myself have a problem with organized denominations and religious rituals.

Ari said...

I'm glad SOMEBODY is finally telling the truth about those g-dam Glade Plug-Ins.

Once upon a time, I had faith in those. Yet time and again, the odors that remained flaunted scientific fact in my face. I guess I'm gonna hafta clean or somethin'.

Riss said...

I can't fucking believe you beat me to this post BB. I swear to God that I was writing something similar in my head a few days ago, because I left a comment on separation of church and state on someone's blog. How the original framers' intent was not to physically force people into a church and worship, not abolish the word God from everything. If the aim was to not have it in the first place then why is it there.

The faith part is what I was saying. One of my best friends is staunchly atheist and always criticizing religion. Extremists aside (those people are dangerous regardless of religion or non-religion) what's the damn harm in believing you'll see your grandfather or whoever in the next life. What's wrong with believing that someone is looking out for you, even if that person blinks sometimes.

By the way I like Hotbox. The television is watching us back. HAHAHA.

Seriously if you ever make it out to NYC I am so buying you some beers and I will ghetto make an order of Super-Sized fries by putting together 4 dollar fries like Voltron.

Amandarama said...

Excellent post!

Faith is very important. Everybody needs to have faith in something. It takes just as much faith to be an atheist as it does to believe in God. I mean, hell, what if I die and it turns out I was wrong and I end up roasting in an inferno for eternity? My face will be pretty damn red.

And, ironically, my Tivo just went out and fetched me Alien vs. Predator like a big dumb dog without me even asking...

Shamus O'Drunkahan said...

A guy on my hockey team had a Dirk Diggler mustache, until we mocked him unmercilessly and he ended up shaving it off.

Becky said...

I say, "let people worship how, when, or what they may."

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

I'm kinda like that guy in "The Mummy"...the one that wore like 7 different necklaces with religious symbols on them, to show his faith in ALL the different religions?

Yeah, I just want to make sure I have all my bases covered...;)

Marilyndrew said...

Very interesting.

But not convincing.

I'm going to stop there before I type something funny that won't be considered funny people its hard to tell when people are joking in blog life.

Nölff said...

Dude, I know a hotbox from college. Werd.
Did he say "dude" and "man" all the time?

Snooze said...

I'm with nongirlfriend - prayer has no place in school. I live in Ontario where we fund Catholic schools and I find it ridiculous. I don't think religion is out of daily life, but there's no need for it in state institutions.

Nettie said...

Glade Plug-Ins are indeed horrible. Try BBW's wallflowers instead!

actonbell said...

Wow, that third point is brilliance.

Bennet said...

I also knew a few Hotboxes...cool people....

Always had the latest Metallica t-shirts for every day of the week, and hung near the dumpsters having spit distance contests...Those were the days.

Bennet said...

Oh, BTW...someone acting a lot like 8zero8 is at this link:

http://wickedsmile.blogspot.com/

CaCaBoy said...

Faith in a possible hell keeps me from killing everyone that pisses me off.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

You are, of course, dead right: Religion is for those who believe in it. What could be fairer than that?

tornwordo said...

Faith is good, thrusting it upon me is not.

Webmiztris said...

"Maybe if those preachers toked a fatty before the sermon, we'd show them more respect."

maybe I'd even go to church!

eh, probably not.

PBS said...

Truth can be a slippery thing while faith is certain. I think that's the draw towards religion, gambling, etc. I agree with a comment above, this is a brilliant and thought-provoking post!

keda said...

amen, well said and everything else all the people above me said. i have faith in something, i wish i had faith that zealots would stop trying to take away my human rights in the name of relgion however...
i certainly know some "dipshit 12-steppers who would be much bigger pains-in-the-ass without their newfound religious convictions"

and also quite a few rastafarians (how do you spell that? sorry) who get a ridiculous amount of respect just for smoking pot despite being part of the silliest religion ever! whatever.
it makes life colourful*
loved the post below too...

StringMan said...

Brilliant post, Bug. Many people chide religious belief because it requires faith and lacks scientific evidence. Yet these same people cling militantly to the belief that we all sprang up randomly via unfathomable odds from some amoeba embedded in a slimy goo. If that doesn't take faith, I don't know what does.

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