The Wisdoms Project


Religion


I am an agnostic.  Not an atheist, but not a believer either.  I don’t deny the existence of God and I don’t accept that there is God.  I just don’t know.  I’m not that smart.  


What I definitely do know, is that….I don’t care!  There is so much more in life that I wish to involve myself with than the never-ending quest to answer that big and unanswerable question.


I have lived my life with honesty, fairness, hope, compassion, helpfulness, courage, kindness, discipline and achievement.  And I’ve done this without the need of organized religion, weekly rituals, traditional codes and rules, words from on high, regular gatherings for reinforcement, etc.  I respect those who want and conduct a religion-based life….as long as they respect my lack of need of it.


I don’t want to waste time discussing how I came to be what I am.  I don’t care if I was created (physically, intellectually, emotionally) by fate, chemical reaction, God, genes, something totally unknown or whatever.  It just doesn’t matter to me.  What is, is what’s important to me.


Something I do care deeply about however, is the religious fundamentalism that some people of all religions seem to want to press….so loudly and with such unquestioning conviction of their sole righteousness….onto the rest of us.  It really takes the religion out of religion.  And it really bothers me when these fanatics use their money, block-voting or violence to impose their mores on sex, worship, marriage, medicinal use, women’s rights, ending life, food consumption, abortion, working rights, psychiatric care, segregation, scientific thought, public school texts, medical research and more on the rest of us.


It also bothers me when people who profess to believe in the “Holy word of God as written in the Bible” pick and choose what they think is important in the Bible and insist that everyone else join them in observing those rules.  At the same time, those same people completely ignore many other things said in the Bible.


A good example of this is the question of abortion.  I am pro-choice.  I disagree with the pro-lifers, but I would have a lot more respect for their position and for them if they stopped picking and choosing what they want to be pro-life about.  How can a pro-life advocate deny a woman a right to choose to have an abortion or not based on whether she was raped, is under age or is sick?  If life begins at conception and all life is godly, then the manner, timing and events of the pregnancy shouldn’t matter.  If all life is truly precious and if the pro-life advocate truly believes that all life is controlled by God then that same person should vigorously advocate against capital punishment and against war.  Picking and choosing is just “playing God.”  


Believe whatever you want to believe, but know that what you believe is just that….a belief, not a fact that the rest of us have to live by.


The great, great majority of Christians, Jews and Muslims are honorable people.  It’s a very, very small percentage of people in these religions that are not.  These are the right-wing fundamentalists that believe and act in a manor that tarnishes their religion, the concept of religion overall, causes strife among people and generates much too much publicity.


    There are five principles that identify religious fundamentalists:
1.    Suppression of women and their civil rights.
2.    Fear and prohibition of gayness.
3.    Sexual phobias and restrictions.
4.    Attitude that their religion is superior over other religions.
5.    Belief that violence is acceptable to advance their religion.


Fundamentalism is all about control.  Fundamentalism is a disease of the heart and of the mind.


    The term “fundamentalism”, while denoting extremism of religious thought and activity, can also be used to describe the extreme attitudes some people have concerning other peoples race, nationality, ethnicity, social standing, politics, economics, education and other characteristics of the human condition.  Again, it is all about the control that the fundamentalist/extremist person tries to exert over the people they think are lesser persons. And again, it is a disease of the heart and mind.


    I believe that one day we will develop and administer an actual medicinal immunization to prevent this infectious and happiness-killing disease.  We did it and do it for smallpox, polio, etc.  Why is a disease of the mind, with which one person can severely damage the life of other persons, different from a disease of the body?!



For believers….no explanation is needed.  
For non-believers….no explanation is possible.



My atheism, like that of the theologian Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image
 to be servants of their human interest.
George Santayana



God bless America shouldn’t mean God damn everyone else.



Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.


              For those who believe that if it’s in the Bible,
                                   it must be so….please note that:

                                 Fathers can sell their daughters into slavery.
   “If thou buy a servant, six years he shall serve and in the seventh year he shall go out free for
        nothing. And if a man sells his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the
                                                      manservants do.” (Exodus 21:2,7)

                                       Parents can have unruly sons executed.
           “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his
             father or his mother, then his father and his mother shall bring the son unto the elders
                     of the city, and all the men of the city shall stone him with stones that he die.”
                                              (Deuteronomy 21: 18-21 and Exodus 21:17)

                                                     You can not eat leftovers.
              “And whether it be a cow or a ewe, on the same day it shall be eaten up;
                         ye shall leave none of it until the morrow.”  (Leviticus 22: 28,30)

                                             God does not approve of marriage.
      “To be nearer to God, you should remain a virgin and not marry.”  (I Corinthians 7)

                                           Hurting someone for revenge is okay.
    “And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbor; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him;
             breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, and he hath caused a blemish in a man,
                                 so shall it be done to him again.”  (Leviticus 24:19,20)

                                              Employees should suffer job stress.
    “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters with fear and trembling.” (Ephesians 6:5)

                                    Shrimp, lobster and oysters are not to be eaten.
    “And all that have not fins and scales in the seas and rivers, they shall be an abomination
                                                          unto you.”  (Leviticus 11:10)

                                         Mixed vegetable gardens are not allowed.
                    “Thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed.”  (Leviticus 19:19)

                                    Anybody working on the Sabbath can be shot.
    “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day,
                                                     a Sabbath of rest to the Lord.
      Whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.” (Exodus 35:2 and Numbers 15:32-36)

             Male homosexuality and bestiality are wrong, but lesbianism is okay.
           “Thou shall not lie with mankind as with womankind.  It is an abomination.
            Neither shall thou lie with any beast.  Neither shall any woman stand before a beast
                                                 to lie down thereto.” (Leviticus 18:22,23)

                                  If you gossip or brag, you can be put to death.
    “Fornication, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit; whisperers,
                  backbiters, haters of God, boasters, disobedient to parents, covenant breakers….
                    that they which commit such things are worthy of death.” (Romans 1:29-32)

                                            No tattoos.  No eyeliner.  No lipstick.
                                “Ye shall not print any marks upon you.”  (Leviticus 19:28)

                                          No bacon.  No ham.  No pork sausage.
               “And the swine, he is unclean to you and not to be eaten.”  (Leviticus 11:7)



God….protect me from your followers.



           I like your Christ, but I do not like many of your Christians.
                                                                     Many of your Christians are unlike your Christ.
    
Mohandas Gandhi


Was/is Jesus Christ a liberal or a conservative?
Webster’s Dictionary says:

 Liberal….
“Holding, expressing or following political views or policies that support civil liberties, democratic reforms, and use of governmental power to promote social progress; tolerant of the ideas or the behavior of others; generous.”
           Conservative….
“Tending to oppose change; favoring traditional views and values; strongly favoring
the established order; cautious.”


Do the conservative Christians who believe in the death penalty not remember what happened to Jesus?



Religions are just cults with lots more members.



A cult is a religion with no political power.
Tom Wolfe


The last time religion got political power
….people got burned at the stake.



About five thousand years ago, a bunch of religious and political hustlers got together to try to figure out how to control people.  They knew that most people were stupid and would believe anything that they were told, so they announced that God had given them some Commandments.  Up on a mountain when no one was around, God had given them The Ten Commandments.

Let me ask you this: Why did they pick ten?  Why not eleven?  Or nine?  I’ll tell you why.  Because “ten” sounds official.  “Ten” sounds important.  They knew that if it was eleven, people wouldn’t take it seriously.  “Say what, are you kiddin’ me?  Eleven commandments?  Get the hell out of here.”

But ten….ten sounds important.  The top ten.  The ten most wanted.  The ten best dressed.  So having ten commandments was really a marketing decision.

I’m going to show you how you can reduce the number of commandments and come up with a list that’s a little more workable and logical.

“I am the Lord thy God.  Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.  Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.  Thou shalt keep holy the Sabbath.”  Right off the bat, the first three are pure bullshit.  Strange gods, Lord’s name and Sabbath day.  Spooky language….designed to scare and control primitive people.  In no way does superstitious nonsense like this apply to the lives of intelligent, civilized humans in the twenty-first century.

You throw out the first three commandments and you’re down to seven.

Next, “Honor thy father and mother.”  Obedience.  Respect for authority.  Just another name for controlling the people.  The truth is, obedience and respect should not be automatic.  They should be earned.  Some parents deserve respect.  Some don’t.  Period.

You’re down to six.

Now, there’s the commandments about stealing and lying.  Well, actually, these two both prohibit the same kind of behavior….dishonesty.  Stealing and lying….so you don’t need two of them.  Instead, you combine them and you call it, “Thou shalt not be dishonest.”

And suddenly, you’re down to five.

Next, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and “Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s wife.”  Once again, these two prohibit the same kind of behavior….in this case, marital infidelity.  The difference is that coveting takes place in the mind and I don’t think that you should outlaw fantasizing.  But, marital fidelity is a good idea, so we are going to keep the idea and call this one “Thou shalt not be unfaithful.”

And now, we’re down to four.

But, when you think about it, honesty and fidelity are really part of the same overall value.  So, in truth, you could combine the two honesty commandments with the two fidelity commandments and give them simpler language and positive language instead of negative, and call the whole thing, “Thou shalt always be honest and faithful.”

And, we’re down to three.

“Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”  This one is just plain stupid.  Coveting your neighbor’s goods is what keeps the economy going.  Am I right?  Your neighbor gets a new car.  You want to get one, too.  Coveting creates jobs.  Leave it alone.

You throw out coveting and you’re down to two now.  The big honesty and fidelity commandment and the one we haven’t talked about yet.

“Thou shalt not kill.”  Murder.  The fifth commandment.  But, when you think about it….religion has never had a big problem with murder.  Not really.  More people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason.  All you have to do is look at Northern Ireland, the Middle East, the Kashmir, the Inquisition, the Crusades or the World Trade Center to see how curiously the religious folks take “Thou shalt not kill.”  The more devout they are, the more they see murder as being negotiable.  It depends on who is doing the killing and who is getting killed.

So, with all of this in mind, I leave you with my revised list of the Two Commandments.  “Thou shalt always be honest and faithful” and “Thou shalt try real hard not to kill anyone”….unless, of course, they pray to a different, invisible man from the one you pray to.

Two is all you need.  Moses could have carried them down the hill in his damn pocket.  And if they had a list like that, I wouldn’t mind those folks in Alabama putting it up on the courthouse wall….as long as they included one, additional commandment….“Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself.”
George Carlin


Don’t pray in my school ….and I won’t think in your church.


If God wanted us to be seen naked ….we’d have been born that way.


Atheism is a non-prophet organization.


Notice:  Intolerance will not be tolerated.


To pray is to ask that the laws of the universe and of science be temporary annulled for a single petitioner who is confessedly unworthy.
Ambrose Bierce


Why is it that when we talk to God
we’re said to be praying, but
when God talks to us we’re schizophrenic?
Lily Tomlin


Some thoughts from John Shelby Spong, Episcopalian priest
for twenty-one years and then bishop for twenty-four years:

“I take all of the Bible seriously, but I take almost none of it literally.  People did not follow Jesus around   writing down his sayings.  The Gospels were written 40-70 years after his death.  They were written in a language that Jesus did not speak.”

“How can the Bible be the inerrant, literal word of God:
When Paul writes to the Galatians, ‘I hope that those that bother you mutilate themselves.’
When Paul writes in Romans that if you don’t worship God properly, God will punish you by
             changing your sexual orientation.
When the Bible says that you must today not plant two crops in the same field, or wear clothing
             made of two combined fibers, or eat dairy and meat products at the same meal.
When the Bible says that you can be put to death for adultery, or for talking back to your parents,
             or for cussing.”

“The Bible has been quoted by some to show:
    Segregation was the will of God;
    Women were second-class citizens;
    Homosexuals are either sick or morally-depraved;
    It is okay to hate other religions.”

“The Bible has been on the wrong side of many great issues throughout history:
                The Bible supported the divine right of kings and opposed the Magna Carta.
                The Bible opposed Galileo and supported the flatness of the Earth.
                The Bible opposed Darwin and supported the seven-day creation story.
                The Bible was used to justify slavery and the oppression of women.
             The Bible is used to violate children (“Spare the rod and spoil the child.”) and to justify
                                                                      homophobia that is rampant in our society.”

“Timothy Dwight, Presbyterian minister and President of Yale University, stated in 1878 that vaccinations were against the Bible and against the word of God because if God had determined that a child should die of diphtheria, we would be doing a terrible thing by vaccinating the child and thwarting the will of God.”

“Jesus is quoted in the Fourth Gospel as saying ‘The devil is the father of the Jews.’  When I was growing up no one, not my religious parents, not my priest, not my Sunday school teacher told me that Jesus was a Jew and that all the disciples were Jews.  When I saw a picture of Jesus, he didn’t look like a Jew to me.  I thought he was a Swede….he had blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin.  But when I saw a picture of Judas Iscariot, I knew that he was a Jew because he was always painted as dark, hateful and sultry.  It’s interesting that the name ‘Judas’ is nothing but the Greek spelling of the name ‘Judah’ which is the name of the whole Jewish nation.  So, we in effect, made the name of the anti-hero of the Christian movement the name of the entire Jewish people.”

“I’ve never known of a situation in world history where religion gets political power, that it doesn’t become demonic and begin to kill everybody who disagrees with them.”


To see by faith, you have to close the eye of reason.
Benjamin Franklin


I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.    
Galileo Galilei


The Church says that the Earth is flat.  But I know that it is round.  
For I have seen the Earth’s shadow on the moon.  
And I have more faith in a shadow than I have in the Church.
Ferdinand Magellan


Science without religion is lame.
Religion without science is blind.
Albert Einstein


I respect faith….but doubt
is what gets you an education.
Wilson Mizner


Dogma does not mean the absence of thought, but much more seriously
….the end of thought.
Gilbert Chesterton


Believe those who are seeking the truth
….but doubt those who say they found it.
Andre Gide


Thanks….but I was born okay the first time.



Eskimo: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to Hell?”
            
    Priest: “No, not if you did not know.”

    Eskimo: “Then why did you tell me?”
Annie Dillard


The Religions:

Taoism: Shit happens.
Hinduism: This shit happened before.
Confucianism: Confucius say: “Shit happens.”
Buddhism: It is only an illusion of shit happening.
Zen: What is the sound of shit happening?
Islam: If shit happens, it is the will of Allah.
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Knock, knock: “Shit happens.”
Atheism: There is no such thing as shit.
Agnosticism: Maybe shit happens and maybe it doesn’t.
Protestantism: Shit won’t happen if I work harder.
Catholicism: If shit happens, I deserve it.
Judaism: Why does shit always happen to me?
Televangelism: Send money or shit will happen to you.
Rastafarianism: Let’s smoke that shit.



For our trip through life,
the Bible has issued some of us a first-class ticket
and some of us have been told to ride second-class:

“The man is the image and the glory of God, but the woman is the glory of man.”  (I Corinthians  11:7)

 “A man’s life is valued at 50 shekels of silver while a woman’s life is valued at 30 shekels.”
(Leviticus 27:3,4)

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.  For the husband is the head of the wife. Therefore, let the wives be subject to their own husbands in everything.”  (Ephesians 5:22-24)

“Whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”  (Matthew 5:27)

“If a woman have born a man child, then she shall be unclean seven days.  She shall touch no hallowed
            thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.
            But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean for fourteen days.”  (Leviticus 12:2,4,5)



Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.
    Pat Robertson


Avoid, as you would the plague,
 a religious leader who is also a person of business.
    Saint Jerome


The Christian Right is neither.



The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race
have had their origin in this thing called Revelation….or revealed religion.
    Thomas Paine



Religion can make good people better.  Religion often makes bad people worse.



Many people have just enough religion
to make them hate, but not enough to make them love.
    Jonathan Swift


In the matter of religion, people eagerly fasten their eyes on the
    difference between their own creed and yours….whilst the
    charm of the study is in finding the agreements and identities
    in all the religions of humanity.
Ralph Waldo Emerson


All religions must be tolerated
for every person must get to heaven in their own way.
    Frederick II of Prussia


If there is a single saying that one can act upon all day and every day, perhaps it is the saying about consideration:
Never do to others
what you would not like them to do to you.
    Confucius (521 B.C.)


The world is my country.      All mankind are my brethren.
                And to do good is my religion.
Thomas Paine