Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H

Avoidance behaviour happens when you sense something is not as it should be and you make it look like it is not a problem. It is unhealthy and stops growth.

Praying for a person is saying that it is ultimately up to God to help and not you. If you really can do nothing for a person but pray for them it follows that God is the only one who really helps. If people help it is not really them but God. This is the perfect rationale for avoidance behaviour. If God is meant to help a sick person and you don't then the responsibility is not yours.
Avoidance is based on the fear of failure, a refusal to admit that it is better to try than not to, a refusal to admit that not trying is in fact the worst failure of all. The person is trying to avoid the criticism and disapproval and hurt and rejection that she thinks will follow if she fails. But doing nothing will bring these things on her head far faster than trying and failing would.
This is encouraging to the person who likes to avoid having to deal with things that really should not be swept under the carpet. It gives them a new excuse on top of the usual excuse - "It's none of my business", or, "I could make it worse if I say anything." If God helps or if prayer helps, then it does not matter if you decide to neglect other people.
Some say that avoidance is protective behaviour and is not about neglecting. But neglect is a reality. People do it. Avoidance may at times be about being protective but not always. It is stupid to say that if you see an old man being beaten up in public that you can walk away from the scene without saying a word or looking for help that you are being protective. To say you are being protective is really just going to make you feel good about your walking away. People will walk away more if excuses are made for them.
Avoidance means you have a bad attitude to others. For example, if your new secretary is a disaster you may avoid telling her for it causes her embarrassment and she may hold a grudge. You don't trust that she really cares about doing the right thing and appreciating some guidance. You are not to be trusted when you take that view of her. You are judging her when you are not qualified to. You cannot see what is in her heart. Avoidance is not helpful in any sense.
Avoidance leads to you failing to learn how to speak up for your needs and rights, bottling up your feelings, saying yes all the time and being used by people, keeping away from the company of others, being passive when abused by others, fearing change, standing by while others are treated badly. To sum up, it is about refusing to take risks even to do the best thing and refusing to admit that you helped bring about the harm that resulted from your avoidance of the issue.
The number one way for people to engage in avoidance behaviour is the fear of people nursing grudges against them. Avoidance behaviour is rife in the communities that enjoy picking at the alleged mistakes a person has made like a scab and keeping the pain alive. It is certain that the worse cases of nursing grudges are to be found among religious people. The grudges between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland being a classic example. People who think their religion is the best and that God is their chum and their rock against the big bad enemy religions of the world are going to nurse grudges easily.
If a wife cannot criticise her husband's mother, who is demanding and selfish and arrogant, without him going into a rage and refusing to hear it then he has a childish dependence on his mother. He feels he cannot be much of a person without her. Thus he sees any critical evaluation of his mother as a criticism of him for he has judged that he needs her and she makes him a better person. The wife will be blamed by him for her attitude and he will reject her for a time. Religion wants to make people dependent on God in a stronger way that this man is on his mother. Thus it is intrinsically dangerous.
The person with avoidance issues will suffer and deal with that suffering by seeking out a person who does not have such issues. For example, the passive timid woman may seek a no-nonsense assertive husband. She knows that he will stand up for her. She finds him protective. Passive timid people like nasty aggressive religions. That is the reason why violent religions find it impossible to get all the members to co-operate in its intolerance.
Avoidance is the ultimate way to help society collapse and to increase suffering. It is the ultimate way to stop learning the best ways to help others and yourself. It is the worst thing a person can do. Avoidance is an action - it takes work to avoid doing things.
#Here is another. "I was born and raised in this religion. I would not consider changing."
This is protecting yourself from the knowledge that maybe you should change.
This is protecting yourself from truth - if you cared about truth you would test and compare religions to see what one was the best.
This is protecting you from your lack of confidence that you can change and be yourself.
This is protecting you from your fear of the repercussions when bigots hear of your plans to convert to another faith if you find you need to go. You are enabling the bigots by refusing to search for truth.
#Here is another, "Dear St Anthony, please ask God to help me."
God already knows what you want so Anthony cannot ask him even if he wanted to. If he does then he is not asking but only wasting time and energy and words.
You are protecting yourself from your feeling that you are not good enough for God to help. You are trying to fool God. You think that somebody else asking masks your unworthiness from him.
Asking a saint to intercede implies that you fear not getting what you ask. Interceding is not interceding unless God has the option and the power to ignore the request. The Church says that God may not answer a prayer as you asked but in another way. You can get an apple when you asked for a banana. But that is not ignoring your prayer but merely God doing what he can based on what the circumstances allow.
Catholicism pretends that the Bible saying that Christians must pray for one another allows us to ask the saints to intercede for us. But the Church lies for it knows that praying for a person and interceding with God for them are two different things. Praying for God to do his will for the person is not interceding which is, "God you are wrong to let harm befall this person, I know better. Listen to me and protect her".
You are protecting yourself from God by using the saint as a false god. And you compound the idolatry by refusing to admit the idolatry.
#Here is another. "I am close to God at Mass when I eat his body and drink his blood."
You don't want to value God's presence and accessibility wherever you are. His presence in the toilet is just as holy as the alleged presence at Mass.
You are protecting yourself by setting up a lot of distance between yourself and God. It is as nasty as refusing to be with your lover except in Starbucks.
You feel you will fail in valuing so you indicate that you do not trust in his guidance and are protecting yourself from the consequences of such mistrust.
#Here is another, "I will not cope with bereavement or illness or death without God".
This is protecting yourself from yourself with a belief. It cannot work well in the long-run because it is contradictory to protect yourself from yourself.
#Here is another. "God only loves me because he is good and not because I am worth it."
This is protecting yourself from rejection by God. You actually do not love him for benefiting you so you are rejecting him to save him the trouble of rejecting you or maybe rejecting you.
Also, it shows you are projecting onto God your inability to see that if he loves you, you are worth it. You protect yourself from the fact that nobody should care if he is good as long as he loves you.
#Here is another. "God should love and like me."
It denies that you must learn to feel good no matter what others say or think. It puts the responsibility on God to make you happy. Thus you will blame him if you are not.
Let us pretend it opens the way to you blaming him as opposed to it making you blame him. You are trying to hurt yourself emotionally by even taking such a degrading and needless risk. Belief in God always has an element of self-destructiveness.
Blaming God for your problems is worse than blaming people because you think that God being God creates and controls all things. It is better to be the stereotypical unhappy atheist than to believe in a God like that. He will always be perceived as a bigger threat than people are for he is always with you and is more powerful than they are.
If God is good, then by definition he should love and like you. The God concept then is inherently unhealthy. Those who promote it are trying to damage others the way they are damaged so that they feel better. Some say this is unintentional - but it is at least indirectly intentional. It is up to you to know your flaws and you can know them for you experience them. If you don't try or if you study theology and pray instead (they are not about self-knowledge! but are distractions) then you are saying that if you are damaged and your faith shows it you will still promote it.
#Here is another, "I depend on God for my life and for all things."
That is a form of the dangerous belief that your life is controlled by all that happens around you and by others but not you.
It is a form of the belief that you are not in this world for yourself but for God. The result is you feel your feelings and needs do not matter. If they fit into God's plan well and good, but they are not important because they are your feelings and your needs. It is the plan that counts. Such an outlook is riddled with self-hate.
It is a form of the belief that in reality no matter how good you are, you are really useless. To think that is to invite God to take responsibility for you. To declare your uselessness to others is to ask them to take responsibility for you. To feel powerless and a victim, is very destructive.
When a believer works for her inner happiness and peace, she thinks God is doing it not her. She is using God to make herself appreciate herself because she doesn't appreciate herself. She simulates and feels appreciation but this feeling is as unreal as the feeling of being in love with the world that may come from drink. She makes herself afraid of people who can challenge her belief. If she simply learned to appreciate herself directly and simply there would be no problem. Her lack of self-appreciation is still her underlying attitude. It is far more dangerous now that it is disguised. She has poured pink paint over the mess.
Believers in God give away the responsibility for their own lives to God. They may say they believe in personal responsibility but do they? If God gives you all your powers and your free will is even his responsibility then they are talking meaninglessly. They give it away to protect themselves from the risk of feeling bad about themselves.
Believers in free will need to see it as their creation not God's. That is the only way to avoid the thought, "Life is as it is and I cannot really change anything. Any changes only look like changes. They were going to happen anyway." Believers need to be atheists.
#Here is another, "I love God most."
If a person has experienced hurtful rejection in childhood, he or she may pervert the need for love and target it at somebody perceived as safe such as a child. Paedophiles do that.
If God is seen as safe, God may be the target of your love. God is made a non-threatening object of affection.
A child perceiving a rejection by God, can grow up to become a paedophile as a result.
God is useful to those who want to avoid deep relationships with others. Avoidance is about protecting yourself from the risk of the relationships failing. No real growth as a person takes place if one avoids dealing with the issues behind avoidance. Avoidance seeks to prevent a repeat of whatever it was that hurt you in childhood. Its about preventing the repeat of a rejection.
If a person has suffered grave loss in life, they may feel they need compensation from life and from God. An example would be the young mother who starts stealing after her baby dies. She feels she can enjoy the money and is entitled to. But feeling you need compensation from God or life is very unhealthy. It means you have not really moved on from the trauma. It means you are hiding the pain by putting on a brave smiling face. You are preventing recovery. Nobody else can learn from your example how to recover.
#Here is another. "I reject God and hate him."
If you have this feeling, then the reason is that you feel God will reject you anyway so you protect yourself by trying to prevent this in rejecting him. Deep down you feel you are not good enough. You feel that God could never love you. You will only believe that if you do not love yourself enough. If you are not good enough for a God of goodness then how can you be good enough for other people? He is supposed to be good while other people are good but flawed.
God is hated because you see the truth about the doctrine of sin. Sin is an immoral act forbidden by divine law. It implies you deserve punishment. This is not a helpful idea at all. Sin is a hindrance. So God is a hindrance. And the bigger the emphasis put on God the bigger the hindrance he is. His followers are hindrances. They hinder themselves and hinder others. What matters is not judging a person's actions as immoral or moral. What matters is not judging the person either.
Jane thumps her baby.
The job is to make Jane feel good about her baby so she will not do it again. The goal is to help Jane move on and not be feeling guilty. That does more than ignore the issues of sin and evil. It opposes them. They are an unnecessary malicious intrusion. It can look like they are being ignored but as we care only about Jane's emotional health they are actually being opposed.
The job is not to help Jane see that she did wrong. In fact we must understand why she did it and tell her that.
Her thumping the baby is about her wishing to be in control for she feels the baby threatens her freedom and happiness. The problem is not the baby. The problem is not Jane's thinking. We cannot lecture her saying, "You are wrong or stupid to think that the baby is a threat."
Instead we help her see that she perceived a threat and worked out a strategy to protect herself. She needs to go deep to see why she worked out that strategy. Is it because she feels she cannot stand up to a threat? That means her self-confidence needs work. Is it because she thinks she is a bad mother anyway and may as well hit the child? Again she feels bad about herself and isn't confident. Is it because she feels the baby will never love her? She doesn't love herself. Is it because she somehow feels people will feel sorry for her because of what she did to the child? Is it because she wants to lower other's opinion of her so that she will not have to suffer the pain of rejection and failure should she fail? Whatever it is, what she did was not about evil but about protecting herself and her emotions.
We cannot ask or expect Jane to change fast. It has to happen at her own pace. She will gradually feel that her sense of life being safe or safer is getting stronger. If we ask her to change her thinking we forget that positive thoughts cannot necessarily change her feelings. If her feelings improve they will attract other good feelings and good thoughts. Morality is about forcing change on a person if it does not happen. Threatening a person with punishment or bad consequences if they do evil freely, is a subtle way of pressuring them. You pretend you want them to do good without pressure. But the pressure is there.
Morality has to be left out of the therapy. Feelings are not really good or bad. They are just feelings. There is to be no pressure on her to alter and change them. So she must work with them at her own pace. Do not compare her to a person who got through the issues fast. Encourage her to be herself.
Morality serves only to antagonise people with problems. It should be left out of life as well. Morality fulfils our need to judge - no wonder it collapses so easily. People feel judged by self-righteous people and it makes them angry and defiant. When the judge claims to be humble, people are sceptical about it.
Morality with its threats of punishment is useless. Being moral is sadly confused with being good. Yet we know that a child though incapable of being moral or believing in God can still be good and needs heartfelt praise. Our confusion is our own fault and down to the prejudice religion and society have bred in us.
Feeling she wants to do better, will do Jane more good in terms of inspiring her to do good than all the moral rules, social disdain, prayers, sacraments and religions in the world. Help her to feel good if you really want to help her. Help her to see that the threat is an illusion.
The only thing that matters at the end of the day is improving how you feel about yourself and feeling better about you if not good. God cannot matter as much as that so it is your god. Having a God defies that truth and takes it away from yourself and works to keep others in the dark. If you do not appreciate yourself you will be inclined to try and force others to appreciate you and damage them if they don't. You will be hostile. Belief in God is necessarily harmful for it wants the focus put on God and not on your inner wellbeing. It is no wonder that selfishness in the form of hostile and possessive and manipulative and violent behaviour is most common among religious people.
Hate is bad for you and poisons you emotionally and mentally. Hating God, the source and sustainers of all things, would be more destructive than hating any human being for God is seen as being the only thing that matters.
Do not hate God. Just don't care. God when understood as moral entity or enforcer is a crutch for those who want to feel superior to others by being their judge.
#Here is another. "God is speaking to me in my soul."
You don't want to believe that it is your subconscious mind that is doing this for you don't trust it. To trust it you tell yourself God is putting the message into your head. You are hiding from your lack of trust in yourself and your fear of error. By trying to run away from the risk you run into it.
It is arrogant to tell yourself that God has revealed something to you. Attributing your idea to God rather than yourself is an attempt to mask your arrogance. But arrogance whether indirect or direct is still arrogance all the way.
You would need to know as much as God to know that it is really God who is speaking to you.
#Here is another. "People are naturally sinful and so should be punished."
This is about protecting yourself from taking the risk of trying to befriend them. You fear rejection and being hurt. You make the mistake of thinking that protecting yourself from these things is going to protect you emotionally. It does not. You may protect yourself from rejection by avoiding people but by avoiding them you are forcing them to ignore you. Ignoring is worse.
Some say that we should see violent and nasty and gossipy people not as being motivated by the desire to hurt people but as being motivated by the wish to protect themselves. For example, the person who thinks everybody is inherently violent and likes violence will use violence to protect himself or herself.
A bad person hurts people. A sinful person hurts God. He may hurt people but that is his way of hurting and offending God.
Another version goes, "People are naturally bad and so should be punished or avoided."
Calling them sinful makes them out to be worse than what they are. It is accusing them of a crime in the name of a being whose existence cannot be proven. That is intrinsically bigoted and unfair. To wish punishment on people for sin is worse than wishing it on them for having done harm.
This is an example of how belief in God and its corollary, sin, do emotional harm or intensify such harm.
Another example is how once a person believes in God, his or her list of things that are immoral gets longer. It is harmless to give somebody the fingers behind their back. But not if God is watching and he is perfect and hates evil. Belief in God demands that we lengthen the list of what people may be condemned for and condemn themselves for.
#Here is another. "My religion is a hospital for sinners. I am in this religion for it encourages me to do better and forgives my sins."
If you are like everybody else and commit the same wrongs over and over again and have a pattern created where you do harm and repent and do it again and repent ad infinitum then you are using your religion as a crutch. You treat it as a crutch for a sinner. You don't really care how much you "sin" for you think God will forgive you.
If a huge number of people are murderers, that makes you feel better about being a killer. Being in a religion that generally judges everybody as a sinner makes you feel part of a community of sinners. You feel better about your sin. Some don't but most do or feel less bad than they would if they were not in the religion. A religion of sinners encourages your sin when it makes you feel better about it. It does not have much respect for those whom you hurt though it will fake it!
Only those who assess what religion does the best good works and produces the best people and join it have the right to claim, "My religion is the only one authorised by God and is the one holy Church". If a Church is no better than a pagan religion, then it is nothing special.
Religion should be assumed to be a crutch unless the believer presents sound logic and good evidence that the religion is in fact true or probably true! But even if the religion is not a crutch for that person, it could be for others.
#Here is another. "Those, perhaps including God, who act as though they hate me, hate my sinful actions not me."
This is protecting yourself from the feeling of rejection and danger. It is protecting you from the realisation that love has been withdrawn from you. It is about protecting you from emotional abandonment and the treat to your self-esteem that a rejection from others or God would pose.
This is protecting you from admitting that you hate the sin and the sinner for the sinner is the sin. Sinner refers to a kind of person.
If you are rejected and cannot see it, you only make the dangers worse. You have to realise that it is YOU who is being rejected not just your sin. You will stop taking steps to avoid rejection if you fail to see it.
If you feel useless, you may blame God and others. This is a protective strategy for you wish to relieve the pain by blaming somebody else. In the same way, you avoid the pain of realising you hate others by projecting the hate on to the sin as if it were not something that describes a person rather than an action. It protects you from having to look at your own vulnerability. It protects you from the knowledge that loving the sinner and hating the sin is nonsense.
The religious and the psychological crutches obscure and hide deep emotional issues and turmoil. If you do not feel enough love for yourself, you will hide this by blaming others for it or projecting it on to them. For example, if you receive a nice gift from a neighbour you may think that they see how pathetic you are and feel sorry for you. Or you may think they have a sinister motive for giving the present for you are not worth it.
# I do not want to believe that instead of having free will, people are merely acting according to their brain chemistry and only imagine they are free. Therefore I believe in free will. I also need to accuse people of abusing free will so that I can exonerate God from the blame for the awfulness of life.
No matter how good a person seems to be, is she really good if she believes in free will just because she wants to? And if getting God off the hook is her motive for believing in free will then she is a disgrace! She is accusing people of abusing free will and of being able to abuse it for the sake of a religious doctrine. If free will exists, we must honour it for it is free will and because it is true and not be using it in an agenda to promote God. If one has free will and abuses it then one must be criticised and punished. But you must not relish doing so. Believing in free will to justify belief in God is saying people should suffer for abusing their free will and that you believe in it not because it is true but because of God. That is vindictive.
# If we tolerate sin or enable it, that will lead to great evil. So we must judge actions. Correcting a person for doing evil does not amount to accusing that person of being evil.
If you do evil unwittingly you are still doing evil and that is that. Nobody would be happy to be told they have done great harm without knowing it especially when they could have known better.







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Dawkins, R (1995) River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life. Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London.