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?

 


WHEN RELIGION IS A MASK FOR AVOIDANCE BEHAVIOUR
 
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. "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.

 

CHRISTIAN RESPONSE - IS CHRISTIAN FAITH A CRUTCH?

 

IS FAITH A CRUTCH?

CHRISTIAN FAITH A CRUTCH!

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
 
The Power of 'Negative Thinking', Tony Humphreys, Newleaf, Dublin, 1996
 
OTHER BOOKS
 
Freud, S (1927/1961) The Future of an Illusion. New York: Norton.
Vitz, P (1999) Faith of the Fatherless. Dallas: Spence.
Nagel, T (1997) The Last Word. Oxford University Press.
Dawkins, R (1995) River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life. Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London.