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?

 


What is Religion?

Religion has many enemies and critics. But what is religion?

The definition of religion we will be using here is, a system of worship and commandments and beliefs that are claimed to be revealed by a being or beings who are more powerful than which results in a community being formed in line with those principles.

This definition is a good one and it is clear. We need to get it right for we have to consider separation between religion and the state and to muddy what religion means muddies the boundaries.

Can a secularist accept this definition? What if you end up treating Buddhism as a secular force because it does not fit this definition?  So what?  The definition is perfect for a secularist.  The Catholic definition is this, "Religion is a system of worship and commandments and beliefs that are [not just claimed!] revealed by God which results in a community being formed in line with those principles."  Secularism has to oppose that definition.  Secularism is not complete neutrality with religion.  It is neutral where possible.

Religion is a system of supernatural doctrine and worship. A religion is not the people who claim to be its members. If religious people are bad it is better to blame their faith and their concept of God or the divine and not them.

Could be that you should oppose not religion but superstition? Yes. Religion is hard to define but superstition is easy. And any system be it non-religious or religious can have superstitions in it.

The only religion should be humanity itself.

A religion as a whole should never be described as good. The individuals in a religion do good but that has nothing to do with the religion being good or bad. It has to do with them.

A belief system is a belief itself. Beliefs or errors have no rights. It is the people that hold them that have the rights.

Everybody who is in a bad or dodgy religion makes the excuse, "If I stay I can maybe help improve it." That is all it is - an excuse. And even more so when the religion proclaims absolute values - things you must do at any price.

If you pick and choose what you like or think is true out of your religions doctrines while ignoring or dismissing the rest then you expose yourself as one who does not understand his or her obligations to the religion or who purposely lies that you belong in a religion you treat like a cafť menu. You cannot ask to be taken seriously. You are no advertisement for the religion and no religion even if fake deserves that.

I will not be a religious cherry-picker - a member of a religion who just discards the official religious teachings they donít like. It is not about what I like but about what is true. Will honour myself in being honest. I will not drop honesty for the sake of appearing to be a true member of the faith. It serves only to make the religion look good and me look bad.

If you are better than your religion, then leave it. Itís hard enough to be fabulous! If you are numbered as part of a religion you are part of the problem.

Idolatry, the worship of a false or untrue God or service to a false or merely man-made religion, is not bad just because it is an error but because it is putting your heart in the wrong place.

When I feel that I have called up and fed the good in me, I feel I am doing the only thing I can do. I have to change me. I take the credit for the goodness that results instead of ascribing it to divine agency.

If you wittingly or unwittingly promote and serve and be part of a man-made religion, then as it is man-made it has no inherent immunity to teaching and devising evil. Thus its members have a collective responsibly for all the bad things it does. It cannot take credit at all for the good they do. They do it because they are good and not because they are religious. The more implausible the religion is the worse you make yourself by being part of it.

There are many belief systems. To adopt one means you vow to regard it as right and the others as containing much error.

Prayer

I do not need to pray. I just have to wish good on the world and those who inhabit it. That changes me into a better person and if it doesnít it will at least not let me get any worse. Only then will my wish get a chance to make a difference in the world.

Why am I not just wishing good on others and letting that change me?  Why am I praying?  I just don't trust myself to be good unless a god helps me.  That is negative and dangerous.

If God is creator then God alone really matters which makes prayer the most important activity of all. But we admire the person who acts as if prayer will not help the other person and who does all they can for them. Surely prayer

Any time you hear of somebody having a problem make a wish that the problem didnít happen and that as it has it will be mended. This is not magical. It is you resolving to be better than the way things are. It is siding with the person even against the universe or any God that might exist. Always think compassionate thoughts for compassion is the chief virtue. Wish people well but do not insult them by praying for them. Wishing them well is not praying for them. Prayer is accepting the way things happen - wishing is opposing it.

You are your own God. You answer your own prayers. You do not need a Church. If people didnít attend Church or support it financially there would be no Church to do harm.

You canít always have somebody to talk to. Talking to another person about your problems is important. It helps make your thinking clearer. It makes you think of trying some possible solutions. You donít feel so alone. You feel supported. Even if you talk to a fantasy friend in your head it helps. Prayer is talking to a fantasy friend. Prayer in itself does not help - it is the role-playing

Most of us live happy and fruitful lives without thinking of prayer and religion very much. So we don't need them. Religion is a problem. There are problems and there are solutions. If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. Solve the problem of religion by ceasing to be a part of it. Be a member of the human family seeing all people as brothers and sisters. Do not limit yourself by thinking you need a religion.

Somebody is very ill. What matters? Is it wishing and hoping they will get well? Or is it praying for them? Praying for them is pointless if you donít want them to get well. So your good wishes are what matters. If a choice is forced on you - good wishes or prayer what do you choose? The good wishes. To say that God alone matters or even comes first is simply to implicitly insult the sick people.

Miracles - the Dark Side

When somebody makes outrageous or magical or miraculous claims to you, politely tell them that you need the proof or at least good enough evidence.

The only real miracles are ones that change you from inside. To run after apparitions, prophets of God, miracle revelations from Heaven, and miracle healings and psychics is simply to insult yourself and provide a bad example for everybody else.

Why do people believe in miracles?

Somebody makes a miracle claim and says there is evidence. People examine this claim and then may believe it as a result. A miracle should only be believed in because the evidence is persuasive and not because the person wants to believe.

People believe in miracles not because evidence points to them. It cannot. Bizarre and extremely far-fetched and unlikely things happen without the supernatural being involved. People make the most incredibly unlikely mistakes. Coincidences can help lies and errors appear almost certainly to be the truth.

The burden of proof and your dignity

If I say that my potion cures terrible diseases or that the Virgin Mary is appearing down my garden the burden of proof is on me. I am the one that has to prove it. If I don't or if I can't, I am demeaning the people to whom I am voicing my claims. It is not up to them to prove me wrong though they can at least try if they wish.

In science as in law, the burden of proof is on the one making the claim. The more outrageous the claim the stronger the proof that is required.

Religion is revelation from some other world and science is about this world. That does not prove or mean the two work in non-overlapping fields. It means they exclude each other.

Science is an action word not a thing. It is about doing.

If there is a number of theories about anything, I must adopt the theory that has the fewest assumptions. This theory might still be incorrect but that is not the point. The theory that is based on the fewest assumptions or guesses is the most likely one to be correct. We need it for practical reasons and for our benefit.

Because doing is more important than religion science has to be supreme. Religion is a sub-set of doing. Science is doing as in investigating so for its openness and eagerness for truth even if it is hideous and godless it is in no way a religion or compatible with religion.

Science is based on keeping theories minimal and religion is not.

If you know religion is wrong then leave it

Leaving false religion is essential - defect!

To be classed as a member of a religion when you are reasonably certain the religion is false is wrong. Leave for the sake of the principle.

It is important to go to your leader and ask for your name to be removed as a member. It is important to have yourself excommunicated. To follow correct spiritual teaching, is to automatically renounce your baptism - baptism makes you a church member - and reverse the vows pertaining to it whether you realise it or not. When you taste spiritual truth, you simply undo the good you do yourself by tasting it if you fail to extricate yourself from religion.

As long as you have your name on the lists, you are being counted a member of religion even if you are lapsed. It uses such information to make itself seem very powerful and influential to government statistics offices. Merely having your name on the membership rolls is supporting the Church. When that happens, governments often begin to let religion have a say in how they do their job. People get hurt. Religion gets the power to spread harmful and irresponsible ideas.

If people don't be themselves they are cheating themselves. They are harming themselves and they will harm others as a consequence. Be strong and be happy and be yourself and you will get true respect. Don't let people respect a false image of you. That is not respecting you.

Remember, if everybody refused to leave a religion or group the world would make no progress. Don't take advantage of another's courage, develop your own courage.

Doing things that upset others is unavoidable in life. Try and be a kinder person and make the break from religion. Then your break probably will not upset people as much as you think. If they see you happy, they will be fine. If they are not then they were never your friends anyway.

Religion is only for those who are at least trying to believe in it and who believe a lot of it. It is not fair to take advantage of the benefits of being considered a member when your beliefs are so different from its.

People stop going to Church when the Church fails to be relevant or helpful. But as long as they consider themselves members they are doing wrong for going to church is a requirement. The honest and decent solution is to write a letter to the Church authorities and sever membership. Then not going to church will not be wrong any more. Then you will not be burdening your heart with wrongdoing and disloyalty that is totally unnecessary.

You are not obligated to belong to any religion or to go to any Church. Our refraining from doing so, is just reflecting that and is not about bigotry or rejecting people. Hate is an ineffective means of social change.

Separate from religion and be your own saviour and pope and Messiah and even your own God! Assert your own identity. As long as you don't, you are not you but a puppet to some degree. You are to be as God to others. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Heal the sick.

Our hearts burn like mystics but we live like secularists! And let it be so!