Religion (and philosophy)

Quick Navigation Menu

Summary: I am a deist who is convinced that the concept of God is so far beyond human comprehension that no religion has, or will ever, come close to knowing the truth (it would be easier to teach insects about "automobile insurance"). All religions are man-made. We created god in our own image, not the other way around.


  1. Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion—several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight.
    Mark Twain
  2. Biblical text should not be interpreted as properly literal, but rather as metaphorical, if it contradicts what we know from science and our God-given reason
    (Augustine of Hippo, De Genesi ad literam 1:19–20, Chapt. 19 [408], De Genesi ad literam, 2:9)
    Saint Augustine (354-430)
  3. Fundamentalism is the blind lunge towards over simplification
    George Steiner (Philosopher)
  4. Hundreds of professional and amateur scientists actually believe that the Bible pretends to teach science. This is a good deal like assuming that there must be authentic religious dogma in the binomial theorem
    Georges Lemaître (1933) Roman Catholic priest and Scientist
    (who first proposed the Big Bang after analyzing the mathematics behind Einstein's General Theory of Relativity)
  5. The bible explains how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go
    Galileo Galilei (1616)
  6. All extreme forms of thinking are a form of insanity
  7. An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof
    Carl Sagan
    (Perhaps this quote can be used as a successor to Occam's Razor)
  8. Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities
  9. We live in a world shaped by stories. Stories are threads of our lives and the fabric of human cultures. A story can unite or divide people, obscure issues, or spotlight new perspectives. A Story can inform or deceive, enlighten or entertain, or even do all of the above. As humans, we are literally hardwired for narrative. Stories are essential to human learning and building relationships in social groups. There is growing consensus in the scientific community that the neurological roots of both storytelling and enjoyment of stories are tied to our social cognition.
    Steven Pinker
  10. Ours is a time of space telescopes, electron microscopes, supercomputers, and the worldwide web. This is not a time for parsing lessons given to a few goat herders, tent makers an camel drivers.
    Rev. Michael Dowd, "Thank God for Evolution!"
  11. There's another reason I think popularizing science is important, why I try to do it. It's a foreboding I have -- maybe ill-placed -- of an America in my children's generation, or my grandchildren's generation, when all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when we're a service and information-processing economy; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest even grasps the issues; when the people (by "the people" I mean the broad population in a democracy) have lost the ability to set their own agendas, or even to knowledgeably question those who do set the agendas; when there is no practice in questioning those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and religiously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in steep decline, unable to distinguish between what's true and what feels good, we slide, almost without noticing, into superstition and darkness.
    Carl Sagan

My "2 cents" on religious world conflict

Europeans learned during the "30 Years War" (1618-1648)1 that religion and politics don't mix. In fact, it was the principal of religious freedom2 that was the basis for ideas which created the United States of America. So I'm confused when:

  1. the USA enthusiastically supplies arms to a democratic theocracy (Israel) who is in a war with a group of people trying to become a democratic theocracy (Palestine). On the flip side, Palestine receives and uses arms supplied by Iran and Syria against Israel while their own people starve in the streets dreaming of the afterlife.
  2. the USA is best friends with a tribal theocracy (Saudi Arabia) who look the other way while Saudi religious police engage in kidnappings in the name of Sharia Law. To make matters worse, Saudi Arabia is the largest purchaser of US military hardware and are most likely supplying ISIL/ISIS

    comment: so just as the US and USSR created many problems in the middle-east by fighting a proxy-war during during the 1980s in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia (Sunni) is fighting a proxy war with Iran (Shia) in Libia and Syria. We know are children are not able to vote or drive a car and yet the child-like adults of that region carry AK-47 machine guns. 
  3. many Americans today reject science and logic while openly embracing religious fundamentalism (including a literal belief in Bible scripture) and political extremism. They even claim that America was founded on Christian principles even though many of the US Founding Fathers (Washington, Adams, Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, etc.) were Deists. The joke (perhaps irony is a better word here) gets better when Ronald Reagan, who gets to power with help from fundamentalist Christian groups organized by people like Jerry Falwell, quotes a few lines from Thomas Paine during his inauguration. (Many religious people labelled Thomas Paine an atheist even though Paine was a self described Deist)

The world will never have peace until there is a protestant-style reformation in all religions which will enable people to take back control of their churches from zealots and extremists. Every citizen must strive to ignore anyone (religious or otherwise) who instigates war or martyrdom. We also must be wary of any religious person with "political ambitions" or "ties to people with political ambitions" (you probably think I am referring to Islamic Imams and Clerics but American Christians like Jerry Falwell also spring to mind)

  1. I do not understand why some Christian have drifted back into the Old Testament. Christianity is the doctrine of the New Testament which replaces the Old Testament leaving it for nothing more than a historical reference.
  2. Many Christian sects are overdue for a second reformation

    1. to abandon the intolerant positions of St. Paul which many churches (both Protestant as well as Catholic) used to keep women out of the pulpit. Only men were provided with educations in Paul's world and and I think Paul wanted to keep it that way (he was never married by the way). Had Paul ever met Jesus I am certain Jesus' interactions with Mary Magdalene might have changed Paul's views.
      • in Paul's defense: these churches may be cherry-picking some poorly translated lines from one of "Paul's Letters to the Church in Corinth". You need to read all of the letters in their entirety to see what he was addressing.

    2. Martin Luther (the catholic priest who is credited for getting the Protestant Reformation rolling in continental Europe) stood with the church in shutting down the absurdity of the Copernican system because "it is obvious to everyone that the Sun goes around the Earth". On the plus side, he thought the church was wrong in not allowing priests to marry (which had more to do with the church not wanting to support a priest's family when the priest died). he also thought it was a mistake to include the Book of Revelation in the bible. Apparently one in four Americans today believe "they live in end times" and/or "will be raptured up" which proves that too much attention has been focused on apocalyptic nonsense. (oops, I guess I should have used the acceptable phrase "Eschatology")
  3. I do not understand why many religions use the label "liberal" or "free thinker" to attack someone who might question religion or religious practices. Was not Jesus was a liberal as seen by the Sanhedrin? Was not Martin Luther a liberal as viewed by the Vatican?
  1. in this war, Catholics and Protestants fought each other for the bodies, souls and property of the other group. A whole generation passed until the children of the people who started the war put a stop to the madness.
  2. "religious freedom" can be rephrased as "each citizen being free of the untoward interference of the other person's religion"

Two more cents

My Childhood Education

My Adult Education

  1. I think it is important for modern people who have received an in-depth religious education to heed the words of Saint Paul found in 1 Corinthians 13:11 where he wrote this:
    When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
  2. When someone outside my childhood family would ask about religion, one of my parents would proudly proclaim We are Lutheran. While I agree with many of the actions of Marin Luther (1483 – 1546) including nailing his ninety-five theses to the door of the Wittenberg church, as an adult I find it impossible to invoke the name of a German who lived 500 years ago when describing myself.

    p.s. Some later-life writings of Martin Luther were used by the NAZIs to justify persecution of European Jews. These documents were produced by Luther at the end of his life when he began to suffer what I like to call "crazy-old-white-man syndrome". (for example: just Google "Clint Eastwood taking to a chair for 45 minutes")
  3. While I agree with all the teachings of Christ (especially the non-violence stuff), a combination of the untrue things that religious people have written about Christ -AND- the military actions of self-described Christian American presidents (Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Regan, George W. Bush) make it nearly impossible for me to call myself Christian. Food-for-thought: notice that presidents who seemed less religious (John Kennedy and Bill Clinton first spring to mind) seemed to go out of their way to avoid military conflict. The exception to this was Jimmy Carter (a true Christian who avoided conflict at all cost)
  4. Is faith the new stupid? I know many church-attending Christians who "believe in god" and "accept modern science" including the fact that the Earth is 4.2 billion years old. But some Christians (now I am recalling the names of Republican U.S. presidential candidates in 2008 and 2012) seem to think they must choose between science and religion, and so they choose religion. Do these people think that their denial of science will earn themselves a higher place in the afterlife? Perhaps they are just trying to attract bible-belt voters.
    Humanity once believed that certain individuals were "possessed by demons" but today those people are correctly labeled "mentally ill". And what about other bible stories? Are we really expected to believe there was a literal Adam (Hebrew name for "human") and Eve? Aren't bible stories about the lineage of Jesus somewhat similar to the Greek myths which tell us that Zeus (god) mated with a mortal woman (Alcmene) to become parents to a half-man/half-god person named Heracles (Hercules). It is highly likely that the founders of the  early Christian church applied this myth to the lineage of Jesus in order for Christian stories to replace Greek Myths. But it only took another generation for people to believe this nonsense.

My Adult View

*** you probably do not need to read past this line ***

Humanity's Coming Dark Age (a warning for all of us)

Humanity's Coming Dark Age - The rise and fall of empires
The Rise and Fall of Empires (published: 2003-01-29)
Symptoms before each collapse: ignorance, superstition, religious fundamentalism, xenophobia, intolerance, rejection of science
  1. Download a free PDF copy of the 418-page 2002 publication: The Phoenix Principle and the Coming Dark Age by Marc Widdowson (British military analyst and educator) 
  2. Download ($10) an eBook of The Coming Dark Age by Roberto Vacca - 153 pages in PDF format
  3. While there are many complicated and interacting reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire, I am now convinced that Edward Gibbon was correct when he stated that the primary reason was due to the the effects of organized religion. Today's world might collapse for nothing more that the reasons of religious intolerance or greed (materialism is another form of religion)
  4. Additionally, we know from the writings of Roman historians (Pliny the Elder is one of many) that Ancient Rome began its decline not long after Romans began to replace "observational science given to them by the Greeks" with so-called "common sense". Roman civilization stagnated then decayed from within
  5. Today it is no different. Earlier in my life, people were fond of this expression: "If we can go to the moon then why cant we ... ?". To be clear, it was only the Americans who were able to send 12 men to the moon between 1969 and 1972 then return them safely to the Earth. The rest of of humanity was merely sharing in their triumph. But after Richard Nixon gutted the American manned space program to help keep America solvent while it fought a ridiculous war in Vietnam, and Ronald Reagan cozied up to Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority" to win the presidential election of 1980, America has barely been able to put humans into orbit and now must hitch a ride to the ISS (International Space Station) with their former cold-war enemy, Russia. Many Americans now joke "If we can go to the moon then why can't we go to the moon?" while ignoring shame or embarrassment. But will they change when astronauts from another country decide to plant a flag up there? Probably not. Just as the Ming emperor of China burned his fleet while claiming there is nothing in the world worth exploring, block-headed Americans of all stripes have lost their {space} fleet
  6. But it has gotten much worse: this side of y2k, North Americans with a Sunday-school understanding of the Christian bible actually think they are doing society a service when they stand up and argue with highly educated scientists about such topics like: evolution, the age of the earth, the importance of vaccines to only name three of many
  7. Religious Method (dogma): Fiction, Assertion, Suppression
    Scientific Method (pragma): Observation, Hypothesis, Experiment (test), Debate. Then publish and repeat.
  8. So now I urge you to return to the chart above and ask yourself "am I confortable living on the decline of the last bump?". If the answer is "no" then I suggest you suppress your personal expressions of: ignorance, superstition, religious fundamentalism, xenophobia, intolerance, rejection of science

Useful Links (and a few departing points)

World Union of Diests
Back to Home
Neil Rieck
Kitchener - Waterloo - Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.