Atheist Request: The Evolution of Religion
Anyway, in the meantime I'm taking a blog post request! New tag has been duly added. This one concerns a podcast from The Atheist Experience, #645 I guess. Normally I avoid listening to ex-Christian atheist junk, because they're the annoying teenagers of the atheist world. Whereas many of us have organically evolved our atheism simply because we're too old to believe in fairy tales, some people had a jarring enlightenment akin to someone telling them when they were 8 that Santa Claus is really just their parents, and now they're running around rebelling from the Evil Religion and coming up with hilarious, bitter constructs that sort of...only reflect the paradigm that religion taught them; they haven't learned to think outside the box. Don't get me wrong, I hate religion as much as or more than anybody and there's no way in hell I'm going to go around preaching tolerance of "what people do on their own time"--I am what you call a militant atheist. But harboring resentment for religion as something that's OUT TO GET YOU is so prosaically juvenile that I usually can't be bothered to listen to it.
YES, religion is DUMB. It's a lie, blah blah blah...but no one goes around hating their parents for duping them into believing in the Easter Bunny with nearly as much fervor. They realize, Hahah--I was an idiotic child! I'd believe gosh-durn anything they told me! Don't I feel sheepish. Good thing I can make informed decisions for myself now. Well, moving on...
So I was particularly irritated by the asshat on this episode given me by The Requester because this author was an atheist noob who finally threw off The Jebus like in his THIRTIES, making him an atheist noob of the most insipid kind. He was immensely proud of himself for taking some comment that Dawkins had only seen fit to throw out there in passing (and Richard Dawkins is nothing if not thorough in all his books, so you can imagine that if HE didn't bother explaining it in any detail, THEN IT'S NOT FUCKING WORTH EXPOUNDING) and writing an entire goddamn book about it. His amazing idea? Making a virus metaphor for religion. And what killed me about the entire interview is that he kept personifying the "virus"'s motives, which is what every evolutionist and his mother keep trying to break people of. Evolution has no motive. Species have no motive. They do not come up with tactics in order to survive or adapt or spread or any crap like that. The ones who don't have that gene SIMPLY DIE. And therefore the alternative genes don't spread. That's it. Goddamn, I will kill each and every one of you.
That's just so !stupid! Religion isn't out to get you. It's not organizing itself so that it can make you live in fear and shit yourself any more than it's our INTENT to find better and more advanced ways to dump toxic chemicals and destroy resources and FUCK UP THE ENVIRONMENT. That's what we're DOING, yes--that's the outcome. Those are the tools we use, the technology we utilize in living. Our real goal is to eat and poop and fuck and BE HAPPY. That's what the average apathetic pot-smoking couch-surfer American asshole does, anyway. And by god, if our happiness involves millions of tons of plastics to make stupid little electronic toys that play music in the palms of our hands, then we're on that shit! But the intent is the happiness. Religion's intent is to GET SHIT DONE, and as a tool to accomplish that, fear and guilt and community pressure is really fucking effective. Hell, it's so effective that it can turn queers straight [for a brief period of time--like antimatter!]! The fucking INTENT of religion was to pass on knowledge of how to live a good life to dumb people who can't understand real well and can't figure that shit out on their own fast enough to keep themselves from getting knocked out of the gene pool (see The Darwin Awards).
Really it's a community of dumb people coming together trying to survive and not fuck themselves up. With the power of community, they can survive (and how!). It's the Cliff's Notes to morality and living a good, decent life, and it's the community support to do so. Religion is extremely good at community. That was it's job, and it was very useful in mobilizing and polarizing people to accomplish something. Which is more than I can say of most people these days, who can't be bothered to get off their couches and we've all become our own little islands with all our little individual serving size lives. America could fucking be on FIRE and no one would be out doing anything; we'd all just be huddled in our own houses worried about ourselves and hoping to just weather it out--except for the crazy religious people, who'd maybe actually organize something and take their pitchforks and trounce on whomever they deemed an Evil-Doer (sure they'd know out a few innocents on the way, but that's what happens with people who don't understand real well). The rest of us would be quibbling about tolerance and how everyone has to make their own choices and it's whatever makes YOU happy and there are no evil sides or black and white and we must negotiate and buying our extra-large jumbo packs of tampons with wings. Because we're all GIANT VAGINAS, in case ya didn't get that one. Fucking christ, I WISH we'd goddamn organize an Atheist Church or something! All this crap about sitting back and waiting for "the truth to prevail" or whatever...that's like waiting for a chemical reaction: yeah, eVENtually we know equilibrium will be reached, BUT IT'S GONNA TAKE A MILLION YEARS--get an enzyme, for fuck's sake. I don't have time for this shit.
But I digress. Religion used to be synonymous with community. Culture. Values. That was it's intent--are you retarded? To think of religion as a virus CONCERNED WITH ITSELF, it's SURVIVAL, is dumb. Viruses don't sit around looking for better ways to survive or VALUE propagating. The ones that DIDN'T...simply aren't alive today. They don't spread. Things alive today are all descended from things that had a trait to propagate OR ELSE THEY WOULDN'T EXIST. So basically it's like saying things that exist...all have traits that favor existence rather than non-existence. YOU FUCKING GENIUS, YOU. This is like the first premise of evolution. He was super-proud of his virus metaphor. My god, he had the gall to tell some caller to "go and study evolution better and then call back." Asshole...
Anyway. So we'll ignore the fact that his whole stupid theory collapses like a house of cards on that item. Let's pretend he's just pointing out HOW religions have survived, i.e. which traits have enabled them to survive in a world where we no longer have to blindly believe in random bullshit. The author says religion targets specifically random stuff that doesn't matter--of course it targets that shit, dumbass. Or else it's not called religion anymore. Anything with a modicum of truth or usefulness elsewhere has been uncoupled from religion and classified as "social/society" or "morality/ethics" or even just "culture/tradition." For fuck's sake, anything classified as "religion" THESE days, BY DEFINITION, is hoodoo whack-a-job superstitious crap that is unprovable, unlikely, unknowable bullshit with no root in corporeal reality and is probably outdated but still clung to merely because it's been passed down for bazillions of generations and if it's that old HOW CAN IT POSSIBLY BE WRONG. But yes, tactics that allow super-idiotic ideas to STILL EXIST in a world where we can now differentiate the plausible/realistic from the superstitious/hearsay/bullcrap include but aren't limited to:
1) NOT LISTENING TO REASON (duh)--OBviously they have to shut out being open to other ideas, because other ideas would obliterate their ideas in a nanosecond purely on the amazing merit of BEING REASONABLE and actually having evidence. Do I really have to explain this? It's hardly even worth mentioning... The ones that didn't have faith as a virtue, believing in shit and sticking to that one thing despite all other circumstances, evidence, whatever...wouldn't survive when confronted reasonably. It's not like the church decided that's the best way to survive; it's just that the beliefs that didn't have this ardent faith didn't survive to become what "religion" is today--they became something else under some other label. We're dealing with the descendants [beliefs] of the nutbars.
2) Fear, guilt, lying, etc. I'm sorry, but fear and guilt and visceral emotions are way more motivating than reason when it comes down to it, and that's why we use them on children who CANNOT reason to keep them out of trouble until they can understand...the problem is that religion never allows reason to temper--I said temper, as I don't think these things should be eliminated as many atheist noobs seem to naively think--these gut reactions, as per item number 1. Blaming religion for using visceral tools that WORK is so idiotic--of course the ones that use the shit that WORKS are still gonna be around, as the ones using reason lost long ago when someone has a civil conversation and everyone realized that THAT religion had no merit or bearing on anything and it was promptly FORGOTTEN. Dumbasses. Complain all you want about fighting dirty, but fighting dirty GETS SHIT DONE. We're talking about survival here. You explain to a bear how you're going to have nice clean sporting fight and then whoever loses shall give up this territory with tasty berries on it (oh yes, and the right to not be a corpse) and then LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES. The only religions alive today...fought dirty. No shit. The same can be said for FUCKING EVER ORGANISM. To point that out is so fucking boring that we might as well declare water wet as well.
3) Random crap that USED to have merit. This tactic is effective because it was once very very useful and people remember how and why it was once plausible. And then they go on and on and on about the reasons. But the problem with people who don't understand real good is that they can't apply things very well, so they usually get it a little wrong and also don't notice when it's horribly out of date. Except dumb people also like to cling to crap that USED TO work, because it saves thinking. Why think when you can do something you've done a million times before because SURELY IT WILL KEEP ON WORKING FOREVER. So some religions ban you from eating pork because at the root of it swine used to be really unclean and people got sick...and now that we have safe pork, dumb people who don't understand real well only remember the don't-eat-pork bit and the it-is-bad! bit. People do it all the time, to save brain power. I swear to god, I feel like I'm playing Telephone with people, because I'll say one thing and instead of remembering what I actually SAID, verbatim (which is the most useful), they remember their interpretation of what was said influenced by all their history and emotion at the time and WHO FUCKING KNOWS what will pop out the other end. That's why people misuse words slightly. Which irritates me because nuance is what makes language so effective and useful and elegant and beautiful and to just slap-jab it on there is like you're some fucknut brainless 2-year-old not caring what you're flinging paint on and don't especially much care about ACTUAL communication or being understood but instead are more content to just dribble words out your mouth and down your chin onto your bib. As long as YOU're having fun spewing shit out--that's what it's all about, of course; YOU'RE experience talking and hearing the sound of your own voice. Ya know what--shut up. But I digress again. So lots of things used to have lots of merit in different times. When we didn't have birth control, sex before marriage was very bad. Dumb people who can't understand real well just remember the Badness and the old reasons that other dumb people came up with, and no one bothered to wonder if it was applicable NOW. It's insidious because it DID make sense at some point. But dumb people who don't understand real well are not good at differentiating and organizing thought and adjusting to new data. That takes up too much brain power. So lots of religious stuff looks like it's picking on random crap that doesn't matter and they're just trying to make you miserable, but the most parsimonious explanation is that at one point it mattered, OR ELSE NO ONE WOULD HAVE BOTHERED TO MAKE A FUCKING RULE ABOUT IT. It's random NOW because it's out of CONTEXT. The inability of atheist noobs to embrace this fact is tied to their crazy bitterness. Grow up. Your parents don't punish you because they're assholes, they do it because they're TRYING to do what's right (and possibly going horribly, stupidly wrong...or possibly because you're bugging the shit out of them...but still--doin' the best they can with the limited brain power/self-control they got). Stop being cranky about your car keys being taken away, get over it, THE WORLD IS NOT OUT TO GET YOU. In fact, the world is usually most asshole-y to you when it's operating with THE LEAST THOUGHT CONCERNING YOU. It's nothing personal.
4) Simplicity. Of course they oversimplify things! Simple shit is easier to understand! That's what makes religion so appealing to dumb people! Life is complicated and they don't freakin' know what to do! What if there was a handy manual, a rulebook to tell them what's right and wrong without them having to evaluate and think about everything and study hard and Know Things (that's all time-consuming and hard). Oh yeah, there is--it's called The Bible. Perhaps you've heard of it. Just follow these rules, and all is well and happy! Yay! We know we're right, we are sure about things, and that's way more happy-time than confusion and being unsure and having to stress about not knowing and trying to figure it out. We know it's right because everyone's been doing it for bazillions of years and it's worked great for them because this religion's still around so it must be useful (haHAH--they have us there!). The decisiveness is reassuring. Taking responsibility for yourself is not only stressful, but people just plain often don't want to deal with it (This is mind-boggling to me, but ubiquitous and really, dumb people know on some level that they aren't qualified to run their own lives so who can blame them? That's a pretty smart thought for them, actually.). And when Christians ask atheists what they believe, what their morals are, 9 out of 10 dumbshit atheists are so wishy-washy about explaining how it's not a cohesive set of rules and blah blah blah that I want to DECK THEM, 'cause Christians obviously can't understand that because it's nebulous and it's a fucking stupid answer anyway.
There, this has become somewhat wearisome and I'm not going to bother with it anymore at the moment, although if this were real homework obviously I'd organize shit sometime later and redraft it so that it wasn't quite as rambly. But who are we kidding? This is a blog, not a cohesive essay. And also no one's going to read all that anyway to complain it's not succinct enough. It's win-win. Or lose-lose. I forget.
But on a vaguely-related note, because I saw some OTHER Christian/Atheist thing, I think it's hilarious when Christians are all, "If you don't like it, get out!" Because they think this was founded as a Christian nation instead of a non-secular one. And I don't even want to bother arguing that--I'm just want to start yelling, "Go back to Nazareth!" at Christians. Hahahaha!