Over the last week we have seen vicious attacks on these fundamental pillars of our society perpetrated in the name of religion. The potential consequences of the barbaric attacks which were carried out in France this week could have diverse negative effects and be distorted by the ever present undercurrents of racism and fundamentalism that are running through our society. It is an attack on our culture, and by our I mean human.
I wish to categorically state that the motor for the horrendous events that took place this week is religion, religion in all its forms, but predominantly in its monotheist formulation. I hold that religion has no place in human culture. I wish to attack religion, I do not intend to concentrate on fundamentalists or extremists. J’accuse all religion and all those who are duped by its well organised PR machine. This letter will necessarily be aggressive, but you will not die by reading it, your brain may perhaps ache afterwards but it wont be splattered across the office wall, the only thing to be buried may be some misguided beliefs not a bullet ridden body.
So, for those of you who entertain some religious beliefs, there is probably no god. there is as much evidence for the existence of a supreme deity than there is for Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, or a life after death. Lets not get bogged down into questions of the meaning of life. We have a very good idea of how the universe started, how life began and how we as conscient creatures evolved. We have no idea why. There is no need to invent a god to explain the how, there may be a need to explain the why, but having invented a god then you have to explain where the god came from, maybe made by another god, maybe always present, who knows? it doesn’t answer anything, so whichever way you look at it there is probably no god or absurdly, there is a Russian doll infinity of gods.
That’s that out of the way. No god, good, so what about our ethics? How can we live without the ten commandments etc? Would you not have thought that one of the most important tenets of a book of rules for a society would be “do unto others what you would have them do to you”, well no, in fact this one doesn’t exist anywhere in the code books of the major monotheist religions. The most important message is don’t question the existence of god and don’t ask questions of (or disrespect) god. This is the reason why so many brave human beings were butchered this week in Charlie Hebdo. Are you impressed by this code of conduct. I am not.
What else do we have in these codes of conduct? I will pass on the dietary advice, on what sexual perversions you should or should not practice on your livestock or how you organise your working week. What is notably underplayed in all cases is don’t kill. Why should such a fundamental concept not take pole position? Because the major monotheistic religions aim to answer a fundamental question that has bothered mankind from the onset of collective consciousness, notably what happens when we die. All the evidence, not the majority, but all the evidence shows that when a living organism dies it ceases to exist. The body, the personality, all the elements that made up an individual occupy the same state that they had a nanosecond before conception. If you want an idea of the afterlife then remember how you felt a year before your birth. For any normal human being this is inacceptable. Apart from the innate desire to live, the intense pain felt upon the loss of someone close is unbearable. How much easier to imagine that they (and eventually us) are continuing somewhere else and we will see them again. How easy then for the shamans to manipulate this to then suggest that yes of course there is life after death, but only accessible if you believe in their god and subscribe to their code of conduct. How convenient also to suggest that other tribes/cults/groups in competition with their tribe etc for limited ressources obviously have an inferior religion that must be destroyed, whence all the stuff about jealous gods, false idols etc. Indeed in the Islamic faith if you martyr yourself in response to a real or imagined insult to ones god you get automatic admission into a paradise complete with explicit sexual favours (interestingly only if you are male however).
Such is the scenario that has lead to the disgusting events that took place this week in Paris, that are taking place all over the world everyday, stonings, beheadings, amputations, slavery, rape, sexual mutilations, flogging and so forth. All in the name of religion.
What to do? It is time, it is long past the time, that a serious religious figure, a Pope, a Mullah, a Rabbi, stood up and had the courage to say, “look, frankly we haven’t a clue, please stop killing and mutilating in gods name”. Is this going to happen? No, its not going to happen. At least not spontaneously.
So my letter is a simple request to two groups, first so called religious leaders, do you have the courage to stand up and say “we have no better idea about god, life after death or how best to organise your life than anyone else”
Second, to all human beings, ask yourselves honestly if you can accept that in all likelihood we live only once, there is no life after death and no god who is personally interested in you and you alone, and that life is sacred and under no circumstances be taken from someone simply because that person indulges in one of the fundamental rights of man, the right of free speech.