23 December 2010

All Clerics are Terrorists

I’ve been aware for a long time that all clerics are terrorists; this month, I saw it again.

A decade-or-so ago, I saw that my then daughter-in-law had been terrorized – by her parents, under the direction of their clerics.  Ever since she was a baby, she had been thoroughly indoctrinated in Mormonism (as have my grandchildren), but otherwise, she was (and probably still is) a wonderful woman and mother.

My wife and I were attempting to convince her not to proceed with divorcing our son, if for no other reason than for the sake of our grandchildren.  After being entrapped in Mormonism for more than a decade, our son had finally broken free, apparently after realizing that the Mormon’s Book of Abraham is a complete fake (and therefore, so is the Book of Mormon).

Addressing our son’s rejection of Mormonism, my wife said to our then daughter-in-law (something close to) “it doesn’t really matter”, to which she responded (something close to):  “It matters for the fate of our immortal souls!”  In particular, with respect to her own “immortal soul”, we later learned that her mother had told her that our son “was no longer of any use” to her, because no longer being a Mormon, he’d be unable to “whisper her secret name to her” (i.e., the password that she’d need to enter heaven).

Of course, I then tried to convince her that all talk about gods, devils, immortal souls, heaven, hell, etc. was nonsense, but you can imagine how far I got with that.  The final communication relayed to me was:  “She hates you.”  Well, I certainly don’t hate her.  I am, however, extremely sorry for her (and for our grandchildren) that she’s been terrorized.

Similar is apparently true for the majority of Americans.  A 2007 survey of 35,000 Americans by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 74% of the surveyed Americans believe in heaven [84% of all Protestants, 82% of all Catholics, 95% of all Mormons, and 85% of all (American) Muslims – but probably close to 100% of all Muslims living in Islamic countries].  The survey also found that 59% of all Americans believe in hell [73% of Protestants, 60% of all Catholics, 59% of all Mormons, and 80% of all (American) Muslims, although again, probably close to 100% of all Muslims living in Islamic countries].  And though one should question the accuracy of the survey results (because the report also states that 12% of all atheists believe in heaven and 10% of them believe in hell!), yet the survey does suggest the horrible extent to which clerics have mentally corrupted – and terrorized – so many Americans.

Anyway, polls and ancient personal history aside, this month I encountered another example of clerical terrorism.  At an Islamic Forum (a different forum from the one mentioned in the previous post), I was reading posts in a thread entitled “Atheism – A Religion which Denies Being a Religion”.  In this thread, a tirade by a Muslim writing under the name “Orthodox” reminded me of what Robert Ingersoll wrote:
Only the very ignorant are perfectly satisfied that they know.  To the common man the great problems are easy.  He has no trouble in accounting for the universe.  He can tell you the origin and destiny of man and the why and wherefore of things.  As a rule, he is a believer in special providence, and is egotistic enough to suppose that everything that happens in the universe happens in reference to him… 
After “Orthodox” had finished (with copious quotes from Islamic “sacred literature”, apparently thinking that they bolstered her arguments), a seemingly more knowledgeable Muslim posting under the name “Rahimi” made some errors, so I decided to try to correct him as follows (post #54):
Rahimi, I noticed two of your fundamental statements in Post #44 that are at least misleading.  Your statement that goes beyond ‘misleading’ to ‘incorrect’, is:
…we don’t find systems, laws, precision, order etc arise from chaos and disorder.
To see that your claim (that order can’t be derived from chaos) is incorrect, I suggest that you read Nobel laureate Ilya Prigogine’s book “Order out of Chaos” or his book “From Being to Becoming”.  The essence is that entropy of a particular system can decrease if the system can “feed” on some gradient (e.g., in chemical or gravitational potential).  Such is almost certainly how life began on Earth.
Your statement that’s misleading was stated in conjunction with your claim that our universe couldn’t have come from nothing:
It is an established scientific fact that something cannot arise from nothing.
In contrast to your claim, there are two major reasons to assume that our universe did, in fact, come from nothing.
One reason is because, consistent with Coulomb’s first principle of electrostatics, Newton’s principle of momentum (modified by Einstein), and the first principle of thermodynamics, the total electrical charge, momentum, and energy now in our universe sum to exactly zero.  That is, what appears to have happened is that the pre-Big Bang “nothingness” split into positive and negative “somethings” (e.g., the positive energy that congealed into mass and its motion is exactly balanced by the negative energy that fills what we call “space” or “the vacuum”).  Stated mathematically, it’s easy to get Something (S) from Nothing ( N = 0 ):
 N = 0 = S + ( – S) . 
And the second reason that we can conclude that our universe came from separating “nothing” into positive and negative “somethings” is that the concept is also consistent with available data, as reviewed by Lawrence Krauss in his video that you can find on YouTube entitled “A Universe from Nothing”…
Well, as the interested reader can verify and as even I expected, my post caused Rahimi quite a few problems.  In particular, though, in direct response to my comment,
…if you can follow everything [Lawrence] Krauss says, then immediately you’ll say goodbye to Zarathustra’s model of the universe and all the silly religions that have followed from it…
he responded (Post #66), with the following comment, containing ideas completely unrelated to the discussion, but nonetheless, very revealing:
And of course there are murderers and killers who try to justify their crimes by subscribing to falsehood such as ‘the survival of the fittest’, ‘war on terror’ and other craps.  These are the people who wronged themselves and their final abode and destination is the fire of jahanam (Hell)..
Amazing!  Up to this point in the thread, the focus was on science.  All of sudden, he jumped to morality and “the final adobe… Hell.”  Startled, I responded (Post #69):
Ah, maybe now I understand:  the real terrorists got to you – those who capture people’s imaginations with the horrors of a fictitious hell.  They control people with fear, and not just fear of dying (which is instinctive) but with fear of eternal torture.  Succumbing to such fears, people can no longer think for themselves.  They become mental slaves.
That is, just when it appeared that Rahimi might be understanding at-least-a-little of what scientific investigations are suggesting about the origin of the universe (I assume he at least started to look at Krauss’ video “A Universe from Nothing”), he retreated back into his shell, apparently “shell shocked” by his religion’s warnings about hell – which then led me to this post.

As I already mentioned, I’ve known about clerical terrorism for a long time, but it impresses (and saddens) me when I encounter it again.  Further, as “Catherine” said in the comments section of the New York Times report of the debate between Rabbi David Wolpe and Christopher Hitchens, I’ve learned through sad experiences:
It’s hopeless to argue against religion because the religious don’t have to stick to reason which should rule a civil debate.  They can always defer to blind, senseless faith.  It’s like trying to play Chess against someone who insists on playing Dungeons and Dragons.
In fact, it’s even worse:  religious people are trapped in those mental dungeons – and they truly fear those imaginary dragons!

Maybe to see better what moved me to write this post, suppose the leader of a street gang said to you:
Look:  my two big brothers used to be in the Mafia.  My friends are their friends; my enemies are their enemies.
You treat me right, you do what I say, and you’ll be okay.  One of my brothers is like God:  I got money; he’ll make sure you get money.  I got things; you’ll get things.  I got friends; you’ll get friends.
Otherwise – well, let me put it this way.  My other brother is a real devil:  he gets a kick out of digging people’s eyes out with his knife.  I dunno why.  Maybe he likes to hear people beg to be killed.
So anyway, there you go.  It’s your choice.  You got free will.  Choose.
Or suppose a member of an organized crime syndicate said to you (as owner of a small business):
Nice little business you got here, but what you need is insurance, so nobody will come in and rob the place, smash the joint, rough-up your customers, and maybe even kill somebody.  Lucky for you, me and my boys are in the insurance business.  You just give us 10% of your take, and we’ll make sure that you and your business come to no harm.  Otherwise, well, ya never can tell what might happen.  But it’s your choice.  You got free will.  Choose.  
If such happened to you or to someone you cared about, then in free countries, you should inform the police and expect the perpetrators to be prosecuted under laws such as the U.S.’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which includes fines and punishments for “extortion, blackmail, and terrorism.”

In the same way, I suggest that, in a sane world, all clerics of all the Abrahamic religions should be similarly charged with extortion, blackmail, and terrorism.  As Joseph Lewis said:
Let me tell you that religion is the cruelest fraud ever perpetrated upon the human race.  It is the last of the great scheme of thievery that man must legally prohibit so as to protect himself from the charlatans who prey upon the ignorance and fears of the people.  The penalty for this type of extortion should be as severe as it is of other forms of dishonesty.
But it’s unlikely that we can make much progress in such an approach (e.g., using the RICO Act), because with their extortion and blackmail, the damnable clerics have terrorized people, police, prosecutors, and politicians so badly that they can’t think straight.  Examples include “Rahimi”, “Orthodox”, “Yahya” (mentioned in the previous post), and my former daughter-in-law.  And the damndest thing is that clerics (with the help of previously indoctrinated parents) don’t stimulate people’s fear and greed using real threats and bribes (as do leaders of street gangs, protection rackets, and other organized crime syndicates):  they terrorize people using only imaginary bribes and threats!  What a racket.

Look at it still another way.  After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President G.W. Bush declared a “War on Terror”.  Of course he “miss-spoke” again:  war can’t be waged against terrorism; terrorism is a tactic.  What he meant to declare (I assume) was a war against terrorists.  Much more significantly, however, is that he misidentified the terrorists.

The terrorists aren’t the would-be bin Ladens of the world:  they’re the terrorized.  Terrorized by thoughts of eternal torture in hell, they greedily grab empty promises of eternal paradise in heaven, provided they become martyrs in some jihad.  Thereby, the bin Ladens of the world are just automatons and drones that the real terrorists use to wage war.

The real terrorists are the clerics of the world.  Their terrorist manuals are ridiculously called “holy books” and “sacred literature”.  They terrorize people with data-less, idiotic ideas about gods, devils, immortal souls, heaven, hell, and so on.  The worst (especially now in Islam) is their concoction and promotion of the terrors of hell.  As Ingersoll wrote more than a century ago:
If there is a God who will damn his children forever, I would rather go to hell than to go to heaven and keep the society of such an infamous tyrant.  I make my choice now.  I despise that doctrine.  It has covered the cheeks of this world with tears.  It has polluted the hearts of children, and poisoned the imaginations of men.  It has been a constant pain, a perpetual terror to every good man and woman and child.  It has filled the good with horror and with fear; but it has had no effect upon the infamous and base.  It has wrung the hearts of the tender; it has furrowed the cheeks of the good.  This doctrine never should be preached again.  What right have you, sir, Mr. clergyman, you, minister of the gospel to stand at the portals of the tomb, at the vestibule of eternity, and fill the future with horror and with fear?  I do not believe this doctrine, neither do you.  If you did, you could not sleep one moment.  Any man who believes it, and has within his breast a decent, throbbing heart, will go insane.  A man who believes that doctrine and does not go insane has the heart of a snake and the conscience of a hyena…
To stop such terrorism, to help people break free from clerical enslavement of their thoughts, to help them think for themselves and, therefore, to hold beliefs only as strongly as evidence warrants, education is key.

Each of us must do what we can to educate people – especially children – about how knowledge of the world is gained (not by “revelation” but by the scientific method) and about at least some of the knowledge already so gained.  Once people learn that the most certain knowledge that humans have been able to gain, even more certain than the knowledge that we exist (for we may all be just simulations in a humongous computer game) is that there are no gods or devils (and never were any), then the extortion, blackmail, and terrorism of all clerical con games will be obvious to everyone – and the damn clerics of the world can be prosecuted for being the despicable parasites that they are.