Belief & Bucks

Decades ago, one of my political science professors made the statement that Christianity was a religion for slaves. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s in this world, but believe in Christ, and you will be rewarded in the next. It’s a wonderful way of keeping the slaves in their place.

He was right, and the political right has taken full advantage of this fact that still underlies Christianity.

Corporations have the right to drown out everyone else’s right to speak, because they are in fact de facto Caesar in our current society.

The church, aided by the evangelical right and moneyed interests, now has the right to rule pregnant women’s bodies, while corporations get government to allow them to destroy the environment and to impair the health of the multitudes in order to increase what Caesar gets. But it’s all right. True believers will receive their reward in the next world, and for those of you who aren’t true believers, well… tough shit.

The right to pray and to coerce others to pray cannot be restricted, but a woman’s personal right not to reproduce, even if she’s raped or if it could cost that woman her life, cannot be allowed. No matter how you put it, that’s a form of enslavement. And it’s based on a belief that, first, life is sacred, and second, that there’s a soul – even before conception, apparently. Both are without proof, and they’re a set of beliefs imposed on non-believers.

The right, especially the religious right, has fought and consistently opposed an equal rights amendment. It’s not an amendment to give women greater rights, but equal rights. Why does the right oppose it? Largely because too many men don’t want women to have those rights, even if most men won’t admit it, because, after all, faith declares women must be subordinate to men, and also because it will cost corporations billions if they have to pay women equally.

What the far right wants has nothing to do with what’s good for most people; it’s strictly to maintain control over people’s lives and maximize the wealth of the few – and, despite efforts and words of the Founding Fathers, they’re using a slave religion to boost belief and bucks.

12 thoughts on “Belief & Bucks”

  1. Mayhem says:

    This seems a relevant time to ask this.

    So I read Quantum Shadows a week or so back, and it seemed to be as much a musing on the variations of belief systems – between All Gods are Real and Everything Has a Place – as it was a story.

    But I had two main thoughts while reading – first was that of the Decalivre there were six major systems based on living beliefs (Taoism, Hinduism, Islam, Catholicism, Judaism and Mormonism) two based on historical (Norse,Greek) and several minors of interest (Greed/Money, Zoroastrian, aspects of majors in other religions). I assumed each territory contained space for the various aspects or schisms of each.

    But I couldn’t place the White Faith or what the Dark One represented other than perhaps Agnosticism. Or was Jaweau the purity of evangelism?

    And you notably didn’t have any African or North/South American religions, which really stuck out as the global travelogue continued – I’d have expected to see at least some minor role for them, similar to the Town without Name. Intentional or unconscious bias?

    1. You’re right on both counts, as far as the white one and the dark one go. I could have — and probably should have — gone into other religions in various towns and villages of belief, but after almost a decade of working on Quantum Shadows I felt I needed to publish, whether it was perfect or not.

  2. KTL says:

    Mr. M.,

    Well, you’ll get no arguments here. I’m a full fledged atheist, after being raised Roman Catholic (yeah, the 60s liberal kind). However, I acquired an education and an advanced science degree (PhD, Organic Chemistry 1987, Univ. Texas @Austin) along the way to growing into an adult. I wasn’t very conflicted either as I grew up about believing in both science and God. I just dropped the fantastical latter subject and adopted an evidence based life. Honestly, I never found it that difficult to tell folks that I did not practice religion when asked. One gets over the expressed shock fairly quickly.

    Funny that…our country was also founded as a secular society. One might not know it today based on what’s recently occurring. In fact this religious juggernaut has been increasing its pace ever since the 1950s (some historians point to a reflexive religious policy adoption to counter the communist menace).

    I love the Ron Reagan, Jr commercial advertising the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I’d encourage the readership here to go to its website, not necessarily to be converted, but rather to take the quiz provided there that tests one’s knowledge on our Constitution’s principles as they apply (or not) to religion. I scored pretty well, but not perfectly. I still learned quite a bit. It’s not painful at all.

    To paraphrase RR,Jr., “not afraid to burn in hell”


    1. Tom says:

      Like Sergeant Schultz in Hogan’s Heroes I know nothing; so I ask – any comments on the following?

      Scientists don’t try to prove or disprove God’s existence because they know there isn’t an experiment that can ever detect God. And if you believe in God, it doesn’t matter what scientists discover about the Universe – any cosmos can be thought of as being consistent with God.

      Science doesn’t have the processes to prove or disprove the existence of God. Science studies and attempts to explain only the natural world while God, in most religions, is supernatural. Supernatural comes from the Latin word supernaturalis, meaning beyond nature. The adjective form of supernatural describes anything that pertains to or is caused by something that can’t be explained by the laws of nature.

      According to Anselm, the concept of God as the most perfect being—a being greater than which none can be conceived—entails that God exists, because a being who was otherwise all perfect and who failed to exist would be less great than a being who was all perfect and who did exist.

      1. Daze says:

        To quote from Dawkins, “the god of the Old Testament is the most unpleasant character in fiction”. So, less than perfect. Or, to reverse Anselm, if there is a perfect god, it isn’t that one.

      2. Mayhem says:

        >Scientists don’t try to prove or disprove God’s existence because they know there isn’t an experiment that can ever detect God.

        Not without having a rigorous definition of what “God” is in the first place, no.

        Where the science meets belief falters is in the fallibility of human beings and the ways our brains work.
        For example: a supernatural event is *believed* as a visitation from a higher being. There is no proof the event happened other than in the beholder’s belief and their internal explanation for physical evidence.

        By contrast it could be *explained* as a neurological glitch in brain chemistry, causing a hallucination which then triggers the brain to identify old water markings on a wall as evidence left behind by presence.

        Neither is inherently “right”, both are theoretical answers. And neither can be proven without a third observer of the situation who can provide tangential evidence one way or the other.

        As for Anselm, the problem with ontological arguments is they can equally be argued the other way – the assumptions of the arguer is what shapes the constraints, which is what allows the logic to “prove” something one way or another. Change the assumptions and the argument falls apart.

        For example why is a single god superior to two, or a Masculine/Feminine, or an entire pantheon? And why is existence a criteria to judge by, when it is the question to start with?
        For example see the argument “If God is perfect, then everything they do is also perfect, which means the imperfections that surround us are deliberate, which means god is amoral and cruel and therefore no longer perfect”.

        It’s the same as inverting the classic argument of “if they exist anywhere then they exist everywhere”, but since they clearly do not exist here, then they can exist nowhere.
        Because if they did exist everywhere it should be easy to find proof of existence. The lack of such proof is therefore proof of nonexistence.

        On the gripping hand, there’s always the fact that life itself is proof of something special, but is life considered supernatural?

        1. R. Hamilton says:

          I suspect most ontological arguments are a waste of time. And my reading Anselm is that it reduces to a tautology, proving nothing.

          But a perfect deity is not incompatible with an imperfect universe. We’re not robots, we mess up, not just ourselves, but those around us, and vice versa. If you catch something unmentionable by engaging in incautious behavior (of whatever sort), that doesn’t need to be merciless judgement (and I think those that think it is judgement are warped), it just might be that you didn’t get a special exemption from consequences. Extend the concept to a variety of situations.

          If there’s a hint of grace, it’s that we haven’t already wiped ourselves out entirely.

          1. Tom says:

            Thank you all.

            Ontological arguments are arguments from premises which are supposed to derive from some source other than observation of the nature or the universe. So if God is supernatural then God is derived from something other than nature (naturally)! In fact philosophically derived and is that not theology?

            Something like self defined axiomatic “pure” mathematics.

  3. Bill says:

    The paraphrased scripture is to give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. The normal additional comment is what is not God’s. But not everyone interprets the passage that way and the instruction should be taken with some care because it was written in the context of Roman persecution of the church and not when the church was aligned with the government.
    The history of the Christian church is filled with human behavior and the need for authoritarians and narcissists to impose their will on others. This is not a legitimate interpretation of the faith. I know many people will argue about that. It is a heresy that many people embrace but that does not make it correct.
    Those that do embrace it should be ridiculed for it. It is no better than the prosperity gospel which is just as bad and pushed by hucksters desiring wealth and worshipping a golden calf.
    The underlying issue is that American Evangelicals miss the entire point of the gospel and believe that being born again enables them to align solely with the saved and not as the sinner.
    There are plenty of places to go for more information. Look up the works of H. Richard Niebuhr, Reinhold Niebuhr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Shirley Guthrie. Also look up realized eschatology.

  4. Lourain says:

    One of the interesting intersections of science and religion is the number of people who have religious experiences when they have epileptic seizures.

    1. Tom says:

      Only adult epileptics?

      1. Lourain says:

        Sheer speculation, on my part, but possibly children do not have the cultural background to describe what they experience in religious terms.

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