(Editor's note: This post originally appeared on Stupid Evil Bastard.)
By Peter Fredson
When I was young I did not hold many beliefs, other than that candy was good, and that I would be spanked if I were bad. I went to school and was told about George Washington and a cherry tree, and I believed the story. Why wouldn't I? Were not teachers supposed to teach only the truth? I was sent to a Sunday School, and there, among other things, I was told that a Holy Ghost had intercourse with a woman and the result was a Holy Baby. I had to believe that, because the neighborhood minister of the church were I was sent, without consultation, told me it was true. He told me that without cracking a smile, so I guessed it was true. He wouldn't lie to me, would he?
Later I learned that there were other almost-identical reports from other societies, like the Greek, Roman, Chinese, Assyrian, Hindu, Aztec, etc......but I can't believe THEM...those are not MY people. Perhaps THEY really believed those stories. So what? They were ignorant and gullible and they believed anything their priests told them, or if they didn't they would shut up about their disbelief lest they lose their social status, their property or their life. They didn't consider that having sexual intercourse with a virgin, without her consent or knowledge, by any entity, (ghost, spirit, spook, or otherwise,) was rape and was a very bad thing.
Either that, or people today are just as gullible as in the days of the Greeks, when they firmly believed in gods and goddesses on Mt. Olympus, and on land and on sea, and when they made sacrifices to those supernatural entities, and believed heart and soul in them, and built great edifices and statuary to those supernatural entities. It took 100,000 Egyptians over 20 years, so one mummified corpse of some specially-privileged person could be placed in a tomb and be preserved until resurrection. But, of course, I don't believe ANY of THAT stuff. It is TOO unbelievable.
WOULD THEY LIE TO ME?
I was told that priests of OTHER societies were generally intolerant and vicious with their disbelievers, and that other gods were vicious, murderous and intolerant, although MY priests tell me they are NOW very tolerant and peaceful. I must believe them because they are MY people. They tell me that they are now MUCH better than any other priesthood of any other nation....so I must believe them. They tell me that they are in sole possession of the absolute eternal TRUTH! Would they deceive me? Would they hide any ugly side of religion from me? Religion once caused social boycott, elimination from public office, discrimination, torture, murder, and war? Could that happen in this enlightened day and age with a religion of truth, peace, love, tolerance and charity?
Priests of OTHER cultures lie and deceive and make up imaginative scenarios concerning supernatural beings and places...but I don't believe ANY of that stuff...no sir. It is obviously imaginative fiction, or illusion or delusion on the part of the OTHER people, but MY priests tell me they are absolutely right and that they only tell the absolute truth. And then they thump their 'sacred' book, written directly by a god, and thunder threats down on me if I don't believe that....so I believe. I believe ALL that stuff. You bet!
We can examine claims of OTHER societies and find that all the claims concerning supernatural intervention (miracles) are false....but we must not examine OUR claims....it would be wrong....it would be 'sinful', and besides belief doesn't have to be based on evidence...in fact the lesser the probability of evidence the greater grows the strength of belief. OUR religion will not let us waste our time in investigating any claims of OUR religion. It's not necessary. Truth is truth ...right?
Although many nations have 'sacred' texts, written by or by the 'inspiration' of some god or goddess or a follower, such as the Rig Veda, the Koran, the Popol Vuh, etc....I don't believe ANY of that nonsense...no sir. It is too full of fanciful statements...too full of unbelievable events and statements...only a stupid jerk, priest-educated from childhood to believe those texts, would believe those texts.
But, it is different with OUR sacred texts. They were written by OUR god, or by HIS inspiration to OUR priests, and whatever is written by OUR god or OUR priests must be absolutely legitimate all-time truth, so we must believe those writings. Besides, that is customary, and it keeps people out of trouble.
It is better to be conformist...to believe anything the official line believes, anything the majority believes, especially if they have blasphemy laws, social boycotts, property confiscation, torture, burning at the stake, drowning, strangulation and other niceties to protect us from straying away from OUR truths.
So therefore, although I disbelieve in any one of the 100,000 gods and goddesses of the past, and although I disbelieve in the 'sacredness' of any text of some OTHER society of the past....yet, I am absolutely positively convinced beyond all shadow of a doubt, that OUR gods and OUR eternally renewed virgins, angels, cherubims, devils, demons, tooth fairies, Santa Clauses, and Easter Bunnies actually exist....that's what I am daily told is the absolute positive truth, so I believe it all. Yes, sir! For, if I say I do believe all that I can run for and hold any public office, almost any job, and be honored and respected. But if I say I don't believe all that--- then I will be shunned, ostracized, thrown out of positions, not be allowed to hold public office, and suffer enormous discrimination and very possibly any of various physical injuries.
All politicians uphold belief without evidence (or even contrary to evidence) as a pre-eminent virtue: all of the 1,000 born-again judges appointed by Ronald Reagan and George Bush affirm it fervently, and even the President of the Supreme Court says that state-church separation is a bad metaphor. He probably believes that a state-church would be better, that conformity is better than investigation, that truth is whatever church dogma is. The only trouble is that HE believes that only HIS church should be connected to the state.....much as Islamic Fundamentalists firmly believe in a church state, or Hindus, or Irish Catholics.
Now if only everyone in the world could agree on which specific dogma, doctrine and belief is absolutely true, (which of the thousands of these)...then we could all conform and there would be world peace, and we could all kiss someone's hands or feet, (or some other designated part of anatomy) of some self-designated intermediary to some deity! Wouldn't that be dandy?
Perhaps if everyone in the world chanted HARE KRISHNA 50 times a day, the millennium will come. Perhaps if we all spun prayer-wheels 1000 times a day, we could all be 'saved'. Perhaps if we got Jews to accept Christianity, and then start a war, then the Apocalypse will come, and 99% of the world's people will be consigned to hell and the remaining 1% will go straight to heaven. Perhaps if we get Saddam Hussein to convert to Judaism, and all Irish Protestants to kiss some part of Papal anatomy, the millennium will come. Or, if everybody would embrace Buddhism we could all enter Nirvana. Wouldn't that be nice?
I firmly believe all this....really, truly. Honest to Betsy!
IS GOD'S SPIRIT ON THEM?
When I look at television evangelists squinching their beady eyes deep into their sockets, and strain all the muscles of their face as through they were constipated and were trying to defecate a watermelon, I know that the Spirit of some Lord is upon them. I know that because they tell me that's what is happening. Would they lie to me? When they tell me that they can cure people by having some sick person put a hand on the television set while the evangelist squints and strains again...I KNOW that they are effecting a cure....through some Lord of course. And when they collect a million dollars by doing this nothingness, I KNOW that God's Grace is really beyond all understanding.