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Modern Man, Primitive Beliefs


Guest Escaped From Catholicism
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Guest Escaped From Catholicism

The following essay is based upon, and extensively quotes, "The God Delusion." Credit for the inspiration goes to Dr. Dawkins....

 

 

If there is one thing of which I am certain, it is this: When one leaves the “Western world” and ventures abroad, one enters a completely new world. Primitive cultures and civilizations abound, many of which cling to incredibly strange beliefs. One wonders, how could these people actually believe in that? Surely, we should expect more from the fellow representatives of our species, even if they are behind the scientific curve when compared to the United States. The Fang people of Cameroon are as good an example as any is. The following passage comes from “Religion Explained,” by Pascal Boyer.

 

The Fang people believe “… that witches have an extra internal animal-like organ that flies away at night and ruins other people’s crops or poisons their blood. It is also said that these witches sometimes assemble for huge banquets, where they devour their victims and plan future attacks. Many will tell you that a friend of a friend actually saw witches flying over the village at night, sitting on a banana leaf and throwing magical darts at various unsuspecting victims.”

 

Yes, apparently they really believe such crazy fairy tales, which rightfully are laughed off by we in the sophisticated West. In fact, Boyer makes a point of noting that, “… a prominent Cambridge theologian, turned to me and said: ‘That is what makes anthropology so fascinating and so difficult too. You have to explain how people can believe such nonsense’.”

 

Well, with that, I probably have given away my thesis. As I am sure almost all of you immediately discerned, all of the preceding self-aggrandizing “Western world” ethnocentrism was a thinly disguised ruse meant to illustrate our breathtaking hypocrisy with respect to the esteem in which we hold our fanciful delusions in contrast to the ridicule we express toward the silly superstitions of other peoples. In his wonderful book “The God Delusion,” Richard Dawkins accurately articulates some fundamental beliefs associated with contemporary Christianity.

 

Dawkins writes:

 

 

* In the time of the ancestors, a man was born to a virgin mother with no biological father being involved.

 

* The same fatherless man called out to a friend called Lazarus, who had been dead long enough to stink, and Lazarus promptly came back to life.

 

* The fatherless man himself came alive after being dead and buried three days.

 

* Forty days later, the fatherless man went up to the top of a hill and then disappeared bodily into the sky.

 

* If you murmur thoughts privately in your head, the fatherless man, and his “father” (who is also himself) will hear your thoughts and may act upon them. He is simultaneously able to hear the thoughts of everybody else in the world.

 

* If you do something bad, or something good, the same fatherless man sees all, even if nobody else does. You may be rewarded or punished accordingly, including after your death.

 

* The fatherless man’s virgin mother never died but “ascended” bodily into heaven.

 

* Bread and wine, if blessed by a priest (who must have testicles), “become” the body and blood of the fatherless man.

 

 

After laying out this patently irrational belief set, Dawkins asks, “What would an objective anthropologist, coming fresh to this set of beliefs while on fieldwork in Cambridge, make of them?” Suddenly, it is we who look positively tribal.

 

For those raised in the Christian faith, remember this: You have been conditioned to believe that the Christian belief set is not silly. You have been conditioned to believe that the Christian belief set is not weird. You have been conditioned to believe that the Christian belief set is less far-fetched than the beliefs of the Raelians, Scientologists or Fang people. But, alas, that childhood conditioning has made you blind—blind to the fact that the claims of Christianity are deeply, profoundly and shockingly inane. The Christian belief platter, as a matter of fact, is just as fantastically crazy as the Fang people’s collection of lunatic delusions.

 

Ever eloquent, Dawkins economically summarizes: “The findings of anthropologists seem weird to us only because they are unfamiliar. All religious beliefs seem weird to those not brought up in them.” Liberate yourself from your deep-seated childhood indoctrination and examine the claims of Christianity as though they are completely new to you. Look at them from the perspective of a sophisticated, well-educated adult, as opposed to a credulous child.

 

Is there room in your consciousness for such utter silliness—for such contempt of scientific knowledge and natural principles?

 

What is the quickest, most efficient way of abandoning your religious mythology? Overcome your deep-seated childhood indoctrination and think of those myths as if you are hearing them, just now, for the first time. You soon will realize that such lunacy ought to be confined to the lands of the primitives.

 

 

Criticism/comments/feedback welcome!

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I think that was well done EFC. I have few criticisms of it.

 

The only thing that I might add is that some have begun to detect some potentially unsuitable beliefs in much of science. Namely, some have said that reductionism is an untenable modeling paradigm. Reductionism is the belief that all phenomena can understood in terms of, say, physics or chemistry. So I think that many scientists might be wise to refrain from thier own self aggrandizement.

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Guest Escaped From Catholicism
I think that was well done EFC. I have few criticisms of it.

 

The only thing that I might add is that some have begun to detect some potentially unsuitable beliefs in much of science. Namely, some have said that reductionism is an untenable modeling paradigm. Reductionism is the belief that all phenomena can understood in terms of, say, physics or chemistry. So I think that many scientists might be wise to refrain from thier own self aggrandizement.

 

I argue only this:

 

All explicable phenomena can be understood in terms of the natural (as opposed to the supernatural). Some questions may be beyond the realm of understanding, but there is no understanding in the supernatural. Indeed, the supernatural does not exist.

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I argue only this:

 

All explicable phenomena can be understood in terms of the natural (as opposed to the supernatural). Some questions may be beyond the realm of understanding, but there is no understanding in the supernatural. Indeed, the supernatural does not exist.

For the most part I am inclined to agree with this assertion.

 

Again, I enjoyed your essay. And by the way, welcome to the forums EFC.

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Christianity is a first century religion. In the same way I wouldn't go to a doctor who practiced first century medicine, niether would I subscribe to a first century spirituality.

 

I think that Christianity and it's beliefs are so embedded in our Western culture that people believe it, even those who weren't raised in it or consider themselves Christian.

 

Christianity's converts are not the people who reject the belliefs because they are informed. They are the ones who believe, at least to some degree, yet for various reasons either don't practice or adhere to it.

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Guest Escaped From Catholicism
I argue only this:

 

All explicable phenomena can be understood in terms of the natural (as opposed to the supernatural). Some questions may be beyond the realm of understanding, but there is no understanding in the supernatural. Indeed, the supernatural does not exist.

For the most part I am inclined to agree with this assertion.

 

Again, I enjoyed your essay. And by the way, welcome to the forums EFC.

 

Thanks for both the compliment and the welcome!

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