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IF THERE IS A GOD? ~ 05.28.24

Updated: 5 days ago


IF THERE IS A GOD? A somewhat contentious question, isn't it? What follows is in response to the many positive and negative comments and in-box messages I've receive from a post I recently did on FB about NFL kicker Harrison Butker. Him, his beliefs, and my assertion that many if not most of his supporters have a clear connection to religion. This from TODAY: "In one particularly scrutinized segment, Butker addressed "the women" graduates directly in an attempt to counter the "most diabolical lies" they have been told. More than professional achievements, he said they should be excited to take on the "vocation" of homemaker, using his own wife, Isabelle Butker, as an example.

"He shared that his wife’s life “really started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother," and later said, "Isabelle’s dream of having a career might not have come true, but if you asked her today if she has any regrets on her decision, she would laugh out loud, without hesitation, and say, ‘Heck, no.’""


"He urged the men in the graduating class to be "unapologetic in your masculinity, fighting against the cultural emasculation of men.""


"The wide-ranging speech also touched on pride, birth control, COVID restrictions, "dangerous gender ideologies" and Catholic principles."


In spite of the comments I've personally received and the many other responses I've read on social media at the start of the Butker scandal, declaring that what he said in this commencement speech should not be connected to religion, Butker himself made the following statement, that "It is now, over the past few days, my beliefs or what people think I believe have been the focus of countless discussions around the globe." Butker said Friday. "At the outset, many people expressed a shocking level of hate. But as the days went on, even those who disagreed with my viewpoints shared their support for my freedom of religion."


Is the Tradwife movement, an initiative that's achieving a disturbing gain in popularity, not deeply rooted in archaic, suppressive, and patriarchal religious doctrines?

This post is an epic that includes very few photographs, which I'm pointing out now because it seems that many if not most folks coming to this blog quite naturally enjoy looking at photographs and art.


And I'm sorry, but I'm not sorry if what's written below offends anyone. I have always been and will forever be unapologetically me. First, a bit of personal background with respect to religion. I actually did have a religious upbringing. At a very young age I was given a drinking cup that was on my bed side table each night. On the side of the cup, always stragegically placed to face me, was a prayer that read "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. In Jesus' name, Amen."


Post prayer-cup, I was sent to Sunday school for many years, and was finally enrolled in confirmation classes in the Lutheran Church that I/we attended. I eventually graduated. From there I became a choir boy and alter boy, singing and collecting all that money each Sunday. I was also recruited to help out with church events, and over the course of a few years was sent on one-week adventures to a religious based summer-camp known as Camp Edgewood.


For a number of years I continued to accompany at least one of my parents to church on Sundays.


After that there was a long dry spell which lasted until my second year of a 3 year art program in college. For both the 2nd and 3rd year I enrolled in a course titled 'The History of Western Literature', which interestingly enough included, and in a large way, the texts of religions from around the world. We did however conduct studies in other areas, and I still have, somewhere, my final thesis for my 2nd year enrolled in the course. My thesis was titled 'Vice in Medieval and Elizabethan Drama', and how profound it was.


Then, 'poof'. My connection to religion all ended until I was married in a church. Twice. But in spite of being sanctioned by God himself, neither of those arrangements ended well. Back to that prayer-cup with the poem that concluded with "In Jesus' name, Amen."


Here's a refreshing take by Jim Palmer about the man known as Jesus. If Jesus actually existed, I sincerely hope it was as Jim portrayed him. Now this from Jim . . .


"That picture below of Jesus is laughable."


"Jesus was not some sweet, neatly-shaven white guy who carried a baby lamb in his arms, picking daisies, patting children on the head and spouting off sappy stories about being nice."


"That halo around his head in the picture doesn't work either. Jesus was no saint."


"Jesus raised hell against the religious establishment, and his life was a middle-finger to the ways religion oppressed, exploited, and divided people. He once drove a bunch of hypocrites out of the temple, wielding a whip. Jesus was not fond of entrenched power structures - political or religious. Whether in the name of God or Caesar, Jesus would have none of it."


"There was a Jesus before Christianity. That Jesus was fierce, courageous, and unyielding. He stood for the inherent worth of every human being. He denounced the religious lie that humankind was separated from God and told people to find heaven within themselves. Jesus proclaimed another world was possible. He chastised people for sitting around waiting for God to save the world, and challenged them to wake up and save it themselves."


"Jesus rebuked those who tried to make a religion out of him, and insisted that everyone is Jesus. He proclaimed that the hope of the world is not floating up in the sky, but present in our own hearts. The real Jesus of history was a lightning rod. The religious establishment hurriedly condemned him to death for blasphemy, while the political regime executed him for sedition."


"The church is fond of asking the WWJD question." (that means What Would Jesus Do)


"P L E A S E! Let's be honest here. Very few people truly sign up to live as Jesus did. It's much easier to make Jesus into a religion and sing about him on Sundays, and get all dressed up for Christmas and Easter."


"Jesus said you have to take up a cross in order to follow him. In other words, to join the revolution Jesus started meant you had to quit playing religion, confront your ego, give up your comforts, speak truth to power, and endure hardship and suffering. No one really wants to do that. The cheap alternative is to wear a cross and sing Jesus songs.”"

(Jim Palmer, Inner Anarchy)


And now back to Butker. The challenge with responding to the comments I've received and all those I've read on social media about Harrison Butker, is that the confines of the narratives are immediately established with the presupposition that there actually 'is' a god, presuppositions through which believers have placed abstract and restrictive limits in their own heads, thereby suffocating the potential for objective and critical thought. Consider this: "As an Atheist, it's not that I'm pretending there is no God. It's that I'm not pretending that there 'is' one." Semantics? I think not. SIDE NOTE ABOUT ATHEISM: I've read more than once about folks saying Atheists have nothing to live for, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Atheists have 'everything' to live for, and that 'everything-to-live-for' is happening in real-time, right here and right now. So in fact, it's quite the opposite that's true.


When subscribing to the idea that there is nothing beyond this life that we've been blessed with, for an Atheist what we have in the here-and-now becomes 'all' important. In fact, there is nothing more important. What I'm referring to is that living-in-the-moment thing, and we don't need an invisible deity or a relic to pray to in order to confirm our convictions about the value we put on it.


Atheists believe that what we have in the here-and-now is all we will ever get, so if there's any chance that the idea of your life flashing before your eyes when you pass on is true, you might want to make sure that what you'll see is worth watching. (that's coming from an Atheist) Expanding the value of the living-in-the-moment approach to life can be read in what Jack London wrote in his book "I'd Rather Be A Meteor'. (with meteors being one of those things that existed long before religions were invented) Here's what Jack wrote:

"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet."


"The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."


"Up to a certain point, it is necessary for a man to live his life in the world in which he finds himself, and to make the best of it. But beyond that point, he must create a world of his own. And the greatest thing about life is that it is always giving us the opportunity to create something new. "


"It is never too late to start over, to make a fresh beginning, to blaze a new trail."


"Life is short, and we have but a brief time in which to explore, to learn, to experience, and to create. Let us make the most of that time, and let us burn brightly, like meteors across the night sky, leaving behind us a trail of light and inspiration for those who come after us."


This point further back in this post (the one about presuppositions, not the one about whether or not there is or isn't a god) is best explained in what Noam Chomsky wrote, that "The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate."


Perhaps now is the perfect time to consider why 'blind faith' is called 'blind'.


But . . . debate I shall. To begin, let me share the photograph below.


This "is the skeleton of an eight to nine-year-old Homo Erectus boy who lived in East Africa . . . about 1.6 million years before modern religions and bibles were imagined into being. (housed at Smithsonian Museum of Natural History) For all religions everywhere, this boy “is a bitter birthday present from evolution." (Annie Dillard)


Back at it. Let it be known that religions, all religions, are little more than useful decryptors for invasive takeovers by the worlds despots, predators and charlatans of human emotion, employed to identify the intelligence and weakness of others.


Here on this earth, "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.” (Seneca)


Although it's become a web of fragments, I'll now head back to the original topic of NFL kicker Harrison Butker.


Next. I totally agree with one of the comments, that politics is worse when coupled with the hijacking of religion by politicians to garner votes.


But it's not just politicians who've hijacked religion. The church itself is the worst offender. A predator actually.


Consider all the abuse, rape, murder and burial in unmarked graves of thousands of children who were forcibly taken from their homes and placed in Residential Schools, and all the cover-ups the Church conducted by transferring pedophile priests to different parishes.


Not a very Christian thing to do, was it?


I sincerely hope that everyone finally accepts that these actions of the church constitute violence. At the same time, what religions 'don't' have a component of violence?


FYI, the least violent religion is Hinduism.


First, all religions are man-made, made by men, and most of them are made 'for' men. And how violent men can be is no secret.


The world's faithful account for 83% of the global population. The great majority of these fall under twelve classical religions –Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.


Adherents hold that Hinduism is one of the principal faiths in the modern world and the least violent, with about one billion followers, and that it is the world's oldest religion with complete scriptural texts dating back 3,000 years.


With that said, consider that . . .


Hindus have been waiting for Kalki for 3700 years.

Buddhists have been waiting for Maitreya for 2600 years.

Jews have been waiting for the Messiah for 2500 years.

Christians have been waiting for 2000 years for the return of Jesus.

The Sunnah has been waiting for Prophet Isa for 1400 years.

Muslims have been waiting for 1300 years for a Messiah from the Mohammed line.

Shiites have been waiting for Mahdi for 1080 years.

Druze have been waiting for Hamza ibn Ali for 1000 years.


It seems that there's a whole lot of waiting going on here. And why, when the photo of the skeleton of the eight to nine-year-old Homo Erectus boy who lived in East Africa about 1.6 million years before modern religions and bibles were imagined into being tells the whole story, at least from then until now.


Most religions embrace the idea of a "savior" and claim that the world will remain filled with wickedness until that Savior comes and fills it with goodness and righteousness. Is the underlying problem on this planet really not that people expect someone else to come and solve their problems instead of doing it themselves?


Back to Christianity, which is NFL kicker Harrison Botker’s playing field.


There is a true, accurate and very powerful film about the involvement of the church, being the storefront for religion, in a film called Spotlight. In 2003 the Boston Globe Spotlight Team won a Pulitzer Prize for "courageous, comprehensive coverage in its disclosures of sexual abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Church."


Although this film's focus is with the Catholic church, evidence abounds that proves the culprits of these crimes against humanity are by no means just Catholics.


It clearly holds true that politicians are extracting from religions and religious texts exactly what they need to suit their own perverse purposes, but also holds true that those believers who do good in this world are getting what 'they' need to support their own narratives from exactly same place.


What we have is two opposing institutions, or camps if-you-will, both providing foundational experiences that line up with their core values by extracting selective teachings from the texts of the religions they profess to represent, and with both camps using the same text books.


A double edge sword? Is what's in these texts simply open to complimentary interpretation from either perspective for them to use for their own devices?


Religious texts, of which the Christian bible is one, have been changed so many times over the years to fit the narratives of those that are using them for their own purposes, that they have more identities than Jason Bourne.


And guess who's had the power to change the word of God?


Ah yes, those words. “Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary. How potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” (Nathaniel Hawthorne)


Now to quote David Cross; After "the Bible was written, it was edited, then rewritten, then rewritten (again), then re-edited, then translated from dead languages, then re-translated, then edited, then rewritten, then given to kings for them to take their favorite parts, then rewritten, then re-rewritten, then translated again, then given to the pope for him to approve, then rewritten, then edited again, the re-re-re-re-rewritten again ..." and it was all originally "based on stories that were told orally 30 to 90 years AFTER they happened, to people who didn't know how to write . . . ”.


Are progressive Christians in denial about how these books, 'their' books are being used? By virtue of their belief in these books are they not actually endorsing that they can be employed for whatever purposes the user intends?


Consider the following:


FIRST, "The Bible is a profoundly human book” (Rob Bell), but just a book.


SECOND, "If we are fixed on the Bible as a book that has to get history ‘right,’ the Gospels become a crippling problem” (Peter Enns).


THIRD, "Anything in the Bible that looks miraculous or contrary to the normal functions of the natural world is not factual, but rather is mythological” (James Burklo).


FOURTH, as Rachel Held Evans said, "What business do I have describing as ‘inerrant’ and ‘infallible’ a text that presumes a flat and stationary earth, takes slavery for granted, and presupposes patriarchal norms like polygamy?”


But, with all that said how could anyone ever condemn the good that people do, whether they are religious or not. I certainly don't.


Beyond that, I'm not interested in engaging in a debate about the historical accuracy of religious texts. If someone wants to confirm accuracy and is willing to embark on a mission of objective and critical research on their own religions, and hopefully the religions of others, without which objectivity and critical thought is even possible, the research materials they need are not that hard to find.


Consider this: 'So many folks are believers in a god because as moldable children their parents told them it was true. At a young age, they are not being taught to engage in critical thought, but rather to accept that their parents’ beliefs must become their own beliefs. The indoctrination begins in early childhood when kids are infused with the fear of a god and what happens to those who don’t believe in that god and accept that this god is real."


"Such is the story with almost every religion. Christian’s carry that fear throughout their entire lifetimes which in turn makes them more vulnerable to right-wing lies and conspiracy theories and vulnerable to further indoctrination into cults." (George Carlin)


My issue has never been, is not and will never be with altruists and humanitarians. My issue, as indicated above, is that believers who do good things and believers who do evil things are getting what they need to support their narratives from exactly the same place. For believers, all believers, religious texts are like candy stores for good and evil, and those in both camps know it.


Do good? You can find all the of support and encouragement you want in the religious texts of pretty much any religion. Do evil? You can find that too in exactly the same place.


And if you do evil and want forgiveness, the church is the place to go. After all, they've managed to forgive their own pedophiles and consequently themselves.


In expanding beyond Christianity, many believers of the Islamic faith profess that theirs is a religion of peace, all the while maintaining, as do all other religions, that theirs is the one and only true god. But Islam takes it a step further by claiming that it's their god, and only their god that/who has the final word. Nothing comes after that.


A religion of peace?


Coercive?


Voltaire wrote that those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities, and having their unknowing flocks of sheep commit atrocities is something religions know all about, thus consequently endorse.


It seems there are a number translations of Quran 2:191, 9 of them I think, but they all say pretty much the same thing about unbelievers: "Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, as Fitnah (to create disorder) is more severe than killing. However, do not fight them near Al-Masjid-ul-Harām (the Sacred Mosque in Makkah) unless they fight you there. However, if they fight you (there) you may kill them. Such is the reward for the disbelievers."


Is this not an invitation to violence for all those noble sinners out there who would use faith for their own purposes?


And Christianity is no better. If a Christian has the courage to investigate the real true origins of their own faith, all they have to do is go to www.evilbible.com, a website that's designed to spread the vicious truth about the Bible.


There it is said that "For far too long priests and preachers have completely ignored the vicious criminal acts that the Bible promotes. The so-called God of the Bible makes Osama Bin Laden look like a Boy Scout. This God, according to the Bible, is directly responsible for many mass-murders, rapes, pillage, plunder, slavery, child abuse and killing, not to mention the killing of unborn children."


Now back to the original post which was about the suppression and control of women and its irrefutable affiliation with religion.


"Sexism in the Torah"


For those who don't know, the Torah is the compilation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, namely the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The Torah is known as the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses by Christians. It is also known as the Written Torah in Rabbinical Jewish tradition.


Read on . . .


"Sexism is quite rampant in the Torah, considering the Hebrews were once a very chauvinistic society when it was written. As a feminist, I find it my duty to site the following verses and remind fellow women of the sexist pig they are told to worship. I cannot possibly list all of the injustices that the Torah mentions. Everything from the story of Lilith (who was booted out of Eden for having dominant sex with Adam) to how women are blamed for the fall from grace. I had to settle for merely presenting a sample list as of right now and I shall add more verses as I thumb threw the Pentateuch a second time. In the meanwhile, please feel free to utilize anything you see here."


"Genesis 3:16 Says that all women must suffer great pains during child birth due to Eve eating the fruit of knowledge. (As if it is somehow just that humans should pay for their ancestor’s sins nor is a woman dying in labor somehow befitting of a crime she did not commit.) The verse finishes of by saying a husband shall “rule” over his woman, stripping us off all power in between the sexes."


"Genesis 19:8 Tells of a man named Lot who offers his daughters to a crowd of would be angel rapers. Later, Lot impregnates his own daughters after God kills his wife for simply looking back at the remains of her city."


"Genesis 38:16-24 Tells a very interesting story of a man named Judah whom lived with his widowed daughter in law. His daughter in law was grieving and wearing the veils of mourning which Judah (a rather stupid man) mistook for the clothing of a prostitute. He ended up impregnating his daughter in law and she left the city. On a later date Judah sees the young woman again and demanded she be burned for being a prostitute (I like how only the woman is punished when THEY BOTH engaged in the sexual act). It wasn’t until Judah recognized the woman as his daughter in law and she was with his child, that he decided not to kill her. Basically, Judah can commit incest, use a prostitute (in his mistaken perception), and impregnate a MUCH younger woman, yet he thinks she is the one deserving of death."


And there's more. A lot more.


If it's of any interest to the readers of this post, my own position is this.


a) As Yaacov Agam said, "There are two distinct languages. There is the verbal, which separates people . . . and there is the visual that is understood by everybody.",


And b) In line with a version of what Theodore Zeldin wrote, 'art is my religion, and the world's museums and studios are my cathedrals'.


I'll end this post here so that folks still have time to read all about NFL kicker Harrison Butker on social media, and still get to the book store before they close to grab a copy of 'The Handmaid's Tale'.

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