Saturday, June 9, 2007

Modern Man, Primitive Beliefs

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 Dr. 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, Dr. 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," Dr. Richard Dawkins accurately articulates some fundamental beliefs associated with contemporary Christianity.

Dr. 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, Dr. 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, Dr. 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.

18 Comments:

Blogger Reg Golb said...

I find it sad that you have made such an ethnocentric generalization. Your self-agrandizement is not only humerous, it is so obviously a cry for attention. Unfortunately, so few people have the time to listen to your incessant driveling.

10:19 AM EDT  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

Well, Reg, you obviously did not read my essay all the way through because, had you done so, you never would have characterized the piece as "ethnocentric." The whole thesis of the essay is that Christian mythology (Western) is equally as inane as the mythology of the Fang people. I suspect you read the first few paragraphs and then formed your misguided opinion. Furthermore, if you truly consider my work "drivel," then please stop patronizing my website. Nobody ever forced you to come here, and I do not wish to have visitors who do not enjoy my compositions.

Thank you.

7:16 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why did you change the title?

1:44 AM EDT  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

The piece has been edited substantially. I felt that a re-title was in order, to better capture the spirit of the piece.

11:48 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evolutionally speaking, you must then be

Primative Man, Modern BELIEFS

9:22 PM EDT  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

ROTFLMAO.

9:27 PM EDT  
Blogger sardonic said...

nicely put together, but nothing essentially new - we're dealing with varying degrees of superstition in the end. But would it be far more rewarding to start analyzing the (imo not always bad) role religion played and plays for mankind. How come that we, as a "modern" civilization still hold thjat strong irrational beliefs? Externd that to slam and you really end up with the wish to just go insane. Or stay in the west and find explanations, why after having stopped to be Christians most do not believe in nothing but in everything (to bluntly sortcut this - not becoming atheists but rather kabbalists of sorts)? Only stating that religion is superstition is as true as it is boring. Intersting thing is why do so much people still beieve that crap and what, short of simply shooting them, can be done to cure them

6:41 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ROTFLMAO ???

is that blogger lingo, or some heathen word.

8:58 AM EDT  
Blogger angelsdepart said...

Intelligent post, idiotic commentators! Keep up the good work!

1:05 PM EDT  
Blogger Lui said...

The question of why people continue to believe in nonsense - religious or otherwise - is indeed one that deserves the utmost attention, and not only because the level of ignorance is annoying, it's also downright dangerous. I am currently reading Carl Sagan's "The Demon Haunted World - Science as a Candle in the Dark" (a rip-snorting cracker of a book) and I suspect that at least a good part of the reason is that science is poorly marketed. People want wonder and inspiration, but they get it from all the wrong sources. Scientists (most of them) are people of integrity with a healthy degree of scepticism. They understand better than most the need for careful investigation, which can often yield results contrary to prior expectations. Most non-scientists have a poor grasp of this feature of science; they want the wow-factor with the effort and disappointment often associated with hard work. And there are plenty of charlatans only too eager to oblige, offering everything from horoscopes to nonsense about the power of crystals. The problem isn't that people are stupid or that they're smug about their ignorance, it's because they have not been well-versed in the value of scepticism and the process of scientific inquiry. They have not been trained to think. And as long as they are not trained to think, they will not be adept at sorting the good stuff from the crap. It will look essentially the same to them, because they won't know how to evaluate the claims of the charlatans.
Another reason is that many people, while they can see through the blatant hypocrisy of organised religion, still "feel" that there's "something" out there that is larger than them. Of course there is: wonderful, mind-boggling things like stellar nurseries in the hearts of nebulae; galaxies hundreds of thousands of light years across that are in billion year process of colliding; neutron stars so dense that the equivalent of a single table-spoon full of their matter weights hundreds of millions of tonnes; and of course the incredible truth that we are made of "star stuff", as Carl Sagan calls it. Darwinian evolution has produced astonishing feats of apparent design, including beings capable of comprehending that process. But does the average person have a good appreciation for all this? Many do, but most don't. Their hearts are in the right place, but their minds are ignorant of truths that, if they knew about them, would provide more amazement and wonder than anything pseudoscience and astrology have to offer. Perhaps we focus too much on bagging religion; religion is just one form of erroneous thinking that steals science's thunder.

5:10 AM EDT  
Blogger Lui said...

Sorry, I meant to say: "Most non-scientists have a poor grasp of this feature of science; they want the wow-factor without the effort and disappointment often associated with hard work."

5:13 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it.

5:48 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Response to :
"Well, Reg, you obviously did not read my essay all the way through because, had you done so, you never would have characterized the piece as "ethnocentric." The whole thesis of the essay is that Christian mythology (Western) is equally as inane as the mythology of the Fang people. I suspect you read the first few paragraphs and then formed your misguided opinion. Furthermore, if you truly consider my work "drivel," then please stop patronizing my website. Nobody ever forced you to come here, and I do not wish to have visitors who do not enjoy my compositions.

Thank you."


Did you not read a few paragraphs of The Holy Bible and assume that it was tribal and primitive and too simplistic for your high intellectual self?

and second of all

why write such an oppiniated essay to only those which agree with you to comment? If you wish only for those who wholly agree with your work to comment and attend this website how are we (the primitive "fang" like people) supposed to figure out we are wrong?

Are you doing anything to change the thought process of Christians?

Can you prove that these events did not occur? and even if you could, I would still trust in My Savior because that is the basis of my religion. I dont claim one set religion, all i am claiming is that i have a personal relationship with God. If you dont not have such a relationship, then i am truly sorry

I dont condone the attacking of non christians, but i do believe in fighting for what one believes in, and if someone is trash talking about your beliefs, without being provoked by you, then they are wrong.

May God Bless you now, and may you open the eyes of your hear to his grace.


Nick

Romans 1:16 Read it!

10:42 PM EDT  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

Did you not read a few paragraphs of The Holy Bible and assume that it was tribal and primitive and too simplistic for your high intellectual self?

I am substantially familiar with the Bible--not merely a few paragraphs of it. And, as it turns out, the Bible is utterly mundane when it comes to information about science, mathematics, logic and the natural order. The Bible self-evidently is the work of primitive, uneducated, unlettered Iron Age commoners.

why write such an oppiniated essay to only those which agree with you to comment? If you wish only for those who wholly agree with your work to comment and attend this website how are we (the primitive "fang" like people) supposed to figure out we are wrong?

Everybody is welcome here. However, if somebody thinks my work is "drivel" and that I am arrogant, ignorant and irrational, they should not waste their time reading my work. If you hate this website, do not visit this website. This is my slice on the internet--a place for me to articulate my views. If you find those views distasteful, point your browser elsewhere.

Are you doing anything to change the thought process of Christians?

Well, on this website, the homepage alone has 25 essays, representing nearly 28,000 words of text--or about 70 typewritten pages. I think my arguments stand on their own.

Can you prove that these events did not occur? and even if you could, I would still trust in My Savior because that is the basis of my religion. I dont claim one set religion, all i am claiming is that i have a personal relationship with God. If you dont not have such a relationship, then i am truly sorry

It is not my job to prove that Biblical events did not occur. You are the theist. You possess belief in a God. Therefore, you must justify that belief. As an atheist, I only am defined by my lack of theistic belief, and I am not logically obligated to prove my lack.

In any event, as you essentially admit, you are a Christian whether the evidence supports Christianity or not--which it does not. Our knowledge of the natural order teaches us that corpses do not rise from the dead, human parthenogenesis does not occur, a woman does not turn into a pillar of salt, serpents and donkeys do not speak human language, and Adam and Noah could not have lived to be more than 900. These are fairy stories, and ought to be recognized as such.

I also hasten to remind you that Hindus also have a personal relationship with God. Only, for them, it's Brahman or Vishnu. Your religion is merely one among 10,000 distinct others.

I dont condone the attacking of non christians, but i do believe in fighting for what one believes in, and if someone is trash talking about your beliefs, without being provoked by you, then they are wrong.

Very charitable of you--to stand against violence toward people who hold different views than yourself. I appreciate your theistic pacifism.

This is a free society. When theists make claims about nature, science and reality, I have every right to criticize and rebut those claims. And I take advantage of that right. I think Christianity is irrational and unscientific, and I use my linguistic talents to articulate why.

If you do not want to see Christianity being criticized, then I suggest you limit your browsing to Christian websites. Because--and I speak for all atheists now--we have no intention of shutting up or going away. We stand behind our beliefs, too.

May God Bless you now, and may you open the eyes of your hear to his grace.

And may Mithras forgive you for forsaking Him for other deities. Surely, when you pass away, you will have to deal with Mithras' anger and jealousy.

...Or maybe Enlil's?

7:17 PM EDT  
Anonymous trAv-is said...

Is there room in your consciousness for such utter silliness?

Yes. It does sound silly. And I love it, What's weird is this silly Jesus. This silly fatherless man, He speaks the Truth.

Is there room in your consciousness for such utter silliness?

This is a great question to ask yourself. I'm assuming, since you have a case against God that you believe all of this (everything in this world and in your brain) came from nothing which came from nowhere.

Is there room in your consciousness for such utter silliness?



and on and on the debate goes. i think it's very very interesting. Keep writing and keep thinking. And we will keep praying, that this Jesus revolution will grow.

….Wait, one more question?

You keep referring to how well educated the nonbelievers are, and how silly we believers are.

But what about alll the very intelligent people who have chosen Jesus? And then find out that he's real, and that what Jesus said works. (Testimonies in the millions.)

Do they negate any intelligence they have with that decision?

Also do atheists know everything? And are they the smartest people in the world?

I'm not asking this to be a jerk. That really is the impression I get.

I will admit that we Disciples of Christ often sound arrogant and "holier than thou-ish."

Please forgive us.

I'll check back later. God Bless.

Or spaghetti monster bless you, whatever.

trAv-is

11:44 AM EDT  
Blogger Dana said...

I am a very very very deep thinker especially on the concept of God. I have an open mind. I am a Catholic but I was an atheist. I am a college student majoring in Chemistry minoring in Mathematics and Government. I also have an associates degree in Biology. My IQ ranges between the high 140s and low 150s. I came to knowledge of the truth in Jesus Christ over the course of 2 years. My Catholic upbringing was surely not enough to convince me of the truth of Christ as a matter of fact it brought me away from Christ because my Catechism classes were not taught from the rational perspective the Catholic truth actaully teaches.I am not trying to say atheists are necessarily wrong I can respect an atheist if they fully can deny the existence of Love, in the world between humans and families and reduce it to a biological necessity. They must therefore admit that they have no real example to follow on how to become a better person or how to live a better life.
Jesus Christ teaches humans how to live and HOW TO LOVE. Through our own human reasoning we would never know how to Love fully. It is impossible to love without God's teaching of SACRAFICE. God is Love, therefore he is the source of it. We have no basis to be sexually moral, no basis to believe in right and wrong.
Take for example teh Muslim faith, in the Koran Muslims are told to force other people to believe what they believe. Christians however are forbidden to force their beliefs on non-believers. We are taught to LOVE EACH OTHER AS OURSELVES. We are taught to be patient with people who anger us, we are taught to sacrifice ourselves for others. We are called as Christians to LOVE AS CHRIST LOVED.
No human mind could come up with that kind of thought. I know when I get angry my first reaction is to want to attack the person who made me angry. I know that sexual feelings come up and theres no way without Christ I would know that by behaving a certain way is contrary to what love really is.
Do you really deny the existance of Jesus of Nazareth because actually most historians and non-christian theologians admit Christ was a man that lived not necessarily claiming his divinity as I do but they admit Christ lived. So say Christ was a liar, that would mean he could not be a good moral teacher...he would be the work of the devil or just a man claiming to be God that was not and lying is obviously an immoral behavior.
Do you want to go so far as to claim that he was a lunatic???? Well okay read the gospels fully, he would have not made any sense what so ever if he was a lunatic, his teachings are extaordinarily rational and far from the thoughts of a deluded man. If he were deluded contradictions in his teachings would have been found everywhere when it came to morality (almost like the Koran's teachings).
Did you know that it is actually said in the bible that wisdom 11:21 states that, "God has ordered all things according to measure, number, and weight." GOD ENCOURAGED THE HUMAN MIND THINKING IN TERMS OF MATH AND SCIENCE.
Also I would like to add at 16 I was skeptical of the theroy of evolution (when I was an atheist) because it definitely cannot answer all questions such as the rational human mind nor animal body plans. Have you heard of the Cambrian Explosion - the time when most forms of life were thought to have originated....
For me I personally believe that FAITH AND REASON can not contradict each other. And when there is a contradiction between faith and reason, we must go back and check our premis. All contradictions are appearant within the WORD OF THE LORD. Would you like to talk to me furthur because The Lord knows I have more to say...
Here are some questions for you... What is your basis for right and wrong? What is your basis for Love? What is your basis for science as an atheist? What makes you think order can exist if you are an atheist surely you know the third law of thermodynamics? What is your basis that SCIENCE CONTAINS TRUTH IF AS AN ATHEIST, your philosophy in its fullest extent requires you to say things such as 2+2 may not always equal 4 and that maybe one time when you jump off a building it is possible the law of gravity to change....Learn about DAVID HUME a famous moral relativist (atheist).....and take your atheistic irrationality to the fullest extent to claim that NO TRUTH EXISTS NOT EVEN IN SCIENCE.

1:37 AM EDT  
Blogger Bill Birkett said...

What is man other than a manifestation of the universe experiencing itself? A creature cloaked in frailty, sobbing at its own finite-ness...crying out for the Lord, and all the way insisting that the Lord be just because of the bitter cruelty of nature and mankind. "Lord, don't leave me here! I don't want to live on this planet anymore! Please, please, take the gay away!" Wishing I could just shut my eyes after they have been opened by that horrible, sinful compound contained within the psylocibin mushroom. The human condition is a condition of horror. Without technology for which none of us can take credit, we are ALL primitives. So with a weak voice, call upon the Lord with all your strength, and you will see that He has sent us His Holy Spirit once more through his prophet Joseph Smith, that we may know that Christ is and lives, that our Earthly lives are a probation, and that we are of unestimable worth in our Heavenly Father's eyes. The LDS church is the last dispensation, whether you like it or not!

11:09 AM EST  
Blogger Private Account said...

When someone in the uk tells me they believe in god, I always ask which one? They look at me as though I have taken leave of my senses. The one god they reply indignantly. What makes them so convinced that the fairy stories they believe have anymore value than those of the vast numbers from other religions?

Arrogance of course - we are western - we know best, ah! My point exactly but you owe your misguided view of your superiority to science. The very thing you disdain to cling to the nonsense you pedal - left to your own view - the world would be flat, the sun orbits the earth, it was made in 7 days, all the animals fit in the ark..............The last refuge of a scoundrel is to back track, excluding the more ludicrous claims... well it depends what you mean by 7 days...You either believe the nonsense or not. Those same Christian liberals are busily rewriting the guidance on homosexuality because their bible version is a bit harsh.
I find it incredible that people live in such enlightened times whilst remaining so ignorant in spite of being educated - the process of years of brain washing is hard to shift. One last thought - these people who believe and have found the truth - would that truth be different if they were born into another culture..........
or would they find the truth and renounce their primitive beliefs in favour of another set of primitive beliefs. Good job you were born in a Christian country or you might have gone off merrily believing a right load of rubbish - few!

4:48 PM EDT  

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