PZ Myers nails the problem with religion.

Couldn’t have said this better myself:

The problem is faith.

Faith is a hole in your brain. Faith stops critical thinking. Faith is a failure point inculcated into people’s minds, an unguarded weak point that allows all kinds of nasty, maggoty, wretched ideas to crawl into their heads and take up occupancy. Supporting faith is like supporting people who refuse to be vaccinated: they’re harmless in and of themselves, they may be perfectly healthy right now, but they represent fertile ground for disease, and they represent potential severe damage to the social compact. When you’re in a culture that worships Abraham’s insanity, you’re fostering the nonsense that enables the Son of Sam.

O’Brien misses the big flaw. She says, “somehow, we’ve allowed religion to be defined by the stupid and the warped,” but there’s no “somehow” about it. It’s intrinsic to the nature of the beast. When the core of the institution is an acceptance of irrational, the ones who will climb to the top are those most able to exploit the delusions of the masses, or who are most earnest and unhesitating in their endorsement of foolishness. This is what religion does best: build a hierarchy of clowns and tyrants on the wishful thinking of the innocent. Why should we want that to be a model for a democratic political system?

It’s part of a larger post on the comments of Barbara O’Brien, who’s been busy defending believers from those of us lefties who are atheists. The whole thing is a good read, but the section above was particularly spot on.

12 thoughts on “PZ Myers nails the problem with religion.

  1. Faith is a failure point inculcated into people’s minds, an unguarded weak point that allows all kinds of nasty, maggoty, wretched ideas to crawl into their heads and take up occupancy.

    Faith is… Internet Explorer for your brain!!!  LOL

    (Sorry, my apologies.  Happened to be doing a Windows XP install on another machine as I read this)

  2. It’s so obvious when viewing religious belief as a meme. Once infected, you leak memory and waste brain cycles to the perpetuation of the meme. Worse yet, the meme will crowd out other memes that might challenge its reproductive success.

  3. I’m enjoying reading the flame war going on on that site, between commentor Scott Hatfield and everyone else.  In his first comment on this article, he says :

    I might add that all of us hold certain beliefs on faith. Does Professor Myers accept that his so-called “loved ones” really love him because he has attempted to falsify said claims, and failed? I doubt it.

    Seems he took the standard route for a Christian, just like in the movie ‘Contact’, basically ‘try to prove love’ argument.  Any one of us logical thinkers here can cite numerous aricles of proof concerning loved ones.  Which is exactly what is happening to Scott there.  Much fun.

  4. I would take exception with the claim that ‘faith is a cancer of the brain’.

    One of the simple steps in any 12-step program is to give up control to one’s higher power. This is not religion, but rather spirituality.

    The bottom line is that it works, unequivocally. By turning over control of his life to his higher power, the addict can then regain control over his addiction. ONLY by surrendering control can he gain control. This is where the faith of the program comes in—it takes a leap of faith by the addict to make it happen.

    I might add that many people in programs across the world are not religious and do not believe in any organized religion’s god or myths.

  5. The success of various 12 step programs has little to do with giving up control to “one’s higher power” and more to do with the buddy-system of reinforcing the desired behavior avoidance among members of the group.

    In other words, it’s not God on the other end of the phone line when you ring up your assigned buddy because you’re thinking of falling off the wagon.

  6. One of the simple steps in any 12-step program is to give up control to one’s higher power. This is not religion, but rather spirituality.

    The bottom line is that it works, unequivocally.

    And the success rate of these programs is? It’s the same as that of simple one-step programs like “fucking quit boozing” or “stop eating so fucking much”, isn’t it?

  7. In my experience, most of those for whom 12-step programs “work unequivocally,” are the ones who take the higher power thing to the extreme.  All they do is transfer their addiction from a substance that spares them the pain of the real world, to an a insubstantial fantasy and delusion that claims to do the same.  “I used to be high on drugs, now I’m high on the Lord!”

    “Surrendering to a higher power,” to me, means “Admitting I’m a piece of shit with no control over my own life,” which is also the message of Christianity that I consider most damaging to the human psyche.

  8. OB-i agree, i had to go to aa, court order, and it never helped me. they told me to let go of my addiction to god, and if you don’t believe in god, to believe in your own concept of god. so make up your very own fantasy! sorry, that does not work on me. they want you to admit you are helpless to your addiction, basically, your a peice of shit that can’t control yourself. i never did quit drinking until after i quit going to those meetings. listening to a bunch of alcoholics talk about alcohol just made me want to drink more.

  9. Hi Jory,

    basically, your a peice of shit that can’t control yourself.

    Exactly… and to me, that’s a clear indication of the 12-step programs’ reliance on the way of Christianity. Whether you’re trying to stop using or in search of salvation, the standard operating procedure is to tear you down to absolutely nothing (and what better support is there than Scripture to point out how unworthy of life/love/whatever a person is?), and when you’re at the lowest possible point, they start to “re-form” you by cultivating the proper humility and a belief that without Jesus/AA you’ll never be a good, whole person again. I disagree with the belief and with the methods.

    For me, it would have been a complete lie to “admit” I was “powerless” in the first place, never mind having to give the power to some invisible being I didn’t believe in. What I had to do was admit that I, myself, had ceased to exercise power over my own life and emotions, and that I had to step up and take control again on my own. Once I came to that realization, everything changed, and I was well on my way to recovery. No gods necessary.

  10. Whether you’re trying to stop using or in search of salvation, the standard operating procedure is to tear you down to absolutely nothing

    Reparative therapy also works that way. 

    I have been told that military basic training works that way, I didn’t see it that way in Air Force basic training.

  11. i find being an atheist to be very liberating, i feel so much more in control of my life and my actions. i could sit and pray, that would get me nowhere, but to say that i have the power within myself to do something, this helps me a lot more. if i sit here and say i am helpless, then i am, and things only get worse from there. i hate the way religion teaches people they are born into sin, so you are a worthless scum that needs to beg for forgiveness, im sorry god, for being born. fuck that. i am not a worthless peice of shit, and the concept of the sins of your father, and ancestors resting on your head is just stupid. so if my father is a serial killer, then i am doomed to, wacky concepts that don’t help me at all. and jesus died for our sins, what a guilt trip to dump on someone. you don’t need some god to give you strength or purpose, or show you how to be kind. it is all within you.

  12. I’m surprised I didn’t see this when it was posted.

    Les: The success of various 12 step programs has little to do with giving up control to “one’s higher power” and more to do with the buddy-system of reinforcing the desired behavior avoidance among members of the group.

    I stopped drinking August 83 and started again Aug 92.
    Going to AA for 3 years worked for me … for a while.
    In the beginning I’d walk into a meeting in a bad mood and walk out in a good mood – I stopped going cos I’d walk in, in a good mood and out in a bad mood.
    For me it wasn’t the buddy system that worked because my sanity (or insanity) seemed to be on a totally different level to theirs.
    I didn’t believe in a higher power but I believed in some sort of universal energy and still do.
    The god concept wasn’t pushed as much as it woulda been in the US and JC was never mentioned at all, thankfully, or I woulda disappeared earlier.
    I was told that if I resented the god concept, which I did, to add another ‘o’ and call it ‘Good’. I didn’t think that would work either but something did.
    Now, if I try to put it into words, I think I submitted to my John the Good/Wise/Nice aspect as opposed to my habitual John the Arsehole/Prick/Cunt/Bastard.
    My life changed because I wanted to change my attitudes.
    Of course, being sober automatically reduced the chances of sowing seeds of larger fuckups and my mind cleared substantially but in retrospect I never tackled my Vietnam issues.
    One of the many placards they had littered round the room was ‘fake it till you make it’ – that’s the one that worked best for me – I’d been faking it for years.  wink

    Feghoot: ONLY by surrendering control can he gain control.

    I’ve tried this ‘surrender’ caper a handful of times in my life and it always worked.
    This is where I’ve found myself in a predicament from which I couldn’t extract myself through any ‘normal’ actions of my own.
    To stop fighting, giving up and surrendering to the situation was the only choice left.
    Every time circumstances ‘miraculously’ occurred to save me. Of course I don’t believe in divine intervention but in surrendering I seemed to open myself to different thought patterns or … fucked if I know …
    In 85, just north of Nyngan on the Bourke road, I was doing 160 kmh and 5 horses decided to cross the road as I came round a gentle corner – the last horse decided to stop in the middle. I didn’t pray, my life didn’t flash before my eyes … I wasn’t even frightened – I just did all I could. I couldn’t go off the road cos it was red dirt and I knew I’d roll and die. I hit the anchors, kept it straight, aimed for his gut and … I damaged the car a bit – I got a tiny scratch from a piece of glass as I got outa the car – divine intervention? Nah. Just lucky … again.  wink

    IDM: basic training works that way

    Yeah – the idea is to break you and re-construct you in their image. It’s when John the Cunt emerged and fought for control for a bit over 10 years though I was never fitter – I still remember coming well within the 6 minutes for running the mile in boots with a pack carrying a rifle.

    As for drinking? I have control to a great degree now-a-days and can say: I’ve had enough.
    I used to drink for oblivion now I don’t.  smile

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