Chapter 26 - What does it all mean?|
Here is the thing that I would like to help you understand. If we assume that God exists, then each of these questions presents us with its own individual mystery. Each question creates a paradox that requires excuses, rationalizations and convoluted explanations. These paradoxes and rationalizations are extremely uncomfortable because they make no sense. If we assume that God exists, then God is ridiculous.
On the other hand, if we assume that God is imaginary, then all of these questions are very easy to answer. Our world makes complete sense.
What you realize, if you take the time to probe into your religion and think about it deeply, is that all of this evidence is telling you something important. It is telling you, clearly and concisely, that God is imaginary.
If you are a Christian, I realize that your immediate reaction may be to completely ignore what you have read here and turn away from it. Rather than turning away, however, I would ask you to examine all of the evidence that you have seen in this book. Think about the questions at the top of this page. Give your mind permission to understand what the evidence actually means. Allow your brain to analyze your religion rationally. What you will find is that all of this evidence points in the same direction: God is imaginary.
Reviewing the evidence
In this book we have looked at God from many different angles. What we have found is that there is no evidence for God's existence. God does not answer prayers. God did not write the Bible. God has not incarnated himself. In other words, God is imaginary.
How do we know, for sure, that God does not answer prayers? As described in section 1, we simply pray and watch what happens. What we find is that nothing happens. No matter how many people pray, no matter how often they pray, no matter how sincerely they pray, no matter how worthy the prayer, nothing ever happens. If we pray for anything that is impossible -- for example, regenerating an amputated limb or moving Mt. Everest to Newark, NJ -- it never happens. We all know that. If we pray for anything that is possible, the results of the prayer will unfold in exact accord with the normal laws of probability. It is easy to demonstrate this fact. For example, if we ask 1,000 devout Christians to pray that a coin toss come up heads, and we then have all one thousand of the Christians flip a coin one time, about 500 of them will see their coins land tails. If we repeat the experiment, the same thing will happen. In every situation where we statistically analyze the effects of prayers, looking at both the success AND the failure of prayer, we find that prayer has zero effect. That happens, always, because God is imaginary. Every time a Christian says, "The Lord answered my prayer," what we are seeing instead is a simple coincidence. Christians never talk about failed prayers, but if we look at all the prayers that fail as well as the prayers that work, a statistical analysis proves that God does not answer prayers. See section 1 for details.
How do we know, for sure, that God did not write the Bible? As discussed in section 2, we simply read the Bible and note how uncomfortable it is in so many places. We note that God is a huge proponent of slavery in the Bible, despite our absolute certainty as normal human beings that slavery is a moral abomination. We note that God is a huge misogynist in the Bible, despite our certainty that misogyny is a moral abomination as well. We note that God kills huge numbers of babies and small children in the Bible, and we know that this is both an atrocity and horrifically disgusting. We note that God, who is supposed to be all-knowing, knows no more than the primitive men who actually wrote the Bible. And so on. Anyone who takes the time to actually read the Bible rapidly reaches the conclusion that the Bible was written by primitive men, not by an all-knowing God. See section 2 for details.
How do we know, for sure, that Jesus was a normal human being? As described in section 3, we can ask this simple question: If a man were to proclaim himself to be the son of God today, what would we do? We would want to see incontrovertible proof. Jesus does not get a pass because he lived 2,000 years ago. We note the fact that none of Jesus' miracles left any lasting evidence. For example, even though Jesus proclaimed that anyone can move a mountain, we note that no one -- not even Jesus -- has moved a mountain. All of Jesus' miracles are either faith healings or magic tricks, and we all know that faith healers and magicians are frauds. We also note that there is no evidence that Jesus is resurrected. Jesus could easily appear to each of us in the flesh to prove that he is resurrected, just as he did with Paul. Yet Jesus never does that. If he did, there would be thousands of videos floating around on the Web showing Jesus' appearances. We note that Jesus says dozens of things in the Bible that are plainly wrong. We note that even though Jesus is the all-powerful creator of the universe and promises to answer prayers, all of his churches depend on the money of mere mortals to support themselves. And so on. It is obvious that Jesus was a man like any other. See section 3 for details.
It is also interesting to note that, by proving any one of these things, we have automatically proven the other two. For example, once we know that the Bible was written by primitive men rather than God, then it is automatic that God does not answer prayers and that Jesus was a completely normal human being. The Bible is the book that tells us about prayer and Jesus, so if the Bible is meaningless then prayer and Jesus are meaningless as well. The fact is that we have proven all three things separately. Jesus is not God, the Bible is not the word of God, and God never answers prayers. These three things are true, therefore, both directly and by association.
Understanding your delusion
In this book there is a tremendous amount of evidence showing us that God is imaginary. You have just seen 25 chapters of good, solid, easily-digested evidence. It would be easy to present a hundred more chapters just like them. The evidence is all around us.
On the other hand, there is no evidence showing that God is real. A Christian can point to prayer, but it is easy to disprove the efficacy of prayer with statistical analysis (see Section 1). A Christian can point to the Bible, but it is easy to show the myriad problems with the Bible (see Section 2). There is no verifiable evidence for Christians to present.
Is God real, or is he imaginary? At this point, we have our answer. We can look at all of this evidence and we can see that God is imaginary. Christianity is a delusion. Religion in general is a delusion.
I understand that the word "delusion" is uncomfortable. However, it is the correct word in the English language to use. The dictionary defines "delusion" in the following way:
When I say that religion is a delusion, I am not intending that in an insulting way or a derogatory way. Instead, I am speaking to you as a friend would. My goal here is not to criticize you for your religious beliefs, but instead to help you to recover from your delusion.
I know what you are thinking. If you are a Christian, you are thinking, "I am not delusional. Christ is the way, the truth and the life." What if I could show you your delusion? What if I could hold up a mirror that would allow you to see your own delusion in the reflection? If you would like to clearly see how the delusion of Christianity works, please read Understanding Delusion.
All religion is delusion. With any luck you can see that now, and you can start down the road to recovery -- you can begin the process of healing that will free you from your own personal delusions.
What does it mean?
There are three reasons why it is important for us to speak honestly and openly about the delusion of religion:
Reason #1: Religion truly is delusional
Let's start by asking a question: Does it matter? In this book we have proven, conclusively, that God does not answer prayers, that God did not write the Bible and that Jesus is not God. In other words, the God of popular religion is imaginary. But does it really matter? What difference does it make if half of the people in the United States want to believe in an imaginary being? What does it hurt?
Let's ignore the danger that can be found in the ashes of 9/11/2001, and the subsequent events in Afghanistan, Iraq, Madrid and London. There are many zealous and misguided Muslims who believe that, through Jihad, they must kill non-Muslims -- Christians and Jews in particular. Let's ignore that.
Let's ignore the ill effects of religion around the world over the last several decades. We have Muslims killing Christians (and vice versa), Jews killing Muslims (and vice versa), Protestants killing Catholics (and vice versa), Shiites killing Sunnis (and vice versa), etc., etc. All of it is completely pointless, because all human gods are imaginary. But let's ignore all of that killing and destruction.
Let's also ignore all of the insanity that religion has brought us through the ages -- the crusades, the witch hunts and all the rest. Let's ignore it because it's all water under the bridge.
Even in the United States -- a modern, advanced nation -- religion creates problems. The delusion created by Christianity is so extreme and so pervasive at the moment that we have Supreme Court justices and politicians who publicly claim that God handed down the Ten Commandments to us in the Bible (see chapter 13). These justices and politicians are speaking about a book that openly advocates slavery and misogyny along with many other notions that are beyond absurd. Yet no one can question their claims in public because it is far too dangerous (see next section for details).
To have otherwise intelligent Americans babbling on about an imaginary God like this is dangerous, if for no other reason than this one: If so many people are this delusional in the area of religion, it makes you wonder where else they harbor equally significant delusions in their thinking. In addition, religion in America is now actively restraining scientific research and social progress. The problem that American scientists are having with stem cells is just one of the many manifestations of the problem today.
There is also growing evidence that the delusion of religion may cause significant social dysfunction. Statistical research is revealing the problems that go with religious delusion. For example, a recent article in the Journal of Religion and Society points out that religion is correlated to the significant social difficulties that we can see in America:
Religion is delusion. A planet full of delusional people is not healthy.
Reason #2: We must freely discuss the delusion of religion
Religion creates significant free-speech and free-thinking issues both here in the United States and around the world. Let me help you to understand what I mean when I say that, and offer a solution to the problem.
Let's imagine that any normal, intelligent American were to stand up in public today and say something like this: "I do not believe that an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God wrote the Bible or the Ten Commandments. The reason why I don't believe it is because the Bible openly advocates slavery and misogyny in both the Old and New Testaments. God could not love slavery or hate women." See section 2 for details on his statement.
In today's America, being branded as an atheist is poisonous. It is as poisonous as being branded during the McCarthy era in the 1950s. Imagine someone who has been branded as an atheist trying to run for public office in America today. Many christians are so polarized and so sensitive right now that they will crush anyone with an opinion contrary to their own. Once branded as an atheist, the candidate is attacked in the public forum.
Then look at the rest of the world. In many Islamic countries, women cannot freely choose how they dress, much less what they do, where they work or how they behave. They often cannot even drive a car. The repression of women's freedom in Islamic countries is well known, and ridiculous.
There really is only one solution. It is time for Americans, both religious and non, to openly discuss the evidence showing that God is imaginary. Let's stop hiding the discussion, or attacking it. Let's talk openly. Let us have an honest, open, rational, civil conversation about all of the evidence that we have seen in this book.
If we have that debate in an open forum, the majority of us will reach agreement that God is imaginary. The reason why we will come to that conclusion is because the evidence, as presented in this book, overwhelmingly favors it.
We must also recognize as a society that there is no such thing as an atheist. We must end the branding and the name-calling. Click here for details.
Reason #3: Understanding why people create religions
What I am proposing to you in this book is both quite profound and quite baffling. It is this: Everything that we associate with religion is imaginary. God, the Bible, Jesus, the resurrection, prayer, the Ten Commandments, the creation story, your soul, everlasting life, heaven... every bit of it is the product of human imagination. The same goes for Allah, the Koran and so on. As a species we have believed all of this religious dogma for centuries, and most of us believe it today to some degree. And yet... it is all fiction. It is just as fictional as were the gods of the Egyptians, the Romans and the Aztecs. We have seen 25 chapters of clear, unambiguous evidence and all of it supports this conclusion.
If it is so obvious that God is imaginary, then why might half of the American population profess belief in God? We have asked this question throughout the book because the whole situation is profoundly strange. Why would we, as a species, create all of this mythology and nonsense over and over again through the millennia? We must do it for a reason.
If we can understand the reasons and deal with them rationally rather than through the silliness and mythology that is religion, we actually can do ourselves a great deal of good.
There are two important reasons why humans fabricate all of our religions:
Once we understand why we create religion, we can begin creating the social structures that will replace religion. The remainder of the book discusses this process.
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