Making Time for Nonsense

I recently posted a sentence to my personal tumblr which said nothing more than “I do not have time for that Christian nonsense.” This post caused quite the unexpected fervor, and although I do not believe I need to explain myself, I do believe there to be value in expounding a bit, and so I have prepared some remarks.

There seems to be a general understanding among self-appointed experts in social media that the topic of religion should be off limits. That the issue is too volatile and that viewers or listeners are too easily alienated. Personally, I don’t think this does justice to the audience’s ability to appreciate an honest and frank discussion. Nonetheless, the cardinal rule for many appears to be that above all one’s job is to never offend anyone. Indeed, there is a time and place for all things, but there are some topics that I simply cannot choose to not talk about. Religions, primarily being modalities of understanding based on faulty metaphysical principles, fall within this category.

It is my work, and my goal as philosopher to seek after that which is true and eschew that which I find has no value. I see no value in the use of religious rhetoric as a tool for expanding humanities’ understanding of the world. I believe we would be much better off holding to other realms of discourse. Yes, a proper dose of epistemic humility is required, but I’ve always been more of a Philip Pullman than a CS Lewis.

Now, We have a word for things that do not make sense. That word is nonsense. I do not believe religious ideology makes any sense. It’s nonsense. And I believe it’s quite unfortunate that more of us do not find within ourselves the courage to publicly relinquish our romantic notions of faith before we have invested too much–particularly monetarily.

I recognize that many find solace, comfort, a sense of community, and a connection to history and cultural tradition through religious expression.  I wasn’t raised in a secular home myself, and I do not advocate for the public shaming or trolling of members of any religion. I acknowledge there are a multitude of reasons for individuals believing in the principles instilled in them at birth. However, there is no reason sufficient enough to justify the continued endorsement of a bankrupt ideology.

I recently viewed a YouTube clip of an interview with the late Christopher Hitchins in which he noted the inherent sado-masochism in Christianity–that one should simultaneously love and fear their God. It’s a good point, and what I think it most provides insight into is the cognitive dissonance that religious nonsense instills in its believers. That is to say, the mental mismatch between what is metaphysical reality, and what is a romantic mysticism. The fact that religion is rife with these contradictions, these incongruities, literally exposes the falsity of the principles within.

We mock belief systems such as astrology and pagan rituals which are at least pseudo-scientific in their attempts at explaining the physical world and yet find it entirely impossible to wake up, and move beyond the superstitious magical thinking that is monotheistic religion.

I oppose any ideology that would gain entrance into one’s heart with empty promises of eternal life and anecdotes of love while minimizing the requirement of unquestioning discipleship to a corrupt, patriarchal authority. This is offensive, and should not be sustained.

Some claim religion is a force for good around the world. No. It is willfully naive to believe only in the potential good a religious institution may provide while ignoring the lasting harm that is actually done to people across the world because of far-reaching and entrenched religious dogma. Even in past cases when doctrine has been modified to appear inclusive of individuals or communities previously abandoned, religionists are never held accountable for the lasting effects of the fear and the hatred they once propagated.

Modern religion has become much too concerned with which kind of person has worth. There are sects that preach acceptance of all, but in practice we see this is not the case. I invite you to emerge from your self-imposed stupor of thought and be honest with yourself. For if you are truly honest with yourself, you will see with stark clarity that when our neighbors live, look, or love differently, your religious leaders jump at the chance to deny those people not only of supernatural “blessings,” but also of the rights and protections that our secular institutions are obliged to provide them. This is dangerous, unjust, and should not be sustained. I challenge you to surprise me. Next time, when given the chance, oppose this.

There are many praiseworthy features and benefits sought after in religion, but I believe those sources of inspiration can be found in abundance elsewhere. It is my hope that by working together humanity will prevail; that we can forge a new foundation upon which to build up an empire of science, knowledge, and education and leave behind antiquated methods of attempting to explain reality.

For the sake of us all, I dare you to wake up and move beyond that nonsense. We do not have time for it.

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