More from the guys at www.godisimainary.com
The one that called most my attention is #7. Mostly because there is such as smugness and self-righteousness in any dogmatic religion that it makes me puke a little in my mouth. They all think THEY are right and that everybody else is WRONG. Totally delusional. But part of the outstanding selfishness that faith demands is blindness and deafness to reason.
And to think that I'm going back to church for the first time in the last ten years. Of course, I still light incense to Shiva and buy magnets and candles with the image of Mary. Love myself some icons. Nothing like being religiously promiscuous.
Go ahead, read on. You'll enjoy it.
Proof #7 - Understanding religious delusion
Let's imagine that I tell you the following story:
* There is a man who lives at the North Pole.
* He lives there with his wife and a bunch of elves.
* During the year, he and the elves build toys.
* Then, on Christmas Eve, he loads up a sack with all the toys.
* He puts the sack in his sleigh.
* He hitches up eight (or possibly nine) flying reindeer.
* He then flies from house to house, landing on the rooftops of each one.
* He gets out with his sack and climbs down the chimney.
* He leaves toys for the children of the household.
* He climbs back up the chimney, gets back in his sleigh, and flies to the next house.
* He does this all around the world in one night.
* Then he flies back to the North Pole to repeat the cycle next year.
This, of course, is the story of Santa Claus.
But let's say that I am an adult, and I am your friend, and I reveal to you that I believe that this story is true. I believe it with all my heart. And I try to talk about it with you and convert you to believe it as I do.
What would you think of me? You would think that I am delusional, and rightly so.
Why do you think that I am delusional? It is because you know that Santa is imaginary. The story is a total fairy tale. No matter how much I talk to you about Santa, you are not going to believe that Santa is real. Flying reindeer, for example, are make-believe. The dictionary defines delusion as, "A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence." That definition fits perfectly.
Since you are my friend, you might try to help me realize that my belief in Santa is a delusion. The way that you would try to do that is by asking me some questions. For example, you might say to me:
* "But how can the sleigh carry enough toys for everyone in the world?" I say to you that the sleigh is magical. It has the ability to do this intrinsically.
* "How does Santa get into houses and apartments that don't have chimneys?" I say that Santa can make chimneys appear, as shown to all of us in the movie The Santa Clause.
* "How does Santa get down the chimney if there's a fire in the fireplace?" I say that Santa has a special flame-resistant suit, and it cleans itself too.
* "Why doesn't the security system detect Santa?" Santa is invisible to security systems.
* "How can Santa travel fast enough to visit every child in one night?" Santa is timeless.
These are all quite logical questions that you have asked. I have answered all of them for you. I am wondering why you can't see what I see, and you are wondering how I can be so insane.
Why didn't my answers satisfy you? Why do you still know that I am delusional? It is because my answers have done nothing but confirm your assessment. My answers are ridiculous. In order to answer your questions, I invented, completely out of thin air, a magical sleigh, a magical self-cleaning suit, magical chimneys, "timelessness" and magical invisibility. You don't believe my answers because you know that I am making this stuff up. The invalidating evidence is voluminous.
Try, just for a moment, to look at Christianity with the same amount of healthy skepticism that you used when approaching the story of Santa. Use your common sense to ask some very simple questions of yourself:
* Is there any physical evidence that Jesus existed? - No. He left no trace. His body "ascended into heaven." He wrote nothing down. None of his "miracles" left any permanent evidence. There is, literally, nothing.
* Is there any reason to believe that Jesus actually performed these miracles, or that he rose from the dead, or that he ascended into heaven? - There is no more of a reason to believe this than there is to believe that Joseph Smith found the golden plates hidden in New York, or that Mohammed rode on a magical winged horse to heaven. Probably less of a reason, given that the record of Jesus' life is 2,000 years old, while that of Joseph Smith is less than 200 years old.
* You mean to tell me that I am supposed to believe this story of Jesus, and there is no proof or evidence to go by beyond a few attestations in the New Testament of a Bible that is provably meaningless? - Yes, you are supposed to believe it. You are supposed to take it on "faith."
No one (besides little kids) believes in Santa Claus. No one outside the Mormon church believes Joseph Smith's story. No one outside the Muslim faith believes the story of Mohammed and Gabriel and the winged horse. No one outside the Christian faith believes in Jesus' divinity, miracles, resurrection, etc.
Therefore, the question I would ask you to consider right now is simple: Why is it that human beings can detect fairy tales with complete certainty when those fairy tales come from other faiths, but they cannot detect the fairy tales that underpin their own faith? Why do they believe their chosen fairy tale with unrelenting passion and reject the others as nonsense? For example:
* Christians know that when the Egyptians built gigantic pyramids and mummified the bodies of their pharaohs, that it was a total waste of time -- otherwise Christians would build pyramids.
* Christians know that when the Aztecs carved the heart out of a virgin and ate it, that it accomplished nothing -- otherwise Christians would kill virgins.
* Christians know that when Muslims face Mecca to pray, that it is pointless -- otherwise Christians would face Mecca when they pray.
* Christians know that when Jews keep meat and dairy products separate, that they are wasting their time -- otherwise the cheeseburger would not be an American obsession.
Yet, when Christians look at their own religion, they are for some reason blind. Why? And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that the Christian story is true. Your rational mind knows that with certainty, and so do four billion others. This book, if you will let it, can tell you why.
Proof #8 - Think about Near Death Experiences
Many Christians find the phenomenon of Near Death Experiences (NDEs) to be proof that "God" and the "afterlife" exist. As described in this article, an NDE contains these characteristics:
* The sudden awareness that one has had a 'fatal" accident and not survived.
* An out-of-body experience. A sensation of floating above one's body and seeing the surrounding area.
* Pleasant feelings, calmness.
* A sensation of moving upwards through a tunnel or narrow passageway.
* Meeting deceased relatives or spiritual figures
* Encountering a being of light, or a light (possibly a religious figure, i.e. Jesus, God, Buddha)
* Being given a life review
* A feeling of being returned to the body, often accompanied by a reluctance to return
Things like heart attacks, near-drowning and severe loss of blood can all trigger near death experiences.
NDEs have been experienced by thousands of people and have been widely cataloged in a variety of books. Many of these books are "spiritual" or "religious" in nature.
What is not mentioned is that there is a drug called Ketamine that produces all of the elements of an NDE when it is injected into normal, non-dying people. In other words, an NDE is a natural, chemically induced state that the human brain enters. The trigger for an NDE is lack of oxygen to the brain and body. If you read scientific papers like these, you find that there is a completely chemical and completely non-spiritual reason for the features of every NDE.
Is this a direct proof that God is imaginary? No. However, it is a direct proof that the NDE (which many people use as "indisputable" proof that God and eternal life exist) has no supernatural meaning. We can scientificaly prove NDEs to be chemical side-effects rather than "a gateway to the afterlife" as many religious believers claim.
Proof #9 - Understand ambiguity
Let's imagine that you have cancer and that you are a believer. You pray to God for a cure, you undergo surgery and chemotherapy, and the cancer does in fact go into remission.
What cured you? Was it the chemotherapy, or was it God?
In other words, is there any way to know whether God is playing a role or not when we pray?
The problem is that, in this imagined case, there is ambiguity. The Christian believes that God answered the prayer, but it could also be a simple coincidence.
All scientific evidence clearly indicates that it is, in fact, a coincidence. Whenever we do a scientific experiment on the efficacy of prayer, the data shows no effect from prayer (see this proof). Scientific evidence indicates that "answered prayers" really are coincidences every single time.
So how do we figure this out? Is God answering prayers as Christians believe, or is it coincidence as science indicates?
The way to answer that question is to remove the ambiguity. We make it impossible for the "answered prayer" to be a coincidence, and then we see what happens.
The way to remove the ambiguity is to say a prayer that cannot be answered by coincidence. For example, instead of praying that God cures one person's cancer, pray that God eliminates all cancer tomorrow. There is only one way for that to happen. God would have to exist, and God would have to reach down from heaven and explicitly work a miracle on earth.
What we find whenever we perform an unambiguous experiment like this is that God never answers unambiguous prayers. Jesus promises in many places in the Bible that he will answer prayers -- even impossible prayers. But what you find whenever you put Jesus to the test is that Jesus is making a false promise.
What we find is that God never answers impossible prayers - even if the prayers are incredibly worthy. For example:
* Pray to God to levitate a car and hold it floating in the air for ten minutes. It will not happen, even if you are praying to levitate the car because a drunk driver has run over a college freshman and she is currently pinned under one of the wheels.
* Pray to God to let you fly through the air like Superman. It will not happen, even if you are praying to fly like superman so that you can rise up to a tenth story window and save two children from their burning apartment.
* Pray to God to fill your basement with $100 million in small unmarked bills. It will not happen, even if you plan to donate the $100 million that God gives you to a worthy and deserving charity.
* Pray to God to restore the amputated limbs of a deserving, penitent believer. It will not happen, no matter how sincere you are in your prayer.
None of these prayers will ever be answered. We know that with certainty. If they were answered, we would see people flying thought the air like Superman on the evening news. We would see amputated limbs regenerating all the time. Every Christian charity would be fully funded and there would not be 10 million children starving to death every year. [ref]
These unambiguous prayers are how we know, for sure, that God/Jesus are not actually answering prayers. The scientific evidence is correct. "Answered prayers" are nothing more than simple coincidences every single time. The whole idea of "God answering prayers" is a complete illusion because God is imaginary.