“Believing in God is a form of mild mental illness!”

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Unless as George Michael said, ‘you’ve gotta have faith.’ (Well I guess it would be nice.) Believing in anything that has no logical foundation and no empirical evidence to back it up apart from books that were written millennia ago is a long fanciful shot in a dark expanding universe. The only books of antiquity that really hold sway in a modern world revolve around mathematics, and possibly philosophy.

Do I sound like Mr Dawkins or Hitchens (not the hideous one that writes horrendous right wing rhetoric and books about drug addiction, having allegedly never taken any, one to be avoided for so many reasons.)

I have nothing against the tenants of religion, they’re highly commendable; altruism, love, co-operation, etcetera. You would have to be offering up apples in verdant botanical gardens to be against that. What saddens me, rather than makes me angry is, believing in something that does not exist. Surely that is a mild form of mental illness–surely?–I know it is easy to religion bash, but the reason we don’t is it is part of the cultural and social fabric, but that still does not make it acceptable to believe in a non-existent super being, just because it gives us solace.

It is lack of logic, as well as the mild mental illness aspect that saddens so. Just because some men, always men, have written it down does not make, or prove it right. If Mohammed was the Prophet of Allah, surely the all omnipotent/omnipresent one could have made him literate so he could write his conduited teachings down? If All thirteen disciples (let’s not leave Mary Magdalene out) wrote their own gospels, how come only Matthew, Mark, Luke and John got a say, and even then when they were not alive to maybe clarify a few things. “You know that mad wedding you all went to when JC started showing off and breakdancing and turning the water into wine, the raising of dead dude and the mass fish and bread buffet on the mount, is that exactly as it happened? Oh, and what condiments did you have?”

Let me give you 2 examples;

  1. Ask anyone that strongly believes in a specific religion if they would consider changing to another one? Go through lots before you get to theirs’ and then ask them to turn their own logic on their own religion! Then suggest it might not be a religion they are actually following, but more a cultural meme identity.
  2. Ask them when they die, where do you think they are going? Then ask them where this heaven is?

I’m having a tree planted on me; carbon negative in death! I’ve had a word with the (Olive) tree and it’s promised not to respire very much. Oh, you think I’m a bit mad, trees exist–well at least I think they do.

When I was young I went to Sunday school and enjoyed collecting the multi-coloured stickers, then when I was in the Cubs (later the Scouts–all to collect points for our patrol), I also had to go to church. This was the same church my atheist parents (and grandparents) were married in, and my brother and I were Christened in. I was at school listening to bible stories from Mr Ireland, the ex-coalminer that had a vision down the pit and The Lord came to him in a vision of black blackness then, and on many occasions to follow in our lessons. I put my nine year hand up and asked with all naive innocence, not yet fully realising you’re not supposed to rock the boat. “Mr Ireland, Sir, are these stories true?” A flash of horror materialised on his face, and he debated whether ‘Pindar, the cheeky scamp’ was taking the proverbial (I wasn’t). Hesitation, then certainty, “Of course they are Pindar, these are from the Bible, these are the scriptures.” Then hesitation hovered over my face and I enquired further, “Even the one about Noah’s Ark?”

This incident may have been instrumental in the later occasion when called to the front for talking, possibly implied heresy?, I was told to hold my hand out to receive the warming stroke of a bamboo cane (Cain?), and the resonating words of the Man-of-God, “This will hurt me more than it will hurt you Pindar.” “I don’t think it will, Sir!” The other hand was warmed in the name of religion in the guise of ‘respect’. We got off lightly; we weren’t a Roman Catholic School. This incident wasn’t my reverse epiphany–I never ever believed. I did believe in Father Christmas though, and until I was 10! So I was ripe for the picking, but some things never add up. I believed in a benevolent Father C because I wanted to believe, and the rewards of ‘belief’ far outweighed the ‘unbelief.’ Maybe it’s the same for religion. You can even subscribe to the ridiculous premise, ‘If you believe it’s true, it is!’  Well you can also argue like Russell, that there is a pink teapot orbiting the earth, but no one’s buying that (Are they?). Forget Schrodinger’s cat–it’s dead. If a religious tries to argue that an event that cannot be proved or disproved because it happened so long ago and therefore has an equal chance of probability of truth/untruth. Ask them if they truly believe that–truly? Then when they start to counter argue against common logical sense, play your trump card: ‘Scientific evidence!’ You’ve been hiding it up your sleeve, not to be devious, just because it seems too cruel to play your trump card too early on in the game.

I now it is easy to religion bash, the main reason we don’t is not just because it is slightly impolite, but ingrained social norms state otherwise, and to be honest most believers are pretty likeable individuals aren’t they? They tend to be quite bright lucid people; then they let themselves down by mentioning God! But don’t be misled, these people would still be pretty affable and caring even without religion, there would be no hole left by the disappearance in the deluded belief of a super creator, and anyway, it is a ridiculous theory because religion will never disappear over-night, it will simply fade away gradually. To stop believing is to negate part of your life (and those before), to admit you were wrong and that is never going to sit well is it?

Here’s where the believers get their own back, they’re happier than the heathens, prayer and belief has been shown to make people happier and more content. Quite how this works has no scientific validity. But I put this down to ‘prayer’ ‘meditation’ and ‘revert to source’ comfort, in the same way we love our parents’ cooking, the same sports’ teams, the contentment of youth when we had no commitments, etc. We all revert to the comfort of source at some juncture, which is why as Dawkins states: Religions get us when we are young, some might call that indoctrination: believing in something nebulous and unprovable.

I have worked with a few people were religion has actually saved them. They have been heading for mental breakdowns from relationship breakdowns, alcohol abuse and another case of let’s call it, ‘mixed sexual messages’. All these people saw the light and it got them through dark times. The comfort of religion was there to fall back on, this was not the only common denominator for them, the other was they had no or little family/friends’ support network. Religion I believe plugged the gap of ‘love/belonging’ in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I will not argue against religion here, it may well have saved them from the unthinkable. Why our support networks are degrading is another topic open for further debate. Without apportioning blame, it started in the UK under Thatcher!

Religion contains a vast amount of moral, social knowledge and development that cannot be denigrated. Japan is about to introduce such and examined course into their schools. Something other countries should look at closely, especially the ISIS state! We have a laughable situation in the UK where Ofsted puts teaching first, and ‘social, spiritual and moral development’ second, but what should we be imparting to our children? Can I suggest we start with ‘greed is bad!’ I digress.

If you believe in some all-powerful ruling entity, like Voltaire said, ‘If God did not exist, man would have to make him up!’ …I’m not angry, really I’m not, I’m just disappointed, any condescension you can read into my tone is of your own belief, but you’ll forgive me–surely? Turn the other cheek and all that?

What we need is a new religion based on no God, but all the other great tenants of love, respect, cooperation, etc. We look back at the sun-worshipers and druids and all the rest with academic interest–time and a place, making sense of their worlds’. In a few millennia we will look back on religious worshipers in the same light, with bemused interest and bafflement. We have been though the enlightenment, there’s no excuse now–surely?

Older friends that appear to have had more recent lucid thoughts about the ‘God Delusion’ now seem to have a more modern mantra, ‘I don’t believe in God as such, but a spirituality, that there is something.’ Yep, there is, that something is called a shared humanity, a belief in your fellow human and an evolutionary bond connecting us all together, when one human suffers, we all suffer (at least we should), if we are not mad or extreme, or a member of UKIP, that is.

They say never mention religion or politics, but we all know right from wrong, fact from fiction, logic from the illogical… don’t we? I felt I owed it to Iain M Banks to bring it up.

Death threats can be sent to @thewritingIMP  But why not take few moments out from the clatter of your busy life and think–don’t give up all the positive aspects of religion that we nearly all hold true and just, just the ‘mild mental illness’ bit.

Ian M Pindar will be hiding under police protection in an abandoned cold war nuclear bunker somewhere in Britain for the next few weeks. Remember, I’m always four minutes ahead of you.

It was one summer morning at early o’clock and I was waiting at Liverpool Airport to fly on holiday with the family. I texted a message to Richard Dawkins to the effect that he was up very early and he replied he was making an early start. I follow Dawkins not because he is an evangelical atheist, but because his was the first ever Scientific book I ever read of my own volition (The Selfish Gene), I was scrapping through an A level at the time, and it led me down a road to ‘animal studies.’ He did not lead me to a logical disbelief in a ‘God’, like Alfred Wallace, I came up with that independently. As I received the rejoinder the group of young men on the next table were all drinking pints of lager in one gulp and placing the inverted empty receptacles on their heads, it was 6am, one was about to get married… and the day was truly starting.