Atheism

Religion’s biggest and most fundamental problem is that it’s complete fiction.  I don’t mean that just in the sense that it’s not true.  I mean that in the sense that it’s deliberately fabricated.  Ironically, the reason why it’s a problem that religion is fiction doesn’t have to manifest itself in religious ways. To wit: the problem is religion, but the consequences of the problem can manifest themselves in any manner imaginable other than and including religion. The following anecdote will help articulate my point:

I once shared a duplex with a man who was religious.  Christian, of whatever denomination, to be specific.  He was also an early-30s full-time student earning not possibly any more than $400 (and usually some or much less) per week.  To compound this, he had debts in the tens of thousands.  And he also had serious anger management issues, which is beside the point other than that I can’t resist pointing out religious hypocrisy (despite the fact it’s EVERYWHERE).  One day, this man decided he was going to buy a house.  He did have two financially reliable housemates in me and another guy. 

Nevertheless, one day I tried to explain to him the unlikeliness bordering on impossibility of his at the time current personal circumstances gaining him a mortgage.  His response?  He had “faith”.  I like to think I did, but if I didn’t then I wish my next words had been something like: “Economics doesn’t care about faith.”  Needless to say, his application was denied.  To this day I’m still not sure whether I hope the bank laughed at him or not (like I said, he had anger management issues, and while living with him for a full eighteen months I didn’t escape entirely without incident).

Once you believe the in actual fact stark, raving lunacy of there being a “God” out there, who you can talk to and ask for things from, you can and probably will accept literally any imaginable nonsense in any part of your life.  I’ll leave the various ways that can and definitely has fucked up the world to you.

For most of my life I’ve been agnostic about most things.  I’ve always valued learning about a wide variety of topics, albeit not to enough of a degree of depth on any one of them to become an expert on it.  I’m a generalist.  And if I aspire to anything, I guess it would be to move from being a generalist to a polymath (though in my opinion, in the strict definition of the word, I don’t think anyone has lived long enough to genuinely become a polymath and it’s probably a state only truly attainable by advanced artificial intelligence).

This has taken me to interesting topics and encounters with interesting (sometimes for all the wrong reasons, such as in the anecdote above) people.  Such as religion, and the religious, respectively.  The first notable example is a concise history of religion I read probably a decade ago.  To put it simply, it outlined the various religious beliefs humans have had down the ages.  From paganism (worship of many gods, often represented by features of the landscape or small figurines) to monotheism (worship of a single deity, ie Christianity, Judaism and Islam).  This book caused me to ask myself one simple question, which may have actually put me on a path to atheism: if religion can change, how can it ever be true?

In other words, if every single ancestor of every single Christian, Jew or Muslim on this planet at one time backward through history once had absolutely no idea who Jesus, Yaweh, or Allah was, how could Jesus, Yaweh or Allah then, now or ever exist?  Again, I’ll leave that up to you.  The second example is more controversial: the Koran.  It took me a good year to read, because it’s laboriously preachy and repetitive.  Positively, it’s a staggering work of imaginative (if somewhat plagiarised from Judaism and Christianity which came before it) genius.  And proposes many ways in which people not only can but should be a good person.  Negatively, it mentions some pretty reprehensible stuff about treatment of women.  Without intending a defence of it, it was written in the 8th century.

The Koran cemented for me the question of how could religion be true if it changed (arguably the next, and second in ridiculousness only to Scientology, big one to appear was Mormonism, from the United States in the 1700s, from memory).  It also caused me to ask another, not particularly original, I must admit, question relating to terrorism and child marriage and the like: if religion proposes such good, antique attitudes toward women aside, why does it seem to cause such bad?  The answer lies in the fact that, as I said at the start, it is deliberately fabricated.  Religion is literally everything, only just to religious people and not in the way they believe.  Every time something good happens, they interpret it through their religion (God’s work).  Every time something bad happens, the same (God’s plan).  Ever heard of Christians saying a natural disaster was the fault of gays or some other scapegoat? Yep.

The difference for atheists is they see good things as a purely human construct, even and regardless of if done by a religious person or people.  And bad things as simply the weather (or climate change, but that’s another story), or again a non-spiritual human construct in the form of some nut with a gun/bomb/car, or some religious nut (terrorist) with a gun/bomb/car.  There are two things and two things only which need to be used to explain good or bad things: science, and psychology – which could also come under “science”.  Attributing anything to a fictional construct is dangerous at worst, and an unnecessary waste of time at best.

So why isn’t everyone atheist?  Again, let me refer to the beginning.  Religion is not just fabricated.  It is deliberately fabricated.  The Bible, Koran, Torah, etc. didn’t just fall from the sky.  They were written (and rewritten and translated countless times) by people, and almost certainly, in the case of every religious text ever written, exclusively by men.  But why did men write them?  To control women and other men.  That’s why religion’s fundamental problem is that it’s complete fiction.  Because, it is complete fiction written by men to control other people. And, it’s complete fiction written by men to control other people not just in regard to their religious (or absence of religious) lives, but their entire lives. Or as much of them as possible.

And they’re still using it to control people to this day. But not for the sake of control. For the sake of manipulating you into believing lies. Like my former housemate above, if you can be convinced there’s a god, you can be convinced  (or convince yourself) you can afford a house, even if a reasonable person can see you can’t. If you can be convinced of that, you can be convinced that prohibitively costly medical care for your needlessly terminal child is all part of “God’s plan”, when it’s really because of bloated pharmaceutical company profits  and shareholder dividends. Or you can be convinced that, when you die after blowing yourself up in a crowded shopping strip, you’ll awake in eternal paradise. I don’t want to be controlled, or at least I’d like to be less controlled in ways I have choices over (as opposed to ways I don’t, such as living in a capitalist system of wage slavery).  So I’m atheist.  And in the spiritual aspect of my life I am perfectly free, ironically because there is no spiritual aspect of my life.  I highly recommend it.

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That Time I Was Called Racist

Once upon a time in a former, office-working life, a colleague of mine called me racist.  I was bagging out (Australian for criticising) “Kiwis” (New Zealanders).  Can’t remember exactly what I said, but it inspired her to call me racist.  I can’t recall if she directly said: “You’re racist.”  But the word “racist” was in there somewhere.  My response that was I was not racist.  She said something to the effect that if I had to say I was not racist, there was a good chance I was, in fact, racist.  Defensiveness implying guilt.  My reply, and last word was: “Well here we are.”  In other words: “I don’t care for that reasoning.  I’m not racist.”

Her partner at the time, who just happened to be a New Zealander – and specifically Maori (native) – was visiting her later that day.  I’d asked her earlier that day or week if he might be able to set me up with hospitality work, as my office gig was only temporary.  And he worked behind bars.  Not sure if she said she would or not.  Later that day, the day I was accused of being racist, I was downstairs getting something from the nearby convenience store, when I saw her and him as I walked back to the entrance of the office.  They were both outside the entrance.  She pointed to me, looking at him, and he started walking toward me.

From memory, he was smiling, and as he came up to me he tried to give me one of those handshakes in which you come from up high with your right hand, in a more casual manner I can’t describe any better.  I prefer normal handshakes, and more recently fist-bumps.  Or no touching at all when greeting another man in a casual setting, and quick hugs either way with women.  Other than asking me how I was going, and me returning the greeting, nothing further transpired and we both went on our respective ways.  I later thought perhaps that he was going to help me with hospitality work, but decided not to.  And that his girlfriend had put him up to it.  When I got back upstairs I said nothing to her about it other than that I prefer normal handshakes.  She either said nothing or little but a murmuring sound.

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The hoop I used to shoot at during lunch breaks in this particular office job.

Much later, I realised why she had called me racist.  It’s because she thought I was talking specifically about Maoris, instead of New Zealanders in general – the latter being the actual case.  (It’s somewhat of a good-natured national pastime for Australians to give bulk shit to (criticise) New Zealanders, and vice-versa.)  And I still can’t help but suspect that what she was actually pointing him to do that day outside the office was punch me in the face, or similar.  Though that might just be paranoia.  Either way, it’s been playing on my mind for some time now, occasionally, the fact that she incorrectly labelled me racist (I actually believe and have seen evidence to the effect that there is in fact no such thing as races, or racial division within the human race.  It’s just another construct designed to divide and control us).

I’ve thought about getting in touch with her and clarifying.  But frankly I don’t wish to get in touch with her for any reason at all.  She was a regular, and often quite galling (deliberately or not) critic of mine.  So all things being equal, I felt it easier to simply use this blog post to square the ledger, so to speak.  I do agree that sometimes it’s not generally a good sign if your only defence to being accused of being a bigot is to simply say that you are in fact not.  But then, if your accuser has misinterpreted what you’ve said, and you haven’t realised they have, then what other argument could you possibly make.  Ironically, prejudice on her behalf might have kept her from hearing me correctly.  Though, she too might since have come to understand the way things actually went.  Whether you, dear reader, think me racist, is up to you.  I’m not going to repeat that I’m not.  But I will say that I find bigotry of any kind to be stupid at best, and abhorrent at worst.

*Political Correctness

The following is a series of political classifications.  I’ll explain my choice of title at the end.

Everyone is political.  And those actively politically apathetic do themselves a disservice, because politics is a little like the weather: it affects you whether you take notice of it, or not.

Politics is a deeply personal issue.  As well it should be.  The way you vote should be little to not at all influenced by anyone you know, admire, detest, or, even, vote for.  Although, there is every reason for how you vote to be affected by how you expect or wish your vote to affect others.  Democracy, ideally, should be about uniting disparate groups of people as much as possible.  And mitigating the consequences of any division between them.  Unfortunately, western democracy today seems to be doing its utmost to create, deepen and widen divisions.  Which is a shame, although it simply reflects that some people either want division, or are misled into thinking they do by people with an agenda who are more intelligent and/or powerful than them.

Ignorance or naïvete abounds in politics today, as it always has, and always will, to whatever degree.  Below and in my own words are a series of classifications and clarifications of three political positions.  Knowing where you stand is key to making your voice heard:

  1. Regressive

A regressive is someone who wants change, but change back to that of an earlier time.  Usually a time that never really existed, in which the regressive thinks their personal life would have been better.  If you are regressive, you are one or all of the following: racist, sexist, religiously zealous, capitalist (or even feudalist or tribalist), homophobic, a philistine, nationalist, and/or others along a similar vein.  You don’t like that the human race is moving forward, and you don’t just want it to stop.  You want it to go backward.  Unfortunately, this is a rather futile position to hold, but one that many do, regardless.

  1. Conservative

Conservatives basically want things to stay as they are.  This is fine in some ways.  Catastrophic, in others.  Many conservatives may have regressive tendencies.  Just as many regressives may have conservative tendencies.  Conservatism is also quite futile, as – as the old saying goes – you can’t stop progress.  Often, the harder you try to stop progress, the faster progression occurs.  Conservatism is to progress as a child throwing a tantrum in a supermarket is to their mother getting the shopping done.  It’s basically just regressivism for the lazy.

  1. Progressive

A progressive wants change for the better for everyone, or as many people as possible.  They want their society to be better.  They want their environment to be better.  They want technology to be better.  And etcetera and etcetera.  Humanity relentlessly progresses.  That’s simply what it does.  Even if you only hold a progressive outlook, and do almost literally nothing practical to actually further progress, you are still doing more to help the cause of progressivism than a regressive or conservative, and are thus more likely to reap the fruits of progress than the two latter.  This is of course the only rational political position to hold, and in fact any arguments against it (especially those that are religious, racist, sexist, and so forth) are irrational.

Philosophy

*there is no such thing as political correctness.  There is only correct, and incorrect.  If your defence when someone criticises your views is that the critic is being politically correct, then your views are probably incorrect.  And you probably know it – otherwise you’d come up with a better argument than two words which, when put together, are redundant, and sometimes even oxymoronic considering how often the truth is obscured or outright abused by politics and politicians.

The reason, as I failed to explicitly specify in previous drafts, for Political Correctness as my choice of title is twofold. 1) quite aside from whether there are objectively correct political positions to hold, or not (there is, one), it’s important that one is cognisant of the position that aligns with their needs and worldview; and 2) progressivism is the only correct political position to hold. Period. It wouldn’t be progressive of me to tell you you can’t hold other positions, but I can point it out. Although, unfortunately, many regressives and conservatives don’t know truth even when they’re slowly belted to death by it.

Being Right-Wing* for Dummies 2

Actually, you just need to read nothing but the Bible and Ayn Rand, like the two numbskulls pictured.

But not just Rand or the book that created a religion with billions of followers out of one woman claiming immaculate conception to avoid punishment for adultery, in isolation.

Like the two numbskulls pictured.

Then you just end up fighting with each other.

Over corporate greed versus prudish morality.

Like numbskulls.

Eat the rich, and let queer folk be queer.

*regressive

Hansonism Mk II

We are in danger of being swamped by Asians, is the gist of what I remember from Hansonism’s maiden voyage into the Australian consciousness.  This was the ‘90s, when my focus was more on adolescent existentialism.  But now we’re nearing the end of the first quarter of the 21st century, and history, as it does, is repeating itself.  Now it’s a Muslim swamp we need worry about, apparently, which is not the least of the, nor the sole, irony, considering Islam sprung from the desert.  What is a swamp, really?  I see it as a stagnant body of water in which exist somewhat base creatures such as bacteria and fungi and frogs and birdlife.  So was she saying Asians were bringing the swamp with them, way back when, or that our home was a swamp and they were going to en masse join us in the fetid pool?  And surely she’s not saying Muslims are bringing the swamp, unless from certain parts of Indonesia or perhaps Malaysia outside of urban centres.  So in this case ours must be the swamp?  Or our home becomes a swamp upon letting them through the door?  Or Asian and more recently Muslim culture is swamplike?  Is she even capable of effective analogies?

Let’s leave the waste of consideration right there – is something I’d not normally say about anything.  Because there is absolutely zero point in giving serious consideration to anything this crazy bitch and her political movement has to say about Australia or the outside world.  Hanson is to a true reflection on this country what shaving is to using a broken, mouldy, rusted mirror: ineffective, distorted, and bloody.  Now, forgive me for using the B word, but I’ve long been of the mind that if a man is a bastard or a woman is a bitch – especially those with baffling relevance and influence – they should be labelled as such.  I guess a unisex term for the two could be: arseholes.  But I’ll leave that up to you.  There’s a reason why Hansonism, at least and almost exclusively (Cory Bernardi aside), deserves only some attention and zero consideration.  It’s quite clear what her movement really is.  Even clearer, now, than it used to be – as her policies and their appeals have not just expanded but also strengthened.  Sometimes, this has occurred very recently, and on the run, such as in regard to vaccination.  And obviously others are longstanding, and quite crystalised policies of hers.

Hanson is exploiting bigots and dullards’ ignorance and prejudices through her own intelligence and bigotry, which are just strong and restrained, respectively, enough to at all effectively do so.  This is Hansonism II, and hopefully it goes the way of the first.  I prefer not to believe that after this pimple of hatred whiteheads, pops, and heals, this country can’t learn from its two former mistakes and keep its damn face clean.  I refuse to believe that Hansonism turns normally intelligent, tolerant people into stupid bigots, and that she simply empowers those who incurably are already.  And I am absolutely convinced that the particular brand of hatred and ignorance she represents and propagates will be increasingly, if not ever totally, rejected by Australians in the future.  It could get worse before it gets better.  But if it were ever to become so strong it were considered mainstream, the tragic irony for me would be too much to bear.  And if I at the time had children, I would fear for their future; and if I did not yet have children, I would never have children, to spare them the crushing dystopia their potential country had become.

The human race is at or approaching many of its to date most consequential crossroads – Hansonism and Trumpism and Putinism and Kimism and the like, being not the least of them.  We must reject hatred and bigotry and exploitation and oppression and inequality wherever we can.  Because if we don’t, or not enough of us do, or not enough of us do often enough, we may all be fucked.

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Pub Passout.

There were concerned, freaked out even, people gathered above me. All recollection of a vivid, pleasant dream, immediately gone. I’d felt dizzy. Stood up to try and shake it. Couldn’t. Sat back down. Gone. Bruised skull and ego, but glad I’d been sitting down. The bar staff gave me a lemonade, then I went outside to be picked up by my used to the madness but not this particular type girlfriend. We fell asleep at my place to my mutterings about too many cigarettes and weird conversations and how much I enjoyed running into my grandparents earlier in the Friday I had off due to Deb the Bogan Cyclone.

My brother and I are making a habit of frequenting this particular southern Gold Coast tavern on Friday afternoons after work. It’s an enjoyable weekend beginning ritual, from which he departs my company after one mid- strength and two-light beers – on account of him working Saturdays. I tend to hang around afterward, if not seeing my girlfriend or someone else or having something else more constructive to do other than drink and smoke and talk with local characters and play the pokies – the latter of which I’d quit due to inadequate returns on my many, but modest investments.

It was the smoking and talking, together, that did it, I reckon. I’m normally a smoker, for hopefully not too much longer. And especially while boozing. I’m not normally a conversationalist, but can become so while drinking and smoking and being in the right state-of-mind. Which I was last night. Plus there was a band playing, with saxophone and errthang, so I guess I can blame over-stimulation, too. Not that I didn’t enjoy it at the time. So my brother had left. And I’d wolfed down a kebab from the shop next door. And returned to the bar. Then to the smoking area, where I was to later embarrass myself.

There was a brunette girl, covered in tattoos and cheap gold jewellery, of 27 there the entire night. Up until I passed out, when she was the only other person present and the most freaked by my loss of consciousness. More on her later. The first person I began talking to was a portly teacher with a unique laugh; a regular feature of the pub, with a penchant for Long Island iced-teas who I’d become acquainted with in my semi-regularity. Conversation was struck with him when I joined in poking fun at him for the shorts he was wearing, which I referred to as “yachting boardshorts” due to their horizontal white stripes over navy blue. But he has fascist-tending opinions – he’s a Trump supporter, which puts him massively in the minority in Australia, if possibly not the Gold Coast, for one – so we grew weary of each other’s irreconcilable yet eloquent differences soon enough, upon which time I began speaking with the second of this episode’s characters: a 27-year-old from Tamworth named, of course, Dustin.

Dustin was a jittery bastard. Like something was busting to get out of him. Or he just didn’t feel entirely relaxed or comfortable. Before we even started talking I overheard him saying he’d had his last beer. Then, a few hours and four or five or six pints later, he finally had his last beer and we parted ways with a fist bump. Ended up liking him. He didn’t like country music. Or once had, but had heard it to death growing up in Tamworth. His mum used to rent out his room during annual Country Music Festivals, but he didn’t mind because he spent most days of most weeks surfing mates’ couches, anyway. He’d moved around a lot since leaving north-central NSW probably about 10 years ago. Even done jail, possibly juvie, time, for reasons I couldn’t get out of him. Now he was camped out at one of the Mould Coast’s many corporate-owned bar/pokie/bistro wallet emptiers, with the likes of me. And this girl. Whose name escapes me. Think it started with a D, too.

At first she was just sitting in the corner for the first hour or two, on the phone, engaged in some vague drama with what seemed to be various family members. As is the way with taverns, she got talking to us – mainly me and Dustin. Turned out her mother had brain cancer and her brother was a junkie (So badly a junkie, it seemed, his life was as or not much less than imminently over as his mother’s.) Her dad had been kept from her for most of her life so far, under the false pretence, perpetuated by her mother, that her father didn’t want to see her. And that she didn’t want to see him. One of the last things I can remember is her crying. I asked her if she was ok and she responded, “Yes”, in such a way that I knew it was a polite lie to a sympathetic stranger. We talked for a few minutes more, until I started to feel dizzy.

It might have been too many cigarettes. Was less likely many, but no more than often for me on a Friday night, drinks. I think I was overwhelmed by the sheer, not entirely humorless but certainly tragic humanity of the experience.