Apr 07 2009

Religion Is Not God

Published by at 8:09 am under All General Discussions

I am a spiritual person. I believe there is a force for good and destruction (a.k.a. evil). I believe these forces permeate everything living and elemental. I believe the forces of nature are an engine which produce wondrous and horrible events, conditions and change. I believe if one follows the path of ‘good’ one will be rewarded with moments of happiness, pride, achievement, the gift of being able to give to others, some wealth – the core elements of a good life. Why else be able to experience these things, if not to make them part of our being? Clearly to love someone is a gift we should take advantage of.

I believe if one takes the path of the predator then one gives up a lot of these positive, hard won experiences and gifts to achieve a fleeting moment of self gratification. I believe insecurity and envy lead to hate, meanness, violence, oppression, war, etc. I believe we are subject to these negative experiences for many reasons. They can support our fight to exist and survive, they are a useful counter example for us to measure the positive emotions and actions humankind is designed to experience. I believe we need balance of our predatory skills to defend our loves ones, not to lash out at others in fits of frustrated envy.

I am not religious. To be religious means to adhere to the dictates of a religion. They are all fatally flawed in some way, too many ways, for me to find them pure and unchallengeable. They are all the product of humans grasping over the ages with a complex, dangerous world that fostered evil more times than good. Yet we, as humanity, have fought more to save the good and remove the evil. Why is that?

Why is it we have universally and innately known the difference between good and destructive (evil) and have incorporated that at the core of our many religions? Why has our fight to survive as a species included at the core the protection of the family, the protection of the individual, the protection of humankind? 

To many of us with a science background the answer is obvious – we experience these forces of good and destruction just like we experience gravity, and the liquid and frozen states of water, etc. We are wired to experience good and evil in our hearts and souls, something that is clearly in our DNA. If God created man, then God created the ability to experience the benefits and tragedies that go with our free will, our ability to chose a path. If God created the world and humanity, then he created DNA and the long driving engine of evolution, just as he created the gravity and elements and everything else that provides us this water covered world that is a small thin layer of Eden in  a vast and uninhabitable universe.

Out of all the space and various environmental locales in our solar system the small sliver of atmosphere that exists in the temperate latitudes of our planet is our natural home. Everywhere else we face death unless we work very hard to build ourselves protection. Even at the Northern and Southern Poles, at the top of our highest land masses, and just a few feet below the water line, we are in mortal peril.

Yet we strive to explore, to push our envelope, to learn and understand. We are driven because we are wired that way. God put it into our DNA. He put lesser versions of this in all living animals, it is their tool to adapt and survive. They need to explore and learn in order to live and breed. Many animals enjoy their young offspring for a time, willing to defend them to the death in order for them to simply leave and live their own lives, and repeat the cycle.

To me the modern book of God is DNA – the instructions for building each and every living thing on this planet, including humans. The physics of stars combined with our n-dimensional space-time (see my GUT for more on this) dictates what elements exist and in what quantities. The physics of the electromagnetic forces surrounding atoms and molecules, which dictate the paths and states of electrons and protons, dictate the chemical compounds that are made out of the natural elements created in stars. The physics of gravity and energy dictate the state of chemicals and compounds (e.g. why Earth has liquid water on its surface, etc).

But DNA dictates what life form will exist in all of these elements, compounds, chemicals, land masses, etc. DNA defines how the living organism will live, whether it will feed off the energy transfer of the sun (i.e., plants and some bacteria) or whether the organism will live off plants or other animals. DNA dictates the method of mobility, whether the organism will live out its multi-generational life on land, in the air or in the water. DNA defines what it is to be alive, by directing how compounds and elements will be collected (or ingested) and arranged into living forms of cells and structures.

If there is a message written in the hand of God it is found in the text of DNA – which describes in detail how each and every living thing on this planet is created out of thin air!

I am not religious because I have seen too many religions go to war over science because science has been able to expose another magical and mystical truth about reality which collides with some ancient, comfortable view that is simply wrong. Each ancient religion has some serious warts on it which make it impossible to align with the modern world. For example, any religion that doesn’t treat women as full equals to men is so flawed as to be laughable. To create an myth to assuage the insecure male ego and give it a sanctuary where it does not have to grow up is truly silly.

Do not get me wrong. Humankind’s weaknesses and destructive behavior infects the world of science as well. When basic morals are cast aside then you create not just monsters, but brilliant ones. Medicine is always on the moral edge. The Nazis and Japanese used medicine as a cover for torture and brutality, just as the Islamo Jihadists use religion for the same evil. The proponents of embryonic stem cell research refuse to face the reality that young human beings in their embryonic stage of life are destroyed to harvest the material they claim is the fountain of youth (not to mention unimaginable wealth to the discoverers). It is the perfect example evil destruction masked behind good intentions.

Pseudo sciences like global warming foster the idea of one group of humanity controlling another. The insecurity that must drive someone to dictate how others should live is a force to be reckoned with daily.

Which brings me to an interesting debate waging – is Christianity dead? The answer is no – but it does need to evolve. Dan Riehl wrote a very good post on some recent polling which got me to thinking about the core problem with the political right these days:

Like many on the Right, I always saw the so-called “Christian Right” as fatally flawed in political terms. It appears as though Cal Thomas understood that.

The columnist Cal Thomas was an early figure in the Moral Majority who came to see the Christian American movement as fatally flawed in theological terms. “No country can be truly ‘Christian’,” Thomas says. “Only people can. God is above all nations, and, in fact, Isaiah says that ‘All nations are to him a drop in the bucket and less than nothing’.” Thinking back across the decades, Thomas recalls the hope—and the failure. “We were going through organizing like-minded people to ‘return’ America to a time of greater morality. Of course, this was to be done through politicians who had a difficult time imposing morality on themselves!”

I’m less concerned about what’s happened in the past, than I am about where the Right and center-Right go next.

Certain elements on the Right need to make up their mind as to whether they want to have primarily a political discussion, or a religious one. Certainly they can have both. But they are not the same thing. The “Christian Right” over-stepped in instances where it failed to realize that. Still, that doesn’t mean one’s faith can’t, or shouldn’t influence one’s politics at all.

Spot on correct. The rejection of the far right came when it decided it was purer, smarter, BETTER than everyone else. Faith comes in many forms, and for some of us it doesn’t require the prop of a church or group acceptance, etc. Faith should not influence politics or science (or the politics derived from science). Faith is meant to fill the voids where we still have questions, where the path is unclear, where the challenge is hard and all we see is darkness. Faith is there to give us strength to do good when we want to give up and take the easy, destructive path.

Morals and Faith in them, and respect that the individual will follow our commonly agreed morals if given the choice, is what makes this country so great. It is the freedom to unleash the individual, to allow them to explore reality, explore God’s creations, to experience life, that makes our country thrive. We do not hold much value in the group think, we don’t need egotistical buffoons sitting around old swamps in DC ‘thinking for the masses’. Collectively the masses are smarter, better, more innovative, more successful, and more moral than all the egotistical blow hards in DC.

Just look at the blogosphere and internet if you need proof.

The religious right wanted their personal dogma to become law. They wanted to remove choice and freedom and exploration. They claim otherwise, and convinced themselves it was all for the better good. Just like the liberals who follow the cult of Global Warming. Religion is not all knowing. Each major religion was a leap forward for humanity. Christianity was the jump that moved us from relying on strength and brutality to survive to relying on goodness, joint efforts and thinking.

Humanity was driven by the sword and the army before Jesus came down and taught us a different path. A path of mutual respect and love instead of violent oppression. A path of giving to and trusting others. We no longer needed the armies to battle nature. We could resist using the armies to battle each other to assuage the greed of a few self-anointed demigods. We awoke.

Now we face another evolutionary step. Information now flows across the globe instantaneously. A world of minds can be brought to bear on any issue or problem. The demigods of old are extinct, now we have fault ridden people trying to find the right path. We need the morals of religion, we cannot forget what we learned in the past which enables us to reach this point. Without reducing our reliance on violence to survive we would not have banded together to get here.

But those days which cannot be forgotten are also gone forever. We need to retain what we know works and jettison what has served its time. We must learn, explore and chose the right path – as God wired us to be. And we must not see this evolution as ‘defeat’, as too many do:

Compromise may be the grease of politics, but it has no place in Christian orthodoxy, according to Deace.

Put another way, Christians may have no place in the political fray of dealmaking. That doesn’t mean one disengages from political life, but it might mean that the church shouldn’t be a branch of the Republican Party. It might mean trading fame and fortune (green rooms and fundraisers) for humility and charity.

“It’s hard to admit defeat, but this one was self-inflicted,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Yes, Dr. Dobson and the pro-family or Christian right political movement is a failure; it would have made me sad to say this in the past, but they have done it to themselves.”

If there is a failure, retreat is not the answer. The failure was in being rigid, in thinking there is only one path and only a select few know it. In the evolving world of reality that kind of rigidity is suicidal. Darwin never said the strong or meek will inherit anything. What he said is those who can adapt will survive. Those who cling too rigidly to old patterns die off.

The problem with religion is it is all or nothing. Believe every minute detail (of the day, because it does change over time – in case anyone wonders about what happened witch hunting and other persecutions) or you are a failure. There is no allowance that a religion may have flaws, whether they crept in a day ago our two thousands years ago.

This inability to grow and refine is why religions fail. And it is why there are massive religious wars with unbelievable violence when they do fail to keep up. What is driving the Islamo Fascists so violently? The fact so much of their beliefs have been thrown aside for modern views. Many of our modern options are going to fail as well. New is rarely right, it is usually just a fad, a desire for some change of pace. 

What we need to realize is we are constantly adapting and exploring. We sometimes leave our dogma behind and experiment. Sometimes we come back, sometimes are dogma is replaced or modified. But it is happening constantly.

We need to face the fact we are hitting a stage where we are accelerating our evolution. We need moral guidance to keep us aware that we can destroy and hurt others while we move this fast (just as we need rules of the road as we race around at ever increasing speeds). We need to watch out for each other and respect each other. If humans can drive 70 miles per hour en masse day in and day out and not hurt each other (even though we will vent a little stress now and then), then how is it we cannot drive with speed into the future without colliding and hurting each other?

Practice. As we adapted to the automobile (it is now part of us) we will get through the challenges of integrating our societies and views globally. We will have diversity and people will not have to give up as much as they fear right now. And many aspects of today’s religions can help us through this. 

This is the Newsweek story that started this discussion, one we must have. And let me make one final note on its conclusions and tone:

“A remarkable culture-shift has taken place around us,” Mohler wrote. “The most basic contours of American culture have been radically altered. The so-called Judeo-Christian consensus of the last millennium has given way to a post-modern, post-Christian, post-Western cultural crisis which threatens the very heart of our culture.” When Mohler and I spoke in the days after he wrote this, he had grown even gloomier. “Clearly, there is a new narrative, a post-Christian narrative, that is animating large portions of this society,” he said from his office on campus in Louisville, Ky.

There it was, an old term with new urgency: post-Christian. This is not to say that the Christian God is dead, but that he is less of a force in American politics and culture than at any other time in recent memory. To the surprise of liberals who fear the advent of an evangelical theocracy and to the dismay of religious conservatives who long to see their faith more fully expressed in public life, Christians are now making up a declining percentage of the American population.

This is pure BS and fear mongering. The “so-called Judeo-Christian consensus of the last millennium” has not disappeared or gone away – not yet. It has been added to, not replaced or supplanted. People still believe in the essence of the Ten Commandments. Families still teach the primary elements of Judeo-Christian morals. The idea women are second class, yes that is dying. But that should not be the cornerstone of Christianity – it surely was not of Christ’s teachings.

Liberals spent too much time bashing the religion they hated growing up. They are another insecure lot who lose control when faced with any hint of the religion that dogged them, that made them reject their family. They chose a lonely path and blame the constrictions of religion on those choices. That is their own demon to deal with. One reason people of faith did see a rally of support in America was because of the liberal bile aimed towards them. We want Jesus in Christmas and Easter. 

As the liberals overstepped and created support for people of religion, some on the far right overstepped and started insulting those who came to their side when they were being unfairly treated. When the fanatics started bashing the science of evolution, they were insulting people who had come to their side to defend them from liberals bashing their beliefs. By bashing the beliefs of many one time allies, the far right became no better than the far left.

Which is a lesson in of itself. We don’t need fanatical ties to the past. We need to remember what got us to this great place and how the path of good can take us to even better places. We need to remember the forces of destruction (a.k.a evil). We need to keep hold of our anchor points as we race into the future.

It won’t be easy, but it could be a blast if we stop fighting with each other’s view of what God is. We will find out more and more about that question as we work together.

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Religion Is Not God”

  1. penguin2 says:

    AJ, a stunning, thoughtful and insightful essay. Many points to ponder. Certainly some useful concepts that can be applied to the challenges that face us today as we navigate these waters.

    Thank you.

  2. AJStrata says:


    Thank you!

  3. Redteam says:

    I agree with Penguin2 and with the post. Not to make light of what you said, but I’ve always compared God (for adults) to Santa Clause (for children). I believe in both God and Jesus and for that matter, Allah (just being a different name than God). I have never heard of a case where a belief in God was harmful to a person. It can explain all things, especially many things that can’t be explained if you do not believe in God. If a child gets a toy for Christmas, it’s a good thing for that child, but if a child quits believing in Santa, he doesn’t have much to look forward to on Christmas eve night. If you believe in God, you can expect a miracle and many things that occur are truly miraculous. But if you don’t believe in God, you are much less likely to believe in miracles and you certainly have no reason to expect one. I do not belong to a ‘church’ because church’s put limits and restrictions on your ability to believe in God. You have to give a certain amount of money to some, some don’t allow you to dance, some don’t allow you to use birth control. I can’t believe that something like sex can only be used for procreation. At the same time people should be able to enjoy sex without having to worry about bringing a child into the world that would not be loved and that the people can’t afford to feed. These are examples of limitations of religions, not of God or spirituality. I can see the reasoning behind supporting people that believe in God vs people that don’t. People that don’t believe in God are people like Madoff, a person that can take what doesn’t belong to him from people that can’t afford for him to do that. like Barack Obama, that can be for killing a child that is aborted and accidentally lives. You can’t believe in the sanctity of life and not believe in God, but you can believe the opposite. So, is there a benefit in NOT believing in God? absolutely. You can steal from people, kill people, abuse people and do all that without it bothering you at all. You can even support politicians that do all those things without it bothering you at all, especially if you expect to benefit from it.
    If you were raised in an environment of no morality, you likely would tend to be an atheist. On the other hand, if you were basically brought up to believe in the Golden Rule, you are most likely a believer of God.

  4. conman says:


    This is a great post and one that I personally relate to well. I used to be one of those liberals who developed a prejudice toward Christianity. I was raised Catholic, rebelled against what I viewed as too dogmatic of an approach and became a devote born-again Christian, did some hard soul searching and research and ultimately questioned the whole existence of God. Through my early adulthood I developed a pretty strong prejudice toward Christianity and several other religions because I felt that many of these religions were being used in manipulative ways, especially for politicla reasons.

    I’ve evolved considerably since that time, especially since my two girls were born and I was faced with the question of what do I teach them about religion and morals. I now consider myself agnostic, but very spiritual. I no longer view Christianity as a threat but actually very consistent with my values. I’m an active member in a Luthern church in my area (my wife is Luthern) and want to make sure that my kids can decide their beliefs and faiths for themselves. I too wish that liberals would not be so hostile toward Christianity and other religions and that conservatives would be less dogmatic about it. I think this country is slowly heading in that direction and I just hope dialogue like this help it along. Thanks again for tackling this tricky issue.

  5. kathie says:

    Stunning AJ.

    It seems that all DNA or life forms, that we can study, have a few things in common, survival and replication or renewal. It also seems that many or most life forms do not live in isolation from one another but aid one another in survival. If this statement is mostly true then we can go from here.

    Man survives because he reproduces, he lives in communities that support survival, he creates institutions that hold the history of his survival, not needing to reinvent the wheel. The institutions we create reflect our thoughts and intelligence over time, some magnificent, some not so much. Rudolf Steiner, best known in the US, as the father of the Waldorf School movement, said that an institution’s survival depends on inspiration rather then dictate. I will take a leap and say man’s survival depends on inspiration as well. The mind is always seeking new frontiers. Our only boundaries are that one’s inspiration must recognize the other’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (or their inspiration).

    When we forget the rules we have community discussions…..political ones. When the church tries to keep all the congregates rounded up through fear or dogma people leave. When a government tries to separate an embryo from a mother, minimize procreation and family, disregard water’s benefits to man as well as nature, exploit CO 2’s relationship to climate, we seek to find a truth that supports our survival. Governments that don’t inspire the finding of truth but dictate outcomes will fail, because we know a truth when we know, it’s in our DNA because we have survived. What hand God played in all this, I’m not absolutely sure, but I believe he had a hand in setting the circle in motion.

  6. AJStrata says:

    Very well said Kathie – and it took you a lot fewer words to do it than I needed!

  7. AJStrata says:

    Conman – thanks. And yes, we can agree on some big issues (if we don’t let those who focus on minute differences control the debate).

    Cheers my friend – AJStrata

  8. “As the liberals overstepped and created support for people of religion, some on the far right overstepped and started insulting those who came to their side when they were being unfairly treated. When the fanatics started bashing the science of evolution, they were insulting people who had come to their side to defend them from liberals bashing their beliefs. By bashing the beliefs of many one time allies, the far right became no better than the far left.”

    So a differenc of Opinion is now bashing views. What happened to people discussing their views with respect. I am a Catholic and we have traditionally had no problem with Evolution in the broad sesne. But I simply ask some questons on intelligent design or I might question some parts of evoltuion theory and I ma bashed by being called some 7 day creationist or some other nonsense

    I saw how Mike Huckbee who had different views on Evolution and was bashed no stop. What Evolution views have to do on running the country I don’t know. Maybe running the school board but the US military or various acts of the Executive?

    Aj overall good post and while as a Catholic I disagree on your view of religion I agree with much you said and their is a lot of common ground

    If allies are are going to be allies they can be have disagreements and I suspect various factions can have disagreements over aspect so scientific theory and still repsect each other.