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God's Next Army

Richard: Keith Warren's a mate of mine with who there've been many late-night whiskey-laden conversations on the state of world affairs. He's followed Webdiary, and Margo, for a long time, and has decided to turn his hand to penning his thoughts. Upon seeking to educate himself on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and what led us to this point, he wandered off on tangents which led him directly to what he considers to be the only sane conclusion which one can come up with. IE: Religion is the root of all evil. This is Keith's first piece for Webdiary.

God's next army
by Keith Warren

The indoctrination of the young, prior to the age of reason, into any religion or denomination is abhorrent. It takes away free will from the onset and replaces it with a mindset of servility.

When the evangelists in America are pumping millions of dollars into a university just outside Washington, which is designed to groom their best and brightest as Neo-Con Republicans in the Whitehouse, we've all got a problem. A really BIG problem!

I urge readers to check out the BBC documentary God’s Next Army.

Atheists or anti-theists across the world should stand up and be counted. We need to get organized into a peaceful global force in order to counter the never ending spiral of religious sanctioned murder and genocide.

When global leaders of any religious persuasion are delusional to the point where they believe they are doing "God’s Work", what hope is there for humanity when these fanatics have their fingers on the nuclear triggers?

When they are all 100% convinced that they are destined for some kind of eternal utopia when they die, and to hell with the rest of us, what room is left for rational judgment?

Science and reason are the only true hopes that we have left. We need to end 2000 years of insane bigotry and hatred built upon a completely un-provable foundation of ignorance, superstition and lies. Plagiarism upon plagiarism has been purposely and repeatedly bastardized through the ages like a multi millennial game of Chinese whispers until the resulting doctrines, which were dubious in the first place, are so conflicting, varied and confused that their origins and meanings can never achieve consensus across the various factions.

On the recent scandals surrounding Catholicism, all I would say is that the Pope is just a man. As such, he should not be shielded from justice or legal scrutiny on any level.

Anyone who has taken the time to read Mein Kampf would know that Hitler never abandoned Christianity and recommended Catholicism quite highly. In reality, he knew he had to keep the Vatican onside if he was to achieve his goals. The Vatican was more than happy to turn a blind eye to atrocities as long as it was the Jews and other minorities that were on the receiving end of Hitler’s wrath. Stalin, however, was exploiting a huge pool of servile, uneducated and angry people left behind in the wake of hundreds of years of Russian Orthodox religious rule. But Stalin removed the lie of controlling the masses by pretending to be the voice of God. In essence, the Russian people swapped one fascist dictatorship for another.

Ignorant and fearful people will always beg to be governed. This is why dictators and religious groups will always make a priority of indoctrinating the young or starving them of an education altogether.

Whether it’s the Hitler Youth, or Baden Powell’s Boy Scouts movement (“I promise to do my best, to do my duty to God and the Queen”. – “Dib Dib f@#$ng Dib”!), it’s all early indoctrination for the purposes of future exploitation. Get them used to wearing uniforms, following a chain of command without question and marching in a straight line.

Science and reason will win out in the end. Education, as always, is the key. We should start by eliminating all tax breaks for religious institutions worldwide and ensuring that any creationist and religious teachings are clearly defined as religious theoretical studies. There should never be an overlap between proven scientific fact and theistic dogma. In short, our taxes should never ever provide a conduit for perverting the minds of the young by perpetually propagating generation after generation of servile none thinkers via religious teachings which have proven time and again to breed hatred and posion on a biblical scale. The separation of church and state must be restored globally.

The lives of billions may well depend on it. Any one of Gods Next Armies could kill us all.


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The baby and the bathwater

Religion is a lot like traditional medicine. However, the sciences that are trying to replace medicine have not advanced to the extent that medical sciences have. For example, as Michael Talbot has pointed out, meditation and prayer have recognised benefits, the science of "mental hygiene" is still in it's infancy (think CBT).

Medical science has taken many horribly wrong turns (think universal bleeding). Science has so far failed to acknowledge or provide sound solutions for some basic human needs such as our fear of death and the need for community - things for which religion provides strong support.

Some people use religion to meet their own ends, to grab power.  Others use science (Why do you think the US is so hot about intellectual property laws).

A shortcoming of atheism

Many people have a need for prayer or meditation as part of their mental hygiene.  This makes a religious context for doing it an attraction or a need.

In recent decades religion has dropped out of much of society.  Presumably that is because the rationale of Protestantism has been shot away by the advances of science from heliocentrism forward.  You can't any more protect yourself from the frauds and manipulations of the Mafia of Rome and its Don by confining your beliefs to those of the Old and New Testaments and excluding later inventions.  The Bible itself has been discredited, by science and more.  The apostle Paul, if he had known the Second Coming was at least two thousand years away, would not have written what he did in the first century.  If he were alive today he would find another job, perhaps lecturing quantum mechanics or fisheries conservation.  John Calvin, so rigorous and honest, would not write today what he wrote in the sixteenth century.

But that languishing of traditional religion in the West has thrown up a profusion of bizarre cults.  The Protestant Heresy, during the 450 years of its existence (there will be traces surviving after 500 years) largely eliminated superstition from the human mind. No belief that was not evidence-based (prior to Copernicus the best evidence was ancient documents) survived. But superstition it is back with a vengeance.  Why?  Why is creationism gaining ground?

The issue, I think, is that, at least for some people, prayer or meditation is actually beneficial to the brain or the mind.  Perhaps even atheists who don't feel inclined to do it (such as myself) would benefit from it.

Also, religions, because they control thought, produce people who are all in agreement or at least all understand each other, who naturally congregate to perform their rituals, who find friendship and mutual confidence or trust in doing that, a kind of family.

Neither the mental hygiene of meditation nor the family comfort of the congregation exists for atheists.  What is a homeless man or woman going to do?  Atheism is of no assistance at all.

Perhaps it boils down to the single issue of whether children should be influenced to make a commitment to the parents' religion, or allowed to discover a cult in adulthood.  Perhaps guided superstition is an abuse of the child, but what is the alternative?


Keith: "Is the indoctrination of the young a truly evil act? I believe it is."

Indoctrination wears many robes. It would be hard to draw a line where teaching ends and indoctrination begins. The topic deserves a thread of it's own.

Having said that, religious indoctrination is somewhat unavoidable, it's a matter of birthplace and parents. We can't, as Plato suggested, separate the kids from the parents (a bad influence) and "indoctrinate" them in a more "intelligent" manner.

I feel it is somewhat unfortunate that many kids are "indoctrinated" into the faith of their parents when they could learn about all faiths, then choose the yummy ones for themselves - should they so desire.

You see religious indoctrination can be repressive and create a mental environment that shuts out all other imaginary people and friends, such as: leprechauns, angels, Daffy Duck, gremlins and of course every-bodies favourite, the tooth fairy - for some reason I never chose to believe in Santa, I still don't like the fat bastard - besides everybody knows he ain't real.

Now, do you see any contradictions re the above. One one hand I've proposed that religious indoctrination is repressive (would you agree?), while on the other hand it does take a creative and curious (and or fearful) mind to invent a religion and related mythology and processes, mmmm.

Religion is both repressive and creative - a product of our shared humanity - a contradiction.

I'm not trying to make a point here, rather an observation, a personal observation that has allowed me to enjoy the creativeness, the wise words, the music, the art, the poetry, the mythology and the history (if only in a very humble way) of many religions, it's fun and now I enjoy a universe that is full of fantasy and wonder, colour and harmony.

Anyway, I've got a cranky Duck that wants to be fed imaginary food (thank Christ for that, saves me a fortune), and if I don't fed Him imaginary food He craps all over the floor - now, what I can't work out is: if I feed the Duck imaginary food, why does He crap real crap?

Life, the enigma of enigmas - wouldn't have it any other way.

Should we indoctrinate the indoctrinated to abandon their faith, and do we have the right to do so?

Steering the debate.

Firstly,I would like to thank you all for your comments. I really wish I had the time, or indeed the knowledge to try to address every angle of debate which has been put forward. I must concede that my comment that "religion is the root of all evil" may be a touch antagonistic, but the objective was to generate debate. On that front it appears to have succeeded.

Whilst it is undeniably true that non believers can and do commit evil acts, there have been a great number of evil deeds over the course of the last few millenia that could only have been perpetrated by religious people in the name of their faith. Obviously,I am trying to steer public opinion in the direction of science and reason over blind faith and dogma. I honestly believe it is no longer enough to sit on the sidelines on this issue. Many non believers take the line "I'm a good person, I'm just not a God person". This mentality has to stop. Stop apologising for being a free thinker. Of course there have been totalitarian regimes and ruthless dictators throughout the ages which have inflicted great evil. This will always be so. People beg to be governed so that they have someone to blame. The first person to step up to mark and say 'I can fix it' is usually the person to step into the power vacuum. I think this is more related to our basic tribal make up and our capacity to feed the egos of those with rebellious ambition than any philosophy or ideology. Totalitarian regimes and dictatorships always implode. People recognise inequality, injustice and brutality where ever they see it, and react accordingly. Unless of course they have been pre-programed to accept such atrocities as the norm.

It is only through education that people become free thinkers. There is a reason why, traditionally, receiving a good education has only been available to the well heeled. Once the masses are educated, they begin to question the order of things. The controlling elites can't have that sort thing going on. Where would it all end?

We now live in an age where receiving a basic education is within reach of more people than ever before. Access to information is cheaper than ever before and the broad scope of information we now have at our fingertips is staggering. We no longer need to accept whatever the local curriculum offers as our educational choices. The Internet is the new curriculum and we get to choose which courses we sign on to. It is now possible to bypass all the rhetoric and spin of the mainstream and access all sides of opposing arguments. From this, as free thinkers, we can now form our own opinions.

This is a mass freedom that is unprecedented in human history.

So, back to the original context of the debate.

If any particular faith wants to impose through the education system the indoctrination of the young into its belief system, they are robbing those students/children of their rights to freedom of speech. This is done in a particularly insidious manner because it is actually achieved by the removal of freedom of thought at a very early age. Given the current state of global affairs, who is going to stand up and fight against this?

The compulsory teaching of any monotheistic faith serves one single purpose.IE; The perpetual mass indoctrination of entire populations into a programed thought process which makes them easy to control. So, to sit back and watch all of this unfold, generation after generation, in my humble opinion, is unethical. Yet we have huge crops of new drones/recruits being propagated by insane Mullahs. We have equally insane western governments that wish to use tax payers dollars to continue brainwashing our children for the purposes of future control. Each pitting one insane dogma against the other. Somewhere, in the midst of it all, science and reason and humanity is being lost beneath a tidal wave of monotheistic bullshit.

Do some religious organisations do some good for the community? Absolutely. Is morality the sole domain of religious organisations. Absolutely not. (Though there are some organisatons arrogant enough that argue otherwise) Should religious organisations enjoy tax free status and be allowed to use tax dollars to promote thier belief sytems? No. Is the indoctrination of the young a truly evil act? I believe it is.

A side note

Don't let this steer the debate, but Keith, yes, absolutely, the religious indoctination of the young is a truly evil act, and very easy, because the very young have a natural belief in invisible friends, and from memory the occasional monster.  Every toy is a special friend.  It likes you.  Animism.  It must be so, so easy to "educate", "refine", steer this into permanent dependency connected with one invisible friend.  And that is clearly abusive.

But a religion that depends on access to children has another truly evil possibility.  What has recently been in the news regarding the religion of Confession is presumably happening in the religion of Submission.  We just don't know about it yet.

 I like the engagement

 I like the engagement between Keith and Justin, put the last couple of comments together and the jigsaw puzzle comes together.  The first part of Geoff's comment was useful, too.

Systems of sorts have been devised for "civilzation" since Plato, but one must never underestimate the capacity of humans to rationalise their conduct and beliefs when it seems necessary, including through the creative employ of ideology or religion.

Sometimes there is a positive aspect, as when people or a community find their BS detectors still work and can thwart the powers that be. Against that, it is likely that religion and ideology (often intermingled) are frameworks or ideological superstructures, as the lefties would have it, that fool people into acceptance of and compliance with, often unjust systems.

Plato = The Noble Gun + Dead Punters + Wealthy Pricks

A fair comment Paul, although I suspect "systems" were well in place before Plato articulated their weaknesses, and the weaknesses/innocence of punters that could be exploited (noble lies etc.) to the supposed "benefit" or cohesion of the community at large.

Present day neo-cons have sympathy for such exploitation, and lies - such has already been demonstrated during the Bush/Cheney error, er, era. Of course those who benefit from such lies are the ones who manufacture those lies, and so it goes. Leo Strauss, a neoconservative founding father was an ardent believer of Plato - or the bits that soothed his prejudices - so was Pol Pot.

Follow the money (avarice the root of all evil; or could it be testosterone; or a mixture of both? - let's throw that into the mill as well).

BTW. Keith, my apologies for totally missing the fact that the above is your first contribution to WD - thanks mate for your contribution.

Does evil exist outside of religion?

Geoff: "Belief systems of one sort or another are pretty much universal."

From my experience it would be hard to disagree with the above. It could be argued that the capacity for the human brain to "believe" in an a priori  where belief is independent of experience; such "belief" comes packaged in the "rational" part of the human brain. 

It's in all of us; such has been argued from different perspectives over past centuries; it's even in Keith, who believes that religion is the root of all evil.

My question to Keith is: Using reason (based on empiricism) could such a proposition hold  true?

As Keith believes that his proposition is true, then my challenge to Keith would be - prove it.

Is that not a reasonable request?

Keith: If religion is the root of all evil, then how does one explain the behaviour of Mao and the likes? - as Geoff quite clearly pointed out.  Mao in fact believed religion was crap and the rest is history - millions dead for unnecessary reasons.

Mao was brought up a Buddhist, turned his back on religion to create a new (all powerful) god all of his own, and that god would be, of course: Mao Zedong - the atheist. Many old punters in China today still see Mao as a deity.

The way I see it: to argue that religion is the root of all evil, and for that argument to hold true, then one must recognise that religion is an intrinsic part of human nature (an a priori), where all things good and evil (by human definition) are germinated. If that be the case then we have a whole new (deeper) level of discussion - which takes us into that murky (and threatening) area of our individual and collective psychic.

So, Keith: Is religion the root of all evil?

Passive no more.

Justin. I think you are missing the point. We cannot work in partnership with "people of faith". I couldn't care less how much I upset them. They offend me every waking moment. All I need to do is read a newspaper and I am offended every single day. I don't see them showing any degree of sympathy or empathy towards the people they offend. They see no reason to. Monotheists on all sides make no apologies for their actions. They each believe that they are doing Gods work and as such see themselves as divine servants. And they actually want to wipe each other off the face of the earth.

Guess who's going along for the ride? That's right. The rest of us. Right across the globe, monotheists are aggressively seeking and seizing power in order to fulfil their obligations to their chosen faith.

Less than a century ago, this meant bloody awful wars. Today they have weapons of mass destruction. Lots and lots and lots of them. Many more than they would ever need to destroy the planet many times over. This is insanity.

So no Justin. I will not form an alliance with any of them. None of us should. If we are not actively rattling the cages of the sleeping atheists, the weddings,funerals and christenings set, and screaming at them to wake up, then we are guilty by our own inaction on an issue that doesn't get any more serious. When a person says to me that they are "a person of faith", I know immediately I am dealing with someone who cannot be reasoned with. As such I will not waste a moment of my time in trying to convert them. However, I do believe that the sleeping giant in this fight is the massive number of passive atheists who have yet to be stirred into action.

Religion is the inculcation by coercion of the inability to see reason and the blind acceptance of immoral actions based on disproved theory and deceptively evil doctrines. How many passive atheists out there have had enough?

Belief systems and abominations

I have always had a problem with religion. Despite the determined efforts of many it just never worked for me. I hated the interminable Saturday morning services which could drone on for up to three hours while all my mates were out surfing or playing football or doing normal stuff. Friday nights were pretty horrible too but at least had the virtue of brevity and a sip of wine for us kids. At least once a year we were expected to fast and spend the whole day in synagogue. The whole bloody day! Fair dinkum, I would have preferred to be in school.

It didn't help of course that the services were in an ancient foreign language which was very difficult to learn. Most of the ancient rules struck me as just plain silly even at a very young age. The enormous cultural achievement of this was pretty much lost on us kids. I could have sympathised with the Catholics about this except that back in those days the Catholic Church was officially antisemitic. I did however take some comfort in the fact that my Christian mates were being expected to believe stuff that if anything was even sillier than what was expected of us. 

Having said that, the now fashionable anti-religion obsession of the commenting classes in the West troubles me. It strikes me as a cop out -- a way of ignoring the fourteen foot gorilla in the room peering over your shoulder.

Belief systems of one sort or another are pretty much universal. Whether its crackpot "alternative" life styles based on the healing powers of pyramids or flying saucers or crystals or distilled water or "out of body" experiences or Nostradamus or levitation or psychic surgery or fringe environmentalism or "New Age" or Trotskyism or ... the list goes on and on and on. Most of these are pretty benign, as is most orthodox religious beliefs in skygods or devils or whatever. Silly ... but benign.

But these things can go off the rails and to my mind there is no difference between dangerous religious beliefs and dangerous cultist "political"  beliefs. Athiests, such as Stalinists, can be just as depraved as the worst religious zealots includiing Mansonites or self detonating virgin seeking Islamist fanatics.

The history of the world is filled with the corpses of failed and dangerous cultures. It is I suggest self evident that cultures and civilisations can let loose abominations to the human spirit and descend into one huge crime against humanity before they finally self destruct. Cultures are as subject to laws of evolution as any organic species. The "less fit" will eventually become as extinct as the dodo. The only quetion is whether they will take the rest of humanity with them.   

The world has a problem with Islamism. Islamism is a perversion of the venerable religion of Islam. It is therefore enormously tempting to leave to the Muslims to sort out. It is just too messy to get involved.

Our problem is with millions of people raised in ignorance and hate to believe that there is a religious war to fight against infidels to the death. Our problem is not with the silly beliefs of fundamentalist Christians or Jews or Hindus or whatever. Of course they include dangerous lunatics who should be watched. But to suggest they are a threat on the scale of Islamist fanaticism is dangerously wrong. It is, as I say a cop out. A way of ignoring the horrible truth.

Islamism is not terribly different to the rage of the crusaders and others who believed that it was their devine ordained duty to slaughter innocents. It is medieval and will eventually self destruct and be swept away as surely as The Enlightenment swept away Christian murderous insanity of eight centuries ago. In the meantime it will continue to cause enormous suffering. It is an affront to the human spirit. This must be recognised and plainly said.

I see the current anti-religious intellectual fashion as a reaction to this. "Intellectuals" do not  want to call Islamism what it is. To do so is to invite condemnation as a "racism" or "Islamophobia". They therfore attack all religion, including the silly but harmless versions. Completely insane. I have no doubt that people who attacked the political culture of Nazi Germany in the thirties were denounced as anti-German. It is time the West grew up and appreciated the nature of the threat it faces. Islamism, Islamo-fascism, call it what you will. It is an obomination of the human spirit and a perversion of culture, as certain as was Nazism, and in the nuclear age, just as dangerous.

Time to call a spade a spade.

Us and Them - it's a game, be careful


Atheists or Anti-theists across the world should stand up and be counted. We need to get organized into a peaceful global force in order to counter the never ending spiral of religious sanctioned murder and genocide.

I don't think so. Could this not be done in partnership with those of faith? The above (atheistic) call to arms is unnecessary, polarising and maybe intimidating to people of faith.

The article does raise issues that deserve consideration however it does also set up an "us and them" environment. Such an environment will create conflict, distrust and give further reason for cynical bastards to use religion in a manner it was never intended.

Cynical bastards, who use religion, thrive on conflict - divide and conquer; this is the game they want us to play.

Would it not be best for atheists and people of faith to work hand in hand to expose those cynical bastards, who pervert religion, for what they really are?

Otherwise it's us and them - cynical bastards win - we lose. 

The age of reason

I agree Keith, religion is a hang over from a time when our scientific knowledge was extremely  limited. When superstition, witches and warlocks were they only way we could understand our world. Fear was used as a tool to make us bend to the will of the ruling classes.

It is about time we broke free from the chains of fear and walked tall as humans in an amazing universe. Wonder at the beauty and the vastness where humans are just a minute part of the whole system.

We must realise that the decisions we make today will effect the destiny of the human civilisation, that there is no "god" or master plan. We are the sum total of human endeavour and knowledge, If we are to move on from this stage in our development we can only do so through reason.

We must value all life and make sure every human has a good education and equal opportunity to play their role in this adventure. Ignoring those that would try to use fear to control others.

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