I’m riding a rush hour #7 train from Queens to Manhattan when suddenly: I sense danger. My eyes dart to the left. No more than 15 feet from me, a woman is in possession of that common haven for misplaced trust: a bible.
Some years ago, comparative study of religious attitudes found that nearly 75 percent of Americans literally believe in religious “miracles” and the “devil”; only 9 percent of Americans accepted Darwinian evolution while about half the population believed in divine-guided evolution; 40 percent thought the earth was created about 6000 years ago.
Nowhere else in the industrial world can such pre-Enlightenment levels as this be found. The development of highly irrational and self-destructive attitudes is one of the consequences of the growing alienation and isolation of people I am wallowing in right now on the #7. Indoctrinated to leave governing to the people who we’re told can actually “handle” it, we’ve almost given up demanding results from our leaders. Instead, we take State Department press releases and New York Times editorials at face value and end up directing our pleas for help to the heavens instead of to the people we voted into office.
But that is the penultimate function of religion, isn’t it? It supplies a “carved-in-stone” set of laws to save us from the hardship of thinking for ourselves. Instead we look to media-created stars like the Pope or the Dalai Lama to confirm our self-doubt.
The followers of any religion are pacified not by having their abject circumstances changed, but by being taught ways to tolerate the intolerable. Organized religion — fueled by all our doubts, fears, and repressed desires — gives some meaning to their perpetual suffering. So, in the name of endless suffering, here are some probing questions for the next bible-thumper you encounter:
* If your god is all-knowing, why do you need to pray in order to let him know what you want?
* For that matter, if he already knows what’s going to happen, what good is prayer anyway?
* If your god sent his son to earth to save it, and there’s life on other planets, did he send the same son to those other planets or does he have other kids to spare?
* By the way, why did he pick Nazareth in the first place? I mean, it wasn’t exactly Times Square. This choice made the spread of Christianity a rather laborious project, wouldn’t you say? And why did he wait so long? Did your god not care about the generations that came before Jesus?
* Then, when Jesus supposedly came back from the grave, he still didn’t announce it far and wide. Hey, if your god is so omnipotent, why did he hatch such a hare-brained scheme to begin with?
* Finally, here’s a favorite: Who would win in a fight, Jesus Christ or Godzilla?
My guess is that the giant lizard would blast JC with the atomic breath, not realizing that Jesus would rise again three days later. This pattern would repeat itself a few times until JC looked skyward and turned the Pacific Ocean into wine. Godzilla would partake in a sip or two and upon seeing his opponent strolling on the water, check into reptile wing of the Betty Ford Clinic.
Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickey.net
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