Religion Breeds Irrational Beliefs

“Whenever we read the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize humankind. And, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.” – Thomas Paine

The overwhelming facts have convinced me beyond any shadow of a doubt that the timeline in the Bible, for both the amount of time it took to create the universe as well as the time humans have existed on the planet is simply not true.  After exhaustive and continued research, which included Darwin’s “Origin of Species”, the Bible, and countless books arguing for or against evolution, intelligent design, creationism, god, and everything in-between, I don’t doubt that evolution happened. So, creationism, despite the supposed human and dinosaur prints found side by side in the Paluxy River in Texas or the latest assertion that a bicycle factory cannot manufacture motorcycles as Michael Behe likes to argue, I will never be convinced that the Earth is only 6,000 years old as the Bible asserts.

These Creationists, although a loud bunch, are left with no choice but to question the carbon dating process itself, or to the exceptions to the vast amounts of evidence that support assertions that the Earth is far older than the 6,000 years the Bible claims, such as the traces of hemoglobin found in T Rex fossils.  Creationists argue that if dinosaur fossils are as old as non-Creationist scientists assert, there’s no way hemoglobin could have survived.  But this is a false assertion: Hemoglobin in a non-preserved environment would break down, but fossils are preserved environments where traces of organic material can be preserved for millions of years.

In fact, Creationism is easily dismissed by any rational, thinking being not attached to the dogma of one’s religion, and isn’t something I consider when forging my belief system as a result.  This at least narrows my choices and my focus when working to arrive at a belief system that works for me, that gives my life meaning and helps me find something to guide my life by.  But it also gives us clues as to how deep the irrational thought of Christians can go.

Where I depart from evolutionists or atheists is that I’m on the fence about whether or not evolution had some intelligence guiding its path.  I’ve read the elegant arguments of Richard Dawkins, Brian Greene, Bart Ehrman, David Mills, Ken Miller, and countless others.  I think that all have valid arguments, but still”¦no side presents conclusive evidence that has convinced me one way or the other, and all of the discussion in the world could never change that for me because no matter how far along we get with science, until we can create consciousness similar to our own from something that did not start off possessing consciousness, everything is just conjecture and belief rather than fact.

And that is a fact that no one can validly argue.  Atheists like to use the “weighting game” to dispute claims of this nature, stating that assigning a 50% probability of the existence of a consciousness that exists beyond our human capacity of measuring has no right to be equal with the possibility that what you see is what you get when it comes to the chemical reactions that are these frames.  But their assertion is just as arbitrary as mine, despite their claim to possessing evidence that tips the scales in their favor.  The fact is, is that they have evidence of evolution, but actually have mounting evidence that there is something far more going on in the world than we’ve ever thought or been led to believe in the form of quantum mechanics, string theory, inflation theory, and a multitude of other new discoveries in physics in which the known laws of physics are crumbling.

(I address this point in detail in “My Quantum God“ and “Did Darwin Kill God“ articles.)

The fact that many spokespeople for one side or the other like to present their side as the “factual” side or the “right” side makes me even less trusting of the conclusions they reach, forcing me to continue my search.  Typically, it’s the fundamentalists who are so fanatical about getting you over to their side; to me, some of the greatest teachers in my life have been those who have simply presented a philosophy or belief system that has worked for them, allowing me to arrive at my own conclusions as to whether or not that belief system might give my life meaning.

But the discussions are always “all or nothing” discussions, and this, as well troubles me deeply.  We do not exist in black and white, yet when arguing positions in relation to these kinds of questions, that’s the only place anyone seems to exist.  My beliefs and theories are no less sound because I exist in the gray; they are simply an acknowledgement that we don’t know the answers and have no way of knowing the answers, but that doesn’t mean it’s one or the other.

I also repeatedly contend that my beliefs are independent of whether or not there was any kind of intelligent design or designer, or some giant invisible hand that reached into our genetic coding and gave us the gift of consciousness and self-awareness somewhere along our evolutionary path.  And, almost more importantly; I only believe what I believe BECAUSE of the evidence that has been presented to me, and what I have discovered for myself.  I didn’t start out trying to debunk anything, and honestly, my search was actually quite unrelated; I was simply looking to see if I could find evidence of where humans first started looking into the sky and imagining a God at the helm.

If I had found overwhelming evidence in favor of creationism or even of intelligent design, I would change my position in a second.  And actually, when I first was doing my research, I was so moved by Michael Behe’s book called “Darwin’s Black Box” that it became my “Bible” for a short while until my infatuation wore off and my scientific mind came creeping back in.  I like to blame my temporarily insanity to left over indoctrination that hadn’t quite left my system yet.  But that lasted only a short while as I was then prompted to look, for myself, into many of the basis for his assertions.

And, as my research went on, my world started to fall apart around me.  But the defining moment for me was when I actually took the 70 hours of time required to read the Bible for myself.  What I found was beyond reproach, it was the most shocking story of evil that I had ever laid my eyes on, and actually thought for a minute that I had somehow purchased an atheists version of the Bible; one that was translated to make the God of the Bible out to be a monster, as someone so morally reprehensible that I felt I didn’t have words strong enough to describe the depth of evil that seemed to permeate this God of the Bible.

(See “Be a Good Christian: Kill Your Children?“ for details on this.)

So, I have a growing number of articles that vividly articulate my thoughts and positions in relation to Christianity on this website.  I was raised a Roman Catholic, being mislead and brainwashed by the messengers of the Christian Mythology from before I uttered my first words.  In that spirit, I wish to be clear from the outset:  My present belief system has not been hastily arrived at; it has evolved through a deeply contemplated, exhaustively researched, and sometimes painful quest for the truth.  I did not set out to debunk the Christian Mythology; I simply set out to understand it.

So, before you categorically dismiss everything I say from here on out; I ask one thing of you:  Rise above your deeply layered and carefully crafted years of conditioning, open your mind to the possibility that what you hold so dear perhaps holds a chilling truth that you were never presented with, one that could shake the very foundations that your life is based upon.  After countless hours of contemplation and research, I have been so convinced by the facts that I will take any defense head-on, knowing, without question, that any defense any Christian might present can be only be based on ignorance of the truth, most likely-instilled in you by the very people you put your trust and faith into; your clergy.  So, even for a few moments, practice the tolerance your clergy have taught you (which is completely against what your God of the Bible teaches you) and come out a better human than you were before, even if it’s at my expense.

Short Answer: Indoctrination

Once I stopped banging my head against the wall, unable to grasp how something so obviously irrational is clung to so desperately by its followers, I was still left with the obvious question:  WHY does religious discussion incite such categorical rejection of ideas, such knee-jerk dismissal, such anger, and often; such violence?  Is there a evolutionary reason that makes religion a favorable trait that wouldn’t be evolved out of the system?  Religion is one of the most pervasive human ideas; whether it’s Christianity or Islam or Buddha”¦humans have an obvious penchant for seeking out and believing in a God.

And the answer came to me when I was discussing child psychology and why it’s believed that some kids have difficulty reaching beyond the abuses of their youth, often doomed to repeat the same patterns with their own children.  The fact is, is that all of these things are built into the system of religious belief, especially when their main method of spreading their word is through Indoctrination from a very young age.  Indoctrination is a kinder and more palatable word than “brainwashing” but both utilize the same tactics to instill belief and then to maintain that belief in the minds of those the belief was instilled into.

Most of us humans have been conditioned when we are children in such a way that we are resistant to believing things that go against what we are taught.  Bold statement you say?  It’s not a radical theory; it’s just a fact of the way the human mind forms.  Our neural pathways are the information superhighways in our brains.  There are about a trillion of them when we are born.  These highways are completely blank, awaiting a universe of information to pass over its winding roads.  Let’s take the example of a baby who learns that when he cries, a parent comes running to comfort him/her.  This action does not go unnoticed by the brain.

What happens, biochemically speaking, is that a neural pathway is designated by the brain to carry the information regarding this action (crying) and the result of this action (comfort).  This action/reaction state is stored along that particular neural superhighway, and becomes that neural pathways’ only function.  So, as a result, this particular neural pathway gains strength each time the baby cries and receives comfort.

Let’s say that this same baby is now 2 years old.  This child has learned, from his lengthy 2 years on this planet, that crying gets her comfort from a parent.  Except now, when the child cries, something different happens.  Instead of receiving comfort for her actions, she gets told that crying won’t get her fed, that she needs to be a “big girl” and ask when she is hungry or uncomfortable.  A new neural pathway begins to form, strengthening every time the girl asks for something to eat instead of crying.  And, oddly enough, the neural pathway that was reinforced by the crying equals comfort scenario, begins to weaken, and eventually disappears altogether, because the brain had no use for it anymore.

Imagine the ramifications of this.  By the time a child is about 12 years-old, most of the billions of neural pathways that they will have for the rest of their lives have been formed, and the ones that didn’t get reinforced simply disintegrate.  A child that never learned to relate to other children will most likely have an extremely difficult time relating to children in the future.  This isn’t to say that new things can’t be learned, I’m simply saying that through natural selection within the brain itself, that this particular person will be biochemically resistant to learning this ability that wasn’t taught in her youth.  And again, this isn’t a controversial theory; it’s a generally accepted fact.

I was not encouraged to read the Bible for myself; I was encouraged to listen to the clergy who were the messengers of God, who knew far more about what God wanted for His children than I could ever hope for.  I am presently engaged in a project where I am seeking cultures who do not indoctrinate their children with religious beliefs before they can make those decisions for themselves or even speak yet, but so far, I haven’t found any”¦which isn’t entirely unexpected.

Turning to Statistics

I often turn to statistics, which immediately incite the knee-jerk reaction of: “But statistics can read any way you wish.”  This is true, but only to a certain extent and certainly not in the way I use or quote statistics in relation to my points.  The plain fact is, is that no matter how much I wished I could “manipulate” these statistics, they will still read the same.  It’s far easier to bend statistics to my whim when testing a particular portion of the population; I can look for those who would be more sympathetic to my cause but when speaking of broad statistics, no one is left out, and therefore, they are indistinguishable from facts.

As harsh as this might seem, it doesn’t take much investigating as to whether or not there is any evidence that supports the claims of the Bible.  I actually find it difficult to believe that any rational person who has actually taken the time to read the Bible could do anything but at least wonder if the Bible was the work of an unenlightened, selfish, short-tempered, amoral, vindictive force, rather than a kind, compassionate, and loving god.  The Bible’s own words repeatedly and in no uncertain terms espouses hate and violence in the most cruel and demeaning of ways.

And, as it turns out, there are some interesting statistics when it comes to the Bible, those who believe it, those who follow it, and those who understand its true nature and intent.  These broad statistics are clear in their results, and although Christians like to argue the exceptions, I am speaking of majorities and general numbers, and the general numbers clearly show that with higher IQ comes a higher incidence of disbelief in the Christian god, the leading physicists, philosophers, and scientists of our time do not believe in the Christian God, and the list goes on.

In fact, when a Christian outright dismissed these statistics during our discussion (on the basis of course, that statistics can show whatever you want them to show), he felt it prudent to quote these two passages from the Bible to me as well:

Matthew 11:25

At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

Corinthians 1:19 (Amplified Bible)

For it is written, I will baffle and render useless and destroy the learning of the learned and the philosophy of the philosophers and the cleverness of the clever and the discernment of the discerning; I will frustrate and nullify [them] and bring [them] to nothing.

So, not only was this Christian arguing that statistics are inadmissible, he was pointing out that His god doesn’t like smart people anyway.  But worse than that, the God of the Bible said that He would “destroy” anyone who possessed intelligence, especially if you were clever, discerning, or a philosopher.  I can’t help find this worrisome, and not because I fear some ultimate retribution from the God of the Bible.

Studies also clearly show that most rational people who have done even a minimal amount of research, recognize Christian Mythology as the religion of violence, hate, and atrocities it is.  And with the advent of the internet, Christianity is losing its soldiers every day.  Yet millions continue to turn a blind eye to the true nature of the Bible.  The only rational answer is that we have to look for what could be causing irrational behavior, and to me, we need to look no further than the above-described indoctrination.

This has actually been presented in a theory by Vero Copner Wynne-Edwards; a British zoologist best known for his 1962 book, “Animal Dispersion in Relation to Social Behavior” known as “group selection” as the underlying reason why, something as irrational as belief in the Christian God can seem to go against the rules of evolution.  This idea has since seen countless updates and variations, and Richard Dawkins in “The God Delusion” actually devotes a reasonable amount of time to this very idea, calling it a “by-product” of a useful Darwinian trait of children.  He, like many others, is convinced (as I am) that to ensure the survival of the species, children possess a genetic disposition towards believing everything adults tell them.  But this is something that warrants an entire discussion of its own as well.

Supplemental Reasons

Besides of the obvious reasons explaining why Indoctrination is so efficient, it can’t be separated from the supplemental reasons inextricably and conveniently tied to Indoctrination which further cement a system of irrationality that didn’t need more reinforcement in order to be as pervasive as it is in our society.  These are described briefly below:

SOCIAL PRESSURE: Built into this indoctrination is a vast social structure of attitudes in relation to both those within your religious system and those outside of it.  You are told that without God, you are amoral.  There’s family pressure, and those who reject the religion of their family often reject being rejected by their family and perhaps their entire community.

If you’re not Christian, you’re an atheist, and no one is more hated than an atheist because, according to Christians, they have no moral compass.  If you’re not Christian, good luck getting into political office.  But, what do statistics say in relation to amoral behavior and atheism?  Surprisingly enough, per capita (which accounts for the fact that there are more Christians than atheists), Christians are consistently responsible for more violence and violent crimes than any other measured group.

FALSE CORRELATIONS: This is perhaps one of the most pervasive and insidious features of many who wish to hold power over others or to push their own agenda, and is related to the Social Pressure category above.  I have repeatedly found Christians to be masters of drawing wild conclusions from simple facts as evidence of truth.  For example, if I don’t have God, then I am amoral, or if I don’t believe in the Christian God, then I am an atheist, or countless other examples that prompted a separate series of articles entitled “Christianity’s False Correlations” that vividly outline and describe these insidious techniques.

I can’t count the number of friends who almost panicked when they started to have kids of their own.  I saw those who rarely spoke of religion suddenly going to Church every Sunday as practice because something in the deep recesses of their brain was activated, and screaming to them that unless they got some religion and FAST, that their kids would grow up to be thieves, rapists and murderers (which oddly enough are just a few of the crimes committed by the God of the Bible that they were racing to teach their kids) if they didn’t.  Wow”¦what a strange world of irrationality we often live in.

PART OF THE ELITE: A tact that is rampant these days is a technique often used by Christian conservatives”¦they use their apparent enlightened position to draw followers into the “inner circle”, into the elite group of people who, like them, know the REAL truth, the truth that most are too stupid to get, but a truth that you, since you agree with this intelligent, knowledgeable person now possess.  But, the caveat to this, is that it only statistically works, in the overwhelming majority, with those who are less education and/or who have an IQ that is below average.  And before you get out the pitchforks and make more threats Christians, just remember, I am only the messenger, simply stating statistics.

GOD IS ABOVE MORALITY: The God of the Bible holds a VERY special place in our world because He’s the only entity that has found a way to live outside of the very morality he demands of His followers.  With His track record of murder and destruction (again, see “Be a Good Christian: Kill Your Children?”), it’s truly no different than placing your children in the care of a metaphorical Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson, yet irrationality and indoctrination prove to be powerful foes.

In fact, according to an exhaustive study by Gregory S. Paul and published in the Journal of Religion and Science, the highest rates of social ills such as murder, mortality rates, and sexually transmitted disease are highest where Christianity is most prevalent.  Other statistics show that some of the least religious places in the world boast the longest life expectancies.  And, strangely enough, as mentioned previously, and with few exceptions, one’s religious affiliation almost exactly corresponds with their IQ as well; the higher the IQ, the less-likely one is to be a Christian.

As another of countless examples: Over 50% of conceptions end as spontaneous abortions.  If one is thinking rationally and clearly, this makes God the #1 abortionist known to humans.  Yet Christians argue that “God has His reasons” as if that excuses the act of aborting fetuses.  But, an abortion is an abortion regardless of the reason, as clearly described in several laws now in place that were forged on Christian beliefs, yet their God is forgiven because He’s God and His reasons are ABOVE question.  Lucky for God or He would have been convicted many times over.

MEANING MUST FOLLOW TIME INVESTED: If someone has invested a great deal of time and energy into following a belief system, if it is the thing that gave meaning to one’s life, no matter how much evidence is presented to the contrary, there is a basic human need to stick by these beliefs at all costs.  Why?  If a belief system proves to be false, one would have to admit to themselves, their family, and the world around them, that something they have embraced and spent so much of their life believing in, that they have wasted the only life they know as well as the lives of countless around them.

One of the only ways believers and followers can combat this is to immerse themselves in hefty doses of denial.  And any thinking person knows; the closer to the truth something is, the more profound, and often the more violent this denial becomes.  We all want our lives to have meaning and if someone suddenly showed me the man behind the curtain who had been guiding my every move, I might pretend that person doesn’t exist as well in order to prevent the fabric of my life from unraveling.  But it’s not an excuse by any stretch of the imagination; the truth is not always pleasant or pretty, yet it has been shown time and time again, that many humans choose blind ignorance over the illumination of the truth if it keeps them within their comfort zone.

IGNORANCE OF THE FACTS: I also grew increasingly convinced that the only way this religion has kept so many of its followers is because most (as clearly shown statistically) have never personally taken the time to read their own Bible, or taken the time to research for themselves what the true nature of their own religion is.

Modern or “liberal” Christians like to sway me to their side with arguments such as “I only admire the essence of who Jesus was” or “Once Jesus came along, he nullified much of the teachings and violence of the Old Testament” or “The Bible is meant to be taken as fables or stories and isn’t literally true” or “you’re speaking of False Christianity” (which is the exact comment someone left me in my “What Religion Do You Aspire To?”article), to countless other arguments that are so ill-presented and unfounded that it makes those who express them seem unequivocally unintelligent and/or ignorant.  In fact, I take issue with every single one of those statements, reaffirming my belief that the only possible explanations for anyone holding onto the beliefs they do in relation to the God of the Bible is because they have not taken the time to read the Bible for themselves and because of Indoctrination.

And actually, I feel less and less pity for those who claim to trust the words of their clergy rather than doing their own research and seeking their own truth; there’s the internet, there are books on tape, there are websites that have every known version of the Bible, capable of being notated, searched, and compared, so there could be no uncertainty in the content or meaning behind what the Bible claims to represent, across every language and version known to humans.

I am not arguing that Jesus didn’t profess peace and love as part of His teachings, but I take issue with the fact with those who like to believe that that message was the essence of who Jesus, as vividly described in the Bible, was.  The fact is, is that Jesus and His apostles went to great effort to reaffirm the truths and teachings of the Old Testament, and below are just 2 examples of many:

Matthew 5:17-19 (New International Version)

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 Truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

And this is what further irks me in relation to the hypocrisy that any Christian needs to be an expert in, in order to put forth any of the beliefs they claim is the essence of the moral fabric of their lives: More than a few modern or liberal Christians have told me that they have taken the liberty of picking and choosing the passages that they “connect” with and simply ignoring or outright denying the ones that they don’t agree and/or connect with.

And this arrogance, this sheer ability to not only reject the teachings of the God who expressly forbid them to reject anything He had to say, what I find unbelievable is that the people who push this set of ideas can’t see the hypocrisy of their own words; they can’t see that the very act of “picking and choosing” is one of the very acts that the God of the Bible states will lead to eternal damnation in the depths and flames of hell.

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  • Keith Cleversley
    May 30, 2012 at 11:06 pm 


    Thanks for all your well-thought out words! Although I remain quite skeptical, I do hold out hope that truth will always win out in the end. Slowly, but surely, especially with the vast expansion of the internet, more and more people ARE finding out that what was indoctrinated into them at such a young age, might not be as true as they were led to believe it was. Religion is declining worldwide, as supported by a number of independent reports like the one titled “Religiosity Plummets In Ireland And Declines Worldwide; Atheism On The Rise” in the Huffington Post.

    I also don’t believe that atheism is an alternative to religion. My spirituality is perhaps one of the most personal aspects of who I am, but although I do not believe in the deeply disturbed, primitive, angry, hypocritical Christian god portrayed in the Christian Bible, I do believe, as almost all our ancient relatives did in the past, that we are all part of the same Divine Consciousness, and that the best any of us can do is to shine as brightly as we can, to live as full a life as possible, in order to honor that Divine within each one of us.

    Peace & Mischief,

  • DW
    May 29, 2012 at 7:40 pm 

    So, Keith, I see this article has been posted for some time, but I personally just stumbled upon it. I find the problem of irrational belief systems in all religions, although I was raised Catholic (and have encountered many “Christians) in my adult life, so I have particular familiarity with the myths, inconsistencies and egregious hypocrisy of Christianity, and its reliance on the Bible as holy book.

    What has become clear to me is that you can’t undermine someone’s faith, or beliefs, or religious zeal with something so mundane as the truth. The NEED people have to believe in such wild fairy tales is not something I understand, but I recognize that it is very much a need. I also recognize that people, dear Keith, are very stupid. It is far easier to be stupid, and complacent, and believe in some daddy-god who will save you from the ultimate bad fate: death.

    The horrible part is the evil that has been done, and continues to be done, in the name of Christianity (and all religions). I don’t have much hope for this world becoming a safe, peaceful, loving place while religion is at work in it. Religion does all the things you say and more – it conditions, brainwashes, and inevitably divides, and scapegoats. Every agnostic and atheist I know is more moral, because they truly know the state of humanity, are not deluded about some afterworld, and take responsibility for what goes on in this one. They have perspective, and compassion.

    I feel sorry for those who cannot reason their way out of paper bag, but I cannot help them. They have to choose to use their hearts, minds, and whatever shred of integrity they have to come to the conclusion that religion – and Christianity in particular – is for the foolish and faint of heart.

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