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Friday, March 5, 2010

It's Friday and I'm going to be quite busy this weekend, so I'm posting my article today.

BORN INTO “SUCKERHOOD”

by Allen C. Dexter


Everybody loves a baby. They are so cute (most of them), sweet and helpless. They are also born without a clue as to the intricacy and insanity of the world they are entering. They are “sitting ducks” for whatever is shot their way. Yes, those innocents will get older and start a rebellious phase when they enter their teens, but there are still a lot of spurious concepts and beliefs they will usually find difficult to avoid absorbing or to shake off later in life.

I know. I've been there.

When I was born, that chilly October day in 1934, I was a totally blank slate. The change of surroundings and the chill in the air probably helped make me cry lustily. I was hungry, so my mother's soft, warm, milk filled breast was about the best welcome I could have received. Being cuddled close while my tummy filled was very comforting. We never outgrow this desire and need to be hugged lovingly.

Because I was born in the upper Midwest in an agrarian and traditionally Christian society (part of the Bible Belt), my upbringing was predictable. Those who didn't attend a church, like my family, still gave credence to the fables of the Bible. My mother played the piano a little, and her favorite hymn was The Old Rugged Cross. If anyone had told her she was really singing about Mithra, not some manufactured Jewish Jesus, she would have had no idea what they were talking about. I, in turn, just absorbed what I had been born into like all innocent little human sponges do.

It's the same all over the world. If you are born into Hindu India, you grow up believing in all the Hindu deities and think a cow is holy. The very thought of eating a t-bone steak would horrify you. You probably would believe you dare not squash a bug for fear it might be a reincarnated loved one.

If you were to be born into a Muslim society, you couldn't imagine not flopping prostrate several times a day, at the command of “the midnight Haranguer,” with your head pointing in the direction of Mecca. Not to do so would leave a great empty spot in your day and you would feel very guilty. Your speech would be peppered with a constant round of Allah this and Allah that – almost like cussing in other parts of the world.

The recorder starts whirling away in our minds from minute number one. By the time we reach adulthood, our minds are filled with beliefs, practices and concepts we find very hard to either question or expunge. It's like ripping a piece of ourselves off and throwing it away. Every connection to those things and people we have known and loved is at stake.

Everything we cling to as ethics, conscience and tradition comes to us first as absorption from the family unit and the society around us. Japanese warriors had no pangs of conscience for the horrors they committed under their traditional samurai code in China and throughout the Pacific war. They had contempt for any opposing warrior who was so cowardly as to surrender rather than die in place or by their own hand. I knew a survivor of the Bataan Death March. Those Japanese soldiers were monsters. Their culture had made them so. Muslim suicide bombers feel no guilt either, and for the same reason.

Rabid fundamentalist Christians see nothing unfair or immoral in ruthlessly persecuting homosexuals. They can point to plenty of scriptures they use to justify treating them as the scum of the earth. A few would still support the enslavement of other human beings because the Bible upholds the practice in several places. They are absolutely convinced that God wrote the Bible. Ask them. They'll tell you so, and your protestations to the contrary will fall on deaf ears.

The battle to overcome ingrained orthodoxy and cultural norms and get people to really think and reason often seems like a losing proposition, even here in comparatively enlightened America. The propaganda emanating from every societal and media source is so overwhelming that progress is painfully slow. Every book, article or online source of reason and truth is drowned out by a flood of the same old blather that has kept humanity in superstitious bondage for millenniums. It's even harder in parts of the world where any and every attempt at promoting reason is met with overwhelming establishment censorship and brutal force.

A question that constantly plagued my mind when I began to see the light and cast off old ways of thinking was, “How could I have been so dumb?” It was hard to understand how I missed all those cues. Cues that would now stand out like the proverbial sore thumb.

I knew where babies came from rather early in life. How could I be taken in by that virgin birth nonsense? When I learned while still at Ambassador College that the oldest New Testament documents couldn't be traced back beyond the fourth century, an elapsed period greater than the entire history of the USA, why didn't I realize how lacking in authority and made up they had to be? Especially, in light of the nonsensical drivel some of those forced by Constantine to attend the Nicene Counsel put forth in some of their other writings.

I had been brainwashed, like all humans are to one degree or another. Hooking up with super-narcissistic Herbert W. Armstrong just put the cap on what had been going on since the day I was born. It wasn't deliberate on the part of my parents and the many good people I grew up around. However, it was very deliberate on the part of a lot of people, both in and out of WCG, who stood to profit from my brainwashed ignorance.

Back in about 1975 or '76, when the upheavals in Worldwide were just beginning, I had occasion to talk for a while with an old student friend who was now a ranking minister in WCG. Regarding all the turmoil, he said what put his mind at ease was the fact that none of it was his responsibility. He salved his conscience, for the time being anyway, by leaving all the questions in the hands of those he regarded as being responsible.

He later bolted into one of the major splinters and rose rather high in their ranks before retiring. I think he still occupies some position of status. He never did see through all the nonsense, or so I prefer to believe. His mind was (I hope) too thoroughly set in the habitual pattern and the nonsensical doctrines programed into him.

I'm thankful circumstances made it a lot easier for me to see through it all, and I'm still in the process. I often wonder what I might have done under vastly different circumstances. Would I, like many, have compromised and become just another hypocritical hireling? I hope not.

I have hope that reason and science will win out in the end, but that end looks very far off when I take a long, hard look at the world as it is. The world seems to be at the mercy (?) of not only religious, but economic, corporatist and political hirelings who care for naught but their own and their masters' welfare.

I pick up a newspaper or magazine, and there is a stupid horoscope feature leaping out at me. Christmas or Easter comes along, and the same old mythological, totally fabricated out of ignorance pap floods radio and TV and all other available media.

I have a step-daughter who is into the nonsense of numerology. Shades of Gerald Waterhouse!

I see Muslim fanatics who would consider it a great honor and an immediate ticket to paradise if they could find a way to blow up an infidel like me and themselves at the same time. They are breeding like back alley cats and spreading everywhere they can. That gives me serious concern about the future of the world.

No “god” has ever stepped forward thus far to stop any of the madness, murder and mayhem extant in the world. Roman legions, Genghis Khan, Attila, the Japanese warlords, Hitler, Stalin, and a nauseous litany of other human monsters have come and gone through the millenniums and no legions of angels ever rode to the rescue of hapless humanity. No archangel Michael or Gabriel ever set his foot on a Worldwide stage and told Herbie, Hoeh or Meredith (or any other blowhard) to shut the hell up.

The purveyors of religious nonsense have always found a way to claim that any fortunate happenstance was attributable to the god or gods they championed, but demonstrable proof he or they were anywhere in the vicinity has always been absent. They were also right there to assert that every disaster was the fault of the average Joe or Judy Blow who didn't contribute, fast or pray enough or do enough priestly ass-kissing.

So, don't blame yourself or think of yourself as “dumb.”

You were set up! You were bamboozled! Just like all those who came before you.

We've come some of the way toward a truly reasonable and sane world, but the battle is far from over. As long as “creation science” can be lobbied for as a reasonable educational adjunct, we're a long way from “there.” As long as fanatical parents “home school” their children to keep them from the “ungodly” public educational system, ignorance will continue to warp far too many innocent children whose minds will be poisoned with superstitious crap for much, if not all, of their lives.

Whatever progress has been made has been at the behest of good, intelligent, principled men and women willing to expend their blood, sweat and tears for the betterment of themselves and their neighbors.

Be encouraged that you now see things a lot more clearly and keep up the good fight. It can seem like a lonely and hopeless quest, but it always has been. At least we now know that the world is not flat nor the center of the universe. We don't, here in America anyway, stone people to death for moral weaknesses and mistakes. However, I did read that some religious nuts wanted to stone the killer whale that killed its handler!

Oy vay! Ay, yi, yi! Give me a break!

Hellooooo! It's a KILLER whale! That's how your “God” supposedly made him! Why don't you try to stone him? Oh, that's right. Nobody has ever seen the mythical guy. You have no clue where to find him, even to ask him why he made the old boy so blood thirsty and non-discriminating in his prey.

Hang in there. The fight really is worth it and there has been a little progress.

Monday, March 1, 2010

It's OK To Be An Agnostic

Just so everyone reading my blogs will know the mindset from which I write, I've composed this article:



IT'S OK TO BE AN AGNOSTIC

by Allen C. Dexter

I get all kinds of reactions when I reveal the fact that I am an agnostic. A lot of horrified people think I'm headed straight to that divine Dachau and theological Treblinka they call Hell. They express sorrow and say they'll “pray” for poor me.

Interesting concept of “god.” He's supposedly so thin skinned that if I don't believe in him, he'll get even by making me burn for all eternity. At least, Herbert Armstrong's teaching had him only burning me to ashes, like in the Nazi crematoriums.

If Eichmann was a war criminal, what is their Jehovah?

Often, they will ask me, “What if you're wrong?”

My answer: “What if you're wrong?”

A lot of people have an attitude that reminds me of General Patton. Hedge your bets and take advantage of the possible benefits of any faith, such as when he was in the hospital, in traction and staring death in the face. Any minister or priest who offered last rights or any kind of intercession was welcomed.

Patton didn't get deeply into theology. He just read “the book,” took it somewhat seriously, went on cussing up a blue streak when the occasion called for it with an absolute conviction he'd been here in several other lives (all military, apparently) and would probably be here again. Right or wrong, it gave him a purpose and goal in life. I like him. Whatever might be said about him, he was always genuine.

Some atheists seem to have the attitude that being an agnostic is tantamount to being weak kneed and wishy-washy. They are so convinced of their atheistic approach that it becomes a non-believer's dogma.

I've flirted with outright atheism, largely because I know the Bible and the Christian God is a totally concocted farce. All the myths surrounding the biblical Jesus didn't come into anything close to their present form until the fourth century after the composite Jesus the Western world was tricked into believing in supposedly walked the earth.

That's a period longer than our nation has existed!

Who would want to write a history of the Revolutionary War with no authoritative written records penned by those who were there to use as sources? How accurate and authoritative do you think it could be after three hundred years? All this is made plain in The Forged Origins of the New Testament which is available via the link on this site.

After my experiences with dogmatism under Armstrongism, I resist flopping to the exact opposite side of dogmatism by being dogmatic that there can't possibly be any force or entity that could be called “god.” I frankly doubt that there is, but I'd rather take the approach of science and leave the subject open to inquiry. If such a “god” wants to condemn me for that approach, while he steadfastly refuses to reveal himself in an open and tangible way so there can be no question of authenticity, then I'll just have to accept condemnation.

I'm not at all worried.

Concocted scripture tells me I have no excuse for not believing. I reject that haughty pronouncement out of hand. I will not be talked down to in such a manner. Nobody, past or present, gets to judge me in such an attitude of superiority.

Not any more.

I'm not a deist, but I do respect their thinking a whole lot more than the thinking of religionists.

Deism is a close cousin to agnosticism. I'm just not prepared to state that there really was a god who started it all and then took a hands off policy. It does make a whole lot more sense than belief in an interventionist god who never seems to intervene when he is needed most, such as during the holocaust. Most of the “miracles” I've heard people prate about are several steps down the line hearsay and misinterpretations of totally plausible natural happenstances.

The word “miracle” has really been cheapened, especially by people with a religious bent. My wife chided me once for washing a pattern of dark dirt off our cement block wall because it was in the shape of a cross. She opined we might have been able to make some serious money by drawing the gullible public's attention to it and then charging admission to see it.

She was also chagrined once when she was sure she saw the figure of the Virgin Mary on a tortilla. Before she could make a fortune on E bay, her son came home, loaded it with re-fried beans and ate it.

What really happened at the “big bang?” Was there any kind of intelligence behind it? Some scientists have concluded that the universe arose from thought. Are they right? Or, are they succumbing to the same kind of delusions that drive religions?

I don't know and scientists have only theories and speculation at this point – nothing that can be nailed down to absolute specifics. Quantum Physics presents us with some interesting and puzzling facts and theories. Some of them border on the religious.

Religions insist on having a set god, a set revelation and set dogmas. These all originated in human minds, and some of those minds were definitely deranged. The present world is filled with the same kind of people who are absolutely certain that they are one of the “two witnesses,” a reincarnation of Jesus, a prophet or apostle, etc.

As in the past, all such deluded, unbalanced or power mad individuals hark back to the use of fear to keep any adherents they might garner in line. Their first goal is to stop the poor sucker from thinking anything contrary to what they set forth as “the truth.” If it is said to come from whatever “revelation” they champion, it is absolute truth and to reject that “truth” is the same as rejecting god because it came, they staunchly maintain, from that god.

That god, being very sensitive, can't brook any such rejection and reacts by condemning the offending ingrate to either total destruction or an eternity of unimaginable suffering. In the meantime, the hapless individual is assured he will be cursed in all daily affairs and relationships. If he or she is really convinced, they become paralyzed mentally, maybe even physically.

Sound familiar? If you were caught up in Armstrongism, it should.

So, after long and careful analysis, I've concluded that I can't be absolutely sure about a great many things because there are a lot of things I don't and cannot know. That makes me an agnostic, which simply means “don't know for sure.”

I suspect the atheists are right. I have no empirical evidence that they are not. Nor have they been able to present totally irrefutable proof that they are. It's a big can't know for absolutely sure situation right now.

What I do know for sure is that none of the religions, their revelations and their gods currently extant on this earth make sense when examined critically and logically. Therefore, I now believe and follow none of them.

I'm an agnostic. That's an OK position to be in.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Greetings

Hi, old friends, associates, fellow exs, etc.

For the month of March, I will be editor on this blog. I will post my first material tomorrow and hope to maybe hear from some old friends and fellow refugees.

Allen C. Dexter