The truth of religion is no longer a question of historical or philosophical inquiry, it is the psychology of religion that is of consequence and of extreme importance.
I was raised a Catholic. As I’ve said so many times during my adult life, I’ve done the whole roman-catholic protocol, for lack of a better expression. I went to church every Sunday, I went to Sunday-school (Catequese, in Portuguese — which was on Saturdays by the way) and I prayed. Well, besides the praying, which I stopped doing when I was about 7-years-old because neither God nor Jesus would give me a nuclear-powered bike for Christmas, I kept going until my fiercely religious mother asked me if I wanted to stop. I never answered a question so fast, and so intensely. I remember that day vividly. Of course, I wanted to stop. Back then I thought of the whole thing as a complete waste of my free time. I didn’t judge it as I do now. I could be playing with my friends outside, or at home reading a book or watching TV. But worse than that were the questions I asked, and the answers I received in return. I had an inclination to question everything, and all the answers given to me were: “you must have faith”; “read the bible”; “don’t ask how Jesus resurrected in the middle of a sermon”. This really happened by the way.
I did read the bible and all the most famous faith’s manuals for that matter. An inheritance from my grandfather. The only thing that made any sense in the bible for me was the benevolence that was supposed to exist. Obviously, no one was expecting a 7-year-old child to read through the whole Old Testament in a few nights, or to be aware of the immensity that is the cosmos or to ask deeper, less orthodox questions, but I did.
For me, God was a mean, evil dude, and he probably had killed all the other Gods and virgin’s sons before him.
Where were all the other powerful entities that came before? I loved reading about Roman, Greek and Mayan mythology, for example. The thing was, they were to be considered myths, but the Christian God and Jesus were not. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. I knew of other similar prophets, similar Gods, but everyone around me wanted me to believe in this particular one.
It seemed to be the same old tale as all the others, but with different names, at different times (some were on the same date). What was so special about this one? Or any other one for that matter?One doesn’t even need to go too far.Each modern religion considers the rest as mythology, or they would strangely acknowledge them. So, for a Christian, everything else is folklore, and the same reasoning applies to every other religion in the world right now.
This is beyond psychological, it is fantastically disturbing.
One of the accepted tales, masked as fact, of the Christian faith, is of course, the birth of Jesus, the son of God. Born from a suspiciously immaculate conception. So, in short, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin. That is, she had never had sex with her husband Joseph, or anyone else for that matter. She was impregnated by the Holy Ghost — Naughty Ghost — , I used to say. This goes against every kind of rationality you may wish to apply here. It is because of this religious factoid, that I sometimes doubt a scientist can also be a Christian. I know they can, but it’s just nuts. Completely and utterly crazy.
Now, don’t forget, that there were many others before Jesus as I’ve pointed before. Born on the same day, in similar circumstances, and also from a vagina that had never met another man’s penis.
Below is a quote directly from the Bible.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was in this wise. When his mother, Mary, was espoused to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”
– Matthew 1:18
This is what all Christians believe in, or should at least. I bet that in a couple of centuries, the story of Jesus and the Virgin Mary will also be considered mythology. Is it going to be substituted by another one? I won’t be alive to see it, but there will always be people who need to have a supportive, spiritual entity keeping a close watch on them. It’s almost Freudian. The fear they have of reality will give them enough motivation to invent a new story, probably based on this one, so they can feel better about themselves, and safer in some way. The never-ending need of having the protection of a father, whose presence cannot be undermined or contested in any way, may surpass even the most intelligent of us.
Hopefully, in the future, our children will be exploring Mars or playing tennis on the Moon, and worrying themselves about how to SAVE their planet and not their souls.
“Now the birth of the Greek demi-god, Perseus, was in this wise. When Acristus, King of Argon was warned that he would be killed by the son of his daughter Danae, he built a tower of brass, in which she was imprisoned, and so hoped to frustrate the oracle. But the God Jupiter visited the maiden in a shower of gold, and thus was Perseus born. And the birth of the Aztec God, Huitzilopochtli, was in this wise. When Catlicus, the serpent-skirted, was in the open air, a little ball of feathers floated down from the heavens. She caught it and hid it in her bosom. And of this was the god born. The birth of the God Artis was in this wise. From the blood of the murdered Agdestris sprang a pomegranate tree, and some of the fruit thereof the virgin Nana gathered and laid it in her bosom, and thus was the god born. Also, the founder of the Manchu dynasty of China was born in this wisee. A heavenly maiden was bathing one day when she found on the skirt of her raiment a certain red fruit. She ate, and was delivered of a son. Likewise was Fo-Hi born of a virgin. And the virgin daughter of a king of the Mongols awakened one night and found herself embraced by a great light and gave birth to three boys, one of whom was the famous Genghis Khan. In Korea, the daughter of the river Ho was fertilized by the rays of the sun, and gave birth to a wonderful boy. Likewise was Christina born of the virgin Devagaka; Horus was born of the virgin Isis; Mercury was born of the virgin Maia; Romulus was born of the virgin Rhea Sylvia.
Many other stories might be related, but of all these there is none true but the first. Millions of Christians say so. For it is in the New Testament, and none of the others are, And to the eye of the faith, the distinction is of profound importance.”
What Cohen tried to do here was to pick up that famous quote from the bible, and simply change the names. So you see — you can and should research — , there were a lot of other powerful characters born from a virgin mother. But, the only one universally accepted is the first — Jesus. Yes, we humans have been insane for quite a long time. From what Cohen tried to do here, I can go almost to the start of civilization. For many, people believing in something like this may not seem to be dangerous or to influence anyone negatively, but there’s more to it than that. Do you really want a president who believes, in this day and age, that a woman can get pregnant without having sex, or by using science? Doesn’t that seem at least a bit awkward to you? Actually, add that to the story of the child being the saviour of mankind, who eventually died for our sins, killed by the same people he was supposedly king of, and he knew about it all beforehand? Let us say the world has exactly 8 billion people. These 8 billion people are ALL sinners, so he died horribly, in vain.
Seriously, being religious is still not considered a mental illness as far as I know. At least if it’s one of the major ones. I work in an ER, and I’ve seen some disturbing stuff. Events that would lead the person in question to burn at the stake a couple of centuries ago for instance. In the psychiatric section, one can be deemed “crazy” for saying he believes in the spaghetti monster, and in a female wolf who gave birth to a strong, healthy pup, without having intercourse with a male wolf. What is the difference here? There’s no Wolf-Bible? Is that it?
For me, as a scholar, I can’t really distinguish between the two paradoxes and neither can you, if you think logically. It may seem like a psychological conundrum, but it really isn’t. For me, they are all illusions. None of them more probable than the other.
I am now going to shift my patience and focus to the psychical origin of religious ideas. Not necessarily the Christian ones. Let’s embrace them all here. These religious ideas, which are given out as teachings, are not caused by experience or end-results of thinking: they are, like I’ve mentioned before, illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest, and most urgent desires of humanity. The secret of their underlying strength lies in the strength of those same desires.
As we already know, the terrifying impression of helplessness we all have in common in childhood, prompted the need for protection — for protection through love — which was provided by the father. The recognition that this helplessness lasts throughout life made it somehow necessary to stick to the existence of a father figure, but this time, a way more powerful one. Hence, the benevolent rule of a divine providence diminishes our fear of the dangers of life, of reality. The establishment of a moral world-order ensures the fulfilment of the demands of justice, which have so often remained unfulfilled in human civilization throughout history, and the prolongation of earthly existence in a future life provides the local and temporal structure in which these wish-fulfilments shall take place.
Answers to the mysteries that tempt the curiosity of men, such as how the universe began or what the relation is between body and mind, are developed in compliance with the underlying assumptions of this same system. It is an enormous relief to the individual psyche if the conflicts of its childhood, arising from the imperative need of a father figure — conflicts which it has never fully overcome — are removed from it and brought to a solution which is universally accepted.
The story of how Jesus was born is as old as mankind itself. It is the same story told over and over again. An old tale. The reason why some people choose to accept it as an undeniable fact is beyond reason. The effects of religion have been rippling through our history, through time itself until now. I’m not going to call religious people crazy, nor am I trying to lessen their existence somehow, far from it. I try and respect everyone. We live in an era where science and logic reign supreme when it comes to the inner-workings of the world, outside of politics of course. Religion, whichever it may be, shouldn’t be privileged in any way. Advantages, exemptions, and special rights shouldn’t be ascribed to any of the religions in existence. Moreover, when the electorate believes in Jesus, for example, their votes will certainly be dubious. That is my most honest opinion. I’m not saying politicians should be scientists, atheists or agnostics. I’m concluding that believing in something that is impossible, may induce in dangerous errors in judgment. Alas, there are very good people, scientists for example, who are masters at distinguishing what, when and where.