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Believe in Disbelief (or Maybe Organized Religion IS All Bad)

Last night, I watched a great documentary about the history of atheism, "Jonathan Miller's: A Brief History of Disbelief" (only part one, the rest isn't posted). It's basically an examination of atheism. Why people become atheists, when did it start, and an examination of the arguments supporting it. Here are some quotes from the show:
"A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler who they consider god fearing and pious. On the other hand, they less easily move against him, believing he has the gods on his side." -Aristotle

"Long time men lay oppressed with slavish fear, religion's tyranny did domineer. At length a mighty one of Greece began to assert the liberty of man." -Lucretius

"Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is god both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god?" -Epicurus

"If I am, death is not. If death is, I am not. Why should I fear that which cannot exist when I do?" -Epicurus

(Aristotle's quote is really quite depressing, considering it's just as pertinent today as it's ever been. Americans, in particular, seem to be OK with their tyrant breaking the law and defiling their constitution, and seem to be afraid of holding him responsible. The scumbag should've been thrown in jail years ago.)

During the program, Jonathan Miller points out that, although belief in a god is rooted in superstition and fear, the expressions of this belief are often incredibly beautiful. Look at all the organized religions in the world, and you will see a common thread of stunningly beautiful architecture, painting, sculpture.

This got me thinking of Ernest Becker's book "Escape From Evil". In it, he puts forth the theory that from since the beginnings of humanity, evil was equated with death, good with life. He suggests that all of our belief in gods, all of our religious ritual is simply an unconscious method of dealing with the terror of evil, or death. They are grand inventions taken up on a mass scale in order to soothe a societies' fears of annihilation.

In other words, religion and god are works of the imagination, or artistic creations, and the trappings of religion are the physical manifestations of this work of art.

Unfortunately, when it come to religion, people seem more inclined to treat inanimate objects with reverence, and human beings with contempt.

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