Monday, March 12, 2018

The Choice Before Us

Religion has been around for a long time.  The traditional answer is that humans evolved religion as a means of coping with the death of loved ones, which is true, as religion preys strongly on the personal crisis in helping cope with the deaths of loved ones by promising that they will see their loved ones again. Another reason often put forward is for a means of explaining the world around us as being created by an all-powerful deity, because it was only until quite recently that we have had any real clue as to the nature of the forces at work around us that have crafted our environment and state of existence. As humans discovered agriculture and started to settled down, populations tended to grow far beyond the small hunter-gatherer groups. Human societies started to independently evolve religious ideas as a means of controlling the behaviour of members of society of how people should behave which were  said to be laid down by an all-knowing and powerful deity, the creator, rules such as thou shall not kill, steal, and one man one wife, and of course to pay homage to the creator/s and follow the teachings and instructions of the deities prophets and priests, that were to be repeatedly recited and ingrained in all members of society. 

All religion's seek to exert total control over every member of society as it was/is believed that all events that happen are as a consequence of the pleasure or displeasure of the Gods such as natural disasters in which respect societies even went so far as to sacrifice fellow humans to please their gods, and sacrifice remains at the fundamental core of all religions i.e. that humans sacrifice independent free will in this life for freedom in the next life, and to a achieve entry into the afterlife humans need to obey the will of the Gods as set down by those that purport to represent the deities such as kings and queens and priests under the fear of what would happen to them if they did now obey the will of the Gods as their representatives on earth. Complete religious control even up to the point of self-sacrifice (martyrdom). Over time this control of the masses has continued to develop and intensify the hold on the general population's actions, making it far easier for the elite to control every aspect of life. 

Religion is not simply a jumble of confused ideas. It is a powerful weapon in the hands of the capitalist class. It divides us and blinds us to the class action that is required to overcome the menace of capitalism. Religion is the ideological expression of a long-gone world and its ancient social conditions, a world of superstition, slavery and little education. Far from providing an answer to today’s problems, it tells us to put our faith in the supernatural hopes of a past age. Instead of uniting us as a class we are to become meek and mild, and to submit to the whims of an ancient god. From the dawn of civilisation religion has been a weapon of political domination. The working class though not as yet hostile to religion, are nevertheless becoming increasingly indifferent to it. Religion is dying but not yet dead. None of us is born Christian or Muslim or anything else. We’re born with no knowledge or beliefs in any god. In fact, we’re all born into a state of atheism. Wherever the accident of birth sees each child born, each individual is born totally dependent and without language or religion. A child develops speaking the language of its home. A child raised in a religion-free zone will not acquire religious knowledge. For this to occur it would need to be exposed habitually to ideas, concepts, and beliefs by those around it. How many people make a conscious choice of religion and how many simply continue with what they were born into as part of their traditional culture, religious or not?

Belief in religion – any religion – hampers the ability to think objectively, particularly about social and political issues. The disappearance of all religious beliefs should be seen as an essential part of our struggle for socialism and not just as a fringe irrelevance. It isn’t simply a question of religion being false, or brutal or divisive; it is a weapon of the ruling class, a bulwark in the way of the emancipation of the working class, a hurdle to be overcome in the progress to socialism nor could it be overcome while the conditions that nourished it continued to exist. Thus, the socialist sees religion as an integral part of the class struggle.

Despite occasional public pronouncements that the West had no quarrel with mainstream Islam, there is no doubt whatever that, with help from the media and repeated insinuations from various officials, the widespread impression has been created that opposition to, hatred of and terrorism against the West is essentially “a Muslim thing” and that the Islamic faith itself carries the seeds of violence and terrorism. Thus we see that a difference in religion has offered the opportunity for capitalism to denigrate as scapegoats the Islamic world: and to drive a wedge of suspicion and distrust between western workers and their eastern counterparts – a good present-day example of the old imperial dodge of “divide and rule”.

An awful lot of people try to impose their false beliefs and certain antiquated social traditions on other people by falsely pretending to be speaking for a god without any good evidence of the existence of any god in the first place and even on the basis of pretending that ancient texts written by men came from that god despite the real world facts which unequivocally demonstrate that these ancient texts teach all manner of false empirical ideas and notions of morality that are primitive and barbaric. Christians who pretend that their ideas are from a god, without any good evidence of even the existence of any such god, and despite extensive evidence that their ideas are false. Christians can't even agree with each other on what it means. There are only several hundred different Christian denominations! 

Materialism, or science, on the other hand, comes from the objectification of the real world outside of the emotions and desires and limited perceptions of humans, from the recognition through rational thinking that the world exists completely independently of the human psyche, and that how we feel about reality is utterly irrelevant to determining what the facts of the real world are. Reality is what it is regardless of how we feel about it. The universe is far more vast and more complex than anything comprehended in the primitive cosmogony of the Bible. Man is not the purpose of creation. The earth is not the centre of the universe. Even our galaxy is but one of a trillion observable galaxies in the universe, and those are merely the ones we are able to observe.

Socialism, as the science of society, is an essential part of a scientific view of all phenomena regarded as an interdependent whole; and such a monistic view of the universe, with each part in inseparable causal relation to the rest, can leave no nook or cranny for God or Gods. The concept of God as an explanation of the Universe is becoming entirely untenable in this age of scientific enquiry. The laws of the persistence of force and the indestructibility of matter, and the unending inter-play of cause and effect make the attempt to trace the origin of things to an anthropomorphic God who had no cause futile. The physical laws of the known universe cannot logically be held to cease where our immediate experience ends, to make way for an unscientific concept of an uncaused and creating being. The Creation idea is unsupported by evidence and is in conflict with every scientific law. Socialism is consistent only with that monistic view which regards all phenomena as expressions of the underlying matter-force reality and as parts of the unity of Nature which interact according to the laws of physics.

The consistent socialist, therefore, cannot be a Christian, or Muslim or Jew or Hindu. As a belief, religion is a manifestation of man’s ignorance of Nature’s working. The great theoretic weapon of the workers in their fight for emancipation is science, not religion; and religion and science are as incompatible as fire and water. Religion is an instrument of domination which cannot be used as an agent of emancipation at this stage of history and social development. The working class, moreover, though not as yet hostile to religion, are becoming increasingly indifferent to it. Workers find little basis for belief in divine interference.

The decay of religion is, indeed, a measure of the advance of humanity, for the height of man’s superstition is at the same time the depth of his ignorance. The socialist can see, accompanying the decline of religion, humanity emerging from the darkness of ignorance and fear into the clear daylight of science and power, spurning the priests who had duped them, dispossessing the class that had robbed them, and moulding society to their needs, ordering and perfecting the social forces they have inherited. Socialists can picture the people, no longer slaves, but free: no longer in fear of phantoms of their own creation, but looking proudly out upon a harmonious and rational social world, harnessing giant natural forces to industry, and intensifying their relationship with Nature by a wider knowledge of Her laws. Socialists see a social organisation adapted to give all people health and happiness by freeing them from wasteful drudgery and by stimulating healthy emulation in a new birth of science and the arts. And so the community of brothers and sisters, that Christianity professed but could only retard, becomes, at last, a reality through the complete harmony of interests brought about by the co-operative commonwealth; a made inevitable, because the social organisation makes the highest welfare and happiness of each immediately dependent upon, and producible only by the promotion of the like well-being of all. 

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