A short extract from my novel – The Antitheist’s Bible – a novel who’s central theme is about the absurdities of religion and how it has been used to control people and gain power.
‘So what do you think the world’d be like without religion, Oph?’ Kathy demanded, draining her glass and topping it up, passing me the spliff.
That was an interesting question. I wanted to say straight off how much better it would be but there was more to it than that. Phew. The more I pondered that the more the implications were enormous.
‘I dunno Kathy,’ I mused, frowning and pulling on the spliff. ‘It’d be a lot different. Just think – if we didn’t have all that energy put into building all those churches, temples and cathedrals; if everyone hadn’t wasted all that time and energy in pointless ceremonies and prayer; if we hadn’t been held back for thousands of years with all that superstition.’ I was warming to it. My imagination was already extrapolating out the possibilities, all the better uses those energies could be put to —– ‘If all that energy was put into more positive things!!’
‘Yeah but Oph,’ Kathy retorted rather aggressively, reaching across for the spliff, ‘those temples are beautiful, and the music and art. Wouldn’t the world be a dreary place without it?’
I grinned at her. Kathy playing her usual role of devil’s advocate. I wasn’t falling for that. But then again it was true. There were many great things that had come out of religion and many religious people would point to the sense of community and togetherness that religion produced, but I wasn’t about to acknowledge any of that. My beef was with the power structure.
I gurned at her. ‘Yeah, shame about the butchery, intolerance and torture’ I mused, raising my eyebrows. ‘Shame that so many were flayed alive and burnt to death in agony,’ I nodded my head and pursed my lips, warming to the task. ‘It’s a shame about 9.11, the bombings and misogyny. Shame about the cultural castration and the enslavement of women, all those women locked up in burqas.’ I could tell from her eyes that I was doing what she had wanted me to do – she had succeeded in getting me going. ‘Apart from that…… and all the bollocks about heaven, paradise ……….. and the hypocrisy …………. and the ridiculous contradictions, homophobia, intolerance ……….’ I was floundering around for all the many facets that had so infuriated me as Kathy smiled encouragingly, judgmentally apart, drawing on the spliff and studying my agitation. ‘And the way they all have their little stories that they hold to be gospel,’ I was now having to prevent myself from prodding a finger in her direction, ‘while denouncing everyone else’s versions as fabricated nonsense …….’ I was getting into my stride, placing the glass down on the floor so I didn’t spill it, waving my hands around. ‘You know, the way they claim to be the chosen people who are favoured by God and that all others, the heathen non-believers, are to be cast into the fiery pits forever……….. and the intrinsic stupidities of replacing the unfathomable reason for life with an equally unknown substitute, some magically manifest supernaturally powerful being………’ I couldn’t help myself. I was becoming more and more animated. ‘After all – where did this all-powerful god come from? …………… and what was the purpose of this eternal life? ……. Religion has no answers. They just tell you to believe. Bollocks. None of it makes sense.’
‘Ah come on Oph,’ she said insincerely, smiling sweetly, cutting me short, feigning an American accent. ‘You know god moves in mysterious ways. It is not our place to understand the working of god’s mind.’
I shook my head at her in a theatrical show of despair. She grinned back at me obviously warming to her task. ‘Besides, You’ve got to admit that the world would be a lot drabber without all those costumes and customs? If religion hadn’t determined things then the State would have done. There would have been bigger wars, bigger castles and more powerful warlords. Ordinary people might be in an even worse state.’
There was nothing I liked better than to argue on matters such as this. It got my grey cells buzzing, forced me to examine my own views and crystallize them. Religion was one of my pet themes and she knew it. It was also one of hers.
‘Or we might be living in a more liberated world where the enlightenment took place thousands of years earlier and everything was fairer and more advanced,’ I suggested, tilting my head to the side.
‘So you don’t believe that morality and ethics originate in religion?’ She poured herself another glassful and sipped trying to look quizzical and earnest. I laughed out loud. From my standpoint she’d only succeeded in looking comical. I knew she didn’t believe what she was suggesting.
I chuckled some more. ‘No, No Kathy, no I don’t. I think fairness, morality and ethics are basic human attributes.’ I frowned and took a big gulp of what was a cheapish red shiraz that had proved surprisingly smooth, then topped up my glass before replying. ‘I think that religion’s got fuck all to do with it. Religion is just about power. That and the State. All about power. It’s all primitive stuff. All the boys vying to be the great chief or shaman; white-backed gorillas. They are just seeking dominance and the right to fuck all the women. It’s all about DNA playing its games to get its genes into the next gene pool.’
‘But Oph,’ Kathy objected keenly, stubbing the dead roach in the ashtray. ‘Every culture has its creation myths and code of morality. They all regulate society and bring some order to it. Perhaps people need that? Perhaps religion helps produce that?’ Kathy continued her ploy. She was enjoying it just as much as I was.
‘Yeah, and they all create a pile of complicated dogma and use it to bash each other with, to shackle themselves,’ I began rolling another jay.
‘But there is order and there are restraints,’ she argued forcefully, ‘religion has restricted the power of the state, hasn’t it? It has helped produce order and structure.’