The Story of God – for George Rehema

Once upon a time there was a man who asked questions:

Where did the universe come from?

Some people said it was always here.

Some people said it came out of nothing.

The man was puzzled.

Everything has a beginning. How can the universe not have a beginning? How can it always have been here?

But if it came from nothing how is that possible? All the matter cannot just suddenly be created out of nothing, could it?

He went to ask the Holy Man (who lived in a very nice house and was worshipped by many).

‘Holy Man, please tell me where did the universe come from?’

The Holy Man said ‘God made it.’

That made sense.

The Holy Man added – ‘God has given me instructions. You must worship only God, you must wear these clothes, you must eat this food. You must behave this way. You must pray, fast and study the holy book. God has a purpose for you.’

The man went away. Everything was explained. God made everything. God told him how to behave. God had a purpose for him.

But the more he thought the more he came to realise that it wasn’t an answer at all. He went back to the Holy Man with more questions –

‘Who made God?’

‘Where did God come from?’

‘Where was God before the universe was made?’

‘Has God always been here?’

‘What is this mysterious purpose?’

‘Why are the moral codes given to us by God reflecting the values of the people the religion came from? Why are they racist? Why are they misogynistic? Why are they intolerant of homosexuals?’

The Holy Man had no answers to these questions and became angry.

And the man came to realise that the Holy Man’s answers were not answers at all. They just kicked the can down the road and provided the Holy Man with power and control. The Holy Man had invented God as an answers to questions that there was no answer to.

So the man went off and said to himself – ‘I do not know where the universe came from. I do not understand. But I have a life and I intend to enjoy it. I am a good person and I will continue to be as good as I can be not out of fear or out of promise of some future life but because I feel it is the right thing to do. That is enough.’

He knew the Holy Man was a charlatan.

poetry – Righteous Arrogance

Righteous Arrogance

There is a righteous arrogance

That is only matched by ridiculous ignorance,

As we give our allegiance

To the indoctrinators of innocence.

And they betrayed us with impudence

With child-molesting expedience.

They did not even believe their own penitence

As they exploited with diligence.

From the portals of time

When all was complete mystery;

When conjecture was prime

And truth lost in the history,

They devised the excuses

For ‘what was’ and ‘what would be’;

They devised scriptures

To explain earth, sky and sea.

Without instrument or knowledge

We scanned heaven and earth

And gave ‘holy’ men a pledge

Of what their status was worth.

With their tall hats and rich cloaks

They ruled the warm hearth.

While we toiled in the fields

And they watched us with mirth.

In this time of great understanding

We can now clearly see the story;

Based on the evidence we are handling

Of the battles so gory

And the parts that ‘they’ stand in

As they assumed the glory.

Heaven and hell they were peddling

Fear the currency so hoary.

We find that the Ark does not hold water

The stories were fable

To ensnare sons and daughters;

Tales for dark nights round the table,

Not facts to take to the altar

Or Gods on which to hang a label.

For we have intelligence that does not falter

And knowledge that makes us more able.

It was all a pretence

That should remain past tense.

Opher 10.8.2015

Righteous Arrogance

I am an antitheist because I do not believe there is a ‘god’, I believe the scriptures were all devised out of the minds of men and religion does more harm than good. So I would like all religion to end.

That does not mean that I would actively persecute religious people or that their beliefs should be mocked. I believe that as the evidence stacks up and the scriptures are revealed as medieval products of superstition – belief will wither naturally.

I have respect for anybody who chooses to believe in whatever they want.

I will oppose anyone who wishes to indoctrinate children or force their views on others. Religion should be a free, personal choice.

I would oppose any fundamentalism or theocracy. I do not see religion as having any place in schools or governments. That is dangerous and reprehensible.

Modern history has clearly demonstrated the hypocrisy in religion. The priests who abuse children clearly do not believe their own doctrine. The Jihadists who kill, torture and rape clearly have a perverse view of religion. The drunken, fornicating monks and cardinals, the Borgias all flouted their own doctrine. If they had really believed in what they were spouting they would have lived quite differently. Then we have the intolerance and viciousness – inquisitions, pogroms, crusades, Jihads, genocides, witch burnings and torture.

It is still going on today.

Our knowledge of how these scriptures were put together by primitive Middle Eastern cultures clearly shows that they are contrived.

Religion has its basis in the ignorance of men exposed to the mystery of life and the universe. The viewpoint and intuition of thousands of years ago does not hold any truths for me. It was superstition not wisdom.

I decided to put these personal views of mine into a poem.

Poetry – Certainty is Crazy

Certainty is Crazy

 

Death and suffering

Is the currency

They deal out

To you and me.

Such certainty

Is crazy.

 

Opher – 17.5.2020

 

 

Behind all the violence and war are men who connive, seek power and wealth, and are willing to use religion, politics and lies to get their way.

Many are religious fanatics who wish to impose their views on others. There is no doubt in their minds – nothing to question.

They are willing to kill, torture and wage war in order to force people to accept their views.

In my view such unquestioning faith, such fanaticism, is crazy. It is responsible for much of the evils that go on around us, for much of the violence, division and nastiness.

Total belief is crazy.

Spirituality versus Religion

Spirituality versus Religion

Primula auricula Grey Hawk Unknown Border saved from a Rotary Club car park plant salePhotographs – Richard Duffy-Howard – award winning photographer – https://loudhailer.net/

I am an extremely spiritual person but I am totally opposed to all organised religion.

My spirituality is also based on a numbers of things:

  • Wonder and awe at the incredible splendour of the universe – the macrocosm and microcosm – black holes, galaxies and quarks.
  • Wonder and awe at the beauty of nature – life in all its forms
  • Creativity in all its forms – art, poetry, dance, writing, architecture, photography, film,
  • The splendours of natural phenomena, landscapes, seascapes, trees, rocks, gorges, mountains, lakes ……
  • The wonders of consciousness
  • Love

I do not really care if there is a god or not. It is of little importance to me. I want a secular spirituality. I reject all religion for a number of reasons

  • I believe all the religious books were written by men. None are the word of god. (This is evident to me when I see the way they were written, who they were written by and what previous texts they were based on).
  • I believed organised religion is used for power and to promote division and hatred for personal gain (status, power and wealth).
  • Religion is used to prevent any opposition to a state’s power.
  • The fear principle of heaven and hell is psychologically damaging. No sane god would create such a thing.
  • Too much religion is sectarian and thus creates division and fosters hatred.
  • I think the indoctrination of children is obscene child abuse
  • To live for a possible after-life (which I do not believe exists) can prevent a person from experiencing the short life we have
  • Following all the multitude of different rituals, dress codes, eating restrictions, prayers, (each religion has its own set of instructions from ‘god’ – all different) etc. is risible.
  • Much of religion misses the point of spirituality

However I know some people gain personal fulfilment by following a religion, find companionship and psychological reassurance. Religious people can be spiritual, kind, generous and tolerant.

 

My spirituality creates a wealth of warmth and connection. It is a positive affirmation of life. There is no division, hatred or need to justify it. My spirituality exists and requires no god, purpose or imposed morality. The morality I live by comes out of it. I respect and hold as precious all living things, fellow humans and the world around me. I’ve no need to put that into commandments.

I have no need for religion. I have no time for superstition. My universe is a world of wonder to be investigated, marvelled at and enjoyed. There are many things to be understood. I have a life to revel in it.

The Enlightenment – An overview

The Enlightenment – An overview

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The Enlightenment came about in the 18th century and freed Western civilisation from the stranglehold of religious fundamentalism. It enabled all the progress we now take for granted.

Prior to this time there was a type of extreme fundamentalism that was akin to ISIS. It was illegal to oppose Christian religious belief. Europe was a theocracy. The word of god was the only rule. Heretics, or those the Church/establishment deemed to be heretic could be tortured to death to save their souls. All methods of torture were devised and deployed including the most barbaric that can be imagined.

To even publish the Bible in English was an offence punishable by death. The Church wanted the power and that resided with the clergy. It was not right for ordinary people to have access to the teachings; they could misinterpret the meaning.

It was a regular event to have blasphemers, witches and heretics publicly burnt to death. Science and rationalism were not permitted.

What is obvious is that all this was much more to do with power than religion.

In the 1620s there was a scientific revolution which brought about a wave of rationalism and doubt. The theological certainties of flat earth, earth at the centre of creation and even man in god’s image were brought into question.

In the 18th Century philosophers such as Kant developed the philosophy of rationalism. This grew among the intellectual classes and led to a movement to create a society based on reason. This led to the separation of religion from politics and the formation of a secular culture.

Secular politics was based on tolerance and reason.

The philosopher Locke the radical idea that government should be through the consent of the people and not the imposition of religious dogma.

This led to a flourishing of the Arts and Science which created the greatest impetus of social development in the history of the world. The West flourished.

The enlightenment led to the ethos of the French Revolution – Equality, Liberty and Fraternity.

It separated the state from religion.

It led to the American revolution and the enshrined doctrine of freedom, religious freedom and individuality.

It has enabled the West to create democracy, pluralism, tolerance, freedom, science, liberalisation, the arts and a diverse and vital culture.

If we had not had an enlightenment and reformation we would still be in medieval costume burning Catholics, Muslims and anyone who was different in our public squares.

Long Live the Enlightenment! Something worth fighting for!

Poetry – Give me wonder – a poem for ISIS and other fanatics.

Poetry – Give me wonder – a poem for ISIS and other fanatics.

Give me wonder

I wrote this for ISIS and all religious fundamentalists.

I do not believe that life and joy can be spelt out in a doctrine. Life is sacred in a different way.

We do not have life and worship death. We have life to cavort in the wonder and majesty of a universe of marvel.

I do not believe in any joyless god who demands such mundane worship that it strangles the spirit. My sacred is in the sunset, the gorge, the mountain and tree – the things that raise the spirit and allow the mind to soar.

My wonder does not create hatred. It is not cruel. Neither does it make me virtuous or superior and reduce others to the level of worthless scum.

I want the ecstasy of now not the empty promise of some paradise.

I do not believe in paradise. Neither do I believe that any terror would open up those gates even if one did exist.

Those holy books of dead words betray life. They give the lie to all that lives and rob the world of majesty.

My holy is in life. My holy is real.

 

Give me wonder

Give me wonder –

I do not need your routine.

Do not break things down –

Build them up!

The sum is greater than the parts.

So fill me up

With discovery!

 

Celebrate!

Don’t drown me in hate

Or fill me, moribund,

With dead words

From days gone by.

Give me life;

Let me sing.

 

Fill my eyes with beauty,

Not tears.

I want to cuddle, not kill.

I want to live now,

Not in some fabled future.

Give me love.

 

Burn your books

And live.

They speak not of life but death.

They have no joy.

They reek of ritual

And are obscene.

Give me light

And breath

And hope.

I’ll live now!

I’ll live now!

If you are enjoying my anecdotes and poems why not make my day and buy a book of my poetry for just £3.98 or a book of anecdotes for £7.25

Opher 14.1.2016

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rhymes-Reason-Opher-Goodwin/dp/1516991184/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1457173687&sr=8-7&keywords=opher+goodwin

Poetry – Prehistoric policing

Prehistoric policing

 

Put on your veil!

Pray each day

And obey without ceasing!

Or else

You’ll be subject to

Prehistoric policing!

 

Read the scripture!

Follow the dogma!

Not to do so is a sin!

If you do not

You’ll be hammered with

Prehistoric policing!

 

Do not question

The tenets of faith!

Throw all logic in the bin!

Faith is not rational.

It needs to be enforced

With prehistoric policing!

 

Opher – 2.11.2019

 

 

I was driven to write this poem by a video clip of a poor woman who was shot through the head for going to the market without her veil. The Nazi religious police stopped her, beat her and forced her to her knees. They recited verse, gathered a crowd, put a gun to her head and blew her brains out – all because her face was not covered.

Across the world millions of women and children are subject to prehistoric policing. They are forced to spend hours memorising scripture. They are forced to wear heavy robes and full face veils.

This is not religious freedom. This is slavery.

These religious fanatics create a fascist tyranny! Their misogynistic view of religion is draconian and prehistoric.

Religion should be a matter of choice – not coercion.

The Purpose of Life – Religion and Hardwiring.

I believe that to an extent religion is hardwired into our brains through evolution. We have evolved intelligence. Our success is our ability to see patterns and solve problems. There is a purpose to everything. That works great with hunter gathering. It enables us to work with the patterns of seasons and weather, to see the patterns of behaviour in predators and prey, to find water, to seek out fruits, berries and plants, to make tools, invent things and develop knowledge and technology.

This problem solving ability has enabled us to become masters of science and technology to the point where we are actually not only the predominant species but we are actually changing the whole planet. This is now the Anthropocene. Science and technology, stemming from our intelligence, our ability to see patterns and solve problems, has brought us control over our environment and all creatures. It has brought us agriculture and civilisation and enabled us to prosper in huge numbers – now pushing 8 Billion.

It falls down when confronted with the big questions that there are no answers for. Such as what is this immense universe? Where did it come from? What is life? Where did it come from? Am I immortal?

As I said at the beginning – we are hardwired to provide answers. We do not have answers to these and other such questions. They are too immense for our puny brains. Those brains have evolved to solve more mundane, practical problems. But that does not stop us from searching for answers and providing answers.

Early man was subjected to the vagaries of nature. If they could not find food through hunting or their crops failed because of unseasonal weather they starved.

They worshipped things such as the sun which gave life. They thought they could control it, appease the god they had created and performed rituals to please her. They performed rituals to produce rain, to have a good hunt, to harvest crops, for fertility, health and prosperity. They had holy men who could converse with the gods they had created. They invented explanations for the world, the sequence of life and death, creation myths and morality stories. They created reasons for when things went wrong and how they could put them right. They created fascinating tales of the afterlife to remove fear of death – death that was so prevalent.

They held great ceremonies, pageants and developed elaborate sacrifices and costumes. They built pyramids, temples and powerful spectacle.

The bigger and more lavish the greater the ease in believing in the story.

Through time these religions grew in sophistication and adapted as our knowledge of the universe and life grew. We see this with Christianity. In the beginning Hell was under the ground, Heaven was just above the firmament, the heavens were a dome. The stars chinks in that dome letting through the light of god, the sun rotated around the earth. As our knowledge grew these concepts were changed. We no longer look for hell under the ground or burn people for saying the earth goes round the sun.

We still cling on to the supernatural explanations though. Our minds have evolved to require answers. We still need to believe there is a purpose. Even in the face of no evidence we cling to the supernatural answers we find satisfying. They give us the assurance of order, purpose and answer our questions. They are much more psychologically satisfying than to accept there are no reasons, no order and no purpose. The universe just is. Life is an accident. We have a life and that is it. The only reasons we have are the ones we sort out for ourselves.

But I reckon that it is best to face up to the truth and accept it as it is. I see no evidence of god, an afterlife or a purpose for life.

Best to get on with it and enjoy it while we can. All we have is now. Let’s try to make this wonderful experience as good as we can make it, wring as much love, fun, creativity and pleasure out of it as we can and make the planet as good as we can make it for everybody else and all living things. That’s fulfilment enough for me.

Is there a God? Some thoughts and questions.

Is there a god who created the universe? Perhaps one who created the big bang and then left it to get on with things? Or one who created the universe and life and is involved with how it develops?

Now that is the nub of the matter. Put aside all the religious books that were so obviously (to me) written by man and one still has the major questions about creation. How did the universe come out of nothing? That is something that is beyond our comprehension (not surprising really with our tiny brains and limited intelligence). Did god create it? Is there a god?

For me it is obvious – there is not.

For me the very idea of a creator is such a human concept and merely kicks the can further down the road. It creates more unknowns than it answers:

We humans cannot conceive of something coming from nothing.

We solve this by having a superbeing who is capable of creating everything from nothing.

What does that solve? Nothing as far as I can see!

How logical is it? Not logical at all to me!

Is there any evidence for this superbeing? None whatsoever in my view.

We still have a universe created out of nothing.

We now have a superbeing who has come from nowhere with the ability to create whole universes. How much more incredible is that than what we had in the first place? It just poses a whole series of other questions:

Where did this superbeing come from?

Who created him?

Did he arise out of nothing spontaneously?

He has to be even more incredible than the universe doesn’t he? How can that happen? – – The spontaneous creation of a amazingly complicated god with stupendous powers out of nothing?

Or has he always been there forever? Just think about that for a moment and see if that makes sense.

What was his motive in creating the universe?

Where was he before the universe was created?

It certainly doesn’t make any sense to me. It sounds like a human construct to explain the unknowable, nothing more.

What do you think?

Male Circumscision – is it Child Abuse?

We have no problem whatsoever in declaring that female circumcision is child abuse. If a parent allows their female child to be mutilated then most civilised people would shout loudly that it is wrong.

It does not matter if the parents erroneously believe that it is a religious practice.

Religious practices are not above the law.

Some religious practice declares that it is not only alright, but an absolute mandate from god, to take the life of a nonbeliever. It is never right.

Some religious belief declares that it is right for a wife to throw herself on the funeral pyre of her husband.

Female circumcision is an abuse. It is wrong. It is illegal. It never should happen.

Neither should male circumcision be allowed. It is nowhere near as bad as female mutilation but it is the same principle. A child should not be subjected to such a mutilation unless there is a sound medical reason.

That child should be free to make that decision for themselves when they are old enough to understand. I would suggest that sixteen is such an age.

Under the age of sixteen I believe that imposing religion on children is wrong; I believe that mutilating children against their will is wrong.