Funchal – Inside the church – Art and architecture.

How much wealth has been directed into this incredible extravagance? All the best architects and artists were deployed to create the most spectacular structures – intended to inspire, overawe and prove that god is real.

Failed in my case but I still love the art!

Poetry – Bums in the Air

Bums in the Air

Bums in the air

Indoctrination everywhere.

Allah and sweet Jesus,

Jehovah

And God above.

How absurd they look

With their array of holy book.

Spouting words

From Neolithic lords

Dressed in fancy costume –

Medieval bride

And modern groom.

Opher – 14.9.2016

Bums in the Air

People are great joiner-inners. They go with the majority. I find it quite startling to see how conservative and fundamental things have become. Back when I was a lad my Muslim friends were all westernised. They didn’t take their religion to extremes. The girls did not go around in head-scarves let alone burqas. In Islamabad University in Pakistan the students wore jeans, T-shirts and listened to the Beatles, Stones and Pink Floyd.

How things have changed.

The children are taken off to their Madrassas where they are subjected to religious indoctrination.

I see families walking down the street, in the summer heat, with the poor woman completely enclosed in heavy black robes, breathing stale air behind a mask, while her husband is cool in T-shirt and jeans.

I am a believer in freedom but I hate misogyny, indoctrination and superstition.

Spirituality is about harmony with nature and the universe. Religion is about power, indoctrination and division.

Core Value 3 – Tolerance

I am, believe it or not, an extremely tolerant person. I will argue my views most fiercely but will also stand vehemently in support of anybody whose beliefs are threatened.

I don’t care what colour, race, politics or religion a person has. I stand firmly against racism, prejudice, misogyny and elitism.

I believe in the strength of a polyglot, pluralistic society. I believe that a culture is enriched by diversity and weakened whenever it seeks to impose a single belief – either in a narrow political view or a theology. Cultures flourish when they are tolerant of many political, religious, spiritual, artistic, cultural and social views and structures.

I am extremely intolerant of intolerance.

That is why I find fascism and theocracies utterly abhorrent.

I have a global view. I believe in one people one planet and love to travel the world to appreciate the diversity of thought, culture, perspective and philosophy. I find that very broadening of the mind.

I am quite happy to share my community with people of different races, cultures, politics, views, colours, sexuality, religions and creeds. I will happily argue and rant at them. I find that stimulating. However, when any group attempts to make out that its nationality, religion, culture or creed is superior to any other then I take exception. If any religious group or political cult attempts to indoctrinate, groom or intimidate anybody, particularly children, then I shall fight it (non-violently) and oppose it forcefully. If a religion or social group is misogynistic, homophobic or racist I believe it should be countered most strongly.

I stand against nationalism, racism and theocracy.

So I stand for a person to hold their own views and values but not their right to impose that on others. I want religion and politics either out of education altogether (no flags, pledges, prayers etc) or presented in a reasoned way where all views are presented – including those of atheists like myself.

I would like to see all religious, nationalisatic and political views discussed rationally without prejudice.

I find flags, anthems, rituals, pledges, parades, uniforms, dress codes, prayers, dietary codes, holy books, political proclamations…………………. (and all the other paraphernalia used by politicians and religious leaders to instigate unity and create group culture) either interesting, amusing and fascinating or sinister, worrying and downright evil. It depends on the extent.

To Make America Great Again is a good example. It is an extreme nationalistic slogan that in reality is proclaiming a superiority of Americans over other cultures and that they deserve to be great and the rest of the world (the inferior nations) can go hang.

It does not take much to see how daft this is. America has no real culture. It is too new. What it has is artificially created out of the national story created by it’s show of flags, repeating of pledges of allegiance, its parades and demonstrations of military might. It has to do this because it’s people are all immigrants pulled in from all parts of the world and all cultures. It is seeking to unite them into a new people with this artificial unified culture that doesn’t exist. It has to do this because it has little history and unity to build on and its people are so culturally diverse as to require this great show of unity to cohere them together.

Americans are obviously not superior to the other people of the world. America is, more than any other country, made up of all of the people from these other cultures.

The only true Americans are the Native Americans and I doubt that a lot of them would subscribe to the culture, flag and attitude of the MAGA ethos. They still probably wish that the whole load of these immigrants would get back on their ships, disappear over the horizon and allow them to live by their own creed.

We buy into the stories we want to believe in.

So – the dilemma is how tolerant should one be?

It is a core value I hold dear but it has been sorely tested by the rise of extreme right-wing fascism, the post-truth rise of fake news and conspiracy and the horrendous intolerance of all religions – the Islamic terrorism and strict conservative theocracies, the racism and misogyny, the Hindu extremists, the hypocritcal American evangelists, the environmentally destructive Christians, the fanatics who run the Jewish, Hindu, Islamic and Christian religious schools to indoctrinate children.

Should I be tolerant of warmongers? Racists? Misogynists? Fanatics? Indoctrinators? Political extremists? Liars? Conspiracy theorists? Cheats? Fake news purveyors? Abusers? Exploiters? Polluters? Environmental vandals? Political corruption? Religion?

Do I simply have a scale of tolerance that is slightly more in one direction than another?

How does one select what is worthy of tolerance and what one should be intolerant of?

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.

A great way to create more integration! I know – Faith Schools!

The major problems occur in society when people live apart and become suspicious of each other. To mingle and talk is great; it breaks down barriers so that people discover they are all intrinsically similar. We humans are one people.

Religion, race and culture separate people. When people get together in multicultural ways they can benefit from the richness of different cultures. It cross-fertilises. It brings colour, vitality and joy. Out of it comes hybrids that invigorate.

It is when people become segregated from each other and alienated that trouble occurs.

We used to have a great fear of black culture from Jamaica, Pakistanis, Indians and Sikhs. But most of the people who arrived in the fifties and sixties have been integrated, taken on British values and fit in.

I know it is not perfect. A lot of work still needs doing. We need more cohesion and equality, more respect and sharing.

These days we have major problems with our Muslim community and radicalisation.

So what about a great way to bring people from different religions, cultures and races together – why not segregate them in Faith Schools!!!

Who the hell thought up such a stupid idea?

Let’s set up Jihadi colleges and Creationist schools! Why not? I mean it isn’t as if we haven’t already had problems with radicalisation in Birmingham schools; it isn’t as if there are thousands of unregistered schools indoctrinating kids with who knows what; it isn’t as if we haven’t had the Christian Catholic school indoctrinating kids.

What madness is this?

Is this a means of getting religion to fund schools?

Are GCSE results the only thing that count? Have we totally lost sight of the big picture?

There are all sorts of extreme religious fanatics who would like nothing better than to get their hands on our kids!

Segregation is not the answer to integration!a-passion-for-education-cover This is how it should be done!

Religion and indoctrination

P1090435

Religion and indoctrination

I was struck by the first case of a British woman being tried for taking her young son to Iraq to join ISIS. Her claim was that she had to live under Sharia law or she would be doomed to hell.

I felt sorry for the sad indoctrinated lady. She had been brought up to believe that all who thought differently to her were doomed to be tortured in the fires of hell forever.

It is notions like this that led to the European conquests of America, Australia, South America and the rest of the world. Insane religious zealots set out to bring their faith to the ignorant savages and thus save their souls. In the process they did, incidentally, steal their lands, torture, and rape, plunder their valuables, enslave and practice genocide upon them – all in the name of religion. I am sure that all the millions of natives who suffered these depravities (even to agonised death) were eternally grateful. Their eternal souls rest in the ecstasy of heaven instead of suffering endless torment and torture while their free relatives were, due to their ignorance or wrong beliefs, endlessly damned.

It is only when we stand back and view the savagery and stupidity of these actions that we can see the foolishness of religion for what it is – pure tribalism and power unleashed. It certainly sets a lot of bells ringing in my head:

If there was a god who behaved in this psychotic manner (punishing good people by torturing them for eternity for believing in the wrong religion or no religion) then one would have to say that this god was sadistic.

The Christians, Hindus, Jews and Muslims all assert the same thing: if you do not believe in my god and follow my religion you are doomed. Some even go so far as to declare that all non-believers should be tortured and killed.

This is clearly tribal insanity of the most primitive and savage nature.

So how are these primitive beliefs perpetuated?

They come to us from the dark ages of the dawn of civilisation when laws were arbitrary, life was cheap, women were subjugated and violence an everyday occurrence. Religion provided some semblance of law and morality.

We’ve moved on. Civilisation has arrived. We have better laws and more philosophically and psychologically based morality. We do not have the same need for superstition.

Yet religion persists.

The reason is quite clear – it persists because young children are indoctrinated and the seeds are implanted deep into their psyche. Once there they are there for good. The seeds implanted into the developing minds of our children are so deeply imprinted that there can be no escape. They are damaged for good.

We see this so clearly in the likes of the Rock ‘n’ Roll rebels such as Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis with their lives alternating between the extremes of wildness and religious fervour. The child indoctrination creates those extremes of behaviour.

It is sad to witness.

Yet the State aids and abets this abuse of our children. Parents are encouraged to enter into religious ceremonies – baptisms, marriage and worship. The media put out their programmes of religious worship as if this is what we all should be doing.

Worst of all schools in Britain have, by law, to teach religion to our children with daily services of worship to some supernatural creature who supposedly sees every thought and deed. We inculcate magic and superstition into our children. It is a wonder that it does not do even more damage to those young minds.

Then the religions have their input. They hold their services and are eager to get their hands on the young. They have their pomp, pageantry and magnificent buildings to create the fairy tale – so it must be true.

All the religions have their fanaticism, promote their intolerance and hatred and terrify with their stories of everlasting agonies to come. It must be a terrifying experience for children to hear these sorts of superstitions. It would implant itself deep into the psyche.

Yet all around the world the evangelists, Jesuits, Rabbis and Imams feed their noxious poison into the minds of our babes and we allow them to do it. Just imagine if we had similar institutions set up by the fascists, communists, republicans, nationalists, democrats, socialists or tories? If political groups were vying with each other to plant their evil thoughts into those open minds?

There is no difference.

Indoctrinating children is child abuse. It is far-reaching and has a detrimental effect for life.

The religious schools should be shut, religion taken out of schools, all religious education halted with the closure of Sunday Schools and all other religious ‘education’ facilities – the worst probably being the Muslim Madrassas.

Religion should come with a health warning and be treated in the same way as alcohol and tobacco – not for distribution to minors – except that it is even more dangerous.

Going back to that poor twenty six year old mother who was so abused as a child that she believed that taking her young son to a war zone was preferable to living in a civilised country; that she had to live under sharia law in order to be saved from hell; that only Islam had the right answers and all unbelievers were kuffars; that it was better to be martyred than to live; that murdering kuffars was demanded by her god; that there was a god and he demanded she lived her life according to the medieval writings of some semi-civilised culture from the dark ages.

What a sad, abused lady.

It is time that a civilised world put a stop to this indoctrination and abuse. There is no room for child abuse of this nature and scale. It is simply horrendous.

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The ‘after-life’ – from the perspective of an antitheist.

Buddhist temple in China
Buddhist temple in China

9/11 Tiles in New York
9/11 Tiles in New York

Roofs & Mountain Guilin China
Roofs & Mountain Guilin China

From my perspective it seems absurd to have total belief in the existence of an after-life. At very best it should be regarded as nothing more than an intellectual possibility even by people of faith.

  1. There is no rational evidence of an after-life.
  2. There is no logical reason.
  3. It surely must be taken into account that society and culture create an ethos that is tantamount to psychological indoctrination. We are all subject to this prevailing acceptance.
  4. The historical and present-day political use of the ‘promise’ of an after-life in such instances as inciting warriors to go fearlessly into battle or suicide bombers to detonate their devices is a psychological ploy to persuade people to do the unthinkable.
  5. The words in the medieval ‘holy books’ should at least be treated with suspicion. The translations and editing have altered meaning. It is hard to see how anyone can view them as the ‘word of God’. Not only are they open to many interpretations, manipulations and misuse, but their very nature is suspect:

a. The Old Testament

A collection of myths, creation stories and assorted writings of various quality gathered from a variety of largely pre-Jewish sources (Sumerian etc) with no coherent narrative.

b. The New Testament

Based on accounts of Jesus that were written decades after the deaths of the disciples. None of the Gospels were written by the disciples. The accounts were [passed down by word of mouth through many generations before being committed to paper. Neither do they display agreement or present a consistent account. The actual book was put together by Constantine in the 3rd Century for political reasons (To unify a fragmenting Rome). At that time other writings which did not ‘fit’ the ‘account’ were burned as heretic. What we now have as the ‘New Testament’ is what the 3rd Century Synod believed should go in.

c. The Koran

Revealed to Mohamed by an angel in a cave. Nobody witnessed this. It was then recited to a scribe. Later part of it was retracted. Mohamed claimed it had been whispered into his ear by the Devil. These texts were subsequently called the Satanic Verses.

Now you may call me cynical but looking dispassionately at the evidence I must conclude that any open-minded person might conclude that there is at very least the possibility of doubt regarding the ‘after-life’. I personally would require a lot more evidence other than a bunch of dubious medieval texts.

I hesitate to ridicule the suicide bomber recently apprehended by the security forces. He had contrived a metal shield to protect his penis from the blast because he believed he required his penis for the promised encounters with the virgins in paradise. He had been duped, used and fooled. They had preyed on his ignorance and gullibility for political purposes.

I remain astounded by anyone who believes the words of the religious texts are, despite the evidence of editing and mistranslation, still the exact word of God.

The Valhallas, Elysiums and other long-forgotten paradises full of drunken debauchery, promised to the warriors of old are now thought of as fanciful, farcical or absurd. There are few who would now imagine themselves in an after-life in some great long hall with endless feasting, drinking and wenching. The whole concept seems culturally inspired and flawed. I can never work out what the women are supposed to get out of this? Are we to assume their idea of heaven is to wait on the loud aggressive males and enjoy being raped? Yet for all that it does not dim the prevailing view of heaven or paradise.

As far as I am concerned the faithful can believe in whatever brings them comfort. With the proviso that they do not use their beliefs to harm others.

As for me I am quite content to consign myself to burning in everlasting (fictitious) Hell. I am not terrified by any horrific vision that comes out of the minds of men, Dante can keep it. When it comes to Sci-Fi I’ll stick with Kurt Vonnegut and Arthur C Clarke.

Life is an awesome wonder. I’ll settle for making the most of every second I have in this universe and dedicate my time to trying to make it better for everyone else and the life we life we share the planet with.

To that end I would ‘Go forth and for Earth’s sake refrain from multiplying!’

Instead – help build a new positive zeitgeist and start being nice to each other and the creatures we cohabit with. Lets get the best out of this life before we start worrying about some mythical next!

Indoctrinating children with religious belief is child abuse!

Freud findings indicated that the adult is unable to overcome the indoctrination that occurs during childhood.

If you fill a child’s head with religious ideas before they are old enough to rationalise they are stuck with it for life!

Our children should be free to grow up and make their own decisions when their brains have matured. To teach religion in school or madrassa is abuse.

To bring up a child with religious concepts that they cannot possibly understand is as much an abuse as physical or sexual abuse and just as long lasting in its harmful effects.

You don’t agree? Then read my controversial novel where the themes deal with the absurdity of religion – ‘The Antitheist’s Bible’