We are all just passing through.

Nothing is permanent – not even the universe. It is merely a matter of time-scale.

Opher's World

We are all just passing through. That was brought home to me by our house moving.

We lived in our old house for thirty years. We put in our alterations and improvements, decorated and adorned, and then we left and moved on. I hope we left it better than it was.

Thirty years seems a long time but that house was three hundred years old. We bought it. We paid off the mortgage and owned it. Yet we did not really own it at all. We merely borrowed it for a tenth of its life. We were just passing through.

Somebody else is living in our old house. It is hard to imagine them there. It felt like our home.

Our new house is being made into a home. We have brought all our things with us. We have placed the furniture, put up the photos and pictures, put the…

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Pete Smith’s cartoons of genius – Religious Lies strangling us

Pete Smith’s cartoons of genius – Religious Lies strangling us.

 

So much to see in this image. The person runs through the tangle of life with the question WHY over his head and MEANING and TIME before him, using the LI of religion as crutches while his head was caught in the noose of GOD. God with the knot of infinity – the unsolvable conundrum.

MUST DO THIS – WHY – WRONG

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.

Anecdote – How I passed my Religious Studies exam due to divine intervention.

Anecdote – How I passed my Religious Studies exam due to divine intervention.

anecdotes BookCoverImage Poems & Peons BookCoverImage

How I passed my Religious Studies exam due to divine intervention.

Religion and I have never got along. I think I was born a heretic. Either that or I am a blasphemous pagan at heart.

Through school I suffered the excruciating assemblies with their hymns, prayers and bible readings. I abhorred them. I also despised the RE lessons with all their bible bashing and indoctrinating rhetoric. My brain was impervious to religion. It bounced off.

Then when I was fourteen I discovered I did not have to do it at all. I could get a dispensation on religious grounds. All I had to do was induce my parents to sign the relevant form or write a short note to the effect that they wanted me out of all religious practice. Problem solved.

Except it wasn’t. For some obscure reason, that I do not understand to this day, my parents, who brought me up with a liberal, unindoctrinated perspective, and respected my views, refused to write the note.

That made it even worse. So I dug my heels in. I went to see the RE teacher and explained to him that I was categorically not going to do the RE. He could do what he liked. I was not going to budge. After a lengthy argument we came to a compromise. I would attend the lessons and give out the bibles. Then I would sit quietly at the front and read. That suited me fine.

So while the rest of the class filled exercise book after exercise book of boring comparisons between the four gospels I read great Science Fiction by Arthur C Clarke, Robert Sheckly, Asimov, John Wyndham, Philip K Dick and Robert Heinlein. I reckoned the content of fiction in my books was superior to the fiction in theirs.

RE was a subject that was sat earlier than the other subjects. We took our O Level at Christmas. I was surprised to find that my name was included. I went to see the RE teacher to point out the error. I had not done any RE; I should not have my name down for the exam. He huffed and puffed and did not like to admit his mistake. He told me that it was easier for me to just go through with it rather than trying to scrub me from the exam at this stage. I shrugged. I wasn’t bothered.

The night before the exam I borrowed a bible. My mum found me looking through it.

‘What are you doing?’

I explained that I had my RE O Level the next day. I had been intrigued by a couple of things. I looked up to find out what the Transfiguration was all about and I checked out what Jesus said on the cross. – ‘My father why has thou forsaken me?’

I always thought that was a strange thing to say. It seemed to suggest to me that at the last minute he was having doubts and had realised that it was all bollocks.

After ten minutes I became bored, which amused my mum no end. She knew what felt about the bible.

The next day I took my exam. We had to answer four questions out of five. Question one was about the Transfiguration. Question two was about the words Jesus had said on the cross. Question three was about a psalm I knew well from assemblies. Question four was a parable that I was familiar with. It was easy.

The next term the results came out. Only a third of the class had passed. I was one of them.

I have a qualification in Religious Education. I bet my RE teacher was as pleased as Punch.

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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!

Buddhists and Quakers

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Buddhists and Quakers

It seems to me that human beings are psychologically hard-wired to relish ritual and pageant. We are enthralled and impressed by it. The ploys of fancy dress, high hats, big thrones and sceptres always work. We apply ourselves to ritual washing and ostentatious prayer, chanting, singing and reciting with gusto and find it reassuring. We take the ornate palaces, cathedrals and mosques as proof. We see the Castles, Palaces, and pageant as evidence of unassailable power.

We are gullible and easily duped.

The same tactics rarely failed in the past. The planet is festooned with abandoned pyramids, stone-circles and mounds that are testament to past religions that have blossomed and perished. Ruined castles, sacked fortresses and toppled statues are testament to power overthrown.

Religion is about power. We have a need to feel that someone is in control – ultimately god, but in the meantime the imams, bishops, priests, cardinals, caliphs, popes and shaman will do.

Psychologically we need to feel our life has purpose, death is not the final curtain and the universe has meaning. That is understandable.

I too feel the power of the mystic around me even though I reject all religions as man-made power bases.

If I were to adopt a religion it would likely be one of two – either I would become a Quaker or a Buddhist.

Recently I have been having conversations with Quakers. I am impressed with their gentleness, kindness, tolerance and love of nature. Those are characteristics that I greatly value. I find it hard to tolerate fundamentalist extremists of any complexion. Their intolerance and viciousness appals me.

Likewise my experiences with Buddhist monks are the same. They were happy, pleasant, friendly people who were tolerant of other views. They projected ‘loving kindness’ to all sentient creatures. Their aim was personal peace, harmony and understanding. Their beliefs were flexible enough to accommodate differing opinions.

What a contrast that is to the dogmatic beliefs of evangelical Christians, fundamentalist Jews and ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban and all the other fascist mobs and breeders of hatred. When I listen to those insane Southern fundamentalists quoting scripture at me on their god-induced mission to save the world from the devil I am filled with a mixture of amusement and horror. They really believe that horseshit.

Religion can be a source of great cruelty and evil.

If I was going to follow any religion, which I’m not (I can’t fully believe in the things in front of my eyes, let alone medieval scriptures I’m supposed to take on hearsay), I would settle for being a Quaker or a Buddhist. Those I am attracted to pantheism to. The pagans had some great ceremonies. Perhaps I’ll settle for being a non-practicing pagan. Those witches, warlocks and druids all look a bit silly, don’t they – dressed up in their fancy costume. But then that’s not much different to all these bishops in their big hats, the women in burkas, men with big beards, priests in robes Jews with funny hats and locks of hair, Sikhs in turbans, and the rest – all clinging to their medieval garb as if their god gives a damn.

No. I’ll stick with the antitheism. If it turns out there is a benevolent god and paradise it will be a bonus. Any god worth his/her salt wouldn’t hold my views against me. Any god who behaves in such a mean-spirited way is simply not worthy of the position.

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!

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Opher 14.1.2016

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My beliefs – Faith Schools – How about if we had Fascist and Communist Schools?

My beliefs – Faith Schools – How about if we had Fascist and Communist Schools?

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I do not believe any faith schools, Sunday schools or madrassas should be allowed by law.

I believe indoctrinating children with religion or politics is an abuse. It should be a crime.

There are many religions and institutes that are dying to get their hands on our children and fill their heads with dogma. As the Jesuits used to say ‘give me a child until the age of seven and I’ll give you the man’. Unfortunately that is true. Once the impressionable minds have been poisoned with pernicious ideology they can never break free. They are stuck with it for life.

I believe children should be free to develop. They should not be indoctrinated.

I believe parents should bring up their children in a moral background with love, tolerance and equality as the basis. They should be taught to respect all people, races, faiths and creeds.

I believe schools should concern themselves with educating children, not indoctrinating them. Religion should be taught as a subject which covers all religions factually, never giving credibility or weight to one over another. I believe atheism and humanism should be part of that curriculum and given equal weight.

I believe assemblies should never be religious. They should be moral.

I believe that when a child reaches adulthood – I would suggest at sixteen- their brains are sufficiently developed for them to handle concepts as weighty as belief. Only then should they be subjected to religious belief.

I think that is people substituted politics for religion and we had communist or fascist schools set up to instil their dogma into our children we, as a society, might have a view. For me religion is even more pervasive and pernicious.

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.

My beliefs – Creationism

My beliefs – Creationism

My beliefs – Creationism

I do not believe in creationism. I think it is brainless to take the words of a medieval document produced by a nomadic tribe over the well-researched view of scientists.

I prefer my science with a rational basis rather than an indoctrinated posture.

I believe that Creationism is the latest attempt by the religious school of thought to repudiate the theory of evolution.

There are no facts.

There are lots of things we do not know. That is what makes science so interesting. We are discovering and finding new things every day. Our tools are immense and every theory is picked over and tested to the limit. If it stands up to the tests then it has some credibility.

Because something is written in an ancient book does not, on its own, give it credibility.

For me to believe something I have to have evidence and proof. There is no evidence in Creationism. It is completely erroneous.

I believe that to teach creationism to children is fundamentally wrong. It is simply not true.