I wrote this book in 2009 when I was feeling extremely angry at the ridiculous nonsense being spoken by people of a religious persuasion. I was hugely offended but a lot of the rhetoric. But what was really infuriating me were the hideous things being done in the name of religion:
- People were torturing other human beings because they dared to believe something different to them
- People were killing other innocent people because they did not believe in the same god, read the same sacred texts or interpret them in the same way
- People were forcing women to stay indoors, not drive, cover themselves so they could not be see and could only view the world through a narrow slit, not have an education or be allowed to vote. I found that disgusting. I would fight to ensure women were not second class citizens, slaves and chattels, and were able to fully take their place in the world as equals.
- People were abusing children through forceful indoctrination
- People were being governed by fascist archaic theocracies
I felt it was about time someone spoke out against it. I believe in freedom, justice and fairness. We are fortunate in the West because we have had the enlightenment. It hasn’t stopped all the religious nutters, particularly in the Southern States of America, but it has allowed progress in science, technology and social order. I really do not want to live in a society that is based on medieval values. I think we’ve come a long way since then. I live in a secular country and I know millions of people died, some in horrendous torture, to make that possible. I will not give my hard won rights up easily.
I initially intended to write a book that was about the start and evolution of religion. I wanted to begin in primitive man’s first attempts to understand the awe and wonder of the universe and the horror of death and follow that through the series of now defunct religions to the present day to illustrate the absurdity of belief.
That did not work out. Instead I found myself writing a novel that was based around conversations and interactions I had with friends and colleagues concerning religion. It got mixed in with my retirement and the death of my mother. It all worked for me.
Here is an extract from the book – I hope you like it:
The Antitheist’s Bible
‘I am an extremely tolerant easy going individual. I do not want everyone to think like me. I am appalled by the mess we have made in the world and I hold religion and greed to be the worst culprits. I am perfectly happy for people to believe whatever daft rubbish they want as long as they do not try to shove it down anyone else’s throat or get shirty when someone points out that it’s bollocks.’
‘So what would you say?’ Kathy asked, wearing her most innocent expression, which was as absurd as a clown’s painted mask. ‘To some evangelical redneck who believed God created the world four thousand years ago, Oph?’ She raised her eyebrows and implored him to respond. ‘You know, Oph, some southern American Baptist who believed every word of the bible was the exact utterance of Almighty God.’ A slight smile played across her lips as she warmed to the task. ‘And that he, as God’s faithful servant, had the God given right to shove it down everybody’s throat,’ She provocatively rested her case with the verbal equivalent of a nudge to the ribs. ‘Huh Oph?’
They had been discussing religion and he had been, in his usual manner, sounding off about his various frustrations. Increasingly, through his life, he had passed from disinterest, through irritation, to outright hostility. While as a young man he had been through his phase of spiritual curiosity he had emerged with a cynical view of the way religion had been created and used as a tool of control and political manipulation. Now he found himself offended by its manifestations. They not only insulted his sense of reason but were undoubtedly responsible, in his view, for much of the world’s intolerance and atrocities. There were aspects of reality that were always likely to be beyond the conception of human minds, limited as they were, but to manufacture the concept of a fictitious superhero as a means of explaining the unknown seemed banal. He could live with that. What he could not tolerate was the way the religious used their unsubstantiated views to batter each other with. It infuriated him. It challenged the views of tolerance and freedom he had spent his life promoting. He was forced to speak out against it. To this end he had proposed the writing of a book to be called ‘The Antitheists Bible’ to expose the fundamental hypocrisy and human creation of religion. Not too hard a task in his opinion. There was so much material to exploit. Kathy had reacted to his proposal.
He surveyed her theatrically imploring face and frowned in equally theatrical feigned thoughtfulness. He tilted his head to one side, a slight twitch and lift at the corners of his mouth belying the smile that was lurking there ready to blossom. If Kathy was prepared to play devil’s advocate then he was content to play the part of scourge of religious fascism.
‘Well now Kathy,’ he drawled in his best Bob Dylan impersonation. ‘I think I’d like to come up with some new smart retort that’d make him feel stupid. I’d like to like to find some words so profound they’d make him want to reassess the whole of his miserable, obsequious, slimy, little life.’
‘And what words would they be, Oph?’ Kathy asked with a simpering tone of aloof condescension.
He reflected for a moment with the sternest of expressions, but then helplessly broke down with a chortle, casting aside the Dylan persona. ‘Unfortunately you can never think of anything smart to say,’ he spluttered vainly trying to control his mirth. ‘At least not until you’ve walked away and ruminated on in for a while. You can only think of all the clever stuff you should have said when it’s too late to say it.’ He raised his palms skywards. ‘That’s the story of my life; always big after the event.’ He reflected quizzically for a moment, still racking his brains, but for all the railing of a few minutes before his mind had gone blank. ‘Still, hopefully, I’d find something really clever,’ he replied lamely. It was becoming obvious that no matter how hard he strained his brain no clever ‘bon mots’ were likely to be forthcoming. He fell back on a different tack. ‘The futility of engaging such a gentleman in rational discussion would not be likely to prove fruitful,’ he explained defensively. ‘So I’d probably resort to abuse, maybe paraphrasing Hitchins, and tell him to take that giant enema so he could be buried in a matchbox.’
‘But Oph, old chap, he might not understand that!’ Kathy proclaimed indignantly, probing at his weak response. ‘Besides you’re much too polite to say anything of the sort. You’d probably agree with him out of politeness.’
That was the good thing about old friends – you could talk about anything and have a laugh without having to watch what you said. He topped up the wine, killing another bottle, and sighed. Perhaps the idea of writing such a book was going to prove harder than he had imagined.
Tobes was in the kitchen nattering to Liz while she sorted the dressing or the salad and supervised the oven.
‘That’s the trouble, isn’t it? He observed reflectively, swirling the thoughts round his mind like they were the red liquid in his glass. ‘Religion stops you thinking,’ He looked across at Kathy with a new granite set to his face. His eyes were fixed and chin thrust sternly forward. ‘You see, as a Headteacher, I think that having religion in public institutions is rather like having shit in salad. You don’t want it there at all. Even if you have a little bit it spoils the flavour and makes everyone sick.’
‘So what do you think the world would be like without religion, Oph?’ Kathy asked more whimsically.
That was an interesting question that was challenging. Kathy was really getting into the religious theme. She’d obviously liked the idea he’d floated for his new book – the Antitheist’s Bible. It had been buzzing around in his head for quite a while. All he lacked was the time with which to do something about it. He was serious about it. He wanted to produce this book in which he put together all the inconsistencies and terrible events that had occurred through time in the name of religion; to make a comprehensive analysis of religion to show how human it all was, how fabricated and manufactured. He wanted to clearly demonstrate the way it had been used through history to gain wealth, power and influence. In short he wanted to reveal that god was a myth. He intended to call this book the Antitheist’s Bible to demonstrate his disgust with organised religion.
So much about religion infuriated him. He needed to do something about it. Religion was created by humans to explain the world and life. God was a product of their imagination. That’s what he believed. The antitheist’s bible would explain his reasoning. Then, perhaps, we could all stop blowing each other up and get down to solving the world’s problems with intelligence and tolerance.
Kathy’s question was very apt. What would the world be like without religion? He wanted to say, straight off, how much better it would be but there was more to it than that. That was far too simplistic.
‘I don’t know, Kathy,’ he mused, giving the question some serious thought. If he had his way he’d do away with religion all together. So what would that world really be like? He’d never considered it before. The idea was quite exciting. ‘It’d be a lot different, I guess. 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.’ He was warming to it. His imagination was already at work extrapolating the possible benefits; contemplating the better uses those energies could be put to. ‘If all that vigour was put into more positive things………’
‘Yeah but Oph,’ Kathy interrupted, continuing in her cynical role. ‘Those temples are beautiful, and the music and art,’ she argued. ‘The world might be a dreary place without it.’ Kathy was jumping ahead of him with the devil whispering in her ear.
He grinned at her. He loved these mind-games. But it was true. There were many great things that had come out of religion. ‘Yeah, shame about the butchery, intolerance and torture’ he mused mockingly. ‘Shame that so many were flayed alive and burnt to death in agony,’ he added disparagingly, nodding his head and pursing his lips, thoroughly relishing the repartee. ‘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.’ He could tell from the spark in her eyes that this was what she had wanted to achieve – to get him going. ‘Most of the world is shackled in superstition, clothes, hair, rituals, you name it. Apart from that…… and all the bollocks about heaven, paradise, eden ……….. and the hypocrisy …………. And ridiculous contradictions, homophobia, intolerance ………. And the way they all have their little stories that are gospel to them while claiming everyone else’s version is fabricated nonsense ……. You know, the chosen people who are favoured by god while all others 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……… After all – where did god come from? …………… and what was the purpose of this eternal life? ……. No answers there…….’ It looked as if he was set in for a long innings. ‘Then you have ….’
‘Ah come on Oph,’ she said insincerely, cutting him short, and adopting an exasperated tone. ‘You know God moves in mysterious ways. It is not our place to understand the working of God’s mind. Not with our pitiful little brains.’ She frowned at him.
He shook his head at her in despair and grinned back at her.
‘Besides, you’ve got to admit that the world would be a lot drabber without all those costumes and customs?’ She continued insincerely with great verve. ‘If religion hadn’t steered the way forward 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. They were evil, brutal fuckers, those robber Barons. Religion probably held them in check.’
They were good points. There was nothing he liked better than to talk. It got his grey cells buzzing. It enabled him to examine his own views and crystallise them. Religion was one of his pet themes and that is why he had settled on doing the antitheist’s bible. He had been vacillating as to whether to do it. He knew it had no future. No publisher would touch it with a barge pole.
‘Or we might be living in a more liberated world,’ he pointed out in a more reasonable tone. ‘You know, a world in which the enlightenment took place thousands of years earlier and everything was fairer and more advanced,’ he gesturing wildly with his hands very nearly spraying his wine round the room, excitedly setting out the alternative to Kathy’s fabricated view.
‘So you don’t believe that morality and ethics originate in religion?’ She countered; adding a new dimension as she delicately sipped her wine, sweetly pouting as if butter wouldn’t melt.
‘No, No Kathy, no I don’t,’ he averred emphatically seriously. This touched on one of his favourite rankles. ‘I think fairness, morality and ethics are human attributes,’ he reiterated fervently, frowned and took a big gulp of his cheapish red Shiraz. It was really quite smooth and drinkable, slipped down easily and obviously lubricated the speech centres. ‘I think that religion’s got fuck all to do with it. Religion is just about power — religion and the State – all about power. It’s primitive stuff. All the boys vying to be the great chief or shaman; white-backed gorillas fighting for dominance so they get to fuck all the women. It’s all about DNA playing its games to get its genes into the next gene pool. There’s nothing moral about it.’
‘But Oph,’ Kathy objected keenly. Despite all her efforts she could not conceal the fact that she thoroughly agreed with him. Her every gesture gave that away. ‘Every culture has its creation myths and code of morality. Surely they all regulate society and bring some order to it. Perhaps people need that?’ Kathy was continuing her ploy to perfection. There was mutual enjoyment to be gleaned from such a debate.
‘Yeah, and they all borrow myths and gods from each other and then use them to bash each other with,’ he responded with relish.
‘But there is order and there are restraints,’ she argued equally forcefully. ‘Religion has had a lot to do with that.’
‘Are there?’ he said feeling the gorge rise in his throat, this really prodded his buttons. ‘Try telling that to the millions of witches burnt to death, to the crusaders spearing babies, to the terrorist bomb-makers designing their bombs with nails and glass shrapnel to cause the most hideous wounds.’ He could feel the anger surging in his veins as the adrenalin kicked in. ‘Try telling the evangelists who are presently looking to rip Alaska apart because god has bequeathed it to man to do with as he will, and besides,’ he added scornfully. ‘The rapture is at hand. Try telling that to Galileo, Darwin and all the other scientists threatened with excommunication, ostracision, or even hideous torture and death for simply daring to suggest simple scientific facts such as the Earth orbited round the sun, or man evolved from primates!’ He turned his nose up and scowled fiercely. ‘Religion? Pah!! Very progressive!’
‘But surely religion started as a need to understand life, the universe and everything?’ Kathy insisted, changing tack yet again.
‘Yeah. And the answer is 49.’ He grinned, calming himself down and referring to Douglas Adam’s great novel.
‘Are you sure it was 49?’ Kathy asked questioningly. ‘I thought it was 42.’
‘Kathy, there are no answers,’ he said slowly and emphatically. ‘If there was an answer it would be infinity.’
She grinned back at him. ‘Yeah, but that is so hard to take. Infinity is beyond our comprehension.’
‘I can’t help that,’ he said softly. ‘Perhaps we’ll evolve bigger brains. We love to come up with answers don’t we? That’s what our evolution has programmed us to do. We love to find the solutions. Everything has its mystery. We cannot cope with life and death without knowing what it’s all about. If there’s no purpose we are programmed to make one up, hence god. For human beings life is one big jigsaw puzzle.’ He sat deep in thought peering into reflections in the swirling wine in his glass. ‘Except, in reality, it isn’t. The universe was not created for us to discover. We are merely an infinitesimally tiny aspect of it; ultimately no more important than any other chunk of matter. It is our egocentric brain with its wonderful imagination that seeks to put us at the centre of the whole universe.’
‘I think we just don’t like it all to be pointless,’ Kathy stated rather sadly, speaking honestly for the first time. ‘It is human to believe that everything has a purpose. That’s what we’re good at.’
‘Yes I’m sure that it is very much more reassuring to think there is a purpose, a pattern and a reason for everything. It makes people happier,’ he agreed readily. He could see it. The evidence was there. It was psychologically much healthier to believe in god, it provided an order and purpose to life. People who were religious were happier and healthier. ‘But that’s not the point is it? I’d rather be unhappy.’ He paused and the two of them chuckled. ‘To make up a reason when there is no reason is just stupid,’ he persisted. ‘One only has to take a cursory look at the fables of religion to see that it’s all bullshit – total human fabrication – more and more elaboration, confuscation, embellishment, grandeur, designed to obscure the smoke and mirrors of the powerful shaman.’
‘Sometimes, dear Oph,’ Kathy reluctantly suggested. ‘It might be best to let people believe in their fairy-tales, if it makes them happy.’
‘And we want to believe it,’ he agreed. ‘We need to believe it. It keeps us sane in the cold and cynical harshness of this universe. We don’t want to believe we’re nothing more than a bag of chemicals thrown together by chance in a universe too vast and savage for us to comprehend. That’s harsh.’
‘So what is there to keep us sane if you take that away?’ Kathy asked sadly.
‘Oh, I don’t know,’ he replied equally morbidly. ‘Science? Discovery is a powerful purpose. An infinite universe should keep us busy for a lifetime or two.’ He pondered some more. ‘Art? Creativity is exhilarating.’
‘Is that enough?’ she enquired soberly.
They sat for a minute in silence contemplating the terrible truth. It was strange the way this discussion had progressed.
‘In the absence of god I guess we have to do the job ourselves,’ he responded, raising his head and smiling broadly in a far more upbeat manner. He raised his glass for a toast and Kathy raised hers. ‘We don’t have a choice, do we? There are so many things we can do to improve the world. After all we are the custodians of a beautiful planet. We have to sort out the rules and problems and get it right. Besides, god seems to be making a right shit-heap out of it. We can’t do much worse, can we? Here’s to life without god!’
‘He’s given us free will!’ Kathy objected with false indignation, laughing and returning to her devil’s advocacy but drinking to his toast anyway.
‘Very convenient,’ He commented sarcastically, smacking his lips. ‘Well he doesn’t seem to give a shit about minor things like gorillas, whales and all the millions of species we’re in the process of eradicating. Seemingly they don’t count.’
‘He gave us the world to do with as we wished and —- all the creature on it.’ She stated intently, emphasising the creatures bit, while peering at him with narrowed eyes.
He nodded. ‘Kathy, I think you’d make a pretty poor TV evangelist,’ he stated with a flat tone to his voice. ‘You lack the sincerity.’
She beamed at him rather pleased with herself, giggling like a young schoolgirl.
‘Well if you ask me,’ he continued with feeling. ‘As a fictional construct, he’s more of thing of nightmares rather than pleasant dreams. It’s time we put him back in the past with all the other myths and fables. It’s time we grew up as a race and started to stand on our own two feet.’
‘I’ll drink to that!’ Kathy chuckled and raised her glass.
He took a sip of his. ‘Religion is nothing more than a security blanket; a relic from our primitive ignorance,’ he proclaimed as if delivering a sermon. ‘We know too much now to believe in fairy-tales. We can see through it. It does not make sense. It’s too silly. Let’s put the fairy-tales back into the kindergarten where they belong. As a race we’re off to the big school now. There’s a lot more to learn.’ He raised his glass again but it was empty. Perhaps this wine was stronger than it looked? It was definitely going to his head.
Tobes popped his face round the door. ‘It’s on the table,’ he announced.
‘Hey – Life’s a banquet,’ Kathy said smiling.
‘So let’s get stuck in,’ he responded eagerly, grinning as he rose from his seat. ‘Let’s just hope that big school doesn’t have too much homework.’
‘Oph,’ Kathy spoke darkly. ‘You are truly the spawn of the Devil!’
‘Aah, Kathy, he replied. ‘I fear that’s another construct from our racial childhood – the personification of evil. I think we can do without that one as well. Surely we must realise by now that the universe is immense and it wasn’t constructed by some super-being for our benefit!’
She nodded whimsically as she rose from the settee. ‘Here’s to the Antitheists Bible!’ She said, downing the last remnants of her wine.
He raised his empty glass and mimed a toast letting the last few drops trickle into his mouth.
They went towards the dining room where the aroma of the meal was overpoweringly mouth watering.
‘You know,’ he said, turning towards her as they went through the doorway. ‘All that toasting business is just harking back to another set of discarded gods. We can’t let go of any of them, can we?’
‘Like touching wood, lucky numbers and wishing on stars,’ she added beaming.
He topped up their glasses from the bottle on the table.
‘So what have you guys been up to, that you look so smug about?’ Tobes enquired his eyes crinkled up in a great grin.
‘The antithesist bible, Tobes.’ He shared a glance with Kathy and raised his now full glass. ‘Meal looks delicious,’ he said, smiling across at Liz. ‘Here’s to good friends and the death of gods!’
The next day he was in role back at work.
It was a time of change. He could smell it in the air.
He stood out on the balcony of his office like some patriarch surveying his land. That was how he felt. Below him the boys were out at lunch playing football on the field or gathering in small groups. It was hot; one of those rare July days when everything conspired to create the perfect English Summer day. There had not been a lot of them so far this year. The grass was still vivid green and the trees shimmered against a deep blue sky in which the billowy white clouds only served to punctuate the heat and emphasise the swathes of blue.
He had all the windows open to allow the breeze through. It made the temperature agreeable. The papers rustled on his desk. Voices drifted up from the boys below. It was orderly and pleasant. In the distance, through the trees, the old church was bathed in sunlight. It always seemed to be bathed in light. There was something uncannily mystical about it. You often had these great thunderously dark skies with a beamed of light straddling the church so that it gleamed with orange intensity against the purples of the clouds. You’d almost think that the heavens were favouring it.
His gaze wandered over to the common land beyond the fence. There was no sign of the modern world intruding, no evidence of the town. They might be marooned in time. He watched the boys as they played so intently. They were so alive. They would grow and leave here but they would always take some of it with them just as part of all of them remained here in this place. We all shaped our surroundings. We influenced what was to come after.
This was his legacy. He had built this. He knew that it wasn’t and he hadn’t; not really. There was no one man or group of men who could claim as much. To an extent we are products of our day and age. This school would have existed without him and would go on existing after he’d gone. He knew that but he still felt pride.
Behind him Radio four reached the news bulletin. Another bomb had gone off in Iraq killing 50.
He glowered in frustration. The fools were killing each other over the interpretation of some mediaeval text. Sunni against Shia just as it had been Catholic against Protestant, Hindu against Muslim. He felt a wave of anger. What the world needed was the power of education.
Yet he could not help believing that this place was like a bubble of sanity within a world of madness. For thirty five years he had striven to infuse tolerance, respect and empathy. He had fought for responsible actions and promoted fairness and justice. He had championed equality. It had been his life’s work. The world had to grow more sane and intelligent to have a future. There were approaching 7 billion people. We had technologies that could unleash nuclear missiles, fearsomely vicious chemicals or biological death. We either grew up and solved problems with intelligence or died in ignorance and superstition.
Below him on the field were the young men who believed in fairness and justice. They were the new world. They were also the proof that his philosophy could work. They were free, happy and full of vitality. They were a vindication. For thirty five years he had fought to instil his ideals into this place and here it was in operation.
Yet this was the time of change. He could feel it. His deputy was champing at the bit, eager to take over. He had become old and there were still many things that he wanted to do. There was a life outside of this. He would have to leave it to run its course. He had steered it and was satisfied. It was time to move on.
Yet he was reluctant.
This was so satisfying. It was hard to leave it behind unfinished. It would change and it would no longer be his.
Yet change was coming. He could sense it; and he had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be just work.
He looked at the clock. Time was rushing.
It was lunch-time – time for soup.
That evening he was sat watching television with Liz. Kathy and Tobes, who were staying for the week, had gone out for the day and were not due back until late. When you’ve been with someone for over forty years it is quite usual to just be together without any great interaction. They could go for hours without talking but still sharing the company.
The programme they were watching was a BBC 2 programme on psychology and morality. They were carrying out a series of experiments on young babies to determine whether they had an in-built moral code or if this was something that was learnt through upbringing.
‘You see,’ he enthused, turning towards Liz excitedly when the programme had finished. ‘That’s one of the things I was talking about with Kathy.’
‘What was?’ Liz responded lethargically. She got tired in the evenings and was used to his many enthusiasms.
‘People having an in-built moral code,’ he explained excitedly. The programme had confirmed what he believed. ‘I told Kathy that I believed people were naturally moral. We are born with the impulse to do good. It’s instinctive.’
‘So what did Kathy say?’ Liz asked in a neutral tone.
‘Oh she was playing devil’s advocate just to wind me up,’ he explained. ‘She was trying to claim that religion had something to do with the moral code we live by.’
‘And I suppose you put her right?’
‘Too right I did.’
‘This wouldn’t have anything to do with that book you keep on about writing by any chance?’ She asked.
‘It might have been,’ he replied equivocally. ‘We did happen to discuss a few things about religion.’
Liz raised her eyes to the ceiling.
‘But that programme reinforces what I was saying,’ he explained fervently. ‘Those experiments confirmed that even young babies have a predisposition towards kindness and by the time they are one year old they have a clear moral sense. That’s no learnt. That’s built into their brains through evolution. They clearly were distressed when they thought someone was in pain.’
‘Not all of them,’ Liz pointed out. ‘Some of them behaved differently.’
‘But that’s always the case,’ he argued. ‘But clearly there is a biological basis for cooperation in most people. It stands to reason when you think about it. We need that trust and cooperation in order to be successful. If it hadn’t evolved in us we wouldn’t be here. It’s not put there through upbringing and certainly not through religion.’
‘I’m sure upbringing reinforces it,’ Liz stated.
‘Yeah, but they went on to demonstrate a likely biochemical basis to it,’ he continued strongly. ‘They showed that it was the hormone oxytocin that creates bonding. They called it the moral molecule. Testosterone was the exact opposite – that creates selfishness. The battle for good and evil is a chemical battle inside our own body.’
‘I would just point out that it is women who produce the most oxytocin,’ Liz remarked in a superior tone. ‘And men who produce the most testosterone. ‘As if we didn’t already know!’
‘Hmmmppph!’ he grunted disdainfully. ‘I thought it was particularly interesting about military training,’ he continued blithely. ‘That also confirms what we already know. People are naturally carers and protectors. They have a strong predisposition towards helping other people and an aversion to hurting other people. They have to be specially trained to be able to shoot people. Normally they deliberately aim wide. That training overcomes their natural biochemical morality and that’s why a lot of army veterans get so messed up with drugs, alcohol and violence. Psychological problems are rife. Suicide levels are ridiculous.’
‘I watched the same programme too,’ Liz protested, peeved at having it explained to her.
‘Yeah, but it is exactly what I was saying to Kathy,’ he protested excitedly, continuing to press the point. ‘She was inferring that religion had something to do with morality. Those brain scans on psychopaths showed that. It was amazing how their brains were so messed up. You could see the abnormalities in their frontal and temporal lobes. No, it was clearly genetic. We are on the brink of identifying a gene that is responsible for violence. They called it the ‘Warrior Gene’.’
‘Crap name,’ Liz observed morosely. ‘Gives it some veneer of chic respectability. I’m sure a lot of those meatheads would be bragging about having a ‘Warrior’ gene. Violence is violence. It’s all despicable.’
‘Yeah,’ he agreed. ‘Still it did indicate that you could counter its effects with a loving upbringing.’
‘They’ll probably bring out a pill,’ Liz said cynically. ‘That’s what big business is all about. They’ll make money out of it. That and solicitors making a fortune out of getting violent criminals off on the pretext that they couldn’t help it because they had this horrible gene and their mummy hadn’t given them enough cuddles.’
‘That’s true,’ he said. ‘It’ll happen. Then we’re back to that debate as to whether people really have free will or not; whether it’s all merely genes and chemicals.’ He thought for a bit. ‘One thing is certain though,’ he proclaimed. ‘It’s all nothing what so ever to do with religion!’
‘You see Tobes,’ he said with his most serious expression. ‘It is my opinion that all religion is about perspective and context.’
Tobes looked at him quizzically. He wasn’t quite sure where this was all coming from yet.
‘You don’t get many Inuits who are Christians,’ he stated in a deadpan face.
Tobes obviously could not see what Eskimos had to do with Christianity and why he was suddenly bringing it up.
‘No,’ he continued intensely. ‘That’s because they aren’t impressed with the miracles. With the climate they have walking on water is no big deal.’
Tobes shook his head sadly and looked to the heavens. ‘That’s dreadful,’ he muttered. ‘You should be ashamed of yourself.’
‘I am Tobes,’ he smiled. ‘Besides, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if the bloody evangelists hadn’t been so keen on converting them. Extermination or conversation – not much of a choice. You know they worked out that 66% of all humans are doomed to everlasting hell?’
‘As few as that?’ Tobes remarked. ‘I thought it would be a lot more than that.’
‘Probably is,’ he agreed. ‘It seems he is a very vengeful god. According to the old testament it’s a litany of discrimination, murder, genocide and persecution. You don’t want to get the wrong side of him.’
‘You don’t even have to get the wrong side,’ Tobes observed. ‘He was not renowned for his self control. Seemingly when annoyed he could hit out at a few thousand innocents here and there; and being female or a child was no protection. He’d smite you wherever you hid.’
‘I can’t believe anyone takes all that shit seriously,’ he remarked more soberly. ‘It’s some collection of rubbish from the dawn of civilisation and it doesn’t look any too civilised at that. Seemingly, according to the word of god, as laid out in Leviticus, it is quite alright to keep slaves.’
‘Leviticus is an evil document,’ Tobes agreed.
‘That’s where a lot of present day trouble stems from,’ he noted. ‘There’s too many people reading all that garbage written from those barbaric times and still thinking it’s the word of god. There’s no end to the stupidities, all antiquated sexism, racism, and shellfishism. You can’t be homosexual despite the ambiguity that god, all knowing, all doing, must have created homosexuality. If you don’t belong to the right tribe you can be slaughtered or enslaved. You can’t eat shellfish. You can’t eat pork. You are allowed to beat your wife though. She can be beaten with a big stick just as long as she survives for two days.’
‘That could prove difficult to judge,’ Tobes reflected. ‘What happens if she only lives for a day and twenty three hours?’
‘Then you’re fucked,’ he stated.
‘I’ll discuss that with Kathy,’ Tobes remarked.
‘Yeah,’ he agreed. ‘I’ll have a word with Liz. She’ll be up for a good beating. Only if she steps out of line, of course.’
‘How on earth did we get saddled with such a disgusting culture?’ Tobes remarked. ‘A god who sanctions beatings, stonings and slaves.’
‘Be thankful you weren’t brought up as a muslim,’ he remarked. ‘They’ve taken all the worst misogyny and sadism and rolled it into one,’ he remarked. ‘You can beat your wife, make her wear a sack, cut off her hands and feet if she takes anything of yours and divorce on whim. It’s a real mediaeval nightmare. It’s like the barbarians directing you from the distant past.’
‘Who’d have thought modern day people, with all this science and technology, would be so gullible,’ Tobes said whimsically.
‘Who’d believe in some supposedly benevolent god who states a load of barbaric, sadistic rantings?’ he asked.