Whoa there, hold your horses, I am not a Unicorn. I'm not even a horse although some people tell me I eat like one. I'm one of those magical beings called a human being. So, you might ask, if you're not a Unicorn and don't think you're a Unicorn, why did you write a web page arguing that you are one? I chose to argue for the absurd proposition that I am a Unicorn on the previous page in order to show arguments used by members of religions, ideological groups, political parties and cults to manipulate people into believing ridiculous beliefs and into becoming fanatically hostile to non-believers of these beliefs. This web site is about personal growth and finding happiness. Hatred of the non-believer is perhaps the greatest cause of unhappiness in the world, which is why I start by discussing it. You may wonder why I wrote about Jews on the previous page. The group that has suffered the most persecution for not believing what some other group wanted them to believe is the Jews so to illustrate how absurd hating Jews for not believing is, I attacked Jews on the previous page for not believing in Unicorns. Unfortunately although anti-Semitism is absurd, it is widespread because the scriptures of religions such as Islam and Christianity, teach that the non-believer is evil.
On the previous page I argued that witches were poisoning the minds of men but in reality it is religious (and other forms) of intolerance that poisons the minds of men. Many of the absurd and dangerous arguments made on the previous page have been made by mainstream religions, in fact that's where I got most of them. I discuss the specifics of where I got them later on this page.
One of the primary places people look for help in improving themselves and their lives is religion. People hope religion will help them find wisdom, health for themselves and their loved ones, peace and happiness. For reasons such as these Garry Greenwood joined the Mahikari religion of Japan and became one of their religious leaders. One promise of the Mahikari religion, a promise that is made by many religions, was that the faithful would be granted special protection by God. One day 5 people who Mr. Greenwood was very attached to and who also were devotees of his religion died in a traffic accident. Why hadn't God protected them? Mr. Greenwood knew other members of his faith would say that their deaths were due to a lack of righteousness and he knew that was wrong. This created doubts in his mind about his religion. Garry and his fellow coreligionists were under constant pressure to raise money for the faith. No matter how much they raised there was always the need for more and more money. This too led to doubts in Mr. Greenwood's mind. He started investigating his religion and eventually he understood what the Mahikari religion really was. He wrote:
After realizing the truth about his religion, Garry told his wife Wendy to burn every piece of Mahikari paraphernalia they had. He wrote:
Joy and peace? Isn't that why people join religions to find joy and peace? Garry found joy and peace when he left Mahikari. The joy and peace that were already in his life were lost when he joined the Mahikari. Mr. Greenwood warns us that:
Mr. Greenwood's story is a lesson of the dangers of religion and how religion ensnares and traps well intentioned people. The faithful are taught not to question, only to believe. They are taught to give up their freedom to question. Once you believe everything someone tells you that person has control of you and you lose your freedom to that person. Mr. Greenwood lost his freedom to the money making religious leaders of the Makihari.
I wrote the Unicorn web page to illustrated some of the techniques used by religions to trap people into giving up their freedom. I discuss some of them below.
The Afterlife Trap
On the previous page my Unicorn persona tried to convince the reader, to become a believer by promising a wonderful after-life to those who choose to believe. Many religions attract adherents by promising an after-life. It is very comforting to believe that we will join a loved one who has died one day in heaven. My goal is not to argue whether there is or isn't an afterlife but rather to show how religions use our desire for an afterlife to manipulate us into believing their doctrines.
The reward of beautiful women in the after-life to those who fall in battle against the non-believer which was made on the first page of this web site is also made by Islam. The line about these women having swelling bosoms comes from Koran. ( The Tidings 30 ). According to Islam there are seventy two wives for every believer who is admitted to Heaven. This is written in a hadith collected by Imam at-Tirmidhi in "Sunan" Volume IV, in the chapters titled "The Features of Heaven as described by the Messenger of Allah", and in Chapter 21 of hadith 2687 "About the Smallest Reward for the People of Heaven". It is also quoted by Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir (Koranic Commentary) of Surah ar-Rahman (55), ayah (verse) 72. In ayah 74 of the same Surah it is written that all these wives are virgins. That reminds me of Madonna's song "Like a Virgin for the Very First Time". Cool!! While you continue to read this boring web page I'm going to go to the nearest mosque to become a Muslim. Maybe when I'm in heaven I'll get to have sex with Madonna and she'll be a virgin!
This is the smallest reward. According to Al-Ghazzali, one of Islams greatest teachers, when a martyr reaches Paradise, he will marry 500 companions, 4,000 virgins, and 8,000 divorced women. There's a tradition that the number of virgins you will have is equal to the number of days you fasted in Ramadan. In case that one is right you better fast.
Haven't been able to find the girl of your dreams on earth? Do the girls you meet at dating services have more wrinkles than Fido your neighbor's bulldog and do they reject you anyway? There is one dating service that won't let you down, Allah's dating service. Just blow yourself up next to some infidels and you will have women without wrinkles and they'll all be virgins and they'll make love to you. To read about Muslim men who did just that in order to be with the girls of paradise click here. To view a Palestinian TV video in which teenage girls extoll dying to be in paradise in the afterlife click here. More videos of this nature can be viewed by clicking here.
Wait a minute. What happens after the believer has sex with all the virgins? Then they won't be virgins anymore. Not to worry. Ibn Kathir's Commentary on Surah al-Waqi'ah (56), ayat (verses) 35-37, quotes the hadith which teaches us that women who the believers have sex with in heaven will become virgins again after sex. The great Koranic commentator Al-Suyuti (died 1505 ), wrote: "Each time we sleep with a houri we find her virgin."
If there are so many virgins up there how will you know which ones are yours? What if someone else wants your virgin. Don't worry, your name will be on the breasts of your virgins.
What if you died an old man. Don't worry, in paradise you'll always be 33 years old.
What happens (shhh) if you can't get it up? It would be torture to be dead and surrounded by drop dead gorgeous virgins and not to be able to do it. Don't worry, Allah thinks of everything. Ibn Kathir tells us in the same commentary, "the penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal; the sensation that you feel each time you make love is utterly delicious and out of this world and were you to experience it in this world you would faint. Each chosen one [ie Muslim] will marry seventy [sic] houris, besides the women he married on earth, and all will have appetising vaginas."
What you think this is absurd? You think it's disgusting? You think it's funny? Well don't laugh too loud because Professor Farag Fota mocked discussions by Islamic Scholars at al-Azhar university in Egypt on this very topic and was gunned down two weeks later. (The Sword of the Prophet by Serge Trifkovic). Don't laugh because suicide bombers take it very seriously and some even wrap fire proof aluminum foil around their penises to save them for the pleasures to come. (Symposium: Through the Eyes of a Suicide Bomber, frontpagemag.com 8/12/05)
Although believing in a sex orgy in the afterlife makes us feel good the negative consequences of such a belief can make us feel very bad or as in the case of Mohammad Atta, no longer feel at all.
Mohammad Atta the pilot of the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center had a memo in his luggage urging him to commit suicide for Allah. The most persuasive sentence from my perspective was the babes he'd encounter in the afterlife. The sentence I am referring to was:
The nymphs are calling out to you, come over here, companion of Allah.
He came. For more details see the New York Post of Oct 3, 01 p38. Paradise is great for terrorists but what about the virgins up there?
I always wondered why there are Muslim women who commit suicide bombings. I mean what's in it for them? Unless they're lesbians I can't see them looking forward to 72 virgin wives in paradise. Thankfully the wise Muslims who create music videos for Palestinian TV were kind enough to enlighten me. The music video, Maidens of Paradise, shows that a martyred maiden in this world becomes one of the beauteous virgins of paradise. In the video two Muslim lovers are kept apart by the barbed wire fence of the cruel non-believing Jews. The woman breaks through the fence to be with her lover only to be shot by a cruel non-believing Jew. Immediately thereafter, she becomes one of the beauteous maidens of paradise. Soon afterwards her lover also gets shot by a cruel non-believing Jew and winds up in paradise with her. Suha, a suicide terrorist aged 18 referred to the Garden of Eden thus: "Life in the Garden of Eden isn't like life here. It's a different life. Of course the Garden of Eden is referred to in the Koran, I know about the Garden of Eden from the Koran. There is everything in the Garden of Eden, things that don't exist in my life now… It's more comfortable there, there is more greenery. People don't get ill, they don't get tired. The people are different from here… the Shahida is one of the 72 virgins. I thought I would be one of the 72 virgins…. (Symposium: The She Bomber). You can hear a Muslim woman talking about becoming the prettiest of the virgins in paradise in a film by Pierre Rehov by clicking here.
Hey would any of you cruel non-believing Jews out there be willing to shoot me too? I want to be with that gorgeous woman that I saw in the Muslim music video. Wait a minute she's with the other guy who was shot. That's not fair. What kind of paradise is that when the girl I want is with another guy?
To be fair it should be stated that there are other reasons that Arabs become suicide bombers besides the desire for paradise. One woman stated that she was told she would have lunch with the prophet if she blew herself up. I don't know about her but I would insist on falafal with humus if I was going to blow myself up. Then there's the desire to be a famous hero. I want to be a famous hero as long as I'm alive I don't understand the point of being hero if I'm dead. Then there's the desire to get revenge against the Israelis because their brother died in a suicide bombing against them and finally some are coerced to commit suicide bombings against their will. Mrs. Riyashi a mother of two who was married to a Hamas terrorist had an affair with another one. When you marry Islamic terrorists let alone have affairs with other terrorists you can get yourself in a lot of trouble which is exactly what she did. She was given an option, redeem the family honor by blowing herself up and killing lots of non-believing Jews and most likely getting subsidies from Islamic charities for her children that she left behind or be killed in disgrace without subsidies for her children.
My Unicorn persona made the statement about "not considering those who are slain in the cause of God (Allah)" as dead because I don't want my followers to fear battle with the nonbelievers. I want them to conquer the non-believer so that I can rule the earth! I have to admit that statement isn't original with me I got it from the Koran. The statement that one fifth the booty goes to God's messenger is from Al Bukhari, 8:41 and the statement that for the fallen, paradise awaits is from Al Bukhari vol 4 Book 52 no. 46.
The statement "You will fight for God, and you will kill and be killed, Our blood is cheap compared with the cause which has brought us together, but shortly we will meet again in heaven" appeals to the self esteem of the faithful since it makes them feel they are fighting for a great cause. This way my followers will be very motivated to fight for me. I have to admit I didn't come up with that one either. That statement was made in a speech by Yassir Arafat to his security forces in Gaza in 2001. The great cause that Arafat referred to in his speech is to rid Israel of the non-believing Jews, so that he can rule it and Allah can reign supreme.
The Hatred of the Non-Believer Trap
All good things have an end and it's time we left the juicy topics of revenge, affairs with terrorists and the joy of sex after death, and get back to our boring discussion of the previous web page. The accusation of the non-believing Jew of betrayal that I made on that page is a way of portraying non-believers as evil so that their lack of belief won't create doubts in the minds of believers. I don't want a non-believing Jew convincing my followers that my cult is a sham. This accusation of betrayal by Jews is made by both Christianity and Islam. Christianity accuses the Jews of turning Jesus over to the Romans and of pressuring the Romans into killing him. According to Islamic tradition the Jews signed an agreement with Muhammad that in the case of a war between the Muslims and the Quraysh, they would fight with the Muslims. Islam accuses the Jews living among the Moslems of the town of Medina of secretly instigating the Quraysh to overthrow the Muslims and of attacking the Moslems from within Medina while they were under siege by the Quraysh. Evidence exists that both the Christian and the Moslem accusations are false. In fact there is evidence that much of Islam is false. The prime motivation for making these accusations is likely to have been anger by Christians at the Jews because they would not convert to Christianity and anger by Moslems at the Jews because they would not convert to Islam. Evidence for this has been presented in an article published by the International Bulletin of Political Psychology titled Creation of Paranoia (Part 1, Part 2) and in a web page that is a followup to the article.
My accusations of the Jews and witches killing Unicorns is no more absurd than the beliefs currently being promoted in the Arab world that Jews use the blood of non-Jews to make Passover matzahs, as well as to make the filling for the Purim Hamantashen pastries, beliefs that stem from the medieval blood libel of the Christian world. My accusation that they poisoned wells is no more absurd than the belief of Christians in the 1300s that Jews and witches poisoned wells. The Muslims believe that a Jewish woman from the conquered Jewish oasis of Kaybar killed Muhammad by serving him poisoned goat. That may have happened certainly the Jewish survivors of Muhammad's massacres had every reason to get revenge. On the other hand it may simply be a way of inciting hatred toward the Jewish non-believer. If someone was accused of being a witch Christians of the time had a method of finding out whether the accusation was true or not. Suspected witches had their thumbs tied to their toes and a rope was bound around their waists. They were thrown into a pond or river to see if they would float or sink. If they floated it was deemed that the water rejected them and they were considered guilty. They would then be lynched or executed. However if the water accepted them and they drowned then it was deemed that god embraced them and they died anyway, but at least they were then considered innocent. For more than three centuries, the European Catholic Church killed an estimated nine to eleven million women whom it accused of witchcraft. In modern times Michael Evans a former Jew who is now a Christian minister was called Jew-Witch when he was a child by anti-semitic children.
I made the threat of rain ceasing to fall and the earth ceasing to bear fruit and those who abandon the faith perishing so that they'll think twice before leaving the cult. That threat by the way is a quote from Deuteronomy 11:13. The threat
is from the Koran 22:19-22:23. The following similar threat is made in the Christian scriptures to those who don't accept Jesus as their saviour. (Rev. 20:15).
I threatened that:
which is similar to
The people of Capernaum rejected Jesus's teachings. (Matthew 11:23-24) I ended the last page with the quote
which is another quote from the New Testament (Matt 12:30, Luke 11:23, Mark 9:40 . This teaches Christians to consider all those who do not believe in Jesus as being against them.
I made the statement
Believe on the Lord, and thou shalt be saved,
to give you an incentive to believe in me. My Unicorn persona doesn't give a damn if you're good or not good, otherwise I would have said "Believe in the Lord and be good to one another and thou shalt be saved. Shockingly a very similar statement to mine can be found in Acts 16:31 if one replaces the word "Lord" with the words "Lord Jesus Christ". The immoral behavior that resulted from this statement is discussed on the Negative Aspects of Christianity web page. On the previous page I wrote: "Believe in the Lord and us his messengers, and all your sins shall be forgiven". The message that your sins will be forgiven if you believe is a message of Christianity and is a major attraction for those who feel guilty about what they have done. An example of this is how ex Khmer Rouge are flocking to Christianity. According to the Rev. Setan Lee "They're looking, searching for forgiveness because they're full of guilt". A former Khmer Rouge fighter said of fellow converts:
Another motive they probably have is getting foodstuffs and other goods provided by missionaries. (Former Khmer Rouge Soldiers Turn to Christianity, North County Times 3/10/04).
I (the Unicorn) commanded my loyal followers to pray gather together and pray 3 times a day. By commanding them to gather I can make sure that peer pressure keeps my followers loyal and they keep getting indoctrinated. Also my followers will know who doesn't show up for services and who is a non-believer. In Saudi Arabia if you don't attend the mosque the wakf (religious police) will question you about it. You don't want to get on the wrong side of the waqf in Saudi Arabia.
On the previous page I promised rewards to those who pray such as finding a way out of debt and so on. Those rewards I gleaned from a U.S. News and World Report article about a kabbalah meeting (9/27/04). According to the article:
One way religion attracts and holds on to believers is with the offer that God will answer the prayers of those who believe.
Because I don't want non-believers to convince believers to leave my cult, I commanded:
This is similar to the command in Islam
and the Christian command:
Islam goes even further in regard to keeping people from leaving the faith and commands:
Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him. [Sahih Al-Bukhari (9:57)]
The warning I made on the previous page, about not touching the non-believer because of the danger of losing the ability to procreate is a warning that caused mass hysteria to spread through Khartoum, the capital of Sudan in September 2003. Someone spread the rumor that it happened to him and then others spread the rumor that it happened to them as well. This was actually taken seriously by an Arabic newspaper reporter, which all goes to show not to believe everything you read in the newspaper, especially in Arabic newspapers. According to Dispatch 593 of the Middle East Media Research Institute, (10/22/03)
People actually testified to having been victimized by the phantom handshaker.
Medical examination of at least one of these people who claimed to lose their penis found his penis intact. The reason I include this bizarre story is that one way religious leaders convince their flock to believe, is through testimonies of miraculous happenings and this is one example where there were a lot of testimonies for something that never happened.
While reading this bizarre story about disappearing penises I began to wonder why the Muslims didn't blame the Jews for it and instead blamed a West African. When I continued reading I found out that they did. (see below)
Why did I expect the Muslims to blame the Jews? They always blame the Jews. Why? Because Jews are infidels, who antagonized Muhammad by not believing he was a prophet of God and because Muhammad then wrote in the Koran that the Jews are evil enemies of God. Who is more likely than the enemies of God to make penises vanish?
On the previous web page the statement "Do not kill the soul which God has forbidden except for the requirements of justice." is from the Koran (6:151) as is the statement "Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush" (Koran 9:5). These sentences contradict each other unless justice is killing the non-believing idolator. Defenders of Islam often quote the above verse (6:151) without explaining what Islamic justice is. For more about this see my web page Islam and Jihad.
The statement on the previous web page about the Unicorn supporters owing money to the Jews is similar to the statement in Bukhari an Islamic text that
This is hard to believe considering the wealth that the Moslems must have amassed during their conquests of the infidel and considering that one fifth of the spoils went to Muhammad. This story was clearly told to create hatred toward the non-believing Jew.
The grounds for giving 1/5th of the spoils to Muhammad was that they were for God. What on earth or should I say in heaven, would God need money for? If he created man and the Universe couldn't he create money? What's he going to do go to the corner store and buy some bread? Why doesn't he just create some. And why create it, he doesn't need to eat? The concept of treasury of the Lord is absurd but can be found in the bible as well as the Koran. In Joshua 6 one reads
Religion has caused many of the problems of mankind. Christianity has led to persecution of the Jews throughout the centuries and played a role in bringing about the Holocaust. Although Arab propagandists would have us believe that Israeli injustices toward the Palestinians are responsible for conflict in the Middle East and the attack on America of September 11th, the true cause is Islamic intolerance of the non-believer.
One absurd belief that religious arguments have led to is the belief that Moses had horns in his head. This statement is about as plausible as my being a horse with horns in my head.
The belief that Moses had horns came from a mistranslation of the hebrew word Keren. Keren has two meanings. It can mean a ray as a ray of light and it can mean horn. The Bible probably used the word to say that rays of light were emanating from Moses head. Not that I believe that either. But that was back in the dark ages right? A Jewish friend of mine was in Ithaca New York 25 years ago, and was told by the people she encountered there that they were very surprised that she didn't have horns. She tells of a story she heard about where Christians walked around a Jew and then finally expressed their consternation that he didn't have hooves or a tail.
There was a time that denying that Moses had horns would have been considered heresy. In the 11th century Christians burned heretics. The belief that those who don't share one's beliefs are evil, is the root of much of the suffering man has inflicted on man throughout the centuries and is the basis for much of the threats we face today. Albert Ellis and I (Karl Ericson) have both written about this. We are all non-believers of some religion or ideology and so are all potential targets of those who are paranoid of the non-believer.
What if there really is a God and he did create a book of Guidance in which he says he will punish the non-believers in hell? What if he wants those who believe in him to kill the non-believers? What if he is the God of a different religion than ours? Should we be killed because of our mistake? Is it fair that we burn eternally in hell? What if there are many Gods? Perhaps Zeus, Hera, Athena and the rest of the Greek Gods are all angry at us for not believing in them. Should we suffer in Hades forever because we don't believe in them? Perhaps the Ancient Nubian Gods are the true Gods and they are angry at us. Is it our fault if we don't believe in them? There are a great many religions. They can't all be right. Maybe none of them are.
If we believe a religion that advocates killing the non-believer it is our fault. Any religion that creates paranoia toward the non-believer or advocates killing the non-believer is at least in part a false religion. There may be truth and wisdom in the religion as well and it may promote good behavior in some instances, which is why I write "at least in part" instead of writing that the religion is completely wrong. Our own sense of right and wrong and our own logic should tell us that creating paranoia toward the non-believer is wrong. Man used to believe the earth revolved around the sun. Should those who didn't believe that have been punished? They were. Did their lack of belief make them evil? If someone else makes a mistake does it mean that they are evil? Maybe we are the ones who are mistaken.
Criticizing People into Believing
There are many examples of religions criticizing the non-believer and praising the believer. The statements from the previous page:
are from Surah VIII, 55 and Surah III, 110 respectively of the Koran. I am in the process of reading the Koran and I have found the following techniques used repeatedly to brainwash people into believing. If you click on the technique it will take you to a page with a list of quotes from the Koran that are examples of the technique.
Notice that the way to convince people that you are Allah's prophet is not to argue that you are his prophet but to argue that Allah exists, the rest then is implied.
Frightening People into Believing
On the previous page the Unicorn, made the statement: "It is not for any believer, man or woman, when God and His Messenger have decreed a matter, to have a choice in the affair. Whosoever disobeys God and His Messenger has gone astray into clear error." so that even though the Unicorn only claims to be God's messenger you will obey him. That statement is from the Koran (33: 36) This gives absolute power to the messenger who was probably the Muslim religious leader who made that statement. Similarly the statement
gives power to the messenger. That is a slight modification of the following statement made by Jesus according to the Christians scriptures:
The statement about getting everlasting life if you believe is a modification of John 3:36:
The quote warning not to allow the Devil infiltrate your mind I got from a fellow who was preaching about Jesus in a subway station. I told him that Jesus does not exist and he responded that:
The question from the previous page "Can you really afford not to believe in the Creator?" is designed to frighten people into believing and is similar to the question "Can you really afford not to believe in Jesus?", a question I was asked many years ago by someone who was trying to persuade me to become a religious Christian.
The command to kill those who convert from the faith is made by the Koran in which it commands the faithful to "fight" such blasphemers of the Prophet Muhammad, repeatedly using the term "qital" (the imperative form of the verb "to kill") in pronouncing judgment on this and other "crimes".
Fear is one of the great incentives to believe. The saying that "There are no athiests in trenches" has a lot of truth to it, when facing death people start to pray just in case there is a God who can help them. If we have a loved one in danger we want to believe that there is a mighty power who will protect our loved one. One fear religions often allay is the fear of sickness.
The Reward of Health Trap:
In order to convince people to join my Unicorn cult I made the statement that God's messengers on earth (i.e. me) can heal the sick. That way any one who is sick or has a sick friend or relative will want to believe that I am a messenger of God who can heal them. In fact I start the previous web page by saying that I'll give power to heal the sick to those who believe. Now anyone who wants to heal their sick relatives will want to believe in me. I got this clever persuasion technique from Christianity. According to the Gospel of Saint Mark, a man bought Jesus a son possessed by a spirit that made him grind his teeth and fall to the ground and foam at the mouth. The man asked Jesus to heal his son and Jesus replied that he could heal him if the father could and explained
Jesus then commanded the spirit to leave the child and the child was healed.
A Moslem convert who was trying to convince her parents to convert to Islam wrote to her parents that God loved both of them but that if they didn't convert to Islam there was a terrible fate in store for them. If God loved them would he really have a terrible fate in store for them? Or is this an effort to scare nonbelievers into believing?
One way religion keeps adherents if by frightening them with the argument that the end of days is coming or that they face a terrible threat and that if they believe they will be saved but if they don't they won't. I used that method at the beginning of the previous web page. Michael Baigent et. al. explain this method in their book, the Messianic Legacy as follows:
The Reward of Peace
The world is a very scary place. We all are mortal and all live under a death sentence of old age or a traffic accident or some other unknown fate that awaits us. The Mullah's of Iran are on the verge of mass producing nuclear weapons. The countries of Europe are becoming radicalized by their growing Islamic population. North Korea and other enemies of the free world already have nuclear weapons. This is all very disturbing.
Religion can make us feel better about all of this. Religion tells us that God is in control, that he will see to it that all will be well in the end. This is a tremendous draw of religion. It brings peace and hope to people who otherwise might feel anxiety and despair. The danger of this hope is that it can interfere with people doing what needs to be done to stop the threat. If we rely on God to do what needs to be done instead of ourselves it may never get done. Many of the Jews of Germany and Europe hoped that God would save them from the Nazis. If they didn't have that belief maybe more would have fled in time and survived. Maybe more of them would have armed themselves and fought back instead of spending their time praying to God in the vain hope that he would deliver them from the Nazis.
The Reward of Eternal Justice
We all (at least the just among us) would like to believe that the evil who triumph in this world will be punished in the next and the just who suffer will be rewarded.
The argument that we must believe in eternal justice and God for our own peace of mind is one that was made to me by the grandchild of a Holocaust survivor from Israel who spoke after a string of suicide attacks on civilians in Israel. A similar argument was made by Steward Weiss in the Jerusalem Post (9/14/03). On Tuesday evening Sept, 9, 2003, Nava Applebaum who was to be married the next day, and her father, David a doctor who had treated many terrorist victims, met for coffee in a Jerusalem Cafe discussing her pending marriage when a suicide bomber detonated himself and killed them. Steward Weiss who had gone to the same high school as Dr. Applebaum lost his son Ari to terror. He wrote an article in the Jerusalem Post about it (9/14/03) in which he made a similar argument to that of the Holocaust survivor's grandchild. He said that:
Mr. Weiss admits here that one reason he believes in God is that it would be too painful to believe otherwise. How painful a belief is has nothing to do with how true it is. While belief that God has a higher purpose may be comforting to Mr. Weiss and to the Holocaust survivor's grandchild that doesn't make it true and it is belief in an intolerant God by the enemies of Israel, a God who teaches that the non-believer is evil, that creates the conflict that destroys their peace of mind and that might destroy them in a suicide attack some day.
A reader of this web site contacted me and argued that if people don't believe in God they will have no motive to be good and no fear of being bad. This is similar to the argument that not believing in God is painful. How painful a belief is, or how beneficial to mankind someone may think a belief is, is not evidence that the belief is true. It is possible that some religions were created at least in part by people who wanted to create a belief system that would make people be good. It is possible that they reasoned that if people believed that God would reward them for being good and punish them for being bad, they would have the motivation to be good to each other. If creators of religion thought this way than they didn't consider the negative consequences of such beliefs. Clearly bad people get away with murder so in order to belief that God will reward the righteous and punish the wicked it becomes necessary to believe in an afterlife. The negative consequences of such a belief and the immoral behavior it can lead to are discussed on this page and on the Negative Aspects of Religion Page. I doubt that there is an ideal system of beliefs that will make man moral. Man has moral choice, he can do good or evil and nothing can change that. When you try and scare him into being good by convincing him he'll be punished in the afterlife if he's bad those beliefs backfire and lead to immoral behavior. My hypothesis is that the closer man's perception of reality is to the truth the more likely it is that he will choose the moral choice but some men will always choose the immoral choice. If that hypothesis is correct than creating false beliefs about God and eternal justice, in order to make man good will make him worse than he would otherwise be, because anything that diverts man from the truth will lead to him being less moral.
It may be that as long as life exists there will be a struggle between good and evil. It may be that for good to exist, the potential for evil must exist as well (see the duality web page). Certainly history up to now has shown that to be the case. Even believers in God have come to that conclusion, see for example When Bad Things Happen To Good People by reform rabbi Harold Kushner. (I am assuming he believes in God there are reform rabbis who don't). Another religious explanation is that eternal paradise awaits the good after death and evil in this world is only a test.
So if there is no ideal system of beliefs than what should we believe you may be asking yourself. I think we should seek the truth as best as we are able, not based on how it will effect our morality or on what will make us feel good but just on what facts tell us is the most likely reality. Ultimately, in the long run, I think seeking the truth is the way to the best reality, reality can be.
The Make the World A Better Place Trap
One of the first statements I make on the previous page is that if you believe in the Unicorns you can help save the world. Many religions promote the belief that by believing and praying to God the believer can help save the world.
The statement "Think not that we Unicorns have come to send peace on earth: we came not to send peace, but a sword. We are come to send fire on the earth." is a slightly modified version of a statement attributed to Jesus by Matthew (10:34) who said:
The exhortation that "We must cleanse the earth of the non-believer so the pure race of believers will take over the world!" suggests that the believer is a member of a superior pure race and so is appealing to the self esteem. That argument is similar to the exhortations of Adolph Hitler and the Nazis.
The Religon is Necessary for Morality Trap
Religions often convince their believers that to be a good person you have to believe. Arthur C. Clarke, an inventor and coauthor with Stanley Kubrick of 2001 a Space Odyssey, said in an interview with Free Inquiry Magazine (Vol 19 No.2):
The argument made on the previous page that it is a moral necessity to believe that God rewards us for our good deeds and punishes us for our bad ones in the the afterlife, is an argument made in the Talmud. Since there are plenty of very good secular people, I would argue that it is not a moral necessity. One could argue that even if it is not a moral necessity such a belief would encourage people to be good. This belief however, can actually have bad consequences. If bad things happen to people and these people believe that God punishes the wicked, they may conclude that God is punishing them for being bad. I have a friend who concluded that God was punishing her when tragedy struck her and as a result she felt despair, and low self esteem and became seriously depressed. If misfortune strikes others, people who believe that God rewards us for our good deeds and punishes us for our bad ones, may conclude that the victims were being punished by God and are therefore guilty. More of the negative consequences of this belief are discussed on the negative aspects of religion web page. I also have another page devoted to the positive aspects of religion.
On the previous page the Unicorn says:
This is similar to the following paragraph from an article Rabbi Shmuel Boteach wrote about his friend Michael Jackson (Worldnetdaily 12/22/03). In that article he wrote:
Rabbi Boteach wrote this right after Michael Jackson was reported to have decided to believe in God and became a member of the Nation of Islam. However even though Michael Jackson now believes in Allah, Rabbi Boteach does not believe his conversion was a good thing. Rabbi Boteach wrote in the same article that it would have been better if Michael had converted to Christianity:
But Islam does make demands on its members regarding marriage and drugs and so on and Michael Jackson believes in God, Rabbi Boteach. You should be happy for him. After all according to what you said about believing in God, Michael Jackson will now become a less depraved, less materialistic person. The truth, which Rabbi Boteach realizes, in the case of the Nation of Islam, is that belief in God will not make Michael Jackson a better person.
A reader of this web site emailed me and argued that belief
in religion is necessary for morality because otherwise people would not fear divine
retribution for their sins in the afterlife and so would sin any time they felt it was to
their advantage to do so. I know in my case I don't sin at every opportunity and I
don't believe in an afterlife. I would argue that it is impossible to be good if we
only act out of fear or in order to be rewarded. The beauty of someone sacrificing
something to help someone else would not exist if they just did it for a reward. The
only way for their to be heroism or goodness is if it isn't motivated by reward but the
desire to help others.
The belief in divine retribution in this life and the afterlife can have bad consequences which I discuss on the Negative Aspects of Religion web page of this web site.
The commandments of a religion to be good fool people into thinking that the religion is good. in addition they motivate people to promote religion. If people believe that promoting religion will make others good many will do so. The commandments of a religion not to lie fool people into believing that there are no lies in the religion. There have been many immoral lying preachers who pretended to be good and truthful and who encouraged their followers to be good and truthful in order to gain respect and influence over them. In fact that may have been the motivation of people like Muhammad who gained influence over his followers for being a holy messenger of God by telling them to be just to each other. Joseph Borri, is an example of a man who pretended to be good in order to appear holy.
The Life Has No Meaning Without Religion Trap
The argument that life is meaningless without religion was made to me by a Moslem who was responding to a posting of mine on a message board. I told him that my life feels full of meaning and I am not a religious person. I discuss my concept of the meaning of life on the meaning of life web page. In fact one of the things that I find most meaningful is writing these pages that expose Islam. The Moslem who said life without religion is meaningless also said that life would be hell without religion. I answered him that Islam turned the World Trade Center into a flaming hell so terrible that those who could jumped to their deaths to escape the flames.
The argument about science not explaining the meaning of our existence is true and was made by a woman who converted to Islam and who was trying to convince her parents to convert to Islam. However religions also claim to explain the creation or man and the universe and those explanations conflict with the theory of evolution and with scientific evidence about the universe. It was because his scientific studies caused Galileo to challenge Christian beliefs about the Universe that the Christian Church accused him of heresy and punished him. Also just because religions give explanations for the purpose of our existence doesn't mean those explanations are correct.
The Keep Them Praying Trap
The requirement to study the Ancient Book of Guidance three times a day is similar to the requirements of many religions to study and pray frequently and causes people to be constantly indoctrinated by the religious beliefs written in the books they are studying. The requirement to study in a group creates peer pressure to be a believer. There is a positive side to this though and that is that a loving and supportive community may result from people praying together. I have a web page in this web site which discuss the positive aspects of religion and another web page which discusses the negative aspects.
The Scientific Trap
The explanation on the previous page of the Unicorns horns as being being antenna gives a scientific veneer to my arguments and makes them sound more plausible and scientific. This is a tactic used by Scientology and has been used by other religions as well.
Religions often explain the great mystery and magic of life as being the result of a creator or creators with magical powers and procede to tell us what those creators want from us. Science explains our existence as the result of evolution. Although I am not religious I do not believe that evolution is the whole story of why we are here. Evolution doesn't explain the mysteries of awareness and consciousness. These unexplained mysteries are discussed further on the consciousness page of this web site. That being said that doesn't mean there is a creator.
A belief of many religions is that there is an all powerful benevolent God. How can this be when so many good people suffer? Should we hate people who doubt God exists because of the suffering in the world? If there is a benevolent all powerful God why does he allow the good to suffer?
The Truth Trap
Emily Yoffe in an article about the Falun Gong wrote:
It's important not to conclude that because some of what the religion says is true, all of it is true. Some of the predictions religions make may turn out to be true. Religions often predict Armageddon and the end of days and although many of these predictions have not come to pass eventually they may and ironically religion may be what brings it about. Cults have already led to mass suicides. The end of the world may result from Islamic terrorists some day setting off nuclear bombs in Western cities.
The Money Trap
On the previous page the Unicorn asks for money and offers entry to paradise in return. The Catholic Church used to sell indulgences to people who donated money saying it would help them get into heaven.
The use of religion to extract money from the faithful has a long history. Abdallah al-Ma'arri (973-1057) wrote a poem (Pilgrimage) in which he mentioned this.
O fools awake! The rites ye sacred hold
It is likely that the Creators of Islam created Islam in order to gain power and make money. The faithful have been manipulated by clergy into giving them their money. In the 1400s and 1500s, the Catholic Church sold indulgences to the faithful assuring them that such a purchase assured the buyer a remission of sins and thus a shorter period in purgatory.
Charles MacCay in his book Extraordinary Popular Delusions; the Madness of Crowds, wrote about Joseph Francis Borri who in the 1600s pretended to be a pious philosopher in order to make money:
An example of a current religion that milks their followers for money, is The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. Another, example is the Aum Shinrikyo Organization. Asahara, the leader of the Aum Shinrikyo Organization, persuaded members that in order for them to become monks or nuns and achieve enlightenment, they had to turn over to him all their possessions. When the assets of the Aum Shinrikyo Organization were seized they were between 300 million and a billion dollars in value.
Hector Avalos a former Pentecostal faith healer has compiled a list of warning signs to help people avoid such religions.
So What Should I Believe?
Perhaps you shouldn't believe at all. An acquaintance of mine used to say that he who starts believing stops thinking. Perhaps you should think instead of believe. But what meaning is there to my life without God you might ask. My thoughts about that are given on the meaning of life web page of this web site.
The Self Help Trap
So far I have been discussing the perils of seeking personal growth through religion. There are dangers for those seeking personal growth and happiness through self help programs as well. Sometimes what appears to be a self help organization is really a cult.
Many self help programs make false claims about how they can make people rich and happy. Many people get suckered into spending a lot of money on these programs. In the 1990s the self-improvement industry raked in about $2.48 billion a year according to Marketdata Enterprises.
It's important not to be fooled by testimonials given on TV by people who claim to have become rich as a result of participating in a program. People generally give these testimonials on paid for programs (commercials). We have no way of knowing if the testimonial on the commercial is someone who really became rich as a result of participating in a program or a slick well paid actor in posh surroundings reciting lines. These commercials will never have testimonials by the masses of people who spent large sums of money on these programs and became poorer in the process.
It used to be that traveling salesmen sold elixirs that they claimed could cure everything. Now such elixirs are being sold on the internet. It used to be that religions promised people to change their current lives and send them to heaven in their after lives. Now in addition to that people are being sold on self help therapies which they are told will change their lives, solve their problems and make them rich. Certainly the people who sell these elixirs are becoming rich. The therapy world is a minefield of charlatans out to make a buck. Sadly many innocent people trying to make a positive change in their lives fall prey to them.
Some self help organizations charge astronomical fees for seminars. Tony Robbins charges about $8000 for his "Date with Destiny" seminar. A friend of mine pointed out that if he had that kind of money for a seminar he wouldn't need Tony Robbins. (Note: I think that Tony Robbins has many valuable things to say but I also think neurolinguistic programming which he advocates has a lot of problems with it.)
One of the most financially successful organizations that claims to be able to transform one's life through therapy is Scientology. The founder of Scientology , L. Ron Hubbard wrote a book called Dianetics detailing a therapeutic method involving auditing. A reviewer of this book at Amazon.com writes that:
A man named Fred Neuman actually uses therapy to gain political power. He founded the East Side Center for Short Term Psychotherapy, where he, Leonora Fulani and other "social therapists" claim that emotional and psychological problems can be cured by political activism; "patients" are enlisted to push the Fulani-Newman political agenda. According to the New York Post (7/22/02):
A book about Political Cults that discusses Neuman's operation was written by Dennis Tourish and Tim Wohlforth and is called On the Edge: Political Cults Right and Left. One could consider many dictatorial countries as political cults.
Many cults sell themselves by claiming that they can help people achieve their goals of spiritual growth. For example, the deadly nerve gas producing Aum Shinrikyo Organization attracted tens of thousands of members (including many highly intelligent people including some intelligent enough to make nerve gas and to grow toxic microbes), by presenting itself as a means of obtaining self enlightenment through a combination of Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism. In fact the name of the cult Aum Shinrikyo means supreme truth.
Many of these cults have very good and sophisticated public relations which draw people in. They may even have some helpful therapeutic methods.
A major problem with these cults is that many of them use coercive mind control techniques to keep people handing over their savings for seminars and the like. In some cases cults manipulate people into breaking contact with their family and these people become slaves of the cult. In some tragic cases, cults have committed mass suicide. In others such as the Aum Shinrikyo Organization, they have killed people outside of the group. Many people who join cults are not aware that the organization that they are joining is a cult. It has become difficult to warn people since cults sue those who call them cults. In fact I will not call specific cults, cults in this text. In that sense they control even my actions.
I recently became aware that a long time friend became a member of the Landmark Forum. He told me how he now recognizes people he encounters on the street as being part of the organization. The fact that he recognizes people he runs into on the street as members of this organization is alarming since it indicates that many people are joining. Two acquaintances of mine told me they didn't regard Scientology as a cult and thought highly of it because they heard the testimony of celebrity members about how much it had done for them. This shows me just how clever the Scientology's tactics of recruiting celebrities is. Factnet (The Fight Against Coercive Tactics Network) writes about other possible reasons for the glowing testimonials of celebrities regarding Scientology.
Over 2000 self books are published each year. Although there are good self help books on the market, many self help philosophies promote erroneous methods and some of these methods are anything but therapeutic.
The self help books that are on the market can be subdivided into those that are the result of armchair speculation, those that are based on experience and those that have been validated by research. Psychiatry, until recently was based to a large degree on armchair speculation. The idea of a subconscious mind (untested) has led to psychiatrists and psychologists assuming they knew what the patient was thinking in their subconscious mind. I have a real problem with someone who says they know what I'm thinking and that it's not what I think I'm thinking.
Fortunately much of modern psychiatry is based on tested therapeutic methods. In my opinion the modern methods of cognitive therapy/rational emotive therapy are right on target. Cognitive therapeutic methods have been tested in a scientific way and shown to be helpful. There is evidence that biological and not just psychological factors contribute to mental illness. I discuss the ways these can interact on the fueling mental illness page.
Although I believe that the research studies supporting cognitive therapy our valid, there are other research studies that have been done whose conclusions I have trouble with. If research studies conflict with common sense we should not assume they are true. Research studies are often subject to human bias and the human desire to come up with something revolutionary and that can influence their accuracy. A classic example of this was the "discovery" of Cold Fusion by Dr. Stanley Pons and Dr. Martin Fleischman. Even double blinded research studies can lead to incorrect conclusions since the research model can be flawed and the interpretation of results can be flawed. Faye Flam in an article for The Buffalo News (8/18/02) wrote:
When a scientific marvel seems to wierd to be true it often is. More and more findings that meet acclaim today are being recalled, recanted or rejected tomorrow. "Science is fallible because it is human," said Philip Schewe, a physicist at the American Institute of Physics, based in College Park, MD. Scientists, he said, need to be aware of the danger of self-delusion and outright fraud.
Research proven methods also may only be part of the picture. For a while the research proven behavioral models of Skinner dominated psychiatric thinking but they were incomplete and ignored the role of cognitive factors in behavior. Medications have been proven to help mental illness and there are psychiatrists who conclude from this that mental illness is purely a physiological illness. Yet cognitive therapy has been shown to help depression. Just because a concept is proven doesn't mean it is the whole story. We should not limit ourselves to concepts that have been tested. Every tested idea was once an untested one. Many of the concepts in this web site that were thought of independently by the author have been thought of by others and even tested by others. As time goes on and I become more familiar with the psychological literature and the experiments that have been done that relate to the concepts in this web site I will refer to them.
Cognitive therapy deals with one of the fundamental causes of the problems of mankind which is not facing reality. Another is hatred of the non-believer which I addressed earlier. Many of us don't face reality and believe what we want to believe instead. The assumption underlying the therapeutic methods of this web site is that the more people face reality, the better that reality will become up to a point. The reasons why I think this is true I discuss on the Power of Realistic Thinking web page. One reason things can never be perfect is the nature of the universe and the other is the nature of life and of man. There will always be earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and other disasters due to nature. Nature will always give rise to new pathogens that can overcome our current medicines. There will always be men who choose evil over good and although scientific knowledge enables man to do more good it also enables man to do more evil. There is an inherent duality to the universe that I discuss on the duality page of this web site we can make things better but we can't make things perfect and we can't eliminate the potential for things to get worse.
Most people believe they are facing reality and that they know the truth but many people disagree so they can't all be right. So how do we know what is reality and what isn't. That question is addressed on the Holding On to Beliefs page, and the Occam's Razor page of this web site.
This web site discusses many topics which include in addition to self help, thoughts about morality, philosophy, socializing dating and so on. I have included wisdom from many sources, from the psychological literature to friends and acquaintances. If a friend tells me that her boyfriend helped her quit smoking I'll ask her how he did it, if another friend tells me he's better at dealing with kids in an unruly class than others I'll ask him his secret. If an acquaintance complains about her boyfriend I'll ask for details so I can add to the "Common Dating Mistakes" section of my web site. I have learned that other people have a lot of wisdom to share when it comes to the wisdom of living. Much of the self help concepts that I present come from my own experiences. You can read about them in two articles of mine that were published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology as well as a web page on this site.
This web site discussed many different topics. There are over 500 web pages in this site many of which are multiple pages in length. To navigate through all of these use the frame at the left of the screen. If you wish to post opinions you may do so on the bulletin board. To contact me click on the envelope icon on the lower left of the screen or sign my guest book.
Please sign the guest book below, I would like to know something about the visitors to my site. If you have your own web site please include the URL of the site. I am interested in any comments you might have.
You should see a frame on the left of your screen giving you access to different parts of this web site. If you don't, click here.
I am currently writing a computer program that does computer therapy. A preliminary online version can be tried out here.
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