Pat Condell: ‘The great Jesus swindle’ + long-winded commentary

There are several things Pat Condell raises which are worthy of further discussion…where to start?

Perhaps before I do get into it, I should post this video which underlines just how the ‘personal relationship with Jesus’ appears to work:

Before you think I am picking on Christians, I’d like to point out that I included this video to support Pat Condell’s specific assertion that very different people who truly and honestly believe that they have a personal relationship with God through Jesus get very different information from this Jesus about what He thinks, says and commands.  Yet, they all honestly believe it to be true…

…just like Muhammad truly and honestly believed that he had a personal relationship with God and that God was telling him what is right, what is wrong and what is forbidden. After all, Muhammad did convert to Christianity for a brief period of time in his youth!

So, I would like to bring the discussion back to some of the points Pat Condell had made.

How?

Perhaps by stating that, in my never-humble-opinion, whether god(s) exist is rather irrelevant.

People keep debating, discussing, self-examining and exerting effort and emotional investment towards answering the existence or non-existence of god(s).  Frankly, framing the ‘religion debate’ by ‘this question’ is more than a bit of a red herring – it is a load of dingo’s kidneys!

This is not a proper – meaning constructive – debate to have because it rather completely misses the point that the problem does not lie in spirituality per se.  Sure, just like cultures – not all spiritual beliefs are equal and some are downright destructive to the human psyche.  Their veracity (or lack thereof) does not determine their venemosity, nor their cultural influence!

The archetype (or, perhaps I should call it ‘meme’) of ‘the original sin’ is one of the most toxic, humanity-destructive bits of spiritual belief around – for pretty much the very reasons Pat Condell has stated.

In a sad way, this very ‘spiritual meme’ (for the sake of convenience, I’ll shorthand it to ‘smeme’) is the greatest threat the Western Civilization faces.

Let’s not mince words:  our Western Civilization may have arizen from a predominantly Christian area of the world, but it arose precisly by rejecting the dogmatization of spiritualiy as much as was possible.  Yes, some wounds are too deep to heal – and the ‘original sin’ is one of these.  During a comment-section-discussion with CodeSlinger and Derek, I explored some of these themes, but only tangentially…though at great length, if you are interested in this type of a discussion.

The short version of it is – one of the (several) points I was trying to make was – that ‘modern’, ‘enlightened’ Christians still obey/accept as ‘divine directive’ many of the things that they no longer believe to be ‘true’.  Perhaps literally, perhaps even more deeply.  The fact remains that once the ‘roots’ of where different bits of theology come from become divorced (to a greater or lesser degree) from the underlying dogma, the resulting ‘rules of proper conduct’, the very ‘morality’ dictated by that ‘religion’ becomes separated from its source.

Once this separation occurs (and the deeper it is – for, like most things, its degree is a continuum – the more this holds true), it becomes impossible to trace the ‘morality’, the ‘reason’ why something is ‘good’ or ‘evil’.  The resultant belief that certain actions are ‘good’ or ‘evil’ remains:  just the ability to understand the belief itself becomes lost through the unfamiliarity with (or de-coupling from) the fundamentalist dogma it came from.

In other words, it is no longer recognized as a ‘religious dictum’ and, instead, becomes thought of (erroneously) as a ‘universal value’.

This is true – to a lesser or greater degree – of just about all the ‘moderate faiths’.

What is also true is that parents raise their kids ‘to do what is right‘. This permits these ‘moral directives’ which results from specific ‘smemes’ to be passed down the generations without any reference to the original ‘smemes’!  (All the guilt, none of the bliss!)

The more secularized and non-fundamentalist a society becomes over a number of generations, the deeper the disconnect between the ‘smeme’ and the ‘moral directives’ that result from it grows.  The ‘Great Western Self-Guilting’ is just one of these:  in just about all the populist ‘secular’ movements in The West, from environmentalism to radical feminism to just about everything else, we can trace the self-guilt and ‘self-loathing’ back to the ‘smeme’ of ‘Eve’s original sin’.  Some try to fight it (inventing ‘salvation schemes’, like ‘municipal recycling’ and ‘carbon taxes’ and ‘reverse discrimination/quotas’), others submit to it (villifying everything ‘Western, Christinan, Jewish’ and attempting to befriend anything and anyone with a contempt for ‘Western Civilization),  – but none of them recognize it for what it is:  a ‘moral’ directive, left over from the time of Christianity and deeply rooted in the doctorine of ‘original sin’.

No longer having access to the root of this ‘moral directive’, because we have unshackled it from the fundamentalist dogma it is rooted in, we cannot identify (much less question, confront and defeat) this particular demon of ours…

…which is why it has so much power over us!

OK – I have barely scratched the surface here…but, enough ranting for now.  Let me know what you think!

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9 Responses to “Pat Condell: ‘The great Jesus swindle’ + long-winded commentary”

  1. jmw Says:

    Sorry you got stuck on original sin (described in Genesis)–it does get better from there. No time to go into a lengthy diatribe, but you will have a tough time justifying “faith” from an intellectual viewpoint. Many thousands before you have tried.
    The true Christian experience is not “relative”. Thoughts and actions which influence behaviour are directed (or should be) through the Bible. These “voices” you mention need to be vetted and consistent with all of scripture before they are considered in any way valid.
    The secular world has put “man” as it’s god, resulting in an inflated sense of ourselves. The best example is found in our schools. Would you say behaviours are better or worse than 50 years ago in this regard? –broad statement, I know.
    50 years ago the norm was “Treat your neighbour as you yourself would want to be treated” — a direct quote from Jesus.
    We have strayed a long way from the laws of our country, which were based on Judeo-Christian concepts. This is now one of the difficulties. Our justice system now operates on “everyone has rights”, criminal or victim, and truth is relegated to individual interpretation. But this is nothing new in the decline of civilizations –just think the Greeks, the Romans. There really is nothing new under the sun.
    What remains, in my opinion, is a void in the heart of man, that cannot truly be filled by an idea or another person –not consistently. I have been a non-Christian and a Christian –being a Christian is WAY better. And until you have both experiences, your arguments are at a clear disadvantage. I hope that you continue to search for answers, doors will open for you, and the outcome will be wisdom. I wish you blessings in the process.

    Xanthippa says:

    Where to start…

    Perhaps by saying that attempting to put the law god(s) above the law of men is a recipe for constant warfare.

    Why?

    Because there can never be 100% agreement in what god(s) laws and desires are – which is kind of the point of the second video and one of the points Pat Condell makes! Even people who consider themselves completely 100% good Christians, who truly believe they are living according to the way the very same god ordered them to, will not agree on what god’s rules are.

    But, because they believe it – have faith in their own belief – they will not abandon their postitions. ‘Faith’ by definition excludes reason – which, by the very same definition, makes people who use ‘faith’ to make decisions to be, in the very real and pragmatic sense of the word, unreasonable.

    And, yes – it is much easier to be unreasonable than it is to attempt to get along with others. But religion requires people to be unreasonable, to put faith above reason: and it reduces ‘morality’ into ‘obedience’. But giving in to this unreasonableness and relishing in it is nothing short of mental hedonism!

    Individual spirituality is each person’s private business. Some forms will be good, some bad, some downright toxic (intoxicating those who subscribe to those forms).

    The problem comes from religion: the dogmatization of spirituality.

    This is not the topic I have covered in the post, but: since dogmatized religion (fundamentalist or the echoes thereof) had been pounded into people’s minds in childhood, before they were capable of reason and a reasonable assessment of the values this transmitted, people have accepted the immoral teachings of religions as ‘moral’ and have perpetuated them.

    The ‘treat your neighbour as you yourself would want to be treated’ is one such example: people fail to examine the implications of this and therefore fail to recognize the evil embodied in this very simple statement!

    Why is it evil?

    Because it completely denies individuality!

    The moral statement would be ‘treat your neighbour as your neighbour would like to be treated’ – because presuming that your neighbour wants the same treatment you do denies your neighbours very identity! ‘Everybody is the same – everybody wants the same things’, so you don’t even have to consider their views and feelings because if YOU want it then THEY must want it too!

    It is a statement of intolerance and intrusion.

    It has been used for milennia to force conformity on to people who did not wish to conform.

    It is an expression of totalitarian oppression.

    And, it is precisely the sort of ‘remnant’ of religious toxins we need to extricate from our society before it manages to destroy it!

  2. Steynerism 442st « Free Canuckistan! Says:

    [...] ~ ITEM: Pat Condell: ‘The great Jesus swindle’ + long-winded commentary [...]

  3. JR Says:

    Hi Xanthippa,

    First, thanks for pointing to your post of March 14th. I missed that one. The discussion in the comments was very interesting. CodeSlinger articulated his points very well. I found myself in agreement with much of what he wrote.

    A few points:

    1. Pat Condell.
    As usual, I find his rants on religion a bit hard to take. He does make some valid points but his tone of angry contempt is off-putting. It’s hard to imagine him having a civil discussion on the subject with anyone but a similarly militant atheist or with himself (hence the monologues). However, one thing he does stimulate in not very religious people like me is the urge to defend religion.

    2. “… our Western Civilization may have arizen from a predominantly Christian area of the world, but it arose precisely by rejecting the dogmatization of spirituality as much as was possible.”

    While there may be some truth to this it’s hard, if not impossible, to know how much. I think there’s a tendency to place far too much weight on reason in the development of human society. For example, we know that the left suffers the delusion (“the fatal conceit”) that society can be rationally planned. Echoing Friedrich Hayek, Western civilization isn’t a rational construct. It got where it is mainly through a combination of human nature (God given :), tradition (including Judeo-Christian religious tradition) and the evolution of culture. It’s the result of evolutionary processes which are beyond rational understanding.

    3. “…‘Eve’s original sin’. Some try to fight it (inventing ‘salvation schemes’, like ‘municipal recycling’ and ‘carbon taxes’ and ‘reverse discrimination/quotas’), others submit to it (villifying everything ‘Western, Christinan, Jewish’ and attempting to befriend anything and anyone with a contempt for ‘Western Civilization), – but none of them recognize it for what it is: a ‘moral’ directive, left over from the time of Christianity and deeply rooted in the doctrine of ‘original sin’.”

    Personally, I think whole ‘Garden of Eden’ scenario is a metaphor for the arrival of man’s consciousness of himself and along with it his capacity for good and evil. Before this he was, along with the rest of the animals, incapable of “sin”. The idea of “original sin” is simply a recognition of man’s inherent moral imperfection, one which requires constant struggle to overcome. In the Judeo-Christian tradition this struggle is an individual, internal struggle that entails individual liberty, responsibility and free choice. The invention of collective ‘salvation schemes’ like carbon taxes and recycling, on the other hand, are socialistic conceptions rooted in the fatal conceit. Which is why the left is so enamoured of them.

    Xanthippa says:

    JR, thank you for your well thought-out comments – and for slogging through CodeSlinger and my comments. They do tend to get longish…

    What I suppose I have not made very clear – seeing your points – is that in my never-humble-opinion, much of the socialis crao we have to put up with – these ARE, in a very real sense, a ‘hangover’ (if you excuse the term – it is illustrative in both senses) from the Christian era.

    In other words, the lunacy of the socialistic left is a predictable outgrowth of the Christian ideology.

    Except that the Christians know where thier immorality stems from, while loony left is anchorless… (And, yes, it is a very deep conviction of mine that following a set of morals handed down by authority, without questioning it – as Christianity, among other religions, requires of its followers – is deeply, deeply immoral. To mistake ‘obedience’ of this type with ‘morality’ is perhaps irredeemably immoral.)

    But the root is the same.

    And it is deeply, deeply toxic.

    If you take the ‘Garden of Eden’ story literally, you are left with not one God, but a pantheon which the evil, knowledge-denying jelaus God of the Bible doing his darndest to keep the humans for himself and away from the other deities. (This, by the way, makes Christianity a monolatry, not monotheism…) But, aside from revealing the God of Genesis to be the embodiment of evil – a belief held by most European Christians at one point, also known as the Albigensian heresy, among other names – the literal interpretation does little more than entrench systemic misogyny into the Christian ideology.

    By the way, this belief is still held by a number of Christian sects today, who regard the Biblical God of Genesis to be a demiurge and mockingly call him ‘Rex Mundi’. They believe that he snared the pure spirits which are human souls and polluted them by imprisoning them in bodies of mud. Some of these sects (though not all – there is a surprisingly broad spectrum of beliefs there) also believe that Jesus Christ was never born in a human body – that the battle he led against the demiurge was precisely to prevent himself from being imprisoned in a corporal form. It was precisely these Christians that Jesuits hunted Europe for, and if they found any of their books, they would (as late as the late 1800′s) shut the whole family – including infants – up in their house with the books and burn it to the ground. But, that is a different story…

    If, on the other hand, you take the ‘Garden of Eden’ story metaphorically, we have a deep, deep problem.

    To me, it seems obvious and glaring – which is why I have not verbalized it in particular. But, perhaps, it is not as obvious as I thought….

    The ‘evil’ in the methaphorical interpretation is that by eating of the fruit of knowledge, humans now have pretentions to have gained God-like wisdom!!!!

    It is precisely in this metaphorical interpretation that the ‘we jnow enough to play God’ attitude of the looney watermelons is rooted!!!

    WE have EATEN the fuit of knowledge – so we are so high above animals that it is up to US, the WISEST OF THE WISE, to save the Earth and the poor dumb animals and all that.

    Oh, and it is also this arrogance, this feeling of us being God-like and above nature, that permits us to commit the most horrible atrocities on non-human sentients without the slightest remorse. I mean, the arrogance of genetically engineering animals so that they would develop horrible diseases, repeated vivisection of cats and dogs (no anasthesia) so students can ‘learn’ how to do surgery – these are just the tip of the ice bergh of what we do to animals, because we feel oh so very superior to them.

    And this arrogant superiority complex stems precisely from the metaphorical interpretation of the ‘Garden of Eden’ story!!!

    It modern, secular, socialist form, it is still there – we humans take on the arrogance of Gods….because WE have EATEN of the fruit of KNOWLEDGE!!!

    Of course, it is all a load of dingo’s kidneys – morality is NOT a uniquely human quality. It has been documented in so many species – yet we collectively refuse to acknowledge it, we still think the knowledge of right and wrong is uniquely human quality….

    That is one way modern social engineering and geo-engineering projects are descended from Christian principles. And, socialistic ideas that ‘common good’ must be forced on all, whether they want it or not, is also something that we would never have accepted had we not been pre-conditioned for this by Christian dogma (which, by the way, Muhammad loved and incorporated into Islam, too).

    P.S. – Evolutionary processes are not beyond rational understanding – at least, not when we look back and analyze them deeply enough. To the contrary, they form very rational patterns, which reveal much about us. No, we cannot use them to engineer future – we could never take all the necessary factors into consideration. Understanding this – by studying these patterns rationally – ought to be enough to throw all social engineering efforts out the proverbial window, along with the socieal engineers!

  4. Steynerism 442st | craigx4mayor.org Says:

    [...] ~ ITEM: Pat Condell: ‘The great Jesus swindle’ + long-winded commentary [...]

  5. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    The problem with the doctrine of original sin is that we have forgotten what it means.

    At its core, it is nothing other than a recognition that we cannot live without doing evil.

    For example, it is always wrong to kill, but we cannot eat without killing. And even a paid killer loves his family. So it really is true that there is yin and yang in all things, and this is the real lesson of original sin: you are going to sin, no matter what, so be sure to always do it responsibly.

    In the biblical story of the fall from grace, this is obscured by being conflated with a parable about the dangers of women – they are easily tempted by lies and they tend to undermine the works of men. Cultural Marxists have learned this particular lesson all too well, as is evidenced by the way they have temped women with feminist lies and induced them to undermine the family, and consequently, the entire West.

    But to return to the question of original sin, the loss of its original meaning has resulted in a disastrous change in the Western concept of good and evil. We associate God and the Devil with infinite good and infinite evil, and we conceptualize this range as a number line extending from negative infinity (infinitely far away to the left) to positive infinity (infinitely far away to the right).

    Thus positive and negative infinity are infinitely far apart.

    In geometry, this is called the affine model of infinity. But there is another one, called the projective model of infinity. In this way of thinking, the number line isn’t a line at all – it is a circle of infinite radius, which of course curves around and joins itself… at infinity.

    Thus positive and negative infinity are the same place.

    This may seem like a very abstract difference, but it is crucial. Salvation, for example, has meaning only in the affine picture. A battle between God and the Devil has no meaning if they are one and the same. In the projective picture, holiness reverts to is proper meaning of wholeness, and the very idea of being “holier than thou” dissolves into nonsense.

    The problem is not with the doctrine of original sin, the problem is with how that doctrine is deliberately obscured and distorted to transform it into an instrument of oppression.

    Similar considerations apply to the golden rule.

    The golden rule only fails when taken too literally.

    It is, of course quite false to say that everyone is the same. Yet, we are all undeniably variations on the same theme. To make the golden rule work, you have to take both into account: the commonality of the human condition and the idiosyncrasies of the individual person.

    When you apply it at the proper level of generality, with a real understanding of human nature and the nature of things, and a genuine care for your fellow man, nothing works better than the golden rule.

    What can it mean to love thy neighbour as thyself, if not this?

    But the golden rule, too, can become an instrument of oppression when it is taken too literally. Just as the pursuit of equality becomes discrimination when taken too literally.

    Finally, let me say a few words about reason.

    Reason is one of our most valuable faculties, but it is an idealization.

    In reality, all we have is faith.

    In the real world, all information is uncertain, so whatever reasoning we do will start from uncertain premises, and therefore we can never be absolutely certain of our conclusions. All we have with respect to any proposition is a body of evidence, of varying degrees of relevance, some of which strengthens and some of which weakens our belief in the proposition. And all we can do is weigh this body of evidence and decide what to believe in accordance to where we judge the balance to lie.

    So, in the real world, there is no complete truth or falsehood, only varying degrees of likelihood. Indeed, some things are overwhelmingly likely and others are overwhelmingly unlikely, and we can afford to treat them as though they were completely true or false. But many other things – unfortunately, many of the most important things – are not so clear cut. So the best we can do is to try to align our beliefs as closely as possible with the balance of the evidence.

    We can never know the truth, we can only estimate it.

    Another aspect of this is that we are often lead to ignore our emotions in the name of being reasonable. However, we have emotions for a reason. Our emotions allow us to evaluate things that are simply impervious to reason – not least of which is the appreciation of how our actions make other people feel. Thus they endow us with motivation. And empathy.

    Without empathy, the is no conscience.

    Moral relativism is what you get when you operate solely on reason and discount emotion to zero. You are left with the idea that there are no such things as good and evil – only appropriate and inappropriate. This idea is utterly false, but it is widely believed in the West today, with deeply toxic consequences.

    The point is that too much reason can result in just as much absurdity as too little reason. And, as Bertrand Russell pointed out,

    People who believe absurdities readily commit atrocities.

    So reason, too, can be pursued in a way that results in great evil.

    To sum up, all your criticisms of religion and morality are based on the fact that they are being abused by the psychopaths who own the world, and twisted to fashion instruments of oppression and slavery. But that is equivalent to the position that we should ban guns because they can be used to commit crimes.

    Indeed, the doctrine of original sin, the golden rule, faith, and even reason itself can be abused in the service of tyranny. But that doesn’t mean that these things are inherently evil.

    You are so focused on the abuse of these things that you seem to forget that it is the abuse which is evil, not the thing itself.

    Remember: abusus non tollit usus.

    Abuse does not preclude proper use.

  6. JR Says:

    Hi Xanthippa,
    I like CodeSlinger’s comments. I’ll add my two bits with reference to some of your points.

    “In other words, the lunacy of the socialistic left is a predictable outgrowth of the Christian ideology.”
    [Western civilization is the product of cultural evolution that began long before Christianity. Though, given it’s long prevalence, Judeo-Christianity (also a product of that evolution) no doubt played a large role. You can argue that all of the ideological and philosophical notions existing in the West today including free-market capitalism, liberty and democracy are a result of that same on-going evolutionary process. In fact, as I understand it, those Christians who haven’t succumbed to modern liberalism and its socialistic tendencies do argue that Christ’s true message is one of individual redemption and salvation, a creed that strongly supports individual liberty and responsibility. Evolution, by definition, results in many errors most of which, in the long run, do not survive. Socialism is one of those errors that, we hope, is on its way to extinction.
    That said, given the obscurity of most of what went on (and is continuing) in the evolution of our culture I find it difficult to see how the existence of any particular ideology or philosophy can be a reliably “predictable” outgrowth of any other. Hindsight is another matter. Though, in the case of socialism I’d be more inclined to blame the errors more on modern anti-religious intellectuals than on Christianity.]

    “…. the literal interpretation does little more than entrench systemic misogyny into the Christian ideology.”
    [And how do you explain the paternalistic misogyny in non-Judeo-Christian societies, say of Asia?]

    “… repeated vivisection of cats and dogs (no anasthesia) …”
    [Surprise! Humans are capable of evil. Do you think that these things wouldn’t happen in the absence of “religion”?]

    “P.S. – Evolutionary processes are not beyond rational understanding …”
    [Yes, evolutionary processes can be “rationally” analyzed. But, especially in the case of cultural evolution, how much can you trust the analysis? Most of the countless variables involved in the process are either very obscure or completely unobservable. Even the most rigorous, impeccably researched “analysis” will be suspect as speculative and/or ideologically prejudiced.]

    Xanthippa says:

    Here, we get into the realm of archetypes and their expression. While the archetypes which are deeply seeded within our psyche are universal, the way these archetypes are expressed within different societies affects how those societies evolve. This is predictable – and not just in hindsight.

    And it is precisely because of the way religions intentionally and calculatinglly manipulate the expression of archetypes that I criticize them in all their forms.

    • JR Says:

      Can’t say I’m up on my theory of “archetypes”. But since religion seems to have arisen in all societies throughout history it wouldn’t be surprising that they influenced the expression of archetypes (assuming ‘archetypes’ are more than just academic psycho-babble). However, in the natural course of cultural evolution if religious figures weren’t a dominant force then others would have been. Perhaps that’s why commie regimes seemed so intent on erasing the past, re-inventing history and creating a new mythology (and archetypes) to match their newfound ideology.

      Xanthippa says: yes!

  7. JR Says:

    I forgot one:
    “WE have EATEN the fuit of knowledge – so we are so high above animals that it is up to US, the WISEST OF THE WISE, to save the Earth and the poor dumb animals and all that.”
    [Or, eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge represents the awakening of humanity’s self-awareness and intelligence which IS humanity’s primary distinguishing feature relative to the rest of creation. As stated above it’s why humans are “moral” creatures capable of “good” and “evil” while other animals are not.]

    Xan says:

    Except that – we are not unique in this respect.

    Animals exhibit morality, often to a greater extent than we humans do.

    • JR Says:

      Got any examples?

      Xanthippa says:

      Where to start?

      A few of the common archetypes you see in just about every culture is, for example, regicide. Another is the descent into hell and return. Of course, the original sin is an archetype, but in Christianity it is twisted into a negative instead of positive.

      Perhaps I am not phrasing it well. Let’s consider Jesus, as the ‘martyr’ is an essential archetype. Some of the aspects of the Jesus story are repeats of much older stories, from Osiris through Mithras and Adonis and yes, there are aspects of the Odin myth that are repeated in Jesus – including the two wounds to the left side following being suspended, which was part of an initiation into the cult of Odin. No, the myths are not identical – but they both draw on several common archetypes while each also weaving a few different ones into their particular myths. This varied ‘intertwining’ is how archetypes can be ‘tweaked’.

      And, yes – this is precisely why the atheistic religions (like socialism) seek to eradicate theistic religious archetypes and replace them with their own.


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