Reasons for Rejecting Religion--jk Prof. Earnest Nagel
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A 3-part essay centered on the reasons to reject religion.  The first section simply lists the various reasons for rejection.  The second lists the various types of factors that brings about religions.  the third is an essay by Ernest Nagel, the best philosopher of science of the last century. 

Reasons  for  the  Rejection  of  Religions--jk


Reasons why the evidence supports religion as a purely social phenomena supported by social conditioning rather than their actually being a God/ gods* who have brought about the various faiths.


Scientific:  Theist propositions are in conflict with science and its reasoned methods.  The most significant of these conflicts are those of God the creator and that though God is of the ethereal realm, He can affect the material realm.


Lack of agreement:  This entails a lack of foundation upon which their premises are derived. 


Lack of evidence:  There is no museum quality evidence show the existence of any of the popular God, evidence which would make all right reasoning people agree that there is a god.


Anthropological:  There is an evolution of religions.  For example the Hebrew faith today is much different than that in the 5th century B.C. when the works which now comprise the Pentateuch were given special status by the Hebrews.   


Ungodly god:  All popular religions portray their gods in temperament and in actions as being quite like man with human emotions such as anger and jealousy, and thus not very god-like. 


Ungodly demands:  They have their gods requiring behavior of man that would not be required by a god; namely, building ornate temples, the services, the prayers, the chanting, and various other acts claimed to be pleasing to their gods.  Such activities are what one would expect of priest to require of their followers. 


Ungodly actions by God:  They have their gods doing ungodly things like partaking in or affecting the outcome of battles, striking people down, having a hell for non-believers, heretics, and other bad people, bringing about natural disasters, and diseases.


False history:  Their accounts of history in the sacred writings have numerous conflicts with the archaeological evidence. A system which will deceive for the sake of benefits is not worthy of respect.  


Uninspired inspired writings:  Their conception of events in the sacred writings is what we would expect of a pre-scientific people.  They have demon possessing people, witches, their god causing diseases and natural disasters, deciding which side would win a battle, striking people down, and so on. 


Conflicts with reason:  Reason creates expectations about what a long-lived, super-intelligent being would be like and require of man, but the portrayal in the sacred writings is in conflict with these expectations. 


God the creator a fiction:  Science and evolution account sufficiently for the state of the universe.  There is no need to add an hypothesis of a god the creator to this explanation, especially consider that we know nothing about the god or how such god could create anything, let alone everything.  Moreover, the conditions of the world and universe (harm and vastness) strongly support the denial of god being the creator.


Absurd claims:  They claim that their god has certain properties, but these properties (omnipotence, omniscience, and perfect beneficence) are not possible, therefore there could not be such a god.


Sphere of god is imaginary:  To claim that god is transcendental and incorporeal, thus beyond the material realm is to place their god beyond in the realm of imagination.  To invent a category of transcendental, capable of existing in the spirit realm and the material realm doesn't entail that there is such a being, or that there is a spiritual realm.   

Harm:  Religions have promoted wars, torture, repression of liberties, repression of natural sexual behavior, received a dole improvidently spent, and supported the class society with its exploitation of the lower classes.  They have filled the mind with nonsense and have been a force for darkness. 


False and pernicious morality:  By holding that the pleasures of coitus is sinful, except when done within the confines of marriage and by considering it better to serve the church than to serve mankind, the followers of Yahweh have promulgated a false morality.  


That the world today is much different than the world of the scriptures:  Theirs was a world full of demons, gods, prophets and miracles.  For most people there are today no demons, other gods, prophets, and few miracles.


The scriptures appears to be the product of priest rather than the inspiration of a god:  The science of their scriptures is false; their recreation of the earliest past including conquests of the Levant go unsupported; and their wisdom is but homilies.


The most ancient portions of the Old Testament are every bit as primitive as the pagan pantheon of Hesiod and Homer:  Yahweh had a consort, Asherah, a collection of guards (Behemoths, Cherubs, Rahabs, Seraphs, levithans) and a counselor Satan. 


Not a Divinely inspired book:  Assuming the Judeo-Christian position of the divine involvement in the production of the Old Testament, then all these passages must be taken at face value.



Causes for religions



A confluence of factors promote the growth and popularity of religions.  They explain the universality of religions and its persistence in the face of the above reasons.


Sociological: A man is so much a social animal that he will adopt strange behaviors and beliefs for the group he is involved with (non-religious examples being clubs like the Moose and Masons, gangs, and Republican Party).  Religion is just another odd club.

 Pragmatic:  In general those who are religious discriminate against those who are not of their particular faith, and in some countries do much worse.


Psychological:  The pleasure from prayer, from singing hymn, and from feeling as thought there is a personal guardian angle and being part of a group is enough to explain its popularity. 


Comforting beliefs:  An invisible yet powerful friend who can heal diseases and get one through difficult times as well as bring about good fortune along with the belief in a pleasant.


Mystical experiences:  The reliance upon personal experiences induced by a will to believe supports the conclusion that it is the will to believe rather that the physical reality of what is believe that is the cause for these experiences.  


Simplistic explanation for the unknown:  A way to explaining everything, especially creation of the universe, the causes of weather, the germination of plants, reproduction of animal life, the growth of crops, and every fortunate and unfortunate event. 


Congruence with a belief in spiritualism:  From the belief in prana energy, ghosts and souls it is a small step to the belief in gods.


The reports by certain people of various phenomena that putatively required divine intervention:  Among them would be sightings, prayers answered, prophecies, healings done in the name of a god, direct actions such as Yahweh sending an angel to slay the first born of Egypt.  Reports of sighting (just like UFOs) is a cause for a belief in the phenomena.


Promise of pie in the sky: For the gullible there is the unverifiable promise of everlasting reward.



While the above in this section are reasons for becoming involved in the Judeo-Christian religions, the reasons do not in anyway verify the claims these religions make, but rather undercut the argument of divine authorship for the development of these religions, by supplanting the development by a naturalistic explanationmuch as evolution undercuts divine creation.






As supplied by Ernest Nagel


Insidiousness of religious belief:  Most of the people who are gravel skeptical about the validity of the existence of god, do not fully understand who insidious such belief is.  Thus most people who have atheistic leanings do not stand up and be counted. For them the motivational belief is lacking.  To the principle deleterious effects:  Religious authorities have opposed the correction of glairing injustices and encouraged politically and socially reactionary policies. . . . Religious creeds have been used to set limits to free inquiry, to perpetuate inhumane treatment of the ill an underprivileged, and to support moral doctrines insensitive to human suffering.  (Earnest Nagel, Basic Beliefs:  The Religious Philosophies of Mankind, Sheridan House, NY, NY, 1959, p. 176.)  A god would not permit such insidiousness to continue as part of his worship.  John Stuart Mill, speaking of his father, while meaning himself, wrote, He [James Mill] looked upon it as the greatest enemy of morality; first by setting up factitious excellenciesbelief in creeds, devotional feelings, and ceremonies, not connected with the good of human kindand causing these to be accepted as substitutes for genuine virtues; but above all, by radically vitiating the standard of morals, making it consist in doing the will of a being, on whom it lavishes indeed all the phrases of adulation, but whom in sober truth it depicts as eminently hateful (in Mills autobiography).  Beyond the social reinforcers, the outspoken atheist is driven for the good of society by reasons like those stated by Ernest Nagel and John Stuart Mill.  The atheist holds that there is better ways of teaching morality. Atheism's attraction lies in it being a position that in part attempts to curtail the harm caused by religion and religious belief and also in its setting the stage for the teaching of an unpolluted, rational morality.


Factual basis for the denial of the Yahweh:  The atheist (the turn used to refer to a skeptic who has through studies come to a reasoned conclusion) holds both that the positive evidence for is insufficient; and the negative evidence is quite overwhelming.  In brief when there are reports about God, the Atheist hold, like claims about UFOs, there is a fundamental error in the report. One prima facie reason is their inconsistencies and the inability to resolve them.  For example, the Hindus description of the gods is quite different from the Moslem.  The negative evidence consists of the existence of evil and the indifference of Yahweh, particularly applicable to the worship of Yahweh and his retinue.


Conceptual basis for the denial of Yahweh:  The atheist holds (a) that the concepts applied to Yahweh are so inappropriate that the theist is talking nonsense; and (b) the collections of attributes are internally inconsistent.  For the former, (a) the atheist denies that there could be a transcendental reality and talk thereof is nonsense, and a fortiori the experience of the transcendental (mystic experience).  As for (b) the atheist holds that the huffing about Yahweh creates a set of inconsistent proposition; one of which is the claim that Yahweh is both perfectly beneficent and omnipotent.  This claim is inconsistent with both the conditions of life and the conditions of hell.  Thirdly the atheist holds that the aggrandizement of Yahweh has grown into an absurdity.  The powers omnipotence, omniscience, and perfect beneficence are mere words without an understanding of the substance to which propositions.  How can an entity be able to bring about unlimited change instantaneously?  Or know where at any given instant the position, force, and direction of every atom and subatomic particle in the universe.  And how would it know these things and be able to do those things?  Know




My first exposure to Ernest Nagel came in a graduate-school course in the Philosophy of Science at the University of Manitoba.  His book, The Structure of Science published in 1967 stands alone because he writes with the mastery of both fields. My professor knew that.  The book was the nucleus of the course, for nothing more need be add.  It still stands alone among textbooks on the philosophy of science.  His chapter on teleology demolishes the concept of teleology by showing that in all putative examples thereof, teleology is reducible to a mechanical explanation.  One upshot is that that the teleological argument/proof for the existence of a god fails.  Another is that that the use of purposive language in describing behavior both human and subhuman is nothing more than a convenience (a position convincing put forth by B.F. Skinner in his 1953 Science and Human Behavior.  Given his materialism set out in The Structure of Science, it comes to me as no surprise that he is an atheist.  Ernest Nagel has been a professor of philosophy at Columbia University, editor of the Journal of Philosophy (1938-1956) the Journal of Symbolic Logic (1940-1946), and Philosophy of Science (1956-1959).


*  Hereafter thought I use the singular capitalized, I am not denying the proposition that there are many gods, or that the popular religions besides Hinduism though claiming only one god, they name a number of lesser gods and other heavenly being, such as angels, devils, seraphims, blessed souls, saints, etc.


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