God doesn’t exist — he never did. We created all the gods in our image to embody the ideals we aspire to and the unfathomable misdeeds of which we’re capable. God is a fable, at times a cruel hoax, a story we all need to outgrow, just like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, the demigods of childhood.
But god is good, you say. No, you may be good. Your family, neighbors, friends are good — without god. But religion does good, you say. No doubt, but religion, like every human institution, does both good and bad — it’s our nature and the nature of all our creations and tools. Some of the bad we do in the name of god is genuinely horrible beyond the pale. We need to get beyond religion by forgetting god.
The most devout believers I know are Jewish. They have a code of behavior thousands of years old and they have discussed, debated, argued every word of it freely. What has it gotten them? The Dark Ages. The Holocaust. Palestine. Odds are some of their smiling neighbors whisper, “They’re Jews.” Praise the lord.
Few Christians are more full of love than African-Americans. Talk about the Stockholm Syndrome and mirroring the behavior of your abuser. Some American blacks take great comfort from god and faith. When did he start comforting them? Before their own holocaust, their ancestors had gods. You may shrug those off as heathenism — it’s all the same to me. Their religious neighbors sold them into slavery, before being enslaved themselves. Slaves endured centuries of unspeakable cruelty at the hands of good Christians. Deny the “good,” if you will. When did god stop listening to the prayers of the enslaver and start listening to the prayers of the enslaved? (Ask the Jews. They must have a day for that.)
What about Islam? Leave aside the tiny number who would kill me for blasphemy. (Whereas, the Jews will crack a joke about me, while the Christians say they’re praying for me.) Muslims also have strict codes selectively applied. What has Allah done for them? Made a few nauseatingly rich, so rich their table scraps comfort thousands of others, but not so rich that they choose to deal with the poverty and ignorance of the radicals. (Note how poverty and ignorance always go hand-in-hand with every religion. There will always be poor.)
But the Buddhists! They’re cool, right? Sure, they have lots of rules and demigods, plus all the pomp and circumstance of every religion. (Gotta give the folks a show as a key part of the sleight-of-hand.) Following Buddha may have helped them wait-out communism. That’s something.
And the new kids on the block? The Mormons? They carry on while the non-believers laugh and shake their heads. Where was their god when non-Mormons slaughtered them and drove them into the desert? No, the Scientologist, the most blatantly unapologetic con game. The latest hoax is the most obvious because it’s new. Given time, any nonsense finds followers. All believers are faithful to their own fantasy.
Just as we must recognize god as fiction — metaphor, at best — so we must stop chasing the delusion of heaven, the carrot in the deadfall. You have one life. It will end. NOTHING of your consciousness will live on. You may have kids who look, sound, and act like you. You may create art or devastation people talk about for generations. That’s not YOU. YOU will die. Childish stories will not change that. Believing, hoping, praying something better is coming will not change your fate or mine. Your hope is exploited by the charlatans and propheteers (sic). Grow up, be good, get on with life, be kind, take care of yourself and others. Accept the bad you can’t change and take responsibility for the bad you can change. You don’t need a god or heaven or soul for any of those good things — they are in our nature.