As a child, in a Catholic school, I was taught (against my will) about venial sins and those mortal sins that could send me to Hell for Eternity. But there was a purgatory I could go to where my sins could be expunged away. I vividly remember at the age of seven being told by a nun that if I ate a piece of meat on Friday and died that night –-> I will burn in Hell forever. To underscore how ridiculous this can be in a child’s mind, one Friday I consumed vegetable soup. After swallowing the soup my sister told me the label said there were beef balls in the soup. Wow! I had committed a mortal sin. I begged God to not let me die that night so I would not go to Hell. I was taught about original sin, virgin births, winged angels, the evils of sex, and on and on ad nauseam. I was taught the dualistic concepts of heaven/hell, saints/sinners, and good/evil. A young gullible mind can be tainted and trained to believe the unbelieveable –> to think the unthinkable. Unconscionably, this Pre-reformation nonsense was being promulgated and indoctrinated into the minds of 20th Century children. Why, tell me why would any religion that taught there is a loving God burden the mind of a child (or adult with a childish mind) with such asinine beliefs? Why are so many Christians unchristian? Why are they so angry, hateful, bigoted, fearful, and burdened with a schadenfreude trait towards anyone daring to differ with them theologically? I was first visited with religious wrath by a nun when I was 16. I was a junior at St. James High School, and a friend of mine and I skipped out of Mass. Sr. John Mary caught us, and stupid concrete thinking me said we were looking for our books in the bushes. That “Christian” made my life miserable for the rest of the year with her dirty judgmental stares. Unlucky me had her for my algebra teacher that year. Looking back on it now I think this was one of the initial cracks, and the beginning of the end that instituted my rebellion, nullification, and final deliverance from an unfashionable supernatural worldview.
I was raised a Roman Catholic. That is raised, not born! There is a huge difference between being born with a trait and being conditioned to a belief. We are born with hair color, eye features, skeletal structure, etc. but not to religious beliefs. We are taught the beliefs of a religion and that education usually comes from our parents and the religion they belong to. I attended 12-years of Catholic schooling. I was initially completely receptive to whatever the nuns and priests taught. Like many good demure Catholic boys I thought of becoming a priest. To think if I had entered the priesthood, I would have opened a door to an emotional, psychological, and spiritual rat-hole. I would have entombed myself in a repressive and depressive bottomless pit, an endless supercilious maze with little hope of escape. I am fortunate I have a rebellious streak in me, and I was able to be open-minded, skeptically-minded and broad-minded enough to ask many questions. Today I look back on those incredulous religious beliefs, those ensnared stamped-in infectious virus doctrines as repellant, unimaginable, and fantastical.
Dualistic religions always have good guys and bad guys. Religions appear to get some distorted pleasure in having protagonistic forces vs. antagonistic forces at work. The core dualism for Christianity (core trauma and drama) is the battle between good and evil. This good-evil (good/bad) dichotomy only leads to my religion is good (right) and your religion is bad (wrong). This good-evil dichotomy is a huge naturalistic fallacy violator with the many value judgments made about Nature and human nature. The dualistic concepts of spirit-body, hell-heaven, saints-devils, and good-evil have come to view human nature as sinful. Many religions scathingly denounce, pharisaically assault, and duplicitously make an attack on human nature, and human needs by twisting and making a complete mischaracterization of what it means to be a human being.
Dualistic religions preach about saints and sinners. We have sanctimonious preachers who appear to enjoy ranting about the raining down of fire from Heaven on us earthly sinners. Dualistic religions introduced the supernatural forces of saints and devils, and good angels competing with bad angels. Religions created farfetched opposing superbeings constantly in battle competing for the souls of us ordinary bone-blood humans. Unfortunately, many individuals pay homage to these outlandish man-made super-creatures. Let me give a couple examples of how humans can believe the unbelieveable: 1.) it is difficult for me to understand how anyone can believe in guardian angels that protect a person (some say reside on our shoulder), or 2.) Catholic Church dogma saying that if there is “proof” of two miracles produced in the name of a deceased person that person can become a “saint.”
Hell (fictional dystopia) is ostensibly the realm of the damned. Heaven (fictional utopia) is supposedly the realm of the saved. Many religions have their laudatory chosen few destined to go to Heaven (the saved) and their derogatory many discarded to Hell (the damned). In Greek mythology Hades is the Underworld; land of the dead. Gulley and Mulholland said, “much of the pain and suffering in our world is a direct consequence of a persistent belief in dual destiny – the idea that some are destined for heaven and the rest for hell.” (2004) I argue that Hell is a learned fear concerning perdition and a deontological punishment of eternal damnation. Deontological punishment of the religious kind is revenge against anyone daring to disagree with certain dogma(s). I acutely agree with Christopher Hitchens that, “nothing proves the man-made character of religion as obviously as the sick mind that designed hell, unless it is the society limited mind that has failed to describe heaven – except as a place of either worldly comfort, eternal tedium, or, as Tertullian thought, continued relish in the torture of others.” (2007) I maintain that humans are capable of being such a mean species that we do not deserve this fictional fantastical Heaven. And, as a mean species such as ours, what does it say about a God who said “let us make man in our own image, and after our likeness?” (Gen. 1:26) I ask, “Is it a mean and revengeful God that is responsible for creating a species that is capable of such mean and revengeful behaviors?”
Religion’s spirit-body split has produced many man-made dualistic divisions. The concretistic thinking that invented the spirit-body split and supernaturalism has created many borders, boundaries, and walls that have been significant balance destroyers for entire cultures and the individuals who live in them. From the spirit-body split comes such oxymoronic divisions as: hell-heaven, saints-sinners, and good-evil. I will discuss these dualistic divisions in posts to follow.