1980s >> 1980 >> no-910-june-1980

A Visit From the Gods

You’re not exactly in an A.1. articulate state when Bang! Bang! that knock comes at the door. It’s that man again, smiling. Religion, the word of God, Christ Almighty, the day is coming, the Lord shines within all our souls and elsewhere. And you end up saying, No, sorry, not interested, not religious in the slightest, all a waste of time — Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Protestants, all of it — preaches acceptance of the way things stand, leaves me cold, it’s a myth, ta-ra! God’s personal spokesman has caught you off guard. You weren’t ready, your mind was all confused, you couldn’t think straight to give a reasoned reply. And, after removing his foot from your doorpost, you shut the door. But you’re upset. You can’t get back to what you were doing. You could kick yourself. It always happens. And as usual you sit down and think what you would have liked to have said if he hadn’t caught you napping.

“Look”, you’d have said, catching him on the hop, “are you interested in the truth, with or without a capital T?”

And unless he’s a complete nutter, he’d have said, “Yes, of course I am”.

And you’d have gone on: “Well, if that’s the case, you’re looking at things from all the wrong angles. Life, death, the organisation of society, history, everything. Look, let’s make it clear right off that I’m not attacking you or any religious people as human beings — because, let’s face it, you’re mostly working people and we’re all on the same side. But if you ever stopped and analysed religion — just once — you’d see that religious beliefs have no basis in fact or probability. They’ve evolved from man himself, not from some external force. And bear this in mind-religion has to be taught; it isn’t inherent.

Look at it this way, step by step. It isn’t, complicated in the least. A human being is a substance, a basic blob of mass and energy. And before he can form thoughts, ideas, concepts of any kind, he has to possess a living, breathing body with a nervous system and senses. Way, way before there were any human beings with ideas, philosophies and concepts — way before there was any life at all in fact — there was the earth. And before there was the earth there was the expanse of the universe — which shows that the earth, the universe, nature itself, existed and still exists no matter what ideas go on inside our heads. Ideas and outlooks are the product of evolution just as much as changes in physical characteristics. And with every advance in science, knowledge and understanding, ideas and outlooks change and superstitions die away.

In the past, human beings worshipped almost anything. The wind, the moon, the sun, their own ancestors, fertility — and even certain of their fellow human beings. The human race, in its very early primitive stages, had neither shelter nor clothing and had to make do with the crudest of tools, made from tree branches and rocks. For food, they ate berries, roots and nuts; and they were constantly at the mercy of hunger, not to mention the elements and ferocious wild animals. In short, humans lived in a merciless, hostile environment. And they had other inexplicable problems to contend with. Problems such as dreams, unconsciousness, madness, pregnancy, death. What were they to make of all these things in their ignorance? Naturally enough, they associated these with the supernatural, with mysterious beings they couldn’t see and therefore couldn’t overcome. They believed that these gods-as they came to call them —were so powerful they could destroy and kill at will, and that they could only be appeased by offering them what was considered the most valuable, the hardest to obtain — food. After all-and naturally enough again — because they couldn’t fathom out these mysterious gods they projected their own emotions, needs and fears upon them; gods which were in truth nothing more than creatures of their own frightened, tormented brains.

“Slowly, very slowly, over many generations human beings began to improve their chances of survival. They learned to adapt. They made discoveries that we couldn’t do without even today — the wheel, pottery-making, and so on. They improved, improvised, invented. And with the improvement of weapons, fish and meat were added to their diet, because they had now also learned to cook, having mastered the use and control of fire. People became more domesticated by virtue of keeping wild animals to provide adequate meat and milk. It was no longer necessary to wander from place to place in search of something to eat. Shelters improved, and so did knowledge of how to grow plants and food. But still those imagined gods plagued and terrified. After all, human beings still couldn’t understand why certain things occurred; things such as poor harvests, droughts, floods, thunder and lightning, diseases. Everything was still a mystery. But as time went by knowledge and understanding of nature increased. Poor harvests were due to adverse weather, which was due to the position of the earth during the seasons. Diseases were due to geographical location, conditions of environment, lack of hygiene, poisonous food. Knowledge and understanding began to expose previous superstitions for what they really were — products of our own brain.

“The basis for a belief in a god isn’t supernatural; it has its roots in natural and material foundations. There has never been any evidence or scientific proof to substantiate these beliefs in a god, any god. It all boils down to a matter of possessing and seeking knowledge; or, alternatively, we lack the knowledge. You can only say that something is at the moment unknown, but not unknowable. And it’s this very fear of the unknown — as with early humans — and the disposition to believe things on insufficient evidence — which is the basis of all religion and superstition. We are all part of a universe which, as far as our present knowledge extends, has no beginning and no end, either in time or space.

“So you see, religion is based on pure myth. It’s up to human beings alone to make a better world for ourselves. We can’t wait for it to change of its own accord because it will never do that. Religious and superstitious dogma are only blinding people to the realities of the intolerable present-day world system of society. But once you’ve begun to look at religion in an historical, scientific and logical context then you’ll be able to begin looking at everything else in the same way. And you’ll begin to question why the world is in such a state. You’ll begin to question why there is so much misery and suffering and starvation when there is plenty of everything for everybody; why the majority of the world’s population have to slave away all their lives at jobs they detest while a small minority live in splendour and luxury without having to work at all. And if you want logical answers and want to know what can be done, it’s no use going to churches, priests, nuns or even to Conservative politicians or Labour politicians or Communists or Liberals Or any members of organisations who can’t rid the world of the cause of all its problems. There’s only one real solution: a system of society based on common ownership of the means of living and democratically controlled by and in the interests of the whole world-wide community. A classless, moneyless world-wide system of society where poverty will give way to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom. We’ll be our own Lords then and won’t have to pray to an imaginary one for the decent things in life. Interested?”

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