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The Poisoning of the Well

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Exploited by and subjugated to the wickedness of their fellow man, abandoned to the fortune of misery, billions find in religion answers to questions about why their life has been so full of injustice and inequality, why they have been made to suffer endlessly, while a tiny minority thrives in the splendors of wealth and luxury, basking in opportunity and fortuitous birth. God has a plan for them, they are told; theirs is the kingdom of God, but only if they follow God 's legions of high priests, and only if they allow religious institutions to have dominion and control over their daily lives. They are not to seek happiness on Earth, for it certainly awaits them in heaven; they must simply place blind faith in an entity that has never been proved to exist.

They are taught that in suffering and poverty they will find the keys to salvation, unaware that only through education and opportunity will they find escape and futures. They are told to succumb to exploiters and subjugators, to market colonialism and the tentacles of neoliberalism. They are told to multiply as much as possible, with birth control being forbidden, not understanding that the more children they have the less resources they and their children will possess, thereby condemning the entire family to perpetual indigence and socio-economic immobility. More children means less education, which invariably means less of an ability to question authority or become threats to the system, and more of a probability to become the slaves of the high priests. Women are told to stay home and become factories of procreation, becoming subservient slaves to their husband masters, for women are told they were created out of a single male rib, not even worthy of a leg or arm. Yet only in female emancipation from paternalistic cultures will both women and their families find betterment, freedom and an opportunity to escape perpetual caste societies.

Billions are told that the Christian god has a plan for them after their life on Earth, that one must remain a faithful servant of religion and of institutionalized dogma, thus of human institutions, allowing themselves to be controlled by the high priests and elite who make of religion the opiate of the masses. Billions are told that education is not of importance, that it can be abandoned after a few measly years. When it is provided, it becomes another way to indoctrinate heathens to religion, brainwashing and conditioning the still developing human brain to the control mechanisms of theology. Real education is liberation, and those that control know this, which is why they abhor it; knowledge is their kryptonite, the antibiotic to their epidemic. Is it any wonder why the nations with the lowest per capita investments in education also have some of the highest percentages of their population who are deeply religious?

Around the world, religious fundamentalist belief thrives in anemic, poor, angry, exploited and undereducated peoples, those residing inside nations commonly described as "third world, " abandoned by incompetent governments and adopted by neo-liberal chicanery, billions lacking the liberation that comes with knowledge, the free thought that arises through education and the standards of living associated with prosperity. They are the ones born not in the apex of human civilization, such as those northern nations rich and developed, but in those resembling the armpit of humanity, those raped of resources, capital and slave labor by the peoples of the north.

Religious fundamentalism is most easily engendered in the soup of poverty, hopelessness, ignorance and bitterness, where humans, their faith in humanity eviscerated by the suffering that is their lives, living in the trenches of what modern day living affords billions of souls, are made to believe in the unseen greatness of invisible gods. It is blind faith in the unseen that gives them hope to press onward even as their high priests only work to subjugate them deeper into misery. Is it any wonder why religion is most strong in the nations of the south, whose peoples live in endemic poverty and perpetual misery, unable to receive substantial education nor opportunity, and almost extinct in wealthy and secular Europe, where only grey hair can be seen in decaying churches?

Created in Our Own Image

From birth hundreds of millions of humans are conditioned to believe in the despotic god of the Bible, a sadistic, vengeance-filled, incompetent leader with deep psychological and anger management issues, a violent, destructive and blood-thirsty entity playing with the psyches of the same creations molded out its image. This god, it seems, has a fascination with human war, with murder and criminality and masochistic lives, granted that humans killing humans, oftentimes for pleasure, are an inherent part of the human condition. This god relishes poverty and suffering of billions, given the present state of humankind, allowing squalor in most nations and bestowing riches upon few. It is allowing us to destroy ourselves, and the Eden it supposedly created, forever remaining a clandestine, missing and unfound entity for thousands of years.

Indeed, it seems that it prefers the rich few over the poor many, the powerful over the weak, the sinful over the honorable, those that exploit over those that are exploited, choosing injustice over justice, inequality over equality, death over survival and ignorance over knowledge. This so-called god allows the miserable death and suffering of millions every year to HIV/AIDS, particularly black humans from Sub-Sahara Africa, creating entire generations of orphaned children. It allowed for the slaughter and suffering of its chosen people during World War II, the Inquisition and other such persecutions over time. It grants sustenance to murder and mayhem in Rwanda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where millions of human beings have died, slaughtered to feed the ravenous need that is our embedded appetite for human violence and war. The god of man allows for wars of religion, wars in its name, where humans fight humans based on whose religious beliefs are right and superior. It is these wars, so full of hatred and bloodletting, carrying the icons of the god of man, committed in the name of the Almighty, that have killed more humans than any other human made or naturally spawned cataclysm in the history of human existence.
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This so-called god allows for the extinction of his creations and the destruction of his paradise by the same organism molded in its own image. If such a god existed, it would be called an utter failure, for the state of human affairs, since our Diaspora out of Africa, has been war, violence, destruction, suffering, exploitation and decimation of the planet and its creatures. Such a god would be impeached by its own creations, replaced with more competent gods, for it has done nothing to alleviate the perpetually decaying state of human affairs since it came into existence a few thousands years ago. Human leaders are dethroned for less serious incompetence. One need only read the Old Testament to bear witness to failure and wrath, incompetence and psychotic behavior, animalistic emotions and human passion.

Yet the god of man is a failure because it is a god concocted in man 's own image, not the other way around. It is molded in our self-image, which explains just how fallible our god really is. It espouses our animalistic behaviors and emotions because it is a creation of our most imaginative minds, fantasies of metaphysical prowess that cannot escape our own frail and fragile human psychology. The god of the Bible is a god captured by mammalian behaviors and emotions, unable to escape the human condition, no matter how hard its creators tried to concoct a being superior to us. Thus, the god of man is susceptible to the same emotions and passions as ourselves simply because it is of our own making, molded to hate as well as love, to be indifferent as well as caring, becoming enraged, seeking vengeance, destroying cities and murdering humans as it sees fit, becoming a creation unable to escape the human realm of understanding, a concoction existing and acting within the ignorance and unenlightenment of its primitive creators. It was molded as a way for us to find our place in the unknown world of yesteryear, helping to make us more secure that our fears of the unknown had purpose and that we were not alone in a world full of mystery and fright.

The god of the Bible is a mirror image of humanity itself, the best and worst of the human condition, a direct introspection of humankind. It is us and we are it.

Having gods, created by a tribe 's elder men at a time when women had no voice --made to resemble the all-powerful male paternalistic figure, enabled followers to place reason behind that which was not understood. At a time when little was known or understood, gods were created to help man understand the complexities of nature and the vastness of the sky and earth. Through gods we became differentiated from the animal world, escaping a reality too humbling for the human ego to absorb. Through religion, gods, myth and fable a world too complex and large to fathom became easier to grasp, placing us, as usual, as the center of the known universe, the splendorous and wonderful creations of the gods, perfect entities placed in charge of Earth, masters of nature and all its creations. Man 's religion is as much our ego as our creativity.

The rise of religion, and of gods, allowed humans to believe and strive for an afterlife, for the insecure and fragile human mind cannot be made to contemplate in the reality of nothingness after death. The idea of death, and that life ends after one 's last breath, is a thoroughly taboo idea to us because of the amazing human fear of seizing to exist, of never again living, of not continuing life, of becoming the food for maggots and the fertilizer for plants, of finding darkness and not light. Through an afterlife humans could continue living, even after death, joining their god in his realm, a better place than Earth, a heaven where we can continue our life, even if only in spirit form. The idea of gods, and of a heaven, allows us to continue believing in the afterlife of human existence, making our frail and primitive minds secure that even after death we continue living. A god with a kingdom of heaven awaits us, after all.
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Our egos not wanting to contemplate the reality of our evolution from the reptilian to the animal to the human worlds, nor our close relation with our primate cousins, along with the substantial behaviors, psychologies, social structures, needs, wants, passions and instincts we share with the animal world, we choose instead to believe in a primitive myth of created molded clay, borrowed rib and six day constructions of planets, a fantasy of escapism and denial, a story made up by the archaic creativity of primitive men gathering around a warm fire, knowledgeable only to the limits of their time and space, contemplating their place in the natural world, awe struck by the countless stars in the night sky and the sheer darkness enveloping them, trying to find meaning to life and purpose to existence, molding fantasies to the understandings and knowledge then known to them.

Theirs was a legend molded to the time, beliefs and place of its authors, never meant for a world of knowledge, certainties and proven analysis, where science extinguishes faith on a daily basis. Out of all creation stories, and there are hundreds known and undoubtedly thousands forever lost, all wonderful examples of the diversity of human creativity and thought, the western world adopted the one in Genesis, a metaphysical myth that helped primitive humans of thousands of years ago understand the world around them, meant for the ignorance of prehistory, not the wisdom of modernity. In its story lies not literal truth but myth and fable, tales of times long gone when the world was less known and more innocent, its complexities given meaning not by the accumulated knowledge of a thousand generations but by the experience of primitive tribes and clans whose stories were passed down orally under cover of darkness while warming to the radiance of warm fires.

Make no mistake about it, religion is a defense mechanism of the frail human ego, unable and unwilling to conceptualize the idea of who and what we truly are. It is our ego that refuses to accept the reality that we evolved, much the same way every mammal and organism on Earth has evolved, making us no different than the creatures we claim dominion over. It is our ego that wishes to ignore the possibility that there is no life after death, for human beings cannot accept death, finality and nothingness, a return to the circle of life from which all things derive. Death and finality are very difficult concepts for us to grasp, and accepting them would mean that our lives are made that much more insignificant than they already are.

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Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst and Internet essayist. His articles as well as his archive can be found at his blog, http://www.valenzuelasveritas.blogspot.com as well as at other alternative (more...)

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I want to thank you for writing such an incredibly... by Bambic on Friday, Jan 20, 2006 at 11:32:31 AM
Dear Mr. Valenzuela; thank you for forceful debun... by Robert Chapman on Saturday, Jan 21, 2006 at 1:24:52 PM