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Religion and the Asskiss Factor

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eric stone
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What motivates religion? We atheists have long been perplexed by the tenacity of religion and have long pondered its source of motivation and sustenance. There have been many suggestions ranging from freedom from the fear of death and promise of eternal afterlife to comfort in times of stress, social reinforcement, freedom from decisions, and others. All of these factors probably play a role but I believe there is another more insidious one which I term the "asskiss factor."

My discovery of this factor stemmed from my experience as a child in a Jewish family. My family of origin followed reform judaism and despite being liberal and progressive, nevertheless, forced me to attend synagogue on the high holidays and to participate in the passover seders. At these events, I was always struck by the plethora of the "baruches" to god on nearly every page of every religious text on every holiday. Baruch stands for "blessed art thou." It was baruch this and baruch that and so on down the page. What were these repeated baruches for anyway? Why on earth does god need to be blessed? Were they worships? Were they supplications? I now think that I have discovered what they are. They are simply "asskisses." The religionists who have been reciting these baruches repeatedly day in and day out for the last few thousand years have been continuously "asskissing" their deity for eons.

And, although I know much less about them, I think that the same can be said of other religions as well. Take for example the 5 daily prostrate prayers of Islam and the repeated "god is great"s. Does one have to prostrate himself to show respect or worship? Or the repeated public crossings of oneself in roman catholicism and its kissings of rings and repeated "hail mary"s. Do these not also smack of asskissing?

So how does all this asskissing come about? I think that it all stems from god being superhuman and infinite in power, wisdom, omniscience and so on coupled with his being a severe and deranged disciplinarian who murders people for either not believing, behaving badly, worshipping other gods or even looking at him. There is no other way to deal with a superhuman psychopathological character as this except by sucking up and flattering, in short, asskissing.

If all this is valid, why is it that religionists do not experience profound humiliation when they continually asskiss their god since this emotion is likely the hardwired accompaniment of this behavior. Part of the reason, I think, is that there is a hierarchy of asskissers with the higher status religionists themselves getting asskissed from religionists of lower status and so on down the line. The higher status religionists, because of their greater success in life, are more likely to identify with god and to attain a god-like quality to their lower ranking co-religionists. So in addition to having good fortune in life (and getting first digs in heaven) the high rankers get rewarded for their humiliative gesture to god by having others suck up to them. In short this is kiss-ass up, kick-ass down.

At the low end of the totem pole, the numerous lowest ranking religionists have no one to asskiss them to assuage their humiliation. Although they might still gain access to heaven, they obviously have not gained fortune in this life and consequently the humiliation suffered from the continual asskissing leads to bitter resentment which cannot be directed at is proper source without great risk. Consequently, these low ranking religionists represent the rabble who are roused by the elite and are the primary ones who displace their aggression on members of other religions and on us atheists who threaten their entire system.

So we atheists appear catch the fallout of a sick system. If this is so, what is to be done about it? I think we have to educate the public that this hierarchical asskissing and humiliation has led to great cruelty and great immorality toward atheists. We have to make religionists guilty as hell for what they have done to us for thousands of years and to not let up on it until every last vestige of anti-atheist sentiment disappears. We need atheist historians to carefully document the history of our "holocaust", atheist authors to write books, to make movies, to have "holidays" honoring those who died at the hands of religionists and to maintain a steady, incessant drumbeat against these injustices. Without its hierarchical asskissing, religion just may be terminally weakened.
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I'm a neuroscientist and atheist. I do basic preclinical research on the neurobiology of depression at a major medical center. I founded Westchester Atheists. Sculpture and photography are my hobbies.
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