The Deception Theory of Religion

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Jagella
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The Deception Theory of Religion

Post #1

Post by Jagella »

A good place to start talking about religious deception is to see what that great philosopher George Carlin has to say about it. I can paraphrase his "religion is ________" argument as:
In the baloney department, nobody can hold a candle to a clergyman. When it comes to baloney--big-time, major league, buh-lone-nee, you have to stand in awe, in AWE, of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims...

religion!

No contest--no contest. Religion easily has the greatest baloney story ever told. Think about it: religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man in the sky who watches everything you do, and the invisible man has a list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these things he has a special place full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send you to suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever...

but he loves you!

He loves you and he needs money. He's all-powerful and all-knowing but somehow just can't handle money. Religion takes in billions of tax-free dollars, and they always need more.

Now--you talk about a good baloney story--Holy Moses!
Carlin has more to say about his theory of religion, but for now allow me to interject by examining the motives for religious deception. Why does religion deceive people? In addition to the acquisition of wealth, religion is very useful in controlling people. If you can get people to believe in outlandish and false claims, then you can have power over them. In particular, if you can get people to think there's an invisible man in the sky who can do awful things to them and that you speak for that invisible man, then obviously they better do what you say or incur the wrath of that invisible man.

You might object at this point and accuse Carlin and me of bias. Neither Carlin nor I believe that there are invisible people in the sky. Of course we then accuse religion of lying to people! But you need to understand that there were people who accused religion of deception long before we came along. Those people are known as "religion." That's right, the people who accuse religion of deception are primarily the religious--all religion aside from their own is a pack of lies.

A good example of this phenomenon is that of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. Judaism got started when its self-appointed prophets claimed to speak for their own version of the invisible man in the sky. These "prophets" assured their superstitious people that they were the invisible man's chosen people. As such they were free to slaughter men, women, and children to acquire real-estate. Such slaughter was fully justified according to the prophets because the invisible man in the sky ordered it. After all, the invisible man created us, so he can kill whomever he wishes especially when they worship "false" gods.

Judaism's deception worked brilliantly, and some of its own people got in on the act. They decided to take it a step further and have the invisible man come down from the sky and take the form of a visible man. A visible man has the obvious advantage over an invisible man in that you can actually see him or at least see a depiction of him. When Judaism objected to the visible man, the new religion, Christianity, denounced Judaism for rejecting the invisible man come as a visible man. They said that Judaism forfeited its status as the invisible man's religion and now it was they, the Christians, who were the invisible man's chosen people.

Finally, six hundred years after Christianity's deception, another religion took notice of its resounding success and came up with its own deception and called it "Islam." Islam denied the status of the visible man being the invisible man and substituted its own figure as the greatest of all of the invisible man's prophets.

There's so much more to the story of religious deception which we can discuss later. But for now allow me to ask:

Is the religion-is-deception theory a viable explanation of religion?

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Post #21

Post by Willum »

[Replying to post 20 by jgh7]

Not, if they were made up themselves. Or at least the stories were.
You see, no one can stop people from writing about things that happen in a galaxy far, far away. About magical dragons, resurrections and last but not least, fictional martyrs. Even real people having fake stories written about them is far more possible than fake events happening.

I walked over the Thames yesterday (without any of the bridges).
Can you prove I didn't?
Obviously, people don't walk over water.

Except, hey, wait a minute!
Nah, he didn't do it either.
Nor did George Washington throw a silver dollar over the Potomac.
Nor did Heracles - who surprisingly was a real person, have superhuman strength, or clean out magical stables...

Ah, well.

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Post #22

Post by rikuoamero »

jgh7 wrote:
rikuoamero wrote: [Replying to post 5 by Overcomer]
Question: Would you die for something you knew was a lie? Would you allow yourself to be imprisoned and beaten and, finally, killed because you wanted to deceive people into believing that lie?
Yes.

Did I surprise you, Overcomer? If I became convinced that there was some sort of greater good to be achieved by convincing other people of something I know to be false, and that in order to sell this idea, I have to die...then so be it.
Of course...what this greater good actually is, I cannot say, because at this moment in time, there is no such thing that I think actually requires my deceiving others and my own death...but can you actually say, with actual knowledge, that this is NOT what happened to the apostles?
State an actual detailed theory, not a vague idea you have in your head. What in your mind did the apostles believe to be a lie but still went so far as to be tortured and die for that lie? What were their reasons and motivations? It sounds nonsensical. When people go so far as to die for something, it makes much more sense to say it's because they believe it's the truth, not because they believe it's a made up lie.
What you request of me would be impossible. In the model of reality where the apostles preached something they knew to be false...we humans today could never know of it, since what writings we have from those apostles would be the "false" teachings they spread. I mean...it's not like they'd admit to it in writing, is it?

Anyway, my point is, that Overcomer asked a question. "Would you..." I answered that question in the affirmative. Therefore, I don't take it as an impossibility for other people to do the same, which contradicts the point Overcomer was trying to make (that the apostles wouldn't and/or couldn't preach something they knew to be a lie).
When people go so far as to die for something, it makes much more sense to say it's because they believe it's the truth, not because they believe it's a made up lie.
I actually agree with you here. Rather, I'd write it as "it's more likely to say it's because they believe, versus they believed it to be a lie".
However...that's as far as you get. Paul and his fellow apostles believed.
Okay, so...so what? I'm sitting here, 2000 years removed from them. Like I and others have mentioned, does believe in something being true...actually MEAN it's true? As in, objectively? This seems to be the angle Overcomer is using, to which I counter any and all soldiers who have died for their leaders, such as Japanese suicide pilots of World War II. Since Overcomer (and others like him) are not likely at all to think that Emperor Hirohito was a god, this can only mean that pointing to the apostle's beliefs as an indicator of their validity...is a wasted enterprise.
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...personal attacks!

Post #23

Post by Jagella »

[Replying to post 16 by RightReason]
I am pretty confident you won’t find a contradiction between my religion and science -- as there is no contradiction between science and religion.
Religion tends to smooth over its conflicts with science. At first, many religions will howl when some conflict with science arises. Those religions will oppose and/or deny that the new science is accurate. But when the scientific evidence becomes overwhelming, at least some religions will change their tune and deny there was ever any conflict at all.

In any case, if religion is subjected to tough and unfettered scientific scrutiny, it will be exposed as a deception.
Science sure beats all the "false promises and exaggerated claims" of religion.
What do you mean beats? And what false claims and promises are you referring?

Science has proved itself to be a better way of acquiring knowledge than religion by a very wide margin. In fact, I doubt that religion has ever provided any knowledge at all. The psuedo-knowledge of religion consists of its claim that there is an invisible man in the sky who blesses those who do what he commands and punishes those who disobey. This claim is flat-out false.
What has religion given us aside from war, fanaticism, superstition, and ignorance?
Uummm . . . pretty sure I could take the word religion out and replace it with mankind in your above statement. You do realize religion is not a precursor to war, fanaticism, superstition, or ignorance, right?
You didn't answer my question, so I assume you know of nothing good religion has granted us.

And no, I don't realize religion is not a precursor to war, fanaticism, superstition, or ignorance. I think it obviously leads to those kinds of evils.
Or is it just your superstition or ignorance that it is?
No response to a critic of religion on the part of a religious person would be complete without a personal attack against the critic.
Why would you compare a religious claim that deals with the supernatural to science that deals with the natural world? Ever hear of apples and oranges?
A common deception on the part of religion is to claim that it reveals a different part of reality than science does. Religions know that their claims have little to do with any part of reality, so they know better than to intrude upon what science reveals only to be proved wrong.
So, it isn’t the facts that you are learning that is the source of the joy.
No. The discoveries of science are a source of joy and wonder for me.
And why does learning give you joy? Why do you wish to learn?
Learning for me is a joy because I love to see my efforts paying off with new skills.
Please prove resisting truth is religion.
There's plenty of proof for that in this forum.
I think maybe you just proved your own hostility toward religion. When a person can’t address the topic or has nothing of substance left to say, he will inevitably play the church sex abuse card.
It's callous and cruel to trivialize sex abuse as "a card." Why not just admit that the Catholic church is guilty of a cover-up of sexual assault?
If you really did watch the whole video and did not see the flaws in your seeing religion as a mental illness, then I would be remiss to not call into question your own mental state.
I see you just love those personal attacks!

jgh7

Post #24

Post by jgh7 »

rikuoamero wrote:
jgh7 wrote:
rikuoamero wrote: [Replying to post 5 by Overcomer]
Question: Would you die for something you knew was a lie? Would you allow yourself to be imprisoned and beaten and, finally, killed because you wanted to deceive people into believing that lie?
Yes.

Did I surprise you, Overcomer? If I became convinced that there was some sort of greater good to be achieved by convincing other people of something I know to be false, and that in order to sell this idea, I have to die...then so be it.
Of course...what this greater good actually is, I cannot say, because at this moment in time, there is no such thing that I think actually requires my deceiving others and my own death...but can you actually say, with actual knowledge, that this is NOT what happened to the apostles?
State an actual detailed theory, not a vague idea you have in your head. What in your mind did the apostles believe to be a lie but still went so far as to be tortured and die for that lie? What were their reasons and motivations? It sounds nonsensical. When people go so far as to die for something, it makes much more sense to say it's because they believe it's the truth, not because they believe it's a made up lie.
What you request of me would be impossible. In the model of reality where the apostles preached something they knew to be false...we humans today could never know of it, since what writings we have from those apostles would be the "false" teachings they spread. I mean...it's not like they'd admit to it in writing, is it?

Anyway, my point is, that Overcomer asked a question. "Would you..." I answered that question in the affirmative. Therefore, I don't take it as an impossibility for other people to do the same, which contradicts the point Overcomer was trying to make (that the apostles wouldn't and/or couldn't preach something they knew to be a lie).
When people go so far as to die for something, it makes much more sense to say it's because they believe it's the truth, not because they believe it's a made up lie.
I actually agree with you here. Rather, I'd write it as "it's more likely to say it's because they believe, versus they believed it to be a lie".
However...that's as far as you get. Paul and his fellow apostles believed.
Okay, so...so what? I'm sitting here, 2000 years removed from them. Like I and others have mentioned, does believe in something being true...actually MEAN it's true? As in, objectively? This seems to be the angle Overcomer is using, to which I counter any and all soldiers who have died for their leaders, such as Japanese suicide pilots of World War II. Since Overcomer (and others like him) are not likely at all to think that Emperor Hirohito was a god, this can only mean that pointing to the apostle's beliefs as an indicator of their validity...is a wasted enterprise.
The first word in your original post I quoted was an affirmative "yes". Then you later say in that same post that you can't think of a situation where you would do it. So by your own words you contradict yourself.

I understand playing the devil's advocate in debates merely to argue the impossibility of one side being 100% certain. But at some point you have to acknowledge the irrationality of clinging to the opposite. The first Christians were being tortured in all manners, being whipped to death, being burned alive, being eaten alive by wild animals in arenas with people cheering at the carnage, and having all other sorts of travesties heaped upon them. To postulate they willingly accepted this because they wanted to spread what they knew to be lie is nonsensical.

If you want to argue that the early Christians did all this for something they believed to be true but were mistaken on, then so be it. But if you want to seriously argue they could have gone through all this for something they knew was a lie, then provide a very detailed hypothesis on how this could happen.

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Post #25

Post by William »

[Replying to post 24 by jgh7]
If you want to argue that the early Christians did all this for something they believed to be true but were mistaken on, then so be it. But if you want to seriously argue they could have gone through all this for something they knew was a lie, then provide a very detailed hypothesis on how this could happen.
I would seriously love to see that conspiracy theory in detail :)

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Post #26

Post by dianaiad »

DPMartin wrote: [Replying to post 1 by Jagella]

George Carlin? really? a dope smoking comedian that would say what ever to get a paycheck for a laugh. entertainers lie for a living, or didn't you know that? how can that be great, a liar getting paid to lie accusing liars. so what.
:warning: Moderator Warning

the first rule of DC&R that making negative, condescending, frivolous statements, or statements that indicate a lack of respect in any way, is not allowed. In this case, you seem to be arguing against the validity of a source, but it's still in the form of attacking the person making the observations rather than the observations themselves.

Please talk about the content of the post, not the writer of it...even when it is presented third hand.



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Re: The Deception Theory of Religion

Post #27

Post by 1213 »

Jagella wrote: …Carlin has more to say about his theory of religion, but for now allow me to interject by examining the motives for religious deception. Why does religion deceive people? In addition to the acquisition of wealth, religion is very useful in controlling people. …
It is a miracle how “Chrsistianity� have come to that, when Bible and early Christian writings were against the money and power seeking business.

This for example about high positions:
For they bind heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad, enlarge the fringes of their garments, and love the place of honor at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called 'Rabbi, Rabbi' by men. But don't you be called 'Rabbi,' for one is your teacher, the Christ, and all of you are brothers. Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for one is your master, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Mat. 23:4-12

And this about asking money:
“…If he asks for money, he is a false prophet…�
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... berts.html

What do you think is the reason why there are so many “Christians� that go against the teachings?

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Post #28

Post by rikuoamero »

[Replying to post 24 by jgh7]
The first word in your original post I quoted was an affirmative "yes". Then you later say in that same post that you can't think of a situation where you would do it. So by your own words you contradict yourself.
Apologies if I didn't get my meaning across. When I wrote that, I meant I couldn't think any such situations off the top of my head, but that I'm not going to deny it as an impossibility.
Let me ask you. As a follower of one religion, isn't it the case that with yourself, some, if not most, if not all, other religions are/were spread by at least some people who knew it to be false? Isn't that how you view other religions (at least some of them)?
I understand playing the devil's advocate in debates merely to argue the impossibility of one side being 100% certain. But at some point you have to acknowledge the irrationality of clinging to the opposite.
And I view bodies coming back to life, and flying off into the sky unaided by any technology, as being irrational. Therefore, in my view, I acknowledge it as irrational, and look for an alternative explanation...such as at least some of the apostles knowingly preached falsehoods.
Question for you - which is more irrational in your eyes...people spreading falsehoods knowingly, or the content of that preaching being true (such as a body coming back to life and flying away into the sky unaided by technology)?
The first Christians were being tortured in all manners, being whipped to death, being burned alive, being eaten alive by wild animals in arenas with people cheering at the carnage, and having all other sorts of travesties heaped upon them. To postulate they willingly accepted this because they wanted to spread what they knew to be lie is nonsensical.
What do you mean by nonsensical? Do you mean metaphysical impossibility? Do you mean unlikely? Were all the first Christians in on this hypothetical con game?
If you want to argue that the early Christians did all this for something they believed to be true but were mistaken on, then so be it. But if you want to seriously argue they could have gone through all this for something they knew was a lie, then provide a very detailed hypothesis on how this could happen.
I'm not going to do that, because any evidence I might have called to support it simply doesn't exist (there's a person on this site, not you by the way jgh7, who could stand to learn from my example. Not going to name them though...)
However, let me rebut with this.
Why are you asking me for a very detailed hypothesis? Isn't a vague idea of a con enough, to rebut the idea of a corpse actually coming back to life and then flying off up into the sky?
Does the corpse coming back to life stand as being 'true' if I do not substantiate a deception theory? Does it win by default? Does Islam stand as true, if you, yes you, jgh7, do not give a very detailed hypothesis as to how Muhammed made it all up?
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Some force seems to restrict me from buying into the apparent nonsense that others find so easy to buy into. Having no religious or supernatural beliefs of my own, I just call that force reason. -- Tired of the Nonsense

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Re: The Deception Theory of Religion

Post #29

Post by Jagella »

DPMartin wrote: [Replying to post 1 by Jagella]

George Carlin? really? a dope smoking comedian that would say what ever to get a paycheck for a laugh. entertainers lie for a living, or didn't you know that? how can that be great, a liar getting paid to lie accusing liars. so what.
I'm not sure how George's character relates to the topic of this thread, but I agree that we should not be too quick to believe anybody be they comedians or religionists. As far as I know George has made a good living as one of the great comedians. But it's his work and his point of view on religion that I think is relevant to our discussion rather than George himself. I suggest we critique what George has said about religion rather than go after him.

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