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Sunday, 2 August 2015

Fear Factor

Religion most probably began in part due to the fear mankind had for the happenings that could not be explained or understood. Death was one of these, and is feared up until today. Documented evidence suggest that those who worshipped the sun did so because of the fear that not doing so would anger the sun, which would cease to bestow its benefits on the earth. We know this to be untrue today. We do not have to worship the sun for it to 'rise' and 'set', phenomena we now know are dependent on the earth's rotation around its  own axis. The simple ignorance of the facts of the relationships between the celestial bodies, and the effects these relationships have on our weather, daylight and darkness, and even our oceans and seas, necessitated action, and the best they could come up with was to worship the sun. They even killed their own, periodically, as a way of showing their loyalty to the sun. It was the same with thunder, which was described by the African bushmen as the rumbling of the stomachs of the gods from eating too much, or lightning which the ancient Greeks believed was an expression of Zeus's wrath. Children who have been in formal education for less than 8 or 9 years today, know the reasons for all these perfectly natural occurrences.
We all have known fear at one time or another. Fear motivates all of us in one way or another, and it can actually be very useful, for instance when it causes us to flee from, or avoid dangerous situations. Religion thrives on fear. Let us use christianity as a model here. Most christians believe in a literal hell fire where those who die 'in sin' or who do not accept Jesus as their personal lord and saviour will go to suffer and burn for all eternity. The motivation not to sin, or to accept Jesus into one's life is therefore the very real fear of an imaginary hell. This absurdity is usually taught to very young children who have no choice but to absorb this preposterous lie and grow up with it shaping their world view. This is one of the ways religion works - it catches them young. Having planted this aggressive  and tenacious weed, the stage is now set to fully exploit its virtually limitless potential for ensuring compliance with whatever is done in the name of Jesus. Jesus needs money, so the congregation is told to mandatorily pay at least ten per cent of their income as tithe, and are also coerced into giving money to propagate the gospel as is stated in the bible. Every avenue to extort money is put into play. The congregation, believing that Jesus, who loves you, but will send you to hell for rebellion, has sanctioned tithing and giving money to the church, will continue to give. Fear has thus loosened their purse strings. The church is not different than the government in this regard. The only difference is that while the government uses the money (tax) it collects to work for the people (or misappropriate most of it in the case of Nigeria), the churches use the money they extort from the congregation to fund the lavish lifestyles of their pastors.
One of the most effective use of fear, and guilt, is in the bedroom. This most intimate aspect of our lives has unfortunately not been left out of the fear train by the busy bodies in the heavens that the Abrahamic religions want to have us believe in. The obsession of of Islam with the female body and sexuality is very well known. It has led to the covering of muslim women from their hair to their toes like masquerades, and the vile culture of female genital mutilation in Somalia, with over 99% of its population being muslims, specifically aimed at ensuring women do not enjoy sex. Christians want us to see this very beautiful and natural desire as a one way ticket to hell if not done within the confines of marriage. Would you rather tell your teenage daughter to avoid sex lest she burns in hell for all eternity, or to avoid sex until she is emotionally ready as this would allow her to complete her education uninterrupted by an unwanted pregnancy, and also avoid the risk of sexually transmitted infections which could impair her ability to have children?
Let us resolve not to give in to the cycle of fear, guilt and shame which have been used since time immemorial to trap us in the brutal confines of religion. Fear has, in part, ensured our survival as a species on earth, let us not let the fear of our ignorant ancestors guide us in these days of blinding illumination.