The Journey To Atheism - Understanding Why Organized Religion Is Harmful and How One Can Become A Free Thinker


  1. Every single claim made by religion comes from people: not from sources out in the world that other people can verify, but from the insides of people's heads.
  2. Because religion has no reality check, it is extraordinarily difficult to counter its flat-out lies ... because ultimately, its claims rest on an unverifiable belief in an invisible God.
  3. "Religion gives people hope in hardship" -- but I fail to see how encouraging oppressed people to suck it up until they get pie in the sky is a good thing. For the oppressed, anyway. Why it's good for the oppressors is crystal clear.
  4. Because it's a belief in invisible beings and events and judgments that happen after people die, religion short-circuits our reality checks.
  5. When people are taught that believing things without proof or evidence makes you a good person, they become far more vulnerable to fraud, manipulation, and deception.
  6. When people are taught to let go of difficult questions and trust whatever religious authorities tell them; that it's better to trust their feelings than their critical thinking skills; that evidence and reason are less important than faith; that "doubter" is a synonym for "sinner"... they become vulnerable to every cheater, chiseler, swindler, con artist, and late night infomercial huckster who's lucky enough to cross their gullible paths.
  7. The idea that belief without evidence is a virtue doesn't just inspire people to trust their religious leaders blindly. It inspires people to trust anybody blindly. Including people who are trying to rob them blind.
  8. Religion blocks scientific research (e.g. stem cells).
  9. Religion wastes time/money. 
  10. Teaching children about hell is child abuse. Nothing but the unverifiable promise of permanent bliss or torture in the afterlife would make loving, decent, non-abusive parents inflict it on their children.
  11. Religion provides a uniquely stubborn justification for evil. I'm saying that religion is uniquely armored against criticism, questioning, and self-correction... and that this armor protects it against the reality checks that act, to a limited degree and in the long run, to keep evil in check. I'm saying that religion takes the human impulses to evil, and cuts the brake line, and sends them careening down a hill and into the center of town.
  12. When you subscribe to a religion, you substitute nebulous group-think for focused, independent thought. Instead of learning to discern truth on your own, you’re told what to believe. This doesn’t accelerate your spiritual growth; on the contrary it puts the brakes on your continued conscious development. Religion is the off-switch of the human mind. Your intellect is a better instrument of spiritual growth than any religious teachings.
  13. Religious “truths” are inherently rooted in a fixed perspective, but real truth is perspective-independent. When you substitute religious teachings for truth, you mistake shadows for light sources. Consequently, you doom yourself to stumble around in the dark, utterly confused. Clarity remains forever elusive, and the best answer you get is that life is one giant mystery. Religious mysteries, however, arise not from what is truly unknowable; they arise from the limitations of trying to understand reality from a fixed frame of reference.
  14. Religions are authoritarian hierarchies designed to dominate your free will. They’re power structures that aim to convince you to give away your power for the benefit of those who enjoy dominating people. When you subscribe to a religion, you enroll in a mindless minion training program. Religions don’t market themselves as such, but this is essentially how they operate.
  15. Religions are very effective at turning human beings into sheep. They’re among the most powerful instruments of social conditioning. They operate by eroding your trust in your own intellect, gradually convincing you to put your trust into some external entity, such as a deity, prominent figure, or great book. Simply by convincing you to give your power away to something outside yourself, religion will condition you to be weaker, more docile, and easier to control. Religions actively promote this weakening process as if it were beneficial, commonly branding it with the word faith. What they’re actually promoting is submission.
  16. By putting forth confusing and internally conflicting information, your logical mind (i.e. your neocortex) is overwhelmed. You try in vain to integrate such contradictory beliefs, but it can’t be done. The net effect is that your logical mind disengages because it can’t find a pattern of core truth beneath all the nonsense, so without the help of your neocortex, you devolve to a more primitive (i.e. limbic) mode of thinking. You’re taught that this faith-based approach is a more spiritual and conscious way to live, but in reality it’s precisely the opposite. Getting you to distrust your own cerebral cortex actually makes you dumber and easier to manipulate and control. Karl Marx was right when he said, “Religion is the opiate of the people.”
  17. The truth is that so-called religious authorities don’t know any more about spirituality than you do. However, they know how to manipulate your fear and uncertainty for their own benefit. How nice of you to let them.
  18. When you donate to a major religion, you support its expansion, which means you’re facilitating the enslavement of your fellow humans.
  19. When you join a religion, your fellow mind-slaves will help to keep you in line, socially rewarding your continued obedience while punishing your disloyalty. Why do they do this? It’s what they’ve been conditioned to do. Tell your religious friends that you’re abandoning their religion because you want to think for yourself for a while, and watch the sparks fly. Suddenly you’ve gone from best friend to evil demon. There’s no greater threat to religious people than to profess your desire to think for yourself.
  20. When you subscribe to an established religion, you have only two options. You can become an idiot, or you can become a hypocrite.
  21. First, there’s the idiocy route. You can willingly swallow all of the contrived, man-made drivel that’s fed to you. Accept that the earth is only 10,000 years old. Believe stories about dead bodies coming back to life. Learn about various deities and such. Put your trust in someone who thinks they know what they’re talking about.
  22. Free yourself from the mental baggage, stop looking to others for permission to live, and start thinking on your own.
  23. Many religious teachers (i.e. priests, rabbis, ministers, etc.) are just brainwashed slaves themselves. They don’t have any real authority and aren't even aware of the agenda being set by their superiors. This makes them better minions because they actually believe the B.S. they’re spouting and don’t know the truth behind it. A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar, but that’s as far as they get. They may interact with the bartender, but they never get to know the guy who owns the bar. They suffer from inherited falsehood just like everyone else.
  24. Is your religion based on the inspired word of God? No more than this article. Just because someone says their text is divinely inspired doesn’t mean it is. Anyone can claim divine inspiration. The top religions are decided by popularity, not by truth.
  25. When you externalize compassion into a set of rules and laws, what you’re left with isn’t compassion at all. True compassion is a matter of conscious choice, and that requires the absence of force-backed rules and laws.
  26. The more religious a person becomes, the less compassionate s/he is. The illusion of compassion substitutes for the real thing. Religious people tend to be the most bigoted and non-accepting people on earth. They’re the least trustworthy and suffer from the grossest character defects. They pretend they’re doing good, but they’re really collaborators in a system designed to push people into unconscious slavery to a “higher” authority. They are slaves promoting slavery.
  27. Historically speaking, religious people love to fight each other (unnecessary wars). Instead of unconditional love, they practice conditional loyalty. The only unconditional aspect is their thirst for blood. If you disagree with them, you’re a target… either for conversion or destruction.
  28. If you value the ideal of unconditional love, you won’t find it in the practice of religion. Real compassion doesn't arise from believing in God, from practicing various rituals, or from studying the concept of karma. Compassion can only result from conscious choice, and this requires the freedom to choose without the threat of punishment or the promise of reward. If you’re obedient to your faith, it’s a safe bet that compassion is absent from your life. You probably don’t even know what real compassion feels like.
  29. Religion is the systematic marketing of fear.
  30. Blessed are the poor (donate heavily). Blessed are the meek (obey). Blessed are the humble (don’t question authority). Blessed are the hungry (make us rich while you starve). Blessed are the merciful (if you catch us doing something wrong, let it go). Blessed are the pure of heart (switch off your brain).
  31. That’s the kind of nonsense religion pushes on people. They train you to turn your back on courage, strength, and conscious living. This is stupidity, not divinity.
  32. Religion will teach you to fear being different, to fear standing up for yourself, and to fear being an independent thinker. It will erode your self-trust by explaining why you’re unable to successfully manage life on your own terms: You are unworthy. You’re a sinner. You’re unclean. You belong to a lesser caste. You are not enlightened. Of course the solution is always the same — submit to the will of an external authority. Believe that you’re inadequate. Give away your power. Follow their rules and procedures. Live in fear for the rest of your life, and hope it will all turn out okay in the end.
  33. When you practice faith instead of conscious living, you live under a cloak of fear. Eventually that cloak becomes so habitual you forget it’s even there. It’s very sad when you reach the point where you can’t even remember what it feels like to wield creative freedom over your own life, independent of what you have been conditioned to believe.
  34. Faith is the coward’s substitute for courage. It’s also really good marketing if you’re the one who controls the faith. If you’re afraid or unwilling to assume total responsibility for your life, you’re a perfect match for religion.
  35. Fear in one part of your life invariably spreads to all other parts — you can’t compartmentalize it. If you find yourself frustrated because you’re too afraid to follow your dreams, to talk to members of the opposite sex, to speak up for yourself, etc., then a good place to start is to rid your life of all religious nonsense. Don’t let fear get a foothold in your consciousness.
  36. Stop trying to comfort yourself by swallowing religious rubbish. If you really need something to believe in, then believe in your own potential. Put your trust in your own intellect. Stop giving away your power.
  37. Dump the safety-in-numbers silliness. Just because a lot of people believe stupid stuff doesn't mean it isn’t stupid. It just means that stupidity is popular on this planet. When people are in a state of fear, they’ll swallow just about anything to comfort themselves.
  38. Religion is spiritual immaturity: It’s entirely possible to enjoy your life without spending so much of it bent over in submission. Pull your head out of your rear, and look around with your own two eyes. If you need something to worship, then feel grateful for your own conscious mind. Pull it out of the cobwebs, and boot it up.
Cult Like Characteristics of the LDS Church (can also apply to organized religion)
  1. It operates according to a rigid hierarchy. Members nominally have a voting power over leaders, but in practice are expected to "sustain" those who have been selected as a demonstration of faith.
  2. The church teaches its members to not publicly contradict or criticize the church or its leaders, to keep right beliefs in conformity with the leaders, and even to drop old beliefs and adopt new ones if the church decides to change its position.
  3. The church teaches that people should take good feelings as evidence of the absolute truth of the church, but should ignore their feelings after joining when their feelings conflict with those above them in the church hierarchy.
  4. It sets itself up against "the world" (a somewhat derogatory reference to everything not Mormon), which is held to be "confused" and in "darkness" (as opposed to Mormonism).
  5. It teaches that those who decide to leave the church are proud, bitter, wicked, confused, greedy, enemies of truth, servants of the evil one, etc.
  6. It warns members against outside information about the church.
  7. It stresses conformity in trivial matters, such as how many earrings a woman may wear.
  8. It has a loaded language where, for example, something like "I know X" can mean "I don't know and don't even necessarily believe X."
  9. It demands a full 10% tithe (including from impoverished members), but doesn't disclose the financials to the membership.
  10. Those members who go to the temple are instructed to promise to give all of their money and time to the church (in a big group where anyone could see a defector, and with no warning and only a couple of seconds to process the first time it happens).
  11. Young men are commanded to act as missionaries for two years. During this time, they are given a much stricter set of rules to abide by, and are told that they must obey these rules at all times or it will be their fault if people don't choose to become Mormon.
  12. While the church's universities will admit non-Mormons, they will expel Mormons who decide to leave the church--and trash their transcripts in the process so that they can't transfer any credits.
Extras
Quotes:
  • “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”
  • "Myth is what we call other people's religion." — Joseph Campbell
  • “If all the evidence in the universe turned in favour of creationism, I would be the first to admit it, and I would immediately change my mind. As things stand, however, all available evidence (and there is a vast amount of it) favours evolution.”
  • “If you don't understand how something
    works, never mind: just give up and say God did it. You don't
    know how the nerve impulse works? Good! You don't understand
    how memories are laid down in the brain? Excellent! Is photosynthesis
    a bafflingly complex process? Wonderful! Please don't go
    to work on the problem, just give up, and appeal to God.” 

Sam Harris
Richard Dawkins

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