Rebirth of Reason

Sense of Life

RELIGULOUS: Mankind, a rational Species? Ha!
by Manfred F. Schieder

"The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: Those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains." (Abu'l- `Ala' al-Ma`arri, 975 - 1057)
Theresa Summerlee Isanhart recently brought to the attention of the readers of Rebirth of Reason a marvelous undertaking taking place in Australia - http://rebirthofreason.com/Spirit/Blogs/76.shtml - and starting to spread now throughout the world.

What follows will be read by those who don't need to read it and avoided, as if it were a contagious disease, by those who should read it. It was written by a friend of mankind, that is a person who, in spite of his advanced age, loves to "swim in the crowd" and be among people on the streets, malls, cinemas and other places filled by multitudes and who, however, does not and will not ever loose his own particular individuality. It was written in view of the fact that the world is marching at top-speed to mankind's destruction on the road of a self-fulfilling prophecy and aim, as comedian Bill Maher states with amazing clarity in the movie whose title heads this article.

Since over 30 years, when I first read it (and I read it over many more times since then) I consider "Atlas Shrugged" to be the most important book in my life and judged that it would remain standing there all alone for the rest of my life (Oh, well, "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" is its immediate companion). But now it's been joined by an amazing bedfellow, a movie by comedian Bill Maher and distributed by Lionsgate, the company that since quite some time menaces to turn "Atlas Shrugged" into a movie.

This strange companion to "Atlas Shrugged's" lonesome position in my mind is "Religulous", the solitary, desperate attempt by Bill Maher, a very intelligent man, to stop mankind from running into the abyss of oblivion.

Mind you, I can tell from the very start that this movie will not be a blockbuster, though it would merit being the biggest of all. On the contrary, it is condemned to become one of the worst flops the movie screen will have ever seen. Take my word for it, for the days I went to see it (I saw it twice and plan to buy the PAL-Version as soon as its on the market in the country where I live), we spectators counted a total of no more than 6 the first time, and 8 the second, in the largest cinema-room in the city where I live.

What does the movie deal about? Well, Richard Dawkins wrote an excellent book named "Unweaving the Rainbow" where he hails, in moving words, the unique existence of us living thinking beings. We didn't exist before we were born - I wrote about this in my article "Gustave Courbet and 'The Origin of the World'" - and Dawkins states that we are the only animal that knows that it will die. The universe will continue to exist, of course, for it has always existed and will never cease to exist, but each of us will never be again. In this brief moment of our existence, we had the opportunity to see the universe, to see existence in its entire marvel, to know about it, but then it will be over, for all the infinite eternity of the universe.

Do we worry about that? Does it make us THINK? Does it move us to behave as a rational species and make the most, and the most peaceful and productive of our existence? Oh, no, not we, for we know, don't we?, that this is only a preparation for the time after, because past the day when we die we will live in continuous bliss in an undisclosed and nonexistent paradise. Men and females that consider themselves to be "holy" in every sect and religion tell us about it with unflinching certainty… and become rich and dominant, not in the world "beyond" but in this very real present world, by squeezing out what we earn and menacing us with unimaginable terrors if we don't crawl in front of them or whatever "gods" and shrines they tell us to worship.

We, a rational species? Ha! Do we KNOW of that pretended paradisiacal place and life? No, of course not, for it's nothing but an invention of feverish minds, a make-up promoted and held up by malevolent and irresponsible self-empowered liars and destroyers that live from people's naïveté and purses.

These people do not emphasize the magnificence of life and our individual uniqueness, but only tell us that THIS life is just a stage to prepare for the real life that comes after death. People gulp it down hook, line and sinker, and, since once we're dead these rulers and High and Mighty don't have to prove anything, they can go on promoting their deceits.

We are not to enjoy the deep marvels of life itself and all the opportunities for self-fulfillment it gives us as peaceful, productive beings. Oh, no, not we. We have to be trained to go and kill all the others, all those that belong to another creed, another rule, another race, another geographical area, way of life different from what these self-empowered and self-declared anointed frocks and frills wearing authoritarians tell us.

Dawkins commits a deep mistake in his otherwise very recommendable book. For while he correctly dedicates a full chapter to superstition, he leaves several of the main culprits of mankind's sorrow and suffering unmentioned. Among them, which is a great pity, all religions and sects.

It's here where Maher points out the truth. No, he doesn't openly declare himself to be an atheist, but you can easily deduce this by yourself from what he says, the scenes he presents and his caustic comments. He does something far, far more important at this advanced stage of our road to the abyss of total destruction: he tells people to, at least, start to doubt; to, at least, start to THINK of what they are adhering to and the consequences of total destruction of mankind this has in store. To THINK and not to take what popes, priests, monks, pastors, religious teachers and leaders of the Islam, rabbis, gurus, etc. etc. press continually through menaces, fear, condemnation into the people's mind. To THINK!

This is Bill Maher's message and this is the reason why this movie should become, but won't, a full blockbuster and bestseller. Why it won't? Because a majority of those who already think will not go to see it (or view the DVD) and those whose total and unflinching aim is the destruction of mankind won't.

Nothing has produced so many wars, so much persecution and killing, so much torture and Inquisitions, so much grief, so much terrorism, so much destruction and so much hate as religions. And the religious authoritarians uphold to spread peace and love? Oh, come-on. When and where? History in all its length denies most thoroughly that they have ever been peaceful and loving!

Maher pleads to those who think to start moving in defense of this only life we living humans will ever have, though the prospects that they will do so are, to say the least, very, very dim if not totally nonexisting.

It is this what puts Ayn Rand's final words in "We the Living" so upmost on the rostrum: "She smiled, her last smile, to so much that had been possible."
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