By Barbara G. Walker
Religion is the world’s oldest, richest, most elaborate, and by far the most successful scam ever perpetrated. It is the work of very wealthy organizations dedicated to continuing their acquisition of tax-free assets, to support millions of dependent employees, and to maintain a show of impeccable respectability. For these purposes, theologians are forever trying to fine-tune their basically ridiculous doctrines to force them into seeming to make some kind of sense.
For just one example: The words “above” and “below” used to be the normal synonyms for heaven and hell. Everybody knew automatically that heaven was located in the sky, and hell was underground. But, in modern times, we now know the limits of the Earth’s atmosphere, and that there is nothing beyond it but empty space. We also know what lies below the Earth’s crust.
So, the theologians can no longer speak of a god or angels or deceased loved ones “looking down,” nor can they picture bad people writhing around in molten lava. So, they are taking pains to deny and redefine these physical locations, and finding it difficult to do.
Although no one can say anymore exactly where the ghosts go, religious shills still try to maintain the basic concept, to perpetuate the scam.
They know that this scam is best instilled in its victims from early childhood, to present them with a make-believe parental authority figure that will override and outlive real parents. They seek to impose a system of daily and seasonal reminders and habitual connections to every important occasion in life: birth, maturity, marriage, death. They know that when such habits are fully installed, the victims will be hesitant to criticize them, and will go to great lengths to continue believing that, after death, they will be able to see without eyes, hear without ears, feel without nerves, think without a brain, and that if they behave they will be able to subject this ongoing consciousness to a transcendent happiness.
But the downside is the most sadistic threat ever conceived, eternal torture that can somehow be felt by those nonexistent nerves — a threat so severe as to terrify the gullible into compliance with all the money-making demands imposed on them. They are targets of the world’s most successful scam, which charges high prices for its promised non-product, which never has to be delivered because it consists of nothing but hot air.
Making promises that you never have to fulfill, brainwashing the marks so they never rebel, earning huge sums on false pretenses that you never have to justify, and keeping this scam operational for many centuries in many nations — how could it be any more successful?
We are still being exposed to religion as part of our daily language and seasonal calendar. It is a shamelessly overt kind of scam that those of us who can perceive its falseness are still expected to tolerate. So, we are still being taught mythology in the guise of history, avarice masquerading as benevolence, and lies masquerading as truth.
The real downside, of course, is that over the centuries, religion has developed truly evil and destructive ways of maintaining itself against rivals, unbelievers or scientific facts. It has instituted wars, inquisitions, holocausts and hideous oppressions. It has denied observable truths and set itself against scientific knowledge of our world. Its only answer to the doubters is still “you must have faith” because it is evil to ask questions.
The real evil is that questions that can’t be reasonably answered must never be spoken or heard. Secular leaders and politicians have always gone along, either because they are suitably brainwashed themselves, or because they dare not oppose that much money and influence.
Perhaps we can hope that in a more scientifically enlightened future the world will finally turn against this scam, and give humanity a more rational and peaceful world, without any threatening All-Father to terrify them or any absurdly questionable hopes to close their minds. But that is still far off. Let us do what we can in our own lifetimes to bring it a little bit closer.
FFRF Lifetime Member Barbara G. Walker is a researcher, lecturer and author of 24 books.