Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » December 2004 » Thought for the Day:

[« Interesting quote...] [Of course, to a fundagelical, "Unitarian" by definition means "Satanist".... »]

12/21/2004: Thought for the Day:

Religion is a very Faustian bargain that man has made with himself.

Believers in religion get maybe the warmest, softest security blanket that man has ever devised: denial of mortality, interwoven with the illusion of deeper meaning. For believers, our brief, usually futile existence is just a prelude. It doesn't matter if our time on Earth is nasty, brutish, and short, because there will be *eternal* life after we die--and a life of peace and joy, not endless, pointless toil and misery. Further, religion assures the believer that his life actually MATTERS to god, and that there is a deeper meaning to the universe, things happen for a reason, not simply by chance.

The downside of the bargain is that it requires you to play by rules that are frequently at odds with fully enjoying mortal life (one of the things Pascal's wager fails to take into account). Some people have even bought the notion that we are REQUIRED to suffer in life to achieve the afterlife. Or that we are required to kill others.

Acceptance of religion usually also means that you have to live your life in constant fear of committing some obscure transgression that will send you to eternal suffering instead of eternal peace. That's a pretty nasty sword to be hanging over your head your whole life. And since religion frequently includes the notion of a evil being who tries to trick you into going to hell, you can never really know if you're doing the right thing. Imagine the conflict a devout Jew at the time of Jesus must have faced: this guy is saying god is making a new covenant with "his people" and the old one is null and void. Is this the real deal, or a lie?

But it seems to me that in actual practice, religion seems to be a pretty lousy bargain for a lot of people, because even many religious people seem to have the same fear of death as non-religious people do. Believers threatened with imminent death will scream and cry and beg for their lives just like they didn't believe that they were about to go to eternal bliss. The Pope rides around in a bullet-proof car. Dubya, who has Jesus at the top of his speed-dial list, uses tighter Secret Service protection than any president in history. So WTF, why do people buy into this bullshit?
--Dave Palmer [SKEPTIC mail list]

Len on 12.21.04 @ 09:42 AM CST

New Comment

December 2004

Archives of Blogger site

Powered by gm-rss

Len's sidebar:
About Len (The uncondensed version)
Memorial to a dear friend
Frederick W. Benteen
The Web of Leonards
The St. Louis Cardinals
The Memphis Redbirds
The St. Louis Browns
The Birdwatch
Hey! Spring of Trivia Blog
BlogMemphis (The Commercial Appeal's listing of Memphis blogs)
The Guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything

Len's extended blogroll:

Brock's Sidebar:
About Brock
Boing Boing
Crooked Timber
Dispatches from the Culture Wars
Heretical Ideas
John and Belle Have a Blog
Jon Rowe
Letters of Marque
Literal Minded
Marginal Revolution
Matthew Yglesias
Oliver Willis
Political Animal
Positive Liberty
Signifying Nothing
Unqualified Offerings

Karen's Sidebar
About Karen
The Ig-Nobel Prizes
The Annals of Improbable Research
The Darwin Awards
EBaums World
Real Clear Politics
U.S. News Wire
Foreign Affairs
The Capitol Steps
Legal Affairs
Nobel Laureates for Change
Program On International Policy
Law of War
Sunday Times
Media Matters
Is That Legal?
Andrew Sullivan
Literal Minded
Jon Rowe
Freespace Blog
Thought Not
Publius Pundit
Blog Maverick
Rosenberg Blog
Crooked Timber

The Rocky Top Brigade:

Rocky Top Brigade Sampler

A New Memphis Mafia

The liberal alternative to Drudge.

Get Firefox!

Cardinals Countdowns:
Days until pitchers and catchers report:
Your browser doesn't support Java applets.

Days until first Grapefruit League game (3/3/05; @ NYM):
Your browser doesn't support Java applets.

Days until Opening Day (4/5/05; @ HOU):
Your browser doesn't support Java applets.

Days until Home Opener (4/8/05; vs. PHI):
Your browser doesn't support Java applets.

How many visitors are here:

Blogrings/Blog indexes/Blog search:
« ? Verbosity # »

Listed on Blogwise
Popdex Citations
Blog Search Engine

Greymatter Forums
template by linear