Am I the untouchable? (Introduction)

“religion poisons everything”

I was privileged to have been given a lengthy understanding of this statement by Ark, in a dialogue filled with more kindness than I have seen between two “opposing” camps.

Participants from the “faith” camp – just one (thank you Mel), and from the “atheist” camp – numbering six (thank you tildeb, argus, moines, equinox21, tiribulus, ark). Which left me wondering … why did so many pass on an opportunity to understand each other better.

Because common-ground there is (if you look for it).  And that is why I have extracted something to explain why I found that my “faith” arguments in this arena of sharing are irrelevant (in the main).  Arguments I have been taught and that are (my opinion now) the wrong starting point.

Through it all my relationship with my “god” became stronger.  That is a contradiction I want to explore in a yet-to-be-written series of Am I the Untouchable?” posts here.

For now, here is a flavour of what took place (and from one contributor only): tildeb. Because, as he says:

“That’s why talking about this stuff – how we can come to know about anything – really does matter … “

If this journey includes exploring, then as any explorer knows, that includes uncharted and little traveled roads.  And if our journey includes only defending what others say is the journey and the “charted and well traveled roads” – just who are we following?

I am curious.

Aren’t you …?

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The sequence below is neither complete nor chronological.  It is also why I emailed Arkenaten (A Tale Unfolds), Tildeb (Questionable Motives), and Mel Wild (In My Father’s House) with a draft before making this post public.

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“Bigger than not speaking – across the divide”  Comments boxes …

“And let’s get this important distinction cleared up right away. There are two very different definitions for the noun ‘belief’:

1.An acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof.
1.1 Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion.
1.2 A religious conviction.
This meaning of the term ‘belief’ is a shortened version of ‘faith-based belief’.
The belief is ‘true’ only so far as one believes it to be true BECAUSE it is believed to be true. No evidence for or against matters; it’s a matter of faith. Only in religion is this willingness considered a virtue; in all other human inquiries, such a starting position is a vice.

This is the poison. It’s not a virtue. It’s a vice. And it poisons everything because it disallows reality to have its say over the quality of ideas held about it. That’s what faith does; it substitutes for reality. This is the very definition in psychiatric medicine used to describe ‘delusion’. So, when it comes to, say, dealing with measles or human caused climate change or evolutionary biology, one can have no impact using evidence from reality on those who have already elevated their own beliefs to dismiss what reality tells us about these ideas. This guarantees resistance to solution-based ideas. And the ensuing problems are real harm caused to real people in real life… in the name of protecting the ‘virtue’ of faith-based beliefs.

Trust, faith, or confidence in (someone or something)
This meaning of the term ‘belief’ is a shortened version of ‘evidence-based belief’.
This kind of belief is a conclusion, a deduction, an end position, a decision to grant a higher level of confidence and trust that the belief is the case. The belief is held conditionally as true only insofar as the evidence supports its likelihood of being the case.

That demonstration by the method of science independent of thee and me is the basis for the confidence, for the earned trust, in the truth value of model’s explanation. This confidence is on a sliding scale from unlikely to likely. The stronger the preponderance of evidence at one end or the other, the greater the confidence. It is reality demonstrating the usefulness of the model because it really does seem to describe reality’s operation accurately. It is not because of those people who first offer complete trust, which is the definition of faith. It is because reality has been allowed to arbitrate the claims the explanatory model supports. In addition, it demonstrate it’s power of accuracy… every time you use a cell phone or get on an airplane. You trust these applications and technologies because the understanding upon which they operate seems to be of a very high caliber of reliability. That’s why you trust it and not simply as a matter of faith.

Real solutions to real world problems must start by recognizing that there is a problem. And this is where so much frustration begins with those of us who recognize religion’s contributions to creating and maintaining real world problems in the name of piety… starting with elevating faith-based belief.

Science works by demonstration, not faith. Religion works by faith, not demonstration. So why pretend the two methods are equivalent?

That’s why talking about this stuff – how we can come to know about anything – really does matter and why when it comes to knowledge and insight into reality we must remember that this remains a one way street. Faith-based belief cannot offer us knowledge-based guidance; all it can do is dress up ignorance and wishful thinking and try to sell us the Emperor’s clothing as if it were the proper attire for gaining deep insight and wisdom.

Religion is the mother ship of faith-based thinking, but we find it in all kinds of areas – from considering the efficacy of vaccinations to human caused climate change, from dowsing to tarot cards, from the alt Right to the regressive Left. Faith-based belief is toxic to respecting what is true. And that’s how religion poisons everything, which explains why the claim is true.

The ‘religion poisons everything’ criticism is not emotive but evidence-adduced. And I think the most pernicious aspect of elevating faith-based belief to be a virtue needs to be expressed here: it is the sublimation of real world issues, problems, and solutions seen or understood by the religious to become moral issues first in order for religious input to be seen as valuable.”

And I think it misleading not to end this post with an extract from one of my comments:

“I would like to summarise my understanding of the initial phrase: “religion poisons everything”.
I am reading here that the phrase is not emotive nor a belief. It is merely an observation of how religion has infiltrated “reality” (and “everyday cultural life”). And how it is now “used” as a factual reason (and therefore justification) to make changes to cultural and societal everyday-living and decision-making. You find that reprehensible because there is no evidence to explain this “level of authority”. That there is no acceptable reason to accept “religion” as a factor in that (legally binding and culturally defining) decision-making and subsequent required / obligatory cultural and societal change. And that insistence that “there is – we say so” has resulted in much damage to society and individuals that make up “society”.
I know those are very few words summarising many extended explanations. So I will stop and invite feedback as to whether that understanding is close or far from where you hope it should be.”


16 thoughts on “Am I the untouchable? (Introduction)

  1. I’m a bit wore out right now on the whole thing, answering a half-dozen people’s questions, not only here but on Ark’s blog. It’s a valiant effort what you’re trying to do, though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have watched you single-handedly take comment after comment. I have seen questioner after questioner roll in like one wave after another.

      It troubles me. I have a sense that this series of “Am I …” posts will alienate my “Christian” brothers and sisters. Will do the same with those of dis-belief. And find I am drawn closer to a God who is so much bigger than all of this.

      Yet the language to describe such a God, I sense, will offend those who use the language of a defined religious God. The God of creeds. The God of mystery. The God who saves. A God of unconditional love. I am finding that to love because “I am commanded to love” falls short of what and who I can.

      Thank you, Mel. You tread where others don’t.


  2. Just a heads up.

    Paul, for what it’s worth, Tiribulus is as extreme a Christian fundamentalist as you are ever likely to come across. Except he is practically no fun and all da Mental
    If he saw his name listed among those on the Fast Track to Ol’ Nick’s place I fear he may have an infarction.

    Personally I thought it was hysterical!


  3. Actually I consider it is emotive. If you poison something by intent how can it not have emotional repercussions?

    Ask anyone who has been subject to such life destroying actions such as many of those who have deconverted and suddenly found themselves amid a sea of ultra conservative Christians, in a community that actively practices shunning, that forces you to give up your work. Where your friends turn away, your wife leaves you and suddenly you have been stripped of everything.
    Yeah, I’d say religion poisons everything. And there are numerous examples that mirror this to the T.

    Religion has been allowed to become institutionalized and wears a thin veneer of undeserved respectability.
    It pays no taxes,it’s contribution to society always comes at a price.
    Did you know for example that the Catholic Church is apparently the wealthiest individual landowner in the world. And they pay no tax.( I believe MacDonald’s is second).
    I wonder if Mel’s church pays any tax?
    Consider all the Catholic hospitals that apparently refuse to perform abortions.
    What if the woman was in danger of dying? Would they wave their policy? I don’t know. You tell me?
    And their stance on contraception? How is that not poisoning the minds of people?

    When you tell a child that a narrative construct from an ancient book of erroneous tales is the creator of the universe and cannot offer an honest way to demonstrate this… then you are poisoning the child’s mind. You are guilty of corruption.

    I think you should be getting the idea by now….


    • Well thank you Ark. I have always sensed an emotive layer to your interactions. 🙂

      And whilst I can let rip with the best of them, I have found it usually makes people hunker down, put the volume on mute, and carry on doing what they have always done (and thought). I have also found it makes me deaf to others. My rant of emotion reinforces my own world/god view and stifles any sharing.

      The comment was made under that post that “religion feeds from reality/science and never the other way around” (if my memory is accurate). Given that nugget in a way that allows me to hear it changes me. It has to. Or who am I and what am I?

      You can be so kind. You are kind. And I think you would be an agent for change (both ways) if you allowed your kindness through more often. It would allow others (me included) not to press the mute button.

      Just a thought of kindness.


      • The occasional – ha ha – ragged edge to my phrasing has to be viewed in light of the fact that, religion in all its malignant, mischief-making malevolence has been smelling like an open midden for several millennia and it’s now time to move on, don’t you think?
        It’s like Yahweh farted in a crowded room and neither had the manners to apologize or even had the kindness to open a window. 😉


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