This has got to stop. There is no excuse for anti-religious hate crimes.
This has got to stop. There is no excuse for anti-religious hate crimes.
On December 19th the Courier Journal in Louisville published an editorial in opposition to the actions of the Archbishop of Louisville, the Most Reverend Jospeh E. Kurtz. Archbishop Kurtz has contributed personal funds and has used funds from the Archdiocese of Louisville to oppose marriage equality in California and Maine. Here's the Archbishop on youtube talking about his opposition. Here is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops statement in opposition to our relationships. The video and the statement are full of the usual lies told by bigots in opposition to our rights.
On December 28th, Chris Hartman, Director of Louisville's Fairness Campaign, provided a feature editorial to the CJ detailing some of the other problematic actions of Archbishop Kurtz. In particular Chris mentioned the new strategy of prelates threatening to use the charitable work done by the Catholic church as a goad to coerce secular cooperation. The Catholic Church in Washington DC pulled the same stunt in its unsuccessful attempt to thwart marriage equality there.
On December 29th the Archbishop protests and declares his innocence. It's more of the usual. Does the Archbishop of Louisville support civil unions and domestic partnerships? That's what his letter implies. I just can't wait to see him lobby for that in Frankfort and Washington.
shame deny that thou bear’st love to any.
William Shakespeare. Sonnet X
Must we talk about shame during Pride? Pride, Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer-Questioning-Allied-or Other, is all about knowing who we are, what we want and taking stock of our accomplishments (or lack there of) along the way. Shame, however, is what some groups want to serve up anytime gay people get mentioned. While most of us are having Pride month those wonderful people in the “nobody’s actually gay” or the “normal people aren’t gay” or the “I’m a used-to-be homosexual and you can be one too” movement are dishing out the shame and the guilt. There are all kind of places you can go around Louisville or on the web to get a walloping dose. I advise you to leave these folks alone, let them get on with their angst-ridden lives and be sure to point them out as the damaging, psycho-babble charlatans they actually are.
Let’s start with Southeast Christian Church. If you go to their website and search for homosexuality you will find their relationships/care ministries. You see, at Southeast Christian Church, homosexuality is a disease. You “recover” from homosexuality. You’ll find, on their website, a quote from Bob Davies and his book When a Loved One Says, “I’m Gay.” Since Bob Davies’ work is published by Focus on the Family you know it’s going to ignore most, if not all, of science, medicine and modern thought. There’s a Women’s Group that “helps” you overcome “unwanted same-sex attraction and relationships.” Change is Possible! Give me a break. Southeast provides “helpful” links to dubious and oft-debunked “agents of change” such as Exodus International, Troubledwith (A Focus on the Family site), NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality), New Direction Ministries of Canada (that link is broken BTW), Regen Books (another broken link and actually Exodus Books), Desert Stream, and Exodus Youth. One and all a cock-and-bull (irony much?) collection of psychologically damaging and professionally disparaged gaggle of life destroying drek that does a great deal of harm and absolutely no good. Southeast Christian and their recovery programs are all about the shame. Get it while it’s hot and steaming.
Then there’s Sojourner Church. Their website is a little less blatant in the shame and guilt, ex-gay BS but still cleaving to the some tired old ox trail. Sojourner’s Women’s Ministry is very well connected to the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) brought to you by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Since CBMW is all about opposing feminist egalitarianism and other “errors” of modern thought you can bet they buy into the whole “ex-gay,” “homosexuality is a disease,” “there is only one sexual orientation” pack of untruths. CBMW exists to stamp out “confusion” in the church (you know, the one holy absolutely not Catholic and by no means apostolic one) and bring an end to “acceptance of homosexuality,” the “secular homosexual” influence on theology as well as “confusion…regarding maleness and femaleness.” Oh yeah. They’ve got the guilt and shame train coming in right on time.
The “desperately seeking rigid and coercive gender roles” crowd will do you wrong every time. Trust me I’ve been there. Don’t fall for it. If you want to make a change then chose to be Proud. You have only your shame to loose.
My sainted mother always said, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." And then she'd throw something at me because, well, you have to do things to get my attention and my mom was a woman accustomed to being heeded. Meanwhile, back at my point if groups like the Camp Meeting Association (Ocean Grove, New Jersey) and the North Coast Women's Care Medical Group (San Diego, California) want to offer a public service and take public payment then they are required to abide by the non-discrimination laws and everyone's right to access a public accommodation.
But then that wouldn't be news worthy and juicy, would it? So now you have you to go see the "Gathering Storm" commercial from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to really get a flavor of the issue. Browse to your favorite search engine and check it out. I'll wait. OK. Isn't it creepy? Yeah, I thought so too. It's also a pack of lies but, hey, NOM must protect, uh, something, doctors and children and churches or something. Wait, oh yeah, straight-people-only marriage.
The things that scares NOM is that gay Americans (and lesbians and bisexuals and transgender folk and queer Americans and all those other Americans) get to be citizens of the US even though NOM really, really doesn't approve. See how we're right back to the kitchen thing. NOM has deluded itself into thinking it owns the kitchen. NOM only wants the right people to have rights. And by "right" people they mean Christians and not just any Christian but just those with the right kinds of beliefs and practices. Usually that included "practicing" on other people. Fortunately, it just doesn't work that way. We're all in the kitchen together and if NOM can't stand the heat then they need to go back to their churches (or whatever) and hate freely and without hindrance. Westboro Baptist does it all the time. There's a role model for you. We'll all free to believe as we please but out in the harsh glare of the public domain all Americans get to be citizens whether NOM likes it or not.
Here's how it works. If you're a non-profit organization and you rent out your pavilion on the Jersey shore for dog shows, concerts and graduation parties then you have to rent it out to lesbians that want to have a commitment ceremony too. Did you notice a church being punished? No, neither did I. NOM is lying to you. Then there's the "punished" doctor. If you're the Women's Care Medical Group and you treat women, left, right and center then you don't get to say, "oops, sorry, we don't treat lesbians." It doesn't work that way and we're all pretty happy about that. And then we have that Massachusetts parent that fears her son will learn that gay marriage is OK. Well, guess what? Gay marriage is OK in Massachusetts as is interfaith marriage, interracial marriage and civil marriage. Civil marriage is a civil issue and your faith doesn't get to dictate which civil rights other people get.
Michelle at http://michelelee.net/blog/ brought this to my attention. You should check out her coverage as well.
Following in the footsteps of Representative Stacey Campfield of Knoxville, Tennessee, the powers-that-be at Amazon.com have decided that gay people are dirty and need to be stricken from the record. "Don't say gay" was a bad bill for the Tennessee state house and it's a bad policy for Amazon.com. Towleroad and Pam's House Blend are following the story closely. They are much better at tracking hot news item than your humble clamour.
That's not to say I don't have an opinion.
There is no caste system (officially) in the US. Yet there are repeated attempts by religiously motivated bigots and other groups that would prefer gay people (and lesbian, trans, bi, queer and questioning folk and probably their allies) disappear off the face of the earth to turn GLBT people into low caste Untouchables (I think the word is Dalit but I need to verify that) in the US legal and social system. Campfield's "Don't say Gay" bill, NOM's scary (but funny) ad that uses HS film class special effects and tries to implant the meme that rights for some are threatened by rights for all and lumping anything with gay characters, gay content or gay focus in with "the porn." Because, you know, if you're gay it's all about sex and nothing else.
This has got to stop. Gay marriage is OK (and legal) in many entire countries and some US states. I think we'd be better off with federal civil unions and leaving marriage to churches (my church performs gay marriages) but that's a different article. A gay character in a story does not automoatically mean the story is porn or even erotica. The drive to marginalize the GLBT community by bigots that use religion as their cover story is having an unintended effect. It's marginalizing them and creating a climate where religion is once again being equated with superstition and rigidity at a time when a faith perspective is crucial to maintaining balance and connection in a complex and overwhelming world. The misuse of religion by people like The Most Rev. Peter Akinola (Anglican bishop of Nigeria) and Scott Lively (blame the Holocaust on homosexuality) while other believers stand idly by and let them get away with it is damaging religion in general and Christianity in particular.
“God Hates Fags”gets all the press but Westboro Baptist
Church and Fred Phelps are not the only anti-gay hate groups out there. The Southern Poverty Law Center (http://www.splcenter.org/
Traditional Values Coalition http://www.traditionalvalues.
Abiding Truth Ministries http://www.abidingtruth.com/
Chalcedon Foundation http://www.chalcedon.edu/
Family Research Institute http://www.familyresearchinst.
American Vision http://www.americanvision.org/
Illinois Family Institute http://www.illinoisfamily.org/
Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment http://www.home60515.com/
Westboro Baptist Church http://www.godhatesfags.com/
The School of Christian Activism http://ngteam.org/index.htm (in Russian)
Mass Resistance http://www.massresistance.org/
Watchmen on the Walls http://www.watchmenonthewalls.
Why should you care? It’s not like venom, spleen and rumblings from bigots is new news. I’ll tell you. You should care because other groups, groups that don’t make the hate groups list, use publications and information from the Hateful 11.
Right here in Kentucky we have C.R.A.V.E. (Christians
Reviving America's Values http://www.christians4america.
You should also care because groups like the American Family Association of Kentucky, that’s the notorious Frank Simon MD’s group (http://www.afaky.com/ ) and the Family Foundation of Kentucky (Kent Ostrander, Martin Cothran, David Edmunds, et al. http://www.kentuckyfamily.org/ ) routinely spout the lies and distortions of the Hateful 11, often without attribution, in order to sell their bill of goods. It’s all snake oil mixed with a little bait and switch.
What can you do?
First, when you hear these groups cited point out that they’re extremist hate groups. No one considers the KKK “just another opinion” when issues of race, ethnicity or religion are being discussed. Yet lobbyists for anti-gay legislation such as the amendment to the Kentucky consitution defining marriage and the recently defeated No Gay Foster Parents bill will use Scott Lively (Watchmen on the Walls and the Center for Christian Activism) and his truly excrebable tome Seven Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child: A Parent's Guide to Protecting Children from Homosexuality and the "Gay" Movement as well as Paul Cameron’s (Family Research Institute) discredited and mostly fabricated “research” to give lobbyists and legislators cover when they spout hair-raising bigotry.
Second, don’t get trapped into trying to rebutt arguments
rooted in hate. You can’t discuss
creationism rationally with the Answers in Genesis or the Flat Earth Society (http://www.
Third, if NAMBLA is mentioned it’s already to late. There is nothing that can be done or said that will derail a bigot once they land in pedophilia territory. The fact that the vast majority of abusers are heterosexual makes no difference. Smile stiffly and walk away.
God does not hear my prayers. That’s the word from a particular Southern Baptist believer who informed me that it was important that I sit down and listen to his witness. When I checked The Baptist Faith and Message after the fact I discovered a few discrepancies from my witness’ testimony but who am I to dispute an expert.
I also plan to keep on praying. As a matter of fact, I’m a professional pray-er. The divine ones hear my prayers just like always. They haven’t checked The Baptist Faith and Message either. But according to my witnesser my prayers are being spoofed.
Spoofing is something that happens to email. It’s part of the junk mail and spam phenomena. An email arrives in your mailbox that seems to be from a friend or perhaps your church. Surprise! The email is actually from someone who knows all the secrets of increasing your breast size, penis length, disposable income or stock portfolio. Face to face this is referred to as bait and switch. In the world of computers, emails and prayers, it’s called spoofing.
It was explained to me like this. Since I am not a Christian there is no chance that god listens to me unless I am repenting. A few observations from my perspective--the god being discussed is, of course, the jealous god and the Christianity of my witnesser is practiced by the scrupulous and self-elected set. To me it seems this particular clique of Christians worships the Bible and has very little use for Jesus except as a human sacrifice and the agent of their get-out-of-hell-free insurance policy. I also wondered how the “this is a prayer of repentance” determination gets made. Maybe somebeing is reading prayer subject lines as well as rerouting their destination addresses.
Then it gets even better. I was told that not only am I not a Christian but I’m actually a Satanist, an anonymous Satanist. Believe it or not, this is one of those times when being gay has nothing to do with it. My prayers are being diverted to the in-basket of the devil. As a matter of fact, all the goddesses and gods are just the devil in disguise. Color me incredulous.
Even though the jealous god is supposedly all powerful, all knowing and present everywhere at all times he has given his cast-out chief of staff, Satan, the power to hear and answer all the prayers of those of us who don’t grovel properly, read the Bible the proscribed way and follow the “Jesus is a human sacrifice” line. That devil really has the inside line on the world and billions of people.
The flip side of anonymous Satanism is anonymous Christianity. Father Karl Rahner, SJ proposed the theory of anonymous Christianity way back in 1966. Father Karl said “I hold if everyone depends upon Jesus Christ for salvation, and if at the same time I hold that many live in the world who have not expressly recognized Jesus Christ, then there remains in my opinion nothing else but to take up this postulate of an anonymous Christianity.” I would prefer to be neither an anonymous Christian nor an anonymous Satanist but it seems my feelings on the issue just don’t matter.
The jealous god is not the only divine one. He is one of many goddesses and gods that love and care for the world and its peoples. I pray to exactly whom I intend to pray and whether or not my prayer is heard depends on me and those numbered among the divine. The jealous god gets one vote and I tend not to talk to him much anyway. Incidentally, it takes a lot more faith than I have to believe in Satan’s power and might in the same way as my witnesser. Nevertheless, Lucifer is not in the prayer spoofing business nor does he creep hither, thither and yon impersonating other deities and gleefully leading the faithful of other religions down the road of perdition. He’s quite busy enough pestering the jealous god about Job and other faithful believers.
My google news reader served me a very interesting blog post today from the Gene Expression blog. The author is named Razib. I couldn't find an author bio on the blog. Regardless, it's a very interesting and thoughtful post. What do you think.
A lot of comments have revolved around whether I am a Post-Modernist when it comes to the definition of religion. This post is to make explicit and clarify my own position so I don't have to waste so much time in the comments. Most readers can therefore ignore this and wait until I go back to posting on genetics or something more interesting! :-)
One model of religion goes like so:
Axiom (e.g., One must follow all 612 commandments) → Entails → Entails → Specific belief and practice
In other words, there is a contingent relationship between the initial set of beliefs, and the elaborated set of religious practices and beliefs which are subsequent to "primitive" and "core" assertions. In other words, the space of states which religious phenomena inhabit is tightly constrained and guided by a simple set of principles and ideas from which the rest follows.
To a great extent many religious people might accept this as an accurate description of their faith; defined as it is by a belief in a particular god, a particular creed, and a systematic theology, etc. The average religious person might not be able to master the details of a particular theology, but they accept its validity, and accept the guidance of religious elites who are masters of said theology. These elites then serve as the executors or implementers of a set of logical consequences which emerge plainly from the propositions clearly derivable from first principles.
In this conception religious texts and theologies serve as blueprints. Religion as it is simply serves to reflect the nature of that blueprint. Therefore, to understand a particular religion you simply go to the religious texts, and see what those texts say. That will be a reasonable approximate, model if you will, of religion as it is practiced.
Texts and theologies serve therefore as the theoretical framework. To test the theory you need go out and observe how religion is practiced. So what happens if practice deviates from what the theory says? One reaction would be to suggest that practice is in error, that it deviates from the expectation of theory simply because of misunderstanding, or, willful neglect of the inferences. For example, most people would agree that most religions teach that adultery is wrong, but many believers continue to engage in adultery because of personal weaknesses despite their acceding to the moral principle that their actions are wrong.
I accept the second point; many times people act in willful contradiction of their admitted religious principles because of personal failings. I do not accept the first; that is, that deviations from expectation are error. If I was religious I might accept this as a matter of faith because I accept particular premises about the nature of religion. Specifically, that religion maps non-trivially and transcendentally upon particular truths about the universe. If I was a theist I would also assert religion is a revelation from an entity of unimaginable power and scope. Because the premises of religion are what they are, there must be a true religion, a particular most religious religion which maps perfectly upon the Platonic idea of what a religion should be in the mind of the god who revealed the religion.
But personally I don't accept this. I don't think that the initial axioms of religion about god and revelation are anything more than mental constructs; productions of human cognition, not expression of ontological truths.. Because religion is a production of the human mind I believe there is a profound subjectivity to its expression and perception. Additionally, I do not believe there is a Platonic ideal religion which maps onto true religion. All religion is true only insofar as religion is ultimately rooted in neurological material and phenomenological process; gods exist only in the mind's eye.
And therefore, I do not totally shrug off the accusation that I am a Post-Modernist when it comes to religion. Since I believe that religion is fundamentally a mental construct, I do not believe that individually it is my place to tell a religious person what their religion is all about. It is what their mind tells them it is. It is what it is. Of course, there is a problem insofar as while I think religion is simply a production of their minds, they believe it is a reflection of some deep truth outside of their minds. We, the religious person and I, disagree on the fundamental nature of religion. They may reject Post-Modernism precisely because they believe that religion is true. I believe that it is false insofar as I am considering the set of assertions which they believe are true, but I believe that religion is true as a mental process.
This brings to the disagreement I have with some atheists, a disagreement I would have with myself when I was 18. An atheist believes that the claims of religion are false, but an atheist may believe that there is a true expression of religion which can be back-projected toward its premises. An atheist may reject the premises, but they may hold a model of religion which conceives of it as a set of necessary inferences, a chain of tight propositions back to the original premises.
I do not believe that this model reflects reality; that is, it does not reflect the truth of how religion manifests itself in the world around us. I do not believe that religion as it is practiced is tightly constrained by a primitive initial set of beliefs. Instead of an analogy to a logical or mathematical formalism as the theoretical superstructure of religion, I believe that something more akin to law is appropriate. In other words, religion is a matter of interpreting from the premises toward a range of conclusions. The sample space which religion as it is practiced inhabits is very large, and relatively loosely, if at all, constrained by the premises of religion. Rather, the sample space is contingent upon local historical context and its own endogenous evolutionary pathway.
Of course, many religious persons will tell you this is not so. But my discussion at this point is not with the religious, but those who reject its truth claims as I do. My contention is that religion is not well characterized as a set of necessary propositions, so deviation from "expectation" is not error, rather, it reflects an interpretative difference along the set of propositions which is a matter of local condition and contingency. You might ask how it is then that religious professionals might agree that "of course A → X", where there are intervening inferences. I believe this is for show and comes about through social consensus. My own study of Chinese Islam suggests that when separated from other religionists a subgroup can quickly deviate outside of the bounds of the consensus, and only reintegration into the world wide information network can correct the "errors" which creep into the inferences.
Rather, the true nature of religious logic is better illustrated through its evolution over time, which implies a malleability and loose constraint from premises. After all, the Nicene Creed and the basic corpus of the Bible have been axioms which span nearly 2,000 years, but the normative form of Christianity varied a great deal due to time-sensitive interpretation.
Some, but not all, religious people will assert that there isn't any time-sensitive interpretation; that past interpretations were wrong or conditioned by local circumstances, but present interpretations reflect the true spirit of the doctrine. Again, if you accept the presuppositions of a religion as to its transcendent truth value and revelation from god on high this is a reasonable assertion. But if you do not accept the truth value of the religious premises then one must question it, and ask if we are not again seeing local temporal conditions being the important determinants of religious practice.
Because of the world wide nature of Christianity or Islam we can see how this dynamic plays out spatially. The African churches of the Anglican communion hold to the dominant view in regards to homosexuality over time of the Christian tradition. The American and Europe branches hold different views. Both groups claim that their perspective in the authentic and true interpretation of the religion, but I think what you're seeing is simply different local conditions. After all the African branches of the Anglican communion don't adhere to all the precepts of Anglicanism as it was in 1600, or Christianity as it was in 300. In fact some "Southern" Christian theologians have argued strongly for an indigenization of Christian practice to accommodate local practices, in part by asserting that Christianity as it was practiced and evolved over the past 2,000 years was in fact Europeanized (e.g., the rejection of polygyny is attributed to Greco-Roman pagan influence, as evidenced by the acceptance of the practice among Jews outside of Europe).
At this point I would like to sidestep for a bit into my model of cognition. In short I believe that many cognitive processes are reflexive, or somehow encapsulated from our conscious inspection and awareness. Rationality is like a shimmering surface above the deep roiling waters of our mental processes. The human mind is a collective, and one where there is imperfect communication or unanimity. Mathematics works because its formal system is so precise and clear that there is no possibility of "cognitive creep" fudging the sequence of inferences to suit our own ends. In contrast, verbal logic is subject to interpretation, and so inevitably subjective or exogenous parameters end up shaping its outcome. Wealthy Christians may genuinely believe that their wealth is a gift from god, and that Christ wishes them to be wealthy. From the outside one might note that wealthier Christians seem to come to a particular interpretation in regards to material success, while less wealthy ones come to another, but both might be equally sincere in accepting that their logic was objective. The problem here is that the nature of cognition means that without the straight-jacket of symbolic formalism people easily and unconsciously insert hidden variables into the reasoning process.
More concretely, this gets us to something like the Bible. I've been talking as if the premises are clear and distinct even if the propositions entailed are not so much. In fact reading the Bible itself is subject to a great deal of interpretation. "Literal" readings of the Bible are not usually quite so literal, rather, they often "hide" the interpretation by packing it straight into the text without acknowledgment. By this, I mean that Fundamentalists may appeal to a Bible which translates a word or passage in a manner to their liking. Non-Fundamentalists may admit beforehand that there are different readings, or in the process of smoking out the inferences point to the different directions where the text could take you. Fundamentalists may assert that there is no falsity in the Bible, but they eliminate falsification and contradiction simply through expedient reinterpretations of words. Jesus Christ prophesied that he would return before the passing of a generation, but since generation means Jewish people, as long as the Jewish people remain he need not necessarily return (why does generation mean Jewish people when it says generation? Don't ask).
Nevertheless, at least there is sense in the Bible. The nature of the Bible is such that it is accessible to a typical person; the stories and ideas extant within are intelligible. What about theology and religious philosophy? To a great extent I don't believe they have sense; that is, I don't think that they mean anything in a direct fashion. I don't think even the theologians themselves understand what they're saying or what it means. That implies to me that the problems with viewing religion as a logical system start out with the axioms.
After all this, I think it's pretty clear I don't think as a phenomenon that religion is what religious people think it is. So what is it? I do believe one can make objective generalizations about religion, but I believe to a great extent it is an empirical matter, not one of inferences derived from textual and theological presuppositions. Religion is how it is practiced. Religious people may believe that religion is true, so likely how they are practicing is the closest to true religion in their own mind. But from a non-religious perspective I think it is useful to simply define and characterize it by the distribution of practices and beliefs that people hold, and not by texts or experts. Therefore, one can make generalizations about religions for a particular time and place, but since there are few constraints one can not make universal generalizations.
This gets to my point about instrumental utility. A model of religious behavior, a predictive model so to speak, can be constructed, but its priors must be the proximate behaviors and beliefs. An inductive system is within our reach, but I believe any deductive system predicated on religious priors (texts, theologies, etc.) are highly suspect. I do believe that a deductive system which suggests constraints is possible, but I do not believe that it is possible from the world of religious studies, rather, one must look to the social and biological sciences. Since religion is a cognitive phenomenon we must examine the priors which constrain and shape the unfolding of the cognitive process.
In my post Richard Dawkins - Islamophobe? I implied that Islam is Creationistic in orientation. I believe this is true, insofar as I believe most Muslims would be what we call Young Earth Creationists. But, this is an empirical matter. There are Muslims who are not Creationists in this fashion. Are they then less "true to Islam"? I don't believe so. Islam is what Muslims believe, if they believe that that is true to Islam that is their opinion and I won't gainsay that. That being said, there is a statistical generalization one can make. On a theoretical level does the nature of Muslim interpretation of the Koran constrain or bias Islam toward Creationism? Possibly. That being said, most Muslims do not read the Koran, most Muslims can not speak Arabic, especially the classical variant within the Koran, and a substantial minority of Muslims are even illiterate. I do not believe that Muslims are by necessary Creationist, rather, that is simply the modal state of Islam here and now. That may change due to interpretation.
In other words, an objective model of Muslims can be constructed based on ascertainment of the empirical distribution. This distribution though is in constant flux, and that flux is contingent up a host of parameters, very few of which are ultimately rooted in some sort of religious premise. For an atheist to make an assertion about what the true Islam is is like a geologist to define the most rocky rock. A rock is a rock.
Though abbreviated I'll end my own model of explaining religion at this point. But rather I want to shift to some of the atheists who criticize this model. I believe their own rationale for trying to truncate religion into a simply formal system is pretty obvious; you can disprove formalisms. On the other hand, the sprawling complex phenomenon that I describe above is a bigger fish to fry. Like a natural system it requires a great deal of study to re-engineer and model. It takes work, and we're not really there yet because the social sciences have not advanced to the point where we have all the tools necessary to understand the phenomenon we speak of, and which affects our lives on a very deep level. We can't just argue religious people out of religion if the model I'm proposing is correct; we can't just show that it's unreasonable and false because reasoning and falsity isn't really the point of it. My main criticism of The God Delusion is that Richard Dawkins seems to "get" that religion is more than a simple set of beliefs derivable from axioms in the first half of the book...but in the second half he pretends as if it is exactly that to "refute" it. If it was a matter of conjecture and refutation it would be rather tractable, but it isn't. The model of religion that many atheists hold in their mind is simply one thing: wrong. That's just objectively so. But the godless delusion that religion is what an atheist thinks religion is is hard to banish.