The other side – somewhere over the rainbow.
Religion has an inherent interest in death. But then, I suppose, don’t we all? It is something we have all thought about - our own death - at one time or another. We all have a burning desire to find out what, if anything lies beyond death. It is the great unknown… the great unanswerable question. What will become of us when we die…?
Well, the likelihood is – nothing. We will rot into the ground and all of our memories and dreams will die with us.
Death plays a major part in religion in many guises. First, there is the concept of death – the idea of heaven and hell, which is used as either a carrot dangled in front of the believer’s face, or a whip at his back, coercing him into doing what his religion believes is right.
The concept of Hell is used expertly in religion as a form of terrorism – terrifying children into following their faith’s moral code. But what, when you think about it, could possibly be the purpose of Hell, aside from installing fear? The bible preaches that God is just and merciful – how, then, can he justify Hell? To begin with, if he is omnipotent and he already knows our fates, why put himself and mankind through the whole terrible rigmarole? It can’t possibly serve any purpose other than perhaps his own enjoyment. Furthermore, a human being has a finite lifetime, and so can only possibly commit a finite number of sins; how then can God justify eternal punishment? The punishment grossly outweighs the sins, even when the sins are committed at their maximum potential. Surely these cannot be the actions of a just God?
And so with a longing for Heaven, or a fear of Hell, a lifetime is wasted - a lifetime that could have been filed with creativity, experience and freedom - not prayer and war and servitude.
"Murder, my dear Watson — refined, cold-blooded murder."
Another prominent way in which death features in religion is murder. For centuries, millennia even, people all over the globe have been slaughtered in the name of religious beliefs. Year after year they kill each other over whose beliefs are correct. Had it not been for the commands of a ‘just’ and ‘loving’ God, there would have been no crusades, there would have been no witch hunts in the middle ages, and there would have been no terrorist attack on New York City on September the eleventh two thousand and one.
All of these atrocities, and thousands upon thousands besides, were all acts of murder committed as a direct result of religion.
And the Winner is… - The biggest killer of all.
JER 13:14 – “And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.”
But who is the biggest killer in religious history? Well, if, as the Christians profess, the bible is true, then the runaway winner is God himself.
And this is only the instances where the bible states the specific number of people killed – this figure doesn’t include, for instance, the countless murders committed in the great flood, or the killing of the first born in
Okay, I hear you say, but if God doesn’t exist, then what’s the problem, surely these are just stories and have no bearing on reality? Surely it is no more relevant than say, Hannibal Lector’s kill count? Well, perhaps it is just fiction, but God is a role model to millions of people, young and old alike. When he descended as Jesus, he was supposed to be the perfect example, the ‘spotless lamb’ but what kind of role model is a man who has killed 25 million people? God makes Charlie Manson look like Yogi Bear, and it is from this genocidal, vindictive, jealous being that believers are supposed to take their moral guidance from.
“The only difference between suicide and martyrdom is press coverage”
As well as taking the lives of others, for millennia religious believers have been taking their own lives as well, on holy missions with belief in a fast track to heaven. Unfortunately this often involves taking the lives of innocent people along with them, the clearest, most recent examples of this being, of course, the September 11th attacks in New York, and the 7/7 attacks in London.
What could drive a person to commit such terrible acts, and take their own life in the process? The answer lies, of course, in the profound lack of respect for life taught by religious doctrines. For the entirety of their lives Religious followers are taught that there is something much better yet to come – paradise is awaiting them if only they can shake off the shackles of this crappy life here on earth. It’s little wonder these ‘martyrs’ wanted to die if that’s what they believe. And killing sinners along the way – doing ‘God’s work’, apparently qualifies you instantly for a place in heaven.
Killing in the name of
We now live in a world where it is okay to issue death warrants upon a person for doing the simplest of things like writing a book – Salman Rushdie wrote ‘The Satanic Verses’ in1988 and has been living with a fatwā requiring his execution that was proclaimed on Radio Tehran by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of Iran at the time ever since.
Van Gough had been working on a ten minute film entitled ‘Submission’, which took a critical look at the treatment of women in Islam. A film. The sad truth is, if Mohammed Bouyeri had not been indoctrinated as a child to believe that the fourteen hundred year old ramblings he had been taught were divinely inspired, then he most certainly would not have committed the atrocity he committed.
"I will sweep away everything in all your land," says the LORD. "I will sweep away both people and animals alike. Even the birds of the air and the fish in the sea will die. I will reduce the wicked to heaps of rubble, along with the rest of humanity," says the LORD. "I will crush
(Zephaniah 1:2-6) The Bible (NLT)
“Fight and slay the Pagans wherever you find them…"
God is love.