Religion is the Opiate of the Masses

[written 10-28-02]

[Unfinished rant]

Look at what the most intensely religious people read. Left Behind, Dianetics, and The Celestine Prophecy are all huge best-sellers.

It took the Vatican 359 years to apologize to Galileo. Here’s a funny Catholic apologist.

The Moral Majority is neither.

Most shamanistic religions use heavy breath control to induce religious stupors in it’s devotees. Most of the others use mental “breath control” to similar ends.

9 Comments

  1. TJIC says:

    Your assertion that those are read by the MOST religous people is asserted, but not documented.

    I assert that those things are read by people with very little religion, who seek easy answers.

    It took the Vatican 359 years to apologize to Galileo

    Until this century, institutions were not in the habit of apologizing for historical errors. The failure to apologize for the Galileo incident in, say, 1850, is not indicative of the fact that the Church stuck to its guns on the controversy in 1850 – it’s indicative of the fact that it didn’t occur to anyone to issue an apology then.

  2. Lee says:

    I assert that those things are read by people with very little religion, who seek easy answers.

    Hmm. Yeah. I’m trying to think of how to categorize and define terms…
    religious, very religious, very spiritual, easy answers, religious fervour, the difference between ‘true’ religious feelings and not. Definitions get mushy very quickly.

    I -do- know that the majority of my extremely negative religious experiences have taken place with people that I consider extremely religious. I won’t name names but they are all people that I normally hold in high respect. Of course, I’m biased, being at the far low end of religious.

    Until this century, institutions were not in the habit of apologizing for historical errors.

    A very good point.. I feel that my example is easily pointed out because I think it typifies my impression of how inflexible The Church can be, even in the face of being wrong. That kind of inflexibility frightens me. But then of course it has been demonstrated that most large organizations run into problems of showing an overly stubborn face.

    I find it very difficult to argue these points clearly. That’s why this post is in the Rant category.

  3. Kev says:

    ‘It took the Vatican 359 years to apologize to Galileo’

    Maybe this is a ‘first’. Except if you don’t count Canadians aplogizing for interning Japanese ( but then Canadians are apologizing to everybody about everything). Can you name some other famous ‘apologies’?
    Maybe it’s a case of better late than never. Anyhow, I think it’s unique.

  4. nat says:

    can somebody please explain what ” religion is the opiate of the masses” is all about. PLEASE!!

  5. Lee says:

    Karl Marx, the atheist believed that organized religion had an effect much like opium on the general populous. It is for you to extrapolate from there.

  6. Kev says:

    In context of the 1850 – 60’s when Marx was doing most of his writing in England, organized religion had a seemingly tranquilizing effect on its adherents – a sedative rather than a soporific one. At a time when the Catholic Church was losing the last of its temporal power, it was becoming far more vocal, and influential, in the social sphere. Religious faiths had initiated substantial social change – the elimination of slavery, and the freeing of the Russian serfs – two cases in point. The spread of public education was largely an extension of work that churches has been doing for centuries. The notion of the welfare state and national health schemes had their roots in charitable work which was the bailiwick of organized religion.

    “My Kingdom is not of this world” was a reassurance to the world’s poor, as it remains to this day, that earthly existence, impoverished as it might be, is not the only one and that a greater, and eternal, reward awaits the faithful in the next life.The poor were asked to bear much, to abide much in the light of religious belief – it was their ‘cross’ to bear and often the clergy shared it with them. A Marxist view was antithetical to ythis philosophy and so ‘paradise’ should be had here on earth.

    “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” delineated how the Christian was to live in terms of his relationship to the state, and to his God. However it was formed, or defined, the notion of ‘State’ has changed over time, the notion of ‘God’ has remained fairly static. In a Marxist view of the state – if it does not serve the welfare of all, it has no right to exist and so holds no ‘call’ to bind anyone. A socialist state, in pure Marxist form, is much akin to the early Christian church communities where each gave according to his ability and received according to his need, and where all was held in common, replaced Caesar with the ‘proletariat’. This notion of sharing worked in small communities of common belief, but the government apparatus of a socialist state, even one having a declared moral foundation, is an opportunity for some to advance at the expense of others – the same old system but with new ‘leaders’. As history has demonstrated we have not yet reached the stage of Plato’s ‘philosopher kings’ in any governmental system.

    Marx might have been contemplating the great numbers of the proletariat in colonial regions who were not yet awakening to their ‘rights’ or the fact that they were ‘in chains’. For the European church was nothing if not actively antagonistic to militant socialism of the kind espoused by Marx, and deterred – as much as was possible- its members from participating in ‘revolution’ (very little opiate there). This opposition found greater support in the colonial lands than it did in Europe. That religion by and large tended to support, and still does, the status quo, should not be taken as support for it, but rather as an aversion to the destruction and license that often accompanies any disruption of public order. Religion calls for peaceful evolution over violent revolution. The inculcation of Marxist ideas, and consequent diminuation of religion, have had a largely deleterious effect in the third world.

    Marx may have observed well the effect of religion on ‘the masses’, however the notion of pure socialism as an alternative has proved to have been an even weaker philosophy in confronting nationalism, self-interst and greed. Humanistic in basic form, socialism, for its own sake, has shown itself to be all too human.

  7. Lee says:

    The funny thing to say right now is, “Um. Yeah. What he said.”

    Obviously, my previous post was a tremendous simplification. I hadn’t considered Marx’s quote too carefully recently. You remind me that it is not just a commentary but a call to action, potentially revolutionary action.

    About your last point, I know that I don’t know enough about the possibility of survival of Marxism and socialism in the world. I stand as a soft libertarian politically myself. To bring a current example into play, the Chinese government continues to function effectively. But I rarely hear a single good word about the Chinese government from Chinese persons I have met. But then consider the people that I’ve been talking to, people that have chosen to leave China for the US.

  8. bob says:

    China is not strictly Marxist, so the comparison is not necessarily valid. But then neither is a Russian comparison. You will find in China more optimism than you will find from those who have come over here. remember that China has made huge gains over the last couple decades. people tend to like getting richer, communist or no. Also, how often do you hear people say good words about the american government?

  9. Lee says:

    >people tend to like getting richer, communist or no

    Err.. Communists aren’t supposed to believe in being individually rich.

    >Also, how often do you hear people say good words about
    >the american government

    Actually pretty often.

    My “Religion is the Opiate of the Masses” rant remains unfinished for several years now. I fear it will remain that way a while longer.

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