...But of these sophisms and elenchs of merchandise I skill not...
Milton, Areopagitica

Except he had found the
standing sea-rock that even this last
Temptation breaks on; quieter than death but lovelier; peace
that quiets the desire even of praising it.

Jeffers, Meditation On Saviors



only in Israel does a majority think
it is not necessary to believe in God 
to be an upright person:

Many people around the world think it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person, according to surveys in 40 countries by the Pew Research Center. However, this view is more common in poorer countries than in wealthier ones.
In 22 of the 40 countries surveyed, clear majorities say it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values. This position is highly prevalent, if not universal, in Africa and the Middle East. At least three-quarters in all six countries surveyed in Africa say that faith in God is essential to morality.
firedoglake link to the above poll data worded thusly:
In what is surely the most idiotic argument of all time, a good portion of people in the world believe you need religion to be moral
To repeat, not for the last time:
Not very bright people with weird ideas about sex. Does not stop us from believing in sex.
Not very bright people with weird ideas about God, enables disbelief in God.
The trap, and it is a trap, is if you repudiate consensus religion, yet insist that religion is necessary, you have to start one of your own, or shut up. Or hang around AA meetings, even if you don't have problems with substance abuse.
Well says Mr. Logic, sex is obviously part of what we are, it's how we get here. The sexual urge is at least as strong as hunger and thirst at times etc. There's no corresponding hunger- and thirst-like urge toward belief in "God".
Really? Let's come back to that later, shall we?
Every single moral consensus that we're going to get from this time, however rational and atheist its delivery, is going to come from a received sense of morality that has its origins in something enough like religion to deserve the term.
It's just that all we know of religion now, in the West, is the result of a couple of thousand years of total proprietary ownership of the terms, and the ideas behind them. So most people's view of religion is of the institutional holders of the copyrights on the term.
You have to get past that to even consider something sane and defensible. Same as with all the weird ideas about sex etc.
Why bother?
Because there is no rational way to encourage moral behavior from the standpoint of reason alone that doesn't depend entirely on fear and force to work. Same as institutional religion for most of its history. Disagree with us? We'll burn you at the stake. Or else stick you into a privatized slave-prison.
Real morality is felt. It springs from a willing co-operation that is emotional first, rational second.
Altruism, the self-sacrifice of heroes, these are emotional, not rational, states.
But even rationalists have emotions, families, lovers. Most of them anyway.
The rationalist assumption is shared emotion will get the job done. But someone who doesn't share common feelings and loyalties, and figures gaming the system of enforcement will probably work, has no incentive to co-operate.
Still no problem, right? As long as enough people do share that emotional commitment to right behavior. We can scare most of the rest into co-operating, and police the hell out of what's left.
Until you see that gathering that emotional unity can't happen from the pragmatic immediate. It has to come from something bigger, an engagement with something bigger. A relationship with something outside the self.
Enabling and guiding that relationship is the true mandate of religion.
The world isn't in the midst of environmental chaos because of belief in God OR rational assessment of things, it's in the state it's in because of a perversion of the one, and the complete lack of anything like a loyalty to things greater than the individual self in the other.
Rational self-interest without the sub-strate of  felt morality will collapse any human system larger than a gang, eventually.
That works even for debased moral systems like present-day Judeo-Christianity and Islam.
No doubt if humanity was already starting from some kind of achieved perfection, it would be a simple thing to establish a moral code that would do what moral codes need to do.
But to start now, from here, in the midst of all this metastasizing selfish shit, is to invite the self-interest of hedonists and financial sociopaths to create the laws that will govern the course of human destiny.
Force alone will be able to make that work, and force alone is never going to be enough to do what needs doing. Love is the only thing that can do that.
 Love for something greater than the self, or even the present community. Love of life, and bigger, love of what it is to be, the wondrous fact of existence, and the miracle of where that being is lived.
We're not in a communal state of love at the moment, it seems to me.
Rational love is an absurdity.

These things are key:
We were raised to disdain our ancestors, progressively increasing contempt the further back in time we look.
We were raised to disdain the remnant cultures in the contemporary world that still carry the old ways into the present, the older, the more contempt.
We were taught that the space around our world was dark and empty, that we were alone in the dark.
These are all the tenets of rationalists not religion. And they are all false, ultimately.
However consciously unintended to be, they were lies. About some of the most fundamental truths of our living.
The universe is not dark, it's filled with light.
Our ancestors were successful enough at what they did to give birth to us, to make us possible. No small thing, and deserving profound respect.
These same deceptions were laid on our regard for the natural world and the creatures in it. Disdain and contempt were the signifying attitudes, they always are. Massive harm resulted. And continues, devastatingly.

There was a firestorm of antagonistic debate around the teaching of evolution in public schools in the US a decade back.
Bitter and one-sided, like a bar fight between an active-duty soldier and a teen-aged hemophiliac, but the complete agreement between the two sides was invisible in the violence.
They both agreed completely that evolution had to be stopped in its tracks, unless it was being performed to human demands.
The rationalists by human design alone, the religionists by the design of a God whose will they had manufactured to suit themselves, or someone else, someone human, had.
The old form, real non-human controlled evolution, is a balancing within the tension between the labor of humankind to defend itself and the constant pressure on it of conditions that were sometimes deadly, and other lives that were not always friendly, to the point of eating us, or not allowing us to eat them.
That gave us every single thing we value about ourselves. It's what made the wolf beautiful, and the wilderness majestic
That's evolution, and if it didn't work, we are ourselves the proof of its failure.
If it did work, why are we treating it as some kind of horrible enemy?
And how can we assume our progress has been so fully realized within its sculpting hands that we can now leave it behind and take over the job? Where is the proof of our competence? In the sky?
The short answer is we're looking at something living among us whose presence is a refutation of that terrible beautiful energy, that has to control, if not destroy it, because it won't survive otherwise.
It's a perfectly rational response, but it's inhuman, and treacherous. And the results of that betrayal are piling up around us.

I'm neither trying to start a new religion, nor suggesting we all go lie down in the woods and let Nature run over us in her truck.
It's enough for now to diminish the strength of people who get their arrogance from the idiocy of their designated opponents, and who have nothing but scorn for where they really came from, and who they really are.

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