Conspiracy theories the new religion

You used to be laughed at if you believed in conspiracy theories and not the truth. Now the tables are turned. You aren’t normal if you don’t believe in them. 

I am really having a hard time with the internet and humans at the moment. I have spoken a few years ago about the ridiculousness of conspiracy theories. People who have revisionistic ideas about how they view past events and some atrocities claiming certain things didn’t take place.

I want to know why people believe in conspiracy theories and can this be linked in the same way that humans attach religion to themselves by giving their lives meaning, purpose and hope.

The fact that as humans we look for an explanation of events and occurrences. We want to know why things happen. The part of our brain the amygdala is the thing that kick-starts the processes of emotion. It starts out processing fear of something so when we are confronted with that which should scare us into running eg. enormous cat with a mallet chasing after us.

Our evolutionary brain helps us decide that which is a real or false threat. Then we look for the reason why something happened. One assumes that in child-psychology and development as a young person grows constantly as the question  ‘why?’ – a characteristic that parents no doubt will attest.

Our brains are processing that all that information and it’s not to say some conspiracy theories are all false, some do in fact turn out to be true. Someone, like myself, claims to be a free-thinker we are able to process quite clearly that which is true and that which is complete bullshit.

Take for example these posts from The Daily Star I have collected over the last year. These are all headline news topics written and presented to get you to (click bate) click and read. If you were to only get your news and information from this one site you probably be a nervous wreck unsure whether to the world is coming to end by either freezing to death, nuclear war or being fried in your own juices due to a heatwave.

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When I was researching this post I found it fascinating that some people have a propensity to believe in conspiracy theories and this then moves on to confirmation bias. So even if you have all the facts in front of you people will still tend to trust their own thoughts and beliefs. That which you think is true is confirmed eg. all Chinese people eat green rice. You will seek out that information which confirms your belief rather than rationally choosing to look over information provided to form a new opinion. You don’t challenge facts and information even though you are told otherwise which leads to belief perseverance.

Every time I hear or read of some spurious claim on social media I have to test the information rather than relaying it others to make sure I am not sharing blatant lies. Our connection to social media now has allowed being sucked into all sorts of conspiracies and falsehoods.

Religion tends to rely on higher powers and hierarchical structures to confirm and guide people in all situations. Lots of people will claim that they are not a slave to anyone else yet allow facebook sites, twitter accounts, fanatical leaders to provide them with their own assumptions of the world.

So for me, I think those people who dance behind the pied-pipers of conspiracy theories are just the same as those who readily make decisions about their own lives according to how their holy scriptures or priests tell them. There’s no such thing as a free-thinking follower of religion neither is there someone who subscribes to organisations who promote and encourage ridiculous conspiracies.

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Christian Institute

I got a pathetic response but hey at least it was a response. 

This week parents of a pupil removed their child from a school because a boy wanted to wear a dress and be known as a girl. In 2017 it might seem laughable and trivial but to a Christian couple it meant disrupting a child’s education.

I remember being hauled into the head’s office at school to help deal with a pupil who had been bullied. He wasn’t getting support or receiving praise for being different but my boss at the time was berating him for bringing in a school back that was different.

“Why can you bring something in that’s like everyone else?” She asked.

“Because I want to be me and this is who I am…” he replied.

There wasn’t a ‘Glee moment’ where the head teacher congratulates the pupil for their individuality and praises them for being who they are but tries to solve the intolerance and bullying by denying one person’s freedom of expression. All in a school bag.

My thoughts are clear on my former boss. She was a morally corrupt and bereft of humanity and empathy. She didn’t give a shit about her charges but was terrified that the  whole system would come down crashing at her feet.

My letter to the Christian Institute asking to speak about why their news feed was unbalanced was finally met with a response.

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Their opinion was that they just wouldn’t engage.

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Despite my years of experience dealing with church matters and education in this area.

The parents action which no doubt will be backed by the Christian Institute to further their growing sense of victimisation. But this is just the very reason why so many people now say that they have no religion. They are turning away from established religions in many parts of the world. The church and their non-sensical illogical beliefs have isolated themselves from the world. They will soon be made of mainly fanatical fringe belief systems. Where once the Church of England was the back bone of English society and culture soon it will become nothing more than Westboro Baptist lite.

 

 

Church and the Second World War

I have been reading again in the past few days peoples comments about how people responded to the terrorist attack in Manchester. It was again a stark reminder of the way that some people use this atrocious incident for their own political gain.

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“We didn’t light candles and put on pop concerts” is the summing up of some. But we DID back then. It was carried out with the same dignity and decency, as we have seen in our towns and cities, in the churches and cathedrals around the country. The difference is now is we have brought grief to the streets. Primarily because this is not a nation (whether we like it or not) that does not adhere to Christianity as it once did.

Church attendance in the UK at the moment stands around 750k each week. A huge decline since the Second World War. This decline isn’t unique to the Church of England but to all established Christian denominations.

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The above graph is taken from The Church Society’s website. Further information is available on it.

A decline in church attendance doesn’t mean though that some people aren’t spiritual. When harrowing life events take place, a majority will still hold onto the belief in an afterlife. Some won’t necessarily equate it to Christianity or any other religious belief but a spiritual understanding of the world. Lighting candles and laying flowers is part of this.

When mum died I sat and talked to her in the care home. I sat for at least an hour telling her how much I thought of her and loved her. I told her that despite ‘her leaving’ that she would forever be in my heart. This is for me a non-religious way of coping with her death. A way of me acknowledging her passing.

People naturally will want a way of coping with such a shock. It isn’t wrong for some to lay flowers or light candles for people that they have never known or met. It is a way of showing solidarity and love for a nation in mourning.

Take away the Religion

I was watching a clip on YouTube last night of Pat Robinson who, if you aren’t sure who he is, is a transphobic, homophobic and downright ridiculous man who spouts crazy bile in the name of Christianity.

Thoughts then turned to the people who had been killed by the gunman in Orlando and his crazed ideology that killing a group of LGBT people would be pleasing to his god.

As you know I am a humanist. I don’t believe in god, I used to be a church-goer but the belief and faith I had died a long time ago.

I thought if you take away the religion and look at how people act it proves a lot about who the person is in the beginning.  How is the person with their friends and family? What are they doing for the good of everyone?

Someone that causes harm and distress to others under the name of their religion should be ridiculed for what they are. If it’s some old irrelevant man who has no idea what true life is like and doesn’t realise the damage he causes isn’t a true follower of faith.

People assume that those who don’t have a religion to follow are bereft of morality and principles. This couldn’t be further from the case. Humanism is about treating everyone fairly as they are all beings that share the same planet.

Blame

There is always someone who will want to proportion blame other than the person who pulled the trigger on the guns. So far I have heard that the police at the nightclub were to blame, the lack of guns in the club and even the gay people who murdered should share the responsibility for their own deaths.

The appalling politicians and right-wing groups that latch on to what has happened and use if for their own gain. They proportion the blame to an entire religion which is wrong. Within most belief systems that there are the radical parts that will use this as an excuse to create mayhem and murder innocent victims. Many political parties have murdered in the name of their cause and under-pinned it with the belief that what they are doing is from god. It’s not. True religion does not kill.

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The key to getting to grips with this sort of violence has to be education and understanding. The Islamic faith does and has to condemn these sorts of atrocities that are undertaken in its name. The Muslim Advocates which speaks on behalf of Muslims in American has rightly condemned the killings of innocent LGBT victims. Something that does not get reported in the wider press and beyond.

There has to be a working together of ordinary people who will speak for all sides to condemn this violence. ISIS and its ideology are evil and that message should be broadcast throughout the world. Allowing the lunatics of the far-right and the homophobic part of the Christian church to use it for their gain should be stopped right at the beginning.

The Catholic Church

I have always had a light for the catholic church. Don’t know why. I think it was to do with the fact that my mother didn’t like catholics and therefore anything that my mother hated I would automatically express my love for it. Those days have gone though as I think a tad more maturely at the things that I have come to like and dislike in the world.

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I have spoken before about the debate that took place between Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry and members of the Catholic Church including the odious Anne Widdecombe on whether the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world. The debate lasts a couple of hours but there are clips on youtube which are of smaller content. The audience at the end is asked to chose their response in light of what they have heard from the speakers at the bench. It’s enlightening and entertaining in some parts but you get an overall sense of the immense damage the catholic church has caused in the past centuries. This still continues (as we all know too well) in today’s modern world.

The Pope issued his new guidance on the way priests treat their followers when is comes to Sex and Marriage in the church. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t see gay unions as being on the same level as those in heterosexual marriages “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family”.

The Pope directs his sympathy to the relatives of those who have gay people in their family. Almost as if it is an illness that should bring empathy and love to those who are suffering the consequences of those who chose a ‘sinful lifestyle’. It is in irony that he also states that says the Church must avoid “every sign of unjust discrimination” towards homosexuals. It couldn’t get anymore unjust to describe someones marriage and relationship as second class.

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The way in which the Christian church conducts itself is under the microscope more than ever. I had commented on a youtube video where a ‘christian social media celebrity’ had recently got himself a tattoo on his arm. He had many comments saying that tattooing yourself was a sin. But there were a lot of people saying that it wasn’t. Taking the Levitical laws to condemn with one hand homosexuality then with another saying tattoos were a matter of conscience. Utterly hypocritical and damaging. It’s a pick and choose belief system that causes young people of today to turn away from Christianity. It damages those who are looking for the answers to life’s questions.

My view as a humanist is that all relationships are valid, gay or straight. Everyone is a human being and they should be on the same level and treated with dignity and respect. Women and men are equal they have different qualities and attributes but they are the same and again should be treated that way. I won’t condemn anyone based on their race or culture, on their sexuality or gender. To do so is morally wrong. The Christian church is proving itself to become more and more out of touch with the real world. Basing a belief system that it thousands of years old and has no place in deciding those who can or cannot marry.

Soon we will see the Christian church in the UK become nothing more than a crazy cult that pipes up every now and again with people who belief that blame can be pointed to sin in the world and cause localised flooding and down pours because someone has dared entered into a same sex partnership. It’s time to forget the church and leave it to die quietly.

RE and Humanism

As I qualified secondary RE teacher I find it appalling that the government have taken out the teaching of those with no belief in Religious Education. It’s almost like people without any faith shouldn’t have an opinion about moral values and life choices. I see it as a backwards step in highlighting the importance of the vital role that Religious Education has in our schools in a modern world.

The terrible atrocities that happen each day in our world cause us to pause and ask the question why? It is no longer the case that our children and adults should be left with the answer that some people do bad things. This is a poor excuse for educating people about religious belief.

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I was watching a programme the other night where they were discussing the issue of child exploitation that happens on a regular basis in the UK and thought myself that certain established religions have a lot to blame when it comes to talking about and educating young people about the dangers of online grooming and sexual relationships for someone who us under the legal limit of consent.

The programme highlighted the numerous times that girls were coerced into performed sex acts on their boyfriends and the blatant manipulation coupled with emotional blackmail that they felt under these circumstances. It is no longer a choice to bury your head in the sand and say that my child wouldn’t do these things and they know better.

Education is fundamental. Talking about violence does not make someone violent. In the same way, educating people about the dangers of sex doesn’t allow young people to think they are entitled to go out and experiment on the basis of the facts they have been told.

Think back to the days of your RE and would you really want the next generation to look at the world without the rich knowledge that RE does bring? Or do you want it to be begrudgingly tagged on the lesson at the end of the week on Friday afternoon?