" Dear Mr. Ashbee
I am not a Christian. I was raised as a Christian by my parents, and I was quite devout for a long time and this did quite a number on me! Christianity is way different in Kenya or other third world countries than it is here. One might follow a religion here as a matter of choice or due to other private personal causes, but back home the sophistication that has characterized religion in America to freedom was entirely absent. The whole community was Christian and if one wasn’t aligned with Christianity, one wasn’t part of the community. Anything vaguely non-christian in the community was in a devil worshiping and witchcraft category and the religious influenced mob killed many people i.e. suspected mungiki, suspected homosexuals, thieving homeless kids(we called them Chokoras) e.t.c due to this. A Mindless drove that brought the civilized world to the demogery that characterized the early church; The crusades, instances of witch trials, stoning e.t.c. I too was infected with this virulent behaviour, I was supposedly speaking tounges and had visions in form 1(the equivalent of 9th grade in U.S.A.).
America is the land of freedom, and literally for me it was freedom. When I first went into school here in 2004, there was no religious pressure, religion for the first time was just a sideshow or sometimes a prop used by kids as a personality feather. No reports of Mob violence due to religious pressure, Slander was not prohibited. No corporal punishment by teachers and community, It was freedom! Even my stout Christian parents were confused and shifted from church to church trying to regain some lost element in their Christianity, until they finally gave up and started going to the churches that had people they knew. This caused a change of attitude and a re-examination of many things, for me one of these things being religion. For a young man like me who was growing into adolescence, religion was a way for me to move away from the umbrella of my parent’s house and tutelage. So I devoted a lot of attention to it.
The human being has two analytical engines; the rational mind and the emotional system of sorting things out (EMO for short).Religion as I saw and now see it is a self sustaining conglomerate of interests and emotions. Bearing in mind I am no expert in this area, I do have some postulations. As the rational mind falls prey to paranoia and other problems, so to does the EMO. Without a useful outlet for its work, the EMO system will push for something, and it is likely to be the wrong thing. I have tried to read some various psychology books and as I came to interpret it. Emotion or the collection of things I have termed EMO system is a basic drive in human life.As an example, anger is an emotion that can be used to drive or act as a throttle for great things, but without usefulness it is dangerous and harmful. Religion, in general will use such properties of the EMO to sustain itself.
We can construct a simple working model of how religion works. Using fear, Religion brings in the ignorant flock, using other emotions tied to the flock the church attains the monetary assets and support to sustain itself and using its influence on the mind to make the flock scorn anything the church sees as threatening. Albeit this is a crude Model of my theories but I think it conveys the bulk of these postulations on religion as I saw and now still see them somewhat i.e. Religion is a sort of social organism that survives on the cumulation of irrationalities found in The EMO system, the irrational parts of each and every one of us. "The tendency and leaning that humans have to act, emote and think in ways that are inflexible, unrealistic, absolutist and most importantly self- and social-defeating and destructive". Such a brash and cocky theorem was bound to rustle some feathers and get me into some trouble.
I was a stupid and rash Adolescent and I wanted to test my ideology, You would think that I would go to some theological discussion in Murphy high and camly lay out my philosophy to be revised. No sir, I had to be Mr. Know it all and tell my parents about it, And to top it all off I was expecting some sort of 30 minute philosophical discussion to sum up the matter. Not surprising to say I was wrong.
My father did short of disown me, he would repeat the statement “No son of mine can be a Devil worshiper” for a number of times. My mother wept and kept her distance and left my dad to do the heavy underhanded theology pumping. For hours, each week, months in a row till was 18, We used to have the preaching sessions in my room. Every week, there was this yell from mum “Njagi, Dad wants to see you in your room” then for hours without end my father would talk about some cosmic spirit you can feel that guides everyone to happiness, I could not reply for that would prolong the misery of the talk and we couldn’t get into any sort of philosophical debate because my Dad was dogmatic in his religion and I was a flippant adolescent who knew everything so I would rebuff him in my head.
“I heard this feely stuff somewhere else, Guess where? In the Toilet when some guy was reading a comic!”
My actual thoughts were more perverse but I solder on to press a point.
“There was this guy who said he could feel bullets as they bent the time-space continuum, he tried use this ability to act as some kind of super hero, Guess how this hero died? He was shot at point blank!! , …dramatic pause….. in the face!!!!!.”
Which looking back, always was and still is my main point. As nice as these religious theologies are they ultimately are illogical, Implausible, unreasonable and are often hindrances in real life.
Seeing as the loud Preaching sessions did not work, My father tried a number of other tactics before referring to Dr. Richie, a good family friend for advise. Dr Richie then helped me get into contact with you, Mr. Ashbee and I was told I was to have a meeting with you to talk to you. You know Uncertainty is brought by many things but mostly uncertainty is brought about by fear of the unknown and unknowable. My dad being a mechanical engineer prided himself with being a scientist and he passed that pride to me. Pride of the scientific method, pride of being part of the rational movement, proud of not being an irrational or more accurately disdain of romanticism. As such I viewed myself a rational man, objective in my vision and computer like with my analysis. As soon as I was told to meet Mr. Ashbee, a little bit of Uncertainty creeped in so I solved it by being overly brave. I was gong to reason with you and show you the error of your ways, I was going to challenge you to a philosophical debate and I was going to win, to finally once and for all destroy the irrationality that had plagued me for 18 yrs.
So we met at your house and it was all very anti-climactic, You offered me tea, We talked and chatted about some few things before moving on to our main subject. To be honest I was expecting it to be like a war; you would be in armor, like armor of god with the sword of truth, belt of righteousness or faith, the whole thing and rebuke me for my insolence and I would be on the other side with my computer and geeky glasses, knowing your questions and answering all with rationality, genius and smugness. It wasn’t to be so, In fact it was rather the opposite, I was the staunch unreasonable one.
Religion strives in a non-logical mindset, This does not say anything about the context of religion indeed some religions like Christianity and select others have very rational belief structures. However in preaching and other religious discussions, method of delivery varies from a scientific debate or educational lecture. If I were to compare a physics lecture to a sermon, the physics lecturer would state the theorems he wants to convey, then provide a derived proof for this theorem and then list the application. The preacher or believer would state his theorem, but other than relying on the bible which is an invalid axiom, there would be no quantitative proof in his arguments, he would reference feelings, moral opinion and other EMO tools to persuade people to his side of the argument.
Take for Example Evolution, there is more than enough evidence to show the maturing of life over 3000 million years, the variation of genetic material throughout this time with a clear fossil record for at least 500 million of these years. There is a vividly discernable pattern in present day biological life, that points to common ancestry. Geological evidence points to Earth being about 4.5 billion yrs old. These are tenets that have been achieved by scientific research and logical and rational discussion without prepositions in thought and mindset. When I was talking to you, at the time I did not have the factual base I now possess and my thought. But even then there was no logical argument, you simply used the same tools, Exploit an EMO aspect, in that case being fear to try and bring me to the Christian side of the argument.
I do not mean any offence, But that is generally what happens in most of the conversations pitting my belief in Evolution against Theology.
“I think Evolution is a valid theorem”;
“Ohh! ,You Believe you are a monkey”;
“Of course We did not come from monkeys, We are special!, We were created by paranormal being (X) for (Y)&(Z) reasons.”
The Goal always being to create uncertainty and using that to create fear or manipulate one using some other EMO tool. I was given a book called “Too much faith required to be atheist” or something to that line and as I was perusing it I came across the Evolution section. Instead of providing evidence for the Creation theorem or Intelligent Design or whatever the name is. They were listing the probability of life spontaneously 'popping up' , using factor thought needed for evolution to calculate probability of evolution. In probability, real life problems are analyzed in models with mutually exclusive and independent events not a simple list of numbers. It is fundamentally impossible to create a 100% accurate model of such a complex real event. Even when they got their false result, it is a useless number since the event in question occurred.
Pascals wager is another example, Are they (believers mainly Christians) using a tool to help one come to a logical conclusion? No, they are trying to spread uncertainty creating fear pushing people to make an unnecessary decision unwillingly, Never mind there are hundreds of other religions that could use the same argument, thus proving the invalidity of such an argument. Christians reference Einstein in their arguments, in a sort of who's who comparison of beliefs with an argument following in the line of "Yes!, even Einstein the greatest scientist in the 21st century was a believer in God!" It seems borderline silly to reduce a rational argument to name bragging, bearing in mind the scientist had a pantheistic atheist belief towards god.
When I look back at my teenage time of indecision, I only see a single figure standing as the representative of Christianity which would be you. In writing this I hope that i will rid myself the uncertainty towards the beliefs of Christianity and other paranormal belief systems by putting into light the workings of religion. The decline of the rational movement and the rise of romanticism stuttered the trend towards discovery of irrationality in human society, And the biggest irrationality that has persevered to date is religion.Gaining wings with the mindless emotionality and directionless cognition that has characterized the world after the rational movement. Religion still grows by taking advantage of the shortcomings of the EMO system to control the individual and as such religion has continued influencing the world in terrible ways till today.
P.S. I was hoping to post this letter on my blog
I also wanted to post a reply in the blog but his reply did not have any substantive points or arguments in it. If there is a quality argument, i will post it!