By Jane Abao
Manila, Philippines (12/11/2014) – Religion is a virus of the mind that should be eradicated according to an American philosophy instructor and atheism advocate, and proposes how it should be done. However, there is much that this man has not accounted for, from the view of some Christians.
Peter Boghossian wrote in his book, “A Manual for Creating Atheists” (Amazon, November 2013) some protocols towards “containing such virus.” Boghossian wrote –
A key containment protocol is to financially cripple any institution that propagates a faulty epistemology, starting with the most egregious perpetrators: religious institutions.
Containment as defined in the dictionary has to do with preventing the expansion of a hostile power or ideology or something hazardous.
Boghossian whom Christians believe is a cultist seeking fame and followers and recognition among the atheistic intellectuals (of which he is not one) began his book with his version of a definition for faith. Faith accordingly is a faulty reasoning process because it is “belief without evidence,” and it is “pretending to know things you don’t know.” (pp 23-24).
Whenever you hear the word faith, replace it with ‘pretending to know what you cannot know.’ It is definitive of faith that it is pretending.
Boghossian’s whole approach, based on his definition of faith, contains what are viewed by some Christians as urging extremisms. On the other hand, these are being welcomed by atheists who in fact parrot him.
The Bad and the Good
The following are some of Boghossian’s containment protocols excerpted –
- Use the word “faith” only in a religious context.
When the faithful are pressed on the definition of faith… they usually retreat to the words ‘hope,’ ‘trust,’ and ‘confidence,’ abandoning knowledge and certainty.
- Stigmatize faith-based claims like racist claims.
Don’t let people of faith sit at the Adult Table. Those at the Kid’s Table can talk about anything they’d like, but they have no adult responsibilities and no voice in public policy.
The faithful are to be told, “You are pretending to know things you don’t know. Go to the Kid’s Table, this is a conversation for adults.”
- Treat faith as a public health crisis.
We must reconceptualize faith as a virus of the mind … and treat faith like other epidemiological crises: contain and eradicate… it is a public health
- Remove religious exemption for delusion from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).
Once religious or delusions are integrated into the DSM, entirely new categories of research and treatment into the problem of faith can be created. These will include removal of existing ethical barriers, changing treatments covered by insurance, including faith-based to special education programs in the schools, helping children who have been indoctrinated into a faith tradition, and legitimizing interventions designed to rid subjects of the faith affliction.…
In the long term, once these treatments and this body of research are refined, results could then be used to inform public health policies designed to contain and ultimately eradicate faith.
According to Thomas A. Gilson, editor of True Reason (Kregel Publications, Feb 1, 2014), Boghossian, with the language of hatred, is using a communist psychological approach to dissent.
Another reviewer noticed that Boghossian’s “containment protocols” are informed by sources from the political left. The methodology begins with redefining words to one’s advantage, then to stigmatize, and segregate –
It’s the politics of personal destruction and it comes directly from Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.” We’ve seen many of the New Atheists use these same tactics. No one more so than Richard Dawkins who really popularized the idea that religious believers shouldn’t be reasoned with, they should be laughed at.
Reviewer Gilson said although roughly the book is urging extremism, there are three good things it does: 1) The author takes a serious swipe at whether there is such a thing as truth, 2) He makes a strong plea for rational thinking, and 3) He recommends a Socratic approach to learning about religious beliefs.
Bro. Eli of MCGI
If Boghossian had heard of a Bro. Eli Soriano, he might have never written this Manual or had written it differently. Called TruthCaster, this Filipino – Brazilian preacher deeply espouses rational thinking when it comes to faith such that he has incurred the ire of all religions other than the one he is Presiding Minister to.
The set-up in the Members Church of God International (MCGI), whether it be a weekly thanksgiving or worship service where Soriano preachers is interactive, allowing him to utilize Socratic questioning to preach the word of God. Although he uses the Bible as main reference, in addition to other resources like Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, and evidences for what he is saying, the communication is two-way, and never the hypodermic model utilized by some.
At the front is a presidential table where two or more facilitators are asked questions by Soriano allowing the topic to unfold. In all parts of the world, since the Church is international, there are translators for the church service – from Tagalog to English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, or German. This extends from the introduction of the topic by his assistant, to the consultation period, and finally to the main part where Soriano finishes off the topic for the service. The audience have their Bibles and they each take notes for review purposes. It is also to enhance their understanding.
A thanksgiving service begins at 3:00 PM (Saturdays, Philippine time) and ends usually at 11:30 – an average of 8 hours with consultation in between. Aside from questions about husband-wife relationships, family management, health, and related concerns, the Consultation as in the Church service proper, involves faith questions such as the following: What is man? What is his purpose? Why are we here? Is life merely physical? After a man dies, where does he go? Is death merely physical? Why did God place the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden? How did sin enter into the world? What is sin? What are angels? You said that angles are spiritual stars, what purpose do they serve? If Satan has children: who are they? What is the purpose of Jesus? Why is transgression of the heart of man described in the Bible as the worst kind of sin? What is the role of Satan? If Satan has deceived the whole world, in what forms has he deceived them?
This preacher is the most queried man on earth, in fact. He carries a Q&A segment in his Bible expositions. He is asked these questions because of his unequalled understanding and he mainly uses the word of God. In discussing this kind of questions, he necessarily exposes false doctrines and practices. – to the mortification of false prophets. More so when he gives Bible Expositions to the public that can be heard worldwide via satellite systems.
In a fight therefore between the religions and the atheists, one can find Preacher Soriano with both because he draws the line. He fights the religions, just as he fights the atheists – all for truth. Either side to him has flaws.
When the evangelist says he is the most maligned preacher, it is on account of having to stand for truth that people try very hard to discredit him for making them run for their money. No one and no one had been humiliated through an Interpol Wanted scheme but Soriano. One politically influential church group had made a game out of filing Soriano case after case, making use of church members the latter had excommunicated – either as complainants or witnesses. The local courts had declared that he is not a fugitive from justice as his enemies would want to put out. (https://kotawinters.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/eli-soriano-not-fugitive-from-justice-two-courts-deny-motions/). Anyone wanted for a crime would not be advertising himself and his activities, and facing the world to answer questions about God’s mysteries – a routine for the preacher.
If there is someone whose biopage in Wikipedia reads more like a charge sheet, it is Soriano’s. This is the work of his enemies as Wikipedia is open to public editing. But aside from the so-called religions running after Soriano’s neck, there are the atheists who engage him in fiery discussions. Soriano happened to chide an actress atheist, Kathy Griffins, for her irresponsible words. During an awarding in 2007, Kathy remarked –
A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. Suck it, Jesus, this award is my god now!
When it became known to the public that the preacher rebuked Kathy, another atheist named Kate twitted to him in anger, “I Wikipedia’d you!”
Sweeping and Misplaced Definition of Faith
What follows are contentions of the Christian side on Boghossian’s book. First, it is noted that he quoted John W. Loftus, a leading crusader against Christianity for his definition of faith as evidence-free. Loftus had converted from Christianity to atheism. Such understanding of faith cannot stand for all times, all people, and all places according to Gilson. Definitions are conventional, are developing through usage and have historic meanings. As such, the definition of faith involves evidence. Moreover –
When Boghossian says faith is evidence-free, everyone who has any awareness of the truth of the term knows that he (and other New Atheists in the past decade or so) made that up; it’s not the historic meaning of the term, it’s not the conventional meaning, and it’s not the meaning that applies to…. persons of faith who present evidences for [their] beliefs.
Many Kinds of Religions
Second, there are many kinds of religions. Hinduism, Buddhism, and tribal religions are called religions by some but are not typically theist. There are important variations in religious beliefs just as there are important differences in non-belief. In fact, not all who claim Christianity can be called Christian, for example. One cannot conclude that100 religions calling themselves Christians accept each other as true and therefore do not disagree. This is on account of false religions existing. Moreover, if these 100 religions differ from one another, one cannot conclude that Jesus Christ is false and did not exist due to these differences.
Third, and as a corollary, a true church would agree with some of Boghossian’s proposals as in the need for rational thinking. It is these false religions that TruthCaster Soriano is waging war on. Partly because of them, people have turned away from believing – what with their idol worship and many other false practices. By inference, these false religions have contributed to the hatred of people on the notion of a creator because of how they unfaithfully have stood for God. In short, they had breed atheism some way, such that atheists relish laughing at God and calling him an underachiever – one whose existence they try to disprove at all costs. But this does not make Boghossian right in his placement of “the virus.” Lumping all religions into one is likened to an attempt at throwing the water with the baby.
Naturalism Not the Standard
Fourth, Boghossian’s book implies that naturalism is the standard of truth. Is it? Naturalism is a theory denying that an event or object has supernatural significance, or is the doctrine that scientific laws are adequate to account for all phenomena. This ism is what infidels adhere to, as declared in Infidelsdotorg that owns The Secular Web (htto://infidels.org/)
Organization of Infidels
Infidelsdotorg is an international organization of atheists who would rather call themselves “infidels,” defined in the dictionary as unbeliever, disbeliever, un-Christian. A most familiar name – Richard Dawkins – is a member of the Honorary Board, as one from his country, the United Kingdom (http://infidels.org/infidels/honorary.
This organization covets the time spent by the faithful in praying which it says should be better used for gainful pursuits. To some extent, this is true. Catholics, for example, pray with their rosary, 5 Our Father’s and 50 Hail Mary’s. However, to God who knows the hearts of men, payers need not be long. A true-faith believer would know God will not appreciate treating him like deaf and dumb with repetitious prayers. But more importantly, the wrong manner of praying does not void the presence of a creator, and praying to a believer is invoking his rights for help and protection from his maker.
Infidelsdotorg claims religious believers waste their money on church buildings. That is admittedly true for one that taxes its members the whole year through for lagak (literally means “drop”) and more lagak to build chapels and chapels but their doctrines are questionable, according to their most severe critic, Soriano.
Infidelsdotorg also mentioned “miracle healing” as practiced by some, with the uncured patient dying as a result. It also mentioned the Catholic Church’s opposition to birth control measures, the religious wars, justified murders on grounds of blasphemy, and many others as making religion “harmful.”
Infidelsdotorg is not exactly right, however, primarily for the reason that all religions cannot be lumped into one and then generalized as “harmful,” just as atheism comes in many forms.
As explained by Infidelsdotorg, an atheist is not looking for meaning or purpose in his life, does not believe in eternal life, is not afraid of death, and if he dies, that is the end of it. Atheists would not therefore readily turn to the teachings preached by Soriano because the Members Church of God International (MCGI) believes that man has to be saved from his sins, there is an eternal life, and that life has meaning and a purpose set by the Creator. Most of all, man has to live by God’s laws and not according to his own wishes. The end for man is to be glorious as his creator has set it – ruling over spirits and man that do not conform to the good and order.
In the history of the MCGI where Soriano is Presiding Minister to, there were only two converts to atheism, but this was not surprising since the two were found leading licentious lives. As expected, they were excommunicated by the preacher. But notable is the fact that there have not been any liabilities to society among the MCGI members because the church looks after them. A lot of testimonies claim their lives have changed for the better after knowing the Christ being preached by Soriano.
Bro. Eli’s Longer List of the Harmful
The preacher has a longer list to what Infidelsdotorg calls religions’ “harmful” and he has a stronger term for these things: Udyok ni Satanas or Satan-inspired. They are invariably what false religions do and they are what he often calls attention to. To name a few, they include: (1) Baptizing children who have no knowledge of what is going on and who cannot give their consent to the ritual; (2) The forever-baby representations of Jesus Christ, and through images yet; (3) Virgin Mary believed not as a person but as direct mediator to Christ; (4) Santa Claus and celebration of Christ’s “birthday;” (5) Tithing; (6)Forever praying for the dead and forever paying services “for the repose of their soul;” (7) Calling the priest Father, Reverend, Most Reverend, Most Worshipful and many other addresses; (8) Use of Latin for Church services that people do not understand; (9) Prohibiting Church members from reading the Bible; and (10) Bad role modeling among church leadership who do not apply Bible injunctions: from improper way of dressing, to licentious living among the members. They only select what they teach for fear of losing members if they strictly teach all.
By calling these things Satan-inspired, Soriano recognizes something that naturalism denies. People sound being “in” when people mouth atheist ideas. But Soriano teaches that aside from matter that is admittedly living, there is something besides matter in man. This aspect is important in considering those whose ideas become truth for most of the public, the scientists for example.
Soriano goes beyond atheist scientists who do not recognize the existence of ethos as drivers of science and proponents of hypotheses. Ethos, as defined, is the distinguishing characteristic, moral nature, or guiding belief of a person, group, or institution. A cat playing with a mouse as it dies slowly is hurting to them. There is the ethos of sympathy – for the dying mouse. What about a pupa that kicks and kicks itself to tiredness? If that is senseless, one’s sympathy for these beings may just be self-righteousness but one does not see that internal structures may need these interventions. Before a pupa becomes a beautiful butterfly, it has to kick and kick inside its cocoon to generate oil in its body. This is needed for its growth to the next phase. Grant it sympathy and tear the cocoon and see whether it can become a butterfly that it is meant to be.
It’s all About Ethos
Communicating anything – especially what one believes in like the origin of the universe or one’s religion is actually all about ethos. So when a person loses one’s faith, it is more like having one’s ethos changed. It is said that Charles Darwin “lost his faith” while writing On the Origin of species. Darwin wrote:
There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designed the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that they eye was expressly designed. On the other hand I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. (http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/entry-2814)
Darwin mentioned CHANCE, not seeing order into the existence of things. To a believer however, there is no chance with God. He had created all things – with a purpose, from the beginning to its end. Whatever happens, God has allowed it and it is not by chance (Bro. Eli Soriano, MCGI, SPM, 12/1/2014).
Richard Dawkins, who is looked upon by many as the successor of Darwin, made a pitch against a supposed beneficent creator, referring to the same incident that Darwin spoke of –
He wrote this in his book, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (2010). Notice that he wrote “victim” for caterpillar. He wrote “paralyze but not kill” for feeding within the living bodies. Where reasoning is involved, there is ethos. Communicating reason carries mood or emotion, but it speaks more of the person’s norms, principles, standards. There is no reasoning without speech. So with two people talking about one incident, the ethos can vary. Aren’t these not carried into the labs? Scientific information is supposedly relayed with care, preserving the original as best as one can, cleaving to truth.
Ichneumonidae refers to parasitoid wasps seen as most beautiful and most amazing by some biologists. As implied, there is a creator who made these insects with a purpose in mind – no matter how we do not like what these insects do.
It was Richard Dawkins who popularized the idea that religious believers shouldn’t be reasoned with, they should be laughed at. Another Atheist Scientist Lawrence Krauss is on record saying God is not needed for a universe to exist. These are the new heroes of emerging atheists today. Understandably, since communicating about existence or anything carries ethos, there is the need to be careful least one pick up the ethos of another.
In Charles Darwin’s account, the ethos is of an absence of readiness to consider a creator. In Richard Dawkin’s account, the ethos is of obvious negative or hostile state of mind against a supposed beneficent creator.
Ethos acts to level the playing field this way: Since the supposed reasoning comes from the person involved (the supposed thinker), justice plays its part for everyone. The religions may do their practices, harmful or not, but as they do them, it is up to the individual to submit to them or not, to question them or not, to consider them well as of life or as of death and then to decide what to do. If the individual fails to evaluate properly what his religion (harmful or not) offers, given his capacity to understand, then ethos has not worked for him. Ethos has been displayed or is being displayed by the subject religion as opportunities for him to assess, but he has not used his mind properly for an appropriate decision. So whether his religion is virus or not, is actually not an issue.
On the other hand, scientists come out from the labs with their hypothesis – but not everyone is able to watch them or read them as they communicate their findings. As Dr. Lawrence Krauss, for example, talks about his “Universe from Nothing,” he keeps on laughing at the religious as “those guys” and mocking at God as useless and not needed for a universe to exist. But Krauss gave conferences and wrote a book on this hypothesis. Although yet a hypothesis, it will most probably find its way into children’s books as the theory of evolution did. In this case, ethos from Krauss which should have provided the supposed thinker some window of him is almost nil – except those who have viewed him on YouTube most probably – or read his book.
Between false religions and atheistic science, the latter can do more harm then. Nevertheless, ethos from the communicant (religion or science) can logically be met with the principle,”from death to death and from life to life.” Life only comes from life. What we put in the mind and what we accept comes from this principle (II Cor 2: 15-16).
Local Atheists Parrot Atheist Scientists
As described by Infidelsdotorg, an atheist may be neutral or harmless, and that is probably when he is quiet. The moment he actively campaigns for their belief of a “There is no creator” and parrot their new-found heroes in Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss among others, Christians may not look at this kind of atheists as harmless. That is the view of creationists or of at least true Christians like Soriano. Krauss wrote “A Universe from Nothing” (Atria Books (January 1, 2013).
Jeremy Lucban, a locale atheist, exemplifies these new atheists now pontificating to people to be unbelievers. He laughed derisively at Bro. Eli Soriano’s post on the Mitochondrial Eve without understanding the preacher’s position. In return, the preacher called his mouth “stinking.”
Atheists do not recognize a creator and do not feel bound by God’s laws; therefore they do not look to the Bible as a reference for morality. They laugh at it as a book of fairy tales and Lucban just did it with the title of his newly-opened blog. A true atheist would believe in evolution for it is sacrilege not to, and so he does. Not believing the Bible as true, Lucban cherry-picked verses “to prove” his point.
A creationist, particularly a true Christian, recognizes a creator and looks upon God’s laws as his guide to morality and truth. “Stinking” to a Christian therefore takes the word of God as to what it is. What are fragrant to God are those that are of Christ, and there are two types of aroma in the eyes of God: the aroma from life to life, and the aroma from death to death (II Corinthians 2:15-16). Those who are not of Christ then have no life above the material and therefore they “stink” – not just in the mouth for they are spiritually dead, having taken their death from the non-life. In contrast, life can only be taken from life.
In his blog, Soriano posted ISAIAH 40:22 as in from the Bible –
It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:
As a response, Lucban insolently posted “Isaiah 40:22 is FLAT EARTH with a DOME.” This was according to Lucban’s source, but what he meant to do was to load the ignorance of some believers on Soriano. Obviously, Lucban did this to jibe with his agenda of presenting the Bible as a book of fairy tales. And so everyone must believe the earth is flat with a dome – according to foolish believers. He even added an image of that “flat earth with a dome.” That’s pure Strawman fallacy, Lucban! You are boxing against the wind!
As to doing good without the Bible to follow, this is not impossible to some. The God of the Bible claims he has placed that desire on man. However, to unbelievers, they can never be moral (as with spiritual life) since their knowledge comes from non-life or death and is separated from the life of the maker.
The rest of Lucban’s arguments do not deserve attention. With Reductio ad absurdum he cuts up pieces, perhaps in his lack of understanding, or in his bid to find flaws before he could understand what is being said.
The Real Virus of the Mind
The mind, after all, necessarily needs to be free from whatever virus that impinges on it. The question then is not so much as where to locate the virus but why it is virus.That virus needs to be qualified from being just referred to as “virus because X does not reason.” There is a need to go deeper and say the virus is “virus because X does not reason properly. And why so? Because X, in man’s thinking carries ethos and it is seen in the way he communicates. Man, the actor in religion or science, is matter but he has a sentient part – exemplified simply in the way he thinks, in the way his words come. If reason is all that important to us, then virus must be located (for its presence or its absence) – but more than that: the reason of the reason.
Applied to the laboratories where scientists work, ethos is evident. Until now, the theories or hypotheses of scientists remain only theories or hypotheses after several centuries of studying. These include Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, the Big Bang, and now Lawrence Krauss’ Quantum Mechanics’ universe from nothing. If these are just theories or hypotheses, why act as if they were true? Why teach them? Why write books on them and make money out of them? It is obviously hard to believe in a scientist who, in his attempt to rationalize God fails, and curses him all along.
Applied to religions, ethos is also evident, and so a believer should be able to reason. Why, for example, should one kiss a wooden crucifix passed from one mouth to another? Why one should preach at chapels when he is a womanizer or a pedophile or a murderer? Why one should vote for a politician against one’s will for so-called church unity? There is much that religions have done to breed atheism – false that they are. It is worse than not knowing God at all.
The real virus of the mind is not religions per se, or scientism/naturalism. The real virus specifically comes in many names like greed and self-righteousness. It is very evident in ethos – in the way one communicates as a result of his thinking. It is the spirit of falsehood – the spirit that can rule in the mind of anyone (in science or in the religions) if he does nor watch out.
And the source of it? The same source of chaos, a spirit being that is seemingly doing its best to suppress exposure of the spiritual dimension (of existence, of man, of truth) because then he would be exposed – Satan. However, not in all cases is Satan responsible for the failings of man; it can be man himself.
For Bro. Eli Soriano who stands against these religions and stands against atheism, it is time the world asks him the question, why so? #