Gods Deconstructed

Beliefs and their objects, dismantled.

Rimsha case Court grants 14-day judicial remand to Imam

Rimsha case Court grants 14-day judicial remand to Imam.

After weeks of being vilified and condemned, Rimsha Masih has been shown to be the victim of an ambitious and unscrupulous Imam who lied about her activities and then spread rumours amongst an illiterate population to whom critical thinking is something that belongs to a universe far, far away.

That is a problem not just for Islam but for all the rest of us, for the Koran demands that Islam (submission to Allah) is forced on the whole world. Islam, like all religions, can only be spread amongst those who cannot think critically. Preferably, adherents should also be illiterate. Yet if that is necessarily so, why is it that some of the Muslims who have committed the worst atrocities have been university-educated? The answer lies in the nature of religion itself.

Religion does not rely on the logical, thinking part of the brain. Religion affects the limbic system of the brain, which is more primitive (in that originated earlier) than the cerebrum. The limbic system is responsible for controlling some of the body’s most important automatic functions. It also controls our emotions. Religion is like a virus; once infected, feelings of extreme joy and contentment become addictive, like the effects of chemical drugs. The religious virus then influences all activities of the cerebrum. No longer does the infected person think independently; logic becomes a means of proving beliefs held. Anything that contradicts the beliefs held by the adherent is disregarded or opposed.

The fact that the instigator of the rumours was a religious leader reinforced the belief that this teenager with a mind younger than her chronological age, who was also a member of a minority belief-system, had committed an act of desecration and blasphemy. The ability to think independently was immediately lost. Kill the blasphemer, the mob cried, destroy the blaspheming tribe to which she belongs. Even members of the government were on the verge of being affected by the virus, the meme. The desire for revenge for – what? – became dominant in their minds. It did not matter what. The seed had been sown, the virus released.

Educated people can become no better than the most illiterate, dumb and stupid villager when commanded by a religious leader. It does not matter which religion. In Rimsha’s case it was Islam but adherents to her own religion, Christianity, can be just as ruthlessly affected. It does not matter what the religion; as soon as the meme is activated, bang goes reality. Those affected lose control of their thoughts and behaviour.

Only when the meme is eradicated can those affected be free to fully appreciate reality and to be free to think critically once again. Of course, the adherent to a religion does not know they are infected. Some humans never become infected; some are released over time as they gradually see the false nature of what was drummed into them at school or by parents. For others it takes a trauma of such magnitude that their beliefs fade into insignificance. Losing a loved one, being sure they read something in or heard something from their religious texts, something comforting, but not being able to find it. They pick up another book or read an article or blog instead and by the time they realise what they are reading their most sacred values are being brought into question. Their freed logical, thinking paths open as the mass of restricting weeds collapse and die and a raging thirst for knowledge overcomes the infecting meme.

Regrettably, trauma can also lead in the other direction. Those affected become radical and draw further into their fictional world. People sometimes need help to emerge from the dark, limiting meme before they fall back into religion. Should atheists make themselves available to those affected by the Rimsha Masih case? Or would that make atheists just as criminal as the Imam who lied to further his own ambition? Anyway, atheists are notoriously difficult when it comes to working together. The possibility may never arise. In the meantime, let us hope that Rimsha’s trauma does not result in revenge attacks by Christians on Muslims. Perhaps the trauma of some of the Christians affected will allow them to open their minds to reality.

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