Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Sermon - Beyond Blind Belief

 ‘If people were no better than their religions, the world would be a hell.’ - W.K. Clifford

What is religion? It is a belief in the supernatural existing alongside the natural. Religion consists in the belief in supernatural beings and forces, in the belief in gods and spirits. Without miracles there is no religion. People are disposed to listen to and believe those who lead them to hope for an end to their miseries. Misfortune render people fearful, credulous, and superstitious. A religious fanatic always has conquests to make among a miserable people. Nothing is more common in the world than the combination of enthusiasm and deceit. In religion, as in gambling, one begins by being a dupe, and one ends a rogue.

Many political parties declare that religion is a private and personal matter. The Socialist Party does not. Such pious declarations deceive no-one into thinking that socialism is compatible with any of the traditional systems of dogma termed religion. It compels socialists to be neutral and not to take part in religious questions. It means that the Socialist Party, as such, must never attack willingly any religious canon. That is why we do not recognise religion as private and personal. Religion is  part and parcel of the capitalist system’s apparatus of domination.

 The religious world outlook has been created over centuries and millennia. As long as there is social injustice, ignorance, and the dependence of man on the elements of nature and society, religion will exist in one form or another. It was the tyranny of Nature which gave religion  influence over humanity. Religion promised  relief from the dictates of Nature. Socialism and religion are two poles, two opposites and are locked in struggle with each other. Every religious philosophy is based on feelings of man’s domination by the elements of Nature and society, on feelings of man’s fear and slavish dependence on his surroundings.  Christian, Jew, Mohammadan or Hindu have each their own interpretation of the “why” the “whence” and the “whither” of the Universe. The interpreters of the divine are just mortal men and women so are they not subject to fooling themselves and others? How then can we know if we can trust in their testimony, how can we know if they weren’t duped by their lively imagination or an illusion?

Religion want blind belief because religions do not, and indeed cannot, give any clear, sure, and convincing proof of the truth of their so called divine revelations. They want us to believe all they say absolutely and simply, not only without having any doubts, but also without seeking and even without desiring to know the reasons. Faith, according to what theologians say, would have no merit if it relied upon the experience of the senses or human reasoning.  One must renounce all reason and all the senses to keep their obedience of their faith and in order to faithfully believe blindly, without reasoning and without wanting proof. Religion gives absolute, final and absolute answers. After hearing them there is nothing left to question or investigate.

Socialism is based upon a series of facts requiring only human reason to grasp and understand, whereas religion is based upon “faith” in a series of phenomena inexplicable by any process of mere human reasoning - miracles. Like any science, socialism gives unbounded sweep to research; like any science, it gives no exhaustive and final answers, it gives no absolute truths, but only relative ones. To identify socialism with religion would be to abandon what we find indispensable to working-class knowledge.

 In the place of religion socialists puts humanity. Socialism re-affirms the unity of human life, abolishing the dualism which has lain at the foundation of all the main religions. By this dualism we mean the creation of the profane and the sacred, of matter and spirit, of this world and the “other world,”

All religions have in common  the salvation of suffering humanity. Socialists strive for the very same end, not in a mystical way of praying and fasting,  but in by the social organisation of  work to end material and mental slavery.  We have no magical liturgy or sacrificial ceremonies. We rely upon our scientific and “common sense” way of viewing  the nature of the Universe and mankind to see by what means are necessary to the attain of our objective.

 All our material wealth as well as the riches of our scientific and literary achievements can only be due to the collective work of many and various generations and nationalities and is therefore the collective product of all. Great inventions and discoveries, nominally ascribed  famous individuals but they are in fact the product of society of accumulated means, ideas and aspirations. They would not achieved what they have without their predecessors.

The main threat in the sphere of religion does not come from those who possess vague beliefs in  “something” but from churches organised on the basis of dogmatic theology. Individuals are defined as Catholics and Protestants, Christians and Moslems, quite irrespective of their real beliefs. They are bound to let it be supposed that they give their adhesion to such doctrines  which they have not given an hour’s thought in their lives, or which they may actually despise in their hearts. Socialism attempts to break through these shams.

 Will you fight for your masters' religion which teaches you to obey them even when they tell you to kill one another? Why don't you junk your masters' religion, his culture and his customs that all reduce a man to a brute?

 By sanctifying the abominations of the capitalist system with the holy water of religion, and by indoctrinating their flock with the spectre of eternal punishment in the world to come, the Churches serve the class enemy. The socialist revolution will do away with religion by abolishing its effective causes. Today, gods and capitalists stand together. Tomorrow, gods and capitalists will fall together.

We will now close this week’s sermon with A Worker’s Prayer:
If in this wide-spreading universe, there be a Great God of Justice, hear me!
Stiffen my watery spine: harden and straighten my loose and foolish mouth; put fire into my dull eyes.
Even the beasts of the field, even the despised mule hitched to the plow, struggles that their life may be better.
Redden my blood with the courage of man. Help me despise my own image in the mirror if willingly I clutter up the path of progress with my stupid meekness.
Unstop my ears to hear. Open my eyes to see the glorious earth that can be made by One Big Union, the abundance for all that can replace the private plunder of a few.
The sum of my prayer is: Give me sense enough to want plenty, and grit enough to go after it, for myself, my children, my wife, my fellow workers. Open the windows of my brain to the glory of it.
A Blind Worker

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