Vol. 20 No. 3 - Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. -
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Delusional Madness, True Believers, Reptilian Brains and Fatuous Apes
By Norman B. LeClair
Whether we like it or not, whether we approve of it or not, we have been consigned, through no fault of our own, to spend our life in the world of reality. The dictionary tells us that "reality is neither derivative nor dependent," reality is simply that which exists. It's the given, the actual, the undistorted, the true. Moreover, there is only reality, only nature. There is no such thing as a super nature, no such realm, no such domain, no such pale as the supernatural.
The unreal, the mythical, the fabled, the chimerical exist only in our very fertile, often overactive, imaginations. They are the by-products of our hopes and fears, a way of ameliorating the cold, hard uncertainties of a short and burdensome existence. They are our rejection of things as they are, our musings of how things could have been, should have been, if only we had had the power and the opportunity to fashion a world more to our liking. A world free of pain and suffering, free of disease and death, free of loss and despair and all the other adversities which reality imposes on every life form, but especially on that hapless and hopeless creature we have labeled Homo Sapien. So here we are, stuck in the world of reality, for the plain and simple fact it's the only world we have. There is no other.
Most of us would give a nod of approval to that moving observation made by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860): "If God made the world I could not be that God, for the misery of the world would break my heart." History makes clear that the human race is basically made up of two kinds of people: those who work timelessly to make the world a better and less threatening place, a more livable, harmonious and productive environment in which humankind can not only survive but thrive and flourish; and those hell bent and determined on keeping humanity forever mired in the misery, the degradation and the abject depravity of the Dark Ages.
In every way imaginable, be it emotionally, psychologically, physically or culturally, "true believers" of every persuasion are committed to the continuation and the perpetuation of the ignorance, terror and bloodletting that has been their calling card since the madness of religion first infected the human psyche. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) called religious belief "a cultural neurosis . . . an illusion hovering perilously close to delusional madness." Well, Freud was wrong. Religious belief is not a condition close to delusional madness, it is delusional madness.
Western civilization has been consumed by the grotesque insanity of organized religion for over two thousand years now. A critical reading of history, plus the mind-numbing proliferation of sectarian violence during more recent times, gives irrefutable proof that the mortal enemy of humankind has always been and will continue to be organized unreason.
Religion, by its very nature, is an experience based solely on emotions and feelings and to that extent is totally divorced from reason, common sense, logic and knowledge. Religion has been described as a kind of "burka" of the human mind, a prophylactic against rational thought and critical thinking. Subsequently the "true believer" is unconditionally "opposed to reason, hostile to science, adverse to historical evidence and repulsed by truth." It has been said that "people love truth only as long as it does not conflict with their cherished beliefs. When it does conflict they hate the truth."
To better understand this irresponsible, regressive and pernicious mindset, we perhaps need to turn to the neuroscientists, the brain anatomists and researchers to give us a better assessment as to why the righteous are so addicted and strung-out on this "don't confuse me with facts, my mind's already made up" kind of willful blindness.
According to those who study the brain, ours is not a single functioning organ but actually three separate segments, each with the ability to communicate with the others. The oldest, most primitive and dominant portion is the hypothalamus and the limbic lobe, most often referred to as the "reptilian brain." It's from here that moral feelings, primitive passions and elemental emotions emanate. Sex and hunger, rage and anger, fear and aggression, revenge and retaliation, fight or flight, etc., all reside in the "reptilian brain." Next comes the old mammalian brain, and finally the most recent and largest portion, the cerebral cortex and neocortex. This is the most easily recognized segment because it looks like a giant walnut with its many creases, furrows and corrugations. This is the thinking, reasoning, problem-solving segment of the brain, the part that separates us from the rest of the animal world, the part that make us uniquely human.
In order to perpetuate its fraud, every faith, every church, mosque, temple and synagogue has made reason its number one enemy. No more frightening and revealing a statement has ever been made than that chilling dictum by Martin Luther (1483-1546): "Whoever wants to be a Christian must tear the eyes out of reason." Consequently it should come as no surprise that when the savage gods of the Middle East communicate with people, they speak only through that nonthinking, non-reasoning segment of grey matter known as the "reptilian brain."
The sobering realization that the righteous are ruled by powerful emotions percolating in the reptilian portion of their brain should give us all pause for thought and perhaps help us better appreciate why the carnage wrought by the "true believer" throughout history has always been infused with such blind rage, savagery and passion and why their behavior is always so totally devoid of rational thought and sound judgment.
So here we are stuck in the world of reality with a flood of fundamentalist zealots, a horde of religious dipsomaniacs whose contempt and rejection of reason know no bounds. The very recklessness and fanaticism of their belief systems make them a constant threat and neverending danger to all those on space-ship earth and render them incapable of living and functioning, positively and objectively, in the one and only world we have. "True believers," unfortunately, have shown time and time again that they would rather perish and take humanity with them than ever acknowledge the fact that their terrorist gods are but a figmentation of their own reptilian brains, nothing more than a mirror image of the savage beast within.
But whether the believers of the world like it or not, whether they approve of it or not, their own DNA and the science of genetics give positive proof that they and all of humanity are the result of an ongoing evolutionary process, that the human animal is nothing more than a glorified ape over-burdened with a monstrous ego problem, nothing more than an upgraded version of Homo Paniscus, the Pygmy or Bonobo chimpanzee, nothing more than an arrogant anthropoid who possesses the unmitigated gall and bodacious audacity to create gods in his own image and likeness, nothing more than a supercilious troglodyte who can justify spending every coin in the treasury to delude himself and his cabal of dogmatists into believing that "Christ is risen" that "Elvis lives" and that "Jesus saves."
But on one of those bad-hair days when we're standing naked in front of a full-length mirror, it becomes too difficult to maintain the pretense, all but impossible to convince ourselves that the apparition looking back at us is an incarnation of some supposed super being. The unadulterated spectacle before us suddenly brings it all into perspective and makes us realize that it's all been an elaborate con job, a sad and diabolical joke, and that we, much to our chagrin, have been the butt of that sinister joke. In spite of all the hype, hysteria and hullabaloo, all the self-deception and delusional madness, it is now made perfectly clear that in that fanciful hierarchy of apes, angels, gods and extra-terrestrials, we are closer to our fellow primates than we could ever have imagined.
After two thousand years of holy hyperbole, holy books, holy ghosts, holy virgins, holy wars and the endless lies of countless holy men, the truth of the matter is that it's all been a sham, a hoax, nothing but a blivit of pure hokum, of cant, cant and still more cant, and that we pretty much remain what we have always been . . . nothing more than the fatally flawed, reasoning-impaired, fatuous ape with the mirror.
Norman B. LeClair, a Life Member in Florida, is retired from the military. As an artist he has created many "thinking pieces" (see photos at left of one recently donated to the Freedom From Religion Foundation).
April 2003 Excerpts