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Joseph Kaminski

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June 27, 2017

Religion’s God Complex


Edit: Every religion has its extremists, people who take their religion either too far or continuously bash it into others. Examples would be ISIS or the Westboro Baptist Church.

This article was written with two things in mind: those extremist religious members who carry on their religious actions without thought and the current stance of many American Christian Conservatives who completely go against anything that even questions their faith. I, for the most part, am not against religion at all. I am definitely against the extremist sectors of religious thought. Of course, in an article like this, it is easy to generalize an entire population or subculture of people. Consider this towards those who take religion too far, as they themselves are an outlier within the communities of faith.

Another point mentioned here that was not really expanded upon would be the conditions of atheism, as well. Those who claim to be atheist, again — on an extremist level, not necessarily a generalized forms of the population — will oftentimes bash religion left and right, refusing to accept claims or beliefs that go against theirs.

Take this post as something not against religion entirely, but as something against those who refuse to accept or come to terms with anything that goes against their faith, whatever it may be.

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed.

A person with the undiagnosable disorder of god complex refuses to admit the possibility of any error or failure, even in the face of irrefutable evidence. Highly dogmatic in their views, the one suffering with god complex will speak of their personal opinions, regardless of proof or foundation, as if they were universal law. In short, the person could never possibly be wrong in their own eyes. They show no regard for the basic demands of society in any way, requesting special consideration and considering themselves a part of some illegitimate privilege. They, in some way, believe that they are, in short, divine in their intellectual standpoints.

We all have the god complex in some way, shape, or form. Now, human nature dictates egotistical behavior in all of us — we tend to be self-centered, or at least consider ourselves, in most occasions. Of course, this is a generalization. Most people, when asked, would claim to be more generous than the average person. This, statistically, could never be correct. Most people can’t be more generous than the average person. This brings us, as a society, to one of the faults in our society. We have millions of questions, yet we have no definitive answers.

animism

The word animism comes from the Latin word “anima”, which means “breath” and “soul”. It is the spiritual belief and understanding that there is a spirit, a life, in everything, both animate.

But throughout our history, we’ve desired definitive answers. We’ve desired having everything intellectually handed to us, evolving from the philosophical spectrum of Ancient Greece to the modern day expansions of science. We’ve had somewhat of a black hole inside of us, as a species. One that sucks in the world around it and, in a rather confused state, attempts to make sense of it all. We desire the details of a broad picture: the beautiful portrait of life that fades right before our very eyes. Hence the desire to have something — anything, no matter how contradicting or confusing — to explain it all to us. To fill in the gaps and spaces in between our universal limited knowledge.

The first stage of any society, including our own, is one of theology. In this Theological Stage, primitive people go through sub-stages of belief, allowing their thoughts to process. The first of these sub-stages is known asfetishism, according to Auguste Comte’s Law of Three Stages presented in his work The Course in Positive Philosophy. Fetishism, in short, was the first attempt at understanding the world around us. Throughout this sub-stage, society believed that inanimate objects — especially those that they needed to survive or desired out of greed — had living “spirits” inside of them. This is known as animism, the view or perspective that spiritual essence exists within everything. People worshiped inanimate objects like trees in order to explain the world they lived in. Food grew best when sunlight was plentiful, so the sun must be good. Families survived when animals were plentiful, so the animal must be good. For example, we see the indigenous people of North America using every part of animals they hunted — such as the buffalo — because they felt thankful that the animal existed so they could prosper. Of course, as history moved forward, we would see less of this form of thinking.

religious symbols

1st Row: Christian Cross, Jewish Star of David, Taoist Taijitu 2nd Row: Islamic Star and crescent, Buddhist Wheel of Dharma, Shinto Torii 3rd Row: Sikh Khanda, Bahá’í star, Jain Swastika

Look at religion today: a standoff between different cultures across the globe on what exactly could possibly be right. We have dominant religions gripping tightly on separate regions, and none of them tend to agree with each other on the foundations of life despite sharing the core foundations of monotheism (and in some cases polytheism). Oftentimes, religious differences cause incredible tensions between countries. As evidence, we’ve seen religious wars, such as the Crusades, throughout our recorded history. These religions were formed in an attempt to create answers for questions we as a society had, collectively. What is life?, what are good morals?, why does everything exist the way it does?The second and third sub-stages of this primitive form of philosophy is the creation of religion itself. Trees were great, but why did the trees exist? The sun was great, but why did the sun exist? The animals were great, but why did they exist? Our minds and intellectual capacities expanded, bringing further questions into a world that still lacked answers. The idea that all natural forces had to be controlled by different Gods formulated. Thus polytheism, the belief in multiple deities assembling together to create the world around us, eventually sprouted from fetishism and animism. Eventually, our thought process expanded again. The collection of trees, the sun, and all the animals were great, but how did they come to be in the universe everything was settled in? What was life, exactly? How did everything come together to create a so-called harmonious way of life? Society formulated monotheism, the belief that everything — including the very existence of the universe, or what very primitive world we understood — could be attributed to one supreme deity. One God.

World map with religious influence

This shows every country’s majority religion. Click to expand, it’s a huge image that had to be compressed to fit on this site.

Now, that’s fine and all. A lot of you are probably wondering how exactly any of what you just read ties in with the aforementioned god complex. How could wanting answers to questions be considered egotistical? How could religion, oftentimes a culture created as a way to promote selflessness and “unity”, symbolize something as self-centered as the god complex? One of the main pillars of our society’s morals and judgements, religion that is, creates a vacuum of knowledge. Society, as shown in the wonderful map above, has — for the most part — accepted religion, no matter which one, as the answer for many of our philosophical questions. Many have stopped questioning everything from basic logic to new ideas because they’ve accepted religion as proper. And when presented with evidence that might go against that, such as the later stages of society present in the Metaphysical and Positive? Many refute it, citing their own religion as the proper law or way of life. We replace the philosophical drive inside us with ignorance, refusing to accept even the slightest bit of questioning against what we believe in. Nothing could possibly change our mindsets on religion, as an overall society.

We once questioned the world around us. We’d use limited, innate intelligence, taking initiative to accept information and create inspiration. Our intellectual process of exploring the world around us led us to the institution of religion. However, our own ignorance has created the very opposite. We’ve incapacitated our pursuit to understand the world by undermining anything that goes against our way of current thinking. It’s lasted for centuries, going on thousands of years. Sure, we’ve seen many intellectual revolutions throughout history as well. The Enlightenment brought new ways of thinking, a flaming torch in the dark days of religious conformity. However, we’ve failed to necessarily reach the next level since. The French Revolution brought us to a point where we questioned the ways of government, but fell short in revolutionizing our religious way of thought after Robespierre attempted de-christianization. The Industrial Revolution managed to upgrade our ways of life in business, consumerism, and political ideology, yet our faith remained an important part of lifestyle. The modern day “Atheist Revolution” against the theological way of thought is failing to dent the mindsets of many radicals, including the Christian Conservative base of American politics.

atheist cartoonWe’ve created a new sense of the god complex, a rather ironic one, that we couldn’t possibly be wrong in the sense of religion. How could your religion bewrong? How could anyone else, whether they be apart of a religion other than yours or against the concept of religion all together, possibly be right? They have to be wrong, and you have to be right! This is true for those against religion, as well. Atheists tend to have a smug sense of self-importance, and if you go to any of the popular atheist social media accounts you’ll see nothing more than anti-religious posts that, at many points, become nothing more than intellectual slander themselves. It’s pure bias, honestly. Egotistical bias. One will never acknowledge the rights or ideas of the other side in this endless religious debate. Each side will always promote a style of propaganda against the others in attempt to boost their own credibility, even if their own side lacks it.

We’ve created a god complex that boosts the ego of everyone — from Christians to Muslims to Hindus to Buddhists to Atheists — while refuting any idea, proposal, or belief coming from the other sides. Even when religions share an idea, we let religion spin differences that don’t exist, oftentimes relying on other sectors of culture to poke at. We even see infighting between these religious standings. The dominant institutions of religion don’t agree with themselves! In Christianity, we see the historical differences between Protestantism and Catholicism, especially in English History. In Islam, we see the historical differences between Sunnis and Shias. Our society’s religions have individually created a form of “I’m right, and you’re wrong!” in almost every aspect of their existence.

What happened to questioning everything around us? What happened to the philosophical drive that our primitive society held dearly, questioning why things happen and why we exist? Long gone are the days of Socrates and Aristotle, those early thinkers who attempted to discover the world around them. Long gone are the days of Nietzsche and Voltaire, the philosophers of the religious ages. We’re living in an age without philosophy — because why would we question the world around us when we’re too stubborn to expand our knowledge? Why would we question the meaning of life when 3,000 year old desert books explain it for us? Why question what we’ve determined to be the unquestionable, despite the scientific advancements we’ve managed to make since then?

Because of our religious god complex, that’s why.

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