11/08/2015 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carl S ~
Traditions are respected, until they aren't any more. This seems strange at ﬁrst thought, because they are held in such unquestionable esteem, usually for centuries. During their durations, they're even considered as ever-enduring. For thousands of years many gods were worshiped, their existences never questioned, and the powers of their priests and kings were naturally accepted as perpetual truths. Secular did not exist. Slavery was a tradition. So was the public sacriﬁcial slaughter of thousands of animals, and public executions. War still is a tradition, noted in the Book of Ecclesiasticus as perennial, as inevitable as the change of the seasons.
|English: Ganges river at Varanasi in India 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Traditions are not necessarily based on truth, though. For instance, Columbus Day in the U.S. celebrates a man who "discovered America." Though Columbus existed, he never touched the mainland. (What is not celebrated is his concurrent enslavement of the native people he discovered.) Independence Day is an American tradition, but it's supported by evidence; unlike Christmas, which has zilch evidence, and is no more actual than the birth-myths of formerly traditional gods. Then there's the traditional myth of Noah and the Flood. It's still around, despite the fact that it never, ever, happened.
There is no logic in continuing traditions that no longer make sense - unless they are celebrated as fantasy, or for entertainment, festivities, and amusement - all of which requires money, and therefore proﬁts, for whoever promotes them. And we might say that these are the same reasons religions are still with us. Not because any of them have any truths to them.
Religious traditions, with their celebrations requiring bathing in the dirty Ganges River, or of the rock-throwing-away of sins at Mecca, or of church-urged visits to the shrine at Lourdes, etc., etc., follow the same traditions as the worship at and pilgrimages to the shrines of the gods of ancient Egypt, Greece, Assyria, etc. Only the names and places are changed, and sometimes they're built on top of the old places. As destinations, they are akin to Disneyland and Disneyworld in being money-makers, but without the science and rides. Religious celebrations are no more reality-based than Halloween with its caricatured witches and spirits, when God is equivalent to the Great Pumpkin, or April fool’s day.
Just because something is tradition is no reason to respect it or to not insult it. In fact, one of the greatest impediments to any progress is the argument, "We've always done it this way." This way? Well, it’s been proven: Nothing fails like prayer. It doesn't work, but it’s tradition; they've always done it that way, though. (Conﬁrming answers to prayers is like ﬁnding wisdom in weather patterns.) All those long-distance visits to shrines and the time and money spent there, haven't made a dent in eliminating evil, whether natural or man-made. In spite of all their prayers, time, effort, and money spent supporting their houses of worship, worshippers aren't any better, or better off, than non-believers. Anywhere.
There is no logic in continuing traditions that no longer make senseNevertheless, religions are pressing for "respect" for their traditional beliefs, for their "right" to be free from criticism. Some of them go so far as "traditionally" killing those who don't "respect." Let's be honest: those beliefs, such as a man walking on water, a talking snake and ass, a man ﬂoating through the sky in a burning chariot, Mohammed ascending through the clouds on horseback, Jesus and his mother ﬂoating through the clouds out of sight, a dead body brought back to life as a result of a command to "come forward," etc., etc..., are beyond silly and not deserving of a ﬁve year old's respect.
It's just too easy to insult beliefs. If you live in an apartment building, Talmudic Jews and Muslim tenants will be insulted by the aroma of your sizzling morning bacon. If you're a woman, your uncovered hair, cleavage, even dance moves, will insult fundamentalist prudes. And if anyone even implies there's a good possibility that those who wrote their "holy" scriptures were laughing as they did so, at the thought of anyone in their right mind taking them seriously? (Or they might have been drunk/stoned out in those times.) Why, those who support those writings will have your head or reputation for suggesting this!
There are excellent reasons for mocking and questioning the irrational claims of religions, and for not respecting them. We ﬁnd them throughout the centuries, because of the traditions of logical criticism and comedy. If there are any things that insult, have always insulted, religions, it's criticism and evidence to the contrary, a.k.a., truth. So, just by pointing out evidence alone, no one can possibly avoid offending religious sensibilities. On the other hand, nor can one avoid being offended by religious claims to respect for their silly, contrary-to-reality, albeit traditional, beliefs.
No one has the right not to be offended. No religion has rights. Humans have rights; religions have no rights. Mockery, comedy, and blasphemy are traditions which can over time free us from tyranny and the mental enslavement of religious and other claims. So go on, feel free to "insult" any and all religions. Your laughter in doing this is the sound of freedom.