Monday, 4 May 2020

Covidiots - Covid-19 Problems for Theists.

The Covid-19 pandemic currently devastating economies and killing people by the tens of thousands is a major problem for religions, especially the Abrahamic religions who believe everything is created by a god who personally supervises and controls events, making things happen, or not happen, according to its will and plan.

For example:
  1. The question of how the virus arose. All the Abrahamic religions hold that there is a single creator god who alone is responsible for its creation. The entire intelligent (sic) design industry, popular with both Christian and Islamic fundamentalists, and probably with the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects, depends on the belief that everything is intelligently designed by an omniscient, omnipotent creator - who just happens to be similar in all respects to 'the one true God'.

    This god, so it is assumed, knows exactly what its creations will do. They will do precisely what it designed them to do, nothing more and nothing less, hence it deigned the Covid-19 virus to behave in exactly the way it is behaving - killing indiscriminately the believers and non-believers alike, and differentially selecting the elderly and sick to kill.

    The problem for these fundamentalists is that by any measure, this portrays their supposedly loving creator as a malevolent, anthropophilic, genocidal psychopath, and leaves the detested scientific explanation - mindless, unplanned and amoral evolution - as the only explanation that doesn't present their god in such an appalling light.
  2. The lockdown and social-distancing measure most governments have had to adopt to slow the spread of the virus and avoid overwhelming health services, has normally included a prohibition on gatherings of more than a few people, including church services, resulting in a near hysterical response from church leaders terrified of the loss of income this might include. So, we have seen several churches begging people to continue to send them money, and a few encouraging people to defy the lock-downs and come to church anyway, regardless of the dangers to themselves, their families or to the wider society. This has highlighted the fact that these church leaders are willing to put income above the lives of their followers and see their followers as disposable assets, there to be fleeced and exploited for money, in stark contrast to how their founders instructed them to behave.
  3. Church leaders have often seen a get-rich-quick opportunity in the pandemic and are openly exploiting the credulous gullibility of their followers by selling quack cures, claiming to have killed the virus with magic spells, as Kenneth Copeland has twice claimed to have done to date, and generally simultaneously revealing both the naked greed of the leaders and the credulous stupidity of their followers, whom their leaders see as dupes, the way snake-oil peddlers and confidence tricksters see their marks.
  4. Prayers make no difference. Religions emphasise the presumed importance of prayer in keeping the world ticking over - day following night, crops growing, telling God how wonderful he is, so he doesn't hurt us, etc., and yet, with most churches closed, nothing terrible has happened - well apart from the tens of thousands of deaths from Covid-19 of course, but the pandemic preceded the lock-down, so can't be blamed on it, even if you believe that's the kind of thing God would do if you don't praise him enough! It's just like there was no-one there when people gathered together in groups to praise their gods and ask them to change their 'perfect' plan for their better one, or to help them understand right from wrong by telling them something is wrong and asking them to stop it happening, as though they either don't know it's wrong or don't know it's happening.

    Although believers will undoubtedly have been praying for an end to the pandemic and for their friends and family to be safe, there is no evidence this has made the slightest difference to the outcome. Social distancing, self-isolation, face masks and medical science are proving infinitely more effective than casting spells at the god who supposedly inflicted the pandemic on humanity in the first place and designed a virus for that very purpose.
  5. Science, not superstition, is providing the best hope for the short-term care of the sick and for a long-term cure in the form of a vaccine. Not surprisingly, very sick people are going to hospitals, not to churches, mosques and synagogues, to be helped. As always, science and technology are bringing the greatest benefits to mankind while religions do little more than stand on the sidelines waiting to jump in and claim the credit when science has solved the problem. This is reinforcing the growing perception of religion as irrelevant to the lives of most people, hence the near-catastrophic decline in religious affiliation seen across the developed world.
The consequences of the pandemic are likely to be profound for religions, hopefully far greater than the impact the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 when it didn't go unnoticed how the earthquake and following tsunami killed the righteous and unrighteous alike, coming on a religious public holiday and striking when thousands of people were in the churches and cathedrals, destroying a convent with most of the inhabitants, but sparing the red-light district and the many clerics that were enjoying a little 'relaxation' there.

This earthquake in theology led to a reassessment of the then prevalent belief that Earth and its people were watched over by a benevolent god who ensures that everything is for the best in the best possible world that it created perfectly, as is, just a few thousand years ago. This in turn led people to realise that it is natural forces, not supernatural ones, which shape the world, and that what we see today is the result of those natural forces, not the result of a supernatural creation. So began modern science led by, amongst others, the German philosopher, Emmanuel Kant.

The world is now seeing how religion is not only powerless to influence the pandemic and how useless prayer has been, but how clerics are much more interested in satisfying their own greed and avarice with little or no regard to the health and welfare of their congregations and how an essential component of religious devotion is gullibility of the most extreme kind where people can be fooled into putting their own lives and the lives of their friends and families at risk at the behest of unscrupulous clerics with an eye for the main chance, provided they quote the Bible and invoke god-magic.

Religion is turning out to be one of the most dangerous of human cultural phenomena and something we would all be much better off without.

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