In the beginning was one rule: “Do not partake of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.” We lived happily and peacefully in the Garden of Eden despite this restriction. But what a strange commandment — why can we not eat the apple? Adam and Eve were soon tempted by Satan with the offer to “be like God,” and they ate. After they were discovered, Adam immediately blamed Eve and God Himself for his disobedience: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” Eve said famously, “The devil made me do it.” No doubt they really believed their rationalizations. Like children caught red-handed, they sought any excuse to escape responsibility for their misbehavior. Man is a master justifier and his self-deception knows no bounds. As punishment for their disobedience, they were banished from the Garden of Eden where they once lived so happily and were condemned to mortality and a life of toil and suffering — all for the seemingly innocent sin of eating an apple. How they must have hated God. How they must have dreamed to be like him, to be happy and content and stroll the garden in peace and freedom. And to live forever. Nevertheless they lived long and fruitful lives. “From dust you are and to dust you shall return.”
Subsequent generations pursued the dream, in many and varied ways. Our antediluvian ancestors attempted to achieve it through wickedness, which again angered God. So God decided to destroy the world and start fresh, save one man, Noah, in whom he saw righteousness among the wicked. After the flood, Noah’s offspring became very successful. Perhaps too successful? They lived peacefully and started to build a tower. One fine day God was walking by and said: “Behold, the people are one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” He sowed confusion in their midst and dispersed them over the earth with different cultures and languages. They abandoned, at least temporarily, the dream of the tower and direct contact with God. The world descended into wars and chaos for thousands of years, and great civilizations rose and fell. Oppression, slavery, massacres, disease, epidemics, and misery were the rule. A few lived in comfort and luxury using trickery and deception to exploit their subjects and render them powerless. Not until the founding of America did the world experience freedom and equality on a large scale.
The people of Israel suffered many calamities on their own millenias-long journey to the Promised Land. Lacking direction they continuously returned to dissolution. Famously on their exodus from Egypt, they celebrated a golden calf and engaged in other licentious behavior. “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil,” Aaron apologized to Moses. In response, God issued the 10 Commandments. The list of ‘Thou shalt nots’ is long and onerous, but the Hebrews considered this a gift: “We thank God who sanctified us with his commandments.”
The rules have stood the test of time. But what a strange First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.” Why can’t they worship other gods and what does this have to do with moral behavior? Regardless, the Israelites were required to teach the new rules to their children — obviously the rules were not obvious.
Subsequent Judeo-Christian civilizations repeatedly fell victim to their own mischief, usually the result of various schemes to pay their way out of ‘sin’. Jesus and Martin Luther both rejected the commodification of penance, reminding man of his obedience to God alone. Communism shows the danger when government becomes god, and it was destroyed by brave people who risked life and freedom. The remaining bastions of communism will probably soon crumble.
Now the world is connected again and language barriers have been surmounted through education and technology (without even the need for Esperanto — of which George Soros is one of the few extant native speakers). Most people live in peace and freedom. We have learned how to cure diseases and to detect and prevent the major natural catastrophes that plagued our ancestors. We explained some of the deepest mysteries of the world and solved most of our biggest problems. Technology and science promise the invention of things undreamt of in the ancient philosophies. Some forms of eternal life seem technically possible, and the mechanical life we can create becomes less ‘artificial’ every day (we’ve even started to worry about how to prevent dangerous ‘malfunctions’). It does seem that finally nothing we can imagine will be withheld from us. We can live like God — some say God is dead. After all, we figured out everything ourselves. We discovered scientific principles and built cars, computers and hospitals. There is no longer a need for a ‘god’ to seek comfort and direction from. In fact, most of these ancient beliefs have been long since discredited, and we resent the people who tell us to observe them. At long last, we liberated ourselves from extraordinary popular delusions and mass insanity.
The God of our past is completely silent. Religion is nothing more than belief in ineffective, discredited gods who cause nothing but strife and grief. In fact, most of the remaining problems in this world are just remnants of our ignorant, blind, superstitious, and religious past.
Islamic extremism is the perfect example. The Prophet Muhammed discovered that the ancient Judeo Christian warning against self-deception is just a ruse – man is always conscious of his sin and the claim otherwise is simply a lie. In the Koranic version of the Bible story, Adam and Eve are immediately aware of their disobedience and beg God for forgiveness: “We have wronged our own souls: If thou forgive us not and bestow not upon us Thy Mercy, we shall certainly be lost.” The pious Muslim faith eschews mischief, lies, and trickery. Alcohol is forbidden because it is a proven cause of crime and violence, and is permitted only for those who have demonstrated true mastery of Koranic theology. These are all certainly good things, and if they forget then they are called to prayer 5 times a day to help them remember. However, extremist factions misinterpret the teaching and take them too literally, and mistakenly want to impose a caliphate to ensure piety throughout the land, believing they are correcting the defective and corrupt morality spread by the Christians and Jews. They defend recruitment tactics advertising sex, drugs, mischief and violence as necessary means to a noble end. So too is their threat that failure to cooperate will result in certain death. These extremists use their religion to rid the world of the very self-deceptions that motivate them.
But for the rest of us, in the civilized world, science is now our god. It ensures progress and enlightenment and will solve all our problems. We somehow figured out all the rules ourselves, and in fact we now despise the gods of our ancestors who seemed only to want us to fight each other, or to punish and spoil our fun. We now hate god and religion, the source of endless strife, and we despise those who still believe in old fashioned precepts that belong in the dust heap of history. We require that Evolution be taught as ‘established scientific fact’ to children who would otherwise be corrupted by religious superstitions. Anyone who speaks of ‘God’ and ‘Satan’ can be easily dismissed and ignored. They don’t understand science and human nature and in fact are a threat to our peace, security and progress. Global warming is another good example of how religion can ruin the world.
Of course, we must be careful. After all, Hitler killed millions based on ‘science’ and ‘progress’. Though correct in his assumption that god was dead, he mistakenly assumed that he was god. He used the Christian churches in his country to promote this doctrine with the help of Frank Buchman the American founder of the Oxford Group. Many people believed it, each for their own reasons. Perhaps man is still vulnerable to the forces of fear, laziness and self deception. Of course, we must remain vigilant against the claims of those who try to commit atrocities in the name of ‘science’ and ‘enlightenment’. But we need not worry too much because surely there are people who will speak out against it when it happens, and we will heed their warning and understand the error of our ways.
Just as science obviates God, it can also explain morality, replacing obsolete religious principles that seem only to call for stoning and amputations. We know that man is fundamentally good, and will be good as long as he is raised in a loving and peaceful household that eschews racism and sexism and cultivates his or her self-esteem. We now know that bad behavior results from bad upbringing and childhood abuse and trauma, and of course, destructive religious indoctrination and other scare tactics. We can now rise above that.
Of course, bad things still can happen to good people. For example, if a child comes from a good family and was not abused or criticized, then any mischief or crimes he commits must be the result of ‘mental illness’. If they overdose on pills then they must have an ‘addiction’. As for behavior problems, we can handle excessive displays of aggression and self embarrassment with patient, loving, and rational discourse. For example: we can write up a contract with the child and promise ‘consequences’ for misbehavior. Children are rational and inherently want to behave and please their parents — like natural born Muslims. But they come with a ‘blank slate’, so deviations from good behavior are simply mistakes resulting from the child’s natural ignorance. Children are not ‘bad’ in their heart! Lack of immediate success with discipline can be addressed by trying harder to reason with them (avoid expressions of anger and disappointment at all costs!), and if still ineffective we can diagnose the behavior as ADHD or compulsive disorders or ‘autism’ and treat it with therapy and pharmaceuticals. (Psychiatric drug sales in the US are by far the largest and most lucrative market of all drug categories.) If these interventions fail, and our child becomes a high school mass shooter, then we can start a mental health foundation that encourages people to ‘do more’ to educate society on the early warning signs of mental illness and promote early intervention, gun control and mental health parity, and even impose compulsory institutionalization and enforced pharmaceutical compliance for anyone suspected of entertaining destructive thoughts — the experts assure us these measures will prevent future tragedies.
We can also use our newly discovered scientific principles about morality to explain apparently ‘evil’ behaviors. For example, the killer of Chris Kyle (subject of the movie American Sniper) suffered from PTSD as a result of his tours in Iraq and Haiti where he had to witness dead bodies. He later shot Kyle and his friend to death and stole Kyle’s truck (“I traded my soul for a new truck,” he told his sister) but because he was raised in a loving family and his mother was a good person who never got angry at him when he misbehaved (and he had a long history of mischief and aggression) then he must have had a ‘mental illness’ and there would have been no point in punishing him for his mischief because he could not control it — he had an impulse control disorder as well. We must do more to recognize and treat mental illness before these tragedies occur.
Science also explains the addictive disorders. For example, Audrey Kishline started drinking at age 12 because she was jealous of her father’s attention toward other girls. Drinking made her feel ‘in control’ and ‘secure’ and ‘powerful’ — how she loved the escape to paradise. However, her drinking quickly progressed to full blown ‘alcoholism’. Nevertheless, she believed that despite her disease and the lack of support and understanding about the disease from her parents, she could nevertheless learn to drink normally. So she founded the group Moderation Management, which has helped thousands of people learn that they can control their drinking, assuming they are not a ‘real’ alcoholic. However, unfortunately she was a true alcoholic after all, and so returned to AA. As proof of her disease, she drove drunk on the highway (to visit her father who was at this point still maddeningly refusing to acknowledge her disease), going the wrong way for 30 minutes, running cars off the road (then stopping on the shoulder and re-entering the highway) and running more cars off the road until she finally was stopped by the grace of the god(s) of her understanding and the bodies of a father and daughter who helped soften the blow of her widely reported ‘accident’ which was caused by an ‘alcoholic blackout’. She was sentenced to 3 years in prison for their deaths, but more importantly she helped show still struggling alcoholics that the only effective treatment for real alcoholism requires complete abstinence — perhaps Islam gets that right. Of course, religious nuts might call her a ‘homicidal maniac’. But now we can understand such behavior as a medical condition: ‘alcohol dependence’.
Addiction is a major problem and in fact millions of people are dying of it. They need more and more drugs just to get by during the day, and they are completely unaware of the severity of their problem, just like Kishline was until her accident. They are in total denial, and the mischief and crimes that result either from the need for money to get the drugs to satisfy their cravings or from the impaired judgement while high, are just unintended consequences. (Indeed, drug addiction is self-deception on a monumental scale.) Then one day some of them accidentally take too much and either commit a crime or overdose and die — this is the real tragedy of ‘drug addiction’. Fortunately science is identifying the specific brain reward pathways that are corrupted by the ‘addictive disorders’ and scientists create treatments to address them. In the mean time, we must continue to understand the mischief and devastation caused by ‘addiction’ as a health problem and send people to treatment such as AA (or MM, which is more ‘science based’). In fact, we now have ‘drug courts’ that instead of punishing people for the petty crimes caused by addiction, like stealing their neighbor’s jewelry to sell for crack, they are diverted to treatment where they learn that they have a disease that they are in denial of, so the crimes and overdoses resulting from their drug use are not their fault, and so they must abstain from all substances lest they be returned to jail. (This system of justice is being studied by more moderate Islamic factions as a model for the Caliphate.) They must learn to overcome their denial of their disease. This is in fact the start of treatment.
The First Step of Alcoholics Anonymous: “We are powerless to alcohol/drugs and our life has become unmanageable.” If you cannot accept this principle then your life will continue to spin out of control and you will continue to commit crimes and try to kill yourself. The well known fate of the alcoholic is “Jails, institutions, and death”. (Just go to your local AA meeting and see for yourself.) Of course, olde-time religious preachers will tell addicts that they are just trouble makers trying to kill innocent people and themselves but they are of course extremely ignorant, arrogant and bitter, and probably insane too. (Such traits will ultimately kill them as they surely would the addicts, so these moralists can be safely ignored.)
Once the addict frees himself from the self-deception that his crimes and suicide attempts were just ‘moral weakness’, and realizes that they are in fact the symptoms of a medical disease or disorder that is better understood by science every day, he can start to recover. Of course, ‘relapse’ is expected about 7 times, so continued drunken mischief is not unexpected — in fact he generally won’t discover ‘sobriety’ until middle age. (Of course some never live that long — they were ‘constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves’, and their self-deception increments the mortality that stands as proof of this disease.) AA teaches a new generation of children that they too may also experience a lifetime of mischief and crimes while inebriated, and if they disagree then of course the fellowship will help them understand that their arrogance and ignorance will surely kill them, as it almost did the members, who are happy to regale you with the salacious details at their weekly meetings.
The solution to addiction is of course to pray to the god of your understanding. AA is spiritual, not religious — any god will do. In fact, your god can even be Satan, if that’s what helps you stop drinking. We are not beholden to the angry, jealous gods of the past who only ever seemed to cause trouble and induce feelings of shame and guilt. Of course, if you don’t believe in any gods (and who does these days?) that’s fine too. You can use the fellowship as your higher power: Lord knows this ‘Group of Drunks’ knows a thing or two about how to stay sober. Then just pray to your chosen god(s) to remove the ‘character defects’ that cause the ‘resentments’ that power your ‘cravings’. Then you will experience ‘peace and serenity’ for the first time in your life. It takes some effort – don’t leave 5 minutes before the miracle happens! And of course, always do what your sponsor tells you. If you are abused or exploited in the group, then take a minute to find your part in it. We learned that nothing bad can happen to us that we didn’t set in motion by our own beliefs and behaviors. (Except of course for our addiction.)
And don’t worry about the “First Commandment”. That’s just religious mumbo jumbo. You can have any god, that’s totally fine! Those religions were just developed by a bunch of bitter old men who wanted you to suffer and never have any fun. In fact, science has proven that spirituality of any sort is helpful in recovery for all sorts of medical conditions. And remember, many alcoholics almost died from their disease. But AA has saved the lives of millions. Maybe your life will be saved too! Like all religions, AA gives people comfort in their time of need. What could possibly be wrong with that?
AA doctrine also requires that the members carry the message to nonbelievers — they must either believe that alcoholism is a real disease, or they will surely die. And if they still don’t believe it, then just wait until their family is killed by a drunk driver going the wrong way on the highway. That’s certain to change their tune. This lesson is taught in schools and churches and in TV shows and movies. If you are interviewed for the news, you must say that you were going to die and that you had many friends who died from drug addiction. (Don’t worry, they won’t ask for names. And you can still use again — remember you have a disease, so just call it a ‘relapse’ if anyone sees you.) Always refer to the Fellowship with pious reverence.
Of course, some will claim that the 12 Step cults create a huge and dependent underclass that can be easily abused and exploited for fun and profit under threat of certain death. This is of course just evidence of exactly the defective and insane thinking that AA endeavors to correct, as evidenced by the millions of deaths of people who had arrived at AA too late and died before they could be saved. We really need to get people in sooner — early intervention is key.
Don’t be put off by the religious component — there’s a scientific explanation for all of this. The Big Book suggests that alcoholism is caused by an allergic craving. It turns out, this might not be too far from the truth. A Thomas McLellan, renowned addictions scientist and acclaimed AA Higher Power has discovered that the disease is mediated by an immunological response in the brain! He is working feverishly to discover the cure, as one of his sons already died of addiction and the other is on life support at Betty Ford, where they learn that communing with your Higher Power is precisely the kind of therapy that suppresses the autoimmune inflammation in the mesolimbic striatal neocortex implicated in these pathoses.
Science will ultimately solve the problem of drug addiction and the sorrow and mischief that it causes. As for religion, it is no more relevant today than medieval humorism, which taught that health was produced by the proper balance of the body’s four humors: blood, bile, saliva, and phlegm. Today science teaches us that proper mental health is maintained by the correct balance of our brain chemicals: seratonin, dopamine, acetyl choline and naturally occurring opiates. The proper balance can be restored through spiritual practices taught via 12 Step doctrine, and psychiatry can also usually restore health through pharmaceutical interventions. By restoring healthy brains, such interventions will prevent the crimes and mischief that resulted from cravings for drugs and alcohol, and the impaired judgment from the use of drugs that resulted from uncontrollable cravings that make people take every drug and drink every bottle in the house and overdose when they least expect it. Even the crimes of the mass shooters could be prevented if only they had more care, since most were already under such care and on medication at the time of their crimes. Obviously we still have work to do. But don’t worry we’ll get it right!
So let us say a little prayer to science as we administer these drugs to our children, that they will soon be able to distinguish right from wrong. Of course, we learned such moral distinctions during the Sunday school classes we hated, and to which we vowed never to subject our children. Now kids learn the 10 Commandments in a more fun way — from horror movies and Law and Order SVU reruns. And if our children become powerless to meth and smack and get lost in the horrible underworld of petty crime and anonymous sex, they can say a little prayer to the god(s) of their own (admittedly imperfect) understanding (even Science), secure in the knowledge they can eventually reattain health and serenity when they are ready to confess to the addiction that nearly killed them many times, and choose a god to save their soul.
So we lay our children on the altar of ‘scientific consensus’, with the hope of curing them of the brain diseases that will surely kill them and others. The resulting deaths only heighten the need for ‘science based’ treatments. We spared our children from the corrupting oppression of religious strictures and forbid them only to partake of drugs, lest they descend into the dangerous addictions that lead only to mischief and misery — lying, stealing, and even killing themselves and others — without even the influence of extremist religious dogma (though its gods have proven useful in their eventual treatment). However inevitably some will disobey, giving in to the temptation to feel good, powerful… even immortal… and then fall victim to the dreaded disease. The experts help us understand what seems like the hardest part: the apparent loss of love for us — we who once were like gods to them and loved them and gave them everything they wanted and needed. Forsaken by our own creations, should not our love and forbearance of their misbehavior have been enough for them to live happily and peacefully, and to know from Good and Evil?