Professor Richard Dawkins in his 2006 TV Documentary ‘The Root of All Evil’ came to the conclusion that ‘The time has come for people of reason to say: enough is enough. Religious faith discourages independent thought, it’s divisive, and it’s dangerous.’ Dawkins explained that in The Bible we have passages in The old Testament, (which he describes as the root of Judaism, Christianity and Islam) that preach violence and murder. As example he points to Deuteronomy 13 which instructs believers to kill any friend or family member who favours serving other gods, and Numbers 31 where Moses, angered at the mercy his victorious forces show in taking women and children captive, instructs them to kill all virgin girls, who are to be taken as slaves. This is a clear instruction to commit genocide and it is there for all to see in The Bible.
RICHARD DAWKINS DEBATES DARWINISN-v-RELIGION
Dawkins also points out that there is a certain problem with the teachings of Paul in the New Testament which, at first, he describes as being a huge improvement from the moral viewpoint. But he is repelled by what he calls St Paul’s nasty sadomasochistic doctrine that Jesus had to be hideously tortured and killed so that we might be redeemed – the doctrine of atonement for original sin– and asks “if God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them? Who is God trying to impress?’ I must admit to being with Dawkins on that one, I mean I am not at all in favour of anyone being responsible for my sins and take exception to the idea that someone had to undergo public mutilation and death because I may have been a very naughty boy.
One point that Dawkins makes in the documentary is that religious beliefs can actually create evil by adherents to a strict doctrine being given what amounts to instructions to commit atrocities. He says: ‘The god of the Old Testament has got to be the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it, petty, vindictive, unjust, unforgiving, racist, an ethnic-cleanser urging his people on to acts of genocide.’
The question I want to address, as a Spiritualist, in this brief essay is this: Is religion really the root of all evil or is some other force more, or even partly responsible for the wickedness that clearly does exist in this world.
Exploitation of the masses by a powerful elite is, in my opinion, evil. By exploitation I mean the virtual slavery that is imposed upon the textile workers in China, who hand sew and stitch garments for major multi-national corporations that pay them an absolute pittance and hold them in near captivity. Many household name products with high priced designer labels are created in sweat shops run by gang-masters in the teeming back street factories of Beijing. There is of course nothing new in the exploitation of textile workers. In 1843 the poet Thomas Hood wrote ‘The Song of The Shirt’ here are the first two verses:
With fingers weary and worn / With eyelids heavy and red / A woman is sat in unwomanly rags / plying her needle and thread / Stitch! Stitch! Stitch! / In poverty hunger and dirt / And still with a voice of dolorous pitch / She sang the ‘Song of the Shirt’…..Work! Work! Work! / While the cock is growing aloof! / And work work work / Till the stars shine through the roof / It’s Oh! To be a slave / Along with the barbarous Turk / Where woman has never a soul to save / If this is Christain work!
Charles Dickens wrote books about the virtual slavery of the impoverished factory workers of the early Victorian Industrial Revolution. What he saw then, described in books like ‘Hard Times’ and ‘Oliver Twist’ we can still see today if we care to look in the broken back alleys of Beijing and Mumbai. But of course we do not look do we? We really do not, we just buy the designer label clothing and turn a blind eye to where it came from. It comes, very often, from the suffering of the poor exploited Chinese and Indian people who can not stand up and demand a fair days pay for a fair days work. Why is this so? Profit is the answer and that profit is expressed as money.
The days of Britain being the factory of the Western world are long gone. Have a look around your nearest city and try to find a factory that is manufacturing anything, I really mean anything and I believe that apart from a very few specialised products, such as nuclear precision engineering and a few, relatively few, cars you will find next to nothing. Why? Because the cost of employing one UK worker is around ten times more expensive than employing an equally able Chinese worker in China. So our people, the generations aged between 16 years and forty years, have virtually nowhere to work and, unless they are well educated will not find reasonable paid employment outside a burger bar. Virtually all our ‘White Goods’ that is washing machines, cookers, dishwashers, microwaves etc. come from what we currently term the Third World. All we do is buy them and use them. What you may well ask do we buy them with? We buy these goods with credit cards, loans etc. and the money that we pay in interest is profit to banks, the corporations and the elite that control these massive multi-national institutions. We have been doing this for many years, selling our virtual souls to the system and now the game is up, the time has come for the corporations to call in the cash and as most people can not pay, having no real jobs anymore, they are losing their property, their possessions and becoming seriously indebted. That is, in my opinion, evil.
The root of evil is, I feel, the pseudo capitalism that takes everything from the people and gives them back the modern day equivalent of bangles and beads to play with. I refer to things like the X-Box, the Sky-TV channels of rubbish like fake reality game shows and asinine imitation celebrities confusing the public with nonsensical bilge about who is dating who and divorcing etc. etc. Even the BBC TV News is flooded with banal garbage about so called football players and nasty mouthed uneducated foul-minded managers who seem to believe they are important! That is, in my opinion, evil.
The media have been feeding the public utter tosh, misdirecting the minds of people who really should know better. They are doing this, in my opinion, to sooth the pain, to sugar the bitter pill of unemployment and hopelessness that is the real news today. The media, TV, newspapers, magazines, radio etc. are all owned by the big corporations and their outlets report what they are told to report and it has nothing to do with the real news. The real news is that we are very quickly being transformed into mindless Yahoos programmed by the media to believe in a totally false reality. Rather like believing in a god that orders one to commit genocide and following those instructions to the letter, as some do and are still doing. That is, in my opinion, evil.
I say the time has come for Spiritualists and all sentient human beings to wake up and smell the coffee. The root of all evil is, I believe, ignorance. We are currently being programmed to accept ignorant explanations just like our ancestors were brainwashed from birth into believing in a jealous god that controlled the way, the truth and the light. We are being hoodwinked into accepting the reality of a make believe world where football managers are the high priests and ‘A’ list so called celebrities are the saints. As for the god of today, it’s a fifty inch flat screen TV with surround sound and it tells lies. Just like the other gods.
I am John G. Sutton for the time being.