Be a prophet unto your own
Be a Prophet Unto Your Own
By Ali Sina
Today was a sad day for me. I broke up with my girlfriend even though we both loved each other and we both thought we are match made in heaven.
Why I want to talk about my personal life in public? First, because it gets your attention — People like soap operas. Second, because it has to do with religion and I have some questions to ask from you if you are religious. It doesn’t matter what religion or cult you believe, if you are a believer then please read on and answer my questions.
I met this woman a few months ago. It was love at the first sight for both of us. She called and we dated. We soon discovered we are both in love and it did not take us long to speak about marriage. I don’t think I ever met a woman I liked this much.
The other day she mentioned that she practiced A Course in Miracles. I had no idea of this thing and decided to research it. What I found was disturbing. I spent the whole day studying and writing about it. I emailed my 10 page findings to her and invited her to discuss her beliefs with me.
I highlighted many absurdities that I found in the Course and at the end I concluded that the Course in Miracles is indeed a Course in Brainwashing. She took offence and instead of countering my arguments, decided to cut off our relationship. I called again and reminded her of the promise we made to each other to never cut the line of communication and discuss any disagreements that may arise between us. She said that does not apply to her belief and her faith should not be subject of scrutiny. I reminded her of the words of the founder of the Course who wrote, “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.”  and said, if she believed in those words then she should not feel threatened to discuss her beliefs. None of that had any effect on her.
When we said good-bye, I saw the sadness in her eyes. Like me, she was also pained. But her faith was stronger than her love for me. In fact her faith was stronger than anything else including reason and hence she was genuinely unable to get herself rid of the claws of faith even though it hurt her.
Our love became the latest casualty of faith. But sadly we are not the only victims. Parents lose their children to other beliefs who become alienated and even hostile, marriages break down, families are torn asunder, friendships are soured and relationships are destroyed all thanks to beliefs. The question is are these beliefs doing any good or are they causing more harm?
What is the purpose of religion?
The word religion is derived form the Latin “re-ligar”. It means to re unite, to fasten to bring together. Do religions really live up to their name? Do they bring people together? Do they unite people with God?
Let us answer these questions:
Both history and experience prove that religions do not bring people together. Religions are the major cause of disunity and hate amongst people. Religions divide people into “us” vs. “them”. “Us” are the good ones, the chosen ones, the pious ones, and the ones that have found the truth. “Them” are the bad ones, the ones who are ignorant, who reject the Truth and who need our guidance. Most wars were fought in the name of religion. Because faith is a strong feeling, the hate that it engenders is deadly.
The next question is whether religion unites man with God? How can God be pleased if we humans are not united with each other? How can we be closer to God by getting apart from one another? In what ways we can love God if we stop loving our fellow human beings?
Faith and Reason
If religion is from God shouldn’t it be rational? Isn’t reason from God too? If so, why would God send religions that cannot stand the test of reason? If a belief does not stand the test of reason isn’t it proof that it is not from God?
Unfortunately religious people do not think that way. Martin Luther said:
“Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but–more frequently than not –struggles against the Divine Word….” 
“Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight and … know nothing but the word of God.” 
Giving preference to faith over reason is called fideism. Fideism is the belief that if faith and reason conflict, one should take the side of faith.
Martin Luther was not the only fideist. Fideism is in fact the predominant view of all the religionists: among them: Tertullian, al-Ghazali, and Kierkegaard.
Some religions pay lip service to reason. The Baha’i faith for example, states that religion must be in harmony with reason or it is superstition. Very noble teaching indeed! Yet in my debates with Baha’is I have come across people who told me if a manifestation of God says day is night and night is day we should agree with him rather than believe our own eyes. Baha’is believe that Muhammad was a messenger of God. I asked them for proof. They have no other proof than the fact that Baha’u’llah (the prophet of the Baha’is) has said so. The question is that if a manifestation of God says day is night and night is day doesn’t this prove that he is not a manifestation of God but a liar? Why we humans want to submit our reason to someone who tells us such an absurdity? How can religion, if from God, contradict reason that is also from God?
Religion: God’s Game of Hide and Seek.
I would also like to ask the religionists to tell me why we need religion at all? If God wanted to guide mankind why he does not communicate with all of us directly? Why he needs an intermediary? Allegedly God has been sending messengers to guide mankind for ages. But the experience shows that this way of guidance has not worked out. Not everyone can see who is the true messenger and who is the false one? Where are the credentials of these ambassadors of God to man? Since there are no established and universally agreed upon criteria to distinguish between the true messengers and the false ones, many impostors have surfaced, claiming to be messengers of God and misleading many. They take advantage of this loophole and fool many sincere people. Isn’t it time that God realized that there is a flaw in the way he guides humans? If God wanted to guide mankind why he would play hide and seek and puzzles with us? Why he does not come clean and just, as he reveals himself to a few prophets and messengers, he does not reveal himself to everyone? Why he puts us in the middle of this endless maze, with no clue how to find which one of these thousands of self proclaimed prophets show us the right way?
There are tens of thousands of religions and cults, big and small, each claiming to be the true one, each telling us that they have the right path to God, salvation, nirvana or whatever. Which one is the right one? Our lives do not suffice to study them all. Why God plays tricks on us? Why he does not make his religion clear and obvious for everyone to see, so no one can fall prey to the counterfeits and “wolves in sheep clothing”? None of the religions are clear. No one deliberately wants to follow a false religion. The reason they do is because these religions, the right ones and the false ones, all look alike. The difference is obvious only to those who are brainwashed with them. To the rest, they look the same.
If there is a God, isn’t the very fact that he is confusing us humans and dividing us, proof enough that he is a capricious, unreliable and unjust God? Why should we worship an unjust God? This whole business of “guiding humanity” has been nothing but failure. More people have been mislead by false prophets than guided by the real ones. Isn’t it time that God realized his ways of guiding mankind, i.e. sending prophets, with no other proof except their own words is wrong and devise a better way? And for us humans, isn’t it better not be guided at all knowing we have to be careful and find our own way than being misguided and blindly follow an impostor who may take us into our destruction?
Imagine you are lost. You ask for direction. A group of people approach you and each give you a different direction? How would you know which one is telling the truth? If one of them was a police and you could recognize him with his uniform and badge you certainly would trust him first. But where are the credentials of these messengers of God? They all look the same, they all utter good words, they all promise heaven. There are thousands of them, which one is the right one? Why did God forget this important detail? Why he did not make his messengers recognizable to everyone?
Reason is Divine Guidance:
The truth is that God HAS given us humans a foolproof and safe method of guidance. That method is Reason. Through Reason we can find our own way. We can distinguish right from wrong. Why do we need religions or prophets to tell us what is right and what is wrong when we can find that on our own?
When I ask religious people to tell me why do they have chosen their religions, they wield the good teachings of their prophets as the evidence that they were from God. My question to these people is if you know that these teachings are good, and you are attracted to your religion because of them, why do you need to follow someone else to tell you what you already know? My girlfriend objected when I called A Course of Miracles a cult and said the Course is about love and forgiveness. Do we really need to follow someone else to tell us love and forgiveness are good? Don’t the rest of us who do not follow this cult know about it? How much of that “learned” love and forgiveness benefited her to salvage her love for me? As far as I know, she would be still my girlfriend if she had not been indoctrinated by this “love and forgiveness”.
This reminds me of a story that someone wrote in our forum about a little boy who goes to ants’ land and sees that the peace ants are preparing themselves to wage war against the war ants. The boy asks the king of the peace ants why do they want to make war? The king of the peace ants responds, “my people believe in peace but the war ants do not believe in peace. We have to make war against them so everyone believes in peace.”
The point is that if we have to use our own judgment to determine which religion is from God then our judgment must be superior to those religions. You can only judge a book if you know more than the author of that book. And if we are intelligent enough to judge which self-proclaimed prophet is real and which one is an impostor then we do not need any prophet to guide us. We already know the difference between right and wrong and each one of us could be a prophet and a guide to ourselves.
Although religions tell us what we like, and know already to be good, they also teach us many bad things. Once they have our allegiance they numb our intelligence and lull us into accepting every absurdity as the word of God. Voltaire said, “Those who make you believe in absurdities, make you commit atrocities”. Religions are a mix bag of good and bad. The good, we already know because they are commonsense and they are the reason for which we are drawn to these religions in the first place. They work as baits. We like them, because goodness is innate in human nature. But once we bite, we are hooked. Then we are at their mercy. We can no more fight against the bad teachings that they impose on us. Our will is taken away and we become powerless to resist their onslaught at our intelligence. We become blind to the gobbledygook that they teach us and in fact become apologists of their evil teachings and dismiss them as unimportant.
The Course in Miracles uses a very standard method of brainwashing.
“The Workbook for Students [of the Course] consists of 365 lessons, an exercise for each day of the year. This one-year training program begins the process of changing the student’s mind and perception. ” (Preface: ix)
In the introduction to the Course we read:
“Remember only this; you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. But do not allow yourself to make exceptions in applying the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than that is required (Workbook, p. 2).” 
This is precisely how all of us got indoctrinated in our beliefs at childhood. We emulated our parents mindlessly and without questioning the validity of their beliefs. Eventually their beliefs became our beliefs.
Cults brainwash; but aren’t all the believers brainwashed? Can anyone of you believers stand the scrutiny of your faith with reason?
The Inner Voice:
My girlfriend said that she does not need questioning her beliefs because it makes her feel good. The truth is that the “feel good factor” is subjective. Not all the religions and cults are true. But the followers of all these religions and cults defend their beliefs because of the feel good factor. If that belief did not feel good they would leave it.
A participant to one of our forums in FFI wrote:
“The bottom line as to why people ‘know’ a Prophet is a Prophet is that something ‘just tells them’. I cannot in all honesty give you a rational, logical, reasonable or scientific reason why I accept God, Buddha, Krishna, Muhammad, Baha’u’llah or Zoroaster any more than I can tell you why I know I have a spirit.”
The problem is that this “something”, also tells many people very bad things. The practitioners of the Heaven’s Gate who committed mass suicide, the followers of Shoko Asahara who poisoned the people in the subways of Tokyo or the Islamic terrorists who brought down the towers of the WTC killing 3000 innocent people also listened to the susurration of that “something” within them. There are billions of people who believe in religions that you deem to be false and yet they, just like you, follow that something that tells them it is true. That something, if not backed by reason, could be extremely misleading and extremely dangerous.
Is There Life After Religion?
So far I asked you the question why do we need religion? Now you may probably want to ask me how can we find our way without the religion?
The answer is simple. All we have to do is to follow the Golden Rule. Therein lie the answer to humanity’s moral and ethical quandary. “Do onto others, as you would have them do onto you.” Or… “Do not treat others the way you do not want to be treated”. This is the essence of all guidance mankind needs. With this Golden Rule you can be your own prophet. Apply it in your life and you will never err.
What about other philosophies and beliefs that come with religions? Religions explain the purpose of life, why we are here and where we go from here?
Well, the Golden Rule does not answer those questions.
However, are the answers provided by these religions correct? Each one of these religions answer those questions differently. Certainly not all of them can be true when they are so contradicting each other. The question is which one is better? The answer is, just throw the coin. None of them provide a logical, scientific explanation of God, the purpose of life, afterlife or reincarnation. They are all based on conjectures, fantasies and suppositions. If you need fantasies just make your own. Be a do-it-yourselfer – make your own religion. You already know how to legislate good ethical laws using the Golden Rule. You can now complete your personal religion by fantasizing about the purpose of life, God or no God and be as imaginative and as creative as you wish. Find a reason for which you have come to this world that best suits you and makes you feel good. But keep your philosophies to yourself. They are only good for you. Do not try to indoctrinate others with your fantasies. Since the explanation of the mysteries of life given by religions are mere fantasies and there is no way to prove any of them, there is no reason that your fantasy should be any less valid that theirs.
Religions are the inventions of eccentric men (or women), charlatans, impostors, liars, narcissists and psychopaths. They all tell you what you already know is good and when you are hooked they teach you evil and make you hate your brother and do evil. Do not follow the religion of charlatans. Make your own religion, be your own prophet and chart your own guidance. God gave you a brain to be a prophet unto your own self. Use your brain and make the best religion that ever was.