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The Poisoning of the Well

Of Paradoxes and Manna from Heaven 

By Manuel Valenzuela

01/19/06 "ICH" -- -- The rise of Christian fundamentalism in the United States is a profound paradox, a reality that in the natural evolution of human endeavor should not exist, an anathema to the inevitable progression of humanity and civilization, a manifestation that is at odds with what we would expect to exist in the wealthiest, most open and some would say the most learned nation the world has ever seen. Yet, not only does this variant of extremist religion exist in the land of plenty, it thrives, becoming a growing threat to the continued vitality of the nation.  

Indeed, a movement already clandestinely growing and attracting more souls before 9/11 was given a gift from the heavens, quite literally, on that fateful day, creating images and emotions that transformed the way millions of Americans saw the world.  Suddenly, and unexpectedly, terror fell from the sky like the vengeance-filled thunderbolts of Zeus, spawning a fear and insecurity never before seen inside a nation that had never been attacked on its continental soil.  The world was transformed, along with the psyches of millions of people whose beliefs ratified in their minds that the destruction of the World Trade Center was a religious manifestation conjured up by God himself. Paranoid, afraid, uncertain and insecure, thinking themselves living in a troubled world on the verge of its last throes, millions traumatized by the events of 9/11 turned to fundamentalist religion for the salvation reserved for the end of days, answers to most troubling questions and the false comfort that religion offers in times of cataclysm and need.   

The profound psychological shift in the minds of tens of millions in the aftermath of 9/11 cannot be underestimated, and must be seen as a monumental trigger that has unleashed the myriad of problems now afflicting America.  The trauma, stress, fear and hatred engendered transformed America and its people in ways that have yet to be fully understood. Images never before seen by a mass population, from every conceivable angle, played and replayed over and over again thanks to the power of television caused a massive paradigm shift the likes of which has never been seen or studied.  The gravitational pull towards fundamentalist Christian religion by millions of people is one such reality of the aftereffects of 9/11, as humans tend to seek comfort and answers through religion when the world seems most dangerous and troubled. It is religion, through its myths and fantasies, its gods and parables, that can accommodate the fragile minds inherent in the human condition, offering short-term comfort and security through faith in the invisible and belief in the unknown.   

At a time when millions needed to find solace and answers to the evil witnessed on 9/11 Christian extremism opened its doors.  When the world was spinning out of control, bursting America’s bubble of security, fundamentalist Christianity took full advantage, absorbing those wanting to understand why God had allowed such wickedness upon our shores.  Psychologically fragile, weak-minded and made vulnerable by the events of 9/11, millions quickly believed the lies of false prophets and corrupt high priests, the excuses made by fear engendering televangelists, the reasoning as stated by greed mongering evangelists.  God allowed 9/11 to happen, millions were told, because America had become a debauched society, threatened by homosexuality, allowing the mass murder of pin-size zygotes and abandoning the ways of the Bible.  America had been allowed to fall away from its Christian ways, and so the always psychotic God had, once again, wrought violence, death and destruction upon the lands of those breaking covenants with the Almighty.   

The reality of why 9/11 happened was never told those seeking answers; the truth behind the attacks was destroyed in favor of lies of convenience and opportunity, where high priests saw benefit in tragedy, like good snake-oil salesmen ready to take advantage of opportunity, seeing a chance to expand religious belief and personal power in a society turning more secular and progressive every year.  Millions were told what they wanted to hear, not what would help shake their foundations. Of course the fictions of false prophets and the reality of truth have always been mutually exclusive, with truth an enemy of those seeking the control of thought.   

It is these charlatans that thrive off of the misfortunes, stresses and tragedies of others, waiting, like sharks in open water, for the right moment to strike, knowing exactly when the human mind is at its most vulnerable, weak enough to succumb to the whispered shrieks of false comfort and fictitious security, its trauma making willing servants of millions to institutionalized control.  To the false prophets and high priests, 9/11 became the catalyst needed to push the agenda and interests of the extreme Christian right, presenting this group with the wallets, energy and political power of millions of fragile psyches and frightened converts. As a result, the influence of fundamentalist Christianity has only risen exponentially since 9/11, creating a deep rift throughout the nation.      

What should have been eroded over time through civilization’s natural evolution and progression, with the healthy and continued accumulation of America’s wealth, progress, education and an increased standard of living has instead remained strong, in fact gaining numbers and momentum, threatening to help erase centuries of progress and struggle.  The prosperity afforded America since its inception, together with its rising secularism, along with the separation of church and state enforced since the nation’s founding, should have been enough to sentence fundamentalist theology to the fringes of society.  Instead, the opposite seems to be happening. This is the reality of 21st century America, a land modern and progressive yet fighting itself over a return to Middle Ages thought and understanding, with millions of citizens preferring the unenlightenment of Dark Ages rather than the liberation of modern thinking.     

Endowed with the greatest level of comfort humankind has ever witnessed, possessing a standard of living never seen in the human condition, addicted to the gluttony of materialism, its citizens living in one of the freest societies ever experienced by any people, able to bask in the riches of the world’s best technologies, education, infrastructure and society in general, America and its citizens, logic would tell us, should be headed in the direction of secularism and knowledge, reaching human enlightenment by escaping the shackles of religion and the indigence of ignorance. 

Instead, America finds itself unable to exorcise itself from religious fundamentalism, with millions of its citizens refusing to enter the realm of modernity, and reality, preferring instead to remain captive believers in the myths and fables of primitive peoples living thousands of years ago.  To tens of millions of Americans, Christian fundamentalism, with the Bible seen as the literal interpretation of humanity, of the planet’s creation, and of how civilization is to be managed, remains their idea of truth and of reality, even in the face of incontrovertible scientific truth proving otherwise and even with the accumulated knowledge of an ever-progressing society.  

In Human Misery Religion Finds a Nest 

American Christian fundamentalism, it seems, refuses to bend to the rules of human progress, becoming the exception, not the rule, of what happens to people’s religious beliefs the more education they receive and the better off they become.  The more comfortable a life is made the less religious a person tends to become.  The more secure a person feels the less religious he will be, and the less miserable her life is the less she will lean on religion for meaning to a life seen harsh and cruel.   

The more education one receives, free of the education masking religious brainwashing from birth, has a direct correlation on the level of religious faith one has.  Knowledge is power, after all, and education is liberation of free thought, a chance to see the world as it is, not as we are told it should be.  There is reason why those seeking control and power consider true education and knowledge the enemy, for free thought, both analytical and logical, with reasoning and open mindedness, invariably leads to questioning of authority, to dissent, protest and debate of myths, beliefs and propaganda, and to thinking outside the box that has for millennia shackled the human mind, rendering us unable to see truth, reality and the possibilities of our own free thoughts and capabilities.  

In capturing minds at the earliest possible age, when innocence is tender and naiveté bountiful, those seeking the control of souls, minds and energies know that they are more likely to have loyal slaves for an entire life, for the earlier the brainwashing commences the harder it is for the human mind to later escape its parasitic beliefs. The conditioning must begin early on, therefore, before the mind reaches the age of reason, before free thought can light dark tunnels and black holes, before the myths and fables and gods of religion can be seen for the fantasy they are.      

In lives full of suffering, indigence, bitterness, disease, malnutrition and lost ability, where destinies are predetermined and inescapable, where education is nonexistent and anemic, where families are large and immobile, where faith in humanity has been replaced by the dying faith in metaphysical hope, such as those of 3 billion humans living on two dollars a day, or five billion people living on less than ten dollars a day, many living at the margins of human habitation, religion, whether fundamentalist or otherwise, finds its most suitable hosts, jumping, like a virus, from soul to soul, gorging on false faith and in the hope that a better life awaits, if not in the today then certainly in the tomorrow, if not on Earth then in the promised afterlife. 

In the minds of those billions not lucky enough to escape perpetual castes of servility, forced to live lives squandered and wasted, becoming the numbers and statistics of the failed human pyramid of hierarchy, unable to ever escape a destiny not of their own making, religion becomes the only mechanism to cope, to find solace in a life rotting away in the shantytowns and shacks in which so much of mankind survives in.  It is a modes of escape from the harshness of modern day living.  Surviving day to day, meal to meal, rich in honor and integrity but not in material possessions, unable to offer a future to their children, powerless to escape the lives they have been chained to since birth, their innocence destroyed at an early age, their education halted even earlier, billions are forced to believe in and place blind faith in the invisible and unseen, for the visible and seen have failed to bear fruit, becoming utter disappointments to billions of people.     

Exploited by and subjugated to the wickedness of their fellow man, abandoned to the fortune of misery, billions find in religion answers to questions about why their life has been so full of injustice and inequality, why they have been made to suffer endlessly, while a tiny minority thrives in the splendors of wealth and luxury, basking in opportunity and fortuitous birth.  God has a plan for them, they are told; theirs is the kingdom of God, but only if they follow God’s legions of high priests, and only if they allow religious institutions to have dominion and control over their daily lives.  They are not to seek happiness on Earth, for it certainly awaits them in heaven; they must simply place blind faith in an entity that has never been proved to exist.   

They are taught that in suffering and poverty they will find the keys to salvation, unaware that only through education and opportunity will they find escape and futures.  They are told to succumb to exploiters and subjugators, to market colonialism and the tentacles of neoliberalism.  They are told to multiply as much as possible, with birth control being forbidden, not understanding that the more children they have the less resources they and their children will possess, thereby condemning the entire family to perpetual indigence and socio-economic immobility.  More children means less education, which invariably means less of an ability to question authority or become threats to the system, and more of a probability to become the slaves of the high priests.  Women are told to stay home and become factories of procreation, becoming subservient slaves to their husband masters, for women are told they were created out of a single male rib, not even worthy of a leg or arm.  Yet only in female emancipation from paternalistic cultures will both women and their families find betterment, freedom and an opportunity to escape perpetual caste societies.     

Billions are told that the Christian god has a plan for them after their life on Earth, that one must remain a faithful servant of religion and of institutionalized dogma, thus of human institutions, allowing themselves to be controlled by the high priests and elite who make of religion the opiate of the masses.  Billions are told that education is not of importance, that it can be abandoned after a few measly years.  When it is provided, it becomes another way to indoctrinate heathens to religion, brainwashing and conditioning the still developing human brain to the control mechanisms of theology.  Real education is liberation, and those that control know this, which is why they abhor it; knowledge is their kryptonite, the antibiotic to their epidemic.  Is it any wonder why the nations with the lowest per capita investments in education also have some of the highest percentages of their population who are deeply religious?  

Around the world, religious fundamentalist belief thrives in anemic, poor, angry, exploited and undereducated peoples, those residing inside nations commonly described as “third world,” abandoned by incompetent governments and adopted by neo-liberal chicanery, billions lacking the liberation that comes with knowledge, the free thought that arises through education and the standards of living associated with prosperity.  They are the ones born not in the apex of human civilization, such as those northern nations rich and developed, but in those resembling the armpit of humanity, those raped of resources, capital and slave labor by the peoples of the north.   

Religious fundamentalism is most easily engendered in the soup of poverty, hopelessness, ignorance and bitterness, where humans, their faith in humanity eviscerated by the suffering that is their lives, living in the trenches of what modern day living affords billions of souls, are made to believe in the unseen greatness of invisible gods.  It is blind faith in the unseen that gives them hope to press onward even as their high priests only work to subjugate them deeper into misery.  Is it any wonder why religion is most strong in the nations of the south, whose peoples live in endemic poverty and perpetual misery, unable to receive substantial education nor opportunity, and almost extinct in wealthy and secular Europe, where only grey hair can be seen in decaying churches?  

Created in Our Own Image 

From birth hundreds of millions of humans are conditioned to believe in the despotic god of the Bible, a sadistic, vengeance-filled, incompetent leader with deep psychological and anger management issues, a violent, destructive and blood-thirsty entity playing with the psyches of the same creations molded out its image.  This god, it seems, has a fascination with human war, with murder and criminality and masochistic lives, granted that humans killing humans, oftentimes for pleasure, are an inherent part of the human condition.  This god relishes poverty and suffering of billions, given the present state of humankind, allowing squalor in most nations and bestowing riches upon few.  It is allowing us to destroy ourselves, and the Eden it supposedly created, forever remaining a clandestine, missing and unfound entity for thousands of years.   

Indeed, it seems that it prefers the rich few over the poor many, the powerful over the weak, the sinful over the honorable, those that exploit over those that are exploited, choosing injustice over justice, inequality over equality, death over survival and ignorance over knowledge.  This so-called god allows the miserable death and suffering of millions every year to HIV/AIDS, particularly black humans from Sub-Sahara Africa, creating entire generations of orphaned children.  It allowed for the slaughter and suffering of its chosen people during World War II, the Inquisition and other such persecutions over time.  It grants sustenance to murder and mayhem in Rwanda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where millions of human beings have died, slaughtered to feed the ravenous need that is our embedded appetite for human violence and war.  The god of man allows for wars of religion, wars in its name, where humans fight humans based on whose religious beliefs are right and superior.  It is these wars, so full of hatred and bloodletting, carrying the icons of the god of man, committed in the name of the Almighty, that have killed more humans than any other human made or naturally spawned cataclysm in the history of human existence.   

This so-called god allows for the extinction of his creations and the destruction of his paradise by the same organism molded in its own image.  If such a god existed, it would be called an utter failure, for the state of human affairs, since our Diaspora out of Africa, has been war, violence, destruction, suffering, exploitation and decimation of the planet and its creatures.  Such a god would be impeached by its own creations, replaced with more competent gods, for it has done nothing to alleviate the perpetually decaying state of human affairs since it came into existence a few thousands years ago. Human leaders are dethroned for less serious incompetence.  One need only read the Old Testament to bear witness to failure and wrath, incompetence and psychotic behavior, animalistic emotions and human passion.  

Yet the god of man is a failure because it is a god concocted in man’s own image, not the other way around.  It is molded in our self-image, which explains just how fallible our god really is.  It espouses our animalistic behaviors and emotions because it is a creation of our most imaginative minds, fantasies of metaphysical prowess that cannot escape our own frail and fragile human psychology.  The god of the Bible is a god captured by mammalian behaviors and emotions, unable to escape the human condition, no matter how hard its creators tried to concoct a being superior to us. Thus, the god of man is susceptible to the same emotions and passions as ourselves simply because it is of our own making, molded to hate as well as love, to be indifferent as well as caring, becoming enraged, seeking vengeance, destroying cities and murdering humans as it sees fit, becoming a creation unable to escape the human realm of understanding, a concoction existing and acting within the ignorance and unenlightenment of its primitive creators.  It was molded as a way for us to find our place in the unknown world of yesteryear, helping to make us more secure that our fears of the unknown had purpose and that we were not alone in a world full of mystery and fright.   

The god of the Bible is a mirror image of humanity itself, the best and worst of the human condition, a direct introspection of humankind. It is us and we are it. 

Having gods, created by a tribe’s elder men – at a time when women had no voice—made to resemble the all-powerful male paternalistic figure, enabled followers to place reason behind that which was not understood.  At a time when little was known or understood, gods were created to help man understand the complexities of nature and the vastness of the sky and earth. Through gods we became differentiated from the animal world, escaping a reality too humbling for the human ego to absorb.  Through religion, gods, myth and fable a world too complex and large to fathom became easier to grasp, placing us, as usual, as the center of the known universe, the splendorous and wonderful creations of the gods, perfect entities placed in charge of Earth, masters of nature and all its creations. Man’s religion is as much our ego as our creativity. 

The rise of religion, and of gods, allowed humans to believe and strive for an afterlife, for the insecure and fragile human mind cannot be made to contemplate in the reality of nothingness after death.  The idea of death, and that life ends after one’s last breath, is a thoroughly taboo idea to us because of the amazing human fear of seizing to exist, of never again living, of not continuing life, of becoming the food for maggots and the fertilizer for plants, of finding darkness and not light.  Through an afterlife humans could continue living, even after death, joining their god in his realm, a better place than Earth, a heaven where we can continue our life, even if only in spirit form.  The idea of gods, and of a heaven, allows us to continue believing in the afterlife of human existence, making our frail and primitive minds secure that even after death we continue living.  A god with a kingdom of heaven awaits us, after all. 

Our egos not wanting to contemplate the reality of our evolution from the reptilian to the animal to the human worlds, nor our close relation with our primate cousins, along with the substantial behaviors, psychologies, social structures, needs, wants, passions and instincts we share with the animal world, we choose instead to believe in a primitive myth of created molded clay, borrowed rib and six day constructions of planets, a fantasy of escapism and denial, a story made up by the archaic creativity of primitive men gathering around a warm fire, knowledgeable only to the limits of their time and space, contemplating their place in the natural world, awe struck by the countless stars in the night sky and the sheer darkness enveloping them, trying to find meaning to life and purpose to existence, molding fantasies to the understandings and knowledge then known to them.  

Theirs was a legend molded to the time, beliefs and place of its authors, never meant for a world of knowledge, certainties and proven analysis, where science extinguishes faith on a daily basis.  Out of all creation stories, and there are hundreds known and undoubtedly thousands forever lost, all wonderful examples of the diversity of human creativity and thought, the western world adopted the one in Genesis, a metaphysical myth that helped primitive humans of thousands of years ago understand the world around them, meant for the ignorance of prehistory, not the wisdom of modernity. In its story lies not literal truth but myth and fable, tales of times long gone when the world was less known and more innocent, its complexities given meaning not by the accumulated knowledge of a thousand generations but by the experience of primitive tribes and clans whose stories were passed down orally under cover of darkness while warming to the radiance of warm fires.    

Make no mistake about it, religion is a defense mechanism of the frail human ego, unable and unwilling to conceptualize the idea of who and what we truly are.  It is our ego that refuses to accept the reality that we evolved, much the same way every mammal and organism on Earth has evolved, making us no different than the creatures we claim dominion over.  It is our ego that wishes to ignore the possibility that there is no life after death, for human beings cannot accept death, finality and nothingness, a return to the circle of life from which all things derive.  Death and finality are very difficult concepts for us to grasp, and accepting them would mean that our lives are made that much more insignificant than they already are.   

Religion offers us meaning to our lives, a purpose that we are part of a much grandeur structure.  It caresses our ego into the belief that we are cherished beings, special creatures molded by God himself, chosen to rule over Earth.  The fear of being alone is conveniently made to disappear with the introduction of the metaphysical, for if a realm of gods and souls exists then we have purpose and are therefore not alone in the universe.  Human religion allows us to comprehend, in human terms, and as far as we are capable of understanding with our primitive brains, the vast complexities of the natural world, of a universe that is larger than we can ever imagine, and it helps us better understand, by inventing fantasy and fable to explain human nature, why we are the way we are, yet failing, as always, thanks to our inflated egos, to confront the reality and truth of what the human condition truly is.    

Unknown to tribal elders then but now understood by modernity is the truth of evolution, of natural selection and of the incredible mutations that have created the abundance of life on Earth as we see it today.  Known now are the chemical reactions and the enzyme combinations and protein concoctions that led to the creation of homo sapiens, taking us onto a separate branch from our chimpanzee cousins, and the continued mutations, based on genetics and environment, that has led to the diversity of humanity that we see today, including those responsible for eye, skin and hair color as well as those affecting skull shape and body height. 

Known to us now is our rise from East African jungles, our branching out to all corners of the planet, the 98 percent genetic similarities with our chimpanzee brethren and the evolution of our species from scavenger to cave dweller to dominator of agriculture to builder of enormous cities.  The powerful truths of Darwin and Galileo and Copernicus can no longer be silenced or threatened with burning or excommunication.  Books of knowledge and of enlightenment no longer face threats of bonfires.  Humans seeking alternative religions or no religion at all no longer face being burned at the stake or eternal banishment.  We live in the 21st century, not the Dark Ages, a product of centuries of progress and accumulated knowledge, a time when myth and fable no longer dominate and control, a time when fear of the unknown is evaporating like a thin fog, now replaced by knowledge, science and free thought.   

The remnants of the Middle Ages, collections of times past and thankfully gone, are now left to gather dust in museums and libraries, hopefully never again to find refuge in human society.  Gone are primitive torture devices, Church dominated literature and art, and medieval thought processes, where fear of the unknown was exploited in the accumulation of souls.  Gone are indulgences, direct tickets to heaven sold by the Church for money, with their automatic forgiveness of sins granted those wealthy enough to have their bad deeds expunged.  Gone are the fears engendered by the Roman Catholic Church that captured the minds, and souls, of millions; gone is its control over the masses and of society in its entirety that made conservative and regressive thought the hallmark of the Dark Ages. 

Never-Ending Hypocrisy  

American Christian fundamentalism has degenerated to an entity wishing a return to the Dark Ages, when religion actually controlled government, society and the minds of the masses.  It is a movement dependent on the fears and ingrained hatreds of its followers, exploiting emotions and ignorance to further its ultra-conservative goals.  Its leaders are false prophets and corrupt high priests preaching the teachings of Jesus but following the examples of Lucifer.  They depend on the growing numbers of under educated citizens from which to replenish their ranks, becoming highly successful manipulators of fragile psychologies, using the insecurities and hatreds and hereditary prejudices of their followers to mold ordinary citizens into extremist followers of lies, distortions and manipulations.  

Christian fundamentalism preaches about right to life and living in a culture of life but supports the wholesale death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Muslims and Arabs, preferring saving pin-size zygotes rather than actual human beings whose only crimes are living in Iraq and being Iraqi.  Salivating at the thought of dead Muslims, these extremists support war crimes and crimes against humanity, turning a blind eye to torture and bombings and illegal kidnappings and rapes and murder, sanctifying the criminality of incompetent American leadership.  They are ardent supporters of the debacle called the Iraq War, remaining mute to its atrocities even while having the audacity to preach the teachings of Jesus Christ, the most anti-war political activist to ever exist.  It has often been said that these people are the biggest hypocrites on the face of the Earth.   

Fundamentalists would have no problem eviscerating a women’s right to free choice and having complete control over her body, preferring the rights and freedoms of cell size structures over those of adult human beings.  It seems making women once again subservient to paternalistic structures, where they can be readily controlled and subjugated, due to the threats presented on insecure males by the wiser half of humanity, is again on the agenda.  Never satisfied with the emancipation of women, fundamentalists seek male control over their bodies and lives, wishing a return to days when women were dependent to and slaves of men, acting out their roles as baby factories and housewives, just as the Bible and their god command.   

They have declared war upon homosexuals, thinking these people deranged deviants from Hell, acting in direct response to the literal interpretation of the thousands year old Bible (though conveniently forgetting the other many literal rules and interpretations that would undoubtedly condemn them as well), doing everything in their power to eliminate any rights gays might have.  A tremendous fear of gay marriage do they possess, even though in most likelihood these activities will never affect their daily lives.  Again, preaching the tolerance and acceptance of Jesus, they hypocritically hate and prejudge those different than themselves, becoming the most intolerant and bigoted people in the nation. Their ignorance is only superceded by their idiocy; their hypocrisy knows no bounds.  Blind Christian fundamentalists remain to their hypocrisy and to the complete opposite actions they perform relative to the teachings of their Lord Jesus Christ.  

Christian fundamentalists want to destroy the separation of church and state, allowing the reintroduction of the Dark Ages into modern times.  They seek to destroy knowledge and education by introducing children to myth and fantasy wrapped around pseudo-science, renaming creationism “intelligent design,” a concept of religion at complete odds with reality and truth.  They seek to condition children that the planet is only 6,500 years old, that man lived alongside dinosaurs, and that 6.5 billion humans are direct descendants from Adam and Eve, two creations popped out by God in their complete and evolved human form, failing to take into account the dynamics of evolution or the abundant evidence of our slow and gradual progression from mammal to ape to human.   

Fundamentalists wish that four billion years of Earth’s history be erased from memory, replaced with a six-day creation story that has no basis in reality.  They conveniently fail to report the entire findings of paleontologists and archeologists.  They wish to teach children that woman was born from a single male rib, out of an entire body (what does that say about the superiority of man over woman, or the supposed inferiority of woman to men?), and that it was woman, in her deeply flawed and corrupted ways, that was the cause of eternal banishment from Eden (what does that say about the Church leaders’ trust in women’s psychology?)   

Extremists wish to become the American Taliban, banning progress and all its freedom-engendering virtues.  They are the book burners and music banners, the censors of enlightened programming and movies and the persecutors of knowledge.  They wish to rob children of real enlightened education, wishing to teach the myths of primitive peoples upon modern minds.  They wish to fight science, just like their predecessors have since time immemorial, because in science and knowledge they see a threat to their continued control of millions, for its findings continue to destroy their cherished myths and fables and tales of primitive thought.  In science and knowledge they see the enemy that will birth their extinction.  It is science that has exposed the illusions and fantasies of control, the impotent attempts at grasping at straws, at retaining power over human beings.   

Their kind has tried to silence progress ever since science and knowledge began to question dogma.  They fear it, loathe it and hate it, their fright apparent in the stench running out their pores, in the desperate attempts at suppressing human progress, in their attempts to stop enlightenment.  With each myth or belief or act of faith eviscerated by our accumulated knowledge their power over us erodes further, their voices trembling and lies growing, their vague attempts at retaining their fantasies growing ever more desperate.  In their literal interpretation of the Bible they fail to understand progress or the reality of the human condition, preferring to live in ignorance and unenlightened belief, choosing the faith of the never seen over the reality of the always present.   

Wherever they live their hypocrisy is readily apparent, as always preaching Jesus while living Satan, hiding behind the cross while seeking Hell for others, becoming bigots and engines of hatred while hiding inside monolithic Houses of God, cheering tax cuts for the wealthy while wanting to destroy social services, wanting to erect walls to keep the poor, weak and hungry from seeking a better life.  They support war while preaching peace, purposefully making themselves ignorant to death and mass murder committed in their name, all the while carrying the cross and Bible in their hands.  They praise the Almighty yet raise their hands higher to the Almighty Dollar.  They say they want a culture of life yet support the death penalty, but cannot allow the right of individual’s afflicting with terminal pain and suffering to die with dignity.  Intolerant of other religions and other belief structures, of diverse peoples and those different than themselves, extremists can accept only their way of life, becoming the opposite of what their founder told us to do. 

The threat posed by Fundamentalism, whether in the Middle East or in America, is as strong as ever, yet progressive thought will not be defeated.  The natural progression of human civilization is away from ignorance and fear of the unknown and towards knowledge of the world around us.  History abounds with this reality.  Modern times attest to this truth, for if it were not so we would still be trapped in the Middle Ages.  Religion was created because we failed to understand this world of ours, and in this inability to understand where we lived and who we were a fear of the unknown arose.  We needed answers and comfort, we needed to make secure our frail egos, and so religion served a valuable purpose to those people primitive and ancient.  The modern world has allowed us to better understand our world as well as ourselves, and in time new ways of thinking will emerge, new spiritualities will be born, based not on the writings of tribal people living thousands of years ago but based on the time, space and knowledge of modern times.  

It is only a matter of time, yet the backwards movements of humanity, exemplified best by the American Christian fundamentalists, cannot be allowed to become an insurmountable barrier to the inevitable evolution of human thought.  The days of Dark Ages and of control through fear of the unknown are coming to an end, yet steadfast progress must remain, unafraid to confront the truths exposed almost daily, unafraid to battle the regressive and repressive groups among us, and unafraid to push forward the limits of human knowledge.  It is better to live in truth than in fantasy, in free thought over that which is controlled, in reality over fiction.  Faith in the seen and understood will always go further than faith in the never seen and unknown.   

It is time to evolve religion before religion regresses us backwards yet again, as it has attempted to do for millennia, returning us to the days when tribal men sat around, afraid of darkness and the vast expanse of the universe, forcing themselves to conjure up stories to explain away their fears of the unknown, their women subservient to them, their children brainwashed from birth, their high priests and false prophets in complete control over the lives of the masses.   

For 2,000 years the poisoning of the human well has taken place, becoming the strong friction and inertia  slowing human progress and understanding and knowledge and spirituality down, betraying our true selves, forcing us to live in lies and fantasy, becoming the weight attached to our legs, the shackles maintaining us prisoners in the dungeons of backwardness, capturing and hypnotizing our minds, forcing us to see charades and mirages, hiding truth and reality, slowing us down just enough to hinder our immense ability and talents, robbing us of the enlightenment we are due and the renaissance that must inevitably come.  

The time to cleanse the polluted waters of the well is upon us, helping build a fertile oasis from which humanity can prosper and be reborn. 

Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst, current events observer, Internet columnist and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel now published by Authorhouse.com. His articles appear regularly at his blog, http://valenzuelasveritas.blogspot.com and at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info as well as at other alternative news websites from around the globe. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at manuel@valenzuelas.net

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