Dr. William Zingrone's New Book Is Awesome!

I met Professor Zingrone at Gateway to Reason a few weeks ago. He has a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology and teaches at Murray State University, KY. He's agreed to let me quote from pages 87-88 and 92-94 of his book, The Arrogance of Religious Thought: Information Kills Religion. It's from his 7th chapter on child indoctrination. Keep in mind this comes from a professor of Developmental Psychology!! I want my readers to see what an informed firebrand atheist sounds like. He is on fire. He's informed. He's passionate. And he takes no prisoners. He blogs at the site "we are done" Dispatches from the New Enlightenment.
Save the Children

Somebody has to tell them. We can’t keep quiet. Stridency is in order here. Tell the believers they have been hosed. They were sold a bill of goods as defenseless kids, and that's the only reason they uphold religious myths and negative judgments of out-groups. Why for example, is condemning others to eternal gruesome pain in some Omnipotent Prick’s never-ending medieval torture chamber politically correct? Why is it considered a normal facet of religion? Why is it allowed, unchecked, unchallenged? Why do we fill kid’s heads with these medieval fantasies? No more. All this from the religion of love: “God loves you, But, if you don’t believe what I believe, what we believe, or believe it in just the same way we do at our church… you will burn forever and deservedly so!” Religions convince kids this is real, normal, accepted. You wouldn’t buy it for a minute as an adult. That's why religions go for kids. It is reprehensible. What a crock. Nobody in a believer's immediate circle, even if they might think for a moment that condemning others is reprehensible as hell, (pun intended) dares to tell them, or even dares to think it for more than a moment.

But we non-believers can tell them, should tell them. Daily. Refute it. Constantly. Stridently. It is up to us. And we are telling everyone, and at unprecedented levels in the past decade since the beginning of the New Enlightenment. Never before has the skeptical freethinking non-believer community come out so strong, so vocal, so visible as in the past decade. But a generation ago, folks like Madalyn Murray O’Hair were doing it all on their own, ostracized, hated, and on the fringe. The vast majority of atheists were in the closet. You wouldn’t dare bring up atheism in mixed company, and if you did you were immediately associated with those dastardly commies: Chairman Mao, Khrushchev, Stalin and Lenin. Atheists were monsters that persecuted Xians and took away prayer and Bible reading in our schools. Now, non-belief and the critique of religion is mainstream and everywhere. We can now do more to reverse the damaging effects of child indoctrination on eternal damnation and all the other arrogant thoughts they have been conned into.

Once, while in downtown Chicago I got close to a kid in a street corner demonstration who was holding up a sign typical of Xian evangelists street preacher groups that said "Fornicators and Faggots Burn in Hell", or words to that effect, and patted him on the shoulder and nicely said “It’s all bullshit, pal.” I said it kindly. I was as nice to this late adolescent as I would be with any other human as they deserve respect, but I was not in the least bit respectful of the often cruel, religious ideas he was displaying, which deserve none. Somebody has to tell them. Every seed you plant can be another nagging twinge of cognitive dissonance. The religious aren’t stupid, merely hosed. And the hosing started when they were young: captive, vulnerable, trusting and unsuspecting.Religion just gets in the way. At best, it is a harmless diversion if kept to one’s self, but most often it is the prime if not only source of misogyny, homophobia, science denial, and division left in the modern world, at worst the world’s main source of xenophobia, dehumanization, and horrific violence toward women and non-believers. We don’t need this shit. Tell believers, at the risk of not being PC, tell them. They were coerced into it as unquestioning children or vulnerable adolescents. It is not their fault. You wouldn’t let your friends drive drunk, tell them not to try to run the world deluded by blind adherence to whatever brand of bullshit they were taught as children. Don't let your friends drive Xian or Muslim either.
Don't miss the rest below:
Snake Handling and Reincarnation

Back in 2014 Kentucky pastor Jamie Coots died of a venomous snakebite; thinking he would be protected by God. Such an idea is clearly stated in the passages at the end of the Gospel ascribed to Mark. Theses passages appearing after Mark 16:8 were added to the Gospel decades, maybe centuries later by an unknown scribe(s) (there's half a dozen different endings to Mark) to an already anonymous manuscript dating to sometime near 70 AD., penned four decades after JC’s alleged death and resurrection by someone who never met Jesus nor anyone that knew him. The earliest fragments we have of this anonymous work are from the 3rd century with complete manuscripts only available dating from the 4th century. Yes, you got that right, 400 years later. So why would an otherwise seemingly normal educated 21st century man who operates a motor vehicle, a computer, a cellphone, who probably takes antibiotics and such, and who generally appreciates modern medicine, trusts science and logic and material causality in 99% of his waking life… why would he believe the outlandish claims in an anonymous interpolation into a larger and also anonymous work nearly 2,000 years old for which we have no originals, only copies of copies of copies from centuries later which have multiple endings and multiple other interpolations? Why would he believe these ancient words that tell him he can be bitten by snakes (and drink poisons) but won’t die?

The vast majority of Xians on the planet (in the neighborhood of 2 billion of them) don’t believe those verses one bit, but of course believe much of the rest of this Gospel to relate true information about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Some folks say, even most other Xians that Pastor Coots was an idiot and got what he deserved for being so foolish. Yet they fervently believe the rest of the Gospel. I don’t think he was an idiot. Nor do I think any Xian, any believer is. So just how did Jamie Coots and other snake handlers come to believe it? Seems crazy to most of us, even to most Xians but is it any crazier to believe any other religious claim that also has no evidence for it, having only scriptural verses that say such claims are true despite mountains of evidence against them being true?

Take reincarnation for example. In the US and most of the West unless one is a New Age spiritualist, you won’t take the idea of your soul somehow re-appearing in another human (or animal) after your death too seriously. The predominant belief about souls in the Xian tradition is that they go either to heaven or hell when you die and that’s it. One shot, no recycling. But in much, if not most, of Asia it is claimed in the Karma 2 (the reincarnation religions of Buddhism and Hinduism), that without question the reintroduction of the soul into another human body is an eternal truth integral to their teachings. And it is taught unquestionably as such. So many, if not most, Buddhists and Hindu’s believe it. Again, this is regardless of there being absolutely no evidence for such a claim and mountains of evidence against it. After nearly 3,000 years of wishful thinking by these religions and now 150 years of neuroscience there is absolutely neither any evidence that some portion of the intellect, essence, mind, personality, “soul” if you will, survives the death of the body nor that said soul is somehow reinstated into another living thing. It is pure fantasy, but nonetheless an accepted understanding of a billion or more people on earth. Without child indoctrination who would even think of it nowadays?And how is it any more or less crazy than snake handling? Or believing any other of the unfounded claims of anonymous 2,000 year-old writings that have no evidence of their factuality? This is a prime example of the arrogance of religious thought. It is OK to promote and defend ideas with absolutely no proof and pass them on through the generations by child indoctrination supported solely by the unquestionable authority of scripture and religious leaders. Reincarnation may be considered to be a harmless delusion, certainly incomparably less deadly than snake-handling, but is that a good excuse for lying to children and perpetuating really old ideas that have no merit, no proof? In addition, accepting one delusion legitimizes others, and often facilitates much more dangerous nonsense. Moderate Xians legitimize belief in deadly snake handling because after all it is part of their holy gospel, to them it is the word of god.

The oldest manuscripts of the Gospel attributed to Mark end at 16:8, and do not include the snake handling verses which were the good pastor’s main reason for mucking about with snakes in his bare hands and thinking he could get away with it. The endings of Mark (yup, there’s 6 of ’em, some inerrant scripture, huh?) were added later to be in agreement with passages in the other Gospels written after Mark. Just think, some scribe or church father 1,500 years ago or so added these “Gospel Truth” verses which gave this poor guy the justification to kill himself with a poisonous snake, centuries later. Insanity. You could call this guy an idiot, but he truly believed this crap.Jamie Coots wasn’t born that way. He learned it. He was taught it and told he could not question it. Left alone he would have had a normal informed fear of snakes and their venom. He got fucked. By a religion. By religious indoctrination. Maybe his parents, his pastor, or somebody in his spiritual past, all blinded by their faith, and probably loaded with the same delusional “good intentions” convinced this poor schmuck somewhere down the line that the Bible is the inerrant word of god and you ain't a good KY Xian (most snake handlers reside in eastern KY) unless you prove you believe the insane verses 99.9% of other Xians ignore. Left to his own devices he would have been a normal clear-thinking adult human, as he most likely was in the majority of the rest of his all too short life. Child indoctrination killed this poor bastard. Hitch was right… Religion poisons everything.

Dying for an Addendum

Cody Coots, Pastor Jamie's son has been bitten nearly 1/2 dozen times, just like his dad, but unlike his dad, he has recovered to preach and handle snakes again. Many non-believers, but damn few Xians, are aware those passages at the end of the Gospel attributed to Mark that encourage snake handling are not in the earliest manuscripts and were added later. Those admonitions to handle snakes that Cody and his Dad, Jamie take/took completely seriously,and were compelled to follow to the letter to prove their faith, were added centuries later and completely anonymously to a Gospel. That Gospel, in turn, was written down decades after the time of Christ, also anonymously, by a highly literate Greek writer (not an illiterate Aramaic speaking apostle) who never met Jesus.But when you have been taught that your Bible is, in every word, the Word of God, you may be persuaded that risking dying for it is a good thing. Cody and his dad weren’t born this way. Somebody taught them to revere these words as undoubted words of god… a complete fantasy. There’s only a half a dozen churches, all in the Appalachian region of the US where snake-handling (which originated there in the early 20th century) is still practiced. We need to stop lying to our children, to all children all over the world, about any and all supposed “Scriptures” revealed to someone by somebody’s god. It is a complete and often dangerous fantasy. It’s time we outgrow it. It killed this kid's Dad and dozens before him, it may kill the son as well. Needless loss of life all because we respect religion and teaching it to children.