This is just such an easy concept to understand that I’m not sure why anyone is fooled by it, but like everything I talk about on this blog, super easy to understand doesn’t guarantee results. Believers believe in the face of obvious problems.
Anyway, poison. Not the band. Poison is a substance that cause illness or death.
Back when people thought Kings were a good way to run a government, it was pretty common for some schmuck to be designated as the “taster” for the king’s food. Their job was simple. Eat a small sampling of the food the King was about to consume, drink what the King would imbibe. Then stand there for a minute. And that’s it. That’s the job. Your job as a “taster” was to become evidence that no poison was on the food or in the drink.
Pro-tip, don’t poll “tasters” to see if poison can kill, because you can only be asking ones that haven’t already died. It’s a skewed sample.
But what if the “taster” had some defect or immunity or other biological protection against that specific poison? I’ll use fiction because the movie is AWESOME, but in “The Princess Bride” the main character gets into a “duel of wit” with the bad guy and wins because he tasted a goblet of wine. The bad guy believed only one goblet was poisoned, and switched goblets. So when our hero drank confidently from his goblet, the bad guy believed that because of the switch, he actually had the non-poisoned drink. But in reality, both goblets were poisoned, and our hero had systematically ingested small traces of the poison over time to develop an immunity.
Was my re-cap of that movie neccessary? No. Could I have just talked about food tasters and moved on without that aside? Yes. But face it, you think that movie is cool. Admit it! And pro-tip, if someone that has become immune to poison seems a bit loose with the poison over your beverage or food, don’t eat that shit.
The honey badger is one bad-ass creature. When a honey badger fights a poisonous snake, the snake usually gets in a nice poison-filled bite. But the honey badger doesn’t care, and still bites the head of the snake off. Then the honey badger usually has a bit of a poison hangover, passes out for a few minutes, then wakes up and eats the snake. Seriously, this is crazy stuff. YouTube video here.
But here is a pro-tip. Do NOT take a honey badger’s word for it if he tells you snake bites are no big deal. Sure, from the honey badger’s perspective, snake bites are just a way to relax before a big meal. But to nearly every other living thing on earth, it’s a way to get dead!
I’m going to totally change the subject now, but let’s consider the effect religion has on societies. Religion makes them worse. Much worse. Religion is poison to societies.
How is it poison? Well, let’s imagine a bunch of things that make a society a good or bad place to live. I think being alive is a pretty good thing, and I think most people would agree with me. So let’s use “life” as one measure. We shouldn’t get killed for no reason, if possible. Once you’re alive, wouldn’t it be nice if you weren’t in pain all the time? I sure would. So let’s go with “health” as a measure. If I’m the only one with a good life and everyone else is miserable, they aren’t going to agree things are good. So everyone gets to have life and health, not just me or people in charge. So “equality” is our measure. I don’t like having my stuff stolen, and people running around stealing stuff makes it hard for others to make a living, which makes the “life” and “health” thing harder. Plus it’s not very equitable. So “low crime” can be a measure.
And there is more. Education and literacy. Women in schools, careers, and government. How about low infant mortality? Wouldn’t that be nice not to have a quarter or half of your kids die as babies or during birth? It’s tied to health, but it’s also a good measure. I know low to zero abortion rates is the goal of many religious organizations, so sure! Add in low/no abortion as a measure. Low teen pregnanacy (helps the education thing, and economic development as well). Oh, how about economic development? Are people able to get jobs with a liveable wage? How about low divorce rates? Yep, we can add that as well.
Take any society and add religion, and all of these things get worse. All of the things we all want in a society, including what religious people want in a society, get worse. Other than “be religious”, everything the religious people want including a standard family model, polite children, hardworking men, and the whole shebang gets worse when you ingest a bit of religion in your society. Click the links for this study, and this one.
And it’s not even hard to figure out why they are bad for societies. Religions necessarily are preaching something that is made up. (Except YOUR specific church, of course) And only when discussing religion do people have to remind others that believing in made-up shit is bad for good decision making. But there it is. And just like the various poisons, we can name exactly the made-up shit that degrades societal health. Mysogyny. Racism. Dogma over practicality. Tenants over reality. Feelings over facts. Claims to land. Claims of superiority. Claims of cause and effect. Inflexibility. Demanding respect for pointless rituals or trinkets. These are the toxins that make religions poison. These toxins degrade health, degrade respect, degrade the sanctity of life, degrade learning.
Now, go to a person in a church. They think religion is great. Congrats, they have become immune, or are the honey badger. But all around them, society is getting sick and dying.
Pro-tip. Don’t trust any religious person that is thrice divorced, paid for a mistress’s abortion, beat an ex-spouse, preached against the evils of homosexuality but was caught having a gay affair, has a nice house, claimed the end of the world was coming but was wrong, distrusts science, makes excuses for pedophiles or rape, votes or acts or preaches to keep women from being equals, or anyone that checks religious dogma before making decisions. Also, take every opportunity to wipe religion from your society. Clean religion away. Treat it like poison. Avoid handling it. Warn people away from it.
Maybe your society won’t die a gruesome, prostrate, weaping, ignorant, hate-filled death.
The Spartan Atheist