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Consciousness parasites
Consciousness parasites

Toxic Faith: How Religions Prevent Their Adherents from Living

The Jews have long understood that it is not worth eating pork: parasitic worms in animal meat want to find new owners as soon as possible. This is an example of the successful interaction of religion and health care. Unfortunately, not all belief systems are as concerned about their adherents. Many Indians prohibit the treatment of their children for cancer, and the peoples of Africa are actively practicing female genital mutilation, which increases the risk of complications during pregnancy. In what other cases are traditional views harmful to health?

It is believed that in the course of evolution, people who were able to tell stories in an entertaining way, so that others would listen to them, sitting in a circle around the fire, more often survived and more offspring were given. Besides, people seem to have always been interested in answering questions starting with "why" or "why." The combination of these two features of Homo sapiens has given rise to many religions - belief systems that entertainingly explain the structure of the world. True, in many cases the reliability of the canonical explanations leaves much to be desired. But as long as the system of the world, built on their basis, holds, it does not matter. The main thing is practical application. For example, we know that everything consists of atoms and on the scale of the microcosm they are located quite far from each other. So, in the first approximation, a stone is a void, holes between atoms. However, this knowledge will not help one who receives a stone in the forehead.

Faith keeps you afloat when there are no other means left. It is not for nothing that many come to church after the loss of loved ones, disasters or serious illnesses. However, sometimes religious views can, on the contrary, "drown" a person, limiting his opportunities and prohibiting some vital actions. Religions often come into confrontation with science and medicine, and, what can I say, with common sense too.

There is a suspicion that this will always happen. Well, or, at least, for a very long time: the structure of the human brain and consciousness cannot be altered in hundreds, even thousands of years. It is not without reason that one of the first episodes of the cult science fiction series "Babylon 5", which takes place in the XXIII century, is dedicated to the history of an alien family that refused to perform surgery on their sick child for religious reasons. When the doctor, an earthling "by nationality", nevertheless performed a surgical intervention and saved the alien boy's life, the parents killed their own child, since violation of the integrity of the body was considered by them almost the most terrible sin. And since they were judged by the laws of their home planet, they received no punishment.

We do not urge anyone not to believe, but we advocate thinking with your head.

Hinduism: periods cause earthquakes

Stories like the TV series still happen today. Although modern earthly beliefs allow surgery to be performed on patients, it is not always believed that it is precisely they that will improve health. Even worse, some completely natural states of the body are considered almost intrigues of evil spirits.

In this sense, women got the most, and specifically - the peculiarities of the work of their reproductive system. If men are constantly ready to produce offspring, then women are not: the egg matures in them once a month, and if it is not fertilized, blood flows from the place to which it was supposed to attach after conception. Just a few centuries ago, the reasons for this process were unknown to representatives of our species, and since the presence of menstruation could not be explained in any way, they, as usual, were mistaken for something bad.

This is reflected in religions as well. For example, in Orthodoxy, during menstruation, parishioners are prohibited from entering the main part of the church (and, unlike men, they should never enter the altar), participate in the sacraments of communion, and many others. They can only be in the vestibule - a place for unbaptized children, babies and other irresponsible characters. This rule applies because any bloodshed in the temple is unacceptable. So the wounded and people with bloody calluses shouldn't be in the church either.

There are other options that are more sexist. Hindus believe that women themselves "earned" their monthly bleeding. The fact is that it was with women that the god Indra did his "dirty deeds" instead of purging himself from the sin of killing a Brahmin. (Why the women were considered guilty, and not Indra, is anyone's guess.) The people of Nepal have a belief that a woman during her period defiles not just a temple with her presence, but even her own house, and if she stays there for the night, then to the village natural disasters will fall. Therefore, during the "red days of the calendar", many citizens of western Nepal go to special huts and live there. At the same time, they can only eat rice with salt (I wonder who and how is watching this?), And also drink water. The ceremony is called chaupadi.

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There is almost nothing in the huts, they are often located where wild animals live. It is easy to guess that staying in them is not the most pleasant occupation. The body, already weakened by blood loss, is exposed to additional psychological stress and physical exhaustion. As a result, every year Nepals die in the "menstrual huts" - and this is despite the fact that the rite of temporary resettlement has been officially banned since 2005. They are killed by wild beasts, lack of medical attention, and carbon monoxide that builds up in cramped quarters when they try to light a fire to get a little warmer. In December 2016, during a chaupadi, a fifteen-year-old girl suffocated in an attempt to warm herself from a fire, and a month earlier her 26-year-old compatriot was found dead in the same hut. Presumably, the second woman died of a heart attack.

In the neighboring Hindu country, India, things are generally better. There, at the end of 2015, women even managed to launch a Happy to Bleed flash mob, designed not to be silent about menstruation. Discussion of menstruation, especially with men, is prohibited in this country, and the participants in the flash mob wanted to change the situation. The reason to start the campaign was a statement by the abbots of the Sabarimala Temple (Kerala State), where women between the ages of 10 and 50 are not allowed to enter. In one of the interviews, the rector of the temple noted that he would begin to let women into his abode only when an apparatus is invented that allows women to scan for the presence of "impure" menstrual blood. Fortunately, not all Hindu temples hold such strict views.


Orthodoxy and Catholicism do not prohibit medical intervention in human life. However, among the various branches of Protestantism, there is often a belief that it is impossible to heal, but only to pray. According to the estimates of the organization CHILD (Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty), since 1980, children who have not received medical care have died due to the religious views of representatives of 23 branches of Protestantism. Jehovah's Witnesses deny blood transfusions because, in their opinion, the blood contains the soul of the creature to which it belongs. Representatives of this movement, which in many countries is considered a sect, do not transfuse blood even in mortal danger. Most often, children die from such views, of course, because they depend on their parents. If an adult by a willful decision can break the connection with the community and go for a transfusion, then the minor does not have the right to vote. However, sometimes Jehovah's teenagers themselves refuse to receive transfusions. It was because of the voluntary refusal that boys died in 2007 and 2010.

If Jehovah's Witnesses do not oppose all medicine, then the adherents of the Christian Science Society, ironically, deny almost any manifestation of scientific knowledge. They are treated with the help of specially trained "doctors" and "nurses" who … pray over the sick. From the point of view of common sense, this means that representatives of this branch of the religion do not provide medical care to those who need it. It is not surprising that families of members of society often die without treatment.

Perhaps the most resonant was the death of Matthew Swan, the son of Rita and Doug Swan. At the age of several months he developed a fever and his parents called a "Christian nurse" for him. Her prayers seem to have helped. However, it was not long before the fever returned. This time, the nurse was unable to do anything and blamed Rita and her husband's lack of faith for this. When Matthew started having convulsions, his parents decided on a desperate step and took the child to a real doctor under the pretext of a fracture (religion allows them to be treated). It turned out that Matthew had advanced bacterial meningitis.

It was not possible to save the child. Rita and Doug sued the Society of Christian Science "doctors" for harming their son's life (denied) and renounced their faith. Subsequently, Rita founded CHILD, an organization that fights for the right of children of all religious beliefs to quality medical care. On the website of the society, you can find a list of crimes against life and personality, for which, if I may say so, the views of adherents of various religions are to blame. It is easy to guess that the organization paid the closest attention to the activities of the Society of Christian Science and the list of them contains the most sins. It is believed that the persecution by Rita Swan cost the society a serious reduction in the number of adherents. The official number of parishes has not been announced, but, according to rough estimates, over the past 30 years, it has dropped from 1,800 to 900.

Judaism: the danger of circumcision

Judaism is one of the smartest religions, both literally and figuratively. Its adherents have the highest average IQs (although atheists are smarter anyway), as well as average income. Some Jewish traditions are very wise. For example, giving up pork allows them to become infected with parasitic worms much less often (especially if you do not take goyim as a servant).

However, not all ceremonies are equally useful and safe. Circumcision is a must for ultra-Orthodox Jews. It should be carried out only on the eighth day of life, although exceptions are possible here, such as sick leave. In a number of Hasidic communities in New York, a person authorized to perform circumcision (mogel, or moel) sucks blood from the wound with his mouth. This is part of the ritual. Not only is it easy to find strange unethical connotations in it, the non-sterility of the procedure increases the risk of disease. And they do happen.

This is exactly how, through circumcision followed by suction of blood, in 2003-2004 three little boys contracted herpes, who were cut off by the same grave. One of the "patients" died. In total, from 2000 to 2015, 17 people fell ill with herpes during circumcision, of which two died, and two experienced brain damage. Americans periodically put forward proposals to make the procedure safer, but all the same, supporters of oral cleansing of wounds remain.

In defense of circumcision, it should be said that there are health benefits to removing the foreskin. Using the example of people in West Africa, it has been shown that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection of the first and second types. In addition, it has been shown that circumcision at a conscious age does not reduce the potency and severity of pleasant sensations during intercourse. All of these conclusions are correct when circumcision is performed in a medical facility with proper hygiene.

The procedure called female circumcision is different from male circumcision. It is rather a disfigurement of the body: the clitoris, labia or parts of these organs are cut off. FGM is most often performed in unhygienic conditions by unskilled workers. It can cause infections, urinary problems, childbirth complications and decreased sexual satisfaction. Women who have been circumcised have an increased risk of stillbirth. Those who do not go through this procedure are subject to public censure and find themselves outside of society. Therefore, in the countries of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, there are now about 200 million circumcised women.

Contagious religion

Perhaps the conflict between religion and medicine is a legacy not only of human evolution, but also of its parasites. In 2014, Russian bioinformatist Alexander Panchin, along with his father Yuri Panchin and colleague Alexander Tuzhin, hypothesized that people perform various religious rituals because of microorganisms. However, the authors emphasize that this is still only an assumption and experimental data can not only confirm it, but, conversely, refute it.

The fact is that some parasitic worms, protozoa, bacteria and viruses penetrate the nervous system of the hosts and change their behavior. The phrase "mad dog" is known to everyone. But a sick animal behaves aggressively precisely because of the penetration of the virus into its brain. Because rabies pathogens are saliva-borne, it is beneficial for an infected dog to bite others as often as possible. Crustaceans infected with protozoa are more willing to gather in flocks, and then it becomes easier to catch flamingos - the ultimate hosts of parasites. There are many more similar examples.

The authors of the article note that many religious rituals are associated with the contact of many people. For example, during Orthodox communion, all parishioners take pieces of bread with their lips from the same spoon, kiss the same cross. Representatives of other religions perform ritual ablutions in the same basin. But these are everyday examples, and meanwhile, science in 2012 proved that the higher the percentage of religious people in a society, the higher the proportion of those infected with any parasites in it. Therefore, say the Panchins and Tuzhin, parasites may well support the idea of the need for ritual actions in people, since they contribute to the spread of infection. By the way, in this case, it is beneficial for parasites to make people believe in the failure of medicine, the need for treatment with folk remedies, or even show patience, humility and humility in the hope that it will somehow pass by itself.

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