I believe that we are in a global civil war for our species survival – or at least for a longer survival than we will have if we don’t try to win – between rationalism and religion.
Religion retards scientific and social development – as religion seeks to put artificial and unnatural limits on our lives – and this is why we must fight back that dark ignorance and fear with everything we have.
We are killing ourselves with polluting industry, monocrop agriculture and in wars; all which is driven by religious ideologies. The idea that we can do as we please with the earth and everything on it because there’s a deity who will be along any of our lifetimes now and return the earth to it’s original pristine operational state and reward the faithful and punish everyone else.
While we will always find a reason to not like other groups of people, we can generally get along with each other and ignore differences until the introduction of an idea that says one group is somehow superior and the other is inferior – and this superior/inferior idea comes from one of two places – religious or political ideology.
The reality that there is less than 1% genetic difference between you and any other person on the earth and this means that the differences between peoples is purely cosmetic acclimation to the climate zone they live in – darker skin near the equator to reduce sun absorption, lighter near the poles to maximize it, almond eye shape to help deflect more sunlight from sun/snow blinding you.
Body type, hair kinkiness, colour, facial features are all from cultural/sexual selection – so, knowing that, doesn’t racism seem pretty stupid?
There are no human subspecies so there’s no such thing as races within our species – and “race” is a bigoted and escalated term “breed” when we apply the concept to humans that we use to distinguish between types within a species of animals, say dogs and cats.
It is the idea of superior and inferior that permits the crimes against humanity from:
* outright genocide of an entire group or category of people,
* legalized or socialized discrimination (slavery, women and ethnic minorities getting to vote, civil rights, gay marriage, etc)
* to interfering with the personal sovereignty of a person based on their affiliation with a larger group (women and abortion)
If human life really is valuable, then no human life is more valuable than any other life – and disliking people doesn’t mean that you believe you are better or worse than them – it takes a much stronger emotion to get a person to really mistreat another one – and it takes a huge investment emotionally to override our basic natures and feel not only deserving, but entitled, to own other people and expect to benefit from their labour and efforts – in fact, it takes seeing them as not only less than yourself, but less than people.
To get to that stage, it takes religious or political ideology to few whole groups of people as less than people and to be not only comfortable with that there are inferiors, but accepting and willingness – happiness even – to benefit from the inequality; especially inequalities so great as to include enslavement, abuse and torture.
Doesn’t this make it curious that the so called pro-life people are only concerned with the unborn or vegetative state people and not at all with the healthy young men and women in prime breeding age being sent off to wage war on other humans?
Even worse, when you push and probe a so called pro-lifer – you generally uncover that they are primarily concerned with women of their own ethnicity having abortions more than women of other ethnicities having them – racist fear of being outnumbered – and you generally uncover the attitude that the woman was a slut or whore who deserves punishment of the consequences or at least isn’t entitled to avoid consequences and so should have to have the baby and give it to deserving parents who can give it a good home to always live with the reminder that she couldn’t – yet, there is no social condemnation for the man for having sex or being a deadbeat dad – it’s almost expected so no excuse or retribution necessary.
It is curious that religion – Christianity in particular – is so anti-sex. Although there seems to be a correlation in religion with the idea of purity and cleanliness – which means being anti-contamination – and sex is the usual vector of contamination – so anti-sex makes a certain degree of sense – sex in moderation, with precautions is rational and reasonable.
But religion is not about rational and reasonable, it’s about extreme fears and it drives all the social phobias, religion is ritual expression of xenophobia, fear of difference and contamination.
So recognizing the fear of contamination, as represented by sex gives a very different view of the Christian Adam and Eve story – one that I have tripped over for decades, as far back as childhood, not understanding why adults were so nude adverse, when Adam and Eve were nude in the garden – nudists in the woods and wild was how their god had intended people to be – Eve and Adam ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge and learned the difference between good and evil – and they covered themselves.
Christians and other religions took this to mean nudity and sex was bad, dirty, evil – but they continued to insist that god was good and loving and pure – the religion is based on a cognitive dissonance – if god was good and pure and loving and made Adam and Even naked in the woods with no sexual and gender shame, then sex and our bodies are good and pure to start with – and it’s shame that is evil and dirty. Thinking we’re not good enough, just the way we are.
So either the religious folk got it wrong about sex and nudity and our bodies or they got their god all wrong.
Our bodies, sex, nudity and god were always on the same side – it was the covering up that earned the banishment – so Christians are still trying to cover up sex, like the leaves weren’t enough and if only they could get everyone to stop having sex, we could return to the garden – well, I guess that makes some sense – if humans stopped having sex, there’s soon be no humans and the earth would revert back to a garden state with no sentient life mucking it up.
So religion is basically there to eliminate humans either way – if we all followed it, we’d self-extinct for failure to reproduce and as long as we follow all kinds of religions, then we can’t get along with each other because there can be only one, like Highlander – the original movie, not the off cannon sequels and TV series.
“hate the sin, not the sinner”
Christians and other religions, in an attempt to hide what they really feel, cling to this idea that you can separate a person from what they are or what they do; but when they use the word sin to define things that are personal identifiers – like being gay – you can’t separate the sin from the sinner.
Which is probably why they are so keen to prevent women from having abortions – they can’t get over the whole apple thing, so are doing whatever they can to be punitive to women when it comes to anything related to sex. That Adam ate too is blamed on Eve for making him or that he was too good natured to sell Eve out and stay in the garden – perhaps this is the basis for misogyny the resentment that women “cost” men the garden and ignoring that it was Adam’s choice to chow down and follow Eve instead of refusing and staying in god’s garden. Perhaps that’s why so many religious conservatives are so homophobic too staying in the garden with god is a little gay compared to getting to play with Eve’s garden of delights.
Getting on your knees to pray has a whole other connotation, too – religion really is the brain equivalent to sexual kinkiness.
Sex is too core to our identities to be separate from our identity – “sex” is used simultaneously to refer to (and includes) both gender and sexuality and gender sexuality, sexual preferences, and expression of all these things. Our gender and sexuality forms a major part of our relationship with the world and each other and there is much that is valued and devalued that informs and forms our sexuality. We judge others based on attractiveness which derived from sexual desire and preferences – often overriding other concerns – such as fairness, reason, morals.
Love the sinner and hate the sin is nonsense and yet another impossible standard to create and set up followers as failed people, because you can’t separate any identity aspect from the person identified.
The Zero Sum Game
It is because we come from such different frameworks of understanding the world that belief and non-belief is a zero sum game in America, given the majority of literalist believers in America and in the world generally.
Almost all religions have the mentality of expansion by the word or the sword, and no real religion will tolerate other religions when at their core, there can be only one truth, one path, one god or one pantheon, whichever is appropriate to the religion du jour.
Inter-faith committees insist that there’s one god and each religion is a path to said god is to admit that there’s not one truth, that there are many truths, they are all as good and bad as the other, and in doing so, is admitting that religion is a culture product and of no import or consideration whatsoever, other than to keep the masses occupied and manageable.
This Mr. Rodgers watering down of religion is to say that they are all equivalent, so one is as good as any other, which means that religion isn’t important at all, but rather, how we behave towards each other – and that is true – so why not behave well with and towards each other without adding religion to the mix – religion is like pouring gasoline on a fire. We need to stop adding fuel, stop keeping the flames burning and actually douse that fire and figure out some other form of energy to base our economies on – the dinosaurs died out and we will too as long as we rely on them for fuel.
Turning to how we behave with each other – religious people are upset at the idea that non-believers exist for we are living proof that you don’t need a god to be good. Non-believers generally have higher IQs, less criminal/anti-social behavior and more education/knowledge (even religious knowledge) than believers. We may not be happier people than believers, but one truism is that ignorance is bliss – it’s easy to not worry and fret about things that you don’t understand or don’t know about. When you know things, especially state of the world, the nation, the inequality and the suffering, it is difficult to be happy when you understand the mechanisms of the suffering and the extent.
This is why I find it so disturbing that believers are pleased with the idea of going to heaven knowing that others will be suffering in hell, and that knowing makes heaven all the sweeter for them. Believers cope with the suffering in the world by rationalizing that it’s somehow earned and deserved by those who suffer, and that because they are not suffering, that they are somehow better and deserving of reward.
Believers seem to have gone from a mentality of “me instead of you” to “me at the expense of you”.
Confronting the believer’s cognitive dissonance is difficult, because it runs deep. Believers have to reject reality in favour of a religious worldview. To maintain that worldview, they have to ignore, mis-characterize and demonize anything that explains reality and eliminates the need for “goddidit” explanations.
This was easier in the old days when few people could read and most people had a hard scrabble existence and didn’t have the leisure time to think and to revolt against the social order that discriminated and excluded them; when being actually different or labeled as different (a heretic, witch, ethnic minority, gay, etc) was a torture and death sentence. And still is in some part of the world – usually in the theocratic, dictatorships and tribal authorities.
America was founded on the principle that individuals matters, not their group affiliation, that the right to descent and have personal sovereignty to pursue your own liberty, freedom and happiness. It was a revolution that is still being fought today – for the idea is to overturn everything – including and especially religion – and those who have power do not gladly share, redistributed or give it up easily.
America has been hijacked by religion that has slowly wormed it’s way into the halls of government, adding itself to the pledge and on the money – “Under god” was not originally part or on it, where religious conservatives, longing to harken back to the old days where their families were the only land and slave owners, where they ruled over all they surveyed as gods and ruled unquestioningly as they pleased. Good for them, not so much for the rest of us.
This is why the battle lines are drawn between people who look to the past to justify their entitlements and to deny anyone else any sharing of entitlements – because there is a limited amount of freedom available – if I have freedom, then they aren’t free to do what they want to me. Their freedom to swing their arm is limited by where my nose begins.
Actually, a little father than where it begins, us North Americans like about 2 feet of empty space between us – other cultures “personal space” varies, depending on the size of the country and the population figures, we seem to have a formula of the country land mass size divided by the population determines how much personal space we like to leave physically between each other.
So making light and jokes is the kinder gentler way to point out the inconsistencies and ironic tension between religious belief and reality – and, since believers have categorically rejected reality in favour of religion, humour is the only nice way to get believers to start to listen to reason and reality.
Humour includes a range of humour types and it’s very interesting to note that one of the hallmarks of insanity is the inability to understand and be funny. Religion is generally intolerant to most if not all forms of humour. And, if you’ve read this far, you don’t need me to point out the obvious connection made in this paragraph.
There is an alternative to the American zero sum game between belief and non-belief, and the compromise is for the US to become Canada; while Canada needs to adopt more Scandinavian nations sensibilities.
In Canada, belief is a private matter, largely excluded from the public sphere, except for the retail celebration of holidays currently deemed Christian – however, if Canada really wants to be a global model for multiculturism, then we need to add a lot more statutory holidays based on non-Christian traditions or end all statutory holidays that are not purely secular and civic.
Canadian politicians who mention abortion are asking to not be elected, same for making mention of one’s religion as a basis for policy – Paul Martin, our Catholic PM, signed into legislation gay marriage, despite threats of excommunication and denial of the cookie, cracker, whatever that host thingy is made of that transubstantiates into literal body and blood – seriously people cannibalism is okay but pre-martial sex isn’t?
In Canada, gays are allowed to marry who they want to or can get to marry them and churches are not sue-able for refusing to perform the ceremony – everyone is afforded the ability to be consistent between their beliefs and their actions. Churches who are willing can perform gay marriages and get to and those who aren’t, don’ t have to.
Personal sovereignty can be afforded to everyone, as long as everyone understand where their sovereignty ends and someone else’s begins. But, religious believers are rarely willing to allow other people their personal sovereignty and feel entitled to dictate to other people what they can and cannot do, with whom and how long, how kinky and with what consequences. None of which is anyone’s business who wasn’t invited to participate.
One major difference between the US and Canada is that while Canada’s Charter of Rights includes freedom of religion, the right to gender (including includes gender identity and sexuality explicitly) equality overrides all other rights, including religion. Gender equality isn’t part of the US rights.
The US is terrified of Canada style health care where care is universally provided – and, the idea that illness and disaster is god’s punishment for bad behaviour and seriously, we don’t need to waste any more virgins to the volcano gods – that it’s deserved is what’s driving the fear and resistance, because what good is life liberty and happiness if you do not have security of health?
There simply is no god that did it, who could or will do it. There’s just us, and we’re good enough the way we are, but only if we use our best fitness attribute – our adaptive, pattern seeking, meaning making and symbolic capable and critical thinking brains.
Cognitive dissonance unravels very quickly when you apply meaning to the words and don’t let them float there as uncontested bumper sticker philosophies – as if you can support the troops, but not the war – which makes no sense, since not supporting the war is to not support why the troops are there and if you don’t support why they are there, you aren’t supporting the troops; who believe in why they are there or have accepted that it’s their job to be there. If you don’t support them being there, then you aren’t supporting them.
Personally, I don’t support troops being anywhere without direct reasons – defending against attackers in accordance with treaties or acting as invited peacekeepers in other nations civil disputes.
I would like the UN to be the world’s government, and to do so would require a makeover and the world’s nations to step up to a more enlightened status of government than the current mishmashes of democracies, republics (banana or otherwise), kingdoms, and dictatorships – it would mean authorizing the UN to directly impose a peacekeeping force in nations that failed to abide by UN’s Charter of Rights and it also means revising that charter to be more inclusive than it currently is. It also means putting rights in a hierarchy, as practiced globally now, the rights of religion overrides too many other human rights.
Because without the idea of individual human rights, that we are all equal under the law and equally entitled to freedoms, rights and responsibilities of our society and societies, then the American social experiment fails and we the people of the world, mean nothing and deserve nothing. (nod to Darwin Harmless!)
I, for one, just do not accept that. I matter, I mean something, I deserve better, and I am prepared to be a lone voice in the dark shadow of religion, of tyranny. And history tells me that I am not actually alone. Experience shows me that I am not alone, and the internet is a means for all the voices to connect, to stand together and hold the line – there and no farther.
Say it loud, say it proud and say it with me (in your best Gandalf voice):
the darkness shall not pass.