Had an epiphany. Want to share it, but really not sure I want to draw this much fire. Background: I don’t get religion. I see it all around me, I’ve read and studied, but on a deep level, I don’t get the ‘why.’ Whatever need drives people to believe that there is a plan is just absent in my psyche. Whether I imagine a world with or without gods, neither feels different to me.
I have a couple of friends who can be described as born-again atheists. They are just as fundamentalist, loud and angry as the most vitriolic born-again Christian or Muslim convert. I have several friends who self-describe as secular humanists. Most are areligious, a few antireligious.
The epiphany. Listening in on the debate over GMO labeling, it occurred to me that this was a religion demanding that their food be labeled “Not Halal” or “Not Kosher.” It wasn’t a scientific or health concern. There hasn’t been an unmodified food crop since we figured out cross-pollination and selective breeding; and there is no such thing as an inorganic cucumber. And to actually revert to pre-industrial farming practices and plants as they occur in the wild would mean mass starvation, which isn’t healthy. The labels are merely the stamp of approval of a large, powerful, growing and evangelical religion.
So I started looking a little closer. Is there a doctrine that flies in the face of science? Sure. Lots. Some that flies in the face of simple observation. The horrible book I just read goes out of the way to praise the egalitarian and peaceful natures of simple foraging peoples. But in the case studies he mentions, if you look at the numbers their murder rate is astronomical. Only two murders in a population seems small. But in a population of 2000? That’s twenty times the murder rate in the US. One of the ‘peaceful’ groups had more executions per capita than Texas could dream… not counting the babies left to freeze to death, especially girls.
Egalitarian? When a population has almost no material possession, it’s kind of disingenuous to marvel about equality of those possessions. And when there are only two jobs (hunting and gathering) and which one you will get is decided entirely by gender with no exceptions… but, hey. You can pretend to call it equality. I believe apartheid, separate but equal, is the modern term.
But the doctrine requires you to portray these societies as having the values that the doctrine espouses—egalitarianism, peacefulness, sexual freedom (even if the writer notes that cheating wives are sometimes murdered he marvels at the sexual freedom) and living at one with nature (author states that survival is easy even in the harshest conditions if one has the skills, then says that being cast out of the tribe is a death sentence due to starvation).
There are even prophets of the apocalypse. The world will end if we don’t follow the dogma.
The world will end. From Rachelle Carson’s “Silent Spring” to global warming, how many apocalypses (what is the plural of apocalypse?) do you remember?
We laugh at the Mayan calendar and the 5/5/2005 prophecies. Nuts sitting in bunkers. But how many times has the end of the world been declared by the secular? Hmmmm. Just the ones that I remember:
· Ice age in the ‘70’s
· Hole in the ozone layer (remember that all animals are supposed to be blind by now)
· Acid rain
· No possibility that any oil would be left by 2020 at the latest
· Mass starvation unless ZPG was achieved world-wide by 1990 at the latest
· Nuclear holocaust statistically unavoidable
· Y2K computer bug
· SARS, avian flu and nile virus
· And, of course, the killer bees
Note-- I'm not debating what's real and what isn't. I'm marveling that so many people who reject the idea of a vengeful god seem to have a need to create one. But they call it nature and insist the dogma is science. Like some cults we could mention. What fascinates me is that the pattern echoes even in the details.
The interesting thing about this, is that the prophets preach that the solution is in the doctrine. Case in point is that what we needed to do in the seventies to stave off the ice age (quit driving cars so much, quit putting hydrocarbons in the atmosphere) is the exact same thing the current prophets say we need to do to prevent global warming.
And there is even an inquisition for those who commit heresy. A news commentator had to recant for saying that there was doubt about global warming. The word ‘recant’ was actually used. The Oregon State Meteorologist (who appeared to be of the opinion that the temperature was rising but the cause was probably complex) feared for his job.
Here’s the deal. In science there is always doubt. If doubt is not allowed, it’s not science. It’s effectively religion.
Which leads to my born-again atheist friends. They demand proof of the existence of god before they will believe. Two problems with that. The first is that ‘proof’ outside of syllogism (a system of logic) and mathematics does not exist. The scientific method, by its very nature, is incapable of proof, but damned efficient at disproving. They are demanding something that, if they were rational, they must know can’t exist and they do not demand for any of their other beliefs. The second is that god is a 'non-disprovable hypothesis.' If you imagine a creature that can change the universe, including time, perception, cognition, physics and even the law of causality… there’s no way you can test for (disprove, remember) a thing that can change your test, your results or your interpretation. Science doesn’t attempt to disprove the undisprovable. Waste of time and irrational.
This new religion even has the concept of original sin. That is why the primitive people must be presented as having the virtues of this religion—because they aren’t tainted with original sin.
What is the original sin? A sense of guilt over things you have never done. I’ve heard it called ‘liberal guilt’ and even heard it defended as a moral compass and incentive. Hmmm. Just like Christianity’s original sin. The idea that we should feel bad to be born into this place and time, enjoying the world that our ancestors created when others with different ancestors in different places have different things. Again, this is chance, outside of any possible control. The rational attitude would to be decide what to do with these resources, not rail against them. Certainly not complain, whine and protest from a life of privilege and comfort.
In the book read recently, by someone I would classify as a preacher of this new religion, he describes a woman in a forager society having sex with a man she has refused several times-- for food. He characterizes this as peaceful problem-solving, though it is something he would immediately recognize as forced prostitution of the weak in his own (original sin) culture.
Second, he describes how more girl babies than boy babies are left out to die, as well as the sick and the old but “…not out of cruelty…”
It’s that peaceful, egalitarian, natural, pre-original sin kind of murder.