What I Really Think About Human Beings as a Species: 6
In the previous post of this series, I made the point that all organized ideologies (religious and secular) are based on a rather peculiar and seemingly universal human need.
All religions and popular ideologies are about rationalizing and sanctifying the abuse, robbery, murder and coercion of those labelled as “others”.
But why do most humans require some pseudo-rational explanation and sanctification for doing what they always wanted to do. Compare and contrast this urge to other ones like the urges to eat and drink. Why do we not construct elaborate legends, explanations and rituals to explain and justify our urge to eat when we are hungry or drink when we are thirsty? Why do we not require “holy” men and “prophets” to justify the sexual desire evoked by a young and attractive woman?
So why humans require ideology to justify the abuse, robbery, murder and coercion of “others”?
An other way of asking this question is- Why not just abuse, rob, murder and enslave others because you felt like it? I should also point out one more odd facet of this behavior. Humans do not seem to require religious justification and sanctification for violent (but normal behaviors) such as hunting animals for food or killing dangerous animals. Nor do they require such justification and sanctification for killing other human beings during the course of highly localized conflicts where the issues they are fighting over are highly personal in nature.
Then there is the question of whether abuse, robbery, murder and coercion of “others” is always associated with religious-type beliefs. Well, let us answer this question by having a look at the religious-type beliefs of hunter-gatherers. You might have noticed that almost all the religious beliefs of hunter-gatherer are about personal connection with “other worlds”, “forces of nature” or some version of a “life force”. While different aspects of this set of beliefs have their own names such as Animism, Panentheism, Shamanism and Totemism- it clear that they are centered around individual and personal spiritual experience.
Now contrast this to traditional religions, aka the organized belief systems that came into being with the advent of agriculture and the first kingdoms. Let me frame that question another way- What are traditional religions about? Let us start by asking that question about old-timey Judaism. Is it really spirituality? Well, if you look at history- the answer is a big NO. Old-timey Judaism is basically a set of largely arbitrary rules, regulations and the accompanying legalisms that are meant to enrich a few at the cost of the majority of its believers. Christianity is and was no different. After an initial run of perhaps one hundred years where it did try to recreate the individual and personal spiritual experience of pre-agricultural religions, it quickly became old-timey Judaism-lite. This ossification and transformation was almost complete by the time it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Islam has, from its inception, been largely about abuse, robbery, murder and coercion of those pesky “others”.
Nor is this tendency restricted to monotheistic religions. Hinduism, in all its forms, is nothing more than a systems of laws, regulations and customs about caste. Yes, you heard that right- Hinduism contains (and offers) nothing more than arbitrary rules, regulations and some fairy tales. While it makes tall claims to morality and spirituality, it practitioners display a level of materialism, greed and pettiness that is unmatched by any group except east-asians. Let us now turn our attention to the organized religious beliefs of east-asians. While I could write a lot about this subject, it is very easy to summarize their core beliefs. All major and most minor east-asian religious-type belief systems are about rituals, rules, regulations, mores, encouraging unquestioning obedience to “authority” and destroying the individuality and personal happiness of its members.
So why are the core beliefs and modus operandi of major religious (and secular) belief systems so similar? Why are they so devoted to the creation and enforcement of arbitrary rules, regulations, mores and rituals? Why are they so devoted to creating very elaborate fairy tales, explanations and justifications for their supposed “authority”? Why are they so interested in preventing anything approaching an individual and personal spiritual experience among their followers? Why are they so interested in encouraging conformity and unquestioning hierarchic obedience? Why are they so interested in destroying the individuality and personal happiness of their members? And why don’t these belief systems tackle real problems or make the lives of their followers materially better?
I have partially answered the last question in a fairly specific context in one of my earlier posts. The next post in this series will, among other things, discuss a more generalized version of that explanation.
What do you think? Comments?