Friday, October 25, 2013

The Myth of Faith and Monogamy

There is a disturbing thought in western culture, which suggests a child must have two parents (typically of both genders) to thrive.  Low reliability of anecdotal evidence aside, I grew up without a father, and look at me!!!  (Oh wait, bad example).  I did grow up with religion however, which I have found to be far more damaging than any lack of a father figure could ever be.  I am quite familiar with the contents of the Judeo-Christian bible and the harmful societal meme, which suggests that monogamy to be the “natural state” of humanity (it is not) and part of "gods plan."  If there actually WAS a god (and there's no credible evidence to suggest that there is), "his" plan appears very similar to someone who absolutely does NOT have a plan (how strange). 

For me, religion has required many years of recovery in order to correct the baseless assumptions many of us in Western society have been indoctrinated into and blindly accepted without question.  I haven't looked back since I gave up credulity for Lent as a teenager and discovered the awe-inspiring beauty of compassion and critical thought.  I often wonder if those who claim the importance of the bible in terms of morality and/or spiritual guidance have actually ever read the book?  I have to admit that those are some very strange ideas about morality and/or spiritual guidance.  If the story of Job's near sacrifice of his only son (based solely on his blind devotion to god) is any indication, such ideas have no place within the context of the rules of civilized conduct within a modern society.  Such an extreme example of cognitive dissonance is merely one out of thousands of examples contained within the pages of what has been ironically considered a "holy book."  Those who claim that humanity needs god or the guidance of the bible to be good and moral might have a great deal of difficulty explaining why Christians make up 78% of the prison population in this country, but I digress.

Truth of the matter is, humanity doesn't need religion or the bible to be moral or show caring for fellow human beings.  Countless studies on human attachment strongly suggest that children really only need ONE strong attachment figure committed to meeting their basic emotional needs in order for them to thrive and grow as individuals.  True morality merely takes the ability to remain open to understanding the source of another persons suffering and to validate their struggle.  Despite popular belief, no primitive, Bronze Age mythology is required to deeply love your children (or anyone else for that matter).  It merely takes witnessing an innocent beings suffering, such as witnessing a puppy being mercilessly kicked, or a child being abused, for one to realize that true morality comes from within.  Compassion typically arises as a natural response to anothers' suffering.  The only barrier typically is ones own ignorance or lack of understanding.  Human compassion requires an openness to look past one’s own needs (and/or rigidly held ideas) in order to deeply understand the suffering of another person.  Without a non-judgmental openness to the basic understanding of the  suffering of others, we cannot have compassion - again, no Bronze Age mythology is required for this. 

A human infant is basically helpless for the first few years of it's life, and explicitly depends upon the compassion of its parents for it's survival (which is inevitably reinforced and supported by the release of the neurotransmitter, oxytocin, the so called “cuddle hormone”).  Human compassion has been shown to be a basic, evolved attribute of humanity, without which our species obviously could not have survived.  No divine intervention was required for this trait to evolve.  The erroneous "sin hypothesis" (a deeply dualistic philosophy which implicitly states that humanity is inherently wicked and in need of god's salvation) can be seen as probably the greatest single obstacle to human compassion.  Most people fail to realize the concept of original sin was never mentioned by the mythical Jesus figure of the bible, as it was an idea that came along well AFTER the bible was written (by mankind).  There is nothing positive to be gained from feeling as though one were born inherently evil.  It is an idea that serves merely to emotionally control and seems much more in tune with the possessive rantings of abusive partner (or parent) than from an all-loving, omnipotent deity.  

Buddhist psychology suggests that human beings are born inherently good, and evil acts are generally performed out of ignorance.  If a person cannot discriminate between right vs. wrong, or good vs. evil they lack empathy and understanding, not faith or religion.  To terrify children with the eternal damnation of hell or to suggest women are inferior to men due to the harmful myth of "original sin" does nothing inherently positive for the world.  Such ideas at their core are nothing less than emotionally abusive and impeding to ones spiritual growth and compassion for others.  Blind faith (otherwise known as credulity) is certainly not a virtue.  It is simply nothing less than the glorification of voluntary ignorance. 

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