Archive for August, 2013
The question occurs, why the title to my current book, Religion is God’s Way of Showing Us it’s earlier in Human Evolution than We Thought? Does it take a cheap shot a religion? Is it unnecessarily cryptic?
Even though it’s not literally true that any god gave us religion, most believers must certainly think that religion has a divine sanction as well as proceeding from their deity, or in the absence of one, their sacred supernatural source.
Who, then, is shown the marker of religion revealing that we haven’t evolved beyond religion? I would say those who get an accurate picture of our evolution and religion’s place in it. To the consternation of the fundamentalist, I would say religion was an evolutionary adaptation that was necessary for the survival of every existing human population of today. But, too, it can be to the chagrin of the nonbeliever.
Religion is a product of evolution
Why to the fundamentalist’s consternation? Rather than the study of human evolution being the sin of fallen angels, it appears that religion is a product of human evolution such that we ascendant “apes” were equipped with it by natural selection.
The truth will set us free!
The truth is, it will take a little longer. The mass exodus to humanism didn’t happen as predicted. And this because religion was underestimated by nonbelievers who had examined philosophically and logically its truth value and, yet, overlooked its strength and contribution as an adaptation. No modern society of any significance survived until today without it.
Yes, religion has waned in some areas such as Europe, but that’s the lifecycle of a religion, not all religion. Certainly, we nonbelievers would all like to see the final enlightenment. Each individual religion can wane and cultures and civilizations can evolve and advance, but religion’s grip on humanity is strong enough that it hasn’t let go so far. If humanity had been ready, we would have seen religion’s end in the Classical Period. Yet even after the gods of Greece and Rome became a farce, piety was extolled and blasphemy punished. Rather, we saw the rise of Christianity because even the more enlightened Greco-Roman culture was not done with religion. The balance of humanity lagged further behind than that.
Certainly, the New Atheists (Dawkins, Dennett, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens) are not interested in saying religion is or was good for humanity. I can sympathize with that. At the same time, there are a number of scientists, writers, and thinkers who do say matter of factly that they believe some predisposition to religion is in our genes.
I can’t give you a specific episode, but I’ve heard Chris Mooney on Center for Inquiry’s internet/radio podcast, Point of Inquiry, get an affirmative answer to the various iterations of the question (i.e., a heritable component to human religiosity).
I credit Pinky with a similar sentiment in her comment recently on this blog, and in a way, it’s an interpretation or restatement of the book title in question: “I am vastly disappointed in my species. Homo Sapiens Sapiens have had plenty of time to grow up, or at least to have made more of an effort to mature, but the religious keep busy squashing forward movement.”
(This is similar to the previous post, but the House Armed Services Committee did pass this de-Enlightenment legislation. There’s a URL at the bottom of the previous post if you think you want to hear Buck McKeon. I think he’ll prove you wrong.)
Chairman McKeon said if there were atheist chaplains, they would tell dying soldiers they would be “worm food.” Alternatively, when Rep. Fleming was asked what a Christian chaplain would tell a dying atheist soldier whom he believed would go to hell. Fleming said the Christian chaplain should offer the dying atheist soldier salvation through the Bible.
The last statement underlines the intent of the Military Religious Freedom (a malapropish misnomer in the long tradition of military and governmental oxymorons) Protection Act which became an amendment to a defense authorization bill which states that it is all right for believers of “a religion” to proselytize that faith to others.
The typical nonbeliever wouldn’t consider telling any dying soldier they might be “worm food” let alone a humanist chaplain. It’s a ludicrous proposition that he or she would do anything less than hold high esteem for an individual of any or no belief. This is because the average humanist believes that we all have an intrinsic human worth and that the human spirit is noble and a Humanist celebrant or chaplain is going to embody those qualities at a minimum. These congressmen are demonstrating that they do not value our service men and women in the same way.
Shouldn’t a chaplain to our men and women in uniform respect the faith tradition or beliefs of that person? That’s what a Humanist chaplain would do. But you have the congressmen’s words on it, that’s not what a Christian chaplain should do: They should offer the dying atheist soldier salvation through the Bible. This amendment supports that, but it is a one way street. Nonbelievers will have no “religious freedom” of their own protecting them from such inconsiderate behavior.
Gentlemen, you have our service members at too much of a disadvantage. They deserve better from you than this punishment for not being Christians. You can impose your will by a majority vote, but you can’t make it right or just. Are you treating the nonbelieving service members the way you want to be treated?
I take it these congressmen don’t feel the same nor do they feel that the men and women in uniform deserve equal treatment either. If they did, they’d ask each service member what kind of (faith) service they’d like, and it would be given.
It is possible for a bigoted person to go through a process of conversion. Our fellow Americans, bigoted though they may be, are our bigots and our brothers. As the humanism they denigrate would tell them, if they’d listen, all men are brothers. We must these help make these men better Christians. We must do this because as humanists we are our brothers’ keepers ..and we have no god that we would put before them.
Since only Christianity proselytizes, perhaps all Christians in the nation should weigh in. Tell these congressmen if you’re with them or against them. If we are not to judge you by your silence, speak up this one time. These men and women in uniform can’t speak up. They are at the mercy of the chain of command and it is to, and about, that chain of command they would have to complain—a career-ending move at best.