I do not believe that religion is the “culprit” in our culture. I do believe certain cultures, organizations and individuals use religion as an excuse not to change behavior after a fact is discovered. Since faith is based on the unknown and there are no facts to dispute a belief, it would be acceptable to have faith and beliefs. It is also acceptable to believe things not yet proven; from a scientific perspective the objective is to prove what is unproven, therefore you have to first believe in something or at least have a hypothesis before you can prove it to be true or false.
For thousands of years we have been taught certain truths in our cultures – many of which are based on our capacity to believe them to be true without evidence to support them. As we learn and become aware of facts and are provided evidence of these facts, we have to decide how we will react to these new facts. Humans are very stubborn by nature and to say “what you thought you knew is now wrong,” just doesn’t settle well on individual or organized levels. We apply many of our own standards based on what we individually or collectively want (and in some cases, those are based on fact); those who live in those cultures accept, endure or revolt against those standards or they go to another culture that aligns with their own personal standards.
From an organizational standpoint, if an organization wants the individuals within it to believe and comply with something, it has to be either substantiated by facts, beliefs or the organization’s collective desire. And any organization has the capacity to manipulate any fact or belief to achieve the desire the organization’s stakeholders.
So our challenge is … As facts are discovered that fly in the face of our own accepted behavior and beliefs, how will we react to incorporate those facts into an agreed upon definition of a moral balance that is consistent across all individuals and organizations?
FACT: Something that is evidenced and proven to be true.
BELIEF: Something that is not evidenced and proven to be true, but is by faith accepted as a truth.
NEED: Something that is required based on a fact.
WANT: A desire that has the potential to be fulfilled if actions are taken towards achieving it.
AUTORESPONSE: A behavior that naturally occurs (not based on choice) and cannot be changed at this point in time.
MORAL BALANCE: A measure by a conscious being of what behaviors are acceptable based on facts and beliefs.
RULE: A non-autoresponse action that must be complied with based on facts and/or beliefs to achieve a need or want as defined by a conscious being.
CONSIOUS BEING: Individual living organism that is aware of its actions.
UNCONSIOUS BEING: Individual living organism that is not aware of its actions and acts purely on autoresponse.
• When a fact dispels a belief or makes a belief morally unbalanced
• When a fact is discovered evidencing that the consequences of a desired or accepted behavior have a negative impact on a moral balance
• When a rule is established based on a previously accepted belief, fact or want and is dispelled by a newly discovered fact
1. If a newly learned fact dispels an existing accepted behavior or belief, how do we make it something we behaviorally want to incorporate, make it necessary, or how does it become an autoresponse to apply it?
2. How do we balance our behaviors to continuously apply the expanding volume of facts and the remaining beliefs passed down through our cultures?
3. How do we determine the extent we should change behavior based on a newly acquired fact?
4. How and where do we apply those newly acquired facts to maintain moral balance across all of the following:
• Non-living organisms
• Living organisms
o Conscious beings
o Unconscious beings
o Organized conscious beings (government, businesses, religions, etc.)
5. What is considered a harmonious moral balance between want, facts, beliefs, non-living organisms, and living organisms?
6. How do we incorporate facts within a culture, while respecting the origin of the culture that was not provided the previous knowledge upon its inception?
• The question of whether an action or result(s) of an action of an individual or organized conscious being is morally balanced is not always considered before an action is taken.
• Conscious beings naturally act and react based on personal desire and need, not on the sum of the organized conscious beings or total environment that may be impacted by the conscious being’s action.
I do not believe that religion is the “culprit” in our culture.
Religion, like any human institution, is as fallible as anything in human discourse. However, what cripples religion is the fact that it is based on faith-based claims that are not demonstrable; and this means that any belief attributed to it can be accepted as true regardless of whether or not it’s true.
Religion remains effectively insulated from change, which means that it does not actually address any real human concerns. What it does is offer simplistic, childish “comfort” tales that allay our sense of loneliness and fearfulness of our conscious understanding of death.
This sufficed for humanity for a long time, but now it’s time for us to grow up and put aside such tales. We know how reality actually functions now, and there’s little reason to hold onto the tales that kept the fear of the dark at bay for most of humanity’s tenure on Earth.
Now, I don’t suppose for a moment that this will happen over night, but happening it is. Given that Christianity has had the biggest influence in our culture, I’ll use that as an example: Many people have given up on Jesus and the idea of needing salvation and heaven and hell and so on. Even Christian liberals have given up on that (though the fact that such a position is incoherent by definition is a discussion that would be rich with irony at some other time). Indeed, look at how the orthodox Christian, Jew or Muslim is perceived; there is a sense that they are “fanatics” and “out of step with the mainstream”—yet, all fundamentalists do is adhere to the dogma as it is written.
100 years ago, this would have been quite another story; and 200 years ago, even more entrenched in religious dogma humanity would have been. 200 years ago, few Westerners would have even remotely questioned Genesis (although there were some; notably the Founding Fathers and Deists who were coming into intellectual favor at the time); still, they were a tiny fraction of those who believed in a literal adoption of Genesis.
Today, there are a few billion non-believers around, and this is a good thing.
I do believe certain cultures, organizations and individuals use religion as an excuse not to change behavior after a fact is discovered.
But this, of course, is precisely what such religions demand. I know of no religious doctrine that says, “Oh, if you discover something contradicts these words of the Infinite Supreme Being, discard these words of the Infinite Supreme Being.
Rather, most religions say the following about worshiping other gods or heresy itself:
If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. Deuteronomy 13:6-10
Since faith is based on the unknown and there are no facts to dispute a belief, it would be acceptable to have faith and beliefs. It is also acceptable to believe things not yet proven; from a scientific perspective the objective is to prove what is unproven, therefore you have to first believe in something or at least have a hypothesis before you can prove it to be true or false.
“Faith” as applied to religion is not simply tentative trust until such time as the facts are in”. Indeed, no human endeavor other than religion operates in that way, and it’s a mistake to try to blur theistic faith with secular faith.
I’ll hold with faith until such time as evidence changes my willingness to trust. I will offer faith to a doctor, but if he fucks up, that faith will be translated into a lawsuit. This is not the same kind of faith that religion demands, which is relentless belief, belief, belief no matter what.
And for humans, relentless belief despite evidence to the contrary is the moral equivalent of a “culprit”, and it’s irrational as well. It’s time we learned to do things differently.