Have We Outgrown Religion?

This is a thought experiment that I’ve been conducting with myself for most of my adult life. It will probably offend some people, as religion is a very touchy subject. Please know that I often write a blog post simply to clarify my own thoughts and get thoughtful feedback. I’m not trying to tell anyone what to think or believe or disbelieve.

Recently I came across an article entitled, “A 43,900-year-old cave painting is the oldest story ever recorded. Archaeologists say it might also contain the oldest known religious images.” By Kiona N. Smith. I’ve always been fascinated by cave paintings, so naturally I had to read on. (And I highly recommend that you do, too.) One passage really jumped out at me:

“Before we could develop religion, we had to develop the ability to think and talk about things that don’t exist in the natural, physical world. We had to learn to describe and imagine not just things we had already seen, but things no one had ever seen… In other words, we had to invent the concept of fiction.”

Was the author equating religion to fiction? Or perhaps she was describing the process of faith? I don’t know. Either way I found this to be a fascinating topic.

It is not unreasonable to consider religion to be a philosophical invention of sorts. Religious tenets came about to explain those things that we didn’t understand, and also to set forth a set of rules to define morality. Much of it has to do with a subject that most of us still struggle with: our own mortality, and the acceptance thereof.

The thing is, we’ve learned so much since the establishment of most mainstream religions. The invention of refrigeration alone makes most religious food restrictions unnecessary, whereas at the time they were critical to maintaining life. We’ve also invented planes, trains, and automobiles, so our horizons have expanded and we really don’t need to have such a tribal worldview. And the invention of medical devices, microscopes, telescopes, computers, the scientific method, birth control, and meteorology have changed the way we see our planet and have impacted the way we live upon it.

Because of all this, I find it impossible to live within a rigid, inflexible religious system that is more than 2000 years old, just as I wouldn’t take medical advice from that era. Any philosophy that isn’t living, breathing, and adapting to current circumstances and our increased knowledge base does not serve us well. The fact that the Pope won’t condone condoms, even in countries ravaged by AIDS, is just one example of this.

I think we’ve outgrown religion as it currently stands. If it can’t keep up with the times, it should be left behind. My opinion. You are entitled to yours.

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Inherited Wealth

Recently, on my online newsfeed, I saw an article that asked the readers if it is ethical to pass your wealth on to your children. I confess, I didn’t read it. Why would I? It’s not a problem that I’ll ever have. My parents didn’t have much money to pass on to me, and I don’t have any children. Problem solved.

But I did think about the issue from a philosophical standpoint during my next long commute. Naturally, Donald Trump sprang to mind. I’m convinced that the only reason he has money today is because daddy gave him obscene amounts of money to begin with. Donald Trump is barely literate and has no people skills whatsoever, and how many times has he declared bankruptcy? There’s no way he’d have been a self-made millionaire. The world would be a much safer and healthier place if his father hadn’t given him that leg up.

But on the other hand, it’s the average parent’s instinct to try to make his or her children’s lives better than the preceding generation’s. Who are we to deny them that? It’s their wealth. (Well… it is and it isn’t. I’ll save that particular rant for another day.) They can do with it whatever they choose.

Having said that, though, I feel the need to point out that with wealth comes power. If you’re giving your child power that that child hasn’t earned, then you bear a responsibility to make sure your kid is worthy of that power. (Trump’s father never did that, and now we are all paying the price. Lucky us.)

It’s every parent’s duty to instill a strong moral compass in children. They need to grasp laws and ethics and morals. They should understand the need for, and frequently practice, philanthropy. They must possess a certain level of compassion and kindness. Above all, they should have respect for others. With such an unequal balance of power being presented to them on a silver platter, they must be taught to avoid the impulse to grab things (or people) that don’t belong to them.

If little rich kids don’t have these qualities (and unfortunately many do not), then giving them an enormous nest egg on which to lounge is a disservice to the human race. Sheltering them from the real world, and coddling them from life, only produces cruel, dangerous, psychopathic individuals. The last thing these warped individuals need is for you to throw power, in the form of big sweaty wads of cash, into the mix. It creates a toxic stew.

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Aggression is the New Regression

In the near future, when the leader of the free world is going to be someone who publicly declares “I’d like to punch him in the face,” and also condones waterboarding and other war crimes, can an uptick in violence be far behind?

There is a thin veil between humanity and aggression. That veil is called morality. The reason we don’t devolve to a society of cavemen is that we have developed laws and codes based on this morality. It keeps at least some of us in check. Violence is wrong. We all used to know this, at least on some level.

But soon we’ll have a leader who is willing to pierce that veil, and do it with a smile on his face. I’ve recently noticed a lot more adult bullying and intimidation. We are regressing. We are losing our civility. Check out this video of a man kicking a woman down the stairs. There is nothing on earth that can justify this type of behavior.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a violent world, and always has been. Every woman I know has been abused in some form or another at least once in her life.  It’s hard to feel safe in that atmosphere. But the only thing we seemed to have in our favor was public outrage. Now the outrage seems to crop up when we don’t behave aggressively enough. It’s a different world.

I don’t know about you, but I’m scared. I’m also disheartened.

I leave you now with a link to a television clip from Morocco, in which a makeup artist is demonstrating how to cover up the bruises you receive from domestic violence so that you can “carry on with your daily life.”

For this, I have no words.

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Okay, I Can’t Stand It.

A dear friend, whom I love and respect, posted the following on her Facebook page. It broke my heart that someone I care about and admire so much could be so taken in. I’ll start with the quote (Which is from some other source, which has since disappeared from Facebook, and I’ll remain faithful to the spelling errors, screwed up punctuation, and all), and then I’ll respond, point by ignorant point.

This saddens me. I’m a woman and a human first, so obviously I’m against rape, sexual assaults, molestation, etc. However, there is much more to this story that a lot of you wont even understand. I don’t even believe that in this day and time ppl brains even expand as far as this situation really goes. The reality is this man ‪#‎BILLCOSBY was getting ready to take over a huge television network called ‪#‎NBC. Which would have open doors for ppl of color to be on a major television station much more often. He’s was speaking on positive opportunities in the black community, on race issues and things he believed black ppl should do to get ahead. Then and ONLY then did these outlandish accusations from 30… THIRTY YEARS AGO come out about him. One by one. When a black man is “getting too big for his bridges” Hollywood, white America has to stop him. Now he’s been indicted on charges for something allegedly happen 10 years ago. This 78, lets just say 80. This 80 year old man is now in prison on a 1 million dollar bail for extremely old UNPROVEN accusations. When he should be home preparing to die, because let’s just face it, he’s gonna die soon and now instead of dying for being one of the greatest of all time! For being a positive successful huge black public figure, he now has to die with this stigma on him as a serial rapist. Same thing they did to Michael Jackson. The craziest part is that they don’t even have to try hard because black ppl doing the dirty work for them. Working against their own. Believing the hype. Black men, comedians, etc making jokes and accusing Bill. Black Women going against him don’t even know the facts or wether it’s even true. Just running w/accusations. Think about this ‪#‎StephenCollins the father off “Seventh Heaven” was accused of and admitted to CHILD MOLESTATION and no one is talking about it. The show also airs faithfully on television still. That’s what you call ‪#‎whiteprivilege. As long as black men are selling drugs and encouraging black ppl to do drugs and disrespecting our women and things like that they are ok with you. The minute you try to spread positivity into your black community and make major moves BE CAREFUL.

  • There is much more to this story that a lot of you wont even understand. I don’t even believe that in this day and time ppl brains even expand as far as this situation really goes.

If you want to have people take you seriously, you might want to avoid insulting them with your condescension right out of the gate. But then, I guess I’m doing that, aren’t I?

Guess when Mr Cosby was attempting to do that? 1992. So if your conspiracy theory holds water, it sure took a long time to get up and running.

  • He’s was speaking on positive opportunities in the black community, on race issues and things he believed black ppl should do to get ahead.

He said poor blacks all buy their kids $500 shoes. He also said “Those people are not Africans. They don’t know a damned thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed and all that crap and all of them are in jail.”

He was also the main spokesperson for Jello for many years. Jello is owned by R. J. Reynolds, a tobacco company that targets its menthol cigarette advertising to the black community. Menthol allows you to draw smoke deeper into your lungs, increasing your chances of cancer.

  • Then and ONLY then did these outlandish accusations from 30… THIRTY YEARS AGO come out about him. One by one.

And? Is there a statute of limitation on morality? If he got away with it for this long, is he somehow absolved of his sins?

  • When a black man is “getting too big for his bridges” Hollywood, white America has to stop him.

Uh… the expression is “Too big for his britches,” you fool. And if that’s the case, why hasn’t anyone “stopped” Sydney Portier, Morgan Freeman, Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, Danny Glover, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones, and on and on and on…

  • Now he’s been indicted on charges for something allegedly happen 10 years ago. This 78, lets just say 80. This 80 year old man is now in prison on a 1 million dollar bail for extremely old UNPROVEN accusations.

Is there an age limit for morality? Do you get to get away with shit because you’re old? And on an initial arrest, the charges are ALWAYS unproven. That’s what trials are for.

  • He now has to die with this stigma on him as a serial rapist. Same thing they did to Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson was another pervert. You wear the chains you forge in life. Sorry to disappoint.

  • The craziest part is that they don’t even have to try hard because black ppl doing the dirty work for them. Working against their own. Believing the hype. Black men, comedians, etc making jokes and accusing Bill. Black Women going against him don’t even know the facts or wether it’s even true. Just running w/accusations.

Um, do YOU know the facts? And are you supposed to unquestioningly support everyone within your race? That must be exhausting.

  • Think about this ‪#‎StephenCollins the father off “Seventh Heaven” was accused of and admitted to CHILD MOLESTATION and no one is talking about it. The show also airs faithfully on television still. That’s what you call ‪#‎whiteprivilege.

No, that’s what you call, “Who the hell is Stephen Collins”? I’ve never heard of the man. I’ve never seen the show. He’s not nearly as famous, so not as many people are talking about him. And a Google search tells me there were 3 women, not more than fifty, and he admitted to it, instead of trying to deny, so while it’s still heinous, it’s less “interesting” to the media.

Did white privilege save Bill Clinton from the Monica Lewinsky scandal?

  • As long as black men are selling drugs and encouraging black ppl to do drugs and disrespecting our women and things like that they are ok with you. The minute you try to spread positivity into your black community and make major moves BE CAREFUL.

Tell that to Oprah, honey.

God, sometimes I just want to scream. Racial bias goes both ways.

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Want to Defeat ISIS?

Every paramilitary organization on the face of the earth is only as powerful as its bottom line. Without money, there are no bullets for guns, gas for tanks, or food for soldiers. Without money you are simply throwing a tantrum in the wilderness.

It is now estimated that ISIS makes up to 3 million dollars a day selling oil on the black market. That’s a lot of freakin’ loot. You could do a lot with that much filthy lucre.

So what do we do about it? Some would say we should cut off their ability to sell their oil on the black market. Yeah, good luck with that. That’s like trying to keep water from pouring out of a colander. There are always too many holes to plug. People are so greedy for oil that if they can get it for 30 dollars a barrel rather than 100 dollars a barrel, they’ll do so, and to hell with where that money is going. Greed trumps morality every time.

We may not be able to control greed, but we can control need. If we drastically reduce our dependence on oil, then ISIS will be left holding a lot of greasy black real estate in a bomb-blasted wasteland. If we really want to fight ISIS, rather than panicking about the occasional terrorist that slips through an ocean of desperate and innocent immigrants, what we need to do is go green.

Solar and wind power are the great equalizers. No nation or region or insane extremist can corner that market. Energy can even be created from the mounds of refuse that we Americans seem so hellbent on producing on a daily basis.

We have the ability to drastically reduce our dependence on oil, and that would cut ISIS off at the knees. And it would have the added benefit of maybe saving the planet so that our progeny won’t be waging war over air and water. What a concept.

I dream of the day when oil is as unnecessary as whalebone corset stays. But you know, it’ll never happen. We’d rather have ISIS if it means we get to keep our SUVs. Think about that next time you press your gas pedal.

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[Image credit: thesun.co.uk]

Good God, He’s at it Again.

Just when you think that Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty can’t wander any further out on the lunatic fringe, he does just that. This time he ranted not about homosexuals or AIDS or hippies (Are there enough hippies left to rant about? Apparently so.) but what he appears to consider the most evil creatures of all: atheists.

It seems that this silly, ignorant old man equates atheism with a lack of morality. As far as I can tell, his message boiled down to this: without a belief in a judging, Christian god, you cannot be afraid of consequences, and therefore can run wild and give in to your baser instincts.

But here’s what really gave me the willies about his speech: he showed the world exactly what his instincts would be, and even for someone as desensitized as little ol’ me, who is a true crime documentary addict, his scenario was chilling. I won’t go into detail about it. You can read it here if you’re so inclined. But suffice it to say that his violent, sadistic story would make the most diehard serial killer gasp. It takes a special kind of twisted imagination to come up with a plot like that. I wouldn’t want to run into this guy in a dark alley, just in case his god was off duty that day.

I’m not an atheist, but neither am I a Christian. I have never equated my moral compass with my spirituality. In fact, this recent study shows, and history bears it out, that religion doesn’t make people more moral.

I always strive to do the right thing, not because I fear going to hell, but because, well, it’s the right thing to do. I don’t behave decently out of fear. I behave decently because I’d like to think that others will do the same. Otherwise we could not have a functioning society. You can believe in the golden rule without believing that the bible is the voice of god.

If anything, I think that the more you are taught to question, the less dogmatic you are, the more moral you will be. If from birth you are force fed the concept that there is only one right way, and all other ways are wrong, it would be so much easier to stray from a path that you consider to be righteous, and once you’ve done that, once you decide that you’re a bad person, all bets are off. On the other hand, if you are taught to think for yourself, to consider your options, and to realize how your actions will impact those around you, you will be much more apt to care about the consequences of your behavior.

Yes, there is evil in this world. It spans across all religions and every philosophy. Some people are just sick, and I think Phil Robertson’s latest speech demonstrates that he’s one of those people. That’s all there is to it.

Phil Robertson

Why Are We Shocked?

As more and more women come forward with rape allegations, it’s becoming increasingly impossible to maintain any warm and fuzzy feelings for Bill Cosby, America’s favorite dad. There’s nothing worse than having an icon fall from grace, but there you have it. It happens all the time. Not only are none of us perfect, but quite a few of us are, frankly, despicable.

And Mr. Cosby certainly isn’t helping his case by showing not only an utter lack of remorse, but a litigious response to the scandal. But that shouldn’t shock us, either. This is a pattern that most scumbags follow until the pressure becomes too great. That’s why I never take remorse seriously. It’s rarely a natural and sincere reaction.

And then you have the Honey Boo Boo scandal. There is a reason I never watched that slow motion train wreck of a show. But to hear the allegations that her mother is dating the man who sexually abused this child’s older sister makes me sick. But again, why are we shocked? A certain percentage of mothers are horrible. They put their own misplaced desire for love ahead of the welfare of their children every single time. It has been forever thus.

We’d like to think that the human race is civilized. No one wants to believe that the veil between us and violence is wispy thin. We want to maintain that illusion of morality and decency. But rape and abuse happen. As a matter of fact, I haven’t known a single female who hasn’t been abused, either physically, sexually or emotionally, at least once. The actual chaos in which we live is obvious if we only care to acknowledge it.

On some level, we all know that. And yet no matter how often we see human beings behave deplorably, we can’t quite seem to get used to it. I kind of wish we would, though. As sad as it would be if the entire world became more cynical, I think we would be more apt to take appropriate action if our utter shock did not dull the edge of our outrage.

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[Image credit: jakkijelene.com]