Friday, July 25, 2008

A Line in the Sand

I think that in the previous post I may have answered the underlying question that has been bugging me for so long. If Abrahamic monotheism is so poisonous, why has it been so successful for so long? I think the answer is the same as the one to the question social workers, families and friends have so long asked about the victims of parental and spousal abuse; why does she (or he) stay with him?

Undermine their self-esteem through the doctrine of original sin and convince them they have no other options through monotheism.

If that's really the answer, then it's time for me to move on from diagnosing the problem to envisioning a future that I would like to live in. Maybe it will never come to pass, but one might as well try.

Now... for a really catchy name....

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

No One Will Ever Love You But Me; Yahweh as the abusive parent

Did it ever strike you as strange that the Christian right wing (not to mention Islam) are always flipping out about single parents and gay adoption when they themselves condemn the entire universe to being from a single-parent family for all time?

We know from the Ugarit texts that Yahweh once had a consort and was part of the Caananite pantheon headed by his father, El. Current Abrahamic monotheism, however, makes out that there is no Mrs. God. So, not only did Yahweh ditch his spouse, but he tells us that we never had a mommy. Nice.

So let's look for a second at some of the typical patterns in the relationship between an abusive parent or a spouse and their victim and how they are paralleled in the ways that monotheists want us to see their god.

No one will ever love you but me

Central to the abuser's success in controlling their victim is convincing her or him that she or he has no other options. If she or he were to run away, or divorce that she or he would be alone and helpless and most likely die. Because the victim believes this, he or she follows the logic that accepting the abuse is her or his only option.

"Thou shalt have no other gods before me [to which I can be compared unfavorably]" — Yahweh (paraphrased)

But he's really a good person when he isn't burning me with an iron

Abuse victims who are caught in the cycle of low self-esteem will sometimes defend their abusers because there is a component of caring in the relationship. The abuser wants the victim to continue to accept them, and that is a kind of caring even if a very twisted one. For someone who has been convinced by an abusive parent or spouse that they are unlikely to get love anywhere else, even that poisoned kind of caring is preferable to the utterly bleak landscape that has been painted around them.

Abrahamic apologists (Hi Pete!) will respond with variations on "Well, we can't prove that God isn't there, so we should all worship him just in case he's real.". Which, of course, assumes that the only choices are to worship Yahweh or be an atheist. I hope it's clear, dear readers, how strenuously I disagree with that view.

I'm the only one who really understands him; you don't know what you're talking about


Alexandria Library. Witch burnings. Inquisition. Crusade. Extermination of native peoples around the world. Women subjugated.

If he acts like an abusive parent and the institutions inspired by his stories commit atrocities for centuries without any effective resistance guess what? Yahweh is an abusive god and he belongs in rehab. Asclepius might be able to help, but better not let Brìd anywhere near the guy or he'll wind up getting a Bobbet.

Monday, July 14, 2008

We're All Experiments

One of the subtitles that's been given to the United States is "The Great Experiment." I think that all efforts at organizing society are experiments, and that if we viewed them that way there would be less motivation for armed conflicts.

It seems to me that we mostly view nations as organisms competing for resources and dominance, and I think that is true to a certain extent. (that's my social darwinism peeking out) On a larger scale, though, I think humanity is carrying out multiple concurrent experiments which are intended to answer the question: "What would society be like if it were organized this way?"

If we view nations that way, then it is in everyone's best interest that all the experiments continue uninterrupted until all useful data has been collected. Then we will assess the results and start the next experiment based on what we have learned. After lots and lots of tries, we'll eventually arrive at the conclusion that if society is organized this way, then almost everyone is OK almost all of the time. Check! Done!

The only way an experiment can really fail is if it produces no new data. The Soviet Union, for example, was not a failed experiment in my opinion. We learned that when enough power is concentrated in a central government to erase most economic inequality, that it is too vulnerable to manipulation and corruption. Good to know!!

So, perhaps we can hold these this paradigm in balance against the social darwinist one and reach our ultimate goal in less time with less suffering along the way. What do you all say, shall we try?