"Lauren's Blitherings"

No BS, genuinely honest op-ed ramblings on a wide range of news articles.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

So they're saying. . .we should ditch religion


I couldn't agree with you more, Mr. Harris. And your argument for why we should ditch it (i.e. "we should be talking about real problems") is indeed plausible, but it ain't gonna be the same argument that actually convinces people to ditch it.

Why do people need religion in the first place?

Voltaire said, "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him".

Humans are insecure, lonely, and can't help but ponder the meaning of their existence. All of which are very understandable, respectable reasons for man to have to create and rely on religion. At least it was understandable and respectable thousands of years ago when man didn't have the physical and social sciences that he has today.

This all reminds me of a concept a therapist of mine once gave me called "behavior dinosauric". It's where a person utilizes a behavior and/or defense mechanism that was necessary back when there was a real, actual threat, but then continues to use that behavior and/or defense mechanism well after the real, actual threat has disappeared, usually just out of habit and/or comfort.

When man did not have the physical and social sciences that exist today and was feeling these real and actual threatening, anguishing feelings of insecurity and loneliness about himself and his existence, he was left to his own devices (namely that wonderfully abstract-thought producing brain of his) to do anything he could in his power to explain away these uncomfortable feelings and questions. But in today's age, even after man has found physically and socially scientific proofs -- that is, explanations outside of his own creation that have actually been SCIENTIFICALLY proven, or if they're still theories, at least have more plausibility than that which he made up purely through his own imagination and through the filters of his own powerfully uncomfortable emotions -- he continues to rely on the explanations and comfort given to him through his own man-made religions and god(s) from long, long ago.

OK, so the physical sciences totally make sense here (i.e. the big bang theory, etc), but you may be wondering where the social sciences (i.e. Psychology, Sociology, etc) come in. Basically, the social sciences help explain what makes man tick (except Anthropology which just observes and collects data on how he ticks but doesn't dare critique it). And just like his own existence, man had to come up with his own ideas about what made himself tick before there was any science outside of himself that pulled (mostly) non emotionally-laden concepts together (I say "mostly" here because it's damn near impossible for man to be completely objective when he starts dealing with the science of how his own mind and heart work). Now, unlike most of what you'll find in the physical sciences, most of these ideas are all still just theories, but very plausible ones that have shown results when put to the test in therapy, experimental tests on groups of people, and/or other social scientific situations.

But what's the major concept of the general social sciences that's applicable here that I'm trying to get at? It is this: Man is a social creature. He NEEDS interactions with other humans to survive. The social sciences say that man needs a sense of community and a sense of meaning and purpose, and the physical sciences have given another more plausible explanation(s) for the origins of our existence. . and yet man continues to seek that sense of meaning, purpose, and community through his religions and god(s). Surely as science continues to become the primary influence on man's way of conceptualizing himself and his existence, man will look less to religion and god(s). . . and. . .perhaps to his fellow man?

Could a push for a secular humanistic society be what finally gets man to find common ground on the "issues of less moral importance" so that he can start talking about the "real problems" as Mr. Harris puts it. . .? And could secular humanism be what finally gets man to relinquish his oldest behavior dinosauric?

1 comment:

  1. I love me some Sam Harris (check out his Letter to a Christian Nation)

    Among the "new atheist" books, Dawkin's The God Delusion is strong for most of the way (it tails off somewhat)

    I also recently finished Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's 36 Arguments for the Existence of God (a work of fiction) -- quite good, not least for the appendix that breaks down (and dissects) each one of those arguments -- useful as a good book and a good philosophical reference