Does sex make you feel shame? Is there something about hearing graphic or sensual content that draws an innate feeling of uneasiness or disgust? Why do you think you feel that way? This weeks blasphemy gets down and dirty and asks you: “What makes you ashamed when we talk or think about sex?”
In this essay I will continue to mine a vein that I have exposed over the past couple of installments in this blog: that of “species memory,” which might also be thought of as “cultural memory.” I believe there are echoes of watershed events in the human saga preserved in ancient texts such as the Bible, often reworked so extensively that it takes some “reading between the lines” to tease them out. It seems to me that in the Genesis myths alone we hear several such echoes. I think it might be useful at this point to spill a little metaphorical ink over the question of how the Bible came to be in the first place, before continuing with the story of the wrathful confusion of languages.
Around 1000 BCE, a bunch of quarreling Palestinian tribes were welded into a bona fide, if short-lived, kingdom by a warlord named David, who had clawed his way to power by toppling another chieftain named Saul. In order to accomplish this political coup and guarantee his hegemony, David used the time-honored means of treachery, brute force and propaganda. The propaganda took the form of stories that were crafted by the priests who supported the Davidic monarchy and profited from their loyalty.
Those priests were members of a tribe known as “Levites,” who had invented quite a few elaborate ceremonies guaranteed to strike awe into the hearts of onlookers and cow them into submission. Priests whose stories told of a miraculous deliverance from Egyptian bondage – an exodus led by a Levite who escorted God’s chosen people to the Promised Land, receiving God’s laws along the way. (It’s no accident that those priests were rewarded handsomely for their efforts: witness the lavish “inheritance” they wrote for themselves into God’s law, as outlined in the books of Numbers and Joshua. Even during hard times, the Levites ate well.) Those stories were filled with dire warnings and cautionary tales. They recounted the conquest of uncooperative Palestinian tribes by the victorious “armies of God,” led by such genocidal luminaries as Joshua. They included tales of David’s own rise to power. Those stories – pure fictions, all – were intended to cobble together previously fractious tribes into a band of brothers presided over by a single monarch. Serendipitously, they also came to form the core of what Christians revere as the Bible: all else is later encrustation.
The priests who concocted these accounts drew on a number of extant legends from the region; they also added a lot of tales from their own (mostly invented) experience. The stories of the Fall, the Flood and the Tower of Babel are all borrowed stories, reworked to fit the narrative that the Levites wished for the tribes of Palestine, thereafter to be known as “David’s kingdom,” to adopt as their sacred history.
Continue reading “Reading the Myths Aright, Part III: On the Wrathful Dispersion of People and Tongues”
Well, as we all know, abortion is a pretty contentious topic in the United States. It also faces its strongest opposition from religious groups. Considering how we atheists do not believe in God and need to rationally conclude morality for ourselves; we cannot rely on religious moral pronouncements about abortion, but need to come to our own conclusions. Philosophically, there are many different moral stances framing the issue that atheists can take, but we can also apply science to the issue to come to reasonable conclusions. Being essentially a utilitarian, as I have made clear in previous articles, this is my take on the abortion issue. I see the abortion issue as having two different priorities that we need to balance: the life of the fetus and the mother’s right to her own body.
To me, a fetus most certainly is a human life, but we must be careful how we define and frame this issue. Some people see the killing of all human life to be bad, while I obviously disagree in this particular circumstance. It has been said by people who are pro-choice, particularly those not of a religious variety, that life does not begin, but that it continues. A fertilized egg is formed from living components from the mother and the father, and this gives a fertilized egg a distinct set of human DNA, which then grows into a fully born human. In a vacuum, it could be argued by some that this life should not be destroyed, but obviously this fertilization process does not happen within a vacuum. It typically happens in a fully grown, or nearly fully grown human female. This woman has her own priorities and concerns, and these should not be discounted simply because a fetus or an embryo or a fertilized egg is a human life. We must look at how the two priorities between the mother’s concerns and the life of the fetus should be weighed against each other.
Continue reading “Abortion: What Does Science Say on the Matter?”
Before I begin, I bid you, take a breath, in then out. Let the preconceptions and rigid guard you came in with down. I am not here to criticize, debunk, disprove, or solve the endless argument for the beginning of life. This metaphysical and moderately circular argument, life and when it begins, has been here since before I was, and will be here well after I have left. What I wish to consider is a world where that black and white definition is unimportant, where the abortion question has been relegated to the dustbins of a society past.
I wish to talk about consequences, specifically future predictions of the reactions that might result from a series of decisions. Without regulating sexuality, banning abortion, or mandating birth control for all citizens how could we reduce the unwanted or surprise pregnancy, and with it the possible request for an abortion? How could we create a self policing population that actively chooses to avoid scenarios where the results could be the creation of human lives, whilst protecting the natural and very human instinct to copulate?
Continue reading “Abortion and Education: A love Hate Story of Faith and Consequences”