Going a Little Forward, the Human Niche
12 Feb, 2009
Never be discouraged from being an activist
because people tell you that you will not succeed. You have already
succeeded if you're out there representing truth or justice or
compassion or fairness or love." —Doris Haddock
The esoteric worldview stands in a sharp contrast to the
exoteric, or consensus worldview, which is basically materialistic.
The esoteric perspective represents a definition of reality that is
diametrically opposed to the one by which most people live their
lives in our modern world. Most importantly, the esoteric
perspective also represents an alternative morality that is felt by
many to be no morality at all, but rather the negation of moral
SEEKING THE TRUTH IS A TRICKY BUSINESS, WHEREAS:
WHEN YOU THINK YOU HAVE REVEALED IT, YOU TEND TO CLING TO IT;
WHEN, ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU REALIZE THAT IT HAS BECOME A DOGMA;
BUT SINCE THE TRUTH IS AN ETERNAL QUEST, IT IS AGAINST DOGMA.
Going a little forward the Human Niche… If the people of religion know and accept the fact that, humans like all other living beings, have only one single span of life only here in this world on the earth, not before, not after. Previously people had little knowledge, and with that whatever they crafted—such as religions, heritages, and traditions—were not perfect, were full of mistakes, wrong ideas and baseless thoughts; they were quite imperfect, unproductive, and acted as road-blocks towards the real growth of humanity and social progress. With the last 50 years' of knowledge boom, technology, tools and thoughts are available now to find these facts! Finally it has been proven conclusively that humans are no different from other living beings, as far as the form of life, and living on this earth. The brain and the hands made humans so much more developed compared to the other creatures. The soul theory is utterly wrong, mistakenly thought out by the crafters of religions and traditions. It is quite a bluff to real truth. All religions have been based on the soul theory; therefore, they are devoid of real truths, too.
People must wake up and look for the truth. They must be willing to give away our old practices, which are based on religion, tradition, and heritage, if they acts as roadblocks to our social and humanistic progress. All humans of the world must put efforts in real meaningful thoughts, works, and practices, which shall boost humanity as a whole, regardless of race, color, heritage, and origin.
Humans, like all other living beings, are a product of four billion years of evolutionary processes. We have been shaped and pounded by the rhythms of our planet's geology and climate as well as by the continual interplay among biological organisms. You exist because eons of your ancestors, from bacteria to primates, struggled and reproduced successfully. The genes that reside in each and every one of us are the ones that helped our ancestors not only to survive, but to out-reproduce their competitors. And as improbable as it might seem, you are here through the success of billions of generations. Every living species on the planet; has gone through this process and have evolved to fit a particular niche. Our human niche just happens to have emphasized brains over brawn, which has given us language, creativity, curiosity, and the most complicated social system of any species. However, our incredibly powerful brain is locked in a continual battle between reason and ancestral fears. This conflict helps us understand why religion has held such a grip on humanity and why we must still fight for reason to prevail.
Very late in our journey to modern humans, we evolved the ability to think abstractly. We could not write this article without the ability to abstract thought and reason, and you could not comprehend it without these abilities either. Thinking in such a fashion is apparently unique to humans, and even then not everyone is able. Out smart-brain is just not designed to prevent the primal brain from taking over, because the abundance of food most of us are surrounded by is a fairly new development in human history. Perhaps given another few thousand years form now, those individuals with the will-power to resist all that tasty fat, protein, sugar and salt will out-produce those that don't.
The point I wished to drive home here is that there is an instant conflict between what we know is good for us and what is bad and we often fall victim to our more primal needs even though, when we know they are harmful.
The success of religion is undeniable. It is there in every culture, and in every corner of the world. We spend billions and billions of dollars on building monuments to it, supporting it, and of course proselytizing on behalf of our own favored brand of it. Individuals give up sex and eschew family and friends for religion. Beyond that, we sacrifice time and effort to its rituals, and indoctrinate our children and grandchildren to do the same. We are even willing to kill for it.
Modern science, particularly modern biology, has given us the freedom to shuck off the idea that our existence and the existence of the universe requires an intelligent being. In fact, as Richard Dawkins pointed out in The God Delusion, invoking an intelligent being doesn't explain anything; it just pushes the question back to 'Who designed the designer?' Despite the illogic of believing that a great being is in the heavens, who is capable of creating not only the laws of physics, the principles of evolution, and the vastness of time, also cares a great deal about whether or not you use your left hand to clean up after defecating, eat a cracker while sinless, or not mix cheese with chicken, we still seem to sup it up like mother's milk.
The reason religion is so successful is that it taps into our primal-brains in much the same way that a Big Mac does, only more so. Religion gained its foothold by hijacking the need to give purpose at a time when humans had only their imagination, opposed to evidence and reason that we have today, to fathom the world. Spirits and demons were the explanation for illnesses that we now know are caused by bacterial and viral germs and genetic disorders. The whims of the gods were why earthquakes, volcanoes’, floods and droughts occurred. Our ancestors were driven to sacrifice everything from goats to one another to satisfy those mystic gods.
Along with the need to attribute purpose, our faculty to intuit
the intent of others spills over into a predilection for determining
the intentions of gods and goddesses (or spirits, demons, and
angels). Of course, the major problem has been that we can never
quite agree among ourselves about god's intentions, which often ends
in unfortunate violent discussions. Our evolved proclivity for
aggression feeds into that as well. We justify our prejudices,
hatred, murders, and war by attributing our own biases to a god’s
orders and his plans. Yet we never wonder “as to why are we supposed
to follow the orders of god; whom we only know via his messengers or
apostles or in dreams?” As long as we kill in god's name, we are
doing good and it is justified!!!
Our primal-brains that keep track of kin can be easily hijacked
through language and rituals, which is why religion uses terms such
as 'god the father', 'Mary the mother of heaven', 'brother', and
'sister' or in Islam as the monotheistic one. Rituals reinforce
fictitious kin through feasts, worship, and ceremonies such as
marriages, funerals and charity. Despite our smart-brains being able
to recognize the difference between real kin and not, those ties
created within religious organizations bind tightly. Leaving the
faith one was born into would certainly have led our ancestors to
being shunned if not worse. In Islam, the punishment for apostasy is
death. And in Western cultures, it is not uncommon to hear of
individuals whose families and friends have turned their backs
because they have disavowed their religious beliefs.
The fear of losing family and friends is a powerful force for
keeping people in tow. It is far easier to ignore the evidence that
there is no god than to give up the love and friendship of a
community. Our survival depends much more on being part of a
community, even in today's modern world, than on abandoning
religion. Psychological studies strongly suggest that our social
network, that is family and friends, are essential to personal
happiness. For our ancestors it was more than that, it was necessary
for our very survival itself. Exclusion would have meant death, and
our primal-brains have not forgotten. We did not evolve to be
solitary creatures, nor do we tend to be independent of social
support. Religion has, for better or worse, always offered a ready
social network, an entire (fictive) extended family. Our primal
brains are designed to not only strive to maintain close family and
social relationships, but when coupled with the attribution of our
own primal fears to the mind of god along with our tendency for
aggression, we are more than willing to commit the most heinous acts
to protect our fictive kin and beliefs.
Of course there are other factors that contribute to this tangled web, such as the desire for power, land, wealth, and, where men are concerned, access to females for reproduction. All of these extant drives ingrained in the human psyche, have also been justified through religion. No matter how terrible the deed, by attributing to god our own fears and hatreds -- anything could be justified. Religion and gods were extremely useful to the ruthless and power-hungry thinking.
Our archaic brains, which served us so well during our evolutionary past now, threatens our very existence. While our smart-brains have given us modern technology and science and the privilege of understanding not only ourselves but our universe, our primal brains are stuck in the stone-age. “Reason must always fight our tendencies to give way to superstitions and fears”. This is especially true when we have the capability to destroy not only ourselves, but our planet as well!
Much of the world's population still believes in a god which is forged out of the fear of the primitive desert people. Worse still, they fully believe not only that their view of god and his wishes are right, but that those who disagree must be converted or face eternal torments in hell (sometimes even offering some help to get there). The primal fears instilled by this religious fervor, acts as an impenetrable wall to reason. According to a recent Gallup poll, 66% of the US population agrees strongly with the statement 'God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years'. Given the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence to the contrary, such obstinate belief should frighten any person of reasonable thinking. It also is testimony to the wealthy and powerful religious organizations spend billions of dollars on public relations, creating controversies where none exist and spewing lies about the evidence for evolution. But none of this would be possible without our brains being ready and available to take in the message they are delivering. It is easy enough for atheists, freethinkers and humanists to chuckle at the credulity of these believers, but we do so at our own perils!!!
Religion needs to be taken very seriously. Understanding its
roots, how it can seize command of our psychology and take control
of our cultures. It may well be one of the most important endeavors
we pursue today? For even with all our grand technology, modern
medical advances, and volumes of knowledge, if we do not stop our
archaic past from overriding our modern reason, we are surely doomed
THERE ARE NO ABSOLUTES IN AN EVER CHANGING WORLD OF RELATIVITY, NOTHING ESCAPES THIS VERY FACT AND TRUTH CAN BE NO EXCEPTIONS!!!
Lennard James is a Pakistani-born writer.