Tuesday, June 25, 2013

On Monogamy.

Ebon wrote on beliefnet:
It's especially a pointless question for humans because, unlike any other species, we have learned to decouple sexuality and fertility. In prehistoric times, it was in our biological interest for a child's parents to be committed to one another to ensure the survival of the child to adulthood and thereby, the continuation of the genes. In fact, the extended family was even better (and was, historically, the most common form of childrearing) for exactly the same reason.

But that's fairly irrelevent to us now. Since we have largely divorced sex from fertility, monogamy now becomes simply one option among many. For some people, monogamy comes naturally.

Interesting point.  But the term "monogamy" is linked not to sexual activity but child raising.  For the non-breeders, to use a gender neutral term, it seems to make little difference to the society what form of sexual expression is chosen. 

However, for those who chose to accept responsibility for children whether in the usual way or by adoption, a stable family commonly reinforced by sexual bonding is an important value for society to reinforce.  Unfortunately both civil and religious mores are far behind the curve on this critical issue. 

I would like to see "marriage" as permission for sex completely thrown out of both civil and religious laws.  The state would create family unions to protect those who choose to form families for the purpose of raising children.  Religions might want to restrict "marriage" to those couples with a family union license from the state.  These unions would be structured to protect the family unity with a bias toward protecting the children in the event of a separation of the adults in the union. 

Social units not involving children can be handled better via contractual arrangements, pre-nups, visitation rights, wills, etc.  I doubt that religions would want to be involved in blessing such arrangements.  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Atheists vs Religion, not God

I see the big issue not as atheism vs. God, but atheism vs. religion.  Atheists are in a unique position to separate the two and help people focus on the evils of religion.  Cede them their God(s) they aren't going to give up Big Daddy, but help them see that just because the religion claims God, believers don't have to agree. 

There are two big religious issues that are in the process of changing, but must change from within.  The first is the authoritarian tradition in religions.  God, the hierarchy, the pastors must be obeyed in every way, and the associated transfer of this authority to secular powers.   The second is the incompatibility of faith and learning, especially learning for all people.  Religions know that learning destroys faith and therefore do all they can to impede learning.  

About all an atheist can do to help is to show that learning has intrinsic value and promote it always,  the internet is a powerful tool for this, and to the extent possible prevent politico/religious interference in the learning process. 

As for the authoritarian issue, I suspect atheists can usefully abandon their own authoritarian issues, and recognize and work with those religious groups that are trying to be free.  I don't care if they believe in God or not, as long as they are challenging their faith traditions of authority.  There are many Christians who are going back to the Synoptics and Jesus' personal view of God and Jesus' concern for his neighbors, all of them.  I view them as fellow travelers on the anti-religion path, and encourage them and respect their God beliefs.  As many here know I promote the Jefferson Bible to all and sundry believers and others for its basic humanism.  They can keep their God intact, and focus on the message of Jesus, not as God but as God's exemplar on earth.  It is a powerful anti-religion book, which is why I am sure Jefferson extracted it from Religion's Bible as an important part of his presidency.