Men like Freud, Kinsey, Marx, and Darwin, all pioneers in their own fields, had to combat the customs of their cultures to make their contributions to human knowledge.
Similarly, older historical figures, amongst them Socrates, Galileo, and Columbus, all had to contend with their prevailing cultures and authorities. The concern herein is not with the actual discoveries and contributions made by such men, often at extreme and deeply personal levels of self-confrontation, but with the fact that they had to question, deny, defy and combat the stultifying and entrenched values of their cultures with risk to their own welfare.
With many of their achievements, they set the world stage for the progress of science, technology, and, with the work of the humanist enlightenment philosophers, advanced the concepts of individual freedom.
Furthermore, the settlement of the Americas and the subsequent United States Constitution with its Amendments, broke the unquestioned control of religious power over not only the state, but also the individual.
Universal human rights were beginning to be acknowledged in law. Slavery was eventually outlawed, women freed from being a chattel of men, and individuals were at last free to believe or not believe in a religion; except that it hasn’t fully been realized. Why?
Without going into specifics, the main delay has been the reluctant relinquishing of all the restraining rules, laws and customs of previous generations.
That is nothing new, as the previously mentioned pioneers faced confrontation with such entrenched beliefs and laws. They succeeded in displacing many of those archaic beliefs because the empirical reality of their findings was irrefutable, or consisted of thoroughly sound rational arguments based on fact rather than conjecture.
Traditional beliefs, laws and customs were questioned and recognized as unjust, misleading, inadequate, and inaccurate. Without pursuing natural intellectual curiosity using scientific method, and acceptance of revealed reality, we would all still be believing the insanity of a flat Earth, and murdering each other for the sake of personal subjective beliefs. We are better than that.
It should be obvious that globally we humans still have a long way to go. Whilst technology has given us a global ‘village’, so to speak, from a cultural point of view there remain many diverse and unquestioned customs and rituals that influence our lives.
Many customs have already been discarded as they no longer serve a useful function within our societies. Some positive legacies have sadly been destroyed or allowed to waste away, or even torn down … without a memory of their value.
Other beliefs have become petrified into a perversion of their original concept and value. Conservatives have failed in their duty to conserve our natural heritage; instead, trying to preserve irrational religious beliefs for positions of power over others. Progressives, on the other hand, have struggled to protect, let alone advance, the evolution of our intellects and knowledge.
There has also been tolerance shown towards those remaining beliefs, customs and primitive explanations for existence, as long as they seemed harmless. However, recently those beliefs and customs have become rituals of terror in the lives of many people, in nearly all nations; from bombings to bullying.
Many religious are claiming that their beliefs are under threat, evoking much sentimental support amongst their misguided followers. So outrageous, so egregious have their attempts been to subjugate peoples to their beliefs, that they have received righteous ridicule for their antiquated tenets.
Nowhere do we see more determination to preserve irrational belief than we do in the three religions derived from Abraham. Those ancient beliefs from our ancestors’ emerging intellects are no longer necessary to explain natural phenomena, in the light of modern scientific knowledge.
We don’t need religious moral guidance for good conduct, something which religions acquired from our innate sense of ethics and human goodness, and then perverted.
Realizing our intrinsic goodness is another intellectual advance that has to be made, in defiance of the illogical religious claims that human nature is essentially evil. If that were true we wouldn’t have survived as long as we have, with or without a “savior.”
Once the idea of sin is understood to be a manipulative religious fraud, our lives become much less fraught, and are freed from irrational fears, and much more open to loving relationships, satisfaction and fulfillment.
For debates about what happens after death or ultimate answers for cosmological creation, the contention of a god is as good a consideration as any. But, even as an agnostic view, this holds no sway with the equally reasonable atheist opinion that no gods exist at all.
Such belief as there is for a god is wholly subjective, emotional and without substantiation, surviving solely on the circular argument that the holy books make, that they are the word of God because they are holy, and that they are holy because they are the word of God. Holy beliefs, set in stone from the Bronze Age, must be revealed as primitive ignorance, awaiting displacement by the growing cognition of our evolving, functioning minds in pursuit of reality.
There is nothing, either tangible or credible, to indicate that any god is the least bit interested in the sex lives of humans, beyond the believers’ own supposition that a god would care.
Neither would any god be interested in the religious believers who provoked wars, crusades and inquisitions; or our slavery, torture and bullying of each other or any religious beliefs.
Human problems remain problems for humans to solve with philosophical deliberation, rational analysis of our psyches and development of cultures devoted to Mankind’s needs; without leaving us feeling helpless and trapped in a new despair of intellectual deprivation.
Just as those previous pioneers of knowledge had to confront the customs and beliefs of their eras, so too must we stand firm in our affirmation of productive, wholesome human experience, our human rights, and our freedom from religious persecution. Note that there is a difference between religious belief being persecuted, and people being persecuted by religion.
When religious people complain that another person encroaches upon their religious freedoms by being required to accept behavior the religious consider immoral, it is not their religious freedom that is being confronted, but their religious beliefs.
Claiming those beliefs as coming from God, or from Holy Scripture is quite laughable to non-believers. Indeed, any attempt to demand that the non-believer must surrender to religious belief or opinion is not only a persecution of that person, but immediately invalidates the idea of religious freedom, and, by extension, prerequisite individual freedom.
It is basic logic that freedom of religion must also be freedom from religion. Without both, ‘freedom of’ and ‘freedom from’ religion, religious freedom does not exist; there is only imposed religion, without the choice to not believe, and thus no freedom. That’s the basis of The Inquisition; believe and obey as ‘suggested’, acknowledge that a religion is infallible, having the moral right to intolerantly impose itself on those whose opinions differ. That is exactly what is meant when we say ‘bigotry’.
If we are to avoid conflict over religious opinion (belief), and maintain individual freedom, then religions can no longer be permitted to persecute non-believers with their beliefs.
If the power of religious organizations to persecute others, deny others their individual freedom to believe as they wish, and to be who they are, is not blocked behind the gates of their churches, then the freedoms seemingly accorded to secular society are a travesty.
No one is saying that believers cannot practice their religion, but they cannot be permitted to stop others from leading free lives, or having access to equal rights, by enforcing religious rules on them; even if they claim that their religion says they must do so.
The conflict regarding religious belief is between the freedom to believe, or no freedom at all. This is the last stand of religions’ attempt to enforce its opposition to Mankind’s cognitive relationship with reality, instead of accepting submission to age-old unverifiable beliefs of religions.
If we are to advance and increase our knowledge, then religious belief cannot be permitted to continue its traditional irrational authoritarian control over our intellects, at the expense of our relationship with reality.
Religion’s attempt to abusively control the human intellect must end.
Neither can religion be permitted to maintain its primitive assertions that a god regards our natural relationships as sin, just because their holy books say so. Confining our loving human relationships to archaic religious concepts is as damaging, restricting, and oppressing, as denying science the opportunity to increase our knowledge of reality.
If religions cannot cope with humans making sense of reality, or making love, they have set themselves up to be made as obsolete as they fear; as with their once held belief that the Earth was flat, they really have no choice but to redefine their own myths.
Religions may claim that God is love, but then, using their own circular reasoning, that also means that Love is God…but enough wordplay.
If we are to participate in the reality that the great thinkers worked so hard to reveal to us, then we must ensure the survival of our human ability to interact with that reality, expanding our knowledge of it, intelligently, compassionately and lovingly.
It is not same sex marriage, or any attempt to define marriage that will lead to the destruction of our societies as so often reiterated by religious fundamentalists.
As we can learn from history, downfalls of civilizations stem from when we lose the ability to adapt to our constantly changing reality; just as death occurs when our bodies can no longer accommodate life’s requirements. Our cultures collapse, wither and turn to dust when they no longer supply our real need to be living, loving self-aware intelligent beings. If we are lucky, when they collapse their remains will become the foundation for building and extending our discovery of the real world.
Opposing this inevitable maturation of humanity’s higher intuition and cognitive powers are all those archaic thoughts we mistakenly believe are explanations for reality. They were explanations which seemed reasoned and reasonable at the time but were in fact our own imagination, our own hypotheses being mistaken for fact. Religions evolved from them, and when married to the idea of a god, another of our hypotheses, we founded new cultures incorporating the delusion of those religions.
If we continue to allow religions to misconstrue reality, we will be complicit in the downfall of our civilization. If religions remain intent on denying the natural marriage of life and love, whether LGBTQ or straight, there is a real danger that their archaic misconceptions will destroy all we have created, including our compassion for each other.
Our affection for each other is wholesomely expressed in the reality of our physical love making. In the context of love, human sexual expression is as real as the round world on which we live. Love is not a straight flat plane without undulations. Love is what makes the world go round, and to deny that is to stupidly try to stop the world.
The real, the only true and everlasting original sin, is religious denial of reality.