an evolutionary look at the questionable usefulness of deity
History is not proof positive of the Future.
Philosophers and thinkers often default to the models of the past, trying to counter that no society has had moral structure in the absence of deity, in fact, counter that all societies have had deities of sorts.
Religion is, in and of itself, an attempt by beings to explain the inexplicable. We no longer have to do rights and rituals to bring back the sun from the winter solstice, science has taught us that will happen in spite of our futile actions. We even know where the sun goes at night.
Crop failure or drought no longer are “assuaged” by beheadings on pyramids, altars of sacrificed sheep, nor throwing Joe in the volcano.
Evidently, religion itself has evolved to some extent in that way. So why, now the plateau? Why now, in some cases the regression? People to whom the God spake used to be institutionalized. Now they get a seat in Congress, if not the Presidency.
What fresh hell is this?
It is oft-repeated that no morality can exist without Religion.
In evolutionary terms that may be true of our history, but is it true of our future?
Earth based religions valued sustainability as a means of survival, and instilled them by means of deity/worship. Polytheists saw a life-giving spirit in nearly everything that must be honored/appeased in order to, again, ensure the sustainability for their people.
Yet what is this, intrinsically but tribalism? “Make sure my people, my progeny survive in a World full of the inexplicable!” However, there have been models of this tribalism existing in the absence of deity, as studied by James Michener in “South Pacific.” A village was parent to all its children, no one owned them, and food, possessions, sexual bliss, and homes were shared by any and all of its number. There was no actual sense of ownership, just both duty and love of all, and the sense of responsibility to their environs to keep a sustainable stewardship, nay, symbiosis with their world.
Yet most other tribal peoples in our past relied heavily on one form or another of deity to both enforce this tribal-well-being behaviour and morality. Some were quite barbaric, others very pacifistic. We morally judge the former as hideous, and the latter as beautiful in this day. Why? Perhaps because as a people, we have evolved? Our religions evolved with us.
Our scientific observation and evolution in thinking have taught us that barbaric behaviours are not conducive to the propagation of the species, and are irrelevant to changing our external environment. No matter how you spin it, it comes down to that much. When does all rite become passe in our evolutionary movement?
We no longer throw Joe in the Volcano, but legions eat symbolic flesh of a sacrificed historical figure for salvation. Wow.
As populations grew, and competition grew for resources, humanity found itself relying less on tribal good, than power structures of those holding more assets ruling those who had less. The circle turned into a pyramid.
Naturally, deity too, turned toward mono-theistic and power structures with which to hand down the new asset of “salvation.” In this light, it is apparent that while humanity had moved forward in the branches of scientific reason, and devolved in the actual moral structure. People learned to exploit and create excesses for themselves by using or limiting the resources of others. Is not morality based on the greater good of all, and does this not show that theism is hindrance?
So, what morality exists outside of this new religion? Most of it.
The Judeo-Christian-Islamic premise is based on eternal guilt, and the denial of self that as many others have said is the perfect media in which to grow a complacent slave class. Again, it serves to explain the inexplicable: But now, the inexplicable was not where the sun went at night, but the general suffering of the people, people who are denied resources by the very power structures that created the organized religions who they serve.
“Why did my baby die?” is answered by some mysterious plan the deity has for us all, rather than the core issues of nutrition, clean water, and medical treatment afforded the elites.
Have we not evolved enough to see this? There is little inexplicable in the face of disease exists and accidents happen, and nature has powerful cycles. In fact, pollution, disease and poverty is readily explicable by the very structure of the ruling elite and the capitalist structure. Even in terms of ecological disaster, there is enough supply to supplant a crop failure and ensure the survival of all, were we a moral society.
“There will always be the poor,” is lie perpetuated by this theistic view. This view is as unscientific and backwards as wondering if the sun will return tomorrow. It is not inexplicable, nor is it inevitable.
It is opiate to prevent the evolution of the species from deity to morality.
We no longer throw Joe in the Volcano to make a better crop, we let Joe starve to death because the rich take all the crops and think it as natural as they thought their superstituous morality.
Is my personal morality subject to my Christian indoctrination? In part, yes. it is also countered by my environment, my ethnic heritage as passed by my genetic makers, my midwestern middle class societal position, my peers, my formal education and my self-education. It is a distillation of this potpourri I pass down to my own progeny.
So the question is not, “has a moral society ever existed in the absence of a deity,” but is thus:
“Is it not a natural progression for morality to surpass its superstitious theistic beginnings and for man to serve the species from a point of view of the entire tribe?”
We have had scientific evolution, but moral devolution.
Tribalism is not innately evil or immoral, especially in light that we are now scientific beings who know the for the perpetuation of the species, the tribe is global. In view of the ecological non-sustainability of the present system, it will become mandatory for our species to realize a sustainable system.
A moral system without deity, where evils happen to us not because the will and our helplessness against a god-given system; but evils happen due to the men who choose to perpetuate them.
War, famine, poverty all exist as the result of human hands in a deist world.
Peace, prosperity, sustainability must exist in a world where reason trumps deity, and moral choices are made naturally.
Its a natural progression from the Volcano, to the Jesus, to the Triumph of Man.
Its time to throw Jesus in the Volcano, right next to Allah, Yahweh and the rest.
Our time must be now.