Oh, Religion —If It Only Had A Brain!

According to a study cited in the Los Angeles Times, “thinking analytically can cause religious belief to wane.” Analytical thinking and religion aren’t quite mutually exclusive, but when religious people exercise their brains, they tend to reach some conclusions that are antithetical to what their religions teach. A prominent example is in their attitudes toward women.

Former President Jimmy Carter is a thinking person of faith. In 2009, he left the Southern Baptist Church because of its refusal to ordain women and its strictures that women be subservient to their husbands. In leaving, he made these statements:

“At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities…

“The truth is that male religious leaders have had—and still have—an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.”

The abuses perpetrated on women around the world are horrific, but we don’t need to look any further than the United States to see the persecution of women by religious forces. Let’s consider the ten most religious states in America. They are Mississippi, Utah, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Oklahoma. These are some of the leaders in initiating anti-woman legislation—like Utah’s law to criminally prosecute some women for miscarriages, or Louisiana and Oklahoma’s attempts to pass personhood amendments that declare a fertilized egg to be a citizen with full rights, or Georgia’s effort to pass the cynically named “Protect Life Act” that would give hospitals the right to refuse treatment to a woman whose life is in danger—if it involves an emergency abortion. Georgia, by the way, ranks eleventh in the nation in its number of forcible rapes.

It doesn’t take much brainpower to see why there’s a link between religion and the mistreatment of women. Randall Bailey, of the Interdenominational Theological Center, goes even further than Carter. A thinking person has to see the logic behind this statement:

“We think we can use abusive texts in a sanitized way to prevent violence… If we continue to sidestep those issues, we are furthering abuse not only on those we want to help, but also on ourselves.”

That cuts right to the heart of the problem. The histories and holy books of the three major religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—are filled with God-sanctioned violence toward and control of women. All three religions have come from the same source: Abraham. The great founding father, Abraham, married his half-sister, Sarah, and then prostituted her to the Pharaoh of Egypt in order to save his own skin. He is the role model for every subsequent generation of believers in all three faiths. The bottom line is that women are seen as tools for men to use for their own purposes.

There has been a lot of emphasis in the media on the role of the Christian Right in political attempts to forcibly control the behavior of women, but the Right is the easy target. The truth is that the language of all the major religions victimizes and subjugates females. Randall Bailey is right; trying to use abusive texts in a sanitized way doesn’t come close to addressing the problem. The words shape attitudes and behavior. You can paint the walls of a building pure white and make it look quite holy and presentable, but when rot eats at the foundation, there is no salvaging the whole. It must come down.

Randall Bailey continues:

“What is this notion we have in religion that there is a spirituality that can be anti-human rights? What can even condone that as an option?”

Certainly women must not condone that form of spirituality—nor should any reasonable men. The major religions are irredeemably rotten at their foundation due to their promotion of abuse. The only hope for women, in the United States and around the world, is for thinking people to follow Jimmy Carter’s example: Abandon the rot!

Source: Addicting Info

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Something to think about – The Brain!

The brain… it makes you think. Doesn’t it?

Are we governed by unconscious processes? Neuroscience believes so – but isn’t the human condition more complicated than that? Two experts offer different views

Does this 3lb of tissue govern our actions without our even knowing? Photograph: Phanie/Rex Features

David Eagleman, neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas and bestselling author

It is clear at this point that we are irrevocably tied to the 3lb of strange computational material found within our skulls. The brain is utterly alien to us, and yet our personalities, hopes, fears and aspirations all depend on the integrity of this biological tissue. How do we know this? Because when the brain changes, we change. Our personality, decision-making, risk-aversion, the capacity to see colours or name animals – all these can change, in very specific ways, when the brain is altered by tumours, strokes, drugs, disease or trauma. As much as we like to think about the body and mind living separate existences, the mental is not separable from the physical.

This clarifies some aspects of our existence while deepening the mystery and the awe of others.

For example, take the vast, unconscious, automated processes that run under the hood of conscious awareness. We have discovered that the large majority of the brain’s activity takes place at this low level: the conscious part – the “me” that flickers to life when you wake up in the morning – is only a tiny bit of the operations. This understanding has given us a better understanding of the complex multiplicity that makes a person. A person is not a single entity of a single mind: a human is built of several parts, all of which compete to steer the ship of state. As a consequence, people are nuanced, complicated, contradictory. We act in ways that are sometimes difficult to detect by simple introspection. To know ourselves increasingly requires careful studies of the neural substrate of which we are composed.

Raymond Tallis, former professor of geriatric medicine at Manchester University and author

Yes, of course, everything about us, from the simplest sensation to the most elaborately constructed sense of self, requires a brain in some kind of working order. Remove your brain and bang goes your IQ. It does not follow that our brains are pretty well the whole story of us, nor that the best way to understand ourselves is to stare at “the neural substrate of which we are composed”.

This is because we are not stand-alone brains. We are part of community of minds, a human world, that is remote in many respects from what can be observed in brains. Even if that community ultimately originated from brains, this was the work of trillions of brains over hundreds of thousands of years: individual, present-day brains are merely the entrance ticket to the drama of social life, not the drama itself. Trying to understand the community of minds in which we participate by imaging neural tissue is like trying to hear the whispering of woods by applying a stethoscope to an acorn.

Of course brain activity is automated and, as you say, runs “under the hood of conscious awareness”, but this doesn’t mean that we are automatons or that we are largely unconscious of the reasons we do things. If, as you put it in Incognito, “the conscious you is the smallest bit-player in the brain” to the point that even our most important and personal decisions – such as choice of spouse, where to live, or occupation – are directed by brain mechanisms of which we are unaware, how would you have become sufficiently aware of this unawareness to write about it in your book Incognito (which incidentally shows little evidence of having been written by an automaton)?

Source: The Guardian Read more of the thoughts of these two experts

Trayvon Martin And Walking While Black

 

By Guest Contributor Aurin Squire, cross-posted from Six Perfections & Racialicious

Keep moving. 

Don’t stop. 

Don’t make eye contact. 

I have felt like Trayvon Martin. Many many times while walking at night, being pulled over by police, being told that I’m not supposed to ‘be.’ My ‘being’ in a space has caused questions, concerns, suspicions. In the back of my mind I always wondered if there would be a reckoning. If my ‘being’ would become so intolerable to someone that they would try to end my existence rather than engage in a conversation.  The only difference between me and Trayvon is that I am still here and he is not.  Still, the question lurks around the subconscious when I walk home every night from the subway and a police car slows down alongside me. The squad car slows down. Eyeballs examine my ‘being,’ noticing any signs of anger, insanity, guilt. I continue walking, pretending to be oblivious. In most cases this is the best sign of innocence: by pretending to not notice.

Unlike myself, Trayvon physically noticed the accusation. He noticed the suspicion and dared to walk toward it. Stare at it, as he spoke with his girlfriend over the phone. Curious, as to who could be staring at him so intently he took a step in Zimmerman’s direction. Staring directly at George Zimmerman before quickly walking away.

When I am walking in strange or dark surroundings I try to keep it moving. No time to stop. I hear my parents’ voice of survival.

 

You don’t know where this person is coming from.

You don’t know what they want or what they’re trying to get.

They could be trying to get into a fight. They could be trying to rob you. It could be a trap.

Keep it moving. 

A few years ago I was headed home from the library. Two figures came out of a building and began pursuing me. From the corner of my eye, I saw that they were two tall football-muscular men in their 20s. They happened to be White. I keep my eyes on the path. They seemed to be trying to catch me.

I flipped up my collar and continued walking briskly. One of the men came alongside me.

Dude, do you have a lighter?

No, I don’t smoke.

Stupid n-gger.

I continued walking very quickly. This felt like a trap of some sort. I was supposed to react to it. Turn around and get in a fight with two bigger stronger men who seemed worked up about something. I was supposed to turn and scream ‘murder’ or swing at one of them. I was supposed to react and give them something. I picked up my pace and kept walking. I made sure not to run, but I never made eye contact. The goal was to get home. I was not going to be swayed by a ‘word’ that was intended to arouse my rage.

The two men eventually trailed off, seeing that I was unwilling to take the bait. Perhaps they found a Mexican, Asian, or another Black man that night. I wasn’t going to be ‘their one.’

On another occasion a cab driver seemed to go out of his way just so he could spit on my path and give me a murderous look. I was walking down the street carrying my airport luggage.

I could name other incidents of walking while Black: the police slow-downs, pull-overs, suspicious looks. It’s all the same because my reaction has to be measured and numb. I pretend not to notice and keep eyes fixed straight ahead.  Hands out of pockets and swinging along my side. Maybe I’ll start singing. A guilty man wouldn’t sing, would he?

More and more the last few years when I find myself WWB, a sad smile comes across my face. After all these years, you’re still looking for that sign of suspicion. It’s not here. I’m innocent. There is nothing wrong with me. I’m just a Black man out for a walk.

Opinion:

We live in a wicked, wicked world. It really makes me sick to think of the myopic arseholes that assume they are better than someone else, of the arseholes who want confrontation to show their power, of the ‘right’ who think that their freakin’ bible gives them the right.

Sometimes I really want to puke. Reading this post it makes me so sad that we force other human beings into this corner, that we can’t live and let live.

Unmitigated Disaster

I read this report in The Guardian yesterday and shook my head in disbelief…

Earth faces a century of disasters, report warns

Economic and environmental catastrophes unavoidable unless rich countries cut consumption and global population stabilises

World population will reach 9 billion by 2050. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

 

World population needs to be stabilised quickly and high consumption in rich countries rapidly reduced to avoid “a downward spiral of economic and environmental ills”, warns a major report from the Royal Society.

Contraception must be offered to all women who want it and consumption cut to reduce inequality, says the study published on Thursday, which was chaired by Nobel prize-winning biologist Sir John Sulston.

The assessment of humanity’s prospects in the next 100 years, which has taken 21 months to complete, argues strongly that to achieve long and healthy lives for all 9 billion people expected to be living in 2050, the twin issues of population and consumption must pushed to the top of political and economic agendas. Both issues have been largely ignored by politicians and played down by environment and development groups for 20 years, the report says.

“The number of people living on the planet has never been higher, their levels of consumption are unprecedented and vast changes are taking place in the environment. We can choose to rebalance the use of resources to a more egalitarian pattern of consumption … or we can choose to do nothing and to drift into a downward spiral of economic and environmental ills leading to a more unequal and inhospitable future”, it says.

At today’s rate of population increase developing countries will have to build the equivalent of a city of a million people every five days from now to 2050, says the report. “Global population growth is inevitable for the next few decades. By 2050, it is projected that today’s population of 7 billion will have grown by 2.3 billion, the equivalent of a new China and an India.”

Source: The Guardian read the rest.

Opinion:

The thing that disturbs me is that they are missing the whole point.

The problem is not too many births, the problem is too few deaths.

Until they think the unthinkable, the problem will remain a problem.

Increasing life expectancy is the problem. They even outline the proof in the article then totally ignore it.

“The report gives the example of Niger in West Africa which has increased life expectancy in the past 30 years but is doubling population every 20 years. “Even assuming its total fertility rate (Tfr) falls to 3.9 by 2050, which may be optimistic, the population will grow from 15.5 to 55.5 million by 2050. A future in which population increase outstrips the production of food and other necessities of life is a real possibility for Niger. It is difficult to see a bright future for the country without sharp reductions in fertility and population growth together with increased investment in health and education,” it said.” – The Guardian

It is obvious that increasing life expectancy is creating this anomaly. More people – not enough food. Niger just doesn’t have the resources, increased investment in the future cannot be guaranteed, because the investing countries will be busy with their own over population problems.

The answer is not in the number of births.

Even in the west, the problem is not enough deaths.

We have enhanced the medical profession to such a degree, that fewer people are dying. The medical profession are the criminals. Driven by men whose search for longevity has guaranteed over-population and further guarantees that it will worsen.

The unthinkable

Major organ transplants have got to stop, people have to die, it is their destiny and until we change our ethos and accept that death is inevitable the problem will remain.

By our very upbringing we are taught that life must be held above all else. Religious and social doctrine determine this.Anything that goes against that grain is unthinkable.

Not only do organ transplants mean that the survivor is using the rations of a new birth, the material cost of the transplant ensures that we are using the resources of several more new births.

That is why we have problems.

Our tenure on this planet was determined by nature to maintain an equilibrium between natural production of resources and their use by species on the planet.

Man has unbalanced that equation; not only his own desire for life, but to the detriment of every other species on the planet.

Man is inherently evil, a greedy usurper of everything that is available without regard to anything else.

It is man’s thinking that has to change, then, and only then can we begin to confront the problem.