Secularism preserves the Christian meme intact
Secularism is also inimical to society since it facilitates the preservation of the Christian doctrine and meme intact by preventing the state from interfering with the religion. Here, it is important to articulate why the state must interfere with the religion and even constrain it if necessary especially when the religion perverts healthy human behavior. Let us take two cases, one from sexuality and the other from empathy, to elaborate this point.
[pullquote]Secularism is also inimical to society since it facilitates the preservation of the Christian doctrine and meme intact by preventing the state from interfering with the religion.[/pullquote]
Indulgence in sexual pleasure is a normal and desirable aspect of healthy human existence. However, Christianity expresses an irrational fear of sex and attempts to repress sexuality. The Bible (Matthew 19:11-12) recommends castration as the ideal means by which a man could attain heaven, a recommendation which Origen, an early church father, took literally and “disarmed” the “tempter,” prompting Gibbon to observe tongue in cheek, “As it was Origen’s general practice to allegorize scripture, it seems rather unfortunate that, in this instance only, he should have adopted the literal sense.” Rousselle provides many examples of how the Christian “hermits” attempted to repress sexual passion in the most tragicomic fashion. Ammonius used to burn his body with a red-hot iron every time he felt sexual desire. Another hermit agreed one night to take in a woman who was lost in the desert. He left his light burning all night and burned his fingers on it to remind himself of eternal punishment.
A Christian monk, who treasured the memory of a very beautiful woman, when he heard that she was dead, went and dipped his coat in her decomposed body and lived with this smell to help him fight his constant thoughts of beauty. Christianity, from its inception, cultivated a very unhealthy attitude towards sex by urging its followers “not to marry at all, and to only resort to marriage as the last measure against immorality, and even within marriage to overcome the urges of sex” (1 Corinthians 7).
This was quite at odds with how the rest of humanity viewed sex, and had a terrible impact on how the Christian West came to regard feminine sexuality. For example, while the Hindus explored sacred sexuality through texts such as Kāmasūtra even 2,500 years ago, and cultivated a reasonable approach based on classification and experimentation towards understanding female sexuality, the Christian West, until 1952 CE, defined female orgasm as “hysterical paroxysm,” which had to be induced by a physician to “pacify” women who were regarded as “troublemakers.” The Christian ‘saint’ Jerome (340-420 CE) even admonished young women against bathing since it “stirred up passions better left alone,” in an apparent reference to baths built over hot springs which have been associated with sensuality and sexuality.
Female sensuality frightened the church, and the church forbade masturbation, and as Maines shows, such nineteenth century therapies as clitoridectomy were frequently deployed to prevent female masturbation, thus extinguishing avenues of pleasure for the female. In the seventeenth century, “hysteria” was reported to be “the most common of diseases except fevers.” It is a travesty of freedom that the perverted and repressive Christian religious teachings should have been allowed to de-feminize the feminine, and to deny many generations of women a normal and natural recourse to sexual enjoyment with their spouses as well as by other normal means.
[pullquote]The Christian West, until 1952 CE, defined female orgasm as “hysterical paroxysm,” which had to be induced by a physician to “pacify” women who were regarded as “troublemakers.”[/pullquote]
Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu and incorporated many Hindu tenets such as non-violence and adherence to the truth in his struggle against imperialism. He married and led a normal sexual life until he was into his thirties, when, as the biographer Jad Adams documents, he volunteered in the British ambulance corps in South Africa, came under the influence of Christian missionaries, and internalized the repressive Christian attitude towards sexuality. He started practicing celibacy within marriage and urged his followers to emulate his example. Gandhi, revealing an unmistakable and undesirable influence of Paul, urged his followers, “Not to marry. In case (the follower) is helpless in regard to marriage, he should abstain from sexual intercourse with his wife.”
Like Origen, Gandhi too attempted to “disarm the tempter,” although in his own uniquely non-violent (i.e., if we ignore the violence such practices inflict upon one’s psyche and upon the other party) and bizarre manner. He began sleeping naked with nubile and naked young women, in an attempt to demonstrate that he has repressed sexual urges. He often discussed intimately sexual matters in his discourses and writings, and was bothered by the fact that despite his attempts at repressing sexuality he experienced frequent “unconscious emissions” while lying naked with his attractive female companions. Even more bizarrely, his female companions were discouraged from sharing the nuptial bed with their own husbands and were encouraged to participate in Gandhi’s “chaste” experiments.
At one stage, when Gandhi was in his seventies, he had his own 18-year old, newly married grandniece sleep naked with him as part of his “experiments.” Such a revolting behavior led Sir C P Ramaswami Iyer, the astute prime minister of the Indian state of Travancore who was negotiating to prevent the thorium deposits of his state from falling into the hands of a political party that had put itself in thrall to a man such as Gandhi, to label Gandhi “a most dangerous, semi-repressed sex maniac,” and some of Gandhi’s followers to abandon his leadership.
The examples of Origen and Gandhi, evidently learned men of several admirable traits, show that even men of such caliber, once they internalize the Christian meme, begin to lead abnormal lives and cause irreparable damage to themselves and to their followers. It would be utterly irresponsible for the state to turn a blind eye towards, and allow the uninhibited dissemination of, such dangerous religious memes as secularism requires instead of actively interfering with and curtailing dangerous religious teachings. Jayanta Bhaṭṭa, a celebrated 9th century Hindu logician, in his Sanskrit satirical play Ǡgamaḍambara (Much Ado about Religion), recognizing the need for the state to guarantee citizens’ happiness and their freedom from dangerous religious influences, urges the ruler to suppress unnatural religious sects.
It would be arbitrary and unreasonable to argue that the secularist insistence on guaranteeing the independence of the church is somehow more sacrosanct than fulfilling the state’s duty of preventing dangerous religious memes from infecting society. One never argues against the state preventing the spread of contagions such as the Ebola fever yet one inexplicably argues in favor of applying the opposite yardstick for the religious meme.
Empathy is a state of mind which correlates with the distribution of mirror neurons in the brain. Women have a higher density of mirror neurons than men which makes them more empathetic. Yet, there have been numerous instances in the history of Christendom when Christians, including Christian women, have failed to show empathy. Goldhagen, in “Hitler’s Willing Executioners – Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust,” demonstrates how the Germans became anti-Semitic as a result of centuries of conditioning resulting from the anti-Semitism enshrined in the New Testament and the resultant church propaganda against the Jews. Eventually, this anti-Semitism reached its logical conclusion in the Holocaust.
As the Jews from their neighborhood were being dispatched to the death camps, ordinary Germans hardly resisted the ethnic cleansing or empathized with the hapless victims even though the Jewish and the Christian children would have been playmates until then. Anti-Semitism is not an isolated case of lack of empathy in Christendom.
Lack of empathy is the norm as evident from the fact that contemporary genocides have evoked similar apathy among a majority of Christians. The genocide of over 1.3 million Iraqis, as confirmed by the Lancet study, for no reason whatsoever except to satiate the greed of the War Inc., did not even register in the American conscience. A majority of Americans supported the invasion and all media protests only focused on the military casualty. On the other hand, in the post-Christian Europe, a majority of the population was opposed to the invasion.
The reason for this American apathy is two-fold. Firstly, Christianity requires a perpetual enemy, real or imagined, to define itself. It is against this enemy as the yardstick that the Christian conduct is measured; while the enemy is condemned to the hell-bound cargo post-mortem, the faithful is guaranteed an eternal place in heaven. The unsuspecting Jews, Hindus, Gypsies, Pagans, and Atheists have all unwittingly been cast into the mould of this enemy at varying periods of history. This constant demonizing and dehumanizing of the “other” insulates Christians from feeling empathy for the “other” when the “other” is victimized.
[pullquote]The genocide of over 1.3 million Iraqis, as confirmed by the Lancet study, for no reason whatsoever except to satiate the greed of the War Inc., did not even register in the American conscience. [/pullquote]
Secondly, as the “intellectual epileptic” Martin Luther stated, a Christian should unconditionally support the secular state in pursuits such as war, “even by killing, robbing, and burning the enemy without scruples,” and be subservient to the ruler provided the ruler is not inimical to Christianity. Such teachings inculcate servitude towards the secular state (provided it is favorable to Christianity) in the minds of the faithful and when the secular state invades defenseless countries and commits genocides, the Christian faithful are incapable of criticizing it.
Non-Christian societies provide a refreshing contrast to Christian servitude and conformism. Rajiv Malhotra, in Being Different, while critiquing western universalism, brings up the example of the Indian emperor Aśöka (~ 250 BCE), who after vanquishing another kingdom with brute force, feels remorse, studies the teachings of the Buddha, renounces war, and dedicates the rest of his life to promoting harmony. Malhotra points out that not only did his contemporaries recognize this as “the surrender of the gladiator archetype to dharma” even modern historians such as Toynbee and H G Wells regard Aśöka as the greatest monarch that ever lived because his transformation influenced even the faraway kingdom of Japan where Shotuku adopted Aśöka’s methods. It is not surprising that modern India has adopted Aśöka’s “dharma chakra” or the “wheel of dharma” as its state emblem; such adoptions are possible because societies influenced by the Buddhist ideals do not demand subservience to the state and provide a framework of dharma against which to evaluate the ruler, and as a result, even lay citizens recognize the need to end wars and not to justify or perpetuate them. Religions such as Buddhism do not ever attempt to dehumanize the “other” and hence they preserve, and even nourish, the empathy inherent in humans.
The fact that post-Christian Europeans are empathetic whereas Christian Americans are not should tell us that the cause of the difference is not to be traced to the inherited genes but to the inherited memes. As observed, Christian teachings dehumanize the “other,” and as a consequence destroy empathy inherent in the Christian faithful. It would be irresponsible to argue that the state cannot act against the religious memes that destroy empathy in those that inherit them since the terrible consequence of such an inheritance is untold suffering for the victims (the “other”) and a loss of compassionate traits and even the femininity for the inheritors.
It is not surprising that the Christians in general and the Protestants in particular advocate secularism because it protects their false religious beliefs from being subject to state scrutiny. It is surprising though when non-Christians such as the Atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, and Jainas, whose realistic worldview secularism threatens, uncritically embrace it. Of course, they embrace secularism primarily because it guarantees that Christian beliefs are not imposed on them, and that is surely preferable to living under a Christian state where non-Christians would have been persecuted for heresy.
However, Atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, and Jainas would have to recognize that it is preferable and just to have a society where even the Christians are not subject to dangerous Christian beliefs. Such a society cannot emerge until secularism protects Christianity by refusing to allow the state to interfere with and eventually dismantle the church.
[pullquote]It is not surprising that the Christians in general and the Protestants in particular advocate secularism because it protects their false religious beliefs from being subject to state scrutiny.[/pullquote]
One might argue that without secularism, the Christian church would impose itself on the state. Well, even with secularism, or perhaps as a result of secularism, the Christian church achieves that end. This is because Christianity is a congregational religion, and since a democracy reflects the preferences of the lowest common denominators in society, with or without secularism, the church will influence the government so long as the false Christian worldview is left intact.
This becomes evident when we note that in the 2008 presidential elections, both Obama and McCain participated in a debate organized by the charlatan pastor Rick Warren at his Saddleback Church, where both candidates were keen on appealing to Christian prejudices. Hence it is not surprising that ignorance stemming from the Christian worldview is imposed on the state to curtail life-saving researches into stem cells through the democratic process.
It must be noted that many proponents of secularism in the West over the last two centuries have been deists, agnostics, or atheists, and have even been, in their personal capacity, hostile to Christianity. There can be no doubt that they viewed secularism as a mechanism by which to restrict the powers of the church. By all means secularism was a significant improvement over Christian theocracy. Modern secularists do not share Luther’s view that the purpose of secularism is to keep the supposedly knave non-Christians in check. In all these things and many others, modern secularism is quite distinct from how Luther perceived it. Nevertheless, modern secularism agrees with Luther that the state cannot interfere with the affairs of the religion, and that is the position this paper argues against.
In summary, secularism is a manifestation of the false Christian worldview and serves to secure Christian beliefs which are detrimental to civilization. It is based on a false premise that the magisteria of the state and the religion are non-overlapping even though both deal with the same natural phenomena. It is also antithetical to realistic metaphysical systems such as Atheism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, etc., which rely upon acquisition of knowledge, naturalistic principles, and reason as the means to explore the various phenomena related to life.
[pullquote]Nevertheless, modern secularism agrees with Luther that the state cannot interfere with the affairs of the religion, and that is the position this paper argues against.[/pullquote]
Hence, secularism must be rejected leaving the rational person with only one course: recognizing that the survival of a civilization is contingent upon the critique and the eventual destruction of the Christian belief system.
An ideal society is one in which the state does not remain a silent witness to the unrestrained growth of Christianity and the eventual destruction of civilization itself but actively curtails the false and dangerous Christian worldview and replaces it with realistic and knowledge-based worldviews. It is also unrealistic to rely upon the unproven assumption that freedom of speech provides sufficient means by which to critique Christianity because those afflicted by the Christian meme are impervious to knowledge-based criticism.As the anti-intellectual stance widely embraced by many American Christians proves they even develop a pre-emptive safeguard based on denial of facts against such a critique. The media too often treats dominant religions – for example, Christianity in America – with kid gloves rendering popular critique of such religions practically impossible thereby leaving the state interference with the conduct of the religion (and vice versa) as the only viable realistic option.
As a closing note, it must be emphasized that this is not an advocacy for the indiscriminate suppression of all religions because many religions clearly advocate the pursuit of knowledge and teachings that are conducive to human well-being – for example, Hindu thoughts such as Yōga based on adhyātma vidya or the pursuit of inner-knowledge or the Jaina emphasis on ahiṁsā or non-violence are worthy of promotion by the state. Nor is this a condemnation of Christians, who are the first victims of Christianity, and hence deserve to be saved from that predatory religion and not to be condemned for their association with that religion often by the accident of birth.
This is a critique of the foundational premise of secularism and a call to evolve a framework based on naturalistic principles by which the state and the religion should be governed. This is an advocacy for the interference of the state into the conduct of the religion. However, this is not an advocacy for any form of totalitarianism which would allow a powerful clique of rulers to repress religions they dislike.
Such a system is more likely to harm dharma-based religions and favor Christianity because the former are not congregational in nature whereas the latter is and even the most totalitarian rulers appease an organized congregation. Instead, this is an advocacy for ushering in rational and reason-based education and a scientific critique of religious beliefs from the earliest schooling years which would enable a student to inoculate oneself against dangerous religious beliefs. This is also an advocacy for enacting reasonable safeguards to ensure that deluded adults and pastors do not abuse unsuspecting children in their care by planting hateful and harmful beliefs in their minds.
An influential Christian pastor, Steve Anderson, recently echoed the hateful teachings of the Bible to call for the extermination of homosexuals. There are surely numerous children in his congregation. Is it reasonable and just to allow the planting of such hateful messages in the minds of impressionable children and to bias them against homosexuals? Do children not have the right to grow up without being abused? The state should therefore enact laws to protect children from being forcibly exposed to hateful religious teachings.
In other words, this is an advocacy for the preservation of free speech in the broadest and deepest sense because it protects children’s rights as well whereas secularism, by refusing to interfere with the abuse of children by pastors and Christian adults, extinguishes it.
- Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm; Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis): The Antichrist, pp. 8, 15, 20-21, 24-25, 69-70, 82.
- Gyatso, Geshe Kelsang: Modern Buddhism – The Path of Compassion and Wisdom – Volume 1 – Sutra.
- Tsering, Geshe Tashi: The Four Noble Truths – The Foundation of Buddhist Thought, Volume 1.
- Davies, John: The Sankhya Karika of Isvara Krishna – An Exposition of the System of Kapila.
- Kane, P.V.: History of Dharmaśāstra, Vol. 1, Part 1, pp. 1-11 for a detailed discussion on the meanings of dharma.
- Sheridan, Tai: Celestial Music – Sutras of Emptiness.
- Ehrman, Bart: Lost Scriptures – Books That Did Not Make It Into The New Testament, pp. 19-28.
- Tom Honey on God and the tsunami: http://www.ted.com/talks/tom_html.
- Newberg, Andrew and Waldman, Mark Robert: How God Changes Your Brain – Breakthrough Findings From a Leading Neuroscientist.
- Gibbon, Edward: The Christians and the Fall of Rome, p. 48.
- Rousselle, Aline: Porneia – On Desire and the Body in Antiquity (tr. Felicia Pheasant), pp. 151-152.
- Maines, Rachel P.: The Technology of Orgasm – “Hysteria,” the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction.
- Adams, Jad: Gandhi – The True Man Behind Modern India.
- Bhaṭṭa, Jayanta: Ǡgamaḍambara (Much Ado About Religion – tr. Csaba Dezső).
- Goldhagen, Daniel J.: Hitler’s Willing Executioners – Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust.
- Malhotra, Rajiv: Being Different – An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism, pp. 155-156.
- The Lancet studies give an account and estimate of genocide in Iraq: http://www.brussellstribunal.org/pdf/lancet111006.pdf and http://web.mit.edu/CIS/pdf/pdf.
- Arizona pastor predicts ‘AIDS-free Christmas’ if all gays are killed, as God commands: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/12/arizona-pastor-predicts-aids-free-christmas-if-all-gays-are-killed-as-god-commands/.