Sunday, March 19, 2006
Give me the boy until the age of seven, I will give you the man.
Religion as social control enabled man to bridge the gap between hunting and gathering and the birth of the scientific method. It is at this point, when man looks for empirical evidence to support his theories concerning the universe he inhabits, that religion should have died out as mere stories to keep pre-literate farm hands a'working in the fields and the keep lord of the manor safe in his bed at night. And it would have except for a quirk of the human brain. To pass on important safety/survival information is vital in a hunter gatherer ape. It's only his wits and the learning of previous generations that keep him from being a lunch for a sabre tooth or poisoned from eating the wrong berry. Now, if the parent tells the child "See that animal over there? It's a tiger and it will eat you given half a chance!" and the kid spends the next 2 hours asking "why?", "says who?" and worse "I'll go check to see if it's true!" then that kid isn't going to last very long. So the brains of children accept as fact what their parents tell them with no argument. Information important to survival and how to fit into the social group (vital for such a tribal animal as ourselves, ostracism just as dangerous as tigers in pre history) can be passed on and absorbed by the young quickly. Imprinting knowledge from the group quickly and securely. Knowledge from previous generations passed down. Instead of each new generation learning afresh, and becoming making the same mistakes generation after generation. Our brains have not changed at all since we needed this early imprinting on the plains of Africa all those millions of years ago. And a newborn baby from the present could be swapped with an infant from the last ice age and there would be no difference. Each child accepting as normal his surroundings, and a blank slate waiting to mop up knowledge from his or her parents. So if you tell the child that an invisible man in the sky made the universe from early on, that to be successful in the society you have to exhibit certain behaviours and beliefs he will treat all this as normal and "the way things are". This is how religion infects each generation. What kept us alive on the African plains, now works against us and imprints worthless, dangerous fiction on our young. It takes intelligence, learning and the bravery to go against the group to shuck off these myths. A conscious effort of will and perhaps being ostracised by his peers.(still a nasty thing even today, we're still a social, tribal ape) How much better the planet would be if religion was never invented we'll never know. But just a few minutes thinking about the eons of wars, death, guilt and suppression of science and thought and you'll see religion has cost us dear. It is my honestly held view that to imprint complete fiction into the minds of our young is child abuse. The Jesuit priest that coined the phrase that titles this post knew about the imprinting of young minds. Theists have used the technique for millenia. It has to stop.
Posted by Morpheus at 13:13