Monday, April 21, 2008

Resource Depletion

I've read a lot of interesting stuff today. Not the least of which is a bunch of news stories bout The Conservative Party of Canada getting caught double-dipping in the last election. Or with their hand in the cookie jar. Or some other analogy that implies that they spent more money than they were allowed, and then used deliberately misleading information and obfuscation to avoid getting caught because they are supposed to be all "accountable" and "transparent" and shit. Most of us knew they were sneaky, but it's nice to have it confirmed. Unfortunately, it is just grist for the mill about liberal media and double-standards.

So that's my partisan attack for the day. Moving on.

What I want to talk about today is this:

Be fruitful and multiply," says the book of Genesis, and Lord knows we have. To the tune of more than 300 million at home and more than 6 billion abroad. But as we go about the heavenly task of multiplying, a poignant question arises: Might our religion be killing us?

This brings up a lot of issues, and I'd really like to talk about all of them, but it's too much for one post, and I've addressed some of them before (mostly as snarky cheap shots, so they deserve more treatment), so I think I'd like to address one issue as it relates to climate change. This'll be long enough anyway.

There are a number of ways in which religion finds itself at odds with science. Examples? A heliocentric solar system, for instance. The age of the earth. Natural selection (apparently). Germ theory. Psychiatry. Blood transfusions. Life-saving medical techniques. And now, climate change. I can think of a myriad of reasons for most of the other conflicts. The Bible says one thing, and we have found something else to be true. Rabbits, for instance, don't chew their cud. Women menstuate because that's what female mammals do, not because Eve was cursed. The sun does not rise in the east, the earth is spinning that way. Homosapiens sapiens has been around for twelve thousand years or so. And Jesus lied when he said that if you ask for it, it shall be given. Benjamin Franklin had it closer to the truth when he said that god helps those who help themselves.

There are also problems when a proscriptive verse is used out of context. A blood transfusion, for instance, is not eating human blood. Same with organ transplants. The high and mighty Lot who offered his daughters to appease the mob (and was later date-raped by those same daughters) seemed to me to be more concerned about hospitality than buttsex. And since he offered up his daughter to them, there's the possibility that they'd have been raped anally, so it clearly wasn't the buttsex that was the problem. The sin of Onanism, also, has come (pun intended) to mean masturbation. Onan refused to get his sister-in-law pregnant, and pulled out, spilling his seed on the ground. Therefore, spilling your seed is the sin.

But wait a minute. Onan was breaking Hebrew law. That was his sin. When your brother died childless, you were supossed to knock up his wife so he could have an heir. Spilling his seed on the ground wasn't the problem, it was NOT spilling it in his sister-in-law. So billions of young men have felt lik shit for all of history because they were told that playing with themselves was dirty and sinful, and god would kill you for it.

But sometimes, the issue is simply one of prioritizing. I think this article is one situation where this might be the case.

There are a number of rules that god has apparently given us. Don't work on the sabbath. No other gods. Don't covet. Don't mix fibres. Don't touch the untouchables. Take care of the place. Be fruitful and multiply. Oliver "Buzz" Thomas is pointing out the fallacy in that last one.

Seriously. Six, seven thousand years ago, it might have been good advice. If you want to start a civilization, you need to farm. That means you need labour. That means you have to have babies. When the human population of the planet was numbered in the tens of thousands, babies seemed like a good idea. We had the babies, we farmed, we founded civilization, and we were able to stop focussing simply on survival, and were able to turn our overdeveloped brains to larger pursuits, like figuring out the world we were in. Eventually, we figured out how we could have control of our own reproduction. Coincidentally, we really got the hang of it about the time that there started to be too many of us. We are victims of our own success, and it's time we started behaving like adults.

Two thousand years after a guy named Jesus supposedly got nailed to a tree, we find ourselves numbering 6 billion. And counting. Our population has doubled in the last 40 years. Doubled in the 40 before that, too. And though we seem to be killing each other in record numbers (interestingly enough, usually over resources), we're fucking even faster than we're killing. So resources which are already scarce enough to warrant three trillion dollar wars are going to get even scarcer.

But we're not allowed to use birth control, because it's a sin.

As I say, this is a question of priorities. Supposedly, god said we had to have babies. He also said to take care of the place. He's going to be pissed if he comes back and sees the mess we made. It'll be like "The Cat in the Hat", but no super cleaning frenzy by the Things can get us out of this mess. Part of the problem is that Jesus said he'd be right back, but instead of calling ahead, he'd give us hints, like droughts, wars, starvation, disease and genocide. In addition to this, there's a comforting little line in Psalms 104 that indicates that god won't let us destroy the earth. (Thanks to the Jehovah's Witnesses that shared that with me on my doorstep on Sunday!) I'm sure King David was a smart guy, but I'm going to trust the International Panel on Climate Change.

So in a nutshell:

  1. The bible says we have to have babies.
  2. Not having babies is a sin. (This is also used as grounds for denying homosexuals the right to marry, so it's a twofer! As an added bonus, we'll send you grounds for denying women reproductive rights and the grounds for bombing fertility clinics at no extra charge!)
  3. The bible says god said he would protect the planet.
  4. The bible also says that god will provide for us, so resource depletion is godless, commie propaganda or something (because Jesus was a capitalist, you know).
  5. There's also the gospel of prosperity, which means that wealth indicates goodness.
  6. As a special bonus feature, all the nasty shit that results from overpopulation, resource depletion, the greenhouse effect and the over all assholery of the human race are all signs of Jesus' imminent return, so who gives a fuck?
  7. Making women get pregnant (or denying them the means to prevent pregnancy) also gives an added misogyny bonus, not available in stores, that makes us feel like manly men.

Religious folk'll throw up a bunch of nasty bullshit about killing babies and euthanasia, but really it's just to provide a moral smokescreen for their superstitions. They say that thinking like this means eugenics and mass murder, but it really means taking responsibility for our actions, and doing what we can to not breed until we drown in our own filth. Seriously, we're behaving like yeast in wine. They multiply until the alcohol level actually gets too high, and they drown in their own shit. We ought to be smarter than that. People who use god as an authority to deny us the ability to fuck recreationally are not smarter than yeast.

Tradition, for these people, trumps reason, compassion and responsibility. They wail about unborn fetuses, but they don't give a shit about entire populations starving. They claim that this world is beautiful evidence of god's love, but they want to eat it up and shit it out. You can't use a condom because the bible says so.

The bible does not say so. The things it does say about sexual health are destructive and hateful. There's a lot of raping. There's sexual abuse and incest. There're admonitions against adultery (admittedly, good advice), and there are rules about when you can have sex, when a woman's unclean, and how to get clean after bleeding (craziness).

Quite simply, on sex, the bible is fucked up, but overpopulation may well be the most dangerous thing it has ever led to.

If there is a god, I don't think he wants billions of people starving. If he does, he's an asshole, and he doesn't deserve to be god. Makes me want to go have protected sex just to spite him.

I don't care what the pope says. Use a condom. I don't care what you were told. Masturbating is just about the most fun you can have alone (it can be even better with company), and it's not harmful, sinful or dirty. I don't care what your mother, mother's mother or her mother did. You do not have to have babies. In fact, if you wanted to have only one or a couple, or none at all, I, for one, would thank you. It is not your duty to multiply, or to protect the unborn, or to make sure that every poor suffering bastard lives the length of his natural life. You need to be nice to people, do the best you can to make the world a better place, and to somehow, if you can manage it, to live sustainably. Breeding is not part of that plan.

This will likely convince no one, I know. The chances that my snark and stats will overcome religious indoctrination are slim. But it needs to be said. This is one case where your religion is actually and actively adversely affecting me.

Stop it.

No comments: