Sunday, July 20, 2014

It's the Moderation, Stupid (my response to atheists on religion)

It is estimated that 65% of women and 80% of men have sexual fantasies.  According to U. of Vermont psychologist Harold Leitenberg, Ph.D. and South Carolina's Kris Henning, Ph. D., data shows that where sexual fantasy is concerned, frequent fantasizers are having more than their share of fun in bed. They have sex more often and engage in a wider variety of erotic activities than infrequent fantasizers.  Peter Doskoch of Psychology Today says,"the association between fantasies and healthy sex life is so strong, in fact, that it's now considered pathological not to have sexual fantasies."  "…unusual and deviant fantasies give little reason for concern in healthy individuals.  Rape fantasies, for instance, are far more common than rapes themselves.  Only 22 percent of child molesters say they had sexual fantasies about kids before their first molestation."

Estimates vary, but according to ABC, the adult industry generates $10 billion a year in sales.  But if sexually explicit material had any potential for creating sex offenders, there would be a helluva lot more of them than there are.  Sex offenders account for only 1.4% (.014) of the population (747,408 registered offenders vs 53,078,525 males between the ages of 15 and 54).

Leitenberg and Henning say,"…fantasies are a concern only when they become compulsive or exclusive, or for individuals in whom the barrier between thought and behavior has been broken."

Now, if you want to consider religious belief in an afterlife as fantasy, Daniel Kruger, an evolutionary psychologist at the U. of Michigan, said,"Fairy story or not, a belief in heaven does seem to come with some benefits.  Humans didn't evolve in an environment where an understanding of black holes or the origin of the universe would be helpful.  What really matters to us is what happens at the human scale, relationships to other people, things we experience in a lifetime."  On a personal level, Kruger says the idea of an afterlife offers some hope in a world where, historically,"life has been pretty harsh."

Nathan Heflick - U. of South Florida - says,"The more people believe, the less death anxiety they tend to have."

Dr. Martin Luther King is a respected social activist, but his courage came through faith.  Jim Wallis, another respected Christian who works for social change, also finds courage in faith.  Wallis talks about the immigration problem, saying,"We need faith in a God who is larger than we can imagine, the God who cries as we humans build border walls to separate ourselves from our brothers and sisters on the other side, the God of justice who isn't persuaded by the political timetables of Washington, D.C."

I would suggest that one of the most common problems in the thinking process of Americans is the concept of "moderation."  Regarding money, most people want to earn enough to live on, provide for their family, and perhaps a little more.  At least, enough to where their basic needs are being met and they're not worried about making the next rent, mortgage or car payment.  But, in larger amounts, wealth can do weird shit to your head.  One need look no further than people like Bernie Madoff, Michael Jackson, or the Koch brothers.

We're fortunate to live in a time when medical science provides vaccines for lyme disease and Hepatitis B, and when we can use human skin cells to create embryonic stem cells.  But use of anti-depressants has increased almost 400% in the last 20 years.  Antibiotics are life-savers, but the CDC estimates that 20-50% of the doses prescribed are unnecessary.  Consequently, there are now some serious infectious diseases that have become immune to antibiotics.

Alcohol sales in 2011 was $162 billion.  Most people have the self-control to deal with alcohol use, but approx. 17 million have an alcohol use disorder.  10% of U.S. children live with a parent with an alcohol problem.

Although Democrats have been polled as decreasingly religious, between 1987 and the late 1990's, they polled equally with Republicans.  But the focal point of that spirituality differs greatly.  Democrats are more focused on social justice - the poor, the homeless, and the rights of women, minorities and gays - whereas Republicans are more focused on authority, control and punishment.

Politically, the problem with religion is that some people take things to the extreme - Jones, Applewhite, Koresh, Phelps - while most people just relate to religion as a guideline for daily living and their relationship with fellow human beings.  Democrats are generally more concerned with people having enough to eat, while Republicans are more concerned with who they can refuse to serve at their place of business.

So, it's not so much a problem of what you believe, but how extremely it affects your logic, your common sense, and your attitude toward other people. And obviously, politicians - especially Republicans - have tried to co-opt religion in an attempt to gain voters.

Things like sex, money, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and religion are not a problem for most people.  It's when you lose sight of moderation that things begin to get twisted.  It's when you attempt to use them for an extremely prejudicial personal agenda that shit gets weird.

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