Monday, August 19, 2019

Civilization Values, Part V: Civilizing Religion

We’re in a series on the values necessary for civilization. These, which summarize the Ten Commandments, are honoring God, life, family, truth, and property ownership. Part I was why valuing life is essential. Part II was on truth. Part III was on property ownership. 

Honoring God and family are even larger, so I’m giving them more than one part a piece. Part IV was on God and Freedom of Religion. Today we’ll cover the baseline definition of a civilizing religion and compare that to a savage religion. We’ll take a third day on God to talk about how a civilization can get back to being civilized—societal conversion, or repentance.

The material is from the Spherical Model website, the Civilized vs. Savage section, which I wrote between about a decade ago.


Religion of Civilization

While America’s founders constitutionally protected us from a state religious ruling sect, they did understand the need for basic religious principles that were expected from all free people, in order for freedom to thrive.
The Ten Commandments
at the Texas Capitol
In The 5000-Year Leap, author/historian W. Cleon Skousen summarizes the five necessary tenets of religion in a free society:
1.     There is a Creator who made all things, and mankind should recognize and worship Him. [first 4 of the 10 Commandments]
2.     The Creator has revealed a moral code of behavior for happy living which distinguishes right from wrong. [the rest of the 10 commandments]
3.     The Creator holds mankind responsible for the way they treat each other.
4.     All mankind live beyond this life.
5.     In the next life mankind are judged for their conduct in this one.
These were the basic beliefs of the founders of America. Arguments about slight differences in their religious affiliations or personal philosophical persuasions don’t change that these tenets were very nearly universal among the signers of the Declaration of Independence as well as the Constitution. And these beliefs were nearly universal among the citizens at the time as well. Forty years after the ratification of the Constitution, these are the beliefs that Alexis de Tocqueville described in his Democracy in America. The republican form of government they established was possible because it was put in place by a basically religious and ethical people.

Religion of Savagery

There are correlative beliefs that correspond with savagery.  These are:
1.     Degrading the position of God the Creator, often seen as agnosticism or atheism, or more often as replacing deity with a human, as seen in ancient Egypt, Babylon, Greece, and Rome. The corollary is degrading those who believe in and honor God the Creator.
2.     Devaluing human life, often by elevating the value of animals above human life, seen in worship of animals and often leading to human sacrifice to animal gods.
3.     Doing away with free will and consequences: Belief that sun, moon and stars—or something totally out of the reach of a person’s influence—control humans’ fate and actions, removing free will and thus responsibility for actions.
Degrading Position of God
It’s a bit astonishing how often we see versions of these beliefs in our modern world. The tendency to degrade believers as unsophisticated or ignorant is common. The insistence that believers are intolerant if they express their beliefs publicly is another indicator of the first rule of the religion of savagery. Oppressing the believers can’t possibly be a civilizing practice; the only alternatives, then, are that oppressing the believers is neutral or negative. When people have their God-given natural right to worship freely taken from them—a hallmark of tyranny—then you can see, by placement on the spherical model, that must be negative for society as a whole. Depending on the intensity of the persecution, society then resides anywhere from just below the freedom zone all the way down into savagery.
The most common occurrence of this repression in the US is insisting that religious symbols and practices be removed from public places. Disallowing schools from having prayers, so as not to make nonbelievers uncomfortable, is a gross distortion, not only of the Constitution’s freedom of religion clause, but of the idea of “separation of church and state” mentioned in a letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists. Jefferson wrote to assure them that the “free exercise of religion” mentioned in the First Amendment was not a declaration that the right was granted by government, but that it was inalienable, and that there would not and could not be a religious sect favored by the US government to the exclusion of the others. It is simply wrong to say that Jefferson believed religious people should allow only their secular beliefs to be expressed in public. Jefferson, along with the other founders, valued religion and encouraged its practice in its various civilizing forms, to the betterment of the nation.
Devaluing of Human Life
The distortion from human beings as the sentient caretakers of the earth to evil overlords over the innocent animals is also common in the savage religious belief system. One evidence is summarily taking of people’s property or use thereof without due compensation, simply because some animals would have to relocate. A further distortion would be claiming we must give up technology that produces the naturally occurring substance carbon-dioxide because using it in the southern US could cause the death of polar bears in the arctic. [Notice the requirement for sacrifice for the sake of the animal or earth god.] Care for the environment and the wildlife are often elevated well above the well being of human life.
Likewise the idea that domesticated animals are deprived of their free life is fallacious, because the vast majority of those animals, if undomesticated, would not be living at all. While it is a mark of civilization to avoid unnecessary cruelty to animals, it is not required of human beings to starve themselves for the sake of preserving other species. No other species chooses such a sacrifice. And no other species has suicidal delusions that the planet would be better off if its species had never been given place here. Wherever you see human life devalued below animals or parts of nature, you can be certain those beliefs are part of the religion of savagery.
[Note: The current fad of buying and selling of carbon offsets looks suspiciously like the anachronistic religious practice of buying and selling indulgences—paying to sin. It doesn’t prevent the unwanted behavior; it just makes it more acceptable for the rich to commit it than the poor.]
Doing Away with Free Will and Consequences
Astrology has been around for millennia. Its purpose has always been to excuse people from responsibility for their actions. After all, if the alignment of planets on the day of one’s birth is the cause for what a person does or accomplishes, then it’s pointless to put effort into improving, since individual effort is futile. Similarly, if one has a tendency to do evil, and one believes that behavior is caused by an inborn trait or accident of birth, then why try to overcome the inevitable? Removal of free will is always an excuse for negative choices.
A more common assertion in our culture is the excuse that “society” is to blame for a person becoming a criminal. There is considerable difference between a single bad family or a bad section of an inner city contributing to the criminal tendencies of a person and saying the family or society as a whole is the criminal, and that therefore the actual perpetrator of the crime should not be punished. Creating behavioral “illnesses” such as sex addiction, drug addiction, alcoholism, or even impulsive ADD behaviors doesn’t help civilize. Finding ways to help people overcome bad behaviors is good, but that can’t be done to the exclusion of holding wrongdoers accountable. The solution is helping the wrongdoers see the consequences of their choices and find ways to overcome their evil urges; the solution is clearly not giving them a pass while blaming society. That is a mark of savage religion.

We’ll take an addition part of this series about valuing God to talk about how a civilization can get back to being civilized—societal conversion, or repentance.

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