Monday, June 13, 2005

What's the difference between a woman and a shovel?

There's no punch line to that, Lauren got me going on the joke theme.

Several years ago I read a study of people who'd had the corpus callosum in their brains severed. With no communication between the hemispheres of the brain it was frequently the case that the left hand literally didn't know what the right hand was doing. One of the features of this study was displaying simple commands which would only be perceived by the right brain, something like "leave the room." When the researchers would ask the subjects why they were leaving, they would invariably articulate an actual reason; getting a drink of water, going to the bathroom, grabbing a smoke.

All this is a circuitous means of reaching a simple point, which is that when we try and evaluate cultural traits, there are two things which are generally at work. An underlying functional reason, and what people consciously think they are doing.

Using a real life example, if we ask someone why they oppose abortion they'll probably talk about morality, the sanctity of life, functional illiteracy, and so on. Functionally, what I see thrown out by feminists when they talk about abortion is control of women by men. I don't think that's wrong, but there needs to be an awareness of the relationship between control and the expressions of morality percolating up through the Christian hive mind.

I previously posted very briefly about the distinction between stable foraging societies and growth oriented civilizations. The imperative toward growth in civilizations infects every aspect of our society, where even a stable institution is viewed as stagnant or unhealthy. When we look at views toward sexuality across a variety of cultures we can see how this intrudes into our views on the subject. What we find is that societies who attempt to regulate and maintain stable populations are accepting of both birth control and homosexuality, where populations which are trying to grow themselves tend to reject both (there is a strong correlation between the two).

Christianity grew up within the Roman Empire, and adopted the growth attitude full on. This is reflected in the so-called Great Commission, to go forth and knock on my door early in the morning and attempt to convert me before I've had my coffee. There are two ways Christians can add to their numbers--they can either convert new Christians or spawn them, and the Pope got a solid lock on reproduction by declaring it a sacred duty to reproduce willy nilly. And not be gay.

We've also had the bad luck to see Christianity rise to prominence at the same time the modern idea of history has really developed. Matters have become exponentially more ridiculous now that Christianity is trying to compete with the modern doctrines of history and science; in an effort to do so Christians have attempted to both establish the Bible as objective fact and anchor it temporally. Which is a windy way of saying that it is viewed as not subject to change over time. While we've had partiarchies and the subjugation of women in order to produce more members for thousands of years, it's become a more serious problem now because it's set up to never change.

I should add a disclaimer that I'm really speaking of the fundamentalist brand of Christianity when I'm slopping my broad brush around, I certainly don't have any beef with Christianity per se. While I'm at it I should add another disclaimer that this post is a pretty half-assed attempt to deal with very complicated subjects in the short amount of time my ADD addled brain can handle. Thank you for your cooperation.