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D . A Few Closing Thoughts

After passing around some earlier drafts of some of the material in this book, I was accused by the readers of those drafts of many things, most of which are not true.
I am not "anti-gay" in any sense. I have great compassion for gays and lesbians, and I advocate full human rights for all of them. Considering the negative consequences which accrue to openly gay individuals, it is a wonder that any choose to "come out of the closet." Because of those very same negative consequences, by the time a person is willing to consider that their true sexual orientation is really "gay" or "lesbian," it is virtually axiomatic that it is far too late for anyone to do anything at all to "fix" that, as if it is a problem. Nonetheless, while our present reproductive rate allows humanity to be quite tolerant of gays and lesbians in our society (and since these individuals are natural products of the very forces we have set to work in our society, our morality should require that we are tolerant of them), it is nevertheless anti-survival for the human race to continue to foster the production of gays and lesbians. In other words, the gay and lesbian life style can only be tolerated as a small minority; if "everyone does it," the human race as we know it would disappear.10 The difficulty for us is that, as tolerance for gays and lesbians becomes more widespread, it becomes easier for individuals to decide that they are gay or lesbian. Another way of saying this same thing is that it has been our intolerance of gays and lesbians that ensured the majority of our children continued to choose a heterosexual orientation. When we remove that intolerance from our society, many more individuals will naturally decide that they are gay or lesbian because we have done nothing to remove the factors in our child rearing process which tend to produce gays and lesbians. This is what I cannot accept as a long term situation for humanity.
Many support groups for gays and lesbians will openly admit that they have a vested interest in having many more individuals declare their sexual orientation to be gay or lesbian because they believe that the more individuals who do so, the more likely it is that tolerance of gays and lesbians will result. Just to be absolutely clear, I am in no way against tolerance for gays and lesbians; what I am against is continuing to allow our child rearing process to produce large quantities of gays and lesbians due to the present system of training our youngest children to prefer same sex relationships.
I am also not anti-Christian, anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish (but the Jews themselves generally prefer to call you anti-Semitic), or anti-religion. Throughout history, religion has been the arm of the state which was charged with indoctrinating the populace with the moral philosophy which the state found to be acceptable. To the extent which there has been religious toleration by the state, that has only occurred when the state believed that it was so firmly in control of the situation that it could afford to tolerate some dissent, and when the state realized that virtually all religions teach a moral philosophy which is based on a value system which is acceptable to the state.
Virtually all religions have a moral philosophy which presumes that the members of the religion might well be called at any moment to do battle with the forces of evil, and thus most religions are quite suitable for the raising of armies to fight one another.11 But there are no barbarians at our gates. Western Civilization now controls virtually all of Planet Earth.12 While there is as yet no strong centralized government which rules this planet, the skeleton of that government exists in the present United Nations.13 Bit by bit, our own government in the United States is turning over its leadership role in the world to various multi-national organizations, such as the UN and NATO.
As the recent "victory"14 over the Soviet Union is gradually consolidated over the next decade or two, mankind will be, for the first time in history, confronted with the possibility of true world peace. This will make virtually all religions obsolete, at least to the extent which they preach a system of values suitable for raising an army. Mankind needs to refocus the necessary role of religion in society to de-emphasize the confrontational aspects of our religious beliefs and to reemphasize the values for living harmoniously with one another.
The Roman Catholic Church does see this need for change, and the present pope is actively trying to recruit all of the Christian denominations to at least acknowledge the common values which all Christians purport to share. It is obvious that the pope would prefer to have all of Christianity acknowledge him as the primary leader of Christianity in some way, but the nature of that recognition is "on the table" for the discussions with all of the major Christian denominations on how to make this happen.
But this is merely an attempt to patch together a coalition from a group which was fractured by several schisms over the last 2,000 years. There is no proposal "on the table" to make any significant changes in doctrine. So the question arises: have we learned nothing of value in the last twenty centuries? Does the essentially Jewish tradition of Jesus Christ from 2,000 years ago still have relevance today? Can the value system of a great desert warrior, Mohammed, still be the best value system available today? In my opinion, the clear answer to questions such as these is "No." Why? Because the Industrial Revolution made all prior value systems obsolete.
I believe it is high time for humanity to at least consider adopting a system of religious belief which is not based upon a fairy tale; a somewhat less polite way of saying this same thing is that humanity needs a religion which is not based upon a "big lie." Are we finally adult enough to admit that the myths which have grown up around Jesus Christ are probably just as false as the myths which have grow up around Saint Nicholas? While there are those, such as John Dominic Crossan, who are willing to admit the myths but retain their Christian beliefs, my own opinion is that, once the myths are discarded, what remains is that Jesus Christ was merely a great philosopher of his day. So too were Buddha and Mohammed the great philosophers of their own times and places. Each of those three is more or less acknowledged to be a real historical person who set forth some sort of system of basic values for all of their followers. However, the values which each of them set forth are, to a large degree, closely related to the predominate value systems of their own times and places. To a very large degree, each was a religious reformer who is more comparable to Martin Luther than to God or some prophet. But the bottom line is that each of them espoused a Philosophy. Each of them, to one degree or another, talked about each of the subjects which any philosophical system must address.
But the moment that you consider the great religious leaders of all time to be mere philosophers, you put them on the level of all mankind, because anyone can set forth his or her own philosophy. According to Will Durant, the list of the greatest philosophers of all time includes: Plato, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Spinoza, Voltaire, Immanuel Kant, Schopenhauer, Herbert Spencer, and Friedrich Nietzsche. But is it not appropriate to include Buddha, Jesus Christ, and Mohammed in that same list? Traditionally we have been taught not to consider religious leaders as philosophers. In fact, philosophy has been seen at times as a sacrilegious science. However, if you refer back to the definition of philosophy in Book VI, Section B you will clearly see that the teachings of those great religious leaders are, in fact, each part of a philosophy because each is, at a minimum, "a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs."15
Religion performs a vital role in our society. Basically, we cannot be civilized without some system of Philosophy, and it has traditionally been the role of religion to indoctrinate our young with the principles of the accepted Philosophy for the civilization. Also, religion plays a key role in the socialization of our young, and it is very wrong to fail to create a group identity by not engaging in this kind of socialization. To a large degree, the very things which are wrong with Western Civilization today can be traced back to a failure to transmit our civilization to a large group of our young by failing to indoctrinate them with Philosophy and socialize them into an acceptable group identity.16
Accordingly, if I am anti-anything in this book, it is that I am anti-atheist because the atheists assert that it is wrong to transmit our Philosophy to their young and they fail to engage their young in group socialization. The problem with allowing people to raise their children as atheists is roughly the same as the problem with allowing Christians to teach their kids at home: there is little or no control which ensures that children of atheists will learn the key lessons which all children must learn in order to be civilized. With home schooling, there is at least a recognition of the problem and some attempt to have the local public education establishment exercise some degree of control over the end result. With atheism, there are no controls to ensure that the children are civilized.
I do suppose that I could be labeled as a "Humanist," but I have no desire to be lumped together with the others who have organized themselves under that label. Most of the organized Humanist movement consists of either brain dead individuals17 or an elite corps of intellectuals who cannot agree on anything of value. Thus, there is no solid core to this movement; it consists entirely of the disaffected who would be on the fringes of any real social movement.
The remedy for this may well be for me to start my own "Humanist" movement, but it remains to be seen if I have the charisma necessary to attract a following large enough to make it worthwhile. In one sense, this book is an attempt to gauge the reaction of the masses to the essential dogma of my belief system. There should be a large number of people out there who are ready to adopt a value system which synthesizes the best philosophies of all of human history and positions mankind to move forward to the next stage of social evolution. If so, I am ready to hold up the banner and lead them on. On the other hand, if my ideas are generations ahead of their time, as is true for most of the great philosophers, this book at least records these ideas for posterity to do with them what it will.
Writing a book is taking a shot at a limited form of immortality. Some books are widely read for thousands of years, while others disappear overnight. I have done my part and committed my thoughts to paper. It now remains for the readers of this book to pass judgment on those thoughts, and as a consequence of that judgment, grant me my allotted share of immortality, if any. Gentle readers, it is with a great sense of philosophical detachment that I await your judgment.

10 It is certainly possible to envision a human race of gays and lesbians. However, it would not be any human race which we would recognize because it would not be in any sense a homogenous group of humanity, but instead, two separate cultures, distinct by the sex at birth, living symbiotically by the mere act of the gays providing sperm to the lesbians so that children may be produced. An all-female culture, using cloning techniques, could also be envisioned.

11 Obviously, there are exceptions. For example, the Quakers are openly pacifistic.

12 The moment that you educate your population sufficiently to deal with science and technology as developed by Western Civilization, you almost by default also educate the population in many of the essential philosophies of Western Civilization. Thus, the present fundamentalist regime in Iran is an unstable throwback which cannot survive more than a few decades. The unraveling is already visible to the astute observer. For example, to maintain control, the Islamic regime has recently found it necessary to make satellite dish receivers illegal. The people chafe under repressions such as this. So long as contact is maintained with the outside world, the people will know the essentially oppressive nature of their own government. In essence, this is a "wartime government" much like Communism was for the Soviet Union. It can be expected to eventually collapse for many of the same reasons. (see The Lessons of History (1968), by Will and Ariel Durant, page 66, where it states: "Here too Communism was a war economy. Perhaps it survives through continual fear of war; given a generation of peace it would probably be eroded by the nature of man.")

13 From time-to-time, I assert that the United Nations Security Council is really the equivalent of the First Triumvirate in old Rome.

14 It is a "victory" only in the sense that the government of the Soviet Union collapsed while the government of the United States did not collapse. What really happened is that we each adopted the other's best points until, at the time of the "victory," we were more alike than we were different. The final two sentences of Chapter IX of The Lessons of History (1968), by Will and Ariel Durant, page 67, read: "The fear of capitalism has compelled socialism to widen freedom, and the fear of socialism has compelled capitalism to increase equality. East is West and West is East, and soon the twain will meet." It only took two and a half decades, which is nothing in historical terms.

15 In no way do I contend that religious teachings constitute "the rational investigation of the truths and principals of being, knowledge, or conduct." Most religious teaching is not obviously based upon rational thought processes, but is instead based upon myth. However, it is fundamental that religious teachings deal with "the truths and principals of being, knowledge, or conduct." In my mind, the fault lies with the definition of what constitutes Philosophy, as even irrational religious teachings, such as those common in primitive tribes, will clearly still constitute a "Philosophy."

16 The alternative is to allow the young to socialize themselves, which will generally result in their choosing an anti-social "gang" culture or choosing to be "loners," each of which is bad for society.

17 By "brain dead" I mean those who have not had a decent original thought in decades.

Copyright 1994-1999 by the Agnostic Church

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