Lately, I have been thinking about some of the modern debates that reside outside of politics, and two debates that came to mind are those revolving around religion and monogamy. In both cases, you have those who are seemingly on the side of science, and those on the other side who defend the status quo (e.g. the existence of God, the belief in monogamy).
In the realm of religion, there are atheists who decry the existence of a God. People like Richard Dawkins use science to back up this belief of theirs. Scientists who don’t believe in the existence of a god refute creationism. On the other hand, you have Christians creationists who try to interpret science in such a way that supports their beliefs.
In regards to monogamy, you have people like Christopher Ryan (author of Sex At Dawn) who use science to justify their views on sexuality. People look for evidence in science to uphold their beliefs so that it can be pronounced as the truth. For example, one can point at the “natural” world and say that homosexuality doesn’t exist in order to justify their belief that homosexuality is a perversion of nature and thus should not be allowed. One can point at “prehistoric” evidence that sexual promiscuity is in fact “natural” and should be allowed, that fidelity should not be expected. Then there is also the debate over whether or not science can support the concept of race. To some, genetic markers are enough to delineate between the “races”; and they insist that scientists who use the word ‘population’ to describe groups of people should just face reality and call it a ‘race’ of people.
The problem is that all of these people have agendas. They try to use science to justify their beliefs. But since when was science about providing evidence and backing up one’s beliefs? What bothers me is when scientists publish books with obvious partisan content. Under the guise of expert authority, they push onto the unknowing public their world views as the hard undeniable truth. Scientists should be concerned with finding out hard truths based on hard data and should leave the interpretation to others.
I believe that all of this debate stems from insecurity. For some reason, people have insecurities regarding their own beliefs. They feel the need to justify them and to back it up with ‘hard science’. However, what people do not realize is that belief, as I learned in my studies of Paul Tillich, is an act of faith.
As Stuart Chase says, “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” Belief in God is an act of faith. In fact, belief in monogamy is also an act of faith. For those who believe in God or monogamy, no proof is necessary to justify their behavior. A religious person will live in accordance to their beliefs even when such beliefs are supposedly disputed by science. And a monogamous person will remain so even as their urges and science challenge such behavior. In the same way, those who do not believe in God will never find sufficient proof of God, just as those who do not believe in monogamy will always find evidence in the sciences that go against the idea of monogamy.
It is not necessary to confirm or refute the existence or “validity” of God or monogamy because such things are beyond the realm of the strictly rational. Hyper-rationalism is in fact a form of close-mindedness. As Carl Jung explained, the rational realm is such a tiny sliver of the entirety of human existence. Those who have faith and an active spiritual life are indeed blessed. Blessed not in a religious sense, but in a psychological sense. Perhaps, then, many decriers of religion are merely experiencing sour grapes. Perhaps those who denounce religion are so spiritually impoverished that they must fill their empty souls with purpose. Perhaps they must push their pain onto others so that others will wallow in their misery as well.
But whether or not science can support the existence of God or how natural monogamy is is irrelevant to me, as it should be for others as well. Such things are extremely personal and need no justification to others. I suppose what bothers me most is the presumption of others who would try to push their views on others. Highly public figures like authors and columnists really ought to keep their traps shut when it comes to how people behave in their personal lives. What business is it of theirs how others conduct their lives? Their arguments are often disguised in some form of desire for public good, but I strongly suspect that most of it stems from a place of trauma and is in fact some form of sublimation.
If I choose to live a life of monogamous commitment, who are you to come along to challenge me and to denounce my goals, to declare me to be somehow inferior to you? I would no sooner try to push on others the lifelong commitment of marriage and monogamy than I would a life of recreational drug use. What works for some may work for others, or it may not. But to pronounce one lifestyle to be superior and more justified than others is immensely egotistical, judgmental, and prideful. When it comes to the romantic relationships between people, my only concern is whether or not people are harmed by such arrangements. The futures of children are often at stake when it comes to family configurations, and that is where my concerns lie. Ultimately, it boils down to one question: Is anyone being hurt by this? I say that the American public’s private lives should be left well enough alone. There is too much drivel out there to fill people’s minds with all the wrong ideas. It is expert partisan misinformation and a gullible uncritical public that frightens me most.