Dave Sim's blogandmail #446 (December 1st, 2007)
Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast That Make You a Good Feminist
1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.
2. It makes great sense for the government to pay 10 to 15,000 dollars a year to fund a daycare space for a child so its mother - who pays perhaps 2,000 dollars in taxes - can be a contributing member of society.
3. A woman's doctor has more of a valid claim to participate in the decision to abort a fetus than does the father of that fetus.
4. So long as a woman makes a decision after consulting with her doctor, she is incapable of making an unethical choice.
5. A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes drives more efficiently than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake which is why marriage should always be an equal partnership.
6. It is absolutely necessary for women to be allowed to join or participate fully in any gathering place for men, just as it is absolutely necessary that there be women only environments from which men are excluded.
7. Because it involves taking jobs away from men and giving them to women, affirmative action makes for a fairer and more just society.
8. It is important to have lower physical standards for women firepersons and women policepersons so that, one day, half of all firepersons and policepersons will be women, thus more effectively protecting the safety of the public.
9. Affirmative action at colleges and universities needs to be maintained now that more women than men are being enrolled, in order to keep from giving men an unfair advantage academically.
10. Having ensured that there is no environment for men where women don't belong (see no.6) it is important to have zero tolerance of any expression or action which any woman might regard as sexist to ensure greater freedom for everyone.
11. Only in a society which maintains a level of 95% of alimony and child support being paid by men to women can men and women be considered as equals.
12. An airline stewardess who earned $20,000 a year at the time that she married a baseball player earning $6 million a year is entitled, in the event of a divorce, to $3 million for each year of the marriage and probably more.
13. A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself.
14. Disagreeing with any of these statements makes you anti-woman and/or a misogynist.
15. Legislature Seats must be allocated to women and women must be allowed to bypass the democratic winnowing process in order to guarantee female representation and, thereby, make democracy fairer.
Albert Einstein: Science can be created only by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
(I'll pass over the idea of science being created and give Einstein the benefit of the doubt that he didn't see himself fulfilling that large of a role. Science can be examined and documented, identified and refined, systemized and tested, but it can't be created. Not by human being anyway.)
It was certainly my motivation in writing my commentaries on the Torah in LATTER DAYS and my best assessment of the reality of creation in the Prologue to THE LAST DAY: "Let's help science to walk and let's help religion to see." So far no effect whatsoever, but hope springs eternal.
The main source of the present-day conflicts between the spheres of religion and of science lies in this concept of a personal God.
That was and is certainly true, in my opinion, but I think the fault lies on both sides. Speaking as someone who worked both sides of the street (as it were) in the Prologue to THE LAST DAY, I think I'm safe in saying that religion isn't interested in science even when science supports Scripture (which I think it does) (once burned by Galileo, twice shy) and science isn't interested in religion even when discoveries in science point in the direction of Scripture (which I think they do) (once burned by the Inquisition, twice shy) In both cases, I think it comes down to the question of morality. Science wants reality to be a dispassionate force that has no causal or repercussive relationship to intent or ethical or moral choices between good and evil. The only laws they're interested in are Newton's Laws of Motion, the fact of gravity, the fact of the speed of light and comparable irrefutable, measurable, neutral facts. Religion can't abide the idea of a construct of reality divorced from morality (which is what happens when, as our society is in the process of doing, you attempt to make all behaviours neutral, that is, to make all behaviours merely factual).
Both are immobilized by their positions, as far as I can see.
By missing that the point of Scripture is the debate between God and YHWH, the various Churches are hamstrung when it comes to questions like gay marriage and working women. Neither "works" in the conventional sense and they knew that as both started becoming a central issue in our society. Feminism and gay marriage both seem to generate a disproportionate net effect among religious moderates who can't understand why both tend to incite Giant Schisms on the basis of a few isolated verses in the Torah and the Koran. They – that is, organized religion -- ignore a lot more of the Law of Moshe than that just in the course of day-to-day business. Why get bogged down in a few nit-picking verses?
To me it seems obvious: because the eradication of distinctions constitutes a capitulation to YHWHism, to he/she/itism where there are no distinctions or where real distinctions are ignored to the long-term detriment of those choosing to walk that path AND those who get swept along by the momentum against their better judgement. It drastically diminishes God and drastically raises up Not God in the popular perception with all the enormous consequences that implies. Even though our entrenched priesthoods have badly missed the core point of Scripture from the very beginning, we are still God's creations so we understand the issues at hand at a genetic level. We are a part of the God vs. YHWH debate and we know that in our souls even if we have no conscious awareness of it as human beings.
By missing or intentionally ignoring the point that morality has a core application in society, science is hamstrung by the fact that even with exponential improvements in all scientific areas, the general experience of life itself doesn't seem to be improving but rather worsening. The problem with abortions wasn't that they were unsafe, it was that they were wrong. The problem with heroin use isn't dirty needles, it's that using heroin is wrong. So safe abortions and clean needles turn out not to be the road to a happier society. It's no accident, in my view, that the use of anti-depressants (the very name would have implied infernal origins to any previous generation in human history: acceptance of depression as a core reality would imply an abandonment of God and being abandoned by God. ) (which I think it does: What else would the descendants of untold generations of good Christians have to be depressed about) has tripled in the last twenty years which (no surprise) doesn't seem to have done anything to alleviate the general level of depression. Depression doesn't originate in chemical imbalances, it originates in bad choices and the inner certainty that there's a price to be paid for bad choices. We are, as a society, making progressively worse choices which implies Larger Prices which implies Larger Depression. If your "given" is that people are just bags of chemicals then chemicals are the answer. If that "given" is misapprehended (which I think I'm safe in saying that it is) then you can't make any progress until you develop a working model that actually has something to do with who and what people are. If we are metaphorical children of God with an in-built urge toward God, science isn't going to be able to help us until it acknowledges that and shapes itself around that as the actual largest societal "given". Speaking from the CEREBUS 289-290 borderland between science and religion I don't see any movement on either side.
Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions. Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity. Schopenhauer's saying, "A man can do as he wills, but not will as he wills," has been a real inspiration to me since my youth; it has been a continual consolation in the face of life's hardships, my own and others', and an unfailing wellspring of tolerance.
I'm sure that's true – that Schopenhauer's saying was an inspiration to Einstein, I mean – but I think as a purely emotion-based construct, it attempts to relocate the actual nature of reality in order to avoid God and to rebuild reality around a certain grim sort of fatalism that presupposes that a grim sort of fatalism is the only realistic response to the world. Which, if you, as a society, wilfully turn your back on God, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, I would tend to think that a grim sort of fatalism is more the inevitable result of choosing not to believe in God or to believe in God as a Nebulous Reality with no engagement with men or the physical world. Like the Princess and the Pea, once you adopt grim fatalism AS reality it tends to progressively infect you and your worldview until grim fatalism becomes the new reality instead of a marginal aberrational approach to life (Scrooge USED to be the exception, not the rule).
As I said earlier, I would agree that in the Largest Possible Context we are, indeed, "as causally bound as the stars in their motions" but since we don't inhabit the Largest Possible Context -- we inhabit this smaller context where the illusory seems real and the real seems illusory and we at least appear to enact our lives in a linear fashion where we can change the nature of our personal reality whatever way we want -- then I think it behoves each of us, as individuals, to do the best that we can and to make and act upon consciously better choices whether those choices are pre-determined or the result of genuine free will.
Tomorrow: Wrapping up "Einstein and Faith" Week here on the Blog & Mail hopefully with a good analogy
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