Feminism, Ramblings, Religion — February 22, 2012 at 3:54 pm

On Religion and Feminism

Warning: Religion. This post contains religious discussionOK. This is gonna be a deep, long, TLDNR post. If you’re after porn, scroll down, hit back and check out the other recent posts.

In the last two days there’s been a bit of a flurry of argument on Twitter about Islam, feminism and racism. Specifically, Kitty Stryker said that Anna Span was being racist for saying “You can’t ignore the correlation between Islamic countries and terrible female rights.”

I asked Kitty why she thought that was racist. She said it was because it made a generalisation about all Muslims. I said I saw it as a criticism of Islam. Since Islam is a philosophy (actually a theology) not a race, it’s not racist to criticise it. Cue general discussion with Kitty and my always-eloquent friend Alexis about the whole topic. Alexis said that Western Imperialism has created an idea of “otherness” when it comes to Muslims and we should take that into account when speaking about Islam. It seems a fair point and yet it feels like an excuse, a get-out-of-jail-free card for Islam. The majority of the world’s Catholics are Latin American and we don’t consider it racist to criticise Catholicism or the impact that religion has had on the lives of women, despite the fact that Western Imperialism had a dreadful effect on South America.

Suffice to say, I feel that allegations of racism when it comes to discussion of religion are a problem because they act as a way of silencing debate. And I believe that religion should absolutely be up for discussion and criticism, especially because I think that it causes a lot of harm in the world. Religion is not a race, it’s a theology. Muslims come in all shapes and colours, just as Christians do. In this, I am playing the ball, not the man.

Kitty said that Anna’s generalisation about “all Islamic countries” was wrong. I asked Kitty to give me an example of an Islamic state or country where the lives of women were equal or better than Western women. I was talking in terms of basic feminist ideals – reproductive choice, education for women, equal legal rights, sexual liberation and equal social status. I don’t have an answer to that one and Kitty didn’t provide one either. Perhaps Turkey, although it is heading towards fundamentalism as time goes on (my Turkish cousin-in-law has told me some rather toe-curling anecdotes of her life there). Certainly Islamic theocracies like Saudi Arabia are bad news for women. And I don’t think there is any place in the world where Islam is a dominant force where women enjoy the same freedoms that I do right now. That may be due to multiple factors including economic and social ones but I’m sure the influence of Islam doesn’t help because it creates a justification for the oppression of women.

My stance here is an atheist one. I do not believe in any gods and I don’t revere ancient texts as vital guides for life. In my view, many religions inherently oppress women and the monotheistic Abrahamic (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) religions are all sexist from Genesis onwards. God creates Adam as lord of Eve. And then Eve eats the apple, so all women are inferior and guilt-stained. Each monotheism then has differing edicts regarding the treatment of women; suffice to say, none of them direct followers to consider women as equal to men (which, surely, a benevolent and loving God would do?).

For me, that single fact of God-ordained female inferiority is vital in any discussions of feminism and religion. Because I don’t think you can just ignore that. Sure, all three religions are diverse within their own faiths, with differing strains of interpretation, adherence, piety and belief. People follow these faiths for varying reasons; some think it’s the best way to be good and do good in the world, some are true believers, some don’t want to go to hell and some don’t know any different. Some are just along for the ride because it’s cultural or tradition. Nonetheless, subscribing to a religion – saying you are a Muslim, Christian or Jew – means you are agreeing with the basic tenets of that faith. And right there, in the very beginning, one of the first basic tenets is that women are inferior.

On top of that is the fact that all these religions rely on texts that were written hundreds/thousands of years ago by farmers and herders at a time when women’s social status was low. The Quran was written by a shepherd who married a 9 year old girl and proceeded to bring war to all the surrounding tribes, thanks to his idea that a god spoke to him. The Christian Bible is a jumble of writings incorporating ancient Jewish folklore and alleged eyewitness accounts of divinity written 40 years after the event and then fine tuned by religious leaders several hundred years later at the Council of Nicea. Amidst these writings are poetry, useful, positive philosophy and appeals to the Golden Rule (“do unto others”). There’s also a lot of death, violence, racism, sexism and good ol’ homophobia. All have been translated multiple times and are endlessly open to interpretation.

To me, viewing these texts as infallible guides to living a good life in the 21st century is lunacy. We have had the enlightenment since those texts were created. We’ve had the theory of evolution. We’ve had all the various new ideas and philosophies of the last 300 years which has shaped how we view ourselves and what makes for a good person and a good life. To say a dusty old Bronze/Iron/Dark Age book is morally superior to the wealth of secular, rational modern thought doesn’t make sense. Especially when that book goes out of its way to say women are inferior.

And this is why I think religion and feminism are essentially opposing philosophies.

In the course of the Twitter conversation, I was directed to read the opinions of Muslim feminists. I will say here that my reading of Muslim feminist scholarly work is non-existent so I’m not qualified to comment on the intricacies of their arguments. What I was directed to was several articles such as this, this and this.

Muslim feminists have their work cut out for them and I applaud them and want them to succeed. I want women all over the world to enjoy the same legal and social freedoms that I have right now. But I do think their task is made infinitely more difficult by the fact that they are trying to be feminist while remaining within the confines of their religion. It requires them to accept opposing ideas and to perform linguistic balancing acts and artful cognitive dissonance in order to shoehorn secular, 21st century feminism into their particular dusty old holy book. To quote Isobel Coleman in the NPR article:

…If you read the Christian Bible quite literally, that poses challenges for women, and that’s absolutely true of the Quran. There are passages in the Quran that pose challenges for women’s rights within Islam.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still look at the text and contextualize them. What many of the men and women today are trying to do within Islam is argue that times change, and you have to read them differently. You have to think about them in the present, not only in the past, and find new meanings and new ways to circle that square.

Circle the square? Fuck the square! Why not just throw the dusty old book away and stop trying to make feminism a God-ordained thing? Your thinking is coming from a modern day secular source. Stop trying to pretend that it is religious thinking.

Of course, I think I can partially answer my own question there. Islam isn’t too keen on people leaving it. Some scholars maintain that the punishment of apostasy (leaving the faith) is death. So that’s a fairly compelling reason to try to be feminist while still Muslim. Beyond that, it’s a matter of simple strategy to work within Islam as I think you have more chance of convincing people of your ideas if you are coming from the same ideological stance.

And saying fuck the square involves giving up on the idea of God and an eternal afterlife. Lots of people, no matter what religion, don’t want to do that because it’s a big personal decision to make, hence the mental acrobatics.

This is not just criticism of Muslim feminists. There are self-described Christian feminists who are also trying to find ways to make feminism and religion fit together, like those women who argue that women should be allowed to enter the priesthood. I think they are ideologically at the same disadvantage: they are still giving moral authority to a book that tells they they’re inferior (and that they should be silent, what’s more).

Although, interestingly, there are some Christians who are trying to change their definition of feminism so it better aligns with doctrinal beliefs. We see this in the recent shit fight over anti-porn/anti-abortion activist Melinda Tankard Reist, who is suing a blogger for suggesting she was deceptive about her religious motivations. Reist maintains she is a feminist while still adhering to conservative Christian values surrounding sexuality and reproductive choice. This prompted much recent navel-gazing as to the definition of who is feminist, with many maintaining the reproductive choice is the deal-breaker. While I don’t doubt that Melinda Tankard Reist honestly believes she’s improving the lot of women through her brand of feminism, it has actually resulted in harm for women (e.g. via her support of foreign aid assistance that denied contraception and abortion to women in Africa), so I do not agree with her (and I won’t get started on her anti-porn stuff).

An adjunct to that concept of “different feminisms” is the idea that religious women somehow don’t want the same kind of feminism that Western women aspire to. On Twitter Kitty said “many Islamic women’s rights activists don’t identify as feminists, due to perceived goals of feminism.” I find that kind of statement rather problematic because it feels like it’s not being fair to Muslim women. It feels like those “different but equal” arguments that Christian women’s groups love to advocate (especially as they’re saying a woman’s main role is wife and mother). For me, the basic goals of feminism are what I previously listed: equal legal rights, reproductive choice, education for girls and women, sexual liberation and equal social status. Essentially, we’re talking about human rights for all women. I think saying that Muslim women aren’t aiming for – or shouldn’t aim for – those kinds of freedoms because of their religion is pretty damn unfair to those women. And it’s also an indictment of that religion, because it becomes an excuse for a watered-down feminism, or a denial of rights and freedoms to those women.

I’m told that Western feminists are condescending towards Muslim feminists, or dismissive. I’m told we need to listen to what they’re saying, to stop trying to impose our own ideas on them. I agree with the idea that the women on the ground are the ones who know what they’re talking about and are the best ones to deal with their own lives. I think any advances in women’s rights are great and those who work for them, in whatever way, are fighting the good fight. But I am never going to see eye-to-eye with Muslim (or Christian) feminists. Because I think there is a fundamental ideological flaw in their feminism: their continued adherence to religion.

All the subsequent arguments about how religion is diverse, how you can’t make generalisations about the believers, about how a particular interpretation of the scriptures means that it’s not really sexist, or how Islam was a leader in women’s rights in the middle ages… they just feel like window dressing that ignores the fundamental point: God is male. He says women are inferior. He apparently made them that way and they have to do what he says. If you believe that… how do you reconcile also believing that women are equal? I certainly can’t get past it. Which is why I haven’t read any Muslim feminists.

For me, atheism comes first. You say no to the mean old man that is God/Allah/Jehovah. You deny the moral authority of the dusty old books. And then you can build from there.

————–

In the course of last night’s conversation, we all ended up agreeing that the more religion becomes involved in government, the worse the outcomes for women. This isn’t just Islam we’re talking about, but all organised religion. It’s a very strong argument for secular government and keeping religious beliefs purely in the personal sphere.

I found myself expanding the idea into a larger hypothesis. That as religiosity increases, women’s rights and opportunities decrease. The more religious and pious people are, the worse it is for women. Hence the dreadful way women are treated in every monotheistic fundamentalist sect (like this, for example).

I can’t point to any particular study to back that notion (it’s only a hypothesis) although a quick search on Google reveals numerous discussions about it. In a general way, you could perhaps point to European countries like Denmark and Sweden where low levels of religious belief are correlated with high standards of living and social and legal equality for women (although, yes, there are exceptions in some aspects of law e.g. the Swedish sex work laws. But I’m looking at the bigger picture here).

I think if you apply this idea to the issue of women’s rights in Islam, the reason that women are worse off under Islam (or it seems that way) is because that religion requires a higher level of piety in every day life. It’s not just going to church on Sundays, which is the relatively relaxed, stand-offish version of Christianity common in Western countries. Islam is often embedded within daily living and culture and it informs ways of thinking and living in a very specific way. If God is telling you what to eat, what to wear, how to behave, who you can fuck and what you, as a woman, can’t do, and you are implementing that into every aspect of your daily life, it has a pretty big impact. And I think it’s then harder to incorporate secular ideas like feminism into that way of living.

To counter this argument, you could perhaps point to Turkey, which has very high levels of belief in God and was, until recently, the only “Islamic” democracy in the world. Yet Turkey was established as a rigidly secular democratic state in the 1920s and it could be argued that that secularism and its encouragement away from extremism has helped. And Turkish women still face numerous social restrictions.

It’s only a hypothesis, as I said. A vague idea. But I wonder if it holds true.

One of the questions that has been asked is whether I think things can get better for women in Islamic countries. I do. I honestly believe that a move to secularism is the best answer. And the more people abandon religion, the better.

This is all speculation and vague rantings, of course. Just ideas that popped up at 3am after late night discussions on Twitter. This post has not been exhaustively researched and it is all just my opinion, formed through the prism of my atheism. In the end, I don’t believe in any gods, I don’t acknowledge the moral authority of any holy book and on a basic level, I disagree with people who do.

So. Writing this has taken up almost my whole day when I should have been reviewing porn. I feel hesitant to post it because I can see it will probably start a shitstorm of abuse and I don’t want to deal with that, especially given that I”m now behind in my work. Yet I waded into this discussion because I saw debate being silenced. These things should be talked about and I wanted to expand on my thoughts in a way that Twitter wouldn’t allow. If you disagree with me, that’s OK. If you think I have made errors, by all means point it out politely and I’ll do my best to listen.

Perhaps it’s time to post and be damned. Yes, that’s just a little atheist joke.

Couple of links:
Amy Clare says it all much better than I in this post Why feminism must embrace reason and shun religion.
An Unquiet Mind discusses Religion vs Gender Equality & Feminism. It also discusses Hinduism, which I don’t address here, mainly because my knowledge of that religion isn’t great.

EDIT 23 Feb. During the Twitter conversations it seemed that people were quite keen to defend Islam. One friend still sees the good in in despite leaving it and suffering personal harm because of it. What I want to know is: what benefits does Islam offer women? It’s a serious question. I’d like to know if there’s anything about it that is good for women.

EDIT 29 Feb. The SMH has just published this first-person piece about a queer woman who has reconciled her desire to be Muslim with her sexuality. It’s interesting reading and I’m glad that she has found a way to reconcile her philosophies in order to create her own personal happiness. She’s done this by “circling the square” as mentioned above – by choosing to interpret her religion so that it is accepting of homosexuality. She’s done this because she felt that being a Muslim was an important part of her life and she didn’t want to remove herself from it.

I think to “circle the square” you’ve essentially got to embrace a more vague “Golden Rule, love and compassion” philosophy and stick Allah’s (or Jesus’ or Jehovah’s) name on it. Mental acrobatics. Still, it’s her life, not mine. The other good thing here is that perhaps she and her queer group will encourage more tolerance within the Islamic community, which is always a good thing.

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11 Comments

  1. Intriguing post.

    I agree with a lot of what you said. But I dislike how your characterization of “religion” is conflated with the hidebound textual-based Abrahamic faiths, when there are plenty of non-Abrahamic examples of religions that are not at all adverse to the ideals of feminism. Buddhism and Hinduism spring to mind, and if the cultures from which these religions spring are themselves patriarchal, then at least it springs more from a long history as an agricultural civilization and not divine mandate. I mean, heck, at least they recognize the importance of the divine female to the psyche of a religion. None of the Abrahamic faiths has done a credible job of that.

    While your rational, atheistic approach is pragmatic, consider that religion is a human universal. We always have and always will interpret our universe through the filter of our religion. There are no naturally existing atheistic cultures. The human psyche requires religion to provide context to the human experience the way a musician requires a scale to compose or read music. It ain’t going away.

    Ironically, I abandoned the Abrahmaic faiths precisely because they were anti-sex and refused to recognize the inherent divinity of the female. I became a pagan, a worshiper of gods and goddesses. I began with Wicca, an avowedly feminist spirituality. After a personal journey of thirty years, I have come to balance religion and feminism not by abandoning religion, but by abandoning feminism. My devotion to my gender-balanced pantheon and my reverence of the sacred feminine have only increased, as I’ve studied, but my identification with feminism has ceased entirely.

    Why? Because of the very issue you name. Women in Islamic countries do want equal rights, they want guarantees of personal freedoms, they want control over their bodies and their sexual destinies. But that impulse is not born of feminism, it’s born of Humanism. And that’s a key point. Feminism has tainted its own victories to the point where it is no longer about equality in the eyes of most of the world; it is seen as a gynocentric ideology with a strong anti-male bias, eternally at war with men, masculinity, and anything that smacks of patriarchy.

    If feminism is about equality, then it would work towards supporting the inequality issues of men as well as women, and it demonstrably is not interested in men save as potential assailants and oppressors. Feminism has become anti-male, not just pro-female. It has not been kind to men, and it continues to be as much of a harm to gender relations as it is an aid.

    If you really want to support equality, then quit framing it in the spoiled jargon of feminism and begin properly viewing it as Humanism. Quit attacking religion and focus on actually improving the lives of Islamic women, not preaching the language of victimization to them and wondering why they reject it.

    BTW, that reason and logic you use to underpin your atheistic arguments?

    Invented by spiritually devout Greek Pagan priests. You’re welcome.

    • Ian, it seems your idea of feminism is very different to my idea of feminism. I do not consider myself or my view of feminism to be anti-male and I am well aware that the way forward for society is to improve things for both men and women.

      I used to be Christian but I moved away from it because I felt it was sexist. For a while there I toyed with the idea of paganism but I just couldn’t take it seriously. It still requires a belief in supernatural forces for which there is no evidence. Once the pall of tradition surrounding Christianity was gone I couldn’t pretend any other religion was real. I do consider myself to be a secular humanist. That is built on top of my essential atheism.

      Your “gotcha!” comment about the religion of Greek philosophers is no surprise to me. That’s just how things were thousands of years ago. They didn’t have evolution or 21st century scientific knowledge behind them. Hell, it was OK to bugger boys in their time. Their historically-appropriate beliefs do not detract from their advocacy of reason or logic. That said, I do not hold their writings to be infallible or holy either.

      I’m unsure how I’m “preaching the language of victimization” in this post.

  2. I tend to agree with you. I’m an atheist as well. However, I’m not convinced that atheism by itself is an improvement. As evidence, I point to the recent fractures on atheist and skeptical blogs over similar issues.

    • Atheism is only the lack of belief in a god or gods. It has no other ideology. What comes after is up to the individual. But I do believe that rejecting the idea of a male god and the subsequent patriarchy that goes with monotheism can only be helpful to women because it takes away one form of oppression.

  3. Ms. Naughty,

    While you do not consider feminism anti-male, the problem is that most of the males in the world consider feminism anti-male and anti-masculinity. That’s the problem. Of course feminists don’t consider themselves anti-male — that would conflict with the ideology of equality. The actuality, however, is that feminism is perceived to be anti-male and anti-masculinity regardless of your personal beliefs and practices, and any attempts at using feminism per se as an enticement towards a more equitable civil society for the women in these countries is doomed to failure. An appeal to Humanism, which does not have the anti-male taint, would actually actively work towards improving their lot. The question is, I suppose, whether or not feminists are more interested in actually achieving equality for their Muslim sisters or if they’re more concerned for advancing an ideology.

    I find it somewhat amusing that you argue so passionately against one ideology (religion) and yet are reluctant to apply that same critical perspective on another ideology (feminism) for an honest evaluation. If the ideologies of the ancient Greeks are subject to broad interpretation and selective inclusion in your philosophy, then it stands to reason (!) that taking a similar open view of feminism would be intellectually consistent.

    I also find your assessment of paganism amusing. On the surface it does appear to be an appeal to supernatural forces, and if you stop there, it can be difficult to take seriously as a religion. However, consider that there are two types of religion: Orthodoxic, wherein “rightness of belief” is the key standard (as in the Abrahmaic faiths), and Orthopraxic, wherein “rightness of action” is the key standard. Christians tend to focus on their beliefs and ideologies, because faith is an essential element in their religion. Pagans tend to focus on their actions and behaviors — “walking the walk” — embracing a more pragmatic, orthopraxic philosophy. Which is more important, of course, is up to the individual. But modern paganism is actually a powerful spiritual technology, if you invest the time to study. But it’s not for everyone. Unlike some religions I could name, we don’t want everyone to be Pagan.

    In any case, I suppose I could ask you: Are you an orthodoxic feminist or an orthopraxic feminist?

    • You are fairly quick to speak on behalf of most of the males in the world. You’re also quick to tell me that I’m not thinking critically about feminism. Thanks for that. I can only assume you haven’t read my other posts on the topic of feminism.

      I am a Ms Naughty feminist. I follow my own ideals of feminism. And atheism and humanism. I am also very interested in the idea of changing masculinity to create a better world for men.

      You are free to follow your own pagan beliefs. I do not feel the need to share them because they still rely on supernatural elements. As I said in the post. I don’t not follow gods. So on this topic we essentially disagree.

  4. Getting somewhat back on your original interesting topic, I think there is a problem here that I haven’t been able to resolve for myself. While I do think that religion is largely pointless and repressive, I don’t think it must be necessarily patriarchal and limiting. In practice everyone believes in some things without evidence and generally most of us are still decent human beings. For instance, neuroscience suggests that we make decisions and then rationalise them to ourselves after the fact. Yet we largely choose to interpret our sense of self as something we have a great deal of conscious control over.

    Anyway, it comes how far do we take this idea of removing sources of oppression. Abolishing strict religions like Islam would probably improve a lot of people’s lives. What about other things? Most people can consume alcohol in a healthy manner, but how many lives could be improved by eliminating it altogether? We’ve recently gone through something similar with Wilkie’s gambling legislation. How do we weigh the joy that can demonstratively be derived against the pain that comes from overindulgence with pretty much everything in life? This even leads into the censorship and pornography questions that are ongoing. Is the very real pleasure, unencumbered by guilt and shame among mature adults, that derives from voyeurism worth the cost of the unfulfilling and unpleasant first time experience of teenagers for whom that was their only sex education? Similarly, can religion in small doses be a healthy source of pleasure for some people that we really have no right to want to eliminate? Is it the idea or the overcommitment to that idea that is the problem?

    I think the answer is education. Conditions are better in Turkey than Indonesia because there was more and better education, and that is what improves everyone’s lives. Similarly, the porn ‘problem’ can be solved by better and more comprehensive sex and relationship education. (You can then get into arguments about the form that education should take, and what facts should be massaged to make a better narrative.)

    While I’d like to lay a large chunk of the blame squarely at religion’s feet, ultimately religions are just ideas. I can’t justify to myself eliminating bad ideas, because I hold many minority opinions that I don’t want to be squashed either. My difficulty comes in because religion seems particularly good at infiltrating governments, but I really don’t want to make an exception for one particular class of ideas, however much I disagree with them. Does that make sense? Do you have a solution?

    • It’s a very good question to ask. No doubt religion does bring comfort and joy to a lot of people’s lives, although I’m inclined to think that on a large scale it tends to be harmful. I do think religion should be an individual, adult choice, best kept private. If a woman genuinely thinks she is better off wearing a burka, and she made that choice freely, then I don’t have the right to stop her. I can express the opinion that I think it’s a bad choice based on my analysis of what it means and whether it causes harm, but who am I to tell other people what to do.

      And that’s the real issue. Too often religion is about telling other people how to live their lives. It overreaches beyond personal morality and demands that everyone else do the same thing. That’s probably because of the proselyting nature of many religions – it becomes an imperative to spread the word, to impose your values on others in an attempt to make the world better. Example: Rick Santorum thinks sex should only occur in marriage. That would be fine if that was how he lived his own life; instead, it’s horrifying because he wants everyone to live like that.

      It comes down to secularism and anti-theism. Secularism is saying that religion is up to the individual and should stay out of government; it’s essentially about doing what you want but keeping it to yourself. Anti-theism sees religion as harmful and wants to remove its influence, even on individuals, because there’s no real way to keep it to yourself. You still vote, you’re still part of society and what you do affects others. There’s part of me that’s sympathetic to the latter. I do think religion encourages irrational thinking simply because it demands you believe in something without evidence. And if you follow that through you get climate change denial… which ultimately kills the planet.

      Also, I agree with Dawkins when he says that children should not be forced into any religion, that it should be an adult decision. One of the things that really bugs me about the Islamic dress code is seeing one local family at the pool where the boy is happily splashing around in his shorts and the poor little girls have to sit on the side in stinking hot full-length dresses. That, to me, is just unfair and harmful. So the idea of “keeping it to yourself” really has to include not imposing it on your kids.

      The notion of individual choice versus harm prevention is a balancing act but I’m actually all for individual freedoms. For example, I oppose our mandatory bike helmet laws because I want to be able to make my own decisions about personal safety, even if it slightly increases my risk of injury. So even if I think religion is ultimately harmful to individuals, it’s up to them to live their lives as they see fit. Choice is one of the pillars of feminism. So while I may rail on my blog about how wrong I think religion is, I wouldn’t ever support the idea of banning it. Because, as you say, you can’t ban ideas. And that’s a good thing.

      When it comes to government and “making an exception for one particular class of ideas”, the solution is always to rely on evidence-based policy. If a religious person thinks we need to make a law about something, and it’s based on their religion, that’s fine. But they need to show that their ideas are backed by evidence, not just personal morality. If they want to ban something, they need to show real scientific evidence of harm. If they want to introduce something, they need to show real evidence that it will improve people’s lives. That applies to everyone. Secular, evidence based government is the best way to be fair to everyone.

  5. Mohammed said he brought the religion to Saudi first because they needed it the most.

    I believe this goes to what you said about the differences between their religion and their culture. In their culture they repress women, but there’s nothing in the religion that dictates this, just look at how women are seen in Iran, where they are higher up.

    In the west we are given only a tiny bit of the real news because our government wants our corporations to be let back in.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past year, it’s not to watch the news on television. (Democracy Now- http://www.democracynow.org, has the news from The Left, which is a good starting point to learn the truth, but just a start, you also need to read).

    And, to reframe religion, I recently was diagnosed with ADHD, and have found that I do avoid using Dopamine by my learned thought processes, and in researching ways to “turn on” dopamine production I found that when people are in worship their dopamine increases. So, maybe the point of religions is not to attract followers and believers, but is actually to teach people this neat triok they can do in their brains? Because dopamine is the number one neuro-transmitter associated with focus, conccentration and feelings of connection and well-being.

    Maybe exclusion IS the problem, and inclusion is the answer: We deserve a new religion that focuses on what’s important, and let’s the exclusionary rhetoric in the past. From outer space we do appear as ONE blue world.

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