Sex, God, and Violence
Self-defense is more than just punching and kicking. In fact, it encompasses much more than physical defense overall. While it is of utmost importance to have a skill set that enables you to physically overcome violence, there are deeper issues that must also be addressed.
Self-defense begins with the self. If the human race is to ever end, or even minimize violence in our species, we have to be able to understand it. Only then can we ever hope to predict and prevent it. How we can do this is by looking at our ancestors (primates) and studying the evolutionary biology and psychology that causes certain violent behaviours. By doing this we can understand the dynamics of social violence, asocial violence, and their causes and deterrents.
A problem exists, however, with the entertaining of Salvationist and/or creationist religion(s) – such as Christianity, Islam, and Mormonism (to name a few). While these Abrahamic religions may not directly advocate the use of violent behaviour in our day-to-day interactions, they do prevent us from understanding ourselves and thus understanding and preventing violence in humans. Now I realize that being a follower of these religions means different things to different people – but I assert that unless you willingly believe in and follow the texts of these religions to the best of your ability, then you are not deserving of the nomenclature thereof.
My familiarity is mainly with Christianity, as I spent over a decade as a committed Christian. I have read the Bible cover to cover at least 3 times, and I know it well. A creationist narrative like this one separates humans from the rest of nature as special beings that were created in the image of their creator. If we did not evolve, but rather were created via intelligent design, then we can never hope to study animal/mammal behaviour to find answers to our deepest questions about ourselves. If we embrace creationist myths, then we can never hope to predict and prevent violence.
Furthermore, Salvationist religions like those mentioned above, deem us as broken, sinful, and hell-bound, until we accept and follow the dogma of said religion. The problem here is that as followers of these religions we suppress our dark thoughts and urges rather than face them head on. It is a “sin” to lust, to envy, etc. and so we push those things far from our mind. When we try to deny their existence, or when we try to avoid them at all costs, they come back to bite us is the proverbial ass.
To illustrate my point, here are some statistics taken from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (United States):
Atheists, who make up about 14% of the United States population, make up just 0.2% of the US prison population.
Christians (of all denominations), on the other hand, who make up about 81% of the United States population, make up 84% of the US prison population.
Now, I know I seem to picking on Christianity specifically here, but I want to be clear that my problem isn’t with Christianity – my problem is with Christianity AND all other creationist/Salvationist ideologies.
The same problem exists in human sexuality. We tend to socially condition ourselves with our own ideas about marriage, monogamy, the nuclear family, etc. – ideas taken largely from religious and/or patriarchal societies. The better thing to do would be to look at our counsins (chimps, bonobos, etc. with whom we share greater than 98% of our DNA) and observe their behaviour to discover what is natural human behaviour. Why do you think so many marriages fail? Why is the pornography and sex industry booming? Why do so many couples cheat on each other? Our artificial values are next to impossible to live by. And even for those that can – they will likely do so miserably. And for the very few who can – happily – live by them, good for you…but you are minor exceptions to a huge rule.
Don’t believe me – look at more statistics:
Christians, like adherents of other religions, have a divorce rate of about 42%. The rate among religiously unaffiliated Americans is 50%. (USA Today)
Annual Worldwide Revenue for the Pornography Industry = $97.06 Billion
Approximately 50 percent married women and 60 percent of married men will have an extramarital affair at some time in their marriage. And since it is unlikely that the people having affairs are married to each other in every case, the current statistics on the percentage of married couples who cheat on each other means that someone is having an affair in nearly 80 percent of marriages. (Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy)
In his book, Sociobiology, author E.O. Wilson argued that evolutionary theory is “the essential first hypothesis for any serious consideration of the human condition” and that “without it the humanities and social sciences are the limited descriptors of surface phenomena, like astronomy without physics, biology without chemistry, and mathematics without algebra.”
By embracing religious myths like the need for salvation, or that we come from a creator – you keep me as a self-defense instructor in business, because you ensure the perpetuation of violence. These world views are enablers. But if we begin to look at ourselves as we truly are – not much different from our hairy ancestors – then we can really begin to predict, prevent, and fingers-crossed…maybe one day eliminate violent behaviour altogether.
That’s my 2 cents.