The general public response to the Supreme Courts Hobby Lobby decision is deeply revealing of the depth of the human psyche. In contrast to the objections for it, the basis, of public support for that decision, seem superficial. Let me explain my reasoning for that statement.
If you chose to define the word ‘psyche’ to mean our conscious being rather than our mind, soul, or spirit you will miss the point of this blog post. First, I believe our genes shape our behavior in a very fundamental way. This is not a reference to a superficial treatment of the subject of so-called classic genetics; restricted to what some refer to as molecular level DNA sequences of nucleic base pairs commonly called “genes” and Darwinian evolution by mutation of those sequences. Genes include much more than DNA changeable only by mutations. Still, Darwin’s “natural selection” certainly is the fundamental basis of evolution just as Mendel’s concept of inherited bits of information is also true. What has changed is our concept of what is selected: “natural selection” is no longer based on some change in some obscure uninterruptable chemical sequence of DNA. “Natural selection” is based on physical and behavioral “phenotypes”, which are the amalgamated results of DNA, RNA, proteins, and thousands of other deterministically formed chemicals such as myriad hormones and their receptors. The challenge is to try to understand how all this variability can consistently result in stable forms that “evolved” over 3 billion years into definable species; this is biology.
There is nothing more exciting then biology.
In 2014, we are far beyond thinking that if we can read DNA like a book, we can answer every thing. We now use the term ‘genetics’ to refer to the sum of all mechanisms of inheritance that resulted in walking talking, thinking, human beings; thus, we start our thinking with a faulty premise; that premise is that we are special. We may be different in a very exciting way but we are not special. As humans, we have convinced ourselves that we are special and some of use can not shake that feeling. For example, many consider that we, and not the sun, are the center of the universe, meaning the universe was some how fashioned for us. It is difficult to believe that an ant or elephant, a tree or bacteria are the most sophisticated results of a line of evolutionary change just as we are the end of our line of evolutionary development and that we currently are the most intelligent and sophisticated cumulative result of all evolution; we are but one line. We are a single branch of life that is still evolving and vulnerable to extinction but not just like a Dodo bird. We are not as volnerable to the environment because we can about think how to cope with that environment; thus, possibly avoid our own extinction.
What the Supreme Court did and the reaction of people to that decision was to show us clearly that we still function at a bestial level, meaning we have along way to go. With sophisticated thinking, we have modified our response to our environment, which obviously included our social environment. Our culture is the obvious example of that work in progress. We have moved from eating, sex, and all the fighting that goes with those survival to a more complex format that involves quality of life.
One of the most important changes has been to realize that the environment is the plant earth and that our nature confines us to that environment. Stephen Pinker wrote a revealing book, The better Angles of Our Nature. It is really a well-documented account of the “pacification” of man, which is an account of the slow and relentless decrease in human violence. He gingerly tip toed around the subject of the part spirits play in this decline of violent behavior just as Darwin down played the part spirits play in our beliefs in the way man was created when he was writing his book, The Origin of Man. This is completely analogous to the modern tendency to downplay of the part supernatural spirits affect the weather, for example.
The miracle of the United States reflects a change in human behavior. Like Darwin and Stephen Pinker, our founding fathers were well aware of the wrath they would cause if they did not tenderly handle the expulsion of religion from government. Of courses, this is speculation on my part, but I feel the “founding fathers” were well aware of how divisive religion can be and took special care to address that fact the way they did in forming our “land of liberty”. I make this judgment from reading some of their letters to each other and article they wrote aside from learning about these famous official documents. They could have written the first article of the constitution saying that they wanted to form a secular nation, but they did not do that! It would have risked the entire project. They knew if this country was to stand, it had to be free of religious tyranny, which means that religious leaders must have no part in government.
They also knew much of human violence relates to people who are willing to kill to create and protect a “moral group”, which they define any way the wish, which is like the definition of heaven. If everyone can define his or her own “moral group” or heaven that means others cannot refuted that description. In addition, the use of the word ‘leader’ in the expression of ‘religious leader’ means that through some ill defined spirit or supreme being through that “leader” controls everything, even the minds of their followers. Thus, like peck order in a flock of chickens or the leader of a wolf pack; there is a “bestial” leader, which is the result of physical strength or aggression or some combination. It is OK to kill to protect or kill to support their “moral group” but is the worst of sins to kill one of their own moral group. Like is sacred but it is OK to take the lives of pigs and cattle to eat just as it is OK to take lives to protect what members of that community perceived to be their territory or, when it comes to moral groups of people, their church, which is their “moral group”.
The Constitution says that “we the people” control everything: one-man one-vote. For most of us, our thinking has evolved to that point. Separation of church and state means everyone can worship as they please but they cannot do harm others in the process. Now, the Supreme Court says a religious leader can worship their religion at the expense of others—a few men in black robes who lack understanding of behavior evolution have returned us to a pre-constitutional or back toward a bestial level; thus, have corrupted our democracy at a very fundamental level.
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