Mere Biology

My recent post on the Da Vinci Code, and Christian "family values" elicited many comments: and thank you all very much! It's very gratifying to know that my humble efforts have readers! And I must confess to stealing the title for this little elucidation from one of them: Adam, a customer of mine, as well as a dedicated and honest Christian and if I may be so bold, a friend, observed that in the Biblical passages quoted

Perhaps what Jesus is getting at is that the new ties are ultimately relational/spiritual, not merely biological...

Mere biology? How quickly we dismiss the mundane in favor of the transcendent! What is "mere" about biology? And why is a purely spiritual relationship considered better than one based on "mere biology"?

Biology surrounds and sustains us. Biology is how we got here and how we remain here. You ignore the demands of biology at your peril: try going without breathing, water of food for a few days and see what it makes of you. Miserable. You cannot ignore it. And it's very ubiquity is what makes it "mere biology" in Christian theology.

Biology cannot only be seen, touched, felt and smelled on a daily basis: it is the very basis itself. But in Christian theology, this is denigrated, and faith is upheld as the highest goal:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

I've been told on more than on occasion that faith in Jesus is similar to my belief that Sunna will mount his course tomorrow: not so! I can see the Sun, and have seen it rise every day of my life. This is not something "hoped for", nor is it "unseen". Believing that a virgin gave birth some 2000 years ago to a guy who eventually rose from the dead is faith: you've never met a virgin who gave birth, nor have you seen many dead folks get up and do the boogie-woogie!

Notice the denial of biology at the very core of Christianity: the virgin birth and the resurrection are biological impossibilities. The Christians hope for "eternal life" is a reflection of this: life implies death, and the only things that do not die are those which have never lived. Biology be damned - we want to live forever!

I think it's safe to say that Christianity has some serious problems with reality, and they must make many concessions in order to function as biological entities. Fasting, although it may cause misery, is seen as a spiritual good. But no fast lasts until death. A sexless life is deemed best, but as the world must be peopled most Christians have lived with less than perfect fidelity to this ideal.

And because of these continual concessions to biological reality, the Christian becomes ever more convinced of his own imperfection, and ever more guilty because of his failures. It's a vicious circle - Christianity defines biology as inconsequential in a vain attempt to overcome and surpass it.

This should make the answer to the second question obvious: spiritual relations are better than biological ones because we can neither see nor test the spiritual, whereas the biological is mundane and commonplace. But the answer becomes even more obvious when we make a simple word substitution for "biology", replacing it with it's core feature:

Why is a purely spiritual relationship considered better than one based on sex?

Christianity's problems with any form of sex outside of marriage is legendary: I shan't detail it here. But I will point out that it seems as though the theology tolerates sex only for the purpose of procreation, and any act of sex for pleasure is deemed "sin". This is done to lessen the guilt for having to surrender to the biologically obvious: those Christian sects which eschewed sex entirely soon found themselves with a dwindling and aging membership.

By contrast, we heathens see biology as central to our lives, and we have a pretty good basis in fact for doing so. We're not particularly fond of being miserable, and we certainly enjoy sex. We're not keen on married folks breaking their oathbond and bedding others, by any means, but sex for pleasure is certainly A-OK, and premarital sex is just fine, too. Do take care not to make a baby unless you want one is our point of view, and if you do make one take the responsibility for your actions and do the right thing. It's not rocket science, nor does it ignore the reality of our everyday lives while striving for something "higher". We're as high as we want to be.

Not all of your ancestors are worthy of honor - there's a few skeletons in every closet, and a few fruits and nuts in every family tree. Honor demands that we honor those who've earned our respect, not that we simply and unconditionally love everyone who's related to us by blood.

But while we may not be honor bound to love our families, we are biologically bound to recognize them. They are us, in a very real, genetic sense, and the better we understand that simple fact the better we'll understand ourselves. And further, we contend that biology is a very strong and wise base for enduring relationships: the bond between parent and child, between brother and sister is as real as the rising of the Sun. We have no need for "spiritual brothers" - our real ones will do quite nicely, thank you very much!

Even the marriage relationship between husband and wife is based on biology - sex is the most powerful builder of intimate relationships we know. Believing in the same god[s] as someone from the other side of the world is not going to build the kind of relationship that growing up and old together will build. Ask yourself a simple question if you're a Christian parent: would you sacrifice your heathen child if it would save a hundred fellow Christians? For myself, I wouldn't kill my Christian daughter if it saved a million heathens...(and I do have one, in fact. I'm working on her ... but I figure that two out of three ain't bad!)

Blood is thicker than water, and even where real blood is not involved (as in adoptions) the time spent in the home environment together builds family just as surely.

Whereas Christians get all worked up over the idea of Jesus having a wife and child, our gods have whole families, including adopted sons and daughters. They marry, have sex, eat heartily and drink greedily. They enjoy life - it's no sin to them to have fun and revel in the pleasures that biology affords!

In fact, there were only two real crimes in heathen times that would not only get you outlawed from society but would cast your very soul into jeopardy: one was breaking a sacred oath, the other was slaying a kinsman. And in a very real sense, killing your brother is breaking an oath, the oath of family fidelity, the implicit oath of biological kinship. Breaking this oath is the most serious form of betrayal we can imagine, and we still consider a mother who murders her children, or the children who kill their parents, or a father who molests his daughter, to be among the most heinous criminals.

It's no coincidence that the common terms for non-Christians, "pagan" and "heathen", are both derived from terms meaning "country dweller" or "farmer". Out here on the farm we're pretty close to biology, and we understand the issues with setting it aside quite well. Understanding biology is our livelihood - from the fields of grain to the cattle on the pasture, our lives revolve around the biological and physical facts of our existence. The further away from this basis you live, the more readily theologies denying it's importance will take root.

In closing, I'd like to point out that the word "biology" means "the study of life". Heathenry is about life, here and now, in our physical and biological universe that we can see, taste and feel. Christianity poses itself as surpassing and even obviating "mere biology".

The contrast could not be plainer.

20:33 /Asatru | 11 comments | permanent link

Agribusiness and the State

is the title of a lengthy post over at the Mututalist Blog. If you're looking for a left libertarian analysis of agricultural policies this is the place: they're pretty much hittin' on all eight, as the old saw goes.

09:54 /Agriculture | 0 comments | permanent link

Anti-pornography rally in Jakarta

I think their idea of p0rn is a bit different from ours, but 5 years in jail for a public kiss seems a bit extreme no matter who's definition you accept.

And I would wager that if one dug a bit deeper, that nearly the only place in Indonesia where "erotic dancing" takes place on a regular basis is on the island of Bali, which is predominately Hindu, and whose dance rituals are world famous for their spiritual sensuality.

All in all, this is just one more example of the "my way or the highway" attitude adopted by the "Religion of Peace"™

More than 10,000 Indonesians march in support of a bill which could make public kissing a criminal offence.

(link) [BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition]

09:43 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link