Friday, December 08, 2006

Anti-Religious Crusaders, e.g. Dawkins, Sam Harris (and BTA): Overlooking the Female Perspective?

Wouldn't it be ironic if enlightened scientists, who ardently argue for atheism because religion sets the world back to the Dark Ages, had in their writings and arguments demonstrated a glaring blind spot in overlooking the differences between religious men and *women*?

I have been thinking about this point lately, as Dawkins and Harris in particular have been making wonderful inroads in the quest for a world based on scientific principles of evidence, inquiry, rational thought, and ultimately, enlightenment.

Dawkins has a powerful new book, called The God Delusion, a compendium of intelligent and truthful answers to the most common and fallacious arguments of religious believers, and outright fundamentalists. Some of the arguments are as follows:

1. There too many religious wars and acts of violence to justify religion's existence;
2. Hypocritical religious fundamentalist preachers are influencing the laws of this country and others, and are often caught in secret acts demonstrating the hypocrisy (think Ted haggard, the gay priest who lobbied for an anti-gay marriage law);

I oftentimes feel the need to point out the hypocrisy one sees all the time in the orthodox jewish world, especially the chareidi world. There you see venerated rabbis, aka "gedolim" willing to defend pedophiles, just as the catholic church did for decades. Those days are hopefully coming to an end soon.

So, here's my thought (and it has some very interesting implications): All of the atheist*** spokesmen are just that- men. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, so long as the perspective of 50% of the world's religious folks, i.e., women are taken into account.

But they really aren't. I would argue that most of the arguments levelled against religion apply much more so to men than to women.

Men waged them. Some would say religion was essentially an excuse to reinforce tribal similarities and to tap into ancient animal instincts tending towards xenophobia. Irrespective of this, women didnt wage wars.

Other kinds of Violence:
Again, women weren't inquisitioners. They weren't sanhedrin members pouring hot lead down a criminal's throat (or a shabbos violator's). And yes, there are now some female suicide bombers, but this is quite recent and still quite rare.

Child Molestation and other sex crimes:
Again, men are the ones you hear about. I don't know of any female religious Jew who molested a child in school. Any counterexamples out there?

Financial Improprieties and Crimes:
We've all heard about the financial scams, tax and mortgage frauds perpetrated by religious Jews. Has anyone heard of a woman getting arrested for these things? If so, we're talking about the exception, not the rule.

Now, I can already hear some of you commenting that "of course women didn't do all these things, it's because men had all the power." But that isn't really true, now is it? We have women congressmen and senators, do we ever hear about them sexually harrassing their pages? Likewise, given the power, does anyone assume women would become very violent? Corrupt perhaps- I'll concede that.

What all this leads to are really 2 points:

1. It is quite clear that religion is manmade because it so clearly caters to men's inherent violent nature, and the tendencies of men to act in sexually deviant or immoral ways when exposed to constant repression.

2. It would make sense to investigate independently whether perhaps the world would be still be ok if the women were religious. Obviously, this is untestable, and of course women play a huge role in religious indoctrination of their kids. Still, without the male influence, it's arguable that religion wouldn't be so bad at all.

However, without men, I doubt we'd even recognize Orthodox Judaism even in the slightest.

***For the sake of brevity, there are many semantic arguments for the definition of "atheist" from strong to weak, to "really an agnostic" and so on. Let's just use atheist to designate a person who doesn't believe in a god (especially of the Daddy in the Sky variety).