posted on Nov, 6 2009 @ 08:42 AM
Purest only in regards to the original conceptualization of the religion by the "prophet" or author. Religion can be seen as a collection of
successful symbiotic memes which as a whole are more likely to be replicated and passed on than as individual scraps of information. For instance,
consider that it's well documented just how extensively the Abrahamic religions (including their celebrations) have borrowed from various sources -
either purely cultural practice or from other religions.
Once passed beyond the original author/creator of the religion, it is exposed to outside minds and interpretations - coming into contact with new and
existing memes already populating the sphere of human thought and dialog. Some combinations and modifications make the meme more successful, while
others have floundered. Some died out from disenfranchisement or subversion - and some by bloody oppression.
Still... a wrong idea in it's purest and most original form... is still a wrong idea. If your professor asks you a question, and you take a guess
that's utterly wrong - does that make the next student asked slightly more correct when he similarly answers a shot in the dark guess? Of course not.
In fact, if similarly un-knowledgeable as you in the subject matter - then they are all the more likely to simply modify your guess slightly and
repeat it - or reactively offer an answer which is in pronounced and direct contrast to yours.
I think the conceptual underpinning of your thread and question is reflective of the concept of the "Noble Savage" - the idea that a state
fundamentally less altered human activity is somehow better or more ideal. It's a return to Eden fantasy, conceptualized best in the story of Genesis
- though not confined or root to biblical sources. It's actually quite common and pervasive in many cultures. It suggests that humanity was once in a
state of harmony and peace with nature - but have since that time have progressively allowed the sin of separation from nature... of the exercise of
influence on or over our environments... to corrupt humanity with evils and temptations not known to the natural state. The Noble Savage suggests that
we are in a "fallen" state, in need of redemption.
In pursuit of this "redemption", people tend to seek out "Natural Foods", "Natural Cures", "Natural Environments", etc. Natural, of course,
not denoting what the word actually means (because as the product of a natural system, nothing we can do is ever un-natural - no matter how
unprecedented) - and is instead co-opted to mean "Untampered with by Man".
I tend to view the Noble Savage as an anti-intellectual/pro-ignorance movement that distorts the reality of nature and our place in it for (more or
less) religiously based or reinforced motives. If Nature seems to surprise us with unintended and often detrimental consequences for our actions - it
is only because nature operates and adapts to changes on a scale beyond human conceptualization. We create new environments and introduce new
selective pressures on our species by our actions - inhabiting environments we did not evolve adaptations for, relying instead on our ingenuity and
ability to understand the world as a means to mitigate environmental selectors and promote survival.
We are a product of nature, and we behave accordingly. Some may not see it through the complexity of human thought, and some may want to deny it -
suggesting some special attribute which makes us somehow "different and separate" from all other life on Earth. In reality, we are by no measure
outside or separate from any other species in the biosphere - just uniquely adapted for understanding and manipulating our environment. The demons
which haunt the hearts of men (as well as the angles)... cruelty, power, domination, sorrow, pain, greed, lust - they are tethered irrevocably to
origins in nature. Returning to a more primitive state would not dispell those demons... but rather serve only to promote their exercise as a tool for
survival were we to drop our defenses of understanding - edging us closer to a perilously vulnerable position which Darwin referred to as "The War of
Nature", a state of perpetual famine and death.
Thomas Hobbes referred to the "Natural State" as one in which "during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in
that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man." A state in which life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish,
and short". That this perpetual war of misery is fought for gain, for safety, and for promotion of self-interest. We still fight this war with our
fellow creatures on Earth, but governance and technology has provided humanity with the tools to develop and establish social contracts and
infrastructures to ease the suffering, establish a standard of justice, and improve the quality of life for ourselves. Yet we can never divorce
ourselves from nature, and natural laws can form the basis for identifying and promoting natural and inalienable rights, balanced more justly by our
improving (but far from perfect or homogeneously applicable) social contracts that promote the atmospheres in which our better angles of love,
empathy, curiosity, sympathy, creativity, altruism & generosity, and a desire for peaceful existence can more freely flourish.
"That a man be willing, when others are so too… to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men as he
would allow other men against himself."
While I don't agree with the Leviathan Theory as proposed by Hobbes, the basic concept is demonstrably sound when comparing regions with an
adequately strong enforcement agent for the contract against areas of lawlessness and illegitimate weak governments. Modern nomadic tribal societies
are little better, as were pre-colonial Native American tribal bands. It's telling that almost immediately upon the start of colonization in the N.
American hemisphere by French and English settlers, the native tribes of adjacent and co-occupied territories latched onto alliances with the European
invaders - short shortsightedly using those nations preexisting animosities as a basis for alliance and support of their own tribal infighting.
Studies of modern nomadic tribes in the African, Asian, and S. American jungles reveals that the chance of dying at the hands of another man for them
exceeds (by far, in most cases) the chance of such happening in most nations, especially the first world nations, in the past 20th century - even when
taking into account the deaths inflicted by WWI & II.
The concept of the "Noble Savage", and all it details - both expressly and in influence - needs to be unseated from the place it's taken in the
public's mind. It relies on romanticism and sentimentality, not an accurate reflection or understanding of reality. It promotes the pursuit and
embrace of pseudosciences long since debated and marginalized for ineffectiveness for centuries - ultimately disproven and discarded. It's promoted
these days more by pseudo-religious groups and spiritualists, promising enlightenment while eroding confidence in science and human knowledge -
pointing the way back to the Dark Ages as something to strive for. It confuses people's concepts of morality, purity, safety, and makes them
susceptible to all manner of snake-oil charms and elixirs. It's hard for many in the public to resolve the disconnect between science's advancement,
societies progress - and the near ever-present and repeated invocation of the "Expulsion from Eden". Especially when uncritical examinations of
scientific principals, such as entropy, seem to support it. The 2nd law of Thermodynamics being a favorite stumbling block for Creationists. Even our
own sense of nostalgia can seem to confirm it, projecting subjective experience in the stead of objective observations.
For me... I prefer an incomplete, but workable answer - rather than comfort myself with a complete falsehood. Let alone embrace the easy and exotic
answers of a long discarded falsehood. Embraced for little or naught else but the virtue of being old -- the falsehood of assuming a correlation
between purity and antiquity. Of trusting the lack of man's involvement as the measure by which to ensure accuracy, rather than the objective
evidence of reality and reproducible results.
(Sorry for rambling)