gender, Heathenism, immutable fact, philosophy, Religion, science
So, last night I got into a conversation with a couple of people in the Transgender community. Well, I called it a conversation, but it was more like they’d say something and then I rambled on with the philosophical things their statements brought to my head. Might be something different from a conversation.
What sparked it was a joke about wanting to hit trans-phobic people with a mace to teach them not to be trans-phobic. I, despite my Heathen love of all things violent, cautioned that such jokes could be counter productive to the ends of acceptance and tollerance. This ended up sparking a rather massive discussion with one person who was very much fun to talk to and willing to debate…and one who went into a blind frenzy of attacking everything I proposed simply because they didn’t agree with it, and felt that trans people were more persecuted than Heathens.
Two of the things that came up over and over in the conversation were that Religion is a choice where as gender is not, and that religious “belief” base facts doesn’t trump “immutable” scientific fact. While one might initially think these two points are separate, oddly enough they came up together.
I’m going to talk about the second part first. One of the things that I kept getting pounded with was that “gender is not a choice, and this is an immutable scientific fact” where as “one can chose one’s religion and change it at will.”
I wisely chose not to point out then that Heathens were of stronger stuff then, because if we chose the fight and kept with it when we could walk away, that implied a stronger belief in who we are than trans people who insist they have no choice. But that is another rant.
To counter this I made the argument that I didn’t have a choice in my religion, because my religion came from my very genetic code, bred into me by my ancestors. I was Born a Heathen, if you will. I could no more change my faith than they could change their gender. This was met with some mockery and statement that I couldn’t prove that scientifically, so it wasn’t a valid position. My belief that I couldn’t change my religious nature didn’t trump the immutable scientific fact that according to science there are no gods and religion is meaningless fantasy.
Which started me on the nature of immutable fact. Immutable means, as best I can tell, something that cannot change. It is carved in the stones of the universe, always has been, always will be. Nothing can change it, and the only source for these immutable facts is science because it can “prove” them.
Someone, it seems…has not really paid attention to the history of science.
One of the things that turned my mind back to religion is the fact that I loved science. I gobbled it up. It promised the answers to life and I wanted them, deeply and hungrily. But the teaching of science proved its own undoing to me. The more I learned about science, the more I came to realize that large parts of science operated under the illusions of those who practiced it, and that all too often it betrayed its principles and foundation in its execution.
Currently, science holds that gender is a genetic construct. Fifty or so years ago, it held that GLBT was a mental disorder that could be cured. Both were the “immutable fact” of their day. In an interesting historical note, Psychologists shifted their views and research results from mental disorder to genetic condition right about the time that the GLBT political movement gained enough power to…influence the legal sphere.
Currently, science holds that we’re in the grip of “Climate Change!” Ten years ago it was Global Warming. Twenty years before that…our climate was healthy and happy, or at least stable and a bit polluted. In a great bit of what I can only presume to call divine base irony, a ship went down to prove the ice caps were shrinking, in summer, and wound up betting nearly three ships trapped in rapidly growing ice. (Skadi, it seems, is not without a sense of humor).
Everything, from atomic theory, to biology, to psychology, etc in science is in a constant state of flux. The facts change on a decade basis, sometime even yearly, monthly, or daily basis. Hell, I have seen facts change between two different papers published at pretty much the same time. This is the opposite of an “immutable” fact. Those are facts that all too mutable.
Yet these facts are taken as concrete blocks of reality because someone wanting to make a point can produce a few photos, couple of graphs, and a study or two that “show” what they intend to prove. That the facts often “prove” the beliefs of the financial backers is no coincidence.
On the other hand, we have religions, whose “facts” often do tend to come much closer to immutable. Most religious “facts” are based in books or teachings that are thousands of years old and haven’t changed much, if at all, during that time period. Interestingly enough, though, the facts that often come into conflict aren’t even facts addressing the same point.
According to the GLBT community, they are genetically born their gender, and hold this as fact. They then complain that the Judeo-Christian-Islamic stance that homosexuality and the GLBT genders are a sin is not a “fact” because one cannot scientifically prove the existence of a God to dictate that something is “sinful.”
But hold on. This isn’t a Science says gender is genetic, and Religions says gender is from something else. Neither of the two above points intersect in their cause effect nature. Gender can be choice or genes, but JCI religions are still going to consider it sinful and immoral. The monotheistic religions don’t care about the source of the sin, and to be honest would probably consider sin a genetic condition since according to them we are all “born in a state of sin.”
As a Heathen, I don’t agree with the being born in sin or that anything to do with the GLBT lifestyle/nature is sinful. But the fact that I believe the Gods created people who they are (regardless of orientation) doesn’t change who they are be that creation through divine mandate or genetic predisposition, doesn’t change the facts for the GLBT or the monotheists. Because one is stating that a behavior comes from X, and the other is stating that Y Behavior is wrong regardless of where it comes from.
The immutable fact is that the monotheistic religions consider homosexuality a sin, and this is an immutable fact because it has not changed in thousands of years. The basis of the fact being in religion rather than science doesn’t change this. That’s like saying the direction of North is not an immutable fact, because we name a direction North, but cannot scientifically prove which way is up or down on a globe, or even in the universe. Where as in science we have the mutable fact that GLBT genders were a mental disorder and are now a genetic condition.
The first part of this that gender is set, but religion is a choice.
Now, I will freely admit I was playing a devil’s advocate troll on this part of the conversation, but I still managed to raise what I thought were some valid points, especially with the “immutability” of scientific facts. Heathens have the “fact” that according to our texts, the Gods made mankind and then interbred with them. All our peoples have divine ancestry into them. Our gods are part of our very genetics.*
I pointed out that just a few short decades ago, Gender was considered a choice, that GLBT was considered a mental disorder, but that advances in science had shown that it was a genetic state. Next I posited about what if say we currently consider the ability to see things that other people cannot as a mental disorder, but then in a few decades we gained the scientific knowledge needed to realize that those things were really there? Wouldn’t that prove that connections to the spirit realm, to Believing, were a genetic state, rather than a “choice” or “mental disorder?”
In what I believe to be irony, this argument was dismissed as non-factual because science can’t prove the existence of such things. Completely disregarding the history of advancement in scientific discovery and the possibility that we will one day be able to do as I posited.
In essence “I am born the way I am, but you can’t be born the way you are, because you can’t prove according to what I believe in that such is the case.”
Exactly the same argument that the GLBT community complains the Monotheistic Religious Majority uses against them.
Personally, it had to make me laugh, since said argument was coming from a person who accused me of playing “oppression olympics” with them, did their level best to exclude me from said playing field, accused me of cultural appropriation from the Norse, and dismissed the fact that heathenism had been hunted pretty much to extinction over the last thousand years as relevant in the face that per population, trans-gendered folks have the highest murder and suicide rates of any group.
I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the reason the murder/suicide rates for Heathens are potentially so low because we’re more likely to have a weapon and kill our attacker rather than be killed. Maybe that goes back to the idea that because Heathen’s “Choose” to be an oppressed minority, we’re made of stronger stuff than folks that say “I can’t help myself, I was born this way.” I really don’t know. What I do know is this, there aren’t any organizations who give enough of a shit to see what the murder/suicide rate is of heathens, where as there are a number for the trans community. Heathenism as a religion faced systematic extermination for thousands of years, where as Trans people could always “hide in the closet” and fake being heterosexuals.
But I’m not here to play that game. I’m just here to ponder, offensive or not.
*Please do not think this means that Scandinavian and Germanic peoples are superior because of this. That’s not the case. Divine interbreeding has happened to various extents in almost all people, though perhaps not to the level that happened with my peoples. All humans have a divine spark in them, all are equally special.
“I wisely chose not to point out then that Heathens were of stronger stuff then, because if we chose the fight and kept with it when we could walk away, that implied a stronger belief in who we are than trans people who insist they have no choice.”
This entire statement is contradictory to a point you made below: trans people, you say, could just pretend they are heteronormative. But really, could they? You could avoid all of your oppression by pretending to be a Christian. Does not either case strike you as bullshit on part of the oppressed? Your entire point, to me, on us Heathens, Northern Traditioners, etc. being stronger is entirely lost on me because of this.
For myself I could no more pretend to be heteronormative, being a pansexual, then I could pretend to be a Catholic again. To pretend to be either is an insult to myself and my Gods. That you could suggest such a thing seems needlessly callous/trolling. What I have to be, in my view, is more visible because I have chosen to be ‘out’ with who I am sexually and religiously. It is incredibly easy, since I have a monogamous heterosexual relationship, for me to dip beneath the waves of all the other heterosexuals around me rather than stand up and say “I’m here! I am pansexual!”
There’s a bit of an error, too: Jewish tradition does not have Original Sin as in the Catholic Church, nor do many, if not most forms of Protestant Christianity. I have not heard anything of the like from Islam, either.
The concerns about the climate, despite whatever marketing slogans and attention-getters are being deployed at the moment, have been ongoing for several years, much longer than the current ones about Global Warming alone. The ozone is demonstrably depleted, and the worries over global warming have not only theoretical backing, but real world consequences, and to dismiss these as merely the products of the current crop of scientists seems foolish to me.
Lucius Svartwulf Helsen said:
Sorry for the lateness of my response.
The whole “We’re stronger because we chose” thing was a bit of trolling. And you’re right, trans people could “go into the closet” and make it easier on themselves, just as as a heathen I could go “into the church” and make it easier. But trans people insist that they can’t go into the closet, or won’t go into the closet, I was trying to point out the same thing about Heathens. We can’t chose who we are, and we can’t go into the closet anymore than they can. Or can’t, as their argument goes. Kind of a “why do you get to dictate the terms of my life, when you complain about people dictating the terms of your life?” As someone who has been told the closest thing to his sexual orientation that anyone can come up with is pansexual as well, I’m pretty much on the same page as you to be honest. I can’t change my sexuality anymore than I can change my religion. Which was the point I was trying to make in the conversation.
You’re right, in Judaism there isn’t the original sin thing. My experience with Protestants is that some do and some don’t have that idea. The Southern Baptists did, at least when i was with them two decades ago. The Muslims actually do have the idea of Original Sin, which actually becomes an important point. In Islam, everyone is born in a state of supreme sin, and only those who are Muslims are cleansed of this sin. Which is why when you might hear a Muslim saying that “more Muslims died in X terror event than innocents did” they aren’t lying. According to Islamic dogma, everyone who wasn’t a Muslim that died that day was a sinner, and therefore not innocent. The fun of studying different religions.
The environmental issue is a convoluted one, with science proving that it’s happening, and science proving it’s not happening, and then even more science proving that it is happening but it’s not going to be like the other scientists are saying, and that what we’re doing to prevent it might actually make it worse. A good book to read about is State of Fear, by Michael Crichton of Jurassic Park fame. It’s a well researched book that sites a crap load of papers. My point wasn’t to say that it isn’t happening, but that the science and the stances of the scientists regarding it is changing, and can’t even decide what is actually happening. We have the illusion of solidarity on Climate Change because some very vocal people are shouting down everyone else, but peal back the surface and you’ll find that no one knows what’s actually happening. Add into that a couple Gods who like trolling people (such as Skadi) and you get events like the one I think I mentioned above, where a boat trying to prove that ice caps are melting (in summer) suddenly finds themselves and two other boats stuck in ice growing at phenomenal rates.