A Utopian Philosophy Introduction........................................................................................................................... 1 A Utopian Lifestyle.............................................................................

................................... 2 Political and Philosophical Ideologies Anarchism............................................................................................................................. 5 Socialism.............................................................................................................................15 Communism........................................................................................................................ 17 Utilitarianism....................................................................................................................... 20 Selfishness and Selflessness Evolution Versus the Golden Rule...................................................................................... 22 Evolutionary Psychology of Reproduction.......................................................................... 23 The Selfishness of God.......................................................................................................32 Religions of the World Introduction......................................................................................................................... 34 Atheism and Agnosticism.................................................................................................... 36 Judaism............................................................................................................................... 38 Christianity.......................................................................................................................... 42 Islam.................................................................................................................................... 48 Buddhism............................................................................................................................ 58 Confucianism...................................................................................................................... 61 Taoism................................................................................................................................ 65 Hinduism............................................................................................................................. 66 Sikhism............................................................................................................................... 69 Paganism............................................................................................................................ 71 Conclusion Implications of this Book..................................................................................................... 73 How Dare He Exist?............................................................................................................ 74

Copyright notice: this book is in the public domain Last updated on 27th August 2008. For the latest version see www.utopianresearch.com.

Introduction to Utopian Research
This book presents a practical analysis of sociological and religious issues. The ideas presented here are intended for debate, experimentation and refinement. The scope of the research is very wide, encompassing religion, philosophy, ethics and science in an attempt to determine an optimised lifestyle for human beings that gives the maximum possible individual freedom and self-fulfillment. Existing ideologies and religions are analysed to find out how well they satisfy people's individual needs to identify areas where improvements can be made. The optimised lifestyle outlined here incorporates aspects of many philosophies and religions. For example, one can observe that people are often in a state of suffering, which is a central concept of Buddhism. In Zen Buddhism, the path to true enlightenment is said to come from self-knowledge; a similar idea is used in this research, and the theory of evolution is used as the best source of this knowledge. The positive aspects of utilitarian and socialist arguments are also acknowledged, and special emphasis is placed on the potential benefits of anarchism. The key aspect of the utopian philosophy proposed here is the ethic of reciprocity, known as the 'Golden Rule'. The interpretation placed on the Golden Rule in this book describes the situation in which a person has equal priorities for fulfilling their own needs and the needs of others. The Golden Rule is present in many religions and has special emphasis in Christianity, where it is phrased as a commandment to love your neighbour as yourself. When analysed in detail, the Golden Rule leads directly to an optimal life strategy that I have termed a 'Personal Utopia'. A Personal Utopia can be defined as a state of being in which one follows the Golden Rule, and one is in an environment in which others do the same. No spiritual beliefs are required to behave with a degree of selflessness towards others. However, I believe that an open mind is essential if one is to understand a religious mindset, which is a necessary precursor to being able to teach people how they can increase their own freedom and selffulfillment. Regardless of your beliefs, I hope that you will find this book useful and informative.

1

A Utopian Lifestyle
This book presents the following theory:

The human condition is a state of intermittent or continuous suffering from sources such as mutual selfishness, inequality, poverty, starvation, war, disease, disability, natural disasters, bereavement, childbirth and aspects of most religions. Freedom and self-fulfillment are two conditions that should be met to reduce the suffering of an individual. This can be achieved by maximising the extent to which an individual can be selfish. Where everyone is selfish, people gain freedom and fulfillment at the expense of others. Mutual selfishness reduces the levels of freedom and fulfillment for everyone. The best way to maximise freedom and self-fulfillment is to follow the Golden Rule (do for others that which you would want others to do for you); a degree of mutual selflessness is an optimal life strategy for individuals who exist in an environment in which others do the same. Following the Golden Rule requires no spiritual beliefs.

The following picture shows the difference between selfish behaviour and following the Golden Rule:

2

This diagram can be illustrated by an example from nature. Imagine that a bag of food has been placed outside for wild birds to eat, with enough space for only one bird to eat the food. When a flock of birds discovers the food, individuals fight to occupy the space to eat it. This is inefficient and causes stress to the individuals, giving a relatively low quality of life. Weaker individuals are less able to compete, and are more susceptible to death from predators and cold weather. The selfless alternative would be for the birds to wait in turn to eat the food, and to ensure that each individual eats enough (weaker birds in the flock would eat more). This would be efficient, create equality and minimise stress, giving a much higher quality of life. This higher quality of life could be described as a Personal Utopia, in which individuals behave with a degree of selflessness towards each other. A Personal Utopia would only work if individuals were genuinely following the Golden Rule with the aim of reducing suffering, and fulfilling the needs of others. The Golden Rule contains an intrinsic requirement for equality. For example, one would not ordinarily cause suffering to oneself to fulfill the needs of another person; this would be doing for others more than you would have them do for you. To follow the Golden Rule, I should be prepared to do the things that I might want others to do for me:

I should live in a way that gives me freedom while minimising the suffering that I cause to others. I should be available as a source of anything that would fulfill the needs of someone else, while not causing suffering to myself or others. I should be prepared to forgive others if they have harmed me and wish to be forgiven, providing that this does not cause suffering to myself. I should acknowledge that some people are more sociable than others, and some people require more time alone than others. Following the Golden Rule could be as simple as leaving people alone to allow them the freedom to do what they want without interference, and supporting their ability to do this. I should acknowledge that my Personal Utopia would not be static, and that people could enter it and leave it. People often have a need for change in their lives, and the ability to let people go is an example of following the Golden Rule. I should acknowledge that the way that I would want to be treated could be completely different to the way that others would want to be treated and I should be prepared to adjust to other people's needs. Following the Golden Rule goes against our natural instincts to be selfish. I would have to appreciate that it takes time to learn how to do it. A Personal Utopia would be a very good support network from which to help those in need. I believe that those who choose to do this would have a more stable Personal Utopia, because they would be in contact with more people who may be receptive to these ideas. Following the Golden Rule should involve helping those in need to the best of our abilities. Another way to follow the Golden Rule would be to teach others the benefits of doing so.

3

The following would be more difficult to do, but they are still aspects of following the Golden Rule, because this is how we would wish to be treated by others:

I should be prepared to suffer for others if this is necessary to alleviate their suffering. I should be prepared to risk my life in order to save the lives of others if necessary.

The two genders have different needs, which must be taken into account when considering how to follow the Golden Rule. This is described more fully in the chapter about evolutionary psychology, although one can summarise the different gender priorities as being sexual (male) and based around a desire for security (female). The different priorities of the two genders leads to the battle of the sexes, which can cause suffering to both genders. One possible solution would be as follows:
• •

Place emphasis on providing everyone with security (both men and women). Suppression of the male protective instinct that would normally be restrictive to the freedom of both genders. Adopt a relationship structure that maximises sexual freedom. For example, the Mosuo are a Chinese ethnic minority group who live high in the Himalayas. Traditionally, a Mosuo woman who is interested in a particular man will invite him to come and spend the night with her in her room. The role of a father is played by male members of a woman's family (e.g. her brothers). This type of culture allows for greater sexual freedom than marriage.

It may be beneficial for individuals to focus on the things that they are good at when behaving selflessly. By playing to our strengths, it should be possible to make better Personal Utopias for others. This would be more achievable for larger groups of people. It would be following the Golden Rule to allow others to be selfish at our expense, because people want to be selfish. However, becoming slave-like or allow others to restrict our freedom would defeat the object of this Utopian lifestyle. It should be possible for a relatively large number of people to live selfishly at any one time within a Personal Utopia; an analogy can be drawn with parents who are able to bring up a large number of children who live at their expense. However, there would need to be a balance between individual selfishness and selflessness to ensure that all individuals have the maximum amount of freedom.

4

Anarchism
Anarchism describes any philosophy or system that advocates an absence of a centralised government to organise a society. Many different forms of anarchism have been proposed. In general, they suggest that harmony can be achieved through mutual cooperation and agreements rather than from a central authority. Anarchist theoreticians promote the benefits of freedom and equality that this system would bring. However, I believe that an anarchy is only achievable if people are prepared to follow the Golden Rule of reciprocity; if not, then I believe that a democracy provides the greatest amount of freedom and equality possible in an environment in which selfish competition occurs. Some anarchist philosophers believed that people would follow the Golden Rule naturally in a rule-free anarchist environment, but I believe that this is an assumption that requires close scrutiny. In this chapter, the arguments of leading anarchist writers are examined, and practical suggestions are put forward to identify a means by which a stable anarchy could be achieved. Kropotkin was born in 1842 into a wealthy Russian family. He was well educated and scientifically trained. At the time of his birth, Russian society was feudal, with a minority of wealthy landowners having power over the communities whose land they owned. The serf class formed the majority of Russians; they had little freedom and were required to serve their local landowner. Serfdom was abolished in 1861, and the ownership of some of the land was transferred to the former serfs. However, the land was not given to them freely, and they were required to pay redemption payments for many years. The oppression of the former serfs and the dictatorial Russian government created an environment that stimulated revolutionary thought, including groups that advocated democracy, communism and anarchism. This eventually led to civil war and the formation of the socialist Soviet Republic. Kropotkin came into contact with a group of Russian anarchists, and saw the benefits of the freedom that they proposed. His participation in revolutionary activities led to his imprisonment by the Russian authorities, and his experience of prison reinforced his anarchist beliefs. He escaped to Europe, and wrote a great deal on the subject of anarchism. He is noted for his emphasis on the need for mutual aid and cooperation between people to make an anarchist society harmonious. He stated the need for people to do as they would be done by in order to achieve this aim1. I am in agreement with many of Kropotkin's ideas, and it is clear that his aim is to maximise the happiness and freedom of humanity2. However, there are some points where I disagree with Kropotkin's analysis, and these are outlined below. Kropotkin uses the theory of evolution to support his work3. He describes situations where animals have a sense of morality, solidarity and unity. He suggests that it is natural for mankind to follow the Golden Rule, and hence live in peaceful anarchy. The evolutionary theory of altruistic behaviour was later expanded upon by biologists such as Dawkins, as described below. The theory of evolution involves biological replicators (genes) which contain encoded information about the construction or maintenance of a biological organism. Genes are copied and passed on to the next generation during the process of reproduction. Small errors can occur in the copying process, which creates variations in their properties. Genes can be thought to be in competition with each other, because a gene that leads to an advantage in the ability of an organism to survive and reproduce is more likely to
5

spread throughout a population. The implications of this theory are described by Dawkins in The Selfish Gene4. Dawkins also describes how a gene could give rise to altruistic behaviour. At first, it seems paradoxical that a gene could lead to a behaviour that acts in the best interests of another organism; it means that the benefactors of the altruistic behaviour are more likely to pass on their genes, while the altruist is less likely to pass on their genes. However, from the perspective of a gene, it only matters that genes of the same type are propagated successfully. Close family relatives are likely to share some of the same genes. If a family member shows altruistic behaviour towards other family members, then the genes of these family members are more likely to be passed on to the next generation. Nature has therefore come to the conclusion that the Golden Rule (a degree of mutual selflessness) is the most efficient way to aid the survival of the individuals in a family group and to ensure the propagation of their genes. Furthermore, Dawkins suggests that even unrelated members of the same species could get more benefit out of being in a group than being alone. He gives some examples: "A pack of hyenas can catch prey so much larger than a lone hyena can bring down that it pays each selfish individual to hunt in a pack, even though this involves sharing food. It is probably for similar reasons that some spiders co-operate in building a huge communal web. Emperor penguins conserve heat by huddling together." Human altruism is probably a combination of these two factors. In our evolutionary past, we lived in small interrelated communities. In modern times, this is not usually the case, but many of us are genetically 'hard wired' to generate the behaviour that is appropriate to our evolutionary past. Trust, sympathy, compassion, generosity, gratitude and guilty conscience stem from our evolutionary past. These attitudes can be directed towards strangers because our genes still 'expect' that we will be in contact with relatives for most of the time; evolution is too slow to catch up to our modern situation. For example, if one asks someone else for directions, they will almost always provide assistance if they can, even though they are unlikely to have that favour returned. Mutual reciprocity is also a common human behaviour, which is achieved by doing other people favours, and keeping track of the favours that one is owed. The system of favours is policed by gossip, and the number of favours that a person is likely to receive is dependent upon a reputation for generosity and reciprocation. Altruism towards women by men is a character trait that is selected for by women, which is discussed in more detail in the chapter about evolutionary psychology. However, most altruistic behaviours are overridden by anything to do with reproduction. The effects of the evolutionary arms race between the genders and between men are also highlighted in the chapter about evolutionary psychology. In Mutual Aid, Kropotkin supports his theories by describing the behaviour of primitive societies such as the Hottentots, who appeared to apply the Golden Rule to their conduct3. Kropotkin believed that the differences between European and Hottentot behaviour were culturally rather than biologically based. However, I believe that their differing behaviour is a biologically based response to different social circumstances. I believe that people modify their behaviour according to a subconscious awareness of who is more likely to be related to themselves. For example, I believe that I am subconsciously aware that everyone outside my immediate family is unrelated to me in the society in which I live. This is probably because I lack a tribal solidarity with other members of my society; I am entirely independent of them, and they are entirely independent of me. My subconscious brain concludes that they must belong to a different tribe. If I were living in a tribe, the increased level of interdependence should cause a change in our mutual behavior. Perhaps this is why many anarchists intuitively advocate a simplified lifestyle due to the increased stability that small interdependent populations would provide. For similar
6

reasons, tribal behaviour probably has a stabilising effect on religious groups, regardless of their beliefs and practices. In my opinion, it would be preferable to base cooperation through the Golden Rule on intellectual understanding rather than through the creation of favourable circumstances, simply because circumstances can change. To demonstrate that our subconsciousness can distinguish between related and unrelated people, it is beneficial to study a theoretical example that ignores the effects of relatedness between individuals. Many species of bird clean each other's feathers in hard to reach places (such as the head). Feathers must be kept in good condition for birds to be able to fly properly and resist parasites. There are three different strategies that birds can adopt, and this theoretical example assumes that the behaviour is genetically inherited and subject to evolution: 1. The natural givers clean the feathers of any other bird. These birds are dependent upon the other bird being a natural giver or a reciprocator to get their own feathers cleaned. 2. The reciprocators only clean another bird's feathers if their own feathers are cleaned by that bird first. reciprocators therefore depend upon natural givers to get their feathers cleaned. 3. The freeloaders do not clean the feathers of other birds. They are dependent upon natural givers to get their feathers cleaned. The freeloaders are able to spend the most time finding food and reproducing, and are more likely to pass on their genes to the next generation providing that there are natural givers to clean their feathers. In the absence of natural givers, the freeloaders would be less likely to survive. The reciprocators also have an advantage over natural givers. They do not waste their time on freeloaders who will not clean their feathers. However, in the absence of natural givers, the reciprocators would be less likely to survive. The natural givers are dependent upon there being other natural givers or reciprocators to clean their feathers. They may waste time on freeloaders and may therefore have less time to feed and reproduce. However, both the freeloaders and reciprocators require natural givers to clean their feathers. Therefore, the population will retain some natural givers. The numbers of each type of bird in the population will probably be unstable over time. Human behaviour is much more complex than the behaviour traits discussed in this simple example. However, in my opinion, this theoretical example parallels the variation in human behaviour in modern society. Some people are more likely to be natural givers, some people are more likely to depend upon a system of favours (reciprocators) and some people could be described as freeloaders. People are more likely to be freeloaders if they have a lot of inherited wealth. Some women are entirely dependent upon their husbands as a means of survival, but this is a separate issue discussed in the chapter about evolutionary psychology. In my opinion, most of the people who are dependent upon State benefits or in prisons will be the victims of circumstances to varying extents. However, there were over six thousand convictions for benefit fraud in Britain during 2006-20075. In Mutual Aid, Kropotkin uses the example of bees to suggest that natural selection must eliminate any lone bees that try to steal from bee hives, because cooperative behaviour is
7

much more favourable to the survival of bees. Kropotkin notes that bees in hives defend their honey from lone bees. This behaviour parallels the generally held attitudes among people towards those who are not seen to be contributing to society. Kropotkin believed that these attitudes would be sufficient to police any freeloading activity carried out by people in an anarchy. In the conclusion of his chapter entitled Mutual Aid Among Animals, Kropotkin states his belief that evolution is directed towards minimising competition and maximising mutual aid, because this is more efficient. Unlike Kropotkin, I believe that the natural mode of human society is tribal rather than an equality based on mutual aid. I agree that there are naturally evolved tendencies for us to form societies and work together, but I observe that such societies are characterised by power hierarchies rather than equality. The formation of power hierarchies usually involves competition between individuals. Kropotkin was aware of the nature of tribal societies6 but did not appear to see this as a threat to peaceful anarchy. Although there is evidence to suggest that people have an inborn instinct to the Golden Rule, I do not believe that this instinct is strong enough to justify Kropotkin's optimism. If an anarchy were to be successful, it would be necessary to teach people how and why to follow the Golden Rule. It would require the reciprocators and freeloaders in the human population to adopt the role of natural giver for some of the time, otherwise Kropotkin's theory of mutual aid would not work. For example, in a population of natural givers there would be more time available for male freeloaders to form gangs and dominate others. This is a normal pattern of male behaviour that is intended to increase their reproductive potential. When people start to dominate others, this is the first step towards losing the freedoms proposed by anarchist theory. Stirner was another anarchist philosopher. In the opening chapter of his book The Ego and His Own, he argues that it is preferable for people to serve their own interests rather than the interests of God or governments7. He notes that everyone, including God, is selfish, and he expresses the desire to be free from serving the causes of others so that he can focus on his own interests. He regards religion and morality to be restrictive. He is also opposed to communism, and suggests that the consequence of communism is to make everyone equally destitute. I do not believe that Stirner's argument for absolute freedom through absolute selfishness is a feasible proposition. It is in the selfish interests of some people to dominate others and restrict their freedom as described above; I do not believe that Stirner would have had the freedom he desired in the society that he advocated. Unlike Stirner, Kropotkin advocates the communal ownership of property. Kropotkin observes that the ownership of property creates inequality, and that the lack of ownership of property would remove the motivation for theft6. An alternative opinion is that the ability to buy and own products is one aspect of freedom. Ideally, I believe that people should have the freedom to choose which option to take by allowing them to designate anything that they own as being public property. This might involve allowing public access to such property, perhaps by placing it in a communal location. I also believe that it would be useful to make services free and accessible to people. Kropotkin makes a good argument about the ability of an idealistic society to minimise crime in the absence of any laws6. He advocates the reduction of crime by taking away the main motivations for criminal behaviour – i.e. tackling the source of the problem. Although I agree that this would be ideal, I also have concerns about the stability of this system. For example, the murder of one person that went unpunished under this system could undermine the stability of the society that Kropotkin advocates. Another potential problem is illustrated by the following scenario. Imagine that an anarchy has been established, but
8

a political party associated with a gang wants to take control. The gang members could cause dissatisfaction among ordinary people by committing crimes that go unpunished. The political movement could then promise to crack down on crime if voted into power. How should these problems be resolved? Laws can be made for several reasons. They can help to preserve freedom or restrict it. They can protect ordinary individuals against the selfishness of others, or they can protect the selfish interests of the rich at the expense of the poor. Laws can take into account individual circumstances when people commit crimes, or they can ignore them. They can also be used to protect the power of governments and dictatorships. One can pose the question as to whether or not any laws are compliant with the Golden Rule. I suggest that they are only compliant with this rule if an individual agrees to follow any given law. If a person does not agree to follow a law, then forcing them to obey it is not in keeping with the ethic of reciprocity, because the lawmakers themselves would not want to be forced to follow a law created by others if they were opposed to it. One advantage of a system of consent would be to prevent unreasonable laws from being introduced, because people would have the right to refuse to follow them. Therefore, such a society would be similar to an anarchy even if there were a government in power, because its citizens would have the freedom to act independently of the government. Therefore, in my opinion, it would be best to create a series of laws that individuals could either agree or refuse to follow. If an individual were to refuse to follow a law, then they should not expect to receive protection from that law. This creates a problem, because a person could refuse to follow a law and break it, but their victim could have chosen to follow that law and receive protection from it. I suggest two alternative solutions to this problem. One approach would be to apply half the normal penalty for breaking that law. In this case, an individual would only be completely free from prosecution if they were to break a law that both they and their victim had refused to follow. An alternative approach would be to distribute the costs associated with making reparations to victims of crime associated with a particular law to all those who refuse to follow that law. In this case, anyone who refuses to follow a law could avoid prosecution if they were to break it. It may be beneficial to have different geographical regions that operate with different laws. If a person were to choose not to agree with a law, they could locate themselves in a suitable area. In this way, people could choose to follow Kropotkin's ideals by locating themselves in an area with no laws at all. Some laws would be difficult to enforce under this system. For example, if some people decided not to pay taxes, then they may be refusing all other laws by default; a person would probably not be entitled to the services that taxes pay for, including law enforcement, if they decided not to pay them. Another example is corporate law. Many corporate laws do not apply to individuals, but to a company as a whole. I suggest that corporate laws should be exempt from this system. Another example is the concept of intellectual property. Intellectual property laws are designed to protect the work of one individual or organisation that has resulted in an idea from which money can be made. It is a way of ensuring financial rewards for work that could otherwise be easily copied and sold by others. These laws would cease to function if some individuals could choose not to follow them. In my opinion, the laws that are intended to protect children should be exempt from this system, because only adults would have sufficient knowledge to be able to choose which laws to follow. This would include many of the laws for public safety. It may also be necessary for some taxation to be compulsory to secure a child's right to security, health
9

and education, unless these were provided voluntarily by a community. At the present time, parents are responsible for the crimes that their children commit. Therefore, I believe that parents should have the right to decide whether or not some laws should apply to their children. If parents were to choose, for example, to disagree with a law against theft by their child, then they would not receive protection from the law if someone else's child were to steal from them. One problem with this proposed system of agreeing or disagreeing with laws is that the legal system is very complex. It may therefore need simplification to become accessible to people so that they would be able to make informed choices about which laws they agreed to follow and which laws they did not agree to follow, while avoiding the creation of loopholes in the law. Kropotkin makes a good argument for the abolition of prisons in a pamphlet entitled Prisons and Their Moral Influence on Prisoners8. I also disagree with the philosophy behind the penalties for breaking the law in the current system. I do not believe that a lawbreaker owes a 'debt to society', but only to those affected by the crime. Perhaps a better system would make reparations directly to those affected by crime. If an offender were to pose a high risk to public safety, then I believe that it would be preferable to assign people to monitor that person rather than imprison them. Kropotkin's writing was aimed mainly at freeing people from oppression. In my opinion, democratic Western societies are much less oppressive to their citizens than the governments present at the time of Kropotkin. In a democracy, everyone has an equal right to vote for a person to use power on their behalf, and this system gives a relatively high level of freedom. I believe that a democracy is ideal in a society in which most people do not follow the Golden Rule. By contrast, I believe that anarchism would be highly unstable if people had a selfish mindset. I also believe that there is a much greater risk of losing one's freedom in an anarchy than in a democracy. However, I believe that anarchy would be ideal if people were prepared to follow the Golden Rule. I also believe that a society could achieve the freedom advocated by Kropotkin if people were to be given the freedom to act independently of the law and the government as described in this chapter. One function of governments is to provide protection against other governments, terrorist organisations and non-government organisations that wish to gain power over others. Therefore, I believe it would be difficult for governments to be disbanded completely unless most people throughout the world adopted the Golden Rule. A democratic government should not interfere with a person who chooses to follow the Golden Rule, because one aspect of a democratic society is to allow people to live in the way that they choose. However, it should be noted that prejudices have traditionally existed towards gypsies, whose itinerant lifestyle is based around the principle of freedom, and shares similarities with the philosophy of anarchy. The remainder of this chapter will focus on some of the other major anarchist theoreticians to determine what can be learned from their opinions. Enquiry Concerning Political Justice is an analysis of political issues to identify a system of society that would be the most beneficial to people9. It was written in England by William Godwin, inspired by the French Revolution, and is celebrated for its anticipation of socialist reforms and the embodiment of anarchist philosophy. However, this work was not well known by the other major socialist and anarchist philosophers and it had relatively little influence on the early anarchist movement10.
10

Godwin suggests that the main purpose of government is to defend a society against internal and external threats (a negative purpose), rather than to promote human happiness (a positive purpose). Consequently, he concludes in the third book that, "It is earnestly to be desired that each man should be wise enough to govern himself, without the intervention of any compulsory restraint; and, since government, even in its best state, is an evil, the object principally to be aimed at is that we should have as little of it as the general peace of human society will permit." In his second book, Godwin emphasizes the role of interpersonal interactions in fulfilling people's needs. Godwin observes that the Golden Rule is not usually followed due to inequality between people. He supports unequal treatment of people by stating his belief that an archbishop should be saved from a fire in preference to a valet. He suggests that people should be treated according to "their merits and their virtues." Despite this inequality, he asserts that there is a "moral equality", by which he means that all people should be subject to the same moral code of duty. He suggests that the needs and desires of all people are very similar, so it should be straightforward to determine the actions that we should take to serve the needs of others. He suggests that people should use their reasoning and common sense to determine these actions, and encourages people to contribute to the benefit and happiness of others wherever possible. In his last book, Godwin makes arguments against the institution of marriage, stating that, "to maintain my possession of a woman, I am guilty of the most odious selfishness," and suggests that the resulting jealousy between men reduces their desire to cooperate with each other. Like Godwin, I believe that the institution of marriage is a threat to peaceful cooperation. I suggest that the formation of relationships that promote freedom would be essential to the stability of an anarchy; the converse implies competition for sexual partners, attempts to gain power over others, and the erosion of freedom. Godwin describes the extent to which he has a duty to help others as follows. If someone were to ask him for help, he states that it would be his duty to help that person unless this would cause damage to society. He also states that he should be prepared to die if his death would be beneficial to society. However, he notes that it would usually be his duty to live, because he would be able to continue doing good deeds for the remainder of his life. He states that it is his duty to give money away to anyone who asks for it, providing that they need it more than him; he suggests that such a duty should be considered similar to a legal requirement. If two people were to make similar claims, then it would be his duty to balance their requirements. His socialist ideas are expanded upon in his last book. Unlike Kropotkin, he believed that a society has the right to deprive a person of their freedom if that person is believed to pose a threat to society. There are aspects of Enquiry Concerning Political Justice that I disagree with. In particular, I disagree with his opinion that some people are more valuable than others. In addition, while some of his ideas are directed towards reducing suffering and fulfilling people's needs, his emphasis on duty is very restrictive to freedom. He emphasizes the importance of duty to the extent that he believes that a person has no right to live if it is their duty to die. I also disagree with the strength of the utilitarian arguments used. For example, in book seven he says, "It is right that I should inflict suffering, in every case where it can be clearly shown that such infliction will produce an overbalance of good." I support utilitarian arguments in an environment where most people do not follow the Golden Rule, such as in our modern society. However, in an anarchy in which most people follow the Golden Rule, I believe that the freedom of all individuals should be respected equally. Therefore, in my opinion, it would usually be wrong to demand that a minority should suffer for the benefit of
11

a majority in an anarchy. Godwin also seems to have great faith in the power of truth to effect positive changes. However, I believe that it is very difficult to change people's preexisting conceptions, regardless of how much truth is presented, because it involves a change from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Godwin advocates the use of one's own reason in preference to following a religious doctrine. He also rejects the religious concepts of good and evil. Instead, he redefines good to be anything that causes pleasure, and evil to be that which causes pain. However, I do not believe it is useful to talk about good and evil in this way. For example, pain can be caused by an accident, but an accident cannot be considered to be evil. Instead, I believe that selfishness and selflessness are the important concepts to focus upon, as a combination of the two types of behaviour should maximise individual freedom and fulfillment in an environment in which others behave in a similar way. Too much of either behaviour would lead to suffering. Hence, I agree with Godwin's aim to maximise individual fulfillment and minimise suffering, but I do not believe that it is helpful to use the terms 'good' and 'evil' to describe these aims. Godwin was opposed to monarchies and aristocracy, and he perceived the aristocracy as being the main obstruction to revolutionary change. Godwin was also against the concept of a centralised government, because he argues that people are all individuals who do not necessarily share the same opinions about public policy. Godwin came to similar conclusions as Kropotkin about the necessity of governments. At the end of the fifth book, he concludes that if people were to use their reasoning in the way he advocates, governments should become unnecessary. In the sixth book he advocates a decentralisation of power to local districts as an intermediate stage to the dissolution of all governments and the gradual extinction of all laws. As described earlier, he advocates the distribution of property to create equality. He also advocates a simplified life, and the avoidance of luxuries: "All refinements of luxury, all inventions that tend to give employment to a great number of labouring hands, are directly adverse to the propagation of happiness." This possibility is discussed in more detail by Schumacher in Small is Beautiful11, although I believe that personal preference would dictate whether or not one is happier with a simpler life. In addition, I believe that technologies can potentially increase our freedom; for example, we are free to experience different worlds in a cinema. Godwin claims that the society he outlines would be very efficient, and suggests that, "the labour of every twentieth man in the community, would be sufficient to supply to the rest all the absolute necessaries of life." Proudhon was a French writer of anarchist literature following the French Revolution. He is most famous for his idea, "Property is theft!" In his book entitled What is Property?, Proudhon challenges the natural right to own property12. In doing so, he states that his aim is to bring about, "an end to privilege, the abolition of slavery, equality of rights, and the reign of law." He uses examples such as taxation and capitalism to argue that property is theft, and links the right to property with inequality. Proudhon mentions the Golden Rule, and expands upon it by noting that his rights (what he can expect from others) are equivalent to his duties (what he should do for others). He suggests that society is governed by the principle of justice, which is based upon rights that originate from the Golden Rule, partly due to the spread of Christianity. However, Proudhon does not agree with "the right to enjoy and dispose at will of one's goods, one's income, and the fruit of one's labor and industry." By extension, he also argues against the principles of government as the source of property laws.
12

Proudhon can be credited with inspiring many people with his views about equality and anarchism10. However, I do not agree with all of his arguments. In my opinion, it is intuitively obvious that property is not equivalent to theft. Proudhon compounds upon his dubious argument by making statements such as, "property is physically and mathematically impossible," and, "property is impossible, because it is homicide." However, the boldness of the statement "property is theft" popularised a work that advocated anarchy. Many commentators suggest that Proudhon was attempting to communicate useful ideas through his paradoxical statements. However, I do not believe that giving support to these arguments is useful to the anarchist's cause; I believe that it is preferable to make better arguments. Proudhon was very critical of communism, but the more coherent arguments of Marx eventually eclipsed Proudhon's work, and communism became favoured over anarchism. Proudhon acknowledges the benefits of property in The System of Economic Contradictions, where he states his belief that "property is freedom" alongside his belief that "property is theft."13 He also makes more practical arguments about property in his People's Election Manifesto14. My opinions on property are as follows. As Proudhon himself notes, a person needs certain things to survive, including food and shelter. The creation or acquisition and defense of property for personal use is part of our desire for survival. Fulfilling the desire to survive is a selfish behaviour that may or may not impact negatively on other people. One can infer that the corresponding selfless behaviour would be to give everything that one owns to other people. Therefore, the idea of communally owned property falls between selfishness and selflessness, and could be considered as an application of the Golden Rule. However, since the ownership of property is selfish, and since the ability to act selfishly is equivalent to freedom, I believe that it would be preferable to have a mixture of communal and private property. In The System of Economic Contradictions, Proudhon also came to the conclusion that religion is in opposition to freedom. Proudhon believed that the formation of an anarchy should involve a rebellion from religion. He believed that if God existed, then he was an "anti-civilizing, anti-liberal, anti-human being," and that he was very different to how religious teachers portrayed him to be. I agree that there are aspects of religions that restrict freedom and cause suffering, and this is discussed in later chapters. Other famous anarchists, including Bakunin and Tolstoy, were influenced by Proudhon's writing10. Although he wrote little himself, Bakunin's charismatic style served to promote the ideals of anarchism to many people. He was opposed to the authoritarian ideas of Marx, and his efforts served to facilitate the anarchist movement. While there has never been the successful replacement of any government with an anarchy, many small colonies functioning on anarchist principles have resulted from this movement10. The anarchist movement is much larger than is suggested here, and the literature of only a small number of leading anarchists have been examined in this chapter to analyse the main principles of anarchist thought. Further information can be found in summaries by George Woodcock10 and Colin Ward15, and a lot of anarchist literature is freely available online. I agree with many of the main principles put forward by anarchist theoreticians, but disagree with many of the details. Furthermore, I do not see political change as a primary objective, but a natural result of a large number of people following the Golden Rule. For example, one could envisage the democratic election of an anarchist party whose responsibility it would be to dissolve government. In my opinion, issues such as global poverty and the environment should take priority, although political change would undoubtedly help to solve these issues.
13

Like democracy, the principles of anarchy are equality and freedom. Anarchy would provide greater equality and freedom than democracy, and should therefore be the ultimate goal of a democratic society. However, I believe that an anarchy can only function in a society in which people are prepared to follow the Golden Rule. In this chapter, I have given practical suggestions that could be used to make anarchy a realistic and achievable goal. 1. Kropotkin, P. (1927). Anarchist Morality. Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets. ed. Baldwin, R. N. Vanguard Press. 2. Kropotkin, P. (1927). Modern Science and Anarchism. Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets. ed. Baldwin, R. N. Vanguard Press. 3. Kropotkin, P. (1902). Mutual Aid, A Factor of Evolution. Heinemann, London. 4. Dawkins, R. (2006). The Selfish Gene. 3rd Edition. OUP, Oxford. 5. Housing Benefit Quarterly Fraud Performance Statistics (Data for 2006/07). http://www.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/hb_ctb/performance/performance.asp. Department for Work and Pensions. 6. Kropotkin, P. (1927). Law and Authority. Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets. ed. Baldwin, R. N. Vanguard Press. 7. Stirner, M. (1844). The Ego and His Own. ed. Leopold, D. (1995). CUP, Cambridge. 8. Kropotkin, P. (1927). Prisons and Their Moral Influence on Prisoners. Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets. ed. Baldwin, R. N. Vanguard Press. 9. Godwin, W. (1793). Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. 10. Woodcock, G. (1962). Anarchism. Penguin Books. 11. Schumacher, E. F. (1973). Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered. Harper & Row, New York. 12. Proudhon, P-J. (1840). What is Property? ed. Kelley, D. R. & Smith, B. G. (1994). CUP, Cambridge. 13. Proudhon, P-J. (1888). System of Economic Contradictions: Or, The Philosophy of Misery. 14. Guerin, D. translated by Sharkey, P. (2006). No Gods No Masters. AK Press. 15. Ward, C. (2004). Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction. OUP, Oxford.

14

Socialism
Socialism describes any method of creating equality in response to an economic system in which workers are rewarded with less payment than the value of the goods that they produce. Socialism is often characterised by the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor to increase equality. Communism is where equality is achieved; it is a classless society based on a common ownership of the means of production. Communism is discussed in the next chapter. Socialism has a rich history based on working class movements in many countries. However, this chapter will focus mainly on the virtues of socialism itself rather than its historical origins, which are well covered by other books1-3. The purpose of this book is to identify a lifestyle that maximises the freedom and fulfillment of all individuals. British society has already undergone many social reforms. Therefore, it should be possible to ask whether or not social reforms such as a free health service, free education, State pensions and other welfare benefits have improved people's lives. I suggest that, on average, they have reduced people's suffering but have not increased their fulfillment. The result of each social reform is a cause for constant criticism and dissatisfaction, despite reducing people's suffering. This may be because most people do not compare the presence of a system with its absence, but instead compare a system with their own expectations of that system. By contrast, people often seem to be happier in simpler societies that do not have such advanced social welfare systems. For the reasons described in the previous chapter, people in simpler societies often have a much greater tendency to follow the Golden Rule, which may account for this difference. Hence, I believe that the nature of interpersonal relationships have a far greater impact on people's fulfillment than social welfare reforms. Since social welfare is beneficial to people by reducing suffering, and since the Golden Rule can increase people's fulfillment, perhaps it would be beneficial to combine the two concepts by identifying a form of socialism that involves following the Golden Rule. Some anarchist philosophers suggest that an ideal society would involve a local community placing all of their produce in a central location, with people taking only what they need from the communal resources4. This would be very efficient, because middlemen such as shopkeepers and distributors would become unnecessary. However, the disadvantages of this system include the unfairness for people who work harder than others and the significant difference between this system and our current system, which would make the change more difficult to achieve. However, one can conceive of a socialist system of wealth distribution based on this principle. In my opinion, the optimal distribution of wealth that would satisfy the Golden Rule would be:
• •

50% of income kept by the person who earns it. 50% of income redistributed.

The following diagram shows an example of this type of redistribution, using four typical wages.

15

This redistribution resembles the effect of social welfare and taxation in countries such as Britain, suggesting that utilitarian arguments and movements for social reform have already had a similar effect. However, I believe that it would be preferable to run such a scheme at a local level rather than a national level to give independence to local communities. As discussed in the chapter about anarchism, such a system should be voluntary to be compliant with the Golden Rule. However, in complying with the Golden Rule, I believe that much higher levels of fulfillment would be achievable through this form of socialism than in the current system. 1. Spalding, R. (1999). Socialism and Communism. Hodder & Stoughton, London. 2. Newman, M. (2005). Socialism: A Very Short Introduction. OUP, Oxford. 3. Sassoon, D. (1996). One Hundred Years of Socialism. Harper Collins, London. 4. Woodcock, G. (1962). Anarchism. Penguin Books.
16

Communism
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were revolutionary German socialists who used the idea of communism to outline a practical solution to the problems of inequality. They identified the source of inequality as being a small number of capitalists who own the means of production, leaving labourers little choice but to work for them. Marx and Engels discussed the nature of the capitalist system at length, emphasizing the fact that the wages of labourers have to be lower than the value of the work that they do, because the object of capitalism is to make a profit. They used anthropological studies of primitive communism to show that this situation was not inevitable, and suggested that a better system would involve the communal ownership of the means of production. They advocated the removal of class divisions, economic inequalities and unequal life-chances, and defined the ideal goal to be the fulfillment of human needs through satisfying work and by obtaining a fair share of the material products of society. They also sought to create a system that would give people flexibility and freedom of choice in the type of labour that they wished to engage in. In the opening chapter of The German Ideology1, Marx claims that people's lives are determined by their working conditions and by what they produce: "What [people] are ... coincides with their production, both with what they produce and with how they produce. The nature of individuals thus depends on the material conditions determining their production." Marx believed that material concerns were the sole factors in determining all aspects of humanity. He suggests that, "the production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness, is at first directly interwoven with the material activity," including religious, political, moral and legal ideas. Consequently, Marx looked no further than to aim for better working conditions and an equal distribution of material products. Marx believed that an ideal society would involve the abolition of private property, resulting in equality. This idea proved to be popular among working classes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; they often did not own property, meaning that they had "nothing to lose except their chains."2 In The Communist Manifesto, Marx advocated that working class people should unite to defeat their governments and oppressors. The right to vote in early democracies was only given to male property owners. Hence, Marx did not advocate democracy and instead advocated a "dictatorship of the proletariat" to describe the transitional state between a capitalist society and a stateless (anarchist) communist society. Communism proved to be successful in many countries, including Russia and China. However, the governments of both countries remained in power, taking the form of dictatorships. Stalin, the second Soviet Russian leader, executed the founders of his own communist party to consolidate his power, and created forced labour camps and concentration camps3. In China, the communist party maintains control by censoring information (e.g. the news and the Internet) and by quelling disturbances by force, such as in the case of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Thus, in neither case were labourers empowered in the way that Marx intended. Given the problems with Marxist authorities, do authorities of any type have a role to play in an ideal society? I believe that it is sometimes beneficial for people to submit voluntarily and temporarily to an authoritarian environment to work more effectively towards a common goal. A dictatorship is neither temporary nor optional in nature, and therefore does not fall into this category. However, one example that does fall into this category is that of an orchestra. Musicians in an orchestra submit to two masters, namely the
17

composer of the music that they play, and the conductor who directs the orchestra. The result is that the orchestra produces beautiful music. If the musicians in that orchestra were to decide to ignore the conductor and play according to their preference, or to ignore the composer and play what they wanted, then the orchestra would not produce beautiful music. By contrast to communism, capitalism defines an economic system in which people are free to produce, trade and obtain private ownership of property. Capitalism therefore maximises the extent to which people can be selfish. However, if Marx had been alive today, he would have pointed out that Western capitalism leads to the exploitation of workers in countries such as India and China. Most of the inequality caused by capitalism is now between countries rather than within them. China is sometimes referred to as the world's factory, with vast quantities of Western consumer goods being produced there. Chinese wages are usually much lower than those in the West, meaning that production costs are cheap. The Chinese government is based upon an interpretation of Marxism known as Maoism. Maoism is a militant ideology, and Maoist organisations exist outside China, particularly in Nepal, Peru and India, where they advocate and participate in military activities with the aim of establishing communism in their countries. However, since most of the inequality generated by capitalist activities is now between countries, there is a risk that Marxist principles could be applied to justify the creation of international communism by force. In my opinion, this possibility is made much greater by the fact that a large and powerful communist nation is also the victim of the type of exploitation that Marx was opposed to. The Soviet organisation Comintern (later Cominform) was intended to promote international communism. The concept of international communism was supported by Mao, who commented that, "A Communist is a Marxist internationalist, but Marxism must take on a national form before it can be applied."4 Some online sources suggest that Comintern's charter included the directive to use force if necessary5. Historically, Soviet Russia did use force to establish communism in other countries. Russia helped to liberate the Eastern European nations from Nazi Germany during the Second World War, but took the opportunity to establish communism in these countries. Military intervention took place when Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968) attempted to break free from Soviet control. Western views of Russia's interference with these nations led to the Cold War. Communism is perceived to be the only practical solution to inequality by many people; a priority of this book is to provide a viable alternative. In my opinion, communism is far from being ideal due to the tendency to create a dictatorial authority that is restrictive to freedom. In addition, I believe that the needs of people are far more complex than Marx suggests. Capitalism allows people to act more selfishly, so this system gives more individual freedom than communism. Arguably, communism is more effective in creating equality than capitalism, and China claims to have lifted 300 million people out of poverty in less than a generation6. However, I believe that a society in which people followed the Golden Rule would entail the benefits of equality that communism provides, along with the benefits of freedom that capitalism provides, while at the same time avoiding both the exploitation of workers and an unelected communist regime. 1. Marx, K. & Engels, F. (1845). The German Ideology. 2. Marx, K. & Engels, F. (1848). The Communist Manifesto.
18

3. Spalding, R. (1999). Socialism and Communism. Hodder & Stoughton, London. 4. Zedong, M. (1992). Mao's Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings, 1912-49. ed. Schram, S. R. & Hodes, N. J. M. E. Sharpe, New York. 5. MI5. http://www.mi5.gov.uk/output/Page238.html. 6. World Food Program. http://www.wfp.org/english/?n=326&formCategory=Press%20Release&elemId=id20 67&key=1146.

19

Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is a philosophy that is designed to determine whether a given action is right or wrong. It centres around the principle of utility, which states that an action is right if it tends to produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. It can also be phrased to define a right action to be the one that minimises suffering for the greatest number of people. Effectively, according to this philosophy, an action is correct if the resulting benefits outweigh the harmful effects. Utilitarianism is often viewed as a political philosophy that entails a democratic government as a political institution, and utilitarian arguments are most commonly used where a decision affects a large number of people. Utopian philosophy such as the theory of Personal Utopia can be viewed as a form of utilitarianism. The main difference is that a Utopian philosophy sets an ultimate idealistic goal whereas ordinary utilitarian arguments accept the status quo, and determine how improvements could be made in a single action. Potentially, if all actions are made on a utilitarian basis, many improvements could be made, but an ultimate Utopian goal might never be achieved. An example of a utilitarian argument is as follows. In the UK, there have been doubts about the safety of a vaccine designed to protect people from being infected with measles, mumps or rubella (the MMR vaccine). However, further research has suggested that the vaccine is safe. Due to the safety concerns, too few children have been vaccinated, meaning that the population is at risk from these diseases. Levels of immunisation need to increase from 85% to 95% to give protection against an epidemic. The Fabian Society has proposed a utilitarian argument to solve this problem. They suggest that children should be denied a place at school and that child benefits should be taken away from parents unless their children are vaccinated. Effectively, they propose that parents should be very strongly encouraged to consent to their children having the MMR vaccine to reduce the potential suffering of the population. This argument takes into consideration that children do not have the free choice to decide whether or not to be vaccinated, because their parents make this choice on their behalf. The health scare surrounding the MMR vaccine has meant that some parents have decided that it is in the best interests of their children not to allow them to have the vaccine. In doing so, they may be putting their own children and other unvaccinated children at risk from infection. The utilitarian argument is therefore acting to protect children who are not old enough to make an informed decision about vaccination. In my opinion, this argument is in line with the Golden Rule given the current structure of society. This does not mean that the current structure of society is the best one, or that this utilitarian argument is ideal. In my opinion, one failing of the principle of utility is that it can be used to select the lesser of two evils without attempting to address the underlying issues of why there are only two evils to choose between. Utilitarian arguments can also be brutally oppressive in determining who should suffer or die to give benefit to the greatest number of people. For example, as described in the chapter about anarchism, the anarchist philosopher Godwin applied utilitarian arguments to determine the relative value of different people. He believed that those who are traditionally thought to have a higher capacity to benefit society are of more value than others. He suggested that this measurement of a person's value would be suitable to choose whose life to save in an emergency. In an environment where the freedom and
20

equality of all people are respected, it would be difficult to apply utilitarian arguments due to their tendency to favour a majority at the expense of a minority. In conclusion, I believe that utilitarian arguments are useful in present day societies, but should be restricted in a society of people who are prepared to follow the Golden Rule and are progressing towards anarchism.

21

Evolution Verses the Golden Rule
The theory of evolution contradicts with two elements of Judeo-Christian beliefs, namely that a literal interpretation of Jewish scripture suggests that the Earth has existed for less than six thousand years, and that life was formed by divine intervention as a perfect creation. Although it is straightforward for scientists to give evidence against the Jewish story of creation, proponents of evolution cannot disprove the existence of God. Similarly, proponents of creationism cannot prove the existence of God. It can be concluded that this argument is difficult or impossible to resolve to the satisfaction of either side, and this chapter does not argue in favour of either perspective. Instead, this chapter focuses on a key point underlying the theory of evolution, namely the survival of the fittest, which is partially dependent upon selfish competition between individuals. Many religions advocate a form of the Golden Rule (e.g. 'love your neighbour as yourself' in Christianity), which advocates a degree of selflessness. This means that the results of evolution (ourselves as selfish individuals) are in opposition to fundamental religious teachings that encourage selfless behaviour. The evidence for selfishness in humanity is widespread, and includes competition for land and resources, exploitation, racism, genocide, and competition for status and sexual partners. If a society were to adopt a literal approach to the Golden Rule, there would be little further evolution of many aspects of humanity, because selfish competition between people should not occur. The benefits of doing so have been noted by anarchist philosophers such as Godwin; following the Golden Rule allows us to increase our freedom, and would also make society much more efficient. It should be of benefit for proponents of creationism to take into account the valuable insight provided by the theory of evolution. Understanding our evolutionary origins enables us to appreciate the drives behind selfish behaviour. By using this knowledge, we are better able to define and observe the potential benefits of selflessness, a quality valued by many religions.

22

Evolutionary Psychology of Reproduction
This chapter describes how the principles of evolution can be applied to the psychology of sexuality. I suggest that the psychological aspects of reproduction and the levels of intelligence and sophistication that is involved may be the main driving force behind the evolution of human intelligence. If so, this means that human intelligence should increase if evolution is allowed to continue. Other forms of intelligence are probably by-products of the intelligence that has evolved for reproductive purposes. For this reason, this chapter focuses entirely on gender issues. I believe it to be a very good model on which to base gender-specific needs. Feminism Feminism is the movement for equal rights between men and women. There are many references that cite male attitudes as being the biggest restriction to female freedom.1-2 However, there is another side to the story, which is covered in this chapter. The purpose of the analysis is to describe various forms of selfishness relating to reproductive activity in addition to identifying the primary desires and characteristics of the genders to increase mutual understanding. In doing so, it is necessary to challenge the foundation of feminism, the claim that men and women are equal because they are the same, other than the minor physiological differences that are necessary for reproduction. Since this claim is challenged in this chapter, it is my responsibility to put forward another argument for male and female equality: The desire for freedom in men and women is equal. According to the Golden Rule, men and women should have an equal right to freedom and an equal responsibility to promote the freedom of each other. Evolution The process of evolution is based upon individuals who are the product of information encoded by genes. Small changes in genes can arise by random chance. A changed gene that increases the ability of an individual to survive and reproduce is able to spread copies of itself through the descendants of that individual. Evolutionary psychology makes the assumption that our psychology has evolved in the same way as all other aspects of humanity, to increase the chance of survival and reproduction of an individual.3-4 Some genes are only expressed in one gender, allowing for differences between the genders to be propagated. Both men and women are adapted to pass on their own genes successfully. This analysis discusses physiological and psychological adaptations that are present in men and women to increase the chances that their genes will be passed on successfully. Women

Unlike men, women are very limited in the number of offspring that they can produce. Female reproduction is therefore concentrated on the quality rather than the quantity of their offspring. Sometimes, adaptations are paradoxical. For example, women are menopausal (they lose the ability to reproduce). This may be an adaptation that arose in ancient cultures where people lived in extended families; older women could act as babysitters or scavenge for food for the family.5

23

Human children are very resource-intensive, and there are adaptations in women to help direct male resources into families. In our evolutionary history, genetic adaptations that increased the security of a woman would increase the likelihood that her children would survive into adulthood due to the increased support from a male. This is the origin of the female drive for security, which is discussed below. It is worth noting that both female reproduction and survival are facilitated by gaining security. This differs from men, where survival and reproduction are obtained through separate means. Hence it can be expected that women should have one primary drive for security and an array of mechanisms to obtain it, whereas men can be expected to have a variety of drives directed towards different objectives. Women are often playful and very socially intelligent. Presumably, this mentality facilitates communication with children, an evolutionary adaptation to help children develop. These more child-like female qualities also act as an adaptation to play The Game (the process by which male/female relationships are often formed), which requires a very high level of social intelligence. It is a long process, which requires a man to give a commitment of time, which helps to increase female security (men are less likely to abandon a woman if they think that they will have to spend the same amount of time forming another relationship).6 The Game can involve flirtatious behaviour and body language to communicate attraction, disinterest when a man shows interest, rejection when a man makes an advance, using other men to promote jealousy and insecurity (e.g. flirting with other men to encourage competition, having several male friends, or, under certain circumstances, announcing the existence of a boyfriend), further body language to show attraction, appearing to be helpless like a child to promote male protectiveness, and eventual acceptance of the man. The Game can be played by a social group of women in which the other women in the group act to promote male insecurity and may also probe them for information about their views and feelings; this is an adaptation that is advantageous to all women. The default behaviour for some women is to attempt to create feelings of insecurity in young unmarried men, even if no women are actively flirting with those men. The high comedy arising from The Game appears to be intellectually stimulating to women, and could be a way to avoid boredom. As in most species, women are rarely in direct competition for men. Social aspects of The Game are not passed on genetically. They are learned by trial and error and discussions about men between women. Upon successful completion of The Game, security is usually consolidated by sex; i.e. the sexual act not only serves to enable reproduction but also to create male dependency on their partners as a source of pleasure (a form of addiction). For this to work, the overall availability of sex to most men must be low, hence the stigma surrounding prostitution and immorality. In a long term relationship, the occasional denial of sex to a male can be used to maintain security by exerting a strong influence over him.

Men can be more desirable to some women if they are more dominant, difficult to subdue, sexually confident, physically attractive or in possession of other characteristics that make them more likely to sleep with other women. Paradoxically this is genetically desirable to women because her male children are likely to pass on her genes more effectively (like their father). However, some women may deliberately choose men who lack these characteristics to decrease the chances that they will have an affair, increasing their own security. Thus, female taste in men
24

varies considerably. In general, male adultery is a threat to female security, and most women react accordingly if they find out that their male partners are having an affair.

Most women do not ask men to go out with them or to marry them. Instead, The Game is used to entice a man to ask a woman to go out with him and to ask a woman to marry him. The psychological effect is to encourage men to think that they want marriage as much or even more than a woman, increasing female security. Women have better peripheral vision than men, so that they can see when men are showing interest in them without having to look directly at them.7 This allows a woman to assess how easily she will be able to attract a male before starting The Game. Men have poorer peripheral vision, and the direction of their gaze (e.g. towards the breasts) also acts as an indicator to women of sexual interest. Women show physiological adaptations to appear to be more child-like, such as a high pitched voice, higher quality skin tone, lack of facial hair, smaller average height and lower average physical strength. This increases the overall security provided by men due to the association with children and the desire to protect them. Many women assert that "men are like children." It is true that men show similarities to male children, but women are much more similar to children than men are. This commonly heard phrase may be intended to disguise the reality, or to discourage men from showing 'child-like' (rebellious) behaviour.

Although there is no clear scientific evidence for gender specific emotion, everyday experience of relationships and evolutionary principles strongly suggest that there are significant differences. For example, men do not love women in the same way that women love men. Male love is an emotional dependency that women select for in men to increase their security. It could be described as a constant longing to be with someone, and a woman may choose to make it very difficult for a male to gain access to her during the initial stages of The Game. This means that he will start to associate her absence with a feeling of unhappiness, which makes it more likely that he will remain with her and provide security. By contrast to male love, female love is a child-like desire for security and protection. Thus, both genders use the word 'love' to describe two completely different things that are both directed towards increasing female security. This is genetically desirable because children are more likely to survive and pass on the genes of both parents if a male is willing to provide security. Therefore, adaptations to increase female security are present in both genders. Both male and female love are equally good, but the traditional meaning of the word refers to the male emotion. From evolutionary principles, female love should not take the form of an emotional dependence, because this would interfere with The Game, and would serve to decrease female security. The idea that women do not love men in this way is a very unpopular assertion to make and is disliked by both genders. Men want to believe that their partners love them in the same way that they love their partners. Women dislike the assertion because it threatens the security afforded by men. There are, however, very pronounced differences in the way that men and women treat each other that suggest major psychological differences in the nature of the
25

bond formed by each gender in close personal relationships. For example, unlike men, few woman would ever buy a man flowers, chocolates or diamond rings.

Male emotions have specific purposes such as anger to drive them to fight (e.g. in wars to protect their families) and love to increase female security. One can apply evolutionary principles to suggest that female emotional responses are optimised to increase security. For example, women may become angry if their male partners are behaving in a way that suits themselves rather than providing security (such as spending their money in a pub). Many women are more likely to cry than men, especially if their security is threatened. Men associate crying with being very unhappy, and they usually respond by deferring to a female and increasing her security. This is probably the reason why we cry (an arbitrary response linked to a male emotion that is paralleled in women whenever their security is threatened, eliciting a desirable response from a male due to an emotional association, leading to increased female security and more effective propagation of the genes of both men and women). Thus male and female emotional responses result from completely different stimuli, although both are directed towards increasing female security. It is possible that the same emotions are experienced in both genders, but are triggered by different things. Alternatively, it is possible that some or all of the emotions are a uniquely male experience, and automatic responses have evolved in women to give the impression of having appropriate emotions to increase their security. It is also possible that there is a range of female psychologies between these two extremes, which may account for the varied opinions about male/female differences in existing literature. For example, feminist sociology usually defines male and female psychology to be identical, with differences mainly due to sociological effects (e.g. Masculine, Feminine or Human? by Janet Saltzman Chafetz8). I support arguments for equality between the genders, but I am more skeptical about the arguments for their similarity. I do not believe that an important issue such as equality should be based on questionable arguments. What could be the motivation behind such arguments? One problem with discussions about female psychology in existing literature is that only women are qualified to describe it, but most famous psychologists are male. In addition, it is not in the interests of women to give any information to men other than that which serves to increase their security. While most feminists insist upon the similar nature of men and women, this trend is not universal. The Manipulated Man (Esther Vilar) is written by a feminist, and gives a very polarised view of men and women. In this book, men are described to be intelligent, and women unintelligent, cold and manipulative.9 I disagree with her assertion that female intelligence is relatively low, and the consequent implication that women are instinctual and not responsible for their behaviour. I suggest that female reproductive intelligence is usually very high, and that such intelligence is selected for through evolution. Esther Vilar has received death threats for publishing her book. In particular, her book was unpopular with women. This may suggest that if women talk openly on this subject, they risk decreasing their own security not only from men but from other women who perceive that their security is threatened as a result. For this reason, such books may be inaccurate and may fail to tell the whole story. Another factor that may inhibit a good description of female psychology is that many women are brought up to believe that they experience life in the same way as men, when this may not be the case. Hence, women's ability to judge their own psychology
26

objectively may be impaired by sociological conditioning.

Some sociologists argue that different behaviour traits observed in the two genders in different cultures is evidence for their psychological similarity, with differences coming primarily from their social environment rather than their genes. Sociological effects do have a significant impact on people, but the differences observed in different cultures may simply mean that there are many different ways for men and women to fulfill their respective desires for sex and security. For example, the nuances and subtlety of The Game seems to be most well understood by women brought up in the Western culture. By contrast to the West, women in Russia seem to lack this cultural knowledge, and classes have become popular to teach women aspects of The Game.10 Within the Western culture, there is a range of knowledge and talent among women relating to The Game. In addition, many aspects of The Game become less important in a Church context, because Christian men are conditioned to expect marriage. It is probable that the Church views on morality are a major motivation for both men and women to go to Church despite the interference with normal sexual relations; both men and women may feel more secure with a partner who believes that they will burn in hell if they have an affair. In Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies, Margaret Mead compared the sex roles of three New Guinea societies, and claimed that all three were arranged very differently from our own.11 Her research is often used to promote the idea that gender stereotypes are determined by society. However, I propose alternative conclusions for each of the three societies based on evolutionary psychology. In the Arapesh culture both men and women seemed to be feminine. In this culture, men were allocated female partners from an early age; women gained security from men without having to do anything, and men gained sex without having to go through the flirting/dating/marriage game and did not have to prove their worth, dominance, power or influence or fight other men. Thus, the needs of both genders were fulfilled without the need for social posturing, meaning that male aggression was unnecessary and this society was peaceful. By contrast, in the Mundugamor culture, both men and women seemed to be masculine, aggressive and cannibalistic. In this society, women would not have been able to achieve a high level of security, even when married, due to the aggressive culture. Under these circumstances, the best way to ensure security could be preparedness to fight for it. The Mundugamor grew up tough and independent because the women in this culture did not nurture their children. There were taboos surrounding pregnancy and newborn children, and women resented the restrictions to their freedom that child-rearing demanded. Mead's observations seem to contradict with those of G. L. Bink, who described the people he encountered on New Guinea as being friendly, only exhibiting cannibalistic behaviour with war prisoners, only exhibiting aggressive behaviour for purposes of revenge (particularly against other tribes), and stated that their children were "much petted and loved."12 However, it is possible that Bink did not encounter the Mundugamor tribe. Bink's observations were used by Kropotkin in Mutual Aid, which is discussed in the chapter about anarchism. In the third culture, Mead found that the Tchambuli had distinctive gender roles, but the reverse of those in the West; men seemed to be more emotional, whereas women held the social and economic power. In most societies, men have tended to
27

hold the social and economic power, and male emotion (such as love) serves to provide women security. In the Tchambuli society, it seems that women had direct control over the social and economic power (providing security), and men had more freedom to express their emotions.

Women are often willing to die to protect their young children, which demonstrates the strength of the bond between mother and child. This bond contrasts with the one that exists between a woman and her male partner (women are not usually prepared to die for their male partners). As mentioned above, the Mundugamor women were unusual because they did not appear to experience a significant maternal bond. This might be because their security was not increased through having children due to the taboos in their culture. It is therefore possible that the maternal bond may be partially due to the increased security that pregnancy and childrearing provides in most cultures. If so, a threat to a child may be perceived to be a threat to a woman's security, which is a threat to her own survival. This may go some way towards explaining why women are prepared to die for their children. There is a tendency among people to view those different from ourselves as being less human. "We are the only true humans," is a sentiment found in many cultures, especially further back in history.13 The same appears to be true for the way that both genders view each other. The genetic advantage of this viewpoint is to make exploitation and other forms of selfishness seem less distasteful. Most women view most men as being emotionally insecure, possessing inferior social intelligence and being easy to manipulate to gain the security that they desire. Most men view most women as being inexplicable, helpless, vulnerable, argumentative, bossy and highly emotional. Both genders have a tendency to view the opposite gender as a subhuman that exists solely to provide for the other gender's needs. Studies have shown that women tend to have a higher level of interconnection between the left and right hemispheres of the brain than men. Presumably this enables a higher rate of data transfer between the two halves of the brain, and has been linked by some studies to an increased linguistic/social ability.14 Men have larger brains and more grey matter, which may enable an improved ability learn about and manipulate the environment (i.e. to be a breadwinner).

Men

Unlike women, male reproductive potential is virtually unlimited, with some historical monarchs fathering hundreds of children. However, as discussed above, sex is not readily available to men from women. Most men attempt to increase their reproductive potential by competing with other men. This is often expressed as a desire to be the dominant male in order to secure greater mating rights, and to be seen to be more attractive to women. This incorporates a desire to have importance, influence and power over others, usually defining self-worth to be that which is of value to women. Men usually have a desire to protect and support their family. Many married men often desire affairs with other women, to have a 'bit on the side' without having to provide security or protection. From a genetic perspective, it is best for a man to put a lot of resources into children where he is more certain of their parentage, while simultaneously spreading his genes elsewhere.
28

Single men can be made to feel insecure by members of both genders and the values held by society. In addition, men who are in a relationship with a woman are often insecure about the possibility of her having an affair. This insecurity surrounds a desire to own a woman, because paternal parentage is less certain than maternal parentage. It is genetically advantageous for men to restrict the relationships that a woman has with other men. Men are generally more attracted to younger women because they are more likely to be fertile. Many men have a desire to attack other men who are perceived to be dominant. In civilised society, physical attacks are discouraged, so the ability to make psychological attacks has evolved instead, usually expressed as an ability to 'wind up' another person (to provoke aggression and anger in another person, which civilised society makes difficult to express in a physical manner). The desire for men to attack other men may come from a feeling of jealousy, inferiority, envy, sadism or aggression and anger. A high level of social intelligence is required to enable psychological attacks on other men. Women are able to select men with a high level of social intelligence by choosing the ones that make them laugh. An aggressor may pretend to be a submissive male, and may emphasize how brilliant the victim is, while maintaining how unintelligent or weak they are themselves. This differs from a normal dominance hierarchy in that it usually occurs in situations where there is no apparent need for one man to be submissive to the other. A newcomer to a male group may be attacked in this way by the existing dominant male if they fail to act submissively; the dominant male may also draw on the support of the group. This leads the victim into a false sense of security, allowing the aggressor to probe them for information and weaknesses that can be used in a later attack. The false submissiveness becomes patronising when it becomes apparent that the aggressor was concealing his intelligence. If the aggressor pretends to be the victim's friend at first, they can attack more effectively due to feelings of betrayal. An attack should be subtle enough for the victim to find it difficult to express in words. An aggressor may pretend to take offense at something unrelated to their true motives to disguise their own insecurity and to make an attack more effective. An aggressor may make frequent inane comments or sing random songs that become much more focused when, for example, another man is actively pursuing a woman. They may create links between noises (such as their own finger snapping or tongue clicking) and the victim's activities, especially those relating to any form of potential embarrassment. Propagation of misinformation can occur in the workplace to make the victim look unprofessional. Inexplicable behaviour from the aggressor can serve to confuse the victim. The process works best if the aggressor is physically stronger than the victim due to general intimidation. Some cultural differences may be due to different overall levels of availability of sex to men. A lower availability may promote male aggression, whereas a higher availability may promote peacefulness and even cooperativity. For example, on several occasions, I have observed African men encourage others to form relationships if they do not see an immediate opportunity to form a relationship with
29

a woman themselves. By contrast, Western men usually adopt the attitude that less sex for other men means more sex for themselves.

A man is more likely to pass on his genes if he has the social intelligence to deceive women by pretending to be protective, submissive, easily manipulated or in love. Men are also more reproductively successful if they have an ability to identify vulnerable women. Men usually express a desire to learn about and manipulate objects and the environment, which enables them to become better breadwinners.

From this analysis, it can be seen that humanity is evolved to encourage inequality. Many women attempt to gain a strong influence over men to increase their security. In addition, many men are inclined to compete with each other for dominance, which also creates inequality. Since there is a desire for inequality among people, there is an argument for harmless inequality taking place in an optimised relationship structure in which people follow the Golden Rule. For example, a group of people could decide between themselves to use a distinguishing feature such as a wrist band to indicate if they wish to act selfishly rather than selflessly at any given time. Such groups could organise themselves into a network of appropriate relationships. These relationships could change frequently to maximise the amount of time that each individual spends in a social position that is perceived to be more desirable. Both genders have evolved in such a way as to provide women with security. One can therefore pose the question, "Is it in a woman's best interests to follow the Golden Rule when she can already obtain what she wants?" Selfless behaviour is frequently observed in women. In the chapter about anarchism, it is shown that naturally occurring selflessness usually has a selfish origin. For example, religious women may believe that they will gain greater security from God if they behave with a degree of selflessness, and a large proportion of voluntary work is carried out by women. They may also increase their security from men if they show selfless behaviour towards others; men tend to assume that it must be their own fault if the only person who a woman is unkind to is himself. Female selflessness is made more possible because of a larger amount of free time that a woman can have if her male partner acts as the sole breadwinner in a relationship. However, close personal relationships with men are not selfless because their purpose from a female perspective is the selfish acquisition of security. There are two corresponding selfish male objectives: (a) to obtain sex without having to provide security and (b) to gain exclusive sexual access to her. The first male objective potentially leaves her with children but no support, and the second male objective restricts her freedom. Neither scenario is ideal from a female perspective. The female ideal would only be achievable if men were to follow the Golden Rule. However, harmonious gender relations would only be achievable if both genders were to follow the Golden Rule. In conclusion, the analysis presented in this chapter describes the psychological aspects of reproduction, highlighting the subtlety, variety, sophistication, creativity, intuition and intelligence associated with these behaviours. One can observe that these behaviours are selfish in origin, and are probably among the main causes of oppression and suffering for most people.
30

1. Ramazanoglu, C. (1989). Feminism and the Contradictions of Oppression. Routledge. 2. Johnson, A. G. (2005). The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy. Temple University Press, USA. 3. Evans, D. (2005). Introducing Evolutionary Psychology. Icon Books, UK. 4. Barrett, L., Dunbar, R. & Lycett, J. (2001). Human Evolutionary Psychology. Palgrave Macmillan. 5. Hawkes, K. (2003). Grandmothers and the evolution of human longevity. American Journal of Human Biology. 15:380-400. 6. Sexton, E. (2001). Dawkins and the Selfish Gene. Icon Books, UK. 7. Pease, A. & Pease, B. (2004). The Definitive Book of Body Language. Pease International, Australia. 8. Chafetz, J. S. (1974). Masculine, Feminine or Human? F. E. Peacock Publishers, USA. 9. Vilar, E. (1998). The Manipulated Man. Pinter & Martin. 10. Blomfield, A. (2006). Russian women taught how to get their man. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1534537/Russian-women-taught-howto-get-their-man.html. Telegraph Newspaper. 11. Mead, M. (1935). Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies. Routledge. 12. Kropotkin, P. (1902). Mutual Aid, A Factor of Evolution. Heinemann, London. 13. Conrad, J. (1964). The Many Worlds of Man. Thomas Y. Crowell, New York. 14. LeVay, S. (1994). The Sexual Brain. MIT Press, USA.

31

The Selfishness of God
In this chapter, I would like to perform a thought experiment. This is a scientific experiment that is carried out in the imagination, because it is impractical to do in real life. This particular thought experiment is an extrapolation of existing biological research into the future. At the present time, biologists are in the process of discovering the molecular structure of proteins and other biological molecules. Protein chains are the direct product of encoded genetic information; they are the means by which genes exert their effects in biological systems. The methods used by laboratories to discover molecular structures are very expensive, difficult and time consuming. Therefore, it would be much better if biologists were able to use computer programs to predict what a protein structure would look like directly from the genetic code. This is an active area of biological research which uses computer simulated molecular environments to investigate protein folding.1 In the future, when this process has been refined, and when very powerful computers are available, it should be possible to simulate the molecules of an entire cell in a computer. From the perspective of that cell, there would be no difference between itself and a real cell. The simulated cell should do exactly the same things as an ordinary one. Having successfully simulated a cell, the next logical step would be to grow entire biological organisms in a computer simulation. With a large enough computer, it would even be possible to simulate an entire Universe, and model the evolution of life on Earth over time. From the perspective of a simulated human, they would be exactly the same as a real one, meaning that one should consider simulated life as having equal value to real life. However, since this life would be simulated, then it should be possible for the administrator of the computer system to modify the environment to favour the people who have been created. For example, one could modify the computer program to prevent death, illness or natural disasters. In fact, it should be possible to simulate a paradise for one's simulated humans, and presumably this would be one's responsibility as their creator. If one assumes that God exists, then one can infer that there should be a similar relationship between God and ourselves. Yet God clearly does not behave in a way that conforms to our understanding of morality. One can therefore conclude either that God does not exist, or that God has a nature that is different from that which one would expect. The nature and purpose of God has been debated for centuries by philosophers and theologians. Their arguments are frequently phrased to support a theist or atheist perspective. Hume offered an alternative approach. He believed that God was a "riddle, an enigma, an inexplicable mystery," whose nature could not be determined. Hume was a humanist and utilitarian who was critical of many aspects of mainstream theology. He formed many arguments against intelligent design, and thought that miracles were unlikely to happen. However, he did concede in his Natural History of Religion that, "the Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one."2 This implies that Hume thought either that most people are irrational, or that miracles are necessary for a person to hold a religious belief. However, he questioned the nature of miracles, and proposed that a miracle could only be considered genuine if it would be a greater miracle that the person reporting the miracle had made a mistake or was being deceitful. However, another possibility is that miracles are genuine but malicious in nature. I express this possibility in the next chapter, and I observe that claimed instances of spiritual interactions appear to support theologies that include aspects which can cause human suffering. This immediately leads to the question of, "Why would God behave in this way?"
32

I am in agreement with Hume's theory that the purpose of God cannot be determined. However, I propose that this in itself is a cause of suffering, because it is opposed to a basic need for us to make sense of our environment. Therefore, assuming that God exists, one can conclude the following. The actions of God appear to parallel advanced social techniques that people use to cause psychological suffering to others. The motives for doing so are always selfish and can be sexual, sadistic, a desire to eliminate competition or a desire to gain a degree of control over another person. God appears to be a model of pure selfishness, paralleling this form of human behaviour. Spiritual events seem to be used to gain dominance over people, to cause psychological confusion and suffering and to reduce the reproductive potential of individuals (e.g. by restricting sex to marriage). In my opinion, spiritual events and aspects of the theologies that they support also propagate misinformation, which may be an attempt to make people look foolish to others. This is another method that some people use to cause suffering. I suggest that both the actions and the existence of a God whose purpose is deliberately concealed is a cause of human suffering and is therefore malicious in nature. I suggest that this is the best theory to use to teach religious individuals how and why their lives could be improved by rejecting spiritual concerns and focusing on interpersonal concerns. Unlike an atheist perspective, this theory does not imply that religious individuals are irrational for believing something that seems highly questionable to an outsider. Hence, by acknowledging a spiritual element to the world, I believe that the lives of many people could be improved by showing people why it would be beneficial for this spiritual element to be rejected. 1. Scheraga, H. A., Khalili, M. & Liwo, A. (2007). Protein-folding dynamics: overview of molecular simulation techniques. Annual Review of Physical Chemistry. 58:5783. 2. Hume, D. (1757). The Natural History of Religion. Green and Grose.

33

Introduction to Religions of the World
The following chapters give an overview of the major world religions based on how well they appear to fulfill people's needs. Many people claim to have experienced some form of spiritual interaction. If one assumes that most people are telling the truth about their experiences, one can observe that such interactions appear to support beliefs in religions that can cause suffering. Most religions have the following characteristics in common:
• •

Competing religions incite division and war. Many religious rules and regulations appear to have no rational purpose, and serve only to restrict freedom and cause suffering to the followers of a religion. Many religions involve beliefs that are highly questionable or even provably false. This can make it difficult for people to change their beliefs due to the injured pride that it would cause, and traps people within a particular belief system. This is particularly true of religious teachers, who have more pride at stake than an average follower of a religion. These beliefs also encourage people to be derisory of other people's belief systems. Mutual derision reinforces the false idea that if you are being persecuted, then you must be right. Creation of outcast groups (e.g. prostitutes, pagans and the poor). Reports of spiritual communication suggest that inequality is created, because some people receive more spiritual communication than others, and only some people are called to be religious teachers. Many people are given no communication at all. Some religions contain rules for physical punishment (e.g. Judaism and Islam). Some religions have a belief in a positive and negative spiritual force, and most believe that God and spiritual events are good. Most religions entail theories about an afterlife, and the state of a person in such an afterlife is often linked to our behaviour in our present life. The promise of an afterlife can act as a restriction to freedom, because it attempts to link our everyday behaviour with our survival instinct. Therefore, to increase freedom it is preferable to believe that everyone goes to heaven or that no one does. Many people link a belief in an afterlife to a spiritual experience that validates their belief in a religion. However, spiritual experiences do not prove the existence of an afterlife. It is not possible to prove or disprove the existence of an afterlife, but it is possible to ask the question as to whether or not this would be preferable. I propose that living forever in our present culture of mutual selfishness would not be preferable because it would mean that humanity would be in a state of perpetual suffering. However, I believe that if people were to adopt a degree of mutual selflessness as described in this book, then living forever would be preferable to ceasing to exist.

• •

• •

I suggest that there is sufficient anecdotal evidence to warrant serious consideration that spiritual interactions are genuine phenomena. Furthermore, I suggest that a refusal to
34

consider this possibility serves to alienate many people from the opinions and ideas of humanists and atheists. One could define a spiritual interaction as being something that does not correspond to our everyday experience of the Universe and cannot be explained by rational or scientific methods. They could include things for which good scientific explanations are not possible such as hypnosis, and where rational explanations are inadequate such as firewalking, dowsing and crop circles. Reports of unusual phenomena are relatively common and are not always associated with specific religions. Anecdotal reports from religious individuals suggest that spiritual interactions are neutral (such as supernatural signs) or beneficial (such as healing). However, the overall effect appears to convince people that their beliefs in a particular religion are absolutely correct, even though aspects of many religions are harmful to their followers. It is possible to rate religions according to the average levels of freedom that they engender, the level of fulfillment they bring to a follower, and the amount of fulfillment that is brought to others (see the table below). It is also possible to rate one's own life in a similar way. The level of freedom and fulfillment in a person's life is strongly influenced by their own religious belief and the religion that is prevalent in the society in which they live. When writing about religions, I focus on the points that affect these three parameters. The theory of personal heaven is designed to optimise each of these parameters, and I suggest that if a person follows the Golden Rule and lives among a group of people who do the same, then their personal freedom, self-fulfillment and the amount by which they fulfill the needs of others would be greater on average than people who adhere to any other belief system.

Value 5 4 3 2 1 0

Freedom Absolute freedom High levels of freedom Moderate freedom Somewhat restricted freedom Very restricted freedom No freedom

Self-fulfillment Optimal self-fulfillment Good self-fulfillment No overall benefit to self May cause suffering to self May cause high levels of suffering to self Torture to self

Fulfillment of the needs of others Optimal fulfillment of the needs of others Good fulfillment of the needs of others No overall benefit to others May cause suffering to others May cause high levels of suffering to others Torture to others

35

Atheism and Agnosticism
Atheism is a belief that God does not exist, and agnosticism is a viewpoint of ignoring religion. Both agnostics and atheists reject God and spirituality, and are likely to have more freedom than people who follow any mainstream religion. However, there are still restrictions to the freedom of agnostics and atheists because of the mutually selfish nature of society. Agnostics may lack religious belief due to a lack of time to devote to religion, a general sense that religion is not relevant to their lives, and a lack of anything that convinces them of a spiritual element to the world in their immediate lives. Most atheists cite a lack of verifiable evidence in the existence of God for their belief system, along with many philosophical and scientific arguments that are in favour of an atheist perspective. The theory about the nature of God presented in this book resolves many of the arguments used by atheist philosophers against the existence of God:

The problem of evil is a philosophical argument against the existence of an all powerful loving God. The theory presented in this book argues that God is malicious in nature, solving this problem of evil. Philosophers cite the fact that the scriptures revealed by an entity called God contradict with each other. The theory presented in this book suggests that a malicious God deliberately creates division to cause suffering. Philosophers observe that God is not very good at collecting believers. The theory presented in this book does not require that God should turn everyone into a believer. Philosophers argue that sociological and scientific arguments are sufficient to explain religious belief. Similarly, the argument of simplicity suggests that God is not necessary, and it would be simpler if he did not exist. While the theory outlined in this book does not disprove these assertions, it does suggest that it is more valuable to consider that God exists than to consider otherwise. This book could easily be written using the simplistic assumption that God does not exist, but this theory would be rejected by anyone who has experienced spiritual interactions. Thus, a theory that is correct for an atheist cannot simultaneously be correct for anyone who has experienced spiritual interactions. To draw an analogy, it is not useful for someone who is red/green colour blind to theorise on behalf of all people that red and green are the same colour, despite the fact that this may be a simpler theory. Hence, the presentation of a more complete theory can be justified as being more useful, even if some people disagree with parts of it due to a lack of firsthand experience. There are many deductive arguments against the concepts of omnipotence (all powerful) and omniscience (all knowing). For example, in The God Delusion, Dawkins suggests that an omnipotent and omniscient being would be infinitely complex, and much less likely to occur spontaneously than the Universe, which has finite complexity. The theory presented in this book does not claim that God is either omnipotent or omniscient. However, one can theorise that God could be both omnipotent or omniscient within the Universe but not outside it, much like a computer programmer can be all powerful over things that happen within a
36

computer game, while not being omnipotent in real life.

One argument that cannot be resolved by this book is the observation that if God created the Universe, then there should be something that created God, with an infinite regress. However, this argument suggests that nothing should exist at all. Since the Universe does exist, then this argument can be considered to be flawed, and cannot be used as an argument against the existence of God.

37

Judaism
Judaism is a religion that has existed in various forms for over 3000 years. It is a constantly changing religion due to the emphasis placed on debate and interpretation of many texts, particularly the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud (oral tradition). The religion of the ancient Jews was very different from modern forms of Judaism, although the practices of all forms of Judaism are derived principally from the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. These five books describe the origin and formation of the Jewish people and the covenant made with God for his reported assistance in aiding the escape of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. In this covenant, the Jewish God promised to look after the Jewish people in return for their following a large number of rules. Judaism incorporates the belief in a Messiah who will one day bring peace to Earth. Christian theology has been strongly influenced by Jewish beliefs, and Christians refer to the Hebrew Bible as the 'Old Testament'. Unlike Christians, Jews do not believe that the Messiah has already come, because Earth is not yet at peace. The Ten Commandments form an important part of the Jewish Law. First and foremost, the Jewish God emphasizes that he is the only God, and that Jews must worship him alone. Judaism is therefore a monotheistic religion, and much of the Hebrew Bible is devoted to describing the differences between being faithful and unfaithful to the Jewish God. Faithfulness is always associated with prosperity, whereas unfaithfulness is invariably associated with disaster. The Ten Commandments establish a basis for people's relationships with God and with each other. A basic moral code is established in which Jews are forbidden to kill, steal, commit adultery, bear false witness, be envious of others, and they are told to respect their parents. Jews are commanded to observe a Sabbath day once a week, and are instructed not to blaspheme. There are many laws in addition to these commandments, with a total of 613 laws having been identified by Jewish scholars. After the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70CE, many of these laws became redundant. However, the dietary restrictions, festivals, ritual purity, and Sabbath laws are still observed. Many of these laws have been identified by Jewish scholars as being 'chukim' (they appear to lack any rational purpose). There are many positive aspects to Judaism. Jews feel a strong sense of belonging to a community and a sense of having responsibility for all other Jews. Their two languages, Hebrew and Yiddish, reinforce the cultural identity of the Jews. The atmosphere of Judaism is one of mutual support, and Synagogues place emphasis on socialising and education in addition to the worship of God. There is an emphasis on charitable giving, the fair treatment of widows and orphans (e.g. Exodus 22:22) and the poor (such as the cancellation of debts every seven years in Deuteronomy 15:1). Due to the emphasis on heredity, someone born into a Jewish family is considered to be Jewish regardless of their beliefs and practices, although converts to the Jewish faith are accepted (the main precedent for conversion is Ruth in the Hebrew Bible). Jewish born men and male converts are circumcised, a ritual first practiced by Abraham (Genesis 17:10). It is a painful ceremony, but is the only form of physical injury that is still carried out as part of Judaism. The Hebrew Bible contains many commandments for physical punishments (including the death sentence), but reinterpretation of these commandments using the more positive verses in the Hebrew Bible have overridden these punishments in modern times. The most positive aspect of this reinterpretation is the emphasis on loving your neighbour as yourself (the Golden Rule), a commandment that is mentioned in Leviticus 19:18, and is given foremost importance by modern Jews. The following table
38

shows some of the positive and some of the questionable commands from the Hebrew Bible. Reinterpretation by rabbis over the centuries means that penalties such as the death sentence no longer apply. Examples of positive statements Love your neighbour as yourself. (Leviticus 19:18). Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind. (Leviticus 19:14). Examples of questionable statements Whoever curses his father or his mother is to be put to death. (Exodus 21:17). Put to death any woman who practises magic. (Exodus 22:18).

Do no unrighteousness in your judgements. You must keep the day of rest, because it is (Leviticus 19:15). sacred. Whoever does not keep it, but works on that day, is to be put to death. (Exodus 31:14). Do not go up and down as a talebearer If a man commits adultery with the wife of a among your people; do not stand idly by the fellow-Israelite, both he and the woman blood of your neighbour. (Leviticus 19:16). shall be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10). Do not collect all of a harvest; leave some for the poor and for the stranger. (Leviticus 19:10). If a man has sexual relations with another man, they have done a disgusting thing, and both shall be put to death. They are responsible for their own death. (Leviticus 20:13).

Despite the efforts to dispense with the physical punishments advocated by the Bible, there are still, in my opinion, negative aspects to the Jewish religion (i.e. aspects that restrict freedom or cause suffering). Judaism incorporates the belief that God is equally masculine and feminine. However, I am unable to perceive any femininity in the Jewish God. The Jewish God is portrayed as having a masculine and authoritarian personality similar to the Islamic God, and the implications of this are discussed in the chapter about Islam. By contrast to the Islamic Koran, there is very little repetition in the Hebrew Bible. Instead, there are a series of colourful and interesting stories about the Jewish people that maintain the reader's interest. However, the Jewish religion does encourage repetitive behaviour (rites and rituals) that are habit forming, much like those of Islam. This is particularly true of Orthodox Judaism, for which there are rules for almost every aspect of life, including those governing eating, clothing and personal relationships. In my opinion, the restrictive nature of these rules are the main cause of suffering in the modern Jewish religion. Modern Reform Judaism dispenses with some of the rules, but they are maintained in Orthodox Judaism. As mentioned in the chapter about Islam, it is my opinion that the Koran attempts to form a 'psychological prison' through the repetition of a threatening message. In my opinion, the Hebrew Bible is written in a similar way by constantly placing emphasis on the threat of divine retribution if the Jewish people fail to follow Biblical laws. In a separate chapter, I propose the theory that God exists and has a nature that parallels human selfishness. The text of the Hebrew Bible appears to support this theory; one can postulate a scenario in which the Jews were given unreasonable rules to follow, and then placed in situations in which 'punishments' could take place when they failed to follow these laws. Hence, the behaviour of the Jewish God appears to parallel a form of bullying that is used to exert dominance and control through fear. The Jewish God is also reported to have ordered killing for disobedience (e.g. Exodus 32:27) and diseases were also thought to act as
39

punishment (e.g. Exodus 32:35). During the early history of the Jews, the Jewish people fought to gain control of the land of Israel. The wars inevitably gave the Jews many enemies through which 'divine punishment' could take place. The book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible describes the unstable period after the Jews had settled in Israel. Israel was repeatedly taken over by foreign powers. Each time this happened, the Bible emphasizes that the Jewish God was punishing the Jews for failing to follow the Biblical laws (e.g. Judges 2:11-23). The ultimate 'punishment' was the fall of Israel to Babylonia, followed by the exile of the Jews from Israel, and this is covered by several books in the Bible including the prophetic warnings of Jeremiah. These books serve to re-emphasize the message that unfaithfulness leads to punishment. The Bible stops recording Jewish history after the return of the Jews from exile, and the rebuilding of Solomon's temple. Later, Israel fell to the Roman Empire, and the first revolt against Roman rule resulted in the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. A second revolt also failed. The Emperor Hadrian banned the practice of Judaism because he believed that their beliefs were incompatible with the goals of the Empire. Many more Jews were killed in the third revolt against the Roman rule. The Jews did not regain political autonomy until the reformation of Israel in 1948. The Biblical emphasis on the importance of the land of Israel could be considered to be a source of Jewish suffering; in recent times, the Jewish nationalisation of this region has served to antagonise the Islamic Palestinians, whose land has become occupied by Israelis. The Koran encourages Muslims to fight people who are perceived to be persecuting them. Hence, in this particular case, the rules of the two religions have led to a war zone, causing suffering to both Jews and Muslims. Some of the 613 commandments encouraged war with populations that previously lived in the region:
• • •

Not to keep alive any individual of the seven Canaanite nations (Deut. 20:16). To exterminate the seven Canaanite nations from the land of Israel (Deut. 20:17). To destroy the seed of Amalek (Deut. 25:19).

Historically, antisemitism (racism and prejudice towards Jews) has caused a lot of suffering. Antisemitism may be linked to the Jewish claim to the land of Israel, Christian prejudices arising from their links to the death of Jesus (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16), the distinctive appearance of Orthodox Jews, the perception that Jews consider themselves to be superior to other races (Jews prefer to see themselves as an example for non Jews rather than a specially chosen people), the observed successfulness of many Jews (e.g. a large number of Nobel Prizes given to people of Jewish descent), and perhaps the degree of violence recorded in the Hebrew Bible. European antisemitism culminated in the Nazi policy during the Second World War. Six million Jews and five million other 'Untermenschen' (those whom the Nazis regarded to be inferior races) were killed in a policy of genocide. In common with Islam, the Hebrew Bible appears to define a society that is very inefficient. All Jews are required to refrain from any form of work for an entire day each week. In addition, a large proportion of the ancient Jews were required to dedicate themselves to religious duties. One of the twelve tribes that formed the Jewish people (the Levites) were required to assist the priests in their duties by building, maintaining and guarding temples in addition to singing psalms and carrying out other tasks. In modern times, Levites have
40

fewer responsibilities. Orthodox Jews pray in a Synagogue three times a day, and many of the everyday rites and rituals are very time consuming. This means that Jews have less time to do non-religious activities. In my opinion, this contradicts with the concept of loving your neighbour as yourself, because it means that there is less time for one's own leisure, and less time to help others in a practical way. Hence, although many Jewish scholars perceive the concept of loving your neighbour as yourself to summarise Jewish Law, I suggest that there are many aspects of Jewish Law that contradict with this concept. Another example is the emphasis on animal sacrifice. This would have caused unnecessary suffering to animals in addition to the loss of property, increasing the poverty of poorer members of the population. In modern times, Jews do not carry out animal sacrifices. There are many rules relating to personal relationships in Judaism. There are repeated warnings against adultery and a strong emphasis on marriage and bearing children. Attempting to remain single or childless is considered to be sinful, representing a restriction to the freedom of both genders. There are several rules pertaining to the importance of being ritually clean. One of these rules declares that women are unclean during menstruation and for seven days afterwards (Leviticus 15:19). Thus, no physical contact is permitted with a woman for around twelve days per month, significantly interfering with normal everyday life. There are other stigmas attached to women, such as the emphasis on the unclean nature of a woman following the birth of a girl (Leviticus 12:25); women are stated to be unclean for eighty days following the birth of a girl, and forty days following the birth of a boy. Some modern forms of Judaism have reinterpreted Biblical teachings to create gender equality, and permit the rabbinic ordination of women. In addition to the negative attitudes towards women, the Hebrew Bible creates outcast groups such as prostitutes and homosexuals. Certain non-Jewish groups (e.g. Samaritans) were also treated as outcasts. In conclusion, Judaism is a religion followed by a relatively small number of people who usually share a common ancestry and have a strong cultural identity. Jewish communities are supportive and usually successful, and there are many famous Jews throughout history, disproportionate to their numbers. However, the history of Judaism is marred by war and overwhelming suffering, which continues to the present day.

41

Christianity
Christianity is the world's most popular religion, with about 1.5 billion followers. It is a monotheistic religion that originated in Israel around 30AD. The Christian Bible claims that the Jewish God had a human son called Jesus, who is attributed with the ability to forgive people for any wrongdoings, enabling them to go to heaven in an afterlife. The crucifixion of Jesus by the Jewish authorities is claimed to be a sacrifice that is sufficient to atone for people's sins. Christian dogma asserts that one should have faith in Jesus and maintain a personal relationship with him through the Spirit of God in order to gain forgiveness. The Christian Bible contains the Hebrew Bible, the gospels (four separate accounts of the life of Jesus) and a series of letters written by followers of Jesus to groups of early Christians. This chapter focuses on the gospels and the letters from Paul. The Gospels The gospels are four separate historical records of the life of Jesus, a radical Jewish teacher who claimed to be the Messiah, fulfilling the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible. Jesus placed great emphasis on loving God and doing what God requires. In accordance with Jewish beliefs, he also placed great emphasis on loving your neighbour as yourself (the Golden Rule). Many of his teachings were directed towards groups of people who were not accepted by Jewish society (e.g. Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:15 and Luke 14:13), and he was highly critical of Jewish religious teachers (e.g. Matthew 23:1-36). Jesus is presented as a superhuman being who had the capacity to perform miracles such as healing (e.g. Matthew 8:3), raising the dead (e.g. Matthew 9:24), walking on water (e.g. Matthew 14:22-32) and turning water into wine (John 2:1-9). If reported accurately, these could be described as spiritual interactions. In previous chapters, I have expressed the possibility that spiritual interactions are malicious in nature. Hence, this discrepancy needs to be explained; many of the spiritual interactions were reported to be beneficial to people, and they also seemed to draw attention to the humanitarian message of Jesus. One negative effect of the reported miracles of healing is the link made between sin and disease both directly (John 5:14) and by implying that miraculous healing is due to the forgiveness of sins by Jesus (e.g. Mark 2:9). In Hinduism, this link stigmatises people who are disabled, and it may have had a similar effect among some Christian groups. Another negative effect of the miracles is to make the gospels seem highly questionable to people who have not experienced spiritual interactions themselves, including the humanitarian message of loving your neighbour as yourself. For those who have experienced spiritual interactions, it encourages the acceptance of the gospels in their entirety, rather than simply the humanitarian message. A third possible negative effect of these miracles was to draw attention to a restrictive theology that appears to suppress religious debate and discussion as discussed below. For a long time, Jewish scholars have placed primary importance on the idea of loving your neighbour as yourself, even though this concept is not highlighted as being any more important than any other in the Hebrew Bible (this is highlighted in Mark 12:32-33, in which a Jewish teacher emphasizes the importance of Leviticus 19:18 relative to the rest of Jewish Law). This is probably because debate and discussion form a central part of Judaism. In fact, one can envisage that Jewish scholars could eventually have come to the same conclusions that are presented in this book. However, with the introduction of Christianity, this eventuality became less likely to occur because the new religion became
42

a threat to the Jewish identity. Christianity presented itself as an alternative to Judaism that did not require people to follow the Law. However, unlike Judaism, Christianity does not promote the discussion of ideas. Concerns about false teaching (e.g. Matthew 7:15), not judging others (e.g. Matthew 7:1-5) and being humble (e.g. Luke 14:11) suppress debate. Therefore, despite the benefits of spreading a message of loving your neighbour as yourself to many people, I am uncertain whether there has been any overall benefit relative to what Judaism could have become in the absence of persecution. Thus, I am suggesting that spiritual interactions may have acted to restrict people's interpretation of the concept of loving your neighbour as yourself, in addition to suppressing debate about religious issues. In particular, the personality of God is restricted to a God of love, with an explicit ban on saying anything against the Spirit of God (Mark 3:29). There has been much debate during the development of Christianity revolving around the competing, and sometimes contradictory, doctrines (particularly the Hebrew Bible, gospels and letters from the apostles). This type of debate led to the Creeds and the doctrine of the Trinity. However, more ambitious debating has served to cause tension in the Church. For example, a division arose in the early Church between eastern Greek speaking and western Latin speaking Christians due to an eastern desire to relate Christianity with the outlook of Greek philosophy (e.g. the works of Justin Martyr). In modern times, there is less restriction on debate because liberal Christians interpret the Christian doctrine to be outdated in its views about issues such as women and homosexuality. There are now over 30,000 different Christian denominations and cults, each of whom have slightly different interpretations or traditions associated with them. It is possible that the inherent restrictions on debate within Christian theology may have contributed to physical violence between different Christian groups, such as Catholics and Protestants. The teachings of Jesus have a positive focus on interpersonal needs. Outcast groups such as the sick, imprisoned, poor and hungry are identified as a primary focus for people to provide assistance. However, I have several criticisms of the teachings of Jesus. In particular, many of his teachings demand absolute selflessness. Examples include giving up all you have for the poor (e.g. Luke 12:22-34), forgetting self and following Jesus (Luke 9:23), being prepared to die in the name of Jesus (Matthew 16:25), turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39-44), being a slave to others (Mark 10:44) and unconditional forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-22 and Luke 17:4). Absolute selflessness restricts freedom, can cause self-inflicted suffering, and can be described as loving your neighbour more than yourself. As a result of these teachings, people seek an interpretation that permits selfishness, and the teachings of Paul fulfill this need. In particular, the concept of grace is used to counteract the teachings that demand absolute selflessness. Pauline theology is discussed later in this chapter. Jesus also gives many instructions that are impractical, such as a ban on the emotion of anger (Matthew 5:22) and sexual attraction between unmarried people (Matthew 5:28), neither of which are under conscious control. He advocates self-inflicted punishments for those who transgress these impractical teachings, such as plucking out one's eye if one should see someone that one finds attractive (Matthew 5:29) and cutting off one's hands or feet if, for any reason, they should damage one's faith (Matthew 18:8-9). He advocates perfection (Matthew 5:48), by which he means that people should sell all they have, give the money to the poor and follow him (Matthew 19:21). He claims that people need not worry about the concerns of everyday life if they choose to do this (Matthew 6:24-34 and Luke 12:22-31). In addition, Jesus does not permit divorce, except in the case of female adultery (e.g. Matthew 5:32) and his teachings about sexuality are very restrictive to individual freedom. He also talks in parables, and states that his reason for doing so is to
43

ensure that people will fail to understand his teachings rather than to make them more memorable (e.g. Matthew 13:13). Indeed, many of his parables are inexplicable (e.g. Matthew 13:33). He shows little concern for practical family concerns (Matthew 10:34-39), including bereavement (Matthew 8:22), although he still advocates the Jewish law about respecting parents (e.g. Mark 10:19). Jesus repeatedly refers to the threat of hell directly (e.g. Matthew 5:30), in parable form (e.g. Matthew 3:12) and by implying that only some people will be acceptable to God (e.g. Luke 20:35). Hell is often threatened as a punishment for not following his teachings (e.g. Matthew 25:41-46), and for those who lack sufficient faith and belief (e.g. Mark 9:47). The importance of faith in God is a repeating theme. Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1: "To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see." Insisting upon faith is a restriction on people's freedom of thought. There are other restrictions on the freedom of thought, such as Luke 6:45, "A good person brings good out of the treasure of good things in his heart; a bad person brings bad out of his treasure of bad things. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of." The ban on anger and sexual attraction are also restrictions on freedom of thought. In my opinion, restricting freedom of thought also restricts the freedom of ideas and debate. Jesus places great emphasis on worshipping God (e.g. Matthew 22:37). This is his first commandment, and takes precedence over his humanitarian message (e.g. Matthew 22:39). However, worshipping God consumes both time and resources, meaning that there is less available for oneself (i.e. one's own leisure time) or for others. The only way that loving the Lord your God could be considered as being compatible with loving your neighbour as yourself would be if people genuinely want to pray, sing hymns and attend church services. Jesus warned people to expect persecution (Matthew 5:11), made a negative comment about pagans (Matthew 18:17), made inflammatory comments about Jewish teachers (e.g. Matthew 23:1-36), showed prejudice towards non-Jews on one occasion (Matthew 15:2128) and appeared to have contradictory views about the importance of Jewish Law (compare Matthew 5:17-19 with Matthew 15:1-9). While he did teach a humanitarian message, he viewed the worship of God to be more important. This is particularly evident in the gospel of John, where faith and belief is emphasized as being the most important message, while humanitarian concerns are less strongly emphasized. In addition, despite being critical of Jewish traditions, he encourages several rituals including baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 3:13), prayer (e.g. Matthew 6:9-13), fasting (Matthew 6:1618) and established Holy Communion (Mark 14:22-25). The theology is made deliberately confusing with parables, and the emphasis on miracles and prophecy makes the gospels seem highly questionable to many people, discouraging them from loving their neighbour as themselves. Pauline Theology Paul was a Jewish convert to Christianity. He is first presented in the book of Acts as a man who persecuted Christians (Acts 8:1). Later, he is reported to have had a spiritual experience that converted him to Christianity (Acts 9:5). He also claims that these spiritual interactions taught him the gospel message (Galatians 1:12). Paul joined the disciples of Jesus and assisted them in their preaching. He travelled to many places, established churches and wrote many letters. These letters were subsequently incorporated into the Bible.
44

Unlike Jesus, Paul does not advocate absolute selflessness. Paul focuses on Christian poverty rather than general poverty, and uses the concept of giving as a means of consolidating the unity of the Church (e.g. Romans 15:26). Paul does mention the concept of loving your neighbour as yourself (Romans 13:8-9), but focuses on love as a passive emotion rather than a selfless behaviour (e.g. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13). Throughout his letters, his emphasis is on avoiding immorality, saying prayers, giving thanks, the importance of faith, obedience, the significance of the death of Jesus, the grace of God and establishing the Church. He also attempts to resolve his desire to win Jewish converts with his views that Jewish Law had become superseded by the need for faith in Jesus. For example in Romans chapters 2 and 3, he sensitively discusses the issue circumcision, while in modern translations of Philippians 3:2, he refers to those who insist upon circumcision as being "dogs". He is judgmental (e.g. Romans 1:18-32), yet condemns those who judge others (Romans 2:1). He focuses on the unity of the Church (e.g. Ephesians 4:3-5), and encourages the exclusion of those who teach differently to himself (e.g. 1 Timothy 1:3-11) and those who do not follow his teachings (e.g. 1 Corinthians 5:113). Paul's teachings are centered around God. While he does not mention the first commandment of Jesus (love the Lord your God), he puts primary emphasis on God, relatively little emphasis on the poor, and does not mention outcast groups. He suggests that people should become a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1). However, unlike Jesus, his concept of a living sacrifice does not involve giving up everything you have to the poor. Paul emphasizes the need to work in order to support oneself (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12) and the poor (Ephesians 4:28), and insists that anyone in a Christian group who refuses to work should not be given food (2 Thessalonian 3:10). Paul's style of preaching appears to be intimidating, and he suggests that people should be rebuked publicly if they sin (1 Timothy 5:20). Galatians 2:11-12 describes him rebuking the disciple Peter because of a dispute over circumcision. Throughout his letters, Paul repeatedly warns against false teaching (e.g. 2 Corinthians 11:4-15). False teaching could be defined as anything that contradicts with Paul's own understanding of Christianity. As discussed above, this suppresses debate about religious issues. Paul also emphasizes the need for obedience, which restricts freedom. He stresses the need for obedience to God (e.g. Philippians 2:13), obedience to authorities (e.g. Romans 13:5), obedience to parents (e.g. Colossians 3:20), obedience to husbands (e.g. Ephesians 5:22) and obedience to slave masters (e.g. Colossians 3:22). In one case, Paul instructs a runaway slave to go back to his master (Philemon 1:16). Paul idealises the suffering of Jesus (Romans 8:17). He also emphasizes his own suffering (e.g. Ephesians 3:13) and claims that it is a privilege to suffer for Jesus (Philippians 1:29), which is in agreement with the gospels (Matthew 5:11). Paul suggests that people should not complain, be thankful and find joy in their sacrifice and suffering (Philippians 2:14-18). The letter to the Hebrews is not thought to be a Pauline letter, but it also emphasizes the concept of perfection of Jesus being brought about through his suffering (Hebrews 2:10). Thus, Pauline theology and the gospels may be responsible for increasing the suffering of some Christians by implying that it is necessary or even ideal. Paul emphasizes the gift of God's grace for those who have faith in Jesus (e.g. Romans 3:21-26). He defines grace to mean that forgiveness of sins is possible for those who have faith in Jesus, because his sacrificial death is sufficient to remove their sins. This may seem like a message of freedom, but Paul insists that the grace of God is not an excuse to sin (Romans 6:1-14). However, the concept of grace is probably one of the main reasons
45

why Pauline theology is popular, because this concept in isolation gives freedom. Personally, I do not accept that Jesus died to 'take away my sins'. If I cause suffering, then I have affected the person who suffers rather than Jesus. I do not believe that Jesus has the moral authority to forgive me on behalf of the person who suffered. In light of this observation, the concept of grace may discourage people from loving their neighbour as themselves, because it interferes with the concept of personal responsibility for one's actions. This issue was first raised by Pelagius in the late fourth century. However, Augustine supported Pauline theology and argued that people are not able to achieve perfection due to an inherent bias towards sin within humanity, and require grace to gain salvation. In 418AD, the Council of Carthage (a meeting of various Church leaders) decided to support Augustine and rejected the views of Pelagius. However, both arguments are supported by the gospels; hell is threatened both for those who lack faith and for those who do not follow the teachings of Jesus as described earlier. The effect of the interactions between Christian concepts are very complex. Grace implies that one has freedom of choice, because God is said to forgive any wrongdoings for those who believe in Jesus. If people have freedom of choice, they tend to act in their own best interests (i.e. selfishly), unless there is a good reason for them to do otherwise. The teachings of Jesus place emphasis on a humanitarian message and selfless behaviour. However, Pauline theology places emphasis on worshipping God and avoiding sexual immorality, and places much less emphasis on humanitarian concerns. Since many of the teachings of Jesus demand absolute selflessness, I believe that there is a tendency for Christians to follow Pauline theology in preference to some of the teachings of Jesus. For example, the grace of God means that people do not have to give up everything they have in the way that Jesus demands. Pauline theology places great emphasis on the concept of grace, but places much less emphasis on the humanitarian message of the synoptic gospels. I believe that this complex interaction of concepts may have reduced the humanitarian impact that the teachings of Jesus could have had in the absence of Pauline theology. Furthermore, Paul's first letter to Timothy and the letter to Titus contain instructions for the creation of a system of organised worship. Paul advocates payment for priests on four occasions (1 Corinthians 9:11, 1 Corinthians 9:17, 2 Corinthians 11:8 and 1 Timothy 5:1718). In my opinion, directing resources into church worship means that there is less time and resources for oneself and less resources to help other people. Thus, I argue that the instructions for church worship are in opposition to the concept of loving your neighbour as yourself unless people genuinely want to spend their free time and resources supporting a church. A true form of the grace of God would permit everyone to go to heaven regardless of their actions or beliefs. This form of grace would give freedom of choice, to behave selfishly or selflessly. Paul argues that our free will is inhibited by a tendency towards sinfulness, meaning that we require grace to overcome this shortcoming (Romans 7:14-25). By contrast, I believe that the ability to act selfishly (i.e. doing whatever we want) is the very essence of freedom. However, when everybody acts selfishly, people lose their freedom at the expense of others. Therefore, I argue that the freedom of all individuals is maximised in an environment in which people follow the Golden Rule. In the letters of the other apostles, emphasis is placed on the importance of prayer (e.g. James 5:13), salvation through faith in Jesus (e.g. 1 Peter 1:9), concerns about immorality (e.g. 2 Peter 2:14), false teachers (e.g. 2 Peter 2:1) and patiently waiting for the end to
46

come. Both Paul and the other apostles believed that the end would be very soon (e.g. 1 Corinthians 7:29 and 1 John 2:18), a belief that stems from the prophecies of Jesus (e.g. Matthew chapter 24). The belief that divine intervention will one day solve the world's problems may discourage people from loving their neighbour as themselves. Similarly, the idea that 'the poor will always be with us' (e.g. Matthew 26:11) is a defeatist attitude that does not promote a need for change. In conclusion, I see a lot of virtue in the teachings of Jesus, and many are applications of loving your neighbour as yourself (for example, helping the poor, disadvantaged and outcasts to society). However, many of his teachings demand absolute selflessness, which is not appropriate for most situations because it would result in a large amount of selfinflicted suffering (for example, being a slave to others, unconditional forgiveness, giving up everything for the poor and 'turning the other cheek'). By contrast, the theology of Paul does not demand absolute selflessness. However, Pauline theology is more focused on the worship of God and places much less emphasis on a humanitarian message.

47

Islam
Islam was founded by Muhammad in 610AD and his revelations are recorded in the Koran. Muslims follow a set of traditions known as the Five Pillars, which are outlined by the Koran. Many Muslims also memorise the Koran, and Muslim males are circumcised at an early age. The Five Pillars of Islam are:

Recitation of a very short creed several times a day, "There is no other god but God and Muhammad is the Prophet of God." Praying five times a day (the Koran demands regular prayer, e.g. 2:3). Annual alms giving (e.g. 2:43). Fasting during the month of Ramadan (2:185). Making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime (2:196).

• • • •

In my opinion, it is useful to distinguish between four different types of Muslim:

Liberal Muslims are those who have adopted more Western values (for example, they may accept homosexuality). Moderate Muslims living in Western societies are peaceful. They usually follow the Five Pillars of Islam and memorise the text of the Koran in Arabic. They subscribe to Islamic beliefs including the idea of a future worldwide Islamic State. Muslims from Western countries may experience racism from Muslims in Saudi Arabia when going on the pilgrimage to Mecca. Liberal and moderate Muslims may be opposed to Jihad even if Western countries are involved in military conflicts with Islamic countries (e.g. Iraq). This is because the Western society is not attempting to prevent anyone from following Islam. Muslims in Islamic countries are often subject to Sharia Law which is enforced by the State. There are Moral Police who ensure that Islamic Laws are complied with and have the power to punish people. For example, there are many reports of abusive behaviour towards Muslim women who fail to comply with the Islamic dress code. The existing Islamic countries suggest the nature of a future worldwide Islamic state that is desired by moderate Muslims. Therefore, this chapter focuses on the nature of the lifestyle outlined by the Koran in the context of Sharia Law to determine to what extent Islam fulfills ones own needs, the needs of others and the level of freedom that it engenders among its followers. The Koran contains verses that advocate both peace and war. A minority of Muslims choose to follow the verses that advocate war rather than those that advocate peace. There are many examples of aggressive acts carried out by Jihadi Muslims.

Islam is the second most popular religion in the world, with about one billion followers. There are several possible reasons why the religion is so popular:

48

The demands of the religion are straightforward, repeated several times and made very clear to Muslims. There is specific guidance for things like divorce (2:230) and dividing property between the relatives of people who have died (4:7-12). It defines a very specific lifestyle for its followers, and it is easy to determine whether or not one is doing what the Koran says. This contrasts with other religions, which are often more difficult to understand and have vague, complex or unclear demands. The scripture is relatively short and repetitive. There is much less information in the Koran than the scriptures for religions such as Hinduism or Christianity. The Koran acts as a complete revelation, and does not demand that people should get additional information elsewhere. However, additional information is available in the Hadiths (sayings of Muhammad from oral tradition), and most Muslims use these in addition to the Koran. One good Hadith is, "There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm," but there are also harmful Hadiths such as, "The hand should be cut off for stealing," and, "If a Muslim discards his religion, kill him." The Koran is said to be written in a beautiful linguistic form in the original Arabic, which may appeal to many people. Muslims are usually required to read the Koran in the original Arabic. Originally, Islam would have been appealing to women over native Arab Pagan beliefs. According to the footnote in the Koran translated by Abdel Haleem (used throughout this discussion) for verse 58:2, Pagan wives could be divorced with a word and would not be allowed to remarry. The Koran gives greater marriage rights to women (2:229), while still oppressing them in verses such as 2:228 (which says that husbands have a degree of right over their wives), 4:11 (which gives women reduced inheritance rights), 4:34 (which encourages men to hit their wives) and 24:31 (the origin of the Islamic head-scarf).

Muslims believe that Allah has no gender, but I am unable to perceive any femininity in Allah from the Koran. The religion appears to be particularly appealing to men; it appears to appeal to hierarchical masculinity, with Allah as the dominant male.

The Koran permits divorce (e.g. 4:20), remarriage (e.g. 33:37) and polygamy (e.g. 4:3), which appeals to male sexuality. It is against adultery (e.g. 17:32) and immorality (e.g. 4:15 and 4:24); this also appeals to men because it conveys ownership of women. The head scarf is an outward sign of a woman who is owned by a man (no other man is even allowed to look at her). In addition, the Koran specifies that women must promise not to lie about who fathers their children (60:12). Protectiveness and the desire to own women stems from the genetic need for a man to father his own children and pass on his genes to the next generation. Women suspected of adultery can be challenged to ask Allah to abandon them if they lie about it (24:7). For women who have committed adultery and really believe in Islam, this means a choice between being hit 100 times (24:2) or facing the agonizing torment threatened by the Koran (e.g. 3:21 and 4:14). The Koran may appeal to male aggression and violent emotion because there are many verses that demand fighting.

49

Male hierarchies can be seen in many species. Nature is frequently organised so that males fight each other for mating rights with a large group of females; monogamy is relatively unusual. However, even in monogamous human cultures, male hierarchies are still present. They may be present in general social settings, the family and the workplace. Male social groups have benefits for both the dominant male and the less dominant males. For example, men may submit to other men to gain promotions in the workplace. A frequently encountered alternative to a dominance hierarchy is where all males antagonise each other in an attempt to appear to be dominant to any available women. A dominance hierarchy appears to exist between Allah (the dominant male) and his male followers. Allah declares himself to be the best protector (e.g. 22:78), and his apparent masculinity may also appeal to women. Allah proclaims himself to be an all-powerful benevolent god who gives his followers favours such as life, livestock and prosperity (e.g. 16:1-11). However, disobedience to Allah is discouraged by the threat of an eternal and painful torment (e.g. 22:57). Allah gives contradictory food restrictions to Jews and Muslims (6:146 and 16:118), arbitrarily guides just a small section of the population (e.g. 13:31), creates disasters when he wants to test or punish people (e.g. 2:155), and claims to be able to wipe out the whole of creation if he feels like it, and replace it with a completely different one (14:19). Allah constantly complains that humans are very ungrateful for his benevolence (e.g. 22:66). There are many features of Allah that portray him as a dominant male:

His general attitude is that of a powerful and irresponsible male dictator. For example, he claims to be all-knowing and all-seeing (e.g. 8:53), claims that he carefully monitors people to see if they follow his laws (e.g. 3:153) and says that he keeps a comprehensive record of their activities (e.g. 50:4). Allah claims to have an army of angels to monitor people's activities, and they will be the ones to accuse people on the Last Day (50:21). Allah is portrayed as a very generous god (e.g. 16:1-11), who is very merciful and forgiving (e.g. 1:1), but will not tolerate Muslims worshipping other gods (e.g. 4:116). He constantly complains about ingratitude (e.g. 2:243) and is willing to punish people (e.g. 10:50). Allah's generosity, followed by people's ingratitude and their subsequent punishment, is a theme that is repeated many times in many different ways (e.g. 17:69 and 34:16-17). However, both men and women may associate with this style of thinking, because this is how powerful dictatorial men behave. The Koran states that there is a rank in heaven (e.g. 6:132), and that there are seven heavens in total (e.g. 17:44). Allah says that he can give you power (e.g. 35:10) and prosperity (e.g. 5:100) or an eternity of painful and humiliating torment (e.g. 22:57). He claims to have absolute power over your life (e.g. 16:70), and attempts to become your absolute dictator. He says that there will be no one there to help people if they are thrown into hell (e.g. 3:192 and 29:25), which encourages people to take all the help they can get from the Koran. He says that the unguided know nothing (2:170), whereas those who are guided by the Koran are claimed to be able to distinguish between right and wrong (2:185). Muslims are required to fight in support of Islamic ideals if necessary (e.g. 4:101, 8:39, 9:14, 9:29 and 47:4). This obligation is sometimes referred to as the 'Sixth Pillar of Islam'. The Koran implies that Jihad is a defensive or retaliatory war against a group of people who persecute Muslims; all Muslims are called to fight all
50

members of that group if Jihad is justifiable from the Koran. The incentive for doing so is the promise of eternal happiness (e.g. 3:169). According to the Koran, nonMuslims who do not persecute Muslims should be treated fairly and justly (60:8). By contrast, some of the Hadiths suggest that Jihad is an offensive war to conquer and convert non-Muslims (e.g. Sahih Bukhari: 1:2:24, 4:52:65 and 4:52:196; Sahih Muslim 1:31 and 20:4684; Sunan Abu Dawud 8:2635). The Hadiths were finalised during times of Islamic conquests. The Koran claims that the time of a person's death is predestined, such that it is unaffected by abstaining from fighting (3:154, 3:168, 6:2, 7:34 and 33:16). The life expectancy of Muslims in countries such as Pakistan are around the world average, despite the persecution of Muslims in many parts of the world and throughout history. If the idea of a predestined death for Muslims were correct, then their life expectancy would be expected to be much shorter. The Koran encourages people to threaten those who refuse to participate in Jihad with hell (9:81). Abrogation is where a verse in the Koran can invalidate another one that has a contradictory meaning. I have not taken abrogation into account because different Islamic scholars have different interpretations. Most think that peaceful verses abrogate violent ones, but some think that the opposite is true. For example, some people believe that verse 9:5 invalidates peaceful verses such as 2:256 ("there is no compulsion in religion"). 9:5: "When the [four] forbidden months are over, wherever you encounter the idolaters, kill them, seize them, besiege them, wait for them at every lookout post; but if they turn [to God], maintain the prayer and pay the prescribed alms, let them go on their way, for God is most forgiving and merciful." In the context of the scripture, this verse refers to an instruction to kill a specific group of people in retaliation. It also advocates forced conversions, which have occurred during the history of Islam. Abrogation stems from Muhammad himself, because he would change his revelations over time. Muslims believe that he could have been told to do this by a spiritual entity, or that he could have forgotten parts of the text. Allah claims that he causes some revelations to be forgotten in 2:106, and Islamic scholars also use 16:101 to justify abrogation. Some Islamic scholars do not believe that any verses have been abrogated, and this is how I read the Koran. Despite provoking some of its followers to fight non-Muslims, the religion seems to be much more damaging to Muslims than to anyone else. Indeed, throughout history, more Muslims have been killed by other Muslims than by non-Muslims, mostly due to the differences between the two major Islamic factions, Shia and Sunni. Shia Muslims believe that following the death of Muhammad, leadership should have fallen to his cousin Ali. Shia Muslims regard the bloodline of Muhammad to have been chosen by God as leaders, and are therefore regarded as saints by the Shia. By contrast, Sunni Muslims believe that religious leaders should earn the right to lead rather than obtaining it through birthright. In addition to the Shia/Sunni divide, further suffering comes from Islamic governments who have the power to inflict the physical punishments advocated by the Koran. However, I believe that Islamic suffering is caused primarily by the restrictive and time consuming rules outlined by the Koran.
51

Allah's army of thousands of angels are said to be available to help people to fight his cause (3:125 and 8:9), and Allah claims to help Muslims on many battlefields (9:25). However, later in the Koran, people start complaining to Muhammad that they do not appear (15:7). Allah also claims to be a protector of his followers (e.g. 2:286). However, this does not explain why non-Islamic Western nations control most of the world's wealth. The relative poverty of Islamic countries may be partially due to Islamic theology. The Koran advocates archaic punishments, a lack of freedom, a ban on lending money to receive interest (2:276), and directing people's time into prayer and pilgrimage, reducing their ability to create wealth. This suggests that verses such as "wrongdoers [non-Muslims] never prosper" (12:23) are highly questionable.

Allah creates arbitrary rules to distinguish between people who are destined for heaven and those who are destined for hell. This accentuates his all-powerful nature, and his freedom to do what he wants. He gives conflicting dietary restrictions to Jews and Muslims. In 16:118, the rules for the Jews are claimed to be inferior, which implies that the Koran is a source of more accurate information than the Hebrew Bible. In addition to creating arbitrary rules, Allah also views different sins with different degrees of disdain. Adultery and theft have severe punishments (24:2 and 5:38), persecution of Islam is stated to be worse than killing (2:217), idolatry and rejecting Muhammad cannot be forgiven (e.g. 4:116 and 9:80), but other sins such as food restrictions are not policed as strictly (5:3); some sins are accompanied by the phrase 'God is most merciful and forgiving' (e.g. killing: 28:15-16), which implies that people can sin in certain ways and expect to be forgiven. There are many people who Allah claims not to love. Allah does not love people who overstep the limits (2:190), people who ignore Muhammad (3:32), evildoers (3:57), the treacherous (4:107), those who sin (4:107), the arrogant (16:23), the unfaithful (22:38), the ungrateful (22:38), people who spread corruption (28:77) or the boastful (31:18). He does not guide everyone (e.g. 13:31), and he gives conflicting laws to Jews and Muslims. Despite the allegedly poor laws given to Jews, the Koran says that they wronged themselves (16:118). Wronging yourself is another phrase repeated throughout the Koran (e.g. 30:9), and creates the impression that the refusal to follow Islam is the equivalent of self-injury.

In my opinion, the dictatorial, dominant, all-powerful and threatening Allah creates a 'psychological prison' for his followers. This psychological prison is created using repetitiveness. All of the main themes in the Koran are repeated several times, including Bible stories about punishment, threats of a painful torment (e.g. 9:79), the idea that Allah is an all-knowing, all-powerful entity (e.g. 9:78) and that Satan is their sworn enemy (e.g. 2:168). The repetitive nature of the book implants the Koran's threatening message deep within the psyche of the reader. Muslims are warned again and again about the threat of an eternal and painful torment. They are told again and again to pray, fast and give alms. This effect is made even more potent by the tradition of memorising the text; children are taught to do this in Islamic schools. Memorising text requires that it be recited many times, so an average Muslim will be warned thousands of times of a painful and humiliating torment for not following Islam. The repetitive nature of the religion is also expressed by the Five Pillars. The Koran advocates that people should sleep little and pray a lot (51:1752

18), and admires some followers for praying for up to two thirds of the night (73:20). Obligatory prayers are repetitive, and have a standard format for people to recite. Muslims can also offer voluntary prayers. Muslims are also required to recite a short creed several times a day, to reaffirm their belief that Muhammad is the prophet of Allah. The Five Pillars become habitual because they are performed so often, and habits are very difficult to break. The result is that people spend a huge amount of time performing rituals and memorising the text, and are kept as 'prisoners' by the Koran. The threat of a painful torment is not hypothetical, because the Koran creates violent laws with which to subjugate the Islamic people. For example, it declares that the punishment for theft is to cut off a person's hands (5:38). The punishment for persecution is cutting off a hand and foot, crucifixion or banishment from the land (5:33). Persecution does not need to be a physical act – it can include blasphemy, such as saying something against Muhammad. At the time of writing, a British teacher in Sudan was arrested for blasphemy and given a prison sentence because she allowed a seven-year old pupil to name a teddy bear 'Muhammad'. The punishment for adultery is to be hit 100 times (24:2). Other violent laws include the eye for an eye punishment from the Hebrew Bible (5:45), vengeance killing (17:33) and it encourages men to hit their wives (4:34). It promotes cruelty to animals by requiring that they be bled to death (6:145). The Koran implicitly accepts slavery (e.g. 2:221). The Koran repeatedly justifies itself. It uses Bible stories to show that other messengers of God have been persecuted and doubted just like Muhammad. It also claims that Muhammad was predicted by earlier scriptures, and quotes Jewish acceptance of him as their promised Messiah (26:196-197). Although not mentioned in the gospels, the Koran quotes Jesus as saying that Muhammad would come after him (61:6) and implies that Jesus would not disdain a messenger of God such as Muhammad (4:172). The Koran implies that believing its message is using reasoning (10:100), and that people have been given clear proof of its validity (3:86). It challenges followers of other religions to provide proof for their religions (18:15) and insists that the Koran could only have been devised by God (10:37). There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the Koran has a supernatural origin, but this does not mean that it has come from a beneficial spiritual entity. People were reported to have heard a humming noise around Muhammad when he was receiving his revelations, and he would sweat even on cold days. Critics of Muhammad suggested that he was possessed (44:14). Some people have suggested that he could have been epileptic, but Muslims reject this argument because his condition developed late in life and it was always accompanied by a spiritual revelation. Muslims believe that the Koran came directly from an entity claiming to be the Angel Gabriel. He commanded Muhammad to recite three times, and squeezed him hard when Muhammad said that he could not read. The angel then told him to memorise the text. This is the origin of modern day memorising of the Koran. If the Koran does have spiritual origins, it clearly supports the theory of the nature of God proposed in this book. The bulk of the Koran is as follows:
• • •

The nature of Allah, as an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful god. The threat of a painful torment contrasted with the promise of heaven. The theme of punishment for disobedience and idolatry.
53

• •

Muhammad as a new messenger in a long line of messengers (e.g. 6:84 and 33:7). The persecution of Muhammad being similar to the persecution of people like Jesus (2:87). The Five Pillars. Fighting and killing persecutors. Bible stories and related Arabic stories. The Arabic stories (e.g. 7:73-79 and 7:8593) are used to imply that Allah has been active before Muhammad in Arabic communities in addition to Jewish communities. This assertion is stated in 3:137.

• • •

Bible stories are referred to and retold on a number of occasions, which has a number of implications:

Abraham is held up as a man with perfect faith (e.g. 2:130, 3:95, 4:125, 6:161 and 19:41), hence Muslim males are circumcised. In Africa, Islamic women are sometimes circumcised by force. The Koran gains credibility from the Bible stories. However, there is a recurring theme that Allah has moved away from the Jews because of their idolatry and the rejection of messengers that were sent to them (e.g. 5:70-71 and 5:78-81) and makes negative statements about Jews and Christians (e.g. 5:51, which calls them wrongdoers). The Bible stories are used to re-iterate Koranic themes, and several stories with similar meanings are often found together (e.g. chapters 26, 37 and 51 of the Koran):

The story of the flood of Noah is used to imply that idolatrous people were killed (e.g. 7:64), and supports the Koran's assertion that Allah is willing to punish idolatry. The story of the Golden Calf is used to emphasize the idolatry of the Jews. Allah implies that the Jews broke their covenant (e.g. 4:153-161) and has turned to the Arabs for more faithful worshippers. The story of the plagues against Egypt is used to create the impression that Allah has the power to punish people who do not believe messengers like Moses and Muhammad (e.g. 7:127-136 and 8:52). Sodom is claimed to have been destroyed because of homosexual immorality (e.g. 7:80-81). Lot is emphasized as a messenger for the people of Sodom, but he is not portrayed as a messenger in the Bible. Elijah (37:123), Jonah (37:139) and Joseph (40:34) are also used as examples of messengers like Muhammad.

54

The story of Job and the restoration of his wealth is used as a sign of Allah's mercy (38:43). Stories about the persecution of Jesus (e.g. 2:87) and the disbelief of Moses (e.g. 40:24 and 51:39) are told to discourage people from doing the same to Muhammad. The story of creation is used to emphasize the power of Allah, the origin of Satan and the results of Adam's sin that came from listening to Satan (e.g. 7:22).

Biblical characters are quoted to have made Koranic statements. This serves to repeat the Koran's messages in addition to gaining credibility by implying that the theology has existed for hundreds of years. For example, Moses is quoted to have warned people not to lie about God (20:61), which is emphasized by the Koran as being one of the worst sins (e.g. 11:18). In 12:5, Jacob is quoted to have said, "Satan is man's sworn enemy," which is stated elsewhere in the Koran (e.g. 2:168). In 12:38, Joseph is quoted to have mentioned man's ingratitude to God, which is a recurring Koranic theme (e.g. 39:7). In 12:83, Jacob is quoted to have said that God is all-knowing and all-wise (also found in 4:24). Jesus is quoted to have supported Koranic alms-giving (19:31). Aspects of the Bible stories are told in greater specific detail in the Koran, perhaps to give the impression that the Koran is more accurate than the Hebrew Bible. It includes many adjectives to describe personality traits such as "walking shyly" (28:25) and "a strong, trustworthy man" (28:26), which are not found in the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew Bible only describes what people do, and does not give details about their personalities. There are some minor differences between the Koran's version of events and those in the Bible, and the Koran sometimes tells new stories about Biblical characters (e.g. 18:71). One unlikely story is that of Joseph, who the Koran claims to have been proven innocent, but was then thrown into prison (12:35). Other questionable ideas in the Koran include the army of angels that are claimed to be available to fight for Muslims, the idea that a Muslim's time of death will not be affected whether they fight or not, and the idea that non-Muslims never prosper. Despite referring to Bible stories, the Koran is not included in a book with the Hebrew Bible like the gospels are. This is perhaps because the Koran implies that the Jewish Law is inaccurate in comparison with itself. The gospels may not be included because the Koran states that Jesus was specifically for the Jews (e.g. 43:59).

Throughout the Koran, there are positive statements that encourage people to do good. The positive statements include:
• •

The need to give alms and promoting charitable giving (e.g. 9:60). Defending the rights of orphans and the poor (e.g. 2:83).

However, in some verses, there are alternatives to doing these things. Verses 2:83, 2:177, 2:215, 4:8, 4:36, 8:41 and 59:7 tell people to help their close relatives, orphans and the
55

poor. In general, people would choose to help close relatives in preference to helping others who may be in greater need. In addition, fasting is stated to be an alternative to feeding the hungry. For example, 2:184 says that fasting is better than feeding a needy person and 5:89 states that fasting for three days is an alternative to feeding ten people or freeing a slave. 58:4 states that two months of fasting is the equivalent of feeding sixty people. Feeding the hungry is also specified to be for the redemption for the sins of breaking an oath (5:89) and a pagan divorce (58:4); therefore, feeding the hungry is a public declaration that one has sinned, and it is likely that most people would choose to fast in private in preference to doing this. A pagan divorce became a thing of the past, but the association between the redemption for sin and feeding the hungry has remained in the Koran. This probably discourages some people from feeding the hungry. The Koran constantly emphasizes the need for forgiveness from Allah, when forgiveness should only be relevant for interactions between people. In addition, the Koran implies that the only person that you can wrong is yourself. A humanistic definition of the nature of sin is omitted (i.e. an action or inaction that causes suffering); instead there is a set of arbitrary rules, with penalties (such as fasting) for breaking them. Jesus is mentioned many times in the Koran. The Koran portrays Jesus as a prophet, but it denies things that are of particular importance to Christians. For example, it says that Allah has no children (e.g. 6:100, 10:68, 19:88, 21:26, 72:3 and 112:3), that there is no Trinity (4:171 and 5:73), that there is nothing joined to or partners with God (e.g. 16:3, 30:33, 35:40 and 39:65), that Jesus was not the Messiah (e.g. 5:17 and 5:72), that he was only mortal (5:75) and that he did not die on the cross (4:157). The Koran claims that Jesus made a bird out of clay, breathed on it and turned it into a real bird (e.g. 5:110). It also claims that he spoke just after being born (19:30). Miracles like these would have been very memorable, but have not been recorded in any of the gospels. The Koran claims that the Jews thought that Ezra was the son of God (9:30), although there is no evidence for this in the book of Ezra; the Koran compares the Jews and Ezra with Christians and Jesus. It does not deny that Jesus was created without a father, but it does deny that God was his father; verse 19:35 claims that God says 'Be' and it is, and no family relationship is present. Lying about God is portrayed to be the worst thing that someone can do (11:18); since churchgoers claim that they worship the Son of God, then Muslims probably view them to be lying about God and are therefore deemed to be Satanic. Similarly, 59:16 claims that it is Satan who tells Muslims not to believe in Allah. The Hadiths (oral tradition) also talk about Jesus; Muslims believe that the second coming of Jesus will involve him destroying the cross and uniting all people as Muslims. The Koran appears to be particularly offensive to Catholics (Catholicism was the official Christian religion when the Koran was written). It makes an implied criticism of the worship of Mary as an equal to God (Mary is given special importance in Catholicism), and quotes Jesus denying that he is the Son of God (5:116). In my opinion, it is not important that Muslims do not believe that Jesus was the Son of God. However, his commandment, "love your neighbour as yourself," is an all-encompassing statement that is directed towards reducing suffering. The Koran does not try to deny the teachings of Jesus; it omits them completely and sidelines him as an example sent by God specifically for the Jews (e.g. 43:59) to verify the Hebrew Bible (e.g. 5:46). The activities of Jesus are therefore claimed to be identical to the purpose of the Koran. The Koran is directed against the traditional view of Jesus through its teachings against any form of idolatry, especially where anything is associated with God as an equal. It also warns that Satan threatens Muslims with the prospect of poverty (2:268). One does
56

become poor if we choose to give up all we have in the way that Jesus advocates; the Koran is opposed to this teaching. The Koran incorrectly states that Christians offer to bear the sins of others in 29:12. There are many associations made between Satan and non-Muslims. For example, 43:62 says that Satan is the sworn enemy of Muslims in the middle of a passage that talks about Jesus. However, Satan is quoted as saying that he would not test followers of Islam (15:40-42). This reinforces the idea that anything non-Islamic is Satanic (16:63). The Koran suggests that Christians invented the monastic life (57:27), which has led to some Muslims suggesting that Paul is the most likely source of the Christian 'Antichrist'. However, Christians have discounted Islamic criticism of Pauline theology, because the Koran is offensive to their beliefs. In conclusion, the Koran appears to be similar to the Hebrew Bible, but with much greater emphasis on prayer and fasting. In my opinion, the Koran is directly responsible for a high level of suffering and oppression among its followers due to the time-consuming prayers, restrictive rules and harsh punishments for breaking Islamic laws.

57

Buddhism
Buddhists follow the teachings of the Buddha, who believed that the quest for enlightenment and freedom from re-birth is the purpose of life. Buddhism shares many concepts with Hinduism. One difference is a much greater emphasis on reincarnation. Buddhists believe that people are endlessly reincarnated until they reach a level of enlightenment that permits them to be freed from the cycles of re-birth (nirvana). Central to Buddhist teachings are the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path to enlightenment, leading to nirvana. The Four Noble Truths are: 1. All things are in a state of suffering. 2. This suffering is caused by desires and love of material possessions. 3. Escape from these desires is a prerequisite for inner peace. 4. The way to escape from these desires is by following the Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path is as follows: 1. Right understanding: understanding the Four Noble Truths. 2. Right intention: one must renounce worldly life and enter a homeless state. 3. Right speech: one must consider others and abstain from lies, slander, abuse and gossip. 4. Right conduct: one must abstain from killing, stealing, lying, committing adultery and using intoxicants. 5. Right occupation: one must never accept a means of livelihood that could be considered questionable. 6. Right endeavor: one must strive after all that is good, and avoid that which is evil. 7. Right contemplation: one must learn to control the mind in meditation so that emotion is not allowed to disturb inner peace. 8. Right concentration: it is claimed that one can reach a stage where the mind is completely subject to one's will. This allows the mind to develop to stages beyond reasoning and to nirvana. The five precepts are the Buddhist ethical code: 1. Abstain from harming living beings. 2. Abstain from taking things not freely given. 3. Abstain from sexual misconduct.

58

4. Abstain from false speech. 5. Abstain from intoxicating drinks and drugs. Additionally there are a further five precepts for those following a monastic life, although there are many more in the Vinaya (Buddhist monastical rule book): 6. Abstain from taking untimely meals. 7. Abstain from dancing, music, singing and watching grotesque mime. 8. Abstain from the use of garlands, perfumes and personal adornment. 9. Abstain from the use of high seats. 10. Abstain from accepting gold or silver. There are positive aspects to Buddhism. This religion identifies a problem with the human condition (a state of suffering) and identifies a reason for this suffering (desires and a love of material possessions). Desires can cause suffering if they are unfulfilled. However, I disagree that escaping from desires is the optimal route to reducing suffering. In my opinion, it is preferable to fulfill these desires rather than to attempt to escape from them in order to reduce suffering. However, I agree that a wealth driven culture causes suffering to oneself for several reasons:

The perceived need for status in society is restrictive to freedom and promotes high levels of stress (e.g. the 'rat race'). The perceived need to comply with the social norm is restrictive to freedom. The desire for money can be restrictive. It is usually more time-consuming to earn money than to spend it on things that are perceived to increase freedom and happiness. In addition, the more money a person has, the more other people will try to use that person. In a selfish society, people use each other rather than help each other, promoting unsatisfactory relationships.

• •

Buddhism combats this cause of suffering by creating a way of life which does not involve owning possessions or having wealth. In my opinion, Buddhist monks have reduced suffering because:

Few people are interested in making use of them, because they have little material wealth. They generally do not get married, and lack the restrictions of marriage. They may have little or nothing to worry about.

• •

The disadvantages of this way of life are:

A possible lack of entertainment and pleasure, perhaps leading to boredom.

59

• •

Freedom restricted by rules. In my opinion, Buddhism is not very enlightening (despite the claims to the contrary) because it leaves many questions unanswered. An impractical belief system. For example, ants outnumber humans by millions to one, and these life forms are unlikely ever to be reborn as humans so that they could achieve nirvana. According to Buddhism, most life forms are locked in an eternity of cycles of life and death. Another example of an impractical belief is that a statement such as 'I have toothache' is meaningless according to Buddhist theology because 'I', 'have' and 'toothache' are not counted in the ultimate facts of existence.

Most Buddhist monks are not major consumers, and their impact on other people is minimal. Their first precept, "abstain from harming living beings" is good. However, Buddhism is focused on a personal escape from suffering through enlightenment, and gives little encouragement for people to reduce suffering by helping others in a practical way. In general, Buddhists are encouraged to give to charity, but the Four Noble Truths, Noble Eightfold Path and the precepts are focused on self-centred enlightenment and a personal escape from suffering.

60

Confucianism
Confucianism defines an ideal society to be one in which everyone knows their place. Instead of punishments for wrongdoing, this doctrine advocates a culture that is ingrained into the social consciousness, such that deviating from the accepted norm results in shame, and provides a deterrent for wrongdoing. The doctrine emphasizes the need for virtue, and progression in society within the boundaries of authority. It advocates a hierarchical class system based on one's achievements, knowledge and wisdom. This type of thinking is particularly prevalent in Japan. The traditional religion of Japan is Shinto, which considers everything in nature to have a spiritual essence. It is related to Paganism and Shamanism. Japan is also influenced by Confucianism. For example, the Japanese bow to each other frequently, and the extent to which two people bow is dependent on their relative status in society. Redundancy or loss of status can lead to suicide due to the shame that it causes. Confucianism influenced the Samurai culture, the warrior caste of ancient Japan. If a Samurai warrior were dishonoured, he would cut open his stomach and kill himself. The idea of an honourable death still plays a part in modern Japanese society, and promotes suicide. Confucianism may also be to blame for a failure to help the poor in Japanese society. For example, the welfare system is poorly developed, and people are obliged to seek help from their families if they encounter financial difficulty. Receiving welfare is perceived to be shameful. Confucianism has also played a significant role in Chinese culture. China is a very old nation and has been influenced by three main theologies; Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. The Chinese culture also centers around folk religion and mythology. The main Confucian texts are Confucian Analects, The Great Learning, The Doctrine of the Mean and The Book of Mencius. The Analects are a series of sayings attributed to Confucius around 500BC. Confucianism promotes accepting your place in society, and the effect on Chinese culture may have made it easier for the dictatorial government to remain in power. Here are some verses from the Confucian Analects: Book 1, 2:2 "Filial piety and fraternal submission!-- are they not the root of all benevolent actions?" Emphasis is placed on knowing your place in society through relationships, particularly with family. The importance placed on family relations also led to the worship of ancestors. Book 1, 5-6 "The Master said, 'To rule a country of a thousand chariots, there must be reverent attention to business, and sincerity; economy in expenditure, and love for men; and the employment of the people at the proper seasons.' The Master said, 'A youth, when at home, should be filial, and, abroad, respectful to his elders. He should be earnest and truthful. He should overflow in love to all, and cultivate the friendship of the good. When he has time and opportunity, after the performance of these things, he should employ them in polite studies." Much of the text is about ruling over people, and promotes a society in which people are easier to rule over; emphasis is placed on respect and submission to those who are perceived to be social superiors.

61

Book 1, 8:3 "Have no friends not equal to yourself." Book 2, 3:1-2 "The Master said, 'If the people be led by laws, and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid the punishment, but have no sense of shame. If they be led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules of propriety, they will have the sense of shame, and moreover will become good.'" A social culture is advocated to provide a deterrent for wrongdoing. Book 4, 5:1 "The Master said, 'Riches and honours are what men desire. If it cannot be obtained in the proper way, they should not be held. Poverty and meanness are what men dislike. If it cannot be avoided in the proper way, they should not be avoided.'" This advocates social progression within the boundaries of authority. Book 5, 15 "The Master said of Tsze-ch'an that he had four of the characteristics of a superior man:-in his conduct of himself, he was humble; in serving his superiors, he was respectful; in nourishing the people, he was kind; in ordering the people, he was just.'" Book 6, 20 "Fan Ch'ih asked what constituted wisdom. The Master said, 'To give one's self earnestly to the duties due to men, and, while respecting spiritual beings, to keep aloof from them, may be called wisdom.' He asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, 'The man of virtue makes the difficulty to be overcome his first business, and success only a subsequent consideration;-- this may be called perfect virtue.'" Wisdom is defined to be doing your duties in society. Book 7, 6:1-4 "The Master said, 'Let the will be set on the path of duty. Let every attainment in what is good be firmly grasped. Let perfect virtue be accorded with. Let relaxation and enjoyment be found in the polite arts.'" Again, the importance of duty is emphasized. Book 9, 22 "The Master said, 'A youth is to be regarded with respect. How do we know that his future will not be equal to our present? If he reach the age of forty or fifty, and has not made himself heard of, then indeed he will not be worth being regarded with respect.'" This emphasizes a need to make a name for yourself in society. Many people asked Confucius what 'perfect virtue' was and what constituted a 'superior man'. Every time he gave a different answer. Book 12, 1:1-2 "Yen Yuan asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, 'To subdue one's self and return to propriety, is perfect virtue. If a man can for one day subdue himself and return to propriety, all under heaven will ascribe perfect virtue to him. Is the practice of perfect virtue from a man himself, or is it from others?' Yen Yuan said, 'I beg to ask the steps of that process.' The Master replied, 'Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety.' Yen Yuan then said, 'Though I am deficient in intelligence and vigour, I will make it
62

my business to practice this lesson.'" Book 12, 2 "Chung-kung asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, 'It is, when you go abroad, to behave to every one as if you were receiving a great guest; to employ the people as if you were assisting at a great sacrifice; not to do to others as you would not wish done to yourself; to have no murmuring against you in the country, and none in the family.' Chung-kung said, 'Though I am deficient in intelligence and vigour, I will make it my business to practise this lesson.'" This verse and Mencius Book 7 Part 1 Chapter 4 contain statements similar to the Golden Rule, which is a positive aspect of Confucianism. Book 12, 3:1-3 "Sze-ma Niu asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, 'The man of perfect virtue is cautious and slow in his speech.' Cautious and slow in his speech!' said Niu;-- 'is this what is meant by perfect virtue?' The Master said, 'When a man feels the difficulty of doing, can he be other than cautious and slow in speaking?'" Book 12, 4:1-3 "Sze-ma Niu asked about the superior man. The Master said, 'The superior man has neither anxiety nor fear.' 'Being without anxiety or fear!' said Nui;-- 'does this constitute what we call the superior man?' The Master said, 'When internal examination discovers nothing wrong, what is there to be anxious about, what is there to fear?'" Book 12, 9:1-4 "The Duke Ai inquired of Yu Zo, saying, 'The year is one of scarcity, and the returns for expenditure are not sufficient;-- what is to be done?' Yu Zo replied to him, 'Why not simply tithe the people?' 'With two tenths, said the duke, 'I find it not enough;-- how could I do with that system of one tenth?' Yu Zo answered, 'If the people have plenty, their prince will not be left to want alone. If the people are in want, their prince cannot enjoy plenty alone.'" This is a discussion about taxation and tithing in the context of government. Book 13, 10-12 "The Master said, 'If there were (any of the princes) who would employ me, in the course of twelve months, I should have done something considerable. In three years, the government would be perfected.' The Master said, 'If good men were to govern a country in succession for a hundred years, they would be able to transform the violently bad, and dispense with capital punishments. True indeed is this saying!' The Master said, 'If a truly royal ruler were to arise, it would still require a generation, and then virtue would prevail.'" The text continues to advocate a form of government. Book 17, 3 "The Master said, 'There are only the wise of the highest class, and the stupid of the lowest class, who cannot be changed.'" This demonstrates the views of the lower classes in the hierarchical classification system.
63

Book 17, 25 "The Master said, 'Of all people, girls and servants are the most difficult to behave to. If you are familiar with them, they lose their humility. If you maintain a reserve towards them, they are discontented.'" In the hierarchical system of Confucianism, women were expected to be subordinate to their fathers, husbands and sons. In extreme cases, female babies were killed because male children were preferred. The painful practice of foot-binding for women was common in China, because men preferred it.

Book 20, 2:3 "Tsze-chang then asked, 'What are meant by the four bad things?' The Master said, 'To put the people to death without having instructed them;-- this is called cruelty. To require from them, suddenly, the full tale of work, without having given them warning;-- this is called oppression. To issue orders as if without urgency, at first, and, when the time comes, to insist on them with severity;-- this is called injury. And, generally, in the giving pay or rewards to men, to do it in a stingy way;-- this is called acting the part of a mere official.'" This implies that it is acceptable to put someone to death if you have previously instructed them, and also to oppress someone if you have given them warning that you are going to do so. In summary, Confucianism is a system of hierarchical class which serves to restrict the freedom of individuals in the interests of the society in which they live by promoting concepts like honour, virtue and shame. It advocates submission to those who are seen to be social superiors and older family members. However, it serves to create a society that is far from being ideal, due to inequality and restricted freedom.

64

Taoism
Taoism revolves around an observation that the Universe is based on opposites. These opposites fall into two categories, Yin and Yang, and the unity of opposites is Tao. Taoists believe in something similar to Newton's third law of motion (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction). Unity with the Tao involves minimising action (thus minimising reaction), leading to inner unity between Yin and Yang. Taoists are passive, and they allow events to happen according to the will of the Tao without trying to direct their own lives. Like Buddhist monks, Taoists are not major consumers and their impact on other people is minimal. Translating the Tao Te Ching has been difficult, and has resulted in a variety of interpretations of the original Chinese. Like Confucianism, Taoism promotes governmental control. The text promotes passivity, helping to create a mindset in which people are easier to rule over. Like the filial submission in Confucianism, this may be one reason why the Chinese dictatorship has been able to remain in power. The text is poetic and pleasant to read, and is considered to be 'deep', meaning that it contains randomly linked concepts and paradoxes such as, "There are times....when a square seems to have corners." (chapter 41, Rosenthal's Translation). The brain has a need to make sense of its environment, so religious texts that contain statements that make no sense cause the brain major problems. In my opinion, the reason why religious texts like these are claimed to be enlightened is because no one fully understands them; the text includes random linking of concepts, statements that have no real meaning, and a central concept (Tao) that is poorly defined.

65

Hinduism
Hinduism is the religion of India, characterised by a belief in reincarnation and the need for enlightenment, and is related to Buddhism. However, unlike Buddhism, the religion incorporates millions of gods and places emphasis on the importance of acquiring wealth. The Hindu sacred texts are known as the Vedas – historically, Hindu tradition meant that the priests thought that they were so holy that only the top three classes of Indian society were allowed access to them. The Hindu Caste system still affects modern day India. It is a system of social class – opportunities in Indian society are dependent upon family origin. There are some people outside the Caste system; they are outcasts or 'untouchables'. The inequality in India is obvious; cities have shanty towns alongside modern high-tech buildings. Here is a view of poverty from a Hindu sacred text: Poverty is a state of sinfulness From the Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section VIII. Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli. Arjun said: It is seen that a poor man, even when he stands near, is accused falsely. Poverty is a state of sinfulness. It behoveth thee not to applaud poverty, therefore. The man that is fallen, grieves, as also he that is poor. I do not see the difference between a fallen man and a poor man. All kinds of meritorious acts flow from the possession of great wealth like a mountain. From wealth spring all religious acts, all pleasures, and heaven itself. Without wealth, a man cannot find the very means of sustaining his life. The acts of a person who, possessed of little intelligence, suffers himself to be divested of wealth, are all dried up like shallow streams in the summer season. He that has wealth has friends. He that has wealth has kinsmen. He that has wealth is regarded as a true man in the world. He that has wealth is regarded as a learned man. If a person who has no wealth desires to achieve a particular purpose, he meets with failure. The underlined text blames the poor for their poverty. This may be one reason why the suicide rate among indebted farmers is so high in India. The Indian economy is growing at 9% per year, the second fastest in the world. However, the prevailing view on poverty means that the Indian Government repossesses land belonging to subsistence farmers to make way for new businesses and industry. Like Buddhism, Hinduism supports the idea of reincarnation. Hindus believe that people who have been evil in a previous life are reincarnated as an animal or an untouchable (chandala): Chandogya Upanishad 5.10.7: Those whose conduct here [on earth] has been good will quickly attain some good birth – birth as a brahmin, birth as a kshatriya, or birth as a vaisya. But those whose conduct here has been evil will quickly attain some evil birth – birth as a dog, birth as a pig or birth as a chandala.

66

People who are born as untouchables are blamed for evil acts in a previous life. The same is true of people who are born with disabilities. Women are also perceived to have a lower status than that of men, and this is highlighted in the Code of Manu, which is accepted by most Hindus as the most complete expression of Hindu sacred law: Manu 5.151-154 Him to whom her father may give her, or her brother with the father's permission, she shall obey as long as she lives...Though destitute of virtue, or seeking pleasure elsewhere, or devoid of good qualities, a husband must be constantly worshipped as a god by a faithful wife. Manu 5.148-149 In childhood a female must be subject to her father; in youth to her husband; when her lord [husband] is dead, to her sons. A woman must never be independent. She must not seek to separate from her father, husband or sons. When Hindus marry, the bride's family is required to pay the husband a dowry. This has led to many women killing their female babies because they are too expensive. In modern times, where people can determine the gender of babies before birth, female children are frequently aborted. Indian authorities estimate that around five million female foetuses are aborted every year. Another problem is bride-burning, where husbands kill their wives to remarry and get a new dowry. According to CNN news, Indian police say that they receive more than 2500 reports of bride-burning every year, often disguised as accidents or suicides. Devout male followers of Hinduism may follow the four stage path of Hindu Holy life. At first, emphasis is placed on the acquisition of wealth. Later, when he becomes old, he renounces his wealth and goes to live in the forest and may eventually become a wandering Hindu holy man. Hindus suggest that there are four purposes to life:
• • • •

Dharma: righteousness or morality. Artha: prospering. Kama: love and sensual pleasure. Moksha: liberation from endless cycles of rebirth.

Hinduism has an ethical code:
• • • • •

Ahimsa: do not harm anyone. Satya: do not lie. Asteya: do not steal. Brahmacharya: control of sexual energy; a stage of life for learning and purity. Aparigraha: do not be greedy.
67

• • • • •

Saucha: cleanse yourself. Santosha: be content. Tapas: discipline yourself. Svadhyaya: study. Isvara Pranidhana: surrender to God.

In addition to the ethical code, Hindus are encouraged to respect their parents (a need to repay debts). Hinduism traditionally involved the sacrifice of animals. This has now changed although sacrifice of herbs, grains etc. into fire is still practiced. Many religions involve some sort of sacrifice. I suggest the best sort of sacrifice is where a person uses their time or resources to help someone else, because this is practical and useful. I suggest that the worst sort of sacrifice is where something that could be used to help another person (time, resources etc.) is destroyed. Vedics (Hindu teachers) are known for their ability to cure diseases. Healing is claimed to be a form of spiritual interaction that seems to be beneficial, but also appears to give false credence to theologies that give rise to a large amount of suffering. There are many other superstitious beliefs in Hinduism, and many forms of spiritual interactions are claimed to occur. In conclusion, Hinduism is a highly evolved enlightenment-based religion that promotes a hierarchical system of social class in which women are oppressed, and the poorest members of society are stigmatised.

68

Sikhism
Sikhism was founded in India by Guru Nanak in the 15th century. Guru Nanak is thought to have had a spiritual experience that led to him becoming a spiritual teacher. He was disillusioned by Muslim and Hindu intolerance and inequality, and pronounced that there is neither Hindu nor Muslim, only man; he taught that all people are God's children. He attempted to unify the two religions, and used both Muslim and Hindu clothes while preaching. In addition, the Sikh Holy Book (Guru Granth Sahib), uses vocabulary from the languages of the two religions. Guru Nanak rejected the Hindu Caste system and believed in only one God. However, he maintained the Hindu belief in reincarnation. The goal of Sikhism is spiritual peace and liberation achieved through freedom from re-birth and unity with God. Sikhs believe that their conduct in previous lives affects their current and future lives. Guru Nanak's teachings led to the formation of the Guru Granth Sahib. This 1430 page long poetic book focuses on Sikh beliefs, spirituality and the nature of the Sikh god. The book is not dogmatic, and traditions such as leaving one's hair uncut were introduced later by Guru Gobind Singh. Sikhs treat the book as a living Guru, and it usually has its own private room. The rejection of the Caste system led to Sikhs adopting the surnames Singh (Lion) for men and Kaur (Princess) for women; in Indian society, these names were of high Caste ranking. Worship also involves a free communal meal to which both men and women are welcomed, promoting sexual equality. Guru Nanak was opposed to the tradition of Sati, where Hindu women voluntarily burned themselves alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Sikhs believe in religious tolerance to the extent that they are prepared to defend their own beliefs and those of others by force. Defending Hinduism is an example of defending the freedom of people to follow a theology that causes suffering. However, true freedom implies that people should be able to choose whether or not to cause suffering to others. If people do chose to cause suffering, then the onus should be on defending the rights of the people who are oppressed; Sikhs do this by providing an alternative to the Hindu Caste system. Therefore, the Sikh approach to defending the freedom of religious expression is probably justified; Sikhism defends the rights of someone to be a Hindu while not supporting Hinduism itself, and at the same time shows people why Hinduism causes suffering and defends the rights of those who are oppressed by it. However, it is unfortunate that many Hindus may have rejected Sikhism because of the requirement to keep their hair uncut (this is an open invitation for persecution, because it makes Sikhs look very different to everyone else). The Sikh community became more militant under the leadership of Guru Gobind Singh, and they fought to defend themselves against persecution. One of the outward signs of their religion is a sword, which they keep to remind themselves of their military obligations. Sikhism promotes charitable giving, meditation and prayer. Emphasis is placed on marriage, morality and refraining from adultery. Sikhs are not allowed to consume intoxicants or animals that have been bled to death in accordance with Islam. The Baha'i religion is similar to Sikhism. It originated from Islam in the 19th century, founded by a man who called himself 'the Bab'. He announced that there would soon be
69

another prophet of God from a long line of prophets including Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. The Bab was executed by the Islamic authorities, but another man received a vision that he was the prophet. The Baha'i religion emphasizes the unity of mankind and it is against all kinds of persecution and prejudice. They use their own scriptures and those of other religions, and their places of worship are decorated with the symbols of many religions. Like Islam, the Baha'i religion requires that people pray and fast. Emphasis is placed on marriage, and the consumption of intoxicants is prohibited. Sikhism was founded as a response to the negative aspects of Hinduism and Islam. It is a relatively small religion with about 20 million followers. Sikhs do not try to convert people to their religion, and believe in the divine origin of all religions with ethical principals similar to their own.

70

Paganism
Paganism encompasses a diverse set of native religious beliefs including those of the Ancient Greeks, Celts, native Americans and native Africans. Hinduism could also be described as a form of Paganism. Many native beliefs were extinguished by Christianity and Islam, but have been reconstructed by some people in modern times. There are so many forms of Paganism, that it is not possible to make a summary that accurately describes all of them. However, there are some points that apply to many forms of Paganism, and I have included some of these here. There are many positive aspects to many forms of Paganism, for example:

Freedom of choice. People can choose which Pagan beliefs to follow, and there is a huge range to choose from. People usually follow Pagan traditions because they want to, not because they are trying to go to heaven and avoid hell. A lack of a strict set of rules. Some Pagans opt for beliefs that involve rules, but this is entirely optional. Acceptance of people such as homosexuals, which many other religions do not accept. The rule of threefold return discourages Wiccans from harming others (Wicca is a type of Paganism). This law suggests that if a person does something good or bad, then it will be returned to that person with a magnitude of three times. The emphasis on the importance of personal responsibility contrasts with Christianity, which states that a belief in Jesus allows for the remission of sins. The Wiccan Rede (Do what you will, so long as it harms none) also discourages Wiccans from harming others. Historically, goddesses and feminine power have been significant in some Pagan traditions, so many forms of Paganism promote sexual equality. Pagans often prefer to be outside and their traditions often harmonise with nature. Some traditions serve to promote relationship formation and sexuality.

There are some negative aspects to the Pagan religions:

Pagan spiritual interactions sound fascinating (such as native American spiritual journeys), and may be personally fulfilling. However, they may be time-consuming, reducing the amount of time available for oneself and others. In ancient times, some Pagan spiritual interactions may have been more damaging, and could have encouraged human sacrifices in some cases. The inhabitants of Easter Island may have been responding to spiritual interactions when they were building their stone statues, leading to the deforestation of their island, and the eventual extinction of their population. The prospect of people casting curses, hexes and spells that are intended to influence free will (e.g. love spells) could make people feel a little uncomfortable around some Pagan groups. In ancient times, this effect may have contributed to the persecution and killing of witches. Christian persecution of Pagans may also be
71

encouraged by Biblical verses such as Matthew 18:17 and 1 Corinthians 10:20.

72

Implications of this Book
"When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." – Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In conclusion to the chapters on the various religions, it can be seen that there are aspects of each religion that can cause suffering. The purpose of this book is to determine the best way to minimise suffering and maximise freedom; to achieve such a lifestyle would involve the rejection of religion. This is a straightforward and rational argument, but one that will be rejected by most religious individuals. Many religious individuals claim to have experienced some form of spiritual interaction that proves to themselves that their religion is valid. Therefore, I suggest that it is preferable to accept eyewitness accounts of spiritual interactions and develop a theory on this basis to liberate religious individuals. The theory presented in this book suggests that God has a behaviour that parallels human selfishness. If correct, this theory has implications not only for religious individuals, but also for general society as discussed below. David Hume argued that eyewitness testimonies of miracles were not sufficient to prove the existence of God. However, the following two examples do not require that God's existence should be proved, but only require that reasonable doubt be cast over existing theories. Firstly, imagine that someone is being tried for a murder. The only evidence to link them to the murder is forensic evidence; their DNA was found at the murder scene. Imagine that I am the defense lawyer, and I suggest the possibility that a malicious God placed the evidence there to implicate an innocent person to cause suffering and injustice. How many eyewitnesses of spiritual interactions do I need to combine with the theory presented in this book to cast reasonable doubt over the reliability of forensic evidence? I suggest that Hume's argument about the reliability of eyewitness accounts of miracles does not apply in this case, because I do not need to prove the existence of God; I only need to create reasonable doubt over the validity of forensic evidence. Secondly, imagine that I work for the authority responsible for allowing pharmaceutical companies to register their drugs for use in the clinic. I notice that symptoms of schizophrenia are similar to some types of spiritual interactions that people report. I suggest that some cases of schizophrenia might be caused by spiritual interactions, and that they might be further examples of spiritually derived suffering. I then call into question the clinical data that supports the pharmaceutical company's case for registering a drug to treat schizophrenia, suggesting that it may be possible that spiritual interactions lessened during clinical trials to make the drugs appear to be effective. How many eyewitnesses of spiritual interactions do I need to combine with the theory presented in this book to cast reasonable doubt over the reliability of clinical data? In conclusion, I have found that spiritual beliefs are not necessary to define an ideal lifestyle. However, I suggest that an open mind is very useful in being able to analyse religious issues. While the existence of God cannot be proved, there is a substantial amount of anecdotal evidence to suggest that spiritual interactions do occur, including eyewitness accounts and various phenomena that cannot be explained by rational methods. From the analysis of the various religions given in this book, it is clear that God is responsible for widespread suffering if he exists, which has implications both for religion, and for general society.
73

How Dare He Exist?
Look at the world. Closer. There. Do you see? God exists. How dare he exist? Look again. Starving. Dying. Corpses everywhere. Sickness and illness. Pain and suffering. How dare he exist? How dare he preside Over our little world And do nothing to help? To stand back and let it all happen According to his will. His divine will. How dare he exist? God has a plan. God works in mysterious ways. All you need is faith. That's all. It will all turn out all right in the end. God has a plan. He loves us. He said so. And God never lies. How dare he exist? Pluck out your eye. Chop off your foot. Hurl yourself off the Eiffel tower. Drown yourself in a ditch. And pray always. And give thanks. Wouldn't want you to be ungrateful For your life. How dare he exist?

74

A fallen angel. It was Adams fault. Our fault. Not God's. He said so. Look, it says very clearly. And God's word is gospel truth. How dare he exist? Little Miss Muffet Sat on a tuffet Eating her curds and whey. A black widow spider Sat down beside her And bit her and she died. Praise the Lord! How dare he exist? I'd like to see the manager. I have some suggestions. Some complaints. I'd like to arrange a meeting. Fill in a feedback form. I'd like the right to vote for a different God. A better God. A better world. Even I could do a better job Of running the Universe. Simple things. No death. No suffering. No disasters. Easy. How dare he exist? What to do About this God Who seems To have it in for us. Created us To suffer And die According to his will. His divine will. How dare he exist?

75

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful