Sex and Weddings

marriage

marriage (Photo credit: Nathan Congleton)

I’ve always been surprised—okay, not surprised, but aware—at the extent to which sex is missing from marriage ceremonies. You find the presenter or priest or officiator of the ceremony talking a lot about love and marriage, but usually never mentioning sex at all.

When one considers that marriage is the bonding of two people for the purpose of sexual reproduction (or at least sexual fidelity), it seems a glaring omission.

Why is discussion of this central core of marriage missing from our ceremonies—why is sex hidden at weddings? The answer is simple, I think. Marriage is a religious ceremony, and the official in charge is almost always a representative of one of the major world religions, most often Christian or Muslim. And our major religions have an incredible amount of antipathy towards sexuality.

Which in my book casts them as evil and anti-­human. People who don’t copulate can’t be trusted. And people who copulate but think it “dirty” or “undignified” have feelings that can be trusted even less. There is something poisoned and unhealthy about them.

No doubt the poison comes from religion. Christianity and Islam can never be condemned enough for the despicable outlook they bring to sexuality. They reek of memes which are cancerous. They have reeked for centuries.

If the dominant religions had their way, no one would feel any connection at all between sex and love. The twain would never—or almost never—meet. Sex would be dirty, debased and animalistic, and love would be cerebral and angelic. I can’t imagine anything more anti­-life, more inhuman than such a split.

Marriage is a physical bond between two people who have built a house of sex between themselves—who have found their sexual home in each other.

But our sex-­hating religions can’t admit that. They want marriage to be mental—the joining of two pure minds, the mingling of souls.

They wish marriage could be bodiless, just as they wish life could be bodiless. Which is nothing but self-­hatred, since bodies is what we are and must be.

In real life, splitting sex from love has bad consequences. In the worst outcomes, it leads to rape and the murder of women. But even in mild cases it results in a bit of self-loathing. Splitting sex from love necessarily splits feeling from body. It disembodies our feelings. It alienates our bodies.

I will never forgive Christianity for hating sex. Nor will I forget that the hatred of sex issues directly from hatred of the body. I will neither forgive nor forget that Christianity and Islam and all the others stinking religions want us to be as divorced from the body as possible.

They worship nonexistence. If anything in this world is evil, the worship of nonexistence must fit the description.

In marriage ceremonies they pass this evil attitude on to our children. A wedding ought to be all about celebrating the sexual home two people have found in each other, but instead the occasion is used to hide sex. The minister or priest shouts about ethereal love (or worse, God’s love) while pretending sex has nothing to do with it. They thereby send a very clear message to our children that sex is a totally separate thing from love, that the two don’t go together.

The subtle message is that sex is off-­scene, if not obscene (which actually means the same thing as off-­scene), and its place is outside of marriage. Subtly the message sent to all of us is that sex is extramarital. Of course when sex crops up outside of marriage—exactly where religious people have pushed it—they cry adultery and sin. Yet their message all along has been that marriage is really not about sex but about love, not about bodies but about eternal minds.

The problem, you see, is that sex exposes their falsity. Sexual passion is the trump which makes it plain that we exist for pleasure, and that pleasure is inherently bodily. Sex tells us that we are indeed animals, that biological evolution uncovers both our intimate history and our ultimate nature. Tells us that our home is not heaven but here on planet earth coupled together, having sex.

We are biological beings. We are body beings. If we bring this fact into our wedding ceremonies, making marriage a celebration of sexuality and sexual coupling, if we make marriage sexual again, then we send the message to ourselves and our children that sex and love are not divorced, and neither are bodies and minds.

It is the beginning of self-healing. And sanity.

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Forbidden Apples

Sistine Chapel, fresco Michelangelo,

Sistine Chapel, fresco Michelangelo, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” is not God’s way. We learn this from Genesis. We learn it as we observe naked Eve and Adam wandering about blissfully in God’s garden of Eden. In that self-same garden God placed the serpent, and allowed it not just to be seen but to be heard as it spoke its words of deception. God never warned Adam and Eve about the snake. Never told them not to associate with it. Never prepared them for the ideas the snake might present. Not a bit of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” in God’s garden.

God was quite willing to let the snake have its say: its beguiling promise that Adam and Eve could become god-like. God didn’t even offer a rebuttal. He let evil have its say without response.

Not surprising, therefore, that two innocents like our naked Eve and Adam fell head first for the serpents’s guile.

We call it guile, evil. But in fact the serpent did not lie.

“Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” he asked Eve.

“We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden,” she replied, “but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”

“You will not die,” replied the snake, truthfully.

Not only did Eve touch the tree without dying, she even plucked an apple. And ate it.

The serpent had more truth to shared with Eve, “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

And so it was.

But if our naked pair knew nothing of good and evil before eating the apple, how could either be expected to recognize evil in the snake’s simple statements? Like a fool, God left them unprepared for the serpent’s apparent honesty. At the one moment when his presence in the garden was most needed, God was absent.

Despite divine omniscience, he was unaware of the perfidy going on below.

Michelangelo Bounarotti - The Fall and Expulsi...

Michelangelo Bounarotti – The Fall and Expulsion of Adam and Eve – detail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.”

Lacking as yet the ability to distinguish good from evil, Eve cannot be blamed for her mistake. Without a knowledge of good and evil, she could not be expected to recognize even the goodness of God.

The same for Adam, who we are told ate of the fruit only because his lovely and innocent wife offered it him. Genesis simply tells us, “she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.” No conversation between serpent and Adam reported here—not that it mattered. The man had no more ability to distinguish good from evil, truth from falsity, than the woman.

“Then the eyes of both were opened,” just as the snake had promised.

Suddenly the ability to know and recognize evil flooded their minds. We must ask, what evil did they thus so suddenly recognize? It was not the serpent. It was not the apple tree, nor its apples.

It was their nakedness.

Why, we must ask, were their naked bodies evil?

Why did God create and breathe life into two naked humans and declare them good—if in fact they were evil? Did he not want them to know?

Is that why he told them not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil? To protect them from learning of his mistake?

Did God mess up, and try to hide it? Did the real perfidy come from God?

At the least, we must question his divine wisdom. For earlier we learned that “God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man that he had formed.” Yet God sabotaged his own plan by planting two inappropriate trees: “the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,”—we are explicitly told this in Genesis 2:9.

Why did God tempt fate? How reckless of him, to do so knowing the snake was about. Knowing as well the inability of the two naked creatures he created to distinguish good from evil, or know truth from falsehood.

God had only himself to blame for the consequences.

Two naked beings ate of the pleasant-seeming tree of knowledge and—just as the snake promised—their eyes were opened. They became like Gods, knowing good and evil.

They had eaten of one special tree, but don’t forget: there was another, the tree of life. They had not yet eaten of it, but surely it would not be long before they would do so. This thought raised God’s alarm like nothing else had.

“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever—'”

Plate depicting Adam and Eve, maiolica, from U...

Plate depicting Adam and Eve, maiolica, from Urbino, Italy, mid 16th century. On display at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. 1991.40.13.2 See also File:Worcester plate CPLH 1991.40.13-1.JPG (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God could not even finish the sentence. The idea was too alarming.

Immediately God drove Adam and Eve from the garden. But that was not enough—”and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim , and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”

The message in the story of Genesis is obvious. It goes like this—

God wanted us in the garden of Eden. We know it because he designed the garden for us and then put us there. Deliberately. We also know that despite recklessly planting the tree of knowledge and tree of life in the midst of the graden, God did not want us to eat of them. He did not want us to become like himself knowing good and evil. Nor did he want us to live forever.

Genesis is very clear about this.

And yet, there is one character in this story who encourages us to eat what is forbidden—the serpent, who tells us that if we do so we can become god-like, acquiring both knowledge and eternal life. Beguiled, we eat from one of the trees, and God becomes alarmed. Adamant that we should not have eternal life, God banishes us from the garden and sets a special guard to prevent us from living forever.

Perhaps after all God has our best interest at heart. Perhaps he does not. Either way, God is said to be our maker, and the story ends with his determination to prevent us from reaching eternity.

What about the serpent? We are not told the serpent’s opinion, but we do not need to be told. We know that if given the chance, the serpent would offer us fruit from the tree of life, just as he did with the tree of knowledge. We know that he would tell us its fruit is sweet, that if we eat our eyes will be opened once again, that we can become god-like and live forever.Eternity can be ours. We can join God!

In all the Old Testament, the serpent is the only one who promises us the heavens, who offers to us a God-like existence. Nowhere else in that book is any promise of eternity to be found.

For Christianity, this is a problem. Seeing it plainly laid out before us, the discontinuity of the New Testament with the Old becomes glaring.

Behold the Saviour of the World

Behold the Saviour of the World (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

Suddenly in the Gospels we see that the serpent has returned, that he has taken the form of Jesus.

Like the snake, Jesus offers us eternity.

Like the snake, Jesus says “eat of the tree of life.”

Eat, and so live forever.

The serpent has returned in the garb of a savior.

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Can You Be More Wrong Than This?

At the end of the year 1858, the president of the Linnean Society of London—the preeminent scientific society in England at the time—summed up the year in science as follows:

1858 has not, indeed, been marked by any of those discoveries which at once revolutionize, so to speak, the department of science in which they occur. —Thomas Bell

Six months earlier on July 1, 1858, Charles Darwin and Russell Wallace’s ground-breaking papers introducing the concept of Natural Selection to the world were presented at a meeting of this very same Linnean Society.

Maybe the president of the Society was absent that day.

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Satanism Identified

Title page of Wikisource:en:The suppressed Gos...

Title page of Wikisource:en:The suppressed Gospels and Epistles of the original New Testament of Jesus the Christ, a text over 100 years old (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucifer’s original sin was wanting to be equal to God. And the greatest temptation humans face is the same: wanting to be equal to God. What is the desire for immortality but exactly this?

According to Christians, God gave us a choice. In the Garden of Eden, Christians like to point out, we disobeyed God and ate of the tree of knowledge. We did so because the serpent tempted us with the idea that we could become like gods.

And what, according to Genesis, was the result? It was that God became alarmed. He feared that we really would become like gods, so He kicked us out of the Garden. Most importantly, God put up guards (Cheribim with a flaming sword) to keep us away from the Tree of Life—which had we eaten of it would have given us eternal life in Heaven, would have made us really, truly like gods.

So, if you are someone who takes the Bible seriously, if you believe the Garden of Eden story in Genesis is true (either literally or figuratively), then intellectual honesty compels you to admit that God does not want us to obtain eternal life. If you are honest, you will admit this.

But the “New” Testament, which got tacked onto the Old Testament by Christians centuries later, is all about promising us eternal life in Heaven. In other words, Christianity promises what God forbade!

You will note that the words “Jesus” and “Christ” appear nowhere in the Old Testament. If Jesus was to be part of God’s word, why not mention the name there? Why didn’t God say, “There’ll be another Testament coming later on about my son Jesus Christ”?

He didn’t. It’s not there.

So the honest conclusion is that God knew nothing about Jesus Christ when He wrote the Original Testament. Why not? Isn’t God perfect? Does God not know the future?

No, the reason is simple: God had nothing to do with the New Testament.

And why would we expect otherwise? The New Testament tells us how we can eat from the tree of Etern

English: Icon of Jesus Christ

English: Icon of Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

al Life, which goes directly against God’s word in Genesis.

So, if you’re following what I’m saying, you’ll see that in Genesis it is the serpent who falsely promises us that we can have the knowledge of the gods, and in Genesis it is God Himself who prevents us from obtaining eternal life. But in Christianity, with its pretended “New” Testament, we find Jesus Christ—like the serpent of Eden—promising us once again that we can “be as gods,” that we can eat fruit which God has denied.

Have I made it plain enough? Christianity is the devil’s religion. It is a religion in open rebellion against the wishes of God.

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The Frogs

frog

frog (Photo credit: =[ haixy ]= right here)

When Peter was fifteen his grandmother had given him a pair of frogs.

“I know how you love animals, so I ordered you a frog aquarium for your birthday,” she told him.

And it was true Peter did love animals.  Over the years he had a succession of pets: dog and cat of course, but also turtle, snake, rabbit, hamster—always one of each until the rats. The rats were supposed to both be females, but that turned out not to be the case. He separated them, but Romeo escaped from his cage and impregnated Juliett through the mesh of her cage, and suddenly Peter found himself with eight naked hairless little rat babies. He managed to give away all but one of the babies, mostly to girls at school who found the baby rats irresistibly cute and the idea of a rat for a pet enticing.

The frog aquarium did not come with frogs. But it came with a coupon with which to order a pair of tadpoles. When the tadpoles arrived in the mail Peter dutifully prepared their home, and over the next few weeks watched them grow into frogs. Every other week or so he would pour out their old dingy water and replace it with carefully prepared water which he had de-flourided—tap water with little “rocks” added and allowed to sit for twelve hours.

One day when he arrived home from school he saw that the male frog had climbed onto the back of the female and was fiercely clutching her with what looked like a wrestler’s death-grip around her stomach. The female tried clumsily to swim, while the male seemed determined to prevent her from moving around in the water.

Peter took the straw from his drink and attempted to separate the two frogs. Then it hit him: they were copulating!

If they were having sex, it was quite passive. Peter could not detect any “thrusting action” of the sort he would have expected on the part of the male. He was merely clutched firmly onto the female’s back, conjoined but otherwise motionless. For her part the female propelled her legs in a swimming motion—perhaps in a feeble attempt to knock him off?

They continued in this position while Peter completed his homework. He turned on some music and watched them, wondering how long they would “do it.”

When Peter returned from supper, the frogs were still in mating position. “They must be trying to set the record for sexual intercourse,” he thought.

The frogs were still copulating the next morning, and when he returned from school (where he had bragged about the frogs olympian endurance to his friends) he went immediately to the frog aquarium. Amazingly, the male was still mounted on the female frog as if they had never stopped.

They continued like this the rest of the week, all weekend, and the following week too. At first Peter watched, voyeuristically, for half an hour or more at a time, never detecting any sexual “action,” just the male clutching the female from his position on top, apparently content to have his erect penis embedded forever in the female. For her part the female would periodically propel them through the water with her powerful rear legs, including up to the surface for air or perhaps food. Peter began to wonder if her leg thrusts caused muscular contraction around the male’s penis.

Toad Sex [3]

Toad Sex [3] (Photo credit: MDrX)

It seemed strange to Peter. In the wild, he thought, prolonged sex like this would surely have made the frogs unacceptably vulnerable to predators. Why did they copulate for so long? Did he do it to prevent other male frogs from having the opportunity to fertilize her eggs? But there were no other males in the little world of the frog aquarium, obviously.

As Peter pondered this, he wondered what it felt like for the male, clutched like that against the female, penis enclosed in her body as if it had become a way of life. It had to be pleasureable—otherwise why keep it up for such a ridiculously long time? Days, weeks beyond what was biologically necessary. Peter felt guilty watching them. Yet it was strangely fascinating. He couldn’t resist.

Day after day he would come home from school and see them still coupled, until how long it had continued became a blur. Had it been two weeks now? or three? more? He no longer remembered.

And then one day it was over. The water had gotten quite dirty. Peter had not wanted to change it while the frogs were so occupied, but had done so once anyway. And the frogs had stayed coupled throughout that ordeal. Now he changed the water again.

The male frog did not survive for long after mating with the female. For her part, the female frog survived another year and a half. There were never any baby tadpoles, but most likely because Peter had so dutifully changed their water. Whatever eggs were laid would have gone into the toilet.

Once during this “frog time” Peter was with a couple of friends—Cindy and Cory. They had gone to a movie together, a matinée, and afterwards wandered over to a park. As they sat on a picnic table talking and joking, Peter suddenly wondered what it would be like to clutch Cindy like some mad male frog, clutching and copulating with her as if that alone was their way of life. They would be facing each other of course, unlike frogs or other animals, forced to look at each other’s eyes while the eternal clutching took place. To be embedded in her like the frog—not thrusting, but wordlessly together, conjoined, bodies doing their silent instinctive thing, while he looked her directly in the eyes and said—what?

What could he say? What could she say? What thoughts would run through their minds? How could their minds put up with this “indignity” of copulating for days on end?

He would love her, he thought. But somehow all the love he could imagine feeling as he faced her in this frog-reality seemed shallow and fleeting. Surface stuff. While their passive frog bodies instinctively and fundamentally underrode everything they thought or might think.

Peter realized that if he loved Cindy—and he wondered if he ever could—it would be on the level of their likes and aversions, their individual personal preferences for things, the compatibility of their thoughts and personalities. They would be drawn together by mutual jokes and experiences, a sort of happy mixing and meshing of their thoughts as individuals. They would love each other because they liked the same bands, the same music, the same food, the same comedians, the same internet videos.

The frogs showed him the possibility of something far more physical and fundamental, a connection that made human love look like only a glint of light on the surface. The frogs sexual connection occurred deep in the water; it was biologically fundamental.

Could he, Peter, ever be biologically fundamental with Cindy? Or any other girl he knew. Or would their minds reject it outright as ridiculous? He knew the answer. Frog-love was out of the question. It would be too embarrassing. It would undo the human mind.

Imaging clutching a woman as if it was life itself. No, there was something about the sex act that was shameless. Too biological. Too physical. Too much life. Too unmental.

Even without ever having had any experience like it, you could watch those frogs and sense the utter shamelessness of sex. But, Peter realized, the human mind could never accept it or allow it, at least not for long. The mind would feel shamed.

He knew that Cindy—really, all the girls in his circle of friends—would be derisive and dismissive at the thought. They would make jokes, as would Cory of course and the guys he knew at school. The human mind had to be in control; the sex act had to be something the mind could stand above. In one’s stream of thoughts, it had to be explainable and put in its place.

With your friends you had to be witty and all-knowing. Intercourse would have to be relatively quick, the mind never absent for long. The witty mind had to stay on top.

Somehow, Peter thought, this was wrong. The frogs were right and people, the human mind, was wrong. Minds were afraid of biological connection, of being subsumed. Sex was threatening to the mental self. But why?

Perhaps Peter says something to Cindy and Cory about the frogs. And they joke. Perhaps he speaks too seriously about the fundamental biological nature of life, about the grounded physical connection his frogs experienced in sex. Perhaps Peter admits aloud that the frogs showed him there was something deeper in life, something that made his interactions with them (even though they were his best friends) seem like surface reflection.

Cory and Cindy cover it up with joking and Peter’s face flushes. With the hint of a tear he shrugs, “I’m just trying to be honest with myself.”

Afterwards Cindy and Cory are wary of him, uneasy. Behind his back they laugh about it. Still, uneasiness persists. Over the next few days both feel a desire to defend Peter, but find themselves unable to bring it up without joking.

After that their friendship gradually fades. The three grow apart.

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Litmus Test for Sanity

Nudity is the litmus test for sanity. Sane societies are clothing-optional; they are built on the principle that no one has the right to control the appearance of others. The clothes someone wears or doesn’t wear, the manner in which they style or color their hair and body—these are sacrosanct to the individual.

Naturism

Naturism (Photo credit: bartmaguire)

We were born naked and we will die naked. Our skin requires broad exposure to sunlight in order to synthesize vitamin D, and that alone tells us that the right to be naked is innate. It is a health right.

The importance of being nude in the sun was recognized 150 years ago, when enlightened American doctors advocated sun-baths. Their instincts were right on target. Today the benefits of vitamin D and sunshine are being teased out by scientific studies, and those benefits appear to be extensive and far-reaching. You don’t get them from the small amounts of D added to milk and other products.

Summer sun exposure can result in your skin creating upwards of 20,000 IU of vitamin D  in a single day.  You can’t get anywhere near this amount from food. A serving of vitamin D fortified milk contains only 120 IU—you would be forced to drink 167 glasses of milk per day to get as much as your skin can make from a few hours of sunshine.

Furthermore, when D is synthesized in the skin from sunlight, it’s impossible to get an over-dose. The human body automatically regulates how much is synthesized based on its needs.

Nor should we forget that there are other benefits of outdoor nudity, both physical and social. This should not be surprising. After all, our bodies evolved to be naked in the world—it is part of our natural inheritance.

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Bertrand Russell on Nudity

The taboo against nakedness is an obstacle to a decent attitude on the subject of sex. Where young children are concerned, this is now recognized by many people. It is good for children to see each other and their parents naked whenever it so happens naturally. There will be a short period, probably at about three years old, when the child is interested in the difference between his father and his mother, and compares them with the differences between himself and his sister, but this period is soon over, and after this he takes no more interest in nudity than in clothes. So long as parents are unwilling to be seen naked by their children, the children will necessarily have a sense that there is a mystery, and having that sense they will become prurient and indecent. There is only one way to avoid indecency, and that is to avoid mystery. There are also many important grounds of health in favor of nudity in suitable circumstances, such as out of doors in sunny weather. Sunshine on the bare skin has an exceedingly health-giving effect.

nudity prohibited

nudity prohibited (Photo credit: Wayan Vota)

Moreover, anyone who has watched children running about in the open air without clothes must have been struck by the fact that they hold themselves much better and move more freely and more gracefully than when they are dressed. The same thing is true of grown-up people. The proper place for nudity is out of doors in the sunshine and in the water. If our conventions allowed of this, it would soon cease to make any sexual appeal; we should all hold ourselves better, we should be healthier from the contact of air and sun with the skin, and our standards of beauty would more nearly coincide with standards of health, since they would concern themselves with the body and its carriage, not only with the face. In this respect the practice of the Greeks was to be commended.

—From Marriage and Morals (1929) by Bertrand Russell

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Honesty

God Father

God Father (Photo credit: NeilsPhotography)

Honesty is about being brave enough to embrace life as it is in reality. It’s about taking our clothes off—figuratively and literally—and loving ourselves just as we are. It’s not about making up feel-good stories about heaven, or hoping for some kind of spiritual salvation after we die, or fooling ourselves with other dishonesties from our popular religions. What is honest is to accept ourselves as physical beings, perishable bodies alive only for a short time before we disappear forever.

It is to admit that existence is something temporary.

Instead of tainting our lives with spiritual flagellation which dismisses our animality and denigrates sexuality, it is essential that we own up to the fact that, from beginning to end, we are bodies. That is the naked truth. We are not angels muddied into physical form as some sort of perverse punishment from God. Rather, our desire to be angelic and God-like is what is perverse. We are body-beings rather than spirit-beings, and to admit that is not degrading. Instead, it elevates us into the only realm in which life is actually possible.

Without a body, there can be no movement, no action, not even a thought. Scientists have shown clearly that our thoughts and feelings are products of our brains, of chemical reactions in synapses themselves dependent entirely on the makeup of the physical nutrients we happen to consume. This knowledge has consequences. It means there can be no bodiless God who created us or our world, for without physical body even God Almighty could not move or think.

The truth is that there is no intelligence behind or before the world. Our own species of intelligence evolved long afterwards on a dim speck of a planet incredibly far from the center of our galaxy, further still from the center of the universe. On this small blue planet we evolved, thinking thoughts every bit as physical as our aches and pains—thoughts which proceed not from some realm of spirit, but directly from our naked mammalian brains. We are bodies that think, not thoughts that have bodies.

Bundled Burial

Bundled Burial (Photo credit: Travis S.)

Admitting this does not degrade us. Rather, it places life squarely where it belongs: here on earth now. Life does not belong in some bodiless heaven or imaginary afterlife.

True enough, we must admit that we will die, and that death is final. There is no God, and when the body ceases, all that constitutes us will cease with it. This is the honest truth. But by beginning here with these facts, we can adjust to life.

We can make the most of it.

We can be naked atheists.

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God & Penises & Vaginas

Isn’t sex just about the most unlikely thing to be God’s handiwork? Imagine the Almighty sitting alone in the vastness of heaven with only His alter-ego Son and Holy Ghost to entertain Himself. Imagine Him after trillions of years trying to figure out some way to break the boredom. Is that how we got sex?

No, because if there’s one thing we can be sure of about sex, it’s that God’s not having any. Sure, I suppose He could entertain Himself as Supreme Voyeur watching us go at it for a while, but ultimately what’s the appeal in that for Him? It’s not like He has any sexual desires of His own—he doesn’t even have genitals, much less hormones like testosterone coursing though His disembodied spiritual Holy Self.

The problem with sex from a spiritual perspective, is that it just doesn’t fit the picture. Would a God who only wants us to reach the zenith of spiritual existence have invented penises and vaginas? Sorry, don’t think so. Doesn’t fit.

A bible from 1859.

A bible from 1859. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even the Bible stumbles over sex. Right at the beginning of Genesis, when God created Adam and began searching for a “helpmeet” to mate with him. What follows—this is right there in the Bible—is God parading all the animals of the world before Adam to see which one he would choose for a mate. After Adam found none suitable, God finally hit on the idea of creating Eve, a creature just like Adam but with vulva and curvy breasts. That worked well for Adam, but God seems to have never gotten comfortable with the idea. Sexual intercourse wasn’t supposed to be part of His plan.

Which perhaps explains why Christians—not to mention Jews and Muslims—have stumbled over sex from the beginning. Genitals have never meshed with the divine plan. And they never will.

Face the fact: sex is not Godly. It’s ungodly. And that’s a good thing—it wouldn’t be any fun otherwise. Ungodly sex kicks with life, it pulses with a physical spirit that can only come from bodies being together, doing their thing.

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PZ Myers on Movie Atheists

Cover of "I Am Legend [Blu-ray]"

Cover of I Am Legend [Blu-ray]

In a review in Pharnygula of the Will Smith movie I Am Legend, PZ Myers notes that when atheists are depicted in popular movies they are either villains or stereotypical candidates for conversion.

The acceptable atheist is the one who has faced so much tragedy, whose life has been damaged by cruel fate to such a degree that his declaration that there is no god is understandable. . . . .That’s the standard trope: the atheist is a broken man, a nihilist, a cynic, someone who has come to his disbelief as a consequence of a devastating emotional experience.

This “acceptable atheist” almost always reconsiders their atheism by movie’s end. Myers notes that although “this is the kind of atheist theists are comfortable with” it has nothing to do with why most atheists today do not believe in any kind of god. “New atheists” have embraced a natural, scientific worldview, whereas the “movie atheist” still yearns for the supernatural underneath their anger.

I love Myer’s summary,

There are atheists who look on a tragedy and cry, “There is no god,” in despair. But we are atheists who look on beauty and complexity and awesome immensity and shout out, “There is no god!” and we are glad.

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With Legs Splayed

In Cosmopolitan there is a regular section ““Understanding His Baffling Behavior” purporting to “explain” to the magazine’s predominantly female audience why men behave as they do.

Recently they asked, Why do men sit with their legs splayed? Their answer,

Women are taught to keep their legs together as a way of not inviting sex,” says Helen Fisher, PhD, author of The First Sex: The Natural Talents of Women and How They Are Changing the World (Ballantine, 2000). “In contrast, a man is saying, ‘Come and get it.’

No, no, and no. As one male blogger stressed, “It is a comfort factor.” Sitting with legs together squishes your balls between your thighs — certainly not comfortable, any man can tell you. The blogger is right, but missed the bigger picture: there is more to it than comfort. As a matter of fact, it is all about maintaining the testes at the right temperature.

Did no one ask, during sex education class in school, the obvious question of why men have balls hanging outside their bodies? What do balls — the testes — do? Why is the male anatomy the way it is?

The testes are not inside with the rest of the body’s organs for a well-known reason: sperm reproduction needs to occur at a temperature about 2 degrees cooler than basal body temperature. The wrong temperature leads to increased DNA replication errors, and it leads to sperm with poor motility or even semen with mostly “dead” or damaged sperm.

So men, like the males of many mammals, have scrotums or ball-sacks which suspend the testes outside the body so they can be maintained at the right temperature. It is a flexible solution. The cremasteric muscle can contract to draw the balls up into the crotch to be warmed by contact with the rest of the body, or relax to suspend the testes in mid-air to be cooled by air convection (this is known as the cremasteric reflex). If necessary the male can also open or close his legs to change testes temperature by increasing or decreasing contact with his warmer body.

Civilization complicates the natural cooling of the testes by imposing pants and underpants on men. These add unwelcome warmth to the testicles, both due to the normal warming effect of clothing and due to pressing the balls tight against the crotch. This defeats nature’s purposes, reducing sperm count and motility, increasing DNA copying errors, and consequently leads to more birth defects and increased infertility. Healthy spermatogenesis is thus one of the most important benefits of male nudity.

Still, even in societies petrified by the thought of nudity, men can at least open their legs wide to reduce the surface area of testicular contact with the crotch and increase exposure to the cooler temperature outside the body. Men do this because it feels more comfortable, but it feels more comfortable because cooler testicles are what men need.

When our legs are opened wide, men are not saying come and get it (though if a woman wants to come and get it, why not?). Rather we are merely doing our appointed job as males: attempting to generate healthy sperm to make healthy babies.

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Fictitious Intermediaries & Death

Scan of cover of Common Sense, the pamphlet. N...

Scan of cover of Common Sense, the pamphlet. No alterations were made to the scan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Instead of worshiping God, which we see as a fictitious intermediary inserted between us and life, atheists worship life direct. We prefer our tonic strong, not weakened with sweet lies. We want to drink the truth about life, not willingly fall for obfuscation. We refuse to abdicate common sense.

And what common sense tells us is that we are bodies, that we were conceived not as a result of some spiritual enterprise but because our parents had sex. (Or otherwise joined an egg and a sperm cell.) We came into being not as a result of the mingling of souls but as a consequence of the mingling of cells.

And common sense tells us that eventually we will die.

It tells us something more, something truly profound: death is final. With the loss of the body, life is no longer possible. Frightening as this may seem, it is just common sense. Without our bodies we cannot have sensations, cannot feel, cannot see, cannot hear, cannot emote, cannot think. Without body, there is no way to do anything.

All our experiences are the body’s doings. Existence is unavoidably body-based.

Common sense also tells us that we can’t be switched to another body. Not even to an identical body. We know this because identical twins are nevertheless separate people. The death of a twin is no less a death simply because there remains a clone still alive. And this tells us that we are our particular body, not some other; makes it clear that our identity is our body.

Because this is so, even the highest God can not preserve us after death. Even if such a God could create a clone of me and instill it with all my old memories, it would not be me. It would just be a clone being tricked. Any new memories the clone formed would be its memories, not mine. Were God to proceed to punish the clone, it would be the clone being punished. Its pains and memories of punishment would not be my pains or memories.

Once we die, our existence is extinguished, our unique identity broken, and even God is incapable of bringing us back. Not even for divine retribution.

All this follows because the soul is but the body in its aliveness. That is, soul is a quality bodies have at birth and lose at death. It is not something with independent existence. If the body dies its aliveness disappears, unreturnable. And the soul can’t be anything else, it can’t be extra-corporeal, because without body it has no way to be or to do. Disembodied aliveness is simply an existence impossibility.

So when the body dies, it is specifically the soul/aliveness that has ceased to exist. The body still lies there in the casket, and in fact the body will be resurrected into the bodies of other organisms as they break it down and devour it. The soul ceases, and the body is resurrected.

It is just a matter of common sense. And strangely, it enriches life to know the truth.

It is good to be able to cease and non-exist. It makes life incalculably valuable—something to cling to for all we are worth.

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born naked

I was born naked, without belief in gods or God. I believed only in what I could touch and hear and see: the breasts I suckled on, my mother’s cooing voice, the funny faces my father made, the lullabies my grandmother sang. I believed in what was palpable and real.

Almost from my birth adults attacked both my nakedness and my atheism. They wrapped me in clothing. They filled me with talk of imaginary beings — Easter bunnies, tooth fairies, Santa and his tiny reindeer (who never seemed tiny in my imagination — or Santa either). King of all these imaginary being was the one even my parents believed in: the God who, they cooed, created and loved us all. With God came angels who were (so they told me) thoughts from God, But try as I might, I could never imagine angels as “thoughts.” I had to imagine them with wings and bodies and faces. God too, had to have a body and a bearded face — or he couldn’t be imagined either.

It seems that to be imagined — much less be visualized doing things — even imaginary beings must have bodies of some sort or another. Though we are told that God is pure spirit, bodiless and eternal, the truth is we can’t imagine spirit without imagining body. Thus even adult Christians must imagine their God transformed into bodily Jesus in order for their deity to seem real. It is a truth every baby is born knowing: real things have substance. Soul requires body for its expression: otherwise it is static and absent. Official definitions notwithstanding, bodies are necessary for existence.

The established definition of God says he is bodiless — yet no one can imagine him without imagining something. Him, did I say? God cannot be him. Embodied in human form, imagined as Jesus walking the earth or hanging on the cross, God can have a penis even if he never uses it. But take away the body and you take away God’s penis, his maleness, his masculinity, all. Nor can God be feminine, since the disembodied cannot have a vulva either. God must be sexless and genderless, forever “it”.

Note that if a theist insists on masculinizing God, turning it into he, they are not taking their theism seriously. Any pronoun other than “it” is just the infant’s intuition that real beings must have a body reappearing in the grownup. The infant is right. No matter how much intellectual brainwashing the adult theist has undergone, they can never quite escape the infant’s truth.

Let me repeat that: whenever anyone refers to God as “he”, they are failing to take the concept of God seriously. If your God is bodiless nonetheless very real, then you will readily concede that the God you believe in must be an it. On the other hand if your God is merely an imaginary fancy of yours — like Santa and his tiny reindeer or like the tooth fairy — then impossibilities don’t bother you, and you will have no hesitation in insisting on God’s bodiless masculinity.

If God is merely a fantasy, incoherent details don’t matter. Pretend doesn’t have to make sense. But if your God is not pretend, then it can be neither masculine nor feminine.

As for me, I was born a naked atheist and I will die atheist and — God willing! (that was a joke) — I will die naked. If nothing else, when I die it will be me, my body not my clothing, which does the dying. Only naked me can die. I was born naked and I will die naked and my profound wish while alive is to be allowed to be naked me. It is the most important wish any of us can have: to be fortunate enough while we breathe and live to be our naked selves. Me and you, meeting as we are despite the cultural smokescreens of clothing and religion. Naked me and naked you in naked life — from beginning to end and everything between.

Posted in Death, Nudity, Prose, Religion | 6 Comments

6 Points for a Graduation Speech

First: I’m only a beginner at life. I’ve never been alive before — this is my first time. That means I’m going to make mistakes. That’s ok. Understand that it’s only inexperience. I’ll try to understand your mistakes if you’ll try to understand mine. You forgive me and I’ll forgive you. After all, we are only beginners.

Second: Life is perishable. I will only live a short time — like a squirrel for its season or a fly for its day — and then I will die. Human life is fragile and temporary, like a sparkler arching though the night, briefly illuminating the darkness. Then it’s over. Life, vulnerable as it is, is all we’ve got. And that makes it valuable, as nothing else can.

Third: Life is enough. Quick, tempestuous, brief; over way too soon, and yet my life is enough. Some believe that there is more to it than we see here, that after we die our lives will somehow continue on. If so that’s a plus. But even if this is all there is, life is wonderful. Being alive is the whole show. Despite its briefness, life is enough for life.

Fourth: I will never know a time when I’m not alive. We only know what we experience, and if death is the cessation of experiencing, then death is something which can’t be experienced. I will never know that I ceased to be. Others will experience my death, but I cannot. So, even though it’s temporary, life – as actually experienced – has a strange eternal quality. There is an eternity in the moment.

Fifth: We are all in this together. I know I’m unique, but also I know each of you is unique. Yet, despite our uniquenesses, we have common feelings, common fears and pleasures, common pains and desires, common dreams and common failures. We share this human body between us. Driven by the same needs, felled by the same diseases, we are all in this together.

Sixth and final: This one flows from the first five, “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.”

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A Few Broad Strokes

Religious atheism can be seen as an attempt to fix religion’s flaws and eliminate its untenable assertions. Most of those flaws revolve around the concept of a spiritual world separate and remote from the physical world of bodies we inhabit here on earth. Out of this mistake spring Gods and miracles and afterlife.

I can paint the religious revolution I am proposing in a few broad strokes.

Religion is not a spirituality-based enterprise, but a body-based one. Its proper object of worship is here and now, for what is bodily is inherently sacred, mysterious and—as we experience it—eternal.*

In order to understand this new religious orientation, it’s necessary to abandon the dichotomy of soul/body and replace it with a new dichotomy: experiencing/behaving. Importantly, it is necessary to declare both worthy of worship. If we do so, it follows that the sacred is right at hand, not separated from us by the chasm of death or lost in the distance of some kind of spiritual realm.

Such realm is at best an illusion of thought, the result of incorrectly drawing the categories of our existence.

By using the dichotomy of experiencing/behavior instead of mind/body, we get a clearer picture of our nature. Experiencing is easily understood as something bodily, created by the brain, and this makes our mind comprehensible as a bodily phenomenon. If a word like “spiritual” refers to something beyond or transcending the body, it becomes an unnecessary fiction. We can now see it as a fundamental misunderstanding of our existence. Pertinently, it follows that religion needs to be body-based, not hinged on the fiction of spiritual entities.

We must never forget that to refer to a beyond devalues life and ruins religion. How much better a religion real and palpable, than a fiction in the stars.

Even heaven is a stillborn vision. A “paradise” without sex or food or body is more akin to death than to life. To be worth anything, life must be bodily. The alive body is the annunciator of our existence.

Now as we all know, the objection to bringing religion down to the body, to imagining life bodily, is that we die. Our bodies die.

We don’t want to die. So we invent afterlife, we imagine heaven or summerland or nirvana and populate it with bodiless souls. Bodiless us, as if that were somehow possible.

By reformulating ourselves as something bodiless, essentially lifeless, we think we can avoid death. Define ourselves as something devoid of life and presto! we are death-proof.

So we think. But it is nothing but the worship of death by another name. The denial of life. The embrace of anti-life, which is the one evil there is.

In embracing death, afterlife, nirvana, heaven, bodiless souls—the religions of the world have betrayed all of us, betrayed the life that we are. They have turned the bow of our human ship toward nonexistence.

They have the gall to call those of us who don’t go along non-believers. When it comes to worshipping what is after life, we are indeed heretics. But their non-belief is aimed at life. Their non-belief is aimed at sex and food and pleasure and everything that is precious and wonderful and worthy of real worship. It is aimed at us.


———
* Since our experiencing of the world began with birth and will end at death, it follows that we have never experienced a time before being alive and will never experience a time after we die. Put another way, we will never know our own non-existence. Others will experience our death, but we will not. Nor does experiencing take place in fixed time, in seconds, minutes, days or years; it occurs in subjective time, moments of indeterminate and varying lengths. Fifteen minutes on the clock may “feel” like an hour; or a clock-hour may seem to whisk by in a flash. In short, our experiences occur in the unexplainable now, and are the essence of what we are; we know nothing but what we experience.

In a valid sense then our experiencing self is us, and it is therefore a remarkable observation that just as we never experienced the beginning of our experiencing, so we will never experience its ending. You can’t experience the cessation of experiencing. Therefore life as we experience it will be eternal. This is surely the source of that iridescent feeling we all have that life goes on forever. It is not untrue. But it is also true that we will die and death is final.

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the Naked Atheist

Had the gods bodies like men and women, desire would be the elixir, passion the holy sacrament, coitus the zenith of heaven. But the gods are forever bodiless, and so bodily delight—the greatest wonderment of all—became the entitlement of sunny earth.

Naked atheist looked at naked atheist and they smiled.

Sex and love—it was all the same to them. When ungod kissed the first human genitals into life at the dawn of the Pleistocene, the first human erection greeted the first vulva with delight. Sex became their Sunday service. It was the sun’s annunciation of life, and every day was Sunday.

To the naked atheist, living meant accepting death; but it meant also accepting the bodily self and, above all, accepting sex. Eternal God couldn’t do it.

God couldn’t do it because pleasure and desire and sensuality—the body of existence—put Godly existence to shame. Deity was nothing but a faint speck, disembodied, dim, a nullus compared to the bright sunshine of earthly delights.

To the extent that it worships the here and now of living, religion is atheist. But when religion looks to afterlife it casts life aside, and its eternal God strides forth as the lord of death.

Thus heaven and afterlife are euphemisms for death, and stand as the antithesis of the sunny cosmos of the living, of laughing bodies enjoying each other, of delightful sex, of happy conversations in the sun, of pleasant nakedness in the cool of the evening.

For every sun has its annunciation of life; every son too, and every daughter. They draw breath not from on high, but from here among the trees and mists of bodily life.

Naked atheist looks at naked atheist and they smile.

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Resurrection

The first Sunday
after the first full moon
after the first equinox of the year,
rise early and lean outside
in the spiced air, listen to the bells ringing.
Morning bells, bells
of the far churches
chuckling their delight for the advent of another spring
in a world that has dawned.

Easter
and already the snows have grown weary;
they drop their coats
and troop back into the darkness.
Already the gale, brabbling wind
discards his piercing shrillness
and his iciness;
he bounds forward on us warm and naked.
Already the distant sun, long aloof
forgets herself,
wanders our way, smiling broadly.
Already the crocuses and daffodils,
the jonquils, the dogwoods, the wisteria, even the white iris
alone in the field by my house,
cast off their shyness; vulnerably
expose themselves before the world,
unprotected and beautiful.

And it is spring. It is spring.
I look beyond the empty lot, out past
the steeples that stand like toys on the far street; suddenly
I see earth supple before me like a gardener
like a mother suckling rich seedmouths

and they spring up.

They spring up, they spring up
in eudicotyledon splendor of living,
resurrected in body once again.

© 1986, 1990, 2006 

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Jenny’s Wind

Jenny would love this gusty wind
were she with me here to see it playing
in these tall oak and birch she knows so well.

Yes, Jenny
would love this gutty wind which sneaks
beneath the leaves, rustling them

until they waken. The breeze
pretends it’s morning still
pretends it doesn’t know about the dark
the silence
which has swept across the world

since yesterday.

The wind is trying harder now.
Relentlessly it tries
to sweep the leaves and branches

into some sort of playful mood
some whim
to rouse them from the death-like mourning
of their silence.

Now and then
it pauses haltingly a moment. Then

rampages
rampaging
as if to chase away the darkness

as if to quell
the soundless whelming of her death
before it blackens out September.

© 1990, 2006 

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Here or Elsewhere?

The first great question of life is: here or elsewhere?

All our hungers, emotions, fears, inclinations, perceptions, desires, urges, obsessions, wants, instincts and needs answer here. Yet the answer of all the great religions is elsewhere.

It wasn’t always so. The earliest human religions were here religions. True, archaeologists point out that the practice of burying the dead goes way back in human prehistory, and this is interpreted as evidence of belief in an afterlife. Yet it is flawed to interpret ancient practices based on modern bias.

Contrary to popular assumptions, there are strong practical and emotional reasons for burials, reasons which don’t themselves point to belief in afterlife. Dead bodies decompose and stink, and become extremely unsanitary. It is emotionally disturbing to see a dead human being lying around — quadruply so when it is the body of someone we loved. Imagine the emotional impact of seeing animals and vultures clawing and pecking at your dead mate or child.

Thus it is easy to understand the human desire for burial, quite apart from the question of afterlife. It is merely a modern bias to conclude that burying the dead demonstrates belief in afterlife. It demonstrates only the belief that the dead should be buried. Beyond that we must look for other clues.

The earliest religions were here religions. Their spirits were nature spirits, their gods nature gods; their magic and shamanism were efforts to tap into the unknown powers of nature. Only later did the more sophisticated notion of a separate spiritual world, a world wholly other to everything we see around us, a world of elsewhere come into being.

The more sophisticated religions developed by alienating spirit from body. They developed by associating the mesmerizing azure blue of the sky and the mysterious regularity of the stars at night with the world of spirits and gods. Nature spirits became sky and star gods and goddesses. Eventually the even more sophisticated idea of God arose. And with God, the concept of elsewhere became dominant.

Our urges, emotions, perceptions, desires and instincts answer in unison here, but our intellect began to scream for elsewhere. And that is where we stand today.

Our intellect has made an understandable mistake — but it is a mistake. Splitting spirit from matter, soul from body, supernatural from natural made intellectual sense for thousands of years. But no longer.

Science has now taken us beyond that point. Natural selection and our modern biological understanding of the brain and mind (rudimentary as it is) make it clear that the splits were artificial. We thought they were necessary, but they were not. We were tricked by our own mental processes, the manner in which we must perforce think, into assuming that the world matched.

Science tells us it does not.

Religion is freed to return to its roots: the here and the now. No more alienation. No more elsewhere.

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Lake

the slim dark flower
i saw this morning
while walking beside
a lake i’d seen
for only an hour

pressed without warning
deep inside
and made me dream

of her lips’ sweet power

© 1990, 2008 

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