Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Saint Augustine’s Misconceived Ideas: Male Chauvinism, “Androcentrism” and Ignorance

Catholic Church has been the most important occidental religion in the last two thousand years, and also the most influential in politics, morals and, in general, whole private life of millions.
Many closed-minded characters have gone through the ranks of Catholicism, thus impeding scientific progress and full freedom to which we are all right, and imposing retrograde dogma of force (although they contradict with nature and even their own “sacred” book).
Many of these characters have existed, but one in particular deserves the attention of this analysis: St. Augustine of Hippo. St. Augustine, that figure considered by the Catholic Church as a saint, used these words to refer to the curiosity:

There is another form of temptation; even more fraught with danger. That is the disease of curiosity. It is it who prompts us to try to discover the secrets of nature; those secrets that are beyond our understanding, those that do not provide any advantage, and which any man should not want to learn”.

Imagine what kind of conversation would have been between you and the "gently" St. Augustine, a boring conversation, authoritarian and without admission of free questions. Talking with him about religion or metaphysics, it would have been impossible for two reasons: the first relates to the above, the second responds to the fact that in his time, St. Augustine spent part of his time condemning as heretics (and hence, condemning to death) to any person who believed different things (or did not believe at all) to the commanding Catholic Church.
You can imagine, what kind of mind could propose the abolition of human curiosity! That is, Saint Augustine believed that curiosity really provides no advantage in life? Did you made? Or only used these words according to his convenience and expediency of the ecclesiastical authorities? It seems that is the last thing that has moved all the characters who paraded through the corridors of Catholicism. You can not believe that a person really wants to cancel a virtue so important in life as a curiosity. Or I would say St. Augustine that he never felt curiosity about the character and nature of God, or curious about what people thought or why he thought it, or curious to know more about his world (even the religious way, ie Subjectively). Without human curiosity, advances in science or any other matter would be poor, since it is the same curiosity that drives human to learn new things and make your personal life something interesting and enriching. Of course I do not mean curiosity for what they do individuals in their private lives, because that kind of curiosity has a special name: gossip. With curiosity I mean our ability and need to learn new things, our ability to surprise some new experience and go beyond to know and understand better. This kind of curiosity is what motivates people's lives: the quest for knowledge and understanding yourself, on the one hand, and know and understand the nature, on the other. Without curiosity there is no new knowledge, and thus achieves a stalemate knowledge precisely what happened for about five hundred thousand years thanks to the efforts of the Catholic Church. But St. Augustine not only made comments about human curiosity, but practically speaking, all he had to do with human beings, albeit clearly ignorant and despotic (as the God of the Bible). His idea about women is astonishing to most people today:
"Women should not be lit or educated in any way. In fact, they should be segregated as they are the cause of insidious and involuntary erections in the holy men. "
In other words, what a male chauvinism level is reflected in their own words! In other words, good St. Augustine had the idea that man was as wise, enlightened, which had exclusive right to education and knowledge, and the great innocent of the movie. In another of his appointments we could see more of this "ideology":
"It's Eve, tempting, from whom we must guard in every woman ... I fail to see what utility can serve women for the man, apart from the role of conceiving children. "
That is because the "saint" of St. Augustine (worth redundancy), women led him shameful erections, dared to disregard for this in a way of male chauvinism and ignorance. Apparently no one could find that no woman was even aware of their erections, while he blame others of a natural physiological process that happened in himself! On the other hand, good Augustine clearly not respected at least to women, none. Not respected neither her mother nor their relatives women, and in general, no woman. Saying that women only serves to conceive children is an insult not only to women of his era, even to women of all eras, but is an insult to all mankind! But I wonder, if women only served to conceive children, then what do St. Augustine served for? Does he was even allowed to have offspring? Well, the answer is NO. Very probably this explicit aversion to women has resulted in negative personal experiences, in addition to influences and characteristics propper of an era of ignorance as to the nature in general, in this case, the human race. Fortunately, we are in an era in which our knowledge about human nature (still imperfect), has enabled us to free ourselves of old and absurd taboos imposed by religions, and gives us a picture significantly different in terms of moral questions of our own nature and our position in it. We know now that both men and women belong to the same species: Homo sapiens, and carry a relationship of mutual horizontality, unlike the verticality dogmatic idealized by centuries mainly encouraged by the Catholic Church. Under this concept, there is no weaker sex or less; only exist some natural physiological, anatomical and morphological differences , common to all living sexual species. This is called sexual dimorphism. Just as lions, elephant seals, spiders, the peacock and other animals, such differences between males and females, humans also owns. Neither man is superior to women, or women superior to men; each has their own features and functions. That is how we shaped by the evolutionary process. Therefore, we must never again refer to humanity as "man" but as "human beings", which is a name more just and free of prejudice and ignorance. But St. Augustine obviously did not know all these things we have learned through scientific knowledge, so we need to judge their words and ideas as the thinking of its time.
As Stephen Jay Gould said about James Ussher, an Irish Archbishop , who determined that the creation took place on October 23 the year 4004 BC:
"I have to defend the timeline established by Ussher while a commendable effort for its time, and argued that his ridiculous alleged facet is the result of an unfortunate poverty of vision, born of our unhealthy habit of judging from the distant past and different in light of current criteria. "
But obviously come from Ussher to reach this conclusion was scientific, although the premise that he departed were not, while St. Augustine was limited to only irrational field of theology. So, anyway, a little common sense and rational thinking would have prevented St. Augustine, and many others, to say many atrocities on women, sex, the human being as vedette of creation, and so on. There is no superiority between the sexes, nor human superiority over other living beings. All living beings on this planet we are equally advanced and evolved, none is more evolved than another or superior to another. All that happens is that each has followed a path itself evolutionarily speaking.
In his book The City of God, St. Augustine tries to explain how it was divine selection of creatures that should go into the Noah's Ark:
"So I do not think that there were those without sex, because he (Noah) was ordered to be male and female, since some animals that are born of anything, without union of male and female, and then to come together and engender such as flies, and others in whom there is no male and female, such as bees. "
What is talking St. Augustine about? Obviously, the spontaneous generation. As I wonder earlier, what does St. Augustine served for? Within the inspiration that God gave him, how could not even give a little new information about basic things like that there is no spontaneous generation? In short, if women have only served to conceive children (according to him), he had no children. Women 1 - St. Augustine 0. But he served to convey the message of God... or not? If God existed, could have given correct information and solved their mistakes and those of others on various natural issues. But as what he called divine inspiration was just inside his head, then, let's say he did not provide for such task either. Women 2 - St. Augustine 0. Even under his own thinking, women win.
As we can see, many myths and misconceptions of nature have governed our culture for centuries, but is in our hands rid of them. Many people such as St. Augustine have shown very little curiosity and a lot of ignorance, which has had terrible consequences in terms of scientific development and human rights over the past millennia. Today we can ask ourselves: Do we really want to live like that? I am confident that the response of the majority would be a resounding NO.

1 comment:

Sacha said...

Sadly, most still allow themselves to be brainwashed by religion and the infringement on human rights.
I agree with you, except that the majority would still argue for their religion.
Hopefully one day this will change.