Christian is a Philosopher that comes from Belgium. What identifies him the most and above all is simplicity, for everything is better with “vanilla ice cream.” Perhaps, for this reason, his intellectual passion is criticism and irony, in the sense of trying to reveal what “hides behind the mask,” and give birth to the true. For him, ignorance and knowledge never “cross paths.” What he likes the most in his leisure time, is to go for a walk with his wife.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: We talk about religion a lot. Yet, it’s less amenable to a claim of an obsession to us, I think, because it’s responsive and proactive rather than dogmatic and committal, and reactive, as seen in much of the doctrinal faith systems available. The forms of egregious power plays, abuse of women and girls, restriction of the emotional lives of boys and men, siloing of human potentialities into roles fit for the hierarchs as the laity. Some, an increasing number, of us see this as abhorrent and worth pushing back against it, frankly, without many qualms and placation to the huffing and puffing of anonymous interlocutors. Why does much of global religion need an update or a sect-by-sect consideration of deletion from the minds of men?
Dr. Christian Sorensen: I think that religions, are mediating forms, that arise and develop, from the need that man has, to relate to the transcendent, which in my opinion, is something that differs diametrically from sects, since although, the latter are directed to the same object as transcendence, on the other hand, with respect to their objectives, sects aren’t over the same line, because while the former has its origin in intrinsic needs, that I will denominate legitimate needs, the second instead, would be based on what for me are needs of instrumentalization. The aforementioned means, that supposedly, when spiritual emotions appear, what actually is found empirically, are basic needs of primitive nature, that are utilitarianly served by original ones, and therefore act subsidiarily, in order to achieve secondary gains. Due to the fact that these last have the appearance of need, and even though they may have a better aesthetic image, futilely, they ultimately aren’t in no sense real vectors of nothing. In this context, in turn, it could be said, that if religions play a facilitating role, because they allow that man, feels the chance of approaching and accessing transcendence, then it would be deducible to think, that this kind of sacred myths, should be contingents and disposables, when they become obsoletes, therefore, depending on the existential vicissitudes of every historical moment, if they don’t reach to adapt to reality, then they must be discharged as useless and harmful for the spirit of humanity. The opposite, would be to imagine, that these archaic crutches, constitute, monolithic and theosophical belief systems, with the consequent lackness, in the capacity of problematization, and then, to be unable to respond to anything else, than to their own staleness ritualisms, since if they can’t read the timing of time, in other words, they aren’t capable to comprehend, that a constant and homeostatic rearrangement of things, is needed, especially regarding in what ails human existence, because of its creator, then much less, they would reach to calm, what for me, is the anguish of noneness, or by default, they will be able to confront, fundamental and universal uncertainties, such as could be, the problem of where we come from, why we are here, or the issue of towards where we are going to. Sects, for their part, sometimes can have the pretense to become religions, nevertheless on occasions, and without wishing to recognize it, they will also be inserted within them, as occurs for example, with the sect of the Opus Dei, which is embedded inside the Roman Catholic Church. In the case of this nature of sects, the original instrumental needs of religions, that act as reference, will remain even more hidden, since only in that way, they are going to be capable to achieve more sophisticated and attractive secondary gains, in terms of what I will name, as cognitive intentional distortion. In consequence, from my point of view, what the good sense suggests, as common sense, is not the need of a requirable updating, but rather, the need for applying a final solution, whose modus operandi would imply, the public exposure of their fallacies and of their rhetorical language, in order to discursively, tear them down in pieces, in that manner, the resources on which such sects, sustain and nourish artificially themselves, along with their mood to continue violating and corrupting, what for me, is the innermost part of the being as good will, are going to succumb, by the effect of butterflies, as if they were castles in the air.
Jacobsen: Religions like the Roman Catholic Church are about control. Why?
Sorensen: Because if the Roman Catholic Church, was not based on control, then it would not be possible for them to exist. The above, is sustained in turn, on a first premise that refers to the dominance of knowledge, and therefore alludes to the original sin, where the desire to eat the forbidden fruit, represented in man, its desire to be as god, which is equivalent to access the knowledge of everything that exists, and is what ultimately leads the church, to submit the reason by all possible means, since science and its light, age going to be associated with evil, while at the same time, they will employ, the strategy of a second presumption, according to which, they intend to force their followers, to buy the indulgences for their eternal salvation, because is the only way, organically speaking, for staying alive, therefore, if the last misses, there’s no manner that the church may not disappear. The latest, is deep down the reason, why they hide behind apostolic and evangelizing facades, in consequence, this is the smoke screen used over centuries, in order to create scrupulous consciences, laden with guilt, to whom, heavy crosses have been hung for expiating through the cures, all real and imaginary sins. Indeed, the aforementioned, has occurred, after having cultivated first, the need to escape from the eternal punishment, and to bend their knees, in front of the wife of Jesus Christ for obtaining some kind of forgiveness. From this turning point onwards, they have restricted all kind of direct communication between man and God, and they have self-affirmed, with the power for retaining or releasing men from their sins, thus keeping in their hands, the keys to the kingdom. The above, I’m going to name it, as the perverse contract for the salvation of souls, which in practice, consists of a macabre equation, between the threat of being thrown into the darkness of the avernus, and the paralysis for feeling terrified, which lastly leads, to accept with complete resignation, what I consider to be, the soul auction for the game of salvation.
Jacobsen: Different Jewish variations on Judaism exist. What would you change about each of them? And why?
Sorensen: In order to understand the different variations that exist within Judaism, it is necessary in my opinion, to bear in mind, that perhaps this, is the only religion that tries to approach the problem of God and of its creation, from a rational and empirical perspective, which means in general, the rejection of any form of dogmatism, since the exercise of reflecting in a climate of discursive discussion, is not only well accepted, but is also actively promoted, because it is understood, as a fundamental source of enrichment and progress, although they don’t lose the awareness of knowledge limits, in the sense of believing that there are truths, with respect to which, it is only possible to make a sort of close up by groping, but in no case, a direct access to them. I think that Jewish religion, is a musical score, that allows different interpretations, therefore due to this reason, it will be possible to find plenty of different variants in their forms, nevertheless, in their background, neither of them is going to be less Jewish than the other. The aforementioned, makes factible, to find spiritual currents so dissimilar, as orthodox and liberal reformers can be. Although I do not feel identified with the former, it is difficult for me, to make an objective critical judgement regarding them, maybe, because I am grateful, after having been well received with my family, when we lived in Bnei Brak, which is an ultra-orthodox city, or since I feel sorry, for how much they have suffered, due to the historical persecutions of which they have been victims, especially, during the catholic inquisition, the pogroms in Russia, and the Shoa of Nazi Germany. My mood, perhaps leans me to both, or to the fact, of feeling indirectly, an emotional closeness to orthodoxy, because of my wife, who descends by direct line, from Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the Maharal of Prague, and comes across generations, from a family with religious roots. From a more analytical perspective, I consider that although they may have, in my opinion, the typical defect that has any form of hermetic extremism, for the simple issue of being in that way, on the other hand, they have the virtue of having lived for centuries, congruently and in accordance with their beliefs and traditions, at the same time, that they have always projected happiness and pride, for being what they are. In this sense, and unlike other religions, as is the case of roman Catholicism, they have never used proselytizing zeal, as a justification to trample on freedom and dignity of others. For their part, the reformists, who constitute the other extreme and the vast majority of Jews, form in turn, a wide range of variants with other movements, which are more or less conservatives, and although it could be said that these last, have the advantage of not having remained stopped in time, as has happened with the orthodox, and to contribute besides, with an important grain of sand to Judaism, because of their vision of tolerance, and their open-mindedness to changes, there is a counterpart, that regards their excess of relativism and pragmatism, which from my point of view, sometimes has lead them, to approaches loaded with superficiality and inconsistencies, that occasionally besides, gives the impression of a dummy infantilism, that due to their naivety and lack of intellectual neatness, advances through stumbles, and at times they seem to lack of fear of God, that risks to place the essence of Judaism, in danger of extinction.
Jacobsen: Islam and local cultures have a mixture of female genital mutilation practices incorporated into them too. It’s always astounding that large-scale political structures – religions – assert freedom of the will via a belief in the soul to do the willing. Yet, they invent preposterously invasive systems of coercion and brutality on its adherents who have been cowed into submission or silence, or silent worship of the fantastical, mythological, and the incredible. Why need the systems if people should freely choose? What do you think are the means by which religions, traditional, crush followers and doubters into suppressing their own authentic selves and true enlightened self-interests?
Sorensen: On many occasions, it is not people, who choose the systems at the expense of their individual freedoms, rather they are these who insert them within their hunting nets, before they can even arrive to choose anything. The last, would trigger in both cases, what I will denominate as phenomena of systematic submission, due to the dependence, codependency and counterdependence, which means respectively, and regarding the rules of any system, the passive self-submission of individuals, the construction of self-esteem through complacency for pleasing others, and the search for its contrary, in terms of the desire for independence, nevertheless simultaneously expresses here and now, the fear of this need and the active rejection of it. The latest, paradoxically, does not causes more than the struggle for independence, that’s ultimately another form of dependency. In relation to the above, and since I consider, that no individual, is able to be completely self-sufficient, in the sense, of getting to absolutely dispense with a system, because if not, nobody could survive under such conditions, and therefore, would be condemned to disappear, is from my point of view, something that necessarily is going to be imposed by the law of life, independently of whether somebody desires it or not. In consequence, anyone who decides to rebels against this sort of slavery, with a dominator master that’s above, will be in front of something, that unleashes a degree of self-alienation and spoils its existence. In other terms, freedom, is always going to be within the intimate sphere, as simple will, and secondarily, depending on the level of control that systems exercise, it will be just the act of choice, therefore one thing is for sure regarding it, and is that freedom, will never be translatable to the expression, of what for me is the autonomy of destiny, since constantly there would be a determinant, as pre existential antecedent, and state of preconsciousness, that no matter if it’s given out systematically or not, it will remain invariably fixed, because destiny, lastly is always a manifesto of an a prioristical fact. Those religions, that are detached from an axis, that’s more Christian than Judaic, have in common, the exercise of control over their faithful, by which, they even reach limits, that turn them into a sort of vacuum sheeps and of living dead, that act desperately in order to gain eternal lives, regarding which, no one even knows if they actually exist as such or not. Therefore, they lead their lives, by carrying their tails between legs, and by moving themselves with inertia, as if they were decerebrates, since ultimately, what they unconsciously search, is to satisfy above everything, the basic instincts of their pastors. The aforementioned, is not something of conditional order, it is rather, a real sine qua non, which in practical terms means, that if the locus of control is not founded within these religions, then neither of them, will be able to transform itself, since in their most intimate essence, there’s the imperative impulse to create the need of spiritual salvation, that additionally, must be a form of subjugation, towards the approval of their hierophants and minions in command. In other words, the ecclesiastical hierarchs, can only dominate through morals, which for me and seen from a reversed mode, is equivalent to affirm, that Christian morality, is the morality of the self-resignation.
Jacobsen: Some consequences of religion on women have been catastrophically idiotic. Idiotic because of the lack of sense and decency. Also, idiotic because the justifications and the practices are barbaric. Male genital mutilation and female genital mutilation come to mind. Some minority arguments are made for positive health effects for either, but, in either case, these arguments tend to fall apart – let alone violate ideas of adult, mature, fully-informed and prior consent on something as drastic as the cutting of flesh from the body’s ‘private’ parts. In a modern world, with widespread practices of hygiene and knowledge of germs and bodily healthy, why is the violation of bodily integrity illegitimate?
Sorensen: I think that such practices, generally not only are idiots and barbarians, but also are macabre, since from a religious perspective, these are mutilations, that seek to repress carnal pleasure, as something, that is always associated with evil. However, I consider that it is necessary to make a distinction, between male and female mutilations, due to the fact, that they have different connotations. The male one, refers to the people of Israel and the descendants of Ishmael, which respectively alludes, to the halachic law, that says regarding circumcision, that it is the way by which God, makes man participate in its creation, meanwhile Islamists, through this custom, believe in the myth that by doing so, men will be able to acquire greater sexual potency. The last, is within a cultural context, that has to do with the patriarchs, where polygamy was legitimized as a mean for increasing their numbers. If the male circumcision, is now analyzed from a scientific perspective, then it could be stated, that constitutes an objective hygienic resource, in the sense to benefit women more than men, by preventing the incidence of cervical cancer, human papilloma and other diseases, as well as by preventing sexual disorders, such as premature ejaculation. All of the above, has nothing to do with women genital mutilations, since regardless of their circumstances, what is always actually sought, as a fixed idea, has to do with the intention to eliminate within them, any vestige of possibility for experiencing sexual pleasure, because in that way, they handle the strongest and surest mechanism for controlling female’s superiority, which enables them, if they wish so, to enjoy lustfully with several at once. Simultaneously, and strictly speaking from a macho point of view, the aforementioned, is seen and interpreted as risky, because calls into question and exposes openly, what has to do with masculine inferiority, therefore, probably places man virility, as a mere spectator of the sexual scene, that is not even allowed to participate. If the aforementioned, could be synthesized just in a sentence, then it would be possible to affirm, that what illegitimates the most these kind of practices, is the fact that almost all of them, have lack of consent, since it’s not surprising for nobody, that these are carried out with children, who evidently, do not have any capacity to decide nor to discern, as use to happens with Catholics, when they immerse these innocents, in their baptismal fonts, for sealing the fate of their souls.
Jacobsen: Following from the previous question, if a positivist ethics implies the outcomes, what is the import of the choice to bodily integrity in this view?
Sorensen: According to a positivist ethics, the possibility of what I will denominate a choice of will, is fundamental, since it would be what differentiates a morally reprehensible act, from one that is not. In this sense, it wouldn’t be enough, from an ethical perspective, the only presence of a freedom of choice, because this last, must rather arise, spontaneously, from the internal conviction of somebody, who is the object of said practice, which consequently implies, that there should be, what I’m going to name as technically verifiable conscious discernment, that according to a chronological point of view, presumably is what precedes, any decision free of all type of coercions. In this sense, I also think, that male and female mutilations, in a different frame of reference, can become extraordinary practices, when by means of a medical intervention, it is possible to modify the wrong body of a soul, and therefore, offer to a person, the opportunity to change its gender, and in this way, allow to achieve the lost harmony and fulfillment with itself, that can transforms its life for the better.
Jacobsen: in my opinion, practices of non-consenting, fully-informed mutilation of the body by another should be considered harmful, even illegal and criminally liable. What do you think?
Sorensen: I agree, and perhaps in some cases, where the capacity of comprehension may be too short, for understanding, the extent of the seriousness of such atrocities, it may be useful to apply, the principle that says, that an image worth a thousand words, and then if necessary, regarding those who are repeat offenders of such practices, to apply for educational purposes, the logic of what for me is the quid pro quo.
Jacobsen: Why do you think that?
Sorensen: I think, that just as no one can feel like the owner of someone, anyone has the right either, to take the life of another person, because regardless of the reason, who steals it, also becomes a criminal. Therefore, no one has the authority, to decide on someone else’s body, since if no body, has any aseity for existing, then this one needs to be absolutely rooted, and in consequence, it must be belonged with exclusivity, which means, that must be held up by just one person, because if not, what is lastly usurped, is the heart of one’s self.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the inside insight in sight on this site, Dr. Sorensen.
Sorensen: My pleasure Mr. Jacobsen.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight Publishing and Editor-in-Chief of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal (ISSN 2369-6885). Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and the advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere.
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