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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Religion and the Love/Hate Emotion

A college friend of mine pointed out once that love and hate are not opposites. She pointed out that they are the same and that apathy is their opposite.

My experience since then has found this to have been, and to still be, profoundly true.

Both love and hate can drive a person insane. Both can induce irrationality in a person otherwise completely rational. Both can alter the courses of lives. Both can be powerful motivators.

Love and hate are the opposite faces of the same coin. The coin of passion.
The coin of passion is much like The Force in Star Wars. It has a light side and a dark side. 
The light side is used construct, build and help while the dark side is used to destroy and aggregate power and for revenge.

Obviously the difference is the direction of the passion and not the passion itself.

Love is much like the Jedi path while hate is the path of the Sith.

The Star Wars analogy, of course, is not a new one for any fans of the series (nor people who have even heard of it) and I am not claiming any originality in making it.

What interests me more than the Star Wars analogy to love/hate is the realization that religion is just an application of this emotional coin. Religious fervor is much like the irrational motivations people have when they are deeply in love or when they are deeply motivated by hatred.
Those affected by such devotion to a religion have the same level of responses to their faith and the doctrines of it that people have toward the object of their love/hate.

When people let this emotion warp and twist their lives they turn into hate machines that are willing to apply that hate toward everything and anything that opposes their faith. They will kill. They will torture. They will maim. They will steal. They will do all of the evil and bad things that people do when they hate something.
When people have a religious indoctrination based on the emotionally less-mature path that is easier to manage through destruction they are a detriment to ALL of mankind. They become examples of why humanity shouldn't be allowed to survive and become examples of why religion is bad. They make me glad that I lack any and all faith in anything because I never want to experience the level of darkness that their faith brings into their heart. There are far too many people like this in the news because they can do such a disproportionate amount of damage to others and that is scary to everyone else.
Conversely, though, are the people who find religion enhances their lives in positive ways.
I have many friends of faith. Many friends whose faith enriches their lives. Many friends whose faith brings them peace and comfort. Many friends whose faith is absolute and drives them to love their fellow man with the same heart-wrenching level of compassion as they have for the people they know in person. Many people who make me want to be a better person. Many people whose faith in their deity makes me angry that the gift of faith was never bestowed on me. These people are some of the best people I know and their love and tolerance makes the world a better place. There people, when they make the news, generate heart-warming stories that restore a small portion of my humanity. Unfortunately we do not have enough examples and stories of people helping others. We don;t have these stories because they are boring. Fear sells because it is actionable. Happiness does not sell because it is not.

Religious faith, therefore, must be the same emotion.
I find this revelation interesting that religion is just an extension of the love/hate emotion.

Which leads me to wonder if people who lack emotion or have trouble parsing love or hate or whose love/hate baseline is set at a different "neutral" position have vastly different (this is a relative term) brain structures or chemistries in a certain structure of their brains.

Just another idle ponderance that infected my mind and would not leave until I wrote it down. Feel free to comment, discuss, add links to relevant scientific articles, etc.

1 comment:

  1. I tend to use the word "indifference" or just not caring for the opposite of love.
    I could go on and on about hate. :)