Feminist Catholics

I was reading a book called The Blank Slate, by Steven Pinker. It’s a book discussing the Nature vs. Nurture theories. In the book, I came across a chapter that reminded me of a question I used to ask a few years back, when I was more or less actively reading the Holy Bible: Can feminists be Catholics?

The following passages are from The Blank Slate:

For millennia, the major theories of human nature have come from religion. The Judeo-Christian tradition, for example, offers explanations for much of the subject matter now studied by biology and psychology. Humans are made in the image of God and are unrelated to animals. Women are derivative of men and destined to be ruled by them.

[…]

The Judeo-Christian theory is based on events narrated in the Bible. We know that the human mind has nothing in common with the minds of animals because the Bible says that humans were created separately. We know that the design of women is based on the design of men because in the second telling of the creation of women Eve was fashioned from the rib of Adam. Human decisions cannot be the inevitable effects of some cause, we may surmise, because God held Adam and Eve responsible for eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, implying that they could have chosen otherwise. Women are dominated by men as punishment for Eve’s disobedience, and men and women inherit the sinfulness of the first couple.

[…]

According to recent polls, 76 percent of Americans believe in the biblical account of creation, 79 percent believe that the miracles in the Bible actually took place, 76 percent believe in angels, the devil, and other immaterial souls[.]

But I believe Pinker may have wrote what he wrote in the hope of dismissing religion, as the following seems to indicate:

Politicians on the right embrace the religious theory explicitly, and no mainstream politican would dare contradict it in public. But the modern sciences of cosmology, geology, biology, and archaeology have made it impossible for a scientifically literate person to believe that the biblical story of creation actually took place. As a result, the Judeo-Christian theory of human nature is no longer explicitly avowed by most academics, journalists, social analysts, and other intellectually engaged people.

What is it then, which makes people believe? I would especially like to hear from those “intellectually engaged people” about this; and also from feminists who seem to gain no (practical) benefit from believing — as opposed to the men who can claim power over women through the rhetorical use of the Bible.

2 thoughts on “Feminist Catholics

  1. “I believe Pinker may have wrote what he wrote in the hope of dismissing religion”

    Pinker wasn’t dismissing religion, but merely stating the fact that most scientifically literate people (which includes himself) do not believe the Judeo-Christian theory of human nature. Scientific evidence does not fit that theory and has even been contrary to parts of that theory.

    “What is it then, which makes people believe? I would especially like to hear from those “intellectually engaged people” about this; and also from feminists who seem to gain no (practical) benefit from believing — as opposed to the men who can claim power over women through the rhetorical use of the Bible.”

    This article answers your question: http://www.csicop.org/si/2004-03/religion.html. However, it uses a lot of academic/scientific words, so you might have some difficulty understanding parts of it. (If you don’t understand the 2nd paragraph of the article, then you probably won’t understand the picture named “Religious Brain Map.” It’s a cartoon depicting a completely erroneous view of where brain activity occurs when people think about their religion. The brain has no special areas for religion, and religious info is processed in the same way that other info are.) The point of the article is that individuals become religious b/c of some factors/processes that most people are not aware of, like biological traits that make people more likely to have certain types of superstitious beliefs, engage in ritualistic behavior, and believe/do the same things that other people in their social setting believe/do.

    People don’t often perform rational cost-benefit analyses, unless they’re economists. Feminist Catholics are Catholic b/c they were socialized to be Catholic. If they hadn’t been socialized to be Catholic, then they wouldn’t be Catholic. It’s about conformity, which has some practical benefits, but people usu. conform b/c of various social psychological factors (see http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/a_conforming.htm), not b/c of rational cost-benefit analysis, which is why people conform even when it’s not in their best interest to do so.

  2. However, it uses a lot of academic/scientific words, so you might have some difficulty understanding parts of it.

    It seems to require thinking. At this point of time, I’m not quite ready to think. I’m quite tired. Ha.

    “It’s a cartoon depicting a completely erroneous view of where brain activity occurs when people think about their religion. The brain has no special areas for religion, and religious info is processed in the same way that other info are.”

    Different types of information are processed in different parts of the brain. Ever heard of “left-brain, right brain”? It’s the theory that logical thinking is normally processed in the left side, while creative thinking on the right. Just an example.

    “People don’t often perform rational cost-benefit analyses, unless they’re economists”

    I totally agree with you. People, homosapiens, are not generally completely logical. Many times we use feeling instead to make decisions, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If the whole world were completely sane and logical, most of us would probably go mad just thinking about the meaning of things, where one why? leads to another, and finally the ultimate why?

    By the way, these opinions were written quite a while back, and don’t necessarily portray the way I think now.

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