Deterministic Spirituality

Comments on Religious Philosophy

.. as it affects people on the Spectrum

Spirituality Based on Logic

Obviously, what is described here is not a religion in the sense of a complete belief system based on a supreme being. There's more than enough of that around in mainstream religions and in cults. The purpose is to facilitate spirituality if that is a personal desire.





Definition (of Religion)

Religion is that set of beliefs and/or institutions, behaviors and emotions which binds humans in a spiritual sense. This can be either a belief in a supreme being or belief in a supreme ideal.

An autistic religious philosophy of course relates to a supreme ideal. Belief (or non-belief) in a supreme being is a separate issue. Specifically, an autistic religious philosophy does not preclude identification with other religious beliefs. As suggested above, it would be preposterous to presume an autistic religion in the sense of a complete belief system based on a supreme being.





Faith

There really is no reason "you must believe".

It is entirely possible to adhere to religious philosophy without a belief in a specific thing; even belief in a supreme being.

This concept may seem at odds with some religious thoughts, but only because of specific teachings. Christianity in particular holds faith (in the sense of a belief in God) as a central tenet. This is not true of all religions. Judaism, Wicca and most Eastern religions do not require a belief in God. (e.g., an atheistic Jew is considered to still be Jewish by most Jews.)

It is probable that the founders of most religions recognized that absolute belief was unnecessary. This is reflected by early adherents to most religions, who wrote substantial parts of their scripture as allegory.

There are also aspects of most religions which relate to autism. In Abrahamic religions, consider Mosesfn1     and Ezra the Scribe, whose hobby was compiling and transcribing the Bible. Wicca has legends about "changelings". Christianity's treatment of Mary Magdalene, while clouded by passage of time, is reminiscent of how Aspie girls are regarded by NTs (neurologically typical people).

Significantly, Autistics are likely to distinguish taking something "on faith" from accepting a belief system as a personal philosophy. This is at odds with professing absolute faith but is congruous with other facets of a religion.

There are some in the religion field who go beyond faith. "You give a baby milk before it can eat solid food" is occasionally used as a reference to an intent to deceive people about particular parts of a religious which may be considered unacceptable. (The expression as used in the Christian New Testament may have other meanings. I leave that to Bible scholars to sort out.)fn2     So not only are people not to question things, but they're not to be told of things that could cause raise the specter of controversy. Obviously a doctrine of deceipt tells something about the religion!

fn1       Moses is described as stating he was "heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue" (Exodus 4:10) and "have uncircumcised lips" (Exodus 6:12 and 6:30). It is unclear whether this was intended to describe nonverbalism, a physical defect such as a cleft palate, or something else. In any case, the writing goes on to describe how Moses used Aaron to address his people.

fn2       'I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it, and even yet you are not ready.'' (1 Cor. 3:2; similar in Heb. 5:12); Vulgate: "I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were unable to take it."





On NT Mores

Many of society's "rules" (e.g., those relating to inhibitions and repressed sexuality) are driven by NT values. Often these are religion-based but the religious injunctions against open sexuality are also seen in non-religious societies -- they are NT "rules" masquerading as religious values. If one goes back into history, these "rules" were completely different, and matched the social standards of the times. (e.g., The Mormon Church currently opposes alcoholic beverages, but prior to the 1920's had a Church winery, located in St. George's, Utah (US). (explanation))

If we suppose some of the rules of society are just that -- rules of society based on NT values, and not an organic part of one's religious beliefs, then we must take an objective view of those rules. For those on The Spectrum, a logical approach is generally best.





Ideal vs. Ethos

We should be circumspect when listening to others' opinions regarding personal behaviour. NTs have a tendency to profess one ideal and follow another course. That isn't disingenuous; it's just the way that NTs express themselves. In the case of religious-political ethos, it can be confusing.

The NT tendency to profess one ideal and follow a different course is an interesting philosophical discussion point. If one matches a belief to actual behaviour, one can demonstrate a favorable personality trait. If this differs from an ideal, then the ideal can be expressed as something distinguished from pragmatic belief. This differs from NT expression and thought, which suggest that one should claim to follow an ideal even if such a claim is fiction.

This sort of expression of a strongly stated position which contradicts accepted behaviour is fairly common with issues involving

  • business ethics
  • military issues
  • honesty during social activity
  • sexuality
  • treatment of other species
This is different from stating an ideal which is approached if not attained. If one's behavior actually tracks the ideal, even if it isn't expected to reach the ideal, one can honestly claim to adhere to the ideal.

Similarly, it is common for people to observe some facet of their religion at home, but not while outside of the home. Regardless, it wouldn't make sense to profess an ideal which one does not expect to follow at all.



Money Talks. Bovine Scatology Walks.

It is interesting to note that some religious groups "position" monitary donations to the religious group in the same category as unattainable ideals. Even though you can't be the ideal person, you can give them money!

One should give money to a religious organization for the same reason one gives money to any social club -- only to the extent that:

  1. You receive a direct tangible benefit

  2. You want the religious organization to spend the money in a certain way, e.g., for social services.
    Usually social service agencies associated with the religious group are more relevant than the religious group itself. (Many of these agencies are particularly worthy.)
  3. You want the religious organization to have more funds.
One should not feel compelled to give money to a religious group in response to the religious groups telling you this is necessary.




Toward the Mundane

If one doesn't expect to strive for the ideal, then it is disingenuous to describe it as something being followed. If, for example, one is active sexually outside of marriage, then why would one profess a chaste lifestyle?

This doesn't change the "ideal". Some religions have ascetics who reach the ideal, but most adherents of that religion do not adapt corresponding ascetic lifestyles. This also doesn't preclude an ideal of an unattainable goal, so long as the unattainable goal is stated as such. Regardless, professing to follow an unrealistic goal is by its own right disingenuous. It defines the person as inherently unworthy.

While the concept of redemption from sin is part of some religious views, this is quite different from claiming to follow an unrealistic goal. One can seek redemption for not meeting the ideal even if one openly admits that the ideal is unrealistic.

In terms of autism, one may apologize for specific autistic traits offending others, but it is quite a different thing to apologize for not succeeding at "becomming NT". To seek redemption for failing to meet an unrealistic goal suggests one is inherently unworthy.





NT Sexual Mores

Sexuality receives various treatments by different religious groups, for good reason -- sexuality is strongly intertwined with social activity, and yet reaches a personal level. Not suprisingly, these are NT values.

Sexual awareness and sexual healing (addressing limitations in one's sexual behaviour) are an important part of one's personal development and fulfillment as a human. If one suppresses that aspect of oneself, one is denying a part of their humanity.

NT (neurologically typical people's) sexual mores are a combination of historical NT needs and conflicted ideology. This relates to an NTs tendency to profess one ideal and follow another course. Their philosophy in that regard has little benefit to us.

In the case of sexual mores, one should fit within societal norms to the extent of not being too far out of touch with others' expectations.

Despite this, it is entirely acceptable to fully express oneself sexually within a religious society (or other closed society) so long as one is not breaking the law. There are a number of religious groups which advocate freely expressive sexuality.





A Standard

Much of this relates to sexuality, but this is one area where "social guidelines" are expected to be understood.

THE RULES

  • Determine what you want.
  • Determine what you and your partner want.
  • Do things because you want to; not because you feel pressured.
  • Do something because it fits your own desire unless it is contrary to your partner's desire.
  • If someone asks for something that you don't want, feel free to refuse. If it's very important to the other person and you don't have significant objections, then it's okay to go along with the other person's wishes.
  • What you are doing is right if it is right for your own self-image and does not cause significant problems.
You need not make excuses for your behaviour. There's a distinction between some people's professed ideals and the "operating rules" they live by. Following a realistic ethos is a way of being true to oneself. NTs have a cognitive difficulty with that concept, but will respect you for it.

In some cases, a particular religious philosophy proscribes particular sexual activity. This may be in opposition to the realities of being on the Spectrum, depending of course on the individual.

While the concept that Autistics cannot achieve successful marriages is largely discredited, there remain a significant percentage of Autistics for whom successful marriage is not an option. (This is probably also the case with NTs.) While one could take the position that lifetime chastity is in order for those people, that is unrealistic and probably destructive. Taking away a significant aspect of one's life (e.g., sexuality for most people) is by definition taking away part of one's life. It is imperative to live life in a fulfilling manner.

In the realm of religion whose leaders hail from Planet Aspie (and wear corduroy robes), the scripture is inscribed with logic!


Links on the subject of religion on The Spectrum are at www.neurodiversity.com

to www.scn.org/people/autistics/sexuality.html - general discussion on Sexuality and Sexual Healing in the Spectrum"

to www.scn.org/people/autistics/relationships.html - general discussion on "Dating and Socialization in the Spectrum"

to www.scn.org/people/autistics/ - (index page)


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First written 16 Feb 06. Last revised 21 Dec 08.

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