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We live in a world rife with temptation. Natural human instinct is to do what feels good, but what happens when these hedonistic urges for instant gratification are forced through the morality wringer and into the public conscious? Where is the point of separation between one man’s pleasure and another man’s sin?At what point does the concession of social living impede the individual’s right to pleasure? These questions of morality create a dichotomy, hedonist on one side and those reject pleasure in favor of moral supposition on the other. Early man survived much the same way the majority of the animal kingdom does today, by instinct. When the caveman was hungry, he ate. When the caveman grew tired, he slept. For the purpose of reproduction the caveman engaged in sexual activity. What drove the caveman to do such things? Instinct is the answer, deep inside the caveman he possesses the inheritable need to survive. Consequently, the gratification this achieved as a result of these instinctual actions constitute pleasure. Thus pleasure is a by-product of instinct. Where does morality fit into a life driven by instinct? Is morality inherent in the survival instinct? Or is morality, in fact, something that was invented and taught by man? As man evolved, language became more advanced, and social structure more civilized. Man seemed to be cognizant of the instinctual need for pleasure. The Pagans, the Northern Traditions, the Romans, the Egyptians, and the Greeks all recognized the important role of pleasure and integrated those principles into their everyday lives. The spiritual beliefs of these groups went with nature, instead of being a a hindrance to it. It is not until the introduction of Jahweh, the God of Abraham, that action on instinctual pleasures becomes an act of the pariah. A new morality is ushered upon man based on superstition and mythology that radically alters the thinking about what is natural. The introduction of Jahweh removes pleasure from the equation of life. If man is hungry now, he can eat, but if he does so to excess then he is a glutton and there for a sinner. And what of the caveman who engaged in sex for the biological act of human reproduction, are they sinners for participating in a sexual relationship outside of marriage? The hypocrisy of modern western religions, and the morality set they promote, are an integral part of the dismantlement of instinctual pleasure. The very human act of thinking has corrupted the process of instinctual pleasure. What modern religion has done is introduce and attach the concept of shame and guilt to those who follow through on what is a natural part of being a human. This creates a division of thought between those who follow a philosophical morality structure and those who are willing to give into their natural predilection toward pleasure. Can it be said, without prejudice, that knowingly suppressing these hedonistic urges is in the interest of the advancement of the species? Or, is it more likely that man, with his ability to think, is overlooking the fact that humans are animals and not as far removed from the rest of the animal kingdom as some would propose? The extremes of this dichotomy, being the pleasure seeker who’s bacchanalian ambitions revolve around satisfying their natural yearning inside to do so, and the devout religious type who often goes to great lengths, such as vows of celibacy, to reject pleasure on moral grounds. Everyone else falls somewhere in the middle, likely torn between their desires and the consequences, namely social implications, of succumbing to instinct. Because pleasure is part of the survival instinct, it becomes easy to argue in favor of a lifestyle that includes pleasure. The modern religious morality set that has been forced into public awareness, however, has no redeeming qualities. Of the multiple arguments to be made against modern religion, the one that pits the survival instinct by-product of pleasure against denying pleasure, defying nature, and forcing conformity is the easiest to make. Pleasure, being pure and natural, is part of the human condition. The morality imposed by modern religion tries to strip pleasure away from humanity by means of shame, guilt, and fear. For one to deny themselves pleasure in spite of the inherent inner need to do so is unnatural. Religion’s goal is to deny one inheritable and unalterable satisfaction derived from pleasure. Thus, religion is unnatural.

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Comment by B.c. Steele on November 16, 2012 at 12:25pm

Michael,thanks so much for reading and commenting! I couldn't agree with you more about the atheist perception, and getting wrapped up in rationality and reason. I am guilty of that myself on many occasions, as you will see if you ever read any of my other blogs. I really try to see things in full light, from all angles, and with open eyes. Unfortunately that does not always happen due to the limitations of my education and/or world experience. That's why I put these blogs up here, to get those points of view that I may be incapable of seeing. Thanks again for the great input! 

Comment by Michael R on November 16, 2012 at 2:03am

This is well written. Unlike a lot of atheists, you understand the source of human values to be our feelings i.e. pleasure and pain. Most atheists are so wrapped up in reason and rationality that they (irrationally) can't see that non-religious values come from our emotions/desires. But some notable humanists and philosophers do acknowledge that happiness is our source of morality/ethics.

As atheism further departs from religion, we are moving in a more hedonistic direction. Although, I don't like the word hedonism because it connotates impulsive behaviour. The question still remains: exactly what will the brave new hedonistic world look like? What will we keep from traditional culture and what will we abandon? This is the question of our time. Personally, I don't think we should rush to abandon our culture until we have a clear idea of something better to replace it with. Steady as she goes...

Comment by B.c. Steele on November 15, 2012 at 11:52pm

Thanks for reading man, that is a great point. I guess I was thinking about the current monotheistic repression when I was using examples while writing. Thanks for the comment.



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