Friday, October 10, 2008

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

We've all heard the common phrase 'don't judge a book by its cover' but aren't we all a little guilty of this judgment? Maybe not just a little... How did this phrase or 'meme' become common? It was the result of a novel that was published in the 20th Century and was used thereafter in other pieces of literature. But, the idea or meme of not basing one's judgment on the front or appearance has been thought of for centuries.

It was most likely the result of needing to judge a person not just on their appearance and outward nature in order to determine if they have intentions of honesty and loyalty. These attributes were necessary in order to build strength and friendship between tribes or individuals. And alliances were important long ago in order to grow in power and strength for protection and well-being. It was also important for peace and cooperation. Even today, it is important to form trust alliances between and among countries in order to protect citizens and spread peace and cooperation across the planet.

But, what has happened to this careful method of accurately judging a person based on their honesty and loyalty? It doesn't seem as persistent in society as it used to be. Religion was established long ago in order to gain cooperation and loyalty in a growing society. There seemed to be no other efficient means of getting people to submit to orders and maintaining their loyalty and cooperation to the group simultaneously. It was not helpful to simply judge a person on their outward appearance because that would not help to determine that person's intentions and emotions. Today, business, economics, government, and culture are more complex and deeply (historically) established in world society. But even though more people have a basic education they have difficulty grasping the complex nature of society that has evolved. What they can still grasp, however, is their religious belief in God which has been passed down over generations through culture. For them, it is a a way to have an identity in society and be a part of a community, which is why religion has prevailed for so long.

Culture is built on social mechanisms such as behavioural trends, belief systems, and rituals that are passed down from generation to generation. As changes occur in society like changes in government and business practices culture also changes to adapt to the changing environment. But a part of our culture that has not changed or adapted to the changing environment is ancient religious belief. Although it is not a necessary belief to have today, it still strongly exists.

But how can religious people adapt to the changing environment around them if they strongly base their identity and knowledge about nature solely on a culture of ancient religious belief? It becomes more detrimental over time to believe in an old religion because there are many other people that have chosen to adopt a new culture based on the changing social climate. However, in a time that is saturated with knowledge about human evolution, the fabric of our universe, and information technology, religion still seems to control culture all over the world. Religious individuals and groups are encouraged to adhere to this belief system and block out anything that may conflict with or discredit it. And because of this, there has evolved a growing divide between religious people and intellectuals who believe in evolution--- two streams of culture.

When individuals or groups of people do not follow the changing culture, which is reflective of the advancement of humanity, they become less able to accurately judge another person or, in the case of a group, a person or group outside of their own group. They simply believe that this other person or group believes the same morals and traditions or that they should believe this way. If they do not, then this other person or group do not have good intentions. They believe that we all must believe in the existence of God in order to have good intentions. However, all this does is maintain an old and out-dated belief system and block out the new ones which is detrimental to the advancement of society towards world health and peace.

Due to a divide in cultural belief and practice, educated individuals are discredited by the religious community for adapting their belief systems to better fit the facts about life and the universe like Darwinian evolution. This is due to the ongoing religious belief in God, a supernatural creator of all things, that the majority of the people on this planet strongly hold today. This meme was ingrained so strongly in the minds of our ancestors that it still exists today, even after the discovery of DNA. This meme leaves intellectuals feeling like they are misunderstood about what they truly know about the nature of life and the universe.

It has become ever more difficult to judge a particular person based on their background and achievements because we still live in a world filled with religious believers who maintain the notion that belief in God is more important than anything else, even academic experience! Nowadays people tend to judge others on their fashion, looks and possessions because they are so out of tune with what is going on in their changing environment. As long as they have religion, they don't need to learn more from others or from their environment. Their mission is to maintain a culture of religious belief--- how ridiculous!

We all need to start judging ourselves based on our level of knowledge about the nature of life and the universe, and less on our outward appearances and our belief in God. This will not help us to grow together as a society to promote positive change. It will only keep us behind in our evolution and will be stuck in a dumbified bubble of ancient myths and rituals. Our children will never forgive us for being so superficial and materialistic and they too will have to suffer an existence of slow-going change due to mythical beliefs.

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