The Contribution Of Religion To The Ubiquitous Desensitization To Harming

The Ubiquitous Desensitization To Harming

The biological asymmetry of the survival of the human species depending on pregnancies and births being severe harm only to women, while men are spared, is no rational justification for accepting harming as natural.
In entry 552 I attributed the evolution of the gullibility to believe in delusional deities to supplying both resilience to the victim and displacement of responsibility to the perpetrator following his instinctive urges.
As a consequence, people are misguided to principally accept harming as a normal part of living and not as an outrage and a derangement and distortion of the potential of human cognition.
While the religious beliefs served or facilitated the initial establishing of the acceptance of harm, but from then on it becomes independent of its religious roots once it is part of the social norm.

The awakening reason of the maturing brain enables some people to comprehend the irrationality of believing in a non-existent deity.   This enables them to throw over the religious beliefs, they had grown up with,    But they do not automatically also get aware of how much more of their thinking needs also to be reconsidered as an indirect consequence of the religious beliefs.

The logical next step after discarding the belief in a deity would be to also adjust the moral justification of behaviors.  The principle by Epicurus of not harming and not be harmed and the golden rule are rational guidelines, while the belief in being rewarded in the afterlife and the belief of harm being justified by the responsibility of a deity are obsolete and irrational.

Unfortunately, the general acceptance of harming is rarely questioned, even by those, who have freed themselves from the religious beliefs.   In western societies, the acceptance of harming is a part of the culture.   Children grow up with it until they take it for granted and cannot even think of it as just an option with alternatives.   Harming is not connected with religion but taken for granted as if it were a law of life.

The effects of installing harming as acceptable behavior into the perpetrators' brain and to be harmed as unfortunate but acceptable fate into the victims' brains reinforce each other as complementary.


Perpetrators become desensitized by repeating behaviors, to which they, usually by empathy, had initially felt inhibited, until the cruelty becomes a routine.
Desensitization to being cruel can become irreversible.   Desensitization to inflicting pain on others usually happens at a young age under the influence of education, role models and social norms, which are also an expression of the morals of the predominant religion.

War as a drastic example is an expression of the ingroup-outgroup instinct.   If nobody would be considered as outgroup, there were no wars.    Sometimes the ingroup is defined by sharing the same religion.
Parts of the training of soldiers is the desensitization to overcome any killing inhibition.
This desensitization is usually permanent.    Soldiers coming back from the war may well have the insight and the self-control not to kill members of the ingroup, but they have no inhibition to do so.

But the most common and ubiquitous desensitization causes subtle and invisible harm by emotional cruelty like manipulating, betrayal, cheating, playing games, intrigues, mobbing, mocking, humiliating, ridiculing.   These are just a few examples from a long list of cognitive and emotional methods of harming.  They suffice to illustrate the kind of hurtful weapons serving the instincts to procreate and to gain access to resources available to those having high positions on hierarchies.


The acceptance of being harmed as unavoidable has been installed by the delusion of it being the deity's will.   The resilience to suffer in submission and resignation has been installed by the delusion of the reward in the afterlife.
Logically, as soon as someone discards the belief in the deity, this obsolete and irrational acceptance of being harmed should be discarded immediately.  Harm should be recognized as what it really is: an outrage against human dignity.
Instead irrational expectations of a resilience out of proportion of the serious impact of harm has become a social norm not only by the perpetrators but also by the victims themselves.
The social norm of irrational resilience is based upon the perpetrators' expectations, that their desensitization would lead automatically to an equal desensitization of the victims, who should not suffer but are instead supposed to agree with the harm allegedly being appropriate treatment,   They are expected not to suffer due to being oblivious of the injustice and the absurdity of the instinctive behaviors.   

Those not resilient as victims of not physical and thus invisible cruelties are considered as flawed, defective, weak and in need to be fixed.   And too often they accept this themselves.   They do not resist, rebel or protest, they do not demand better treatment, instead they take psycho-pharmaceuticals, go to therapy, or cope in even more unhealthy ways.   They get sympathy and compassion as failures, not the solidarity needed as the victims of wrong behavior.

Discarding irrational religious beliefs does not suffice.    Required is also a revision of the entire attitudes and habits as to what behaviors of religious roots are not only irrational but cause damage.  This revision means to focus on taking full own responsibility by gaining full awareness and knowledge of the perception and experience of the target of behaviors.  Even though some desensitization cannot be undone, full awareness can be a method of learning how to avoid harming after having decided to do so.


This is a copy from my ERCP-blog:

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Comment by maruli marulaki on August 7, 2012 at 10:10am

it's not that the soldier lacks inhibitions, it's that the military machine strips the recruit of all preconceived inhibitions,

This is what I meant to say in my not perfect English.   I consider the removal of the killing instinct as a form of desensitization.  

Comment by maruli marulaki on August 7, 2012 at 11:31am

but your English is perfect - I know Americans who wish they spoke as well.

I am German, and that is really flattering.   I knew that I can get away with a few sentences, but I was sure that a long blog post would clearly indicate, that I am a foreigner.   

It was once believed in America (and still is, though it's been disproved), that viewing pornography leads to promiscuity.

The problem is more complex.   It is the desensitization to harming women, which is the cause of both scourges.   Both do harm, so it is not important, if they reinforce each other or not.  And how harm, desensitization and religion are connected - see above.

If you are interested, I have been blogging about this topic from the perspective of a woman, who starts to feel nausea as a result of the extreme commodification of women.   Just use the labels 'pornography' and 'promiscuity'.

The allergization of the (potential) victim is the other side of the coin of the desensitization of the perpetrators.  

And thanks for the nice picture.   But I doubt that they would make good companions.    The original of my larva was only about half the size of a ladybird. 

Is feeling good about oneself after having succeeded with challenges like differential equations not a source of endorphins?  


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