The title of this post may surprise you as rather odd. After all, what could religion and milk possibly have in common?? Well, surprisingly, one key factor, but I’ll get to that later. Most of us have been raised to drink milk to make us big, healthy and strong by way of the calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients present in cow-milk.
Late last year, I read online that an Ice Cream shop in London had begun using human breast milk in a select few of their ice creams. I was intrigued by the concept, and now and then, I would ask friends if they would ever try it. The usual response is a scrunched up face, following by something like, “How disgusting!”. I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.
Most of us are willing to drink milk from this:
While this on the other hand, is beautiful, and results in scrunched up faces, as if I somehow endorsed genocide.
I debated putting a real picture of a woman’s breast, but don’t want the undue attention from people who will whine, complain and berate nudity, despite the fact there are 3.5 billion pairs of breasts on this planet, because somehow the naked human body is offensive, and thus completely miss the point. See, ignorance does affect people!
Ok, so by now, you are probably still thinking what the hell does this have to do with religion. Well, think of the emotional response to human milk over the internet, forums and personally, from most of my friends, to something as innocuous as human breast milk, which we are evolutionarily programmed to drink. And without which, we would exhibit poor facial structure, poor dental health, decreased intelligence, higher incidences of various diseases such as diabetes, asthma, SIDs, gastro-infections and various others. And then link it to the emotional response most people exhibit when pushed and questioned about their religion.
Religion is human breast milk personified. We develop an emotional attachment to cow’s milk from when we are young enough to form memories, and we stick with it through a conservation of energy rule i.e. it costs us less energy (emotional and physical) to abandon cow-milk and so we subconsciously write off anything else that threatens that emotional attachment, and is thus transformed into a belief system. Much as we do with our religions. Most of us are taught about religion from an early age, and develop a complex emotional attachment to them. Then someone like me, or a million other atheists start muddying the picture (and for the first time, not prosecuted by it) and religious folk cling to their nostalgic religion, which has moved beyond what a rational, or reason-based debate can overcome. You’d have better luck overcoming the barrier a mother has with her child. Such is the state of human attachment.
The solution then, is simple to state, though immensely difficult to implement. Create a new emotional-based model that hooks people, and leaves them wanting more, and rewarding them for intelligence. Our schools obviously don’t do this, because I hated school, and everyone I know did too. Very rarely did I get congratulated on my successes in school, and when it was, it was from my parents, and occasionally my friends. But the lower down the totem pole of class-ism you go, the rarer that seems to be the case, and if I had to put my money on it, that is why social mobility is at an all-time low.
I remember vividly when I was fifteen, I went to my dad to ask permission to go out with a friend. He said go, without a moment’s hesitation, and I was puzzled. It was a school night, the sun was setting and so it was likely I would be out for a few hours. He then explained it to me. I had gotten great grades in my exams recently, and they had been steadily increasing. As long as they were increasing, and I was learning at school, I could do whatever I wanted without needing to ask permission. BHAM, incentive! I never needed to be reminded of homework ever again, or to study extra, or pay attention in class (except for when I had Mr. Jones in PE, but that’s a story for another day). All I had to do was show him my test marks every exam I did, and my report cards at the end of the year and as long as he was happy, I had my freedom, and dopamine boosts in the brain had me hooked.
Of course, this is just a personal example, and not indicative of the student population at large, though it seems to me correct on a general level. The asian students in our grade were locked in their garage until they memorized their work, front, backwards, left, right and upside down, and they always scored better than me (almost). And the students whose parents exerted no pressure on them in their studies had all the freedom in the world, but were dumb as bricks in the classroom, as they were merely avoiding pain, and seeking pleasure. Though, I think there is a happy middle-ground between the two as life isn’t learnt in book after book after locked garage door. It is also in experiencing the world, and coming to conclusions through your own actions, that coupled with the intelligence gleaned out of textbooks, coalesces into knowledge, and hopefully one day, wisdom.
This is the greatest challenge of the twenty-first century, and would solve so many of our current problems in the coming decades.