If this were five years ago, shortly after my exodus from Mormonism, I would probably be reporting that I awakened this morning in a panicked, cold sweat after one of those crazy mixed up dreams in which I had come to the certain realization that the Catholic Church was God’s one true, and only authorized, religious organization on Earth. As it is, I had a funny dream last night and woke up with a smile on my face, shaking my head. The craziness is still fading in the rear view mirror.
I’m certain that last night’s sleep entertainment was provided by a combination of some things I reviewed while preparing for the presentation I made in St. George last weekend, and a conversation my brother Rich and I had with Mo and Jannypanny just as our excellent St. George adventure was breaking up.
The back story is this. In the human species, women make the mate choice. Men think they make the choice, but the biological and cultural evidence is crystal clear — men make themselves available (and are not terribly choosy); women make the choice.
Women are drawn to men that first of all are in the right ball park (similar grade of social standing, physical attractiveness, intelligence, education, etc.). That leaves a lot of potential mates. From there, female choice is driven by a combination of mutual availability, historical quirks (both had independently developed a love for the same obscure punk rock band, for example) and most importantly, subconsciously registered smells and other perceptions.
There is very strong evidence to support the theory that women, through smell or some other means, are able to sense a good genetic match. That is, contrary to what most women think, they are not looking for a mate that will make them happy. They are choosing a mate that will probably produce strong offspring, even if they don’t want offspring. And ironically, the very traits that are attractive for the purpose of making strong babies tend to irritate the hell out of us as long term mates.
If there is a God and he/she/it is in charge of this, he/she/it has a wicked sense of humour.
What her sense of smell does not do, a woman’s sense of taste does. That is, women are drawn to a man who smells the right way, and after a heavy makeup session or two, the deal has either been sealed or not. It is not that she says “Wow, he tastes good!” but rather that she feels a deep sense of comfort after swapping spit. This is as romantic as it gets. The guy – he is just happy to be swapping spit, and hopes for more.
This female ability to sense the right mate is heightened during ovulation, suppressed during pregnancy, and at other times averages out somewhere in between.
This points to a little problem with the birth control pill. It tips the female organism into something resembling its pregnancy state, and therefore suppresses the female ability to sense the right mate. There is a lot of evidence to indicate that women who fall love with a man while on the birth control pill and then years later decide it’s time to have a baby and go off the pill (or go off the pill because they have entered menopause or had a hysterectomy), often suddenly finds that their mates are no longer attractive. It appears that this has to do with a newly heighted ability to smell and taste. Quite simply, taking the birth control pill threw off their mating radar, and they ended up with the “wrong” guy from a baby making perspective, even if they never intended to make babies.
What breathtaking irony and rapacious hilarity this is.
This process, of course, operates at a subconscious level. The conscious mind — the rider on the elephant who laughably believes that he is in charge — compulsively makes sense out of everything that goes on and justifies what the elephant is doing, like some kind of sock-puppet narrator up on the corner of your TV screen.
That is, the rider self-justifies in a horribly confabulatory way. Among other things, this means that after most of a life spent investing time and energy in Mormonism (or any other “ism”), few back away while most confabulate and justify their investment. This tendency is at the root of the mechanisms that cause cognitive dissonance, keep people in bad investments, bad relationships, and cause ideas of all kinds to change slowly (Max Planck said that science changes “one funeral at a time”). It has historically been far more important to our survival and reproductive prospects that we be confident in our own judgement and attract resources to us within the social group on that basis, than that we are right in all our beliefs. Witness the continued success of those who promote scuzzy multi-level marketing organizations, questionable investments and other quasi-frauds, not to mention actual frauds.
So, she suddenly doesn’t like him anymore and the rider’s job is to explain why. The rider does not say, “He smells wrong and that means he won’t help you made a good baby so you had better find a way to get out of this, unless you don’t want to have babies with him, and in that case just go have fun. He’s a good guy.” Rather, for reasons beyond her comprehension he suddenly starts to irritate her far more than usual (bearing in mind, of course, that every man at his best seriously irritates the lady in his life).
He leaves the toilet seat up. He doesn’t clean up after himself. He does not call when his plans change. He is insufficiently attentive to her. Etc. Of course, this is all true, and it has been true since near the beginning of their relationship. But it is suddenly takes on new importance. When he is angrily confronted and either become unjustifiably defensive or accepts the charges like the pathetic wimp he is, that is the last straw. The rider points all of this out, and the flake is gone within days. He will be angrily (or dismissively) remembered so as to ensure that no questions are raised that might question the wisdom of this landmark life-shaping decision.
So, back to my main point. The moral of the story is clear – the pill is a marriage wrecker and therefore simply wrong. That means the Pope has been right all along against the tide of scientific evidence on this point. And if he was right about that, surely he must be right about everything else. So, there is a God, just as the Pope has always told us, and He communicates to us through Rome. Therefore, the Holy Apostolic Roman Catholic Church is the one and only true church on the Earth today. We know with certainty that those religious groups that claim to be in touch with God but have accepted the use of the birth control pill within their membership are not guided by God.
Whoa! Coming out of my dream state I found a gaping hole in my own theory. Female mate-dar is not thrown off by condoms and other forms of birth control. OK, let’s rethink this. The pill is wrong, but other forms of birth control are OK because we do have to get the population under control so that we don’t destroy the planet. That means the Pope was wrong, and so were all of the other religious groups. God has not told any of them (to my knowledge) to use birth control, but not the pill.
This leaves only two possible defensible conclusions.
There is a God, and he has a wicked sense of humour. If you believe in the traditional Judeo-Christian God, this point of view is hard to argue persuasively against.
Or, shit happens and we have to learn to make tough choices and roll with the punches.
Isaiah Berlin and other students of intellectual history refer to the latter as part of life’s tragic aspect – that we are regularly put in positions where we cannot achieve several good objectives because they conflict with each other.
For example, we cannot enjoy the euphoria of unrestricted sexual behaviour without giving up a variety of goods related to health, long term intimacy and as we have just learned, “mate-dar”.
And, we cannot benefit from the clearest available view of reality while continuing to enjoy the comfort of being securely embedded within large and in many ways admirable social groups that are founded on demonstrably false stories that preserve North American frontier social values circa 1800.