I've been reading up on religion and cosmology, for a paper I'm writing for work. A 'cosmology' is a theory or conception of the nature of the universe and our place in it. For example, the idea that God is male, or that God is a loving God, or that humans were put on earth to subdue it - these could all be part of people's cosmologies. (These examples come from a Christian worldview, which I'm most familiar with - although probably some are shared with other faiths too.)
Cosmologies really impact on the way that individuals act and the way that a society is organised. They affect the way we interact with nature. Obviously if you think that God wants us to subdue and exploit the earth you're going to be more likely to do that. Likewise, if most people in your society think God is a man then men are likely to be held as more 'God-like' and thus superior.
I was thinking about of theology 'original sin', which I grew up with. It's a distinctly Christian idea, and it doesn't come up in Jewish thought, having developed in the minds of the 'church fathers' in the second and third centuries. Anyway, the idea is that humans are born into sin - i.e. we are born evil. This happened because Eve took that bite of the apple (of course - it's the woman!), and plunged all generations to come into rebellion and darkness. It is only through the salvation offered by Christ that we can be seen as 'good' by God.
I have just realised that this idea, which I have taken for granted for most of my life, has impacted negatively on the way I see myself. I have not seen myself as inherently good and I have not felt that God sees me as good. I have defined myself as a sinner, because that's what the church has taught. The 'goodness' that was bought for my by Christ I have always envisioned as a kind of whitewash, covering what is essentially bad. My badness was so bad, in fact, that Jesus needed to be nailed to a cross to make up for it.
What a crappy, negative, debilitating cosmology. I'm angry that it's what I've believed for most of my life. Even whilst I've questioned the idea that the whole point of Christ's life was his death, I've still somehow believed that I'm essentially bad, or at least, there's nothing much good.
I'm banging the keys hard now. I think I'm mad. But I'm glad I'm now realising that I don't have to let this shitty theology to rule my life. I think it has something to do with the low self-esteem I have often suffered with. But I'm now beginning to nurture a vision of myself that is essentially good. Will probably take some time, though.
Can anyone else relate to this?