The question asks itself really.
Do you have a religion or religious background, beliefs or no beliefs? Have your beliefs been influenced by a paleolithic lifestyle and way of thinking and vice-versa?
I'm not looking for judgement of anyones beliefs or lack of them, just curious about peoples backgrounds, thoughts and experiences on this. :)
Taubes describes in great detail the "how" of the current War On Fat, but he stays away from the "why". Why did the promoters of the low-fat paradigm pick one controversial hypothesis over another?
Any belief system, spiritual or not, can be described by an ordered list of principles that organize thought and behavior. Science believes in rationality, falsifiability, and reproducibility. Paleo dieting prioritizes eating and lifestyle habits congruent with our evolutionary heritage.
I believe there is a set of scripts deeply embedded in Western culture that conspire to make people fat.
America's Christian/Protestant/Puritan legacy includes useful prosocial ideas like forgiveness, loving thy neighbor, and the acceptance of destinies vaster than one's own (the story of Job and the Serenity Prayer represent two aspects of this thought.)
But that tradition has also handed down less useful ideas. As linguists like Lakoff have observed, we shape our metaphors, and thereafter they shape us. Consider the assumptions built into
These ideas are never far from the thoughts of any Westerner concerned about food and health. They emerge from the same sort of folk traditions as "searing the meat helps lock in the juices" -- which many people still believe today. But did you know that that kitchen tip goes back to Aristotle? McGee (On Food and Cooking) has debunked it already. What else is suspect in the attics of our minds?
I draw a straight line between Ancel Keys and the ideas above. I think they were acting on deep-rooted culturally conditioned biases, the same sort of cognitive biases that neuroeconomists like Dan Ariely (Predictably Irrational) have recently been exploring. Remember, McCarthyism was going on at the exact same time. It may seem ludicrous to connect the Red Scare to the Red Meat Scare, but whether they were demonizing communists or cholesterol, the fuzzy thinking was the same: a witchhunt was going on.
Once one accepts that the way to a better body (salvation) is through self-denial (if it tastes good it must be bad, so no fat, no sugar, no meat) and active penitence (worship regularly at the gym to avoid suspicion of Sloth) then the rest of it falls into place. It's unfashionable to condemn people as sinners for adultery or greed, but sloth is always open. The other day someone said to me, "if you wanted to lose weight you know you could just exercise" in self-righteous tones. I felt like responding, vanity is also a sin, and being thinner than me doesn't make you holier.
In this sense, the Paleo movement can be read as yet another front in the battle between Darwin and the Church. Not all the Church -- other people who have answered this question have amply demonstrated positive and mindful ways to live with belief -- but isn't it interesting to see what public policy advisories in a secular society have in common with sharia, mitzvot, and commandments in a religious theocracy?
I might be what you could call an orthodox Christian, but I think of myself more as a person with a close relationship with Jesus (God). Some people might wonder how someone who believes the bible is God's word could also be "paleo"-- but I see no contention.
The bible is true, but it is not a scientific document. It tells about something humans can never full understand-- God-- in the best way possible, which is often through metaphors and allegories (think of Jesus's parables). For example, its ridiculous to think that the world was actually created in 6 of our 24 hour days, because God exists outside of time. That's just a way to explain in common language something we can't fully understand.
God created a complex, organic world that all of human knowledge just scratches the surface of. He did this to keep us busy and in wonder, I think, because it would get kinda boring if we someday found out all there is to know. That being said, did we evolve from apes? I don't know. That's one of the mysteries that we will one day know for sure, or find out we've been completely wrong on. And it doesn't really matter, from a religious perspective.
I eat and exercise paleo because it is the best thing (that I know of) for my body. I don't think grains are evil or that everybody should forgo them, just that it works for me. And in general, I think that the closer we return to treating our bodies the way God created them to function, the better (eating unprocessed foods, running without bulky padded shoes, giving birth without an epidural, etc.). He knew what he was doing.
I am Christian, and I look at it simply: Our body is a temple for God. Why not take care of it in the best way possible??
One way to think of Paleo in Christian terms is to consider the story of Adam and Eve. As the first humans they certainly were not farmers. Instead they enjoyed an abundance of fruits, vegetables and wild game from the Garden on Eden. God gave them 'every beast of the earth, every fowl of the air, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life'. The downfall came when they ate something they shouldn't have and thus we were condemned to an eternity of back breaking misery forced to till the soil and eek out a life of sub optimal nutrition ever since.
I grew up Southern Baptist. I wasn't allowed to see Home Alone because it was PG or listen to "secular" music. I spent hours and hour every week in church and in bible study. I was taught Creationism.
At some point I was convinced that evolution was true. I also took a Great Books philosophy class in high school and spent much of my time as a Christian apologist, talking about how evolution and Christianity could co-exist. But cracks were showing. I guess moving away from my hometown made it easier to admit to myself that I was no longer Christian because I wasn't in danger of losing my social life anymore. Some of the books I was reading at that time were CS Lewis, Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, and EO Wilson...but I was basically devouring everything. I still enjoy some aspects of Christianity- I love CS Lewis and early church music, and sometimes I think it would be better for my life if I just pretended to believe.
I'm also part Jewish, so I explored that for a time, but at that time I was paleo and a religion that says you have to eat grains for Shabbat was pretty unappealing. I also think circumcision is dumb.
Non-agrarian religions appeal greatly to me, like animism and shamanism, but really...who is kidding who? Those religions are pretty much totally lost or very much tied to ethnicity. I'm neither interested in making up tree dancing rituals to emulate the lost Celtic paganism nor co-opting some Native American tribe's spirituality.
As a non-believer, I find Paleo totally consistent with evolution, which for me is not just a theory but as close to absolute truth as we can get.
But religious folks might recall the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4. Cain was growing grain, while Abel was herding animals. The Lord approved of what Abel was doing, but did not accept Cain's offering, basically saying that it was not right to grow grain. And so in a fit of jealous rage Cain slew Abel. To repeat: Cain was growing grain, and the Lord said it was wrong.
Interestingly, the vegetarian movement really got going around the late 19th - early 20th century when 7th Day Adventists (I think) decided that eating meat was wrong because of this passage in the Bible: "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat" (Genesis 1:29). On the other hand, we buy organically raised free range beef, poultry, and lamb from a family of devout Christians. Their justification for eating meat? "We have to now because we were expelled from the garden of Eden."
It's ironic that fundamentalist Christians who don't believe in evolution are eating what humans evolved to eat - animal foods - while liberal humanists, who claim that they do believe in evolution, seem to think that it does not apply to them personally and have adopted vegetarianism, a philosophy originating in the Bible.
As I live in Sweden, I am an atheist. Religious ideas clash with my sense of logic.
Thank you so much for asking this question. I have appreciated reading the responses. I guess I’m the odd man out here. I’m a Christian whose exploration of paleo nutrition has definitely made things spiritually uncomfortable. I believe in God, and I believe in evolution. It’s difficult to articulate, but I think that as I learn more about man, the animal, I must reexamine my understanding of God’s hand in human history. I feel like I’ve lost something—reverence? mystery? Not fun. Still sorting it out.
I have been a Lutheran pastor for 4 years and been living a more and more Paleo lifestyle for the past two years. Honestly, as many have already pointed out, I don't find a any intellectual contradictions between the two (although many people demand that I do). My dad used to say, "I believe that God could have created the world in six 24-hour days . . . I just don't think that He did." The second synopsis on creation in Genesis chapter 2 doesn't talk at all about "days" but explains again that God created the world and created it good. I have never found this truth "challenged" by a Paleo template.
Honestly, the biggest difficulty I have found with living primally is that, especially at first, I made the food I was eating an "idol". I was thinking about it all the time, worrying about it all the time, looking in the mirror all the time, trying to convince my family to eat it all the time. God challenged me on this point by leading me to this verse from 1 Corinthians 6, "Everything is permissible for me" but I will not be mastered by anything. Food for the stomach and the stomach for food--but God will destroy them both." Food is not going to make me live forever so I'm not going to "worship" the "perfect" micronutrient content. If I have any hope for eternal life, it's going to be through faith in Jesus Christ. Again, No primal authority I have ever read ever argued that they could give eternal life through the food we eat--only Jesus Christ has given that promise. As long as I don't give food the glory God deserves, the Paleo lifestyle hasn't bothered my relationship with Jesus.
So, to summarize, I eat the food that God created my body to eat, but I don't trust in the primal lifestyle for my salvation. Religiously, you won't be saved or damned by eating red meat or abstaining. You won't earn salvation or lose it by having great sex with your spouse or by abstinence. No matter how much you can deadlift today, one day you will die whether you are Christian or an atheist. That's as far as the primal lifestyle can take you.
You see, when it comes to the promise of eternal life, the primal lifestyle has absolutely nothing to say, nothing it wants to say and nothing it can say about it. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and life. No one comes to the Father except by me."