Saturday, March 26, 2011

Why Do Christians Hate Evolution?

In the United States, only 16 percent of people believe that humans evolved by means of natural selection, while 58 percent of Canadians believe the same thing. In most Western European countries, the percentage of those who accept evolution is even higher. By far, the largest segment of American society who does not accept evolution belongs to one of the fundamentalist Christian cults or are Christians who have been swayed by fundamentalist rhetoric.

But why do Christians hate the theory of evolution so much? There are lots of scientific theories out there they could hate, but only evolution attracts the ire of the fundamentalist. Sure, there are those who also do not buy into the big bang theory either, but even some Creationist Christians accept the immense age of the earth; they just don’t accept that humans evolved on it.

For most fundamentalists who actually know something about the bible and fundamentalist dogma, the real problem comes in the form of original sin. If, they say, Adam and Eve were not real people who were created by God as the bible says then Eve could not have been tempted. Therefore, there was no one that would have taken the first bite of the forbidden fruit and, thus, no original sin. Without original sin, there would be no reason why God would have had to come to Earth as Jesus. And Jesus would not have had to die on the Cross for our sins. There would have been no Resurrection. And without the Cross and Resurrection, there is no Christianity. That is the heart and soul of Christian dogma. Therefore, evolution could not have happened, because if it did happen, then Christians have been believing in a fairy tale for millennia.

The more moderate and liberal-leaning Christians don’t have a problem with the non-existence of a real Adam and Eve, because to many, the story of the Garden of Eden is an allegory for the sinful nature of human beings. God created humans in His image, but then humans started behaving poorly, sinning. It doesn’t have to be traced back to a single individual. But fundamentalists don’t see it that way. Without the Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve, the snake, and original sin, Christianity is a hollow metaphor of its true self.

Many Christians also don’t like evolution because it puts them in the same league as other animals. As a science teacher I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the lamentation, “I didn’t come from no monkey.” To them, it’s all egocentrism. We are humans. We are above the animals. Only humans have a soul.

And for other Christians, it’s simply a matter of what the bible says is true and that’s the end of the story. It doesn’t matter that insects don’t have four legs or that the earth is not flat or that you can’t really see all its kingdoms of Earth from the top of a mountain in Israel. If it says it in the bible it must be so. And that’s that.

Finally, there are Christians who do not accept evolution for no other reason than because they don’t understand evolution and they have been given a de facto brainwashing via the fundamentalist fringe. Evangelical Christians are nothing if not aggressive about their dogma. They build universities designed to convert all who enter to their way of not thinking straight. They build museums to make the deluded feel better about their delusions. And they get elected to political office. The potentially more reasonable Christians, who claim to be part of the religion but in reality only go to church on Easter and Christmas Eve, if then, could be persuaded that evolution is just as valid as gravity but for the constant droning of Creationist rhetoric. I venture to say that this group probably makes up the majority of evolution deniers.

So if you are a Creationist, take your pick. You most likely belong to one of those segments of Christianity. If you believe that evolution goes up against Christian doctrine then you should take a hint from the very earliest Christians and change your doctrine to fit the facts. The Apostle Paul, according to his authentic letters, believed that the apocalypse was about to happen any day. It was imminent. According to the gospels attributed to Mark and Matthew, even Jesus believed that some of his disciples would still be alive when the end came. But by the time the Gospel of John was written decades later, the apocalypse rhetoric was toned down a bit. And by the end of the first century, when it was apparent that the apocalypse might not be so imminent, the forged epistles of Paul claim that it would come “soon” but maybe not in their lifetimes. So the doctrine had changed from “The end will be here any day now,” to “Just be ready because we don’t know when it will happen.”

Since religion is all man-made and made up anyway, it shouldn’t be too hard to change it to fit the known facts. It’s happened before, many times. It will happen again. The God of the Gaps is an ever-shrinking deity. Soon (I hope) he will be gone for good.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Who are the Real Americans?

Nobody is born a Christian. Nobody in the world would be a Christian if someone else did not sell them on the idea. The same is true of every religion, of course, but right now I want to tackle Christianity since I live in that world.

Jesus instructed his disciples to go out and spread the good news (gospel) to the world. And it’s still spreading, 2000 years later. One would think that a real god could get the message out about his existence much better if he took charge of it himself, instead of relying on fallible humans, but maybe God just wanted to observe the ensuing chaos.

So God, talking through Jesus, who is really just Himself, sent his disciples out to tell everyone. That certainly implies that those millions or billions of people who are living now and who have lived since the time of Jesus who haven’t heard the gospel are doomed to hell. Nice going, God. You just condemned the majority of your souls.

Now I’ve heard some Christians say that those who never hear the word are not condemned by God, neither are young children who are not yet old enough to commit. But if that is the case, then why should Jesus have commanded his disciples to spread his news? Think about it. If those who never hear the news of Jesus get a free pass to heaven, and if telling them about it allows them to choose to reject the news (so they go to hell), then wouldn’t it be better for heaven’s population figures if all Christians just kept their mouths shut? To save souls, believers in Jesus should keep the secret to themselves at all cost.

What Christians really want to do, of course, is to increase the membership in their exclusive club, never mind about heaven. They want the congregants; they want the money. Most importantly to many of them, they want the power. They want the power to elect members of their club to high office where policies and laws are made. They want to control school curricula. They want to control Congress and every state legislature. What they really want is to have a Christian version of Iran or Saudi Arabia. And if they get to use the Constitution of the United States to make it happen, well then they are proud Americans.

And, yes, I’m mainly talking about the hard-line conservative Christians, the fundamentalists. But the moderate and liberal Christians are not off the hook, either. You are the enablers. You are letting it happen.

But who are the real Constitution-upholding, freedom-loving Americans? Well, let’s compare:

- Fundamentalist Christians, who are far and away social conservatives, want to pass laws that prohibit or limit same-sex marriage or even civil unions. They want to take away a person’s hard-fought right to bargain collectively with their employers. They want to impede the progress of science when that progress conflicts with their own narrow view of history or morality. They want to quash science education by diluting it with myth and legend. They want to re-write the facts and evidence of history and of science to make it comply with what their bible says. They want to deny a woman her right to end a pregnancy and to consult only with her doctor about the decision. And they want to force compliance of their own set of moral values on all citizens of America, regardless what other people may believe in.

- Secular humanists (atheists, agnostics, doubters, and skeptics), who are mostly progressives, want to allow people to marry whomever they wish, regardless of gender. They want to protect a person’s right to collectively bargain. They want to promote the progress of science. They want to uphold science education based on facts and evidence. They want to grant a woman her right to reproductive freedom. They are willing to allow everyone to choose to do whatever they wish as long as it does not interfere with the rights of others to do the same.

Look at the action verbs in each of the two preceding paragraphs. If you are a control freak, if you are a fascist, if you want to be part of an army of mindless drones, you love the verbs in the first paragraph, the one describing fundamentalists. But if you like liberty, if you like justice for all that is fair and equitable, and most importantly, if you love truth, then you prefer the verbs in the second paragraph, the one describing humanists. That makes you a real American, not one of the faux, control-freak Americans who really are only American as long as they can use its freedoms to gain control of the masses and turn them into mindless, unthinking Christian drones who couldn’t care less about reality.

As an American, I vote for the second option.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

It's a Nightmare Now, but Perhaps We Will Wake Up in 2012

There is a different kind of politics going on in this country right now folks. It is not politics as usual. Sometimes in this country, and in various states, the Democrats take control and the Republicans whine and cry fowl. Sometimes, they even walk out so that the Democrats can’t vote. Sometimes, like now, it’s the other way around. But this time, it’s a little different.

The difference is that those in charge are not just Republicans; they are far-right social conservatives with a scary agenda. This time, it’s all about Americans losing their personal rights and freedoms. This time, those in charge want to strip citizens of their rights as Americans.

All across the country, there is very little rhetoric from Republicans about economic issues. All the bills that have been introduced and laws that have been passed so far are designed to limit or take away the rights and freedoms of Americans.

All these so-called “small government” Republicans can think about doing is to pass laws that will bring the brunt of big government down on the heads of those who believe differently and have different values than the Christian right. They want to deny gays the right to marry. They want to use the power of big government to intrude on a woman’s personal reproductive rights and decisions. They want to force ancient mythology into the science classroom and disguise it as science, even though everybody knows it’s really fundamentalist religion. They want to bust teachers’ unions and blame teachers for the poor quality of education when everybody knows it’s not the teachers that are at fault. Socioeconomic conditions are the biggest determinant of how well a child will do in school. But they can’t blame it on the kids, because they can’t control them. They can’t blame it on the parents because those are the voters. They blame it, instead, on the teachers and their unions.

I, personally, have never been a big union supporter. I believe that, in some cases, unions have grown too powerful. But I don’t want them busted. What I don’t want is big government (ran by the “small-government” Republicans) to destroy workers’ rights by busting their unions.

The laws that are being considered, and even passed, by state legislatures around the country are mind-blowing. In South Dakota a bill was introduced that would make it legal to kill an abortion doctor while performing, or getting ready to perform, an abortion. In Michigan the governor wants a law passed that would give him the authority to, at his discretion, nullify the duly-elected officials of any city or town and replace them with an appointed czar that will do his bidding. In Georgia a bill was introduced to make it a crime for a woman to have a miscarriage, punishable by the death penalty. In Texas the state board of education is doing everything it can to make sure Christianity is taught in school and that evolution is reduced to a sidebar in the textbooks. And in Indiana, the governor’s agenda calls for public school dollars to be given to private schools, even those affiliated with a religion.

You can quibble that Democrats want to spend too much or tax too much or regulate too much, and in some cases you might have a valid point. But you would never be able to accuse the Democrats of taking away civil rights, constitutional rights, and personal liberties. But that is what Republicans are all about, now more than ever. These are not your run-of-the-mill fiscal conservatives that are fairly harmless, though annoying. These are dangerous, fascist-style conservatives. They are the reactionaries. They want fundamental change in the country unlike anything we’ve seen since the Civil War era.

(Let me quickly add a caveat here: When I said they were fascist-style conservatives, don’t accuse me of calling them Nazis. Fascism is a political ideology that the Nazis happen to embrace. But Nazism is a specific and extreme form of fascism. I don’t believe any of the Republicans who have been elected in the U.S. are Nazis. Now I’ll return to my rant.)

Social conservatives are driven by their very conservative and fundamentalist religious beliefs. They are evangelical Christians who want everyone else to abide by their own narrow view of morality. If they don’t believe in it, you can’t do it. They don’t care about science; they care about morals – their morals. And they want you to abide by them. They don’t care about the environment. Why should they; they believe the Rapture will happen at any moment.

I’ve called these very conservative Republicans dangerous and scary. I’m not using hyperbole. If they succeed in their agenda, all Americans will have far fewer rights and personal freedoms. Our Constitution will be weakened as its guaranteed rights will be eroded away, all but the Second Amendment, of course. That is the conservative rallying cry.

The only silver lining is that the Middle Class, the independent voters, and those who are sensing their rights are about to be breached will start a backlash. Independent voters are starting to realize what they have done when they voted in this reactionary cesspool. At this point, it’s almost a sure thing that the Democrats, or at least moderate Republicans, will be voted back into Congress and in many state assemblies next year. When it happens, I hope they can undo the damage these ultraconservatives are causing.