Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What if there were no Book of Genesis?

Creationists, such as Ken Ham, insist that the earth is a mere 6,000 years old and that God created it all in six literal days. As evidence for this belief, they site the Book of Genesis. But what if that book had never made it into the bible? What if the bombastic bevy of bishops who made up the Council of Nicea in 325 CE decided not to include the Old Testament in the Christian canon? After all, that was the Jewish bible and they had created their own religion. They could have decided that the scripture that is now the Old Testament is useful for historical context but not actually part of the bible. Christianity would still go on.

It happened, in limited form, several hundred years later when Martin Luther started the Reformation. The new Protestant Church left out many of the books of the Catholic Old Testament, now called the Apocrypha. So what if Genesis had been one of the books left out by Luther?

The only real difference that it would have made in Christianity of today is that no one would be taking creationism seriously. There would be no biblical support for it. It would be viewed merely as a Jewish folktale, much as it is viewed today by many mainline Christian denominations.

But the more striking question would then become this: What if all the scientists hired by Ken Ham and the Discovery Institute on Creation Studies were let loose to try to find the real story of creation? Would they still find the same evidence they now use to conclude that God created the world in six days and that the earth is young, or would they instead find and accept all the empirical evidence that now exists proving that the world is very old and that life has evolved? Remember, there is no Old Testament or Genesis to consider. They have been relegated to folk status by Martin Luther or the Council of Nicea in our imaginary scenario.

These so-called scientists, and yes they do hold degrees in science, that try to use science to "prove" creationism are not currently using real methods of science. They ignore or rationalize real evidence and accept only the evidence that supports their foregone conclusion. That's not science. But without Genesis guiding their bias, how would they proceed and what would their findings be?

It's a rhetorical question because it has already been answered. Scientists have done those experiments and gathered the empirical evidence over the past hundreds of years to prove that the earth is, indeed, billions of years old and that life on it has evolved. So without Genesis, these creation scientists would fall in line behind the real evidence.

And that's why nobody should take them seriously. They may be real scientists but they are not using real science to support their claims. They are using the bible. And the bible has no scientific validity. The bible has become, and actually always was, a roadblock to discovery and understanding. It even today causes a handful of well-educated, intelligent scientists to look the other way when any evidence runs counter to what they think they already know. How sad is that?

Sunday, August 03, 2014

An Alternate Reality that Could Happen at the Voting Booth

I'm official neither Democrat or Republican as far a political party affiliation goes. But since Democrats tend to lean liberal and Republicans tend to thrust as far to the right as they can, then I tend to favor Democrats in the voting booth, at least over the last few election cycles. I have voted Republican before, for both presidential as well as local elections, because I mostly focus on the issues and on whom I believe to be most trustworthy and competent.

But for all the foreseeable election cycles, at least at the national level, I can say with certainty that this nation as a whole would be much, much better under Democratic control. And here's why:

Imagine, if you will, what the country would most probably be like in 10 years if every president, House member, and senator that is elected over that time period were a Democrat. Think about the policy changes that could happen. First, let's assume that the president will nominate mostly liberal federal judges and Supreme Court justices. Secondly, there would probably be a democratic supermajority in the Senate and the House would revert to democratic control. So with those things in place, what kinds of policy changes are we talking about after the liberal majority has been in power for awhile?

1. Universal health care would likely be a fact. And I'm not talking about just revamping Obamacare. I'm talking about real, honest-to-goodness single payer health care, in which every single person living in America would have free basic health care. If anyone wants more than basic (such as plastic surgery or optional procedures) they would be free to pay for it, or buy their own insurance that would pay for it.

2. Immigrant children who were brought here illegally would be able to stay, under the DREAM Act, which would be one of the first things passed. And newly-arriving migrant children would be cared for and placed in homes who volunteer to take them in. Adults who arrive illegally will continue to be deported, except that if they can show that they are contributing members of society and have been for a number of years, they can stay under a work visa. Workers, regardless of national origin, always add to the economy, not detract from it.

3. Every human being living in the U.S. with a Social Security card would receive a stipend from the government equal to, say, 70 percent of the current minimum wage. That includes children, whose parents would receive that stipend as a tax credit. As an incentive to work instead of quitting your current low-paying job and sitting around the house on your ass, this stipend would be paid only to those who are either actively working or actively seeking a job. If after six months you still don't have a job, the government will give you a job as a Federal employee. Then, if you refuse to take that job, your stipend will end.

4. There would be an infrastructure program started to repair or replaces all the crumbling roads and bridges in the country.

5. Unions would still exist but they would be less needed, as new government regulations would basically require all companies to give their employees all the rights and benefits that unions are there to protect.

6. For example, the minimum wage would be attached to the rate of inflation, starting with an increase to $12 per hour, then going up or down (usually up) from there, depending on inflation. This adjustment would be made annually.

7. A constitutional amendment would be passed prohibiting any person, corporation, or group from contributing anything beyond $500 to any political candidate. It would also require the federal and state governments to use voluntary tax contributions (similar to the one that is now included on Form 1040), to fund everyone's campaigns.

8. Congress would make sure that all churches or religious groups who publicly prefer one candidate over another or one government policy or proposed policy over another or take sides in any ideological debate would lose their tax-exempt status for as long as that behavior continues.

9. Federal laws would be passed that would make a woman's choice about her reproductive health care, including abortion, contraception, or any other reproductive issue, solely her decision, in consultation with her own physician.

10. The tax code would be revamped to close loopholes and to increase the tax rate on those earning more than $500,000 per year to 50 percent. Corporations could also no longer set up a fake corporate headquarters overseas to avoid paying taxes.

11. Social Security taxes would be paid on every single dollar you earn, not just up to an arbitrary maximum salary.

12. Our atmosphere and waterways would be cleaner, because there would be new greenhouse gas emissions limits and water pollution standards.

13. Parents receiving school vouchers would no longer be able to use them to send their kids to religious-based schools. Also, Congress would revert our national motto to E pluribus unum and remove In God We Trust from all currency as well as remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.

14. There would be reduced spending for the Defense Department and much increased funding for NASA and other science agencies to pay for research and development of new technologies, to solve environmental problems, and to support exploration of space.

15. Education would be recognized as a top priority. Public education would be free, through the college level, and no school would go without proper funding.

In a Democrat-led America, we would be on our way to a much freer society where poverty is seriously reduced, people can make their own choices of religion, but without the government bending over backwards to provide religious exemptions for every little thing; our water and air would be cleaner, and we would be back on top in science and technology. It wouldn't be utopia, obviously, but it would be closer than we can dream of now with our current GOP-blocked Congress and religion running amok. One can dream, can't he?