Look, I told you once already that if you are a religious person, the only outcome of
reading the diatribe below is that you're really going to get pissed at me, and likely storm
around in a deep blue funk for a while. If this is the case, GO BACK. It is not my intention
to raise the ire of my readers, rather, I am here venting my own frustration over the whole
topic of religion and how it relates to the current status of the body of modern science.
I hope that perhaps other like-minded people will read these ramblings and find that they
have a brother in me - a man who accepts evidence presented to him as a rational man should.
This website was not created to be my soap-box for the science vs. religion battle, it was
created as a memorial to those lost in the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 - therefore, I do
not feel I have the liberty of diverting the website to that end. However, I did indeed sit
down one night and write this passage intending to post it in the Commentary section.
As soon as I finished, I thought better of that, because I judged this rant to be too far away
from the purpose of the website, and I did not want any ill feelings that would undeniably
be generated by these views to detract from the honoring of the memories we have
of the precious brothers and sisters lost in those attacks. That same train of thought
dropped me off at the station that held the conclusion that this bit of literary spleen-venting
does indeed support thoughts I'd already presented in the Commentary, and should be posted
to keep my honesty and integrity at the high levels I demand of myself - if I have sat down
to write something that I firmly believe in, I should not be afraid to stand my thoughts up
for others to judge and bear witness to. I am not afraid. I am hesitant to detract from the
purpose of this site, and the memory of those lost, and that is the entirety of the reason why
I moved this essay away from the bulk of the website. If you feel the need, read my thoughts below,
but know that regardless of your own personal views, I bind myself to the firm belief that
all men and women are free to believe in whatever they wish - I would never deign
to deny you that right. This is what I believe in - I ask only that you do not deny me this right
as I would never attempt to deny you.
|10/22/01 - Keep an eye on the effects on the war of the
upcoming Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which will be starting in the
middle of November. We're already receiving warnings from Islamic
groups and countries about the backlash we'll receive if we continue the
attacks into their most highly held time of the year. I for one hope
that if we aren't done by then, that the war continues unabated - taking a
month off to observe Ramadan may keep Muslims happy (well, relatively
speaking), but it would also mindlessly give al-Qaida and the Taliban a
whole freakin' month to re-group, re-build, or get the hell out of the way
where we won't be able to find them. It would be, militarily, a
massively moronic move on our parts. As always, the problems is that
it would once again be an affront to Islam...need I remind everyone about
the 1.2 BILLION Muslims in this world? Would Muslims who currently
are at least tolerating our attacks on Afghanistan truly be pushed into
active aggression against us because we continued strikes in
Ramadan? I am certainly not equipped to even guess...but it most
certainly is another wonderful effect of religion on our world to
consider. How much less hate would there be in this world without
religion? We really don't need reasons to draw lines in the sand and
differentiate the peoples of various countries...different skin colors and
languages is bad enough, without artificially making up a dozen or more
major religions to further drive us apart. Every time I see the news
or read a paper or check out news sites on the internet I am amazed at the
burning, seething hatred harbored purely and exclusively within
religion. It boggles the rational mind to think that people honestly
believe they're doing themselves any good by aligning with such
organizations and buying into their theologies. Personally, I think
"do unto others as you would have done unto you" and "love
thy neighbor" are all the credence anyone should need. That's
how I live my life...and before any good Christians write to
"remind" me that "love can come only from God, and without
God, there is no love" - let me point out to you that your
forthcoming angry assertion pretty much proves itself wrong.
We are currently reaping the fields sown by our religions...this is what religion gets us. Humanity will be forever mired in this current status quo of hatred and distrust and warfare until we can grow out of our need for superstition. To my great dismay for the future of every person born from this day forward, I don't honestly see this happening before we annihilate ourselves. It is also astounding how tenaciously we hold onto our religions in the face of insurmountable scientific evidence to the contrary. Of course, the debate of evolution vs. creationism is the most famous...the weight of evidence proving evolution to be a written-in-stone (a religiously originated phrase, a la Moses and the Ten Commandments) fact of life (literally) is greater than the evidence supported practically any other scientific theory. Don't get pulled into the snake-oil sales tactic trap of misrepresenting the scientific term "theory" - all scientific ideas are permanently theories, because science is always willing (more or less) to change it's opinions in the face of new evidence, hence, it is presumed that nothing can truly be defined as absolute, capital "T" Truth, because the door has to be open to change the theory in light of any new evidence that is found. For example, the theory of heliocentrism presumes that the Earth orbits the sun, and not vice-versa as we originally thought. The Catholic church was particularly perturbed by this concept, and kept it squelched for some time. However, the preponderance of scientific evidence was so great that the church could no longer resist, and officially acknowledged that the sun did not actually rotate around the Earth, but that the reverse was true. Today, no sane person doubts the veracity of the theory of heliocentrism - we commonly consider it to be a "fact" because of the totality and certainty of the evidence we've collected to support it. Have you ever doubted the concept, after, say, junior high school science classes educated you on the subject? Of course not - it would not be rational to do so. Why then is it rational to doubt the theory of evolution, with all of it's vast collections of overpoweringly convincing supporting evidence? Well, it's not - but, it conflicts with the creation myths of every religion that has one (virtually all religions have a creation myth). Simply put, the concept that life evolved into different species from an original spark of life rather than from the finger of God (or Gods, or whatever) are so diametrically opposed, they cannot be intermingled. The Bible says God created man, then created all the animals, and then created Eve by pulling out one of Adam's ribs (presumably to save on raw materials usage, or something). Therefore, any evidence that any other process is responsible for the origin of species (sounds like a good book title, that does!) is obviously, simply, wrong. Total denial. Evolution cannot be true, because it contradicts the Bible. Christians are banned from believing in evolution, or they are not Christians. I understand that the papacy has gone so far as to recognize that evolution does indeed drive speciation among a similar "kind" (i.e. cats or dogs or whales), but that it cannot generate a new "kind" (i.e. only God can create the original platypus, but evolution could be responsible for variations on the platypus theme). But, there they stop - and they have particular problems with the notion that man descended from monkeys (pardon my vernacular). The problem here, in particular, is that the evolutionary fossil record in support of evolution is far more complete and compelling for the humans-from-primates lineage than any other, which really peeves off "creation scientists" - which, in case you're wondering, is the most profound oxymoron ever conceived.
At any rate, the point I'm trying (long-windedly, my apologies) is that humanity is completely bought-in to religion even in the face of totally contradictory, overwhelming scientific evidence - we are amazingly willing to launch into total, irrational, denial of said evidence ("if I ignore it, maybe it will go away"). Think of these things that you must throw out if you are a Christian - aside from evolution, first of all you must totally dismiss the idea that the Earth (indeed, the universe) is very old - despite mountainous volumes of evidence showing the Earth is billions of years old, the Bible is generally interpreted to indicate that the Earth is somewhere in the neighborhood of only 6,000 years old. A minor discrepancy to say the least. Fossils - remnants of extinct dinosaurs and such? Of course not - they were planted there by Satan to deceive us - or, by God to test our faith. Not only is there no mention of dinosaurs in the Bible, but since man and all animals were created at the same time, it must obviously be false that such beasts could have lived hundreds of millions of years before the first humans. Besides, the Earth didn't even exist that long ago. How about physics in general? We all accept that the pinpoints of lights that we see in the night sky are light waves that have been traveling for eons to get to us. Not so - since the entire universe was created all at the same time, only a few thousand years ago, it is patently false that these beams of light could have been traveling for more than those few thousand years - obviously, God created the universe with those rays of light already on their way to us, so that we would perceive them as being ancient when they really weren't. Which eventually gets into a huge hullabaloo about how God created all these seemingly ancient artifacts to actively deceive us into believing that the Earth and the universe are so old...and God will only admit into Heaven those humans who display enough irrationality to blatantly ignore such evidence as their own eyes see, evidently.
All of these concepts you must deny if you are a Christian - because the Bible says so. As I have noted before, we do have a tendency to pick and choose what parts of the Bible we want to abide by, but these issues are so fundamental to the Christian mythology (theology, whatever) that they cannot be put aside so - Christians must take them head-on, and in these cases, they are completely without a foot to stand on.
Upcoming scientific revelations could bring these issues to a point of ignition within our own cultures - you've no doubt heard accounts of evidence supporting the idea that live might not actually have begun originally on this planet at all, but rather biological material was brought to this planet from somewhere "out there." It is commonly held now that it isn't reasonable to doubt that life exists elsewhere in the universe - perhaps our original genes were brought to us by a comet or asteroid. It's now been shown that organic chemistry can occur even in the near absolute-zero near-vacuum of space itself, not even needing to be on a relatively warm planet. Consider for the moment the possibility that microbes will be discovered in an asteroid, or on Mars - what would be the impact of that revelation on religion? The very concept that life needn't have begun on Earth at all - worse still, fathom the consequences of discovering that the genetic "fingerprint" of said microbe turns out to be the base code of all Earth life...the original organism that spawned all the fauna and flora of the Earth (or even part of it). The discovery would be absolutely revolutionary - and just might be enough for Christianity to finally declare it's own holy war against the scientific infidels who deign to disprove entirely the word of God that He created life originally on the Earth 6,000 years ago. Science is open to change - religion is not. Agnostics will accept evidence that God exists, but religious people will not accept evidence that undermines the very foundation of their beliefs.
One might hope that such a confrontation will never take place - that such scientific revelations will never occur - but in all likelihood future scientific discoveries will continue to erode the sand upon which religion was built, and religion will attack the rock of science with all the hatred it has built up over the millennia. On differing days, I hope for and against such an event occurring during my lifetime...while I'd like to see it, I'd rather not die in a holy war myself.