Friday, October 16, 2009

Why are some religious people so... literal?

Photo taken of Clarence Darrow and William Jen...Image via Wikipedia
Religion, Darwin, and Evolution

Why must some people take the Bible so... LITERALLY? It's obvious that the world was NOT created in six days, and the world was not created in 4004 BC (ref: King James Bible).

In fact, St. Augustine, VERY famous Christian about 400 AD, wrote a book called "True meanings of Book of Genesis", where he specifically stated that the Bible should not be taken as the literally truth, and Bible is NOT SCIENCE< but myth and allegory. Bible are a collection of lessons and messages from God, and some concepts can only be explained metaphorically, such as creation of space and time.

So why does some people insist that the Bible is the literally truth? That started in the Reformation. Basically, the reformation claims that the Bible, NOT the Pope, is the true leader of Christianity. Rather than having the Pope telling you what the Bible means, each reader of the Bible should be able to decide what the Bible meant to him- or herself.

However, please keep in mind that the reformation is actually born of one King's power struggle with the Vatican. King James?(?) of England want a divorce/annulment from his wife, and the Catholic church will not grant it. So he basically said **** you, broke from the Catholic church, appointed himself as the leader of the church, assigned his own bishops and whatnot, and created the Anglican Church. And that lead to the reformation, as a power struggle against the Pope and the Vatican.

However, most Britons don't see any conflict between Darwin's theory of evolution, and Christianity. They simply don't think that God was speaking literally. After all, why would God measure time the same way mortals do?

So where did the conflict between Darwinism, and Christianity, come from? It actually started in America: the Scopes Trial of 1926.

Scopes, a teacher, taught Theory of Evolution in school, counter to the Butler Act (Tennessee), which made it illegal to teach anything that denies "Divine Creation" in state of Tennessee. This is in the Bible Belt, after all. Why did they do it? A deeper reason that the American church leaders sees a major moral decay of the American society in the "roaring 20's". They tried to crack down on it. ACLU basically asked John Scopes to intentionally violate the law so they can force the law into court. In fact, Scopes actually encouraged his students to report him. The local businesses want to create a controversy to put Dayton Tennessee on the map, and this would do it. Scope's bail was paid for by local newspaper owner. In order to make the case even more sensational, William Jennings Bryant, a presbyterian and three-time presidential candidate, despite not having practiced law for 36 years, was invited by the prosecutors to join the team as an associate member. In response to that, Clarence Darrow, a prominent attorney and an agnostic, volunteered his service to the defense. Both sides have multiple attorneys, and the controversy made it the first courtroom trial to be covered by national radio. To make a long story short, the two side took directly opposite views. The prosecution was defending the validity of the Christian Faith, which is somehow tied to the literal interpretation of the Bible, and the Defense is challenging the whole notion that the Bible has any scientific value. Scopes was found guilty, but many later raised the issue that the judge seems to be biased against the defense, as much of the testimony from the defense was expunged, or exclused or deemed "not relevant". At the end, Darrow basically threw up his hands and said something akin to "just vote us guilty so we can appeal this case".

Somehow, "Darwinism", and Christianity, have been labeled as each other's mortal enemies ever since. What's interesting to note is that there's no such thing as "Creationism" in the 1920's.

Then the Great Depression came along, then world war II, then Korean War, and people are too busy to think of such things.

The boom times of the 1960's,l coupled with the Hippie Times, with its associated drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, and so on, lead Church Leaders to batten down the hatches, so to speak, as they once again saw America's morality dip to a new low. And thus, the church went back to the Bible... as literal as possible.

So what exactly is Creationism? Modern Creationists believe that the Bible is to be taken literally when it comes to creation of the Earth and all its inhabitants. ALL animals, including humans and dinosaurs, are created at the same time, and the Earth is a bit over 6000 years old. When asked to justify their claims, they either point to the Bible (with no corroborating evidence), or give some techno-babble that doesn't even make sense. When asked to explain fossils, their explanation is that modern dating methods are wrong, and the bible is correct, without any corroborating evidence. Want to read some of that lunacy? Look up a book called "Genesis Flood".

There's a branch of Creationism called "Intelligent Design". Actually the idea of "God as Designer" is not new. Back in 1800, during Industrial Revolution, the idea that "God the Greatest Mechanic" was brandied about. The problem is one of logic... If God is such a great designer, why didn't he design EVIL out of the system? Or natural disasters? But I digress. Intelligent Design basically turns Creationism into something more scientifically sounding, but in fact makes even LESS sense.

Intelligent Design basically states that life as we know it is too complex to have arisen out of pure chance like the theory of evolution have theorized. Thus, there must be a God behind that "selection". It's not "natural selection", but "intelligent selection"

The problem with this idea is it's NOT scientific at all. It's more like "faith". They thought they are making a "logical" statement... IF A, THEN B. But if you examine the statement, you an see that A is an opinion, not a fact. Thus, A cannot prove B. If you an prove something based on opinion instead of a fact, there would be no science. Intelligent design may sound like a theory, but it proposes something that cannot be proven. No experiments can be done to test this "theory", no data can be collected, because its premise was unsound. In fact, A was stated in a way that it cannot be proven.

And they demand to be treated as a "science" in front of a school board? They want their textbooks to be used in class? What utter poppycock. Watch out for these "intelligent design" advocates or their textbooks in your schools. Our science program sucks already. We don't need this kind of garbage in our schools polluting our children's minds. They got cartoons to do that.

And instead of defending their position, they attack theory of evolution instead. They said that since theory of evolution is merely a theory, so is their theory of intelligent design, and theories should be treated equally. Thus, they completely ignore the fact that theory of evolution has plenty of evidence behind it, and theory of intelligent design... does not, and cannot.

And what is wrong in believing in God that exists in all of us? That God is omnipresent? That all living beings share a bit of God, and so did all matter? Why must some people insist that THEIR vision of God is the only one that counts?

Essentially, Darwin's ideas has been hijacked by Atheists in their fight against religion. Atheists now call themselves Darwinians, or Ultra-Darwinians, even though Darwin have NEVER stated ANYTHING anti-religion in public, EVER.

And religion, fighting back, went the opposite way... read the bible as literally as possible, and thus, turned something meant as a metaphor, into something unscientific and ridiculous.

I don't mean to preach, but religious intolerance killed more people in the history of mankind than any other reason. The crusades were launched on the premise of religious intolerance (take the Holy land back from the Muslims). Modern terrorists like Al Qaeda attack the West due to at least partial religious reasons... They see Western society as corrupt and decadent, and they call all non-Muslims infidels, even though Prophet Mohammed himself stated that "People of the Book", i.e. Christians, are to be treated as brothers, as both Islam and Christianity worship the same God, albeit different name. In fact, Prophet Mohammed may have stated that he is merely the next person God sent to Earth after Jesus.

The same problem with the Taliban... They read the Koran literally, and want to go back to the traditional ways, instead of a more modern / secular interpretation of the Koran. Instead of reading what the writers of Koran had intended, they read only the words. And they are perpetuating their views by oppression and execution of nonbelievers. And starting religious Madrassas (Koran schools) that force their views onto another generation, essentially brainwashing their future. Same thing is happening in Pakistan and surrounding countries.

The fundamentalist bent on Islam and Christianity is a troublesome bent, as they are polarizing factors, and often, deal-breakers, as they often wield enormous influence despite their smaller numbers.

And the only way out is education... Teach children to read the Bible, Koran, or whatever religious text, but tell them that they must reach their own understanding of the words. Show them what different people think of those words, but make no judgment on the merits of each view. Let them come to their own conclusions. It's the only way to get out of this religious intolerance business.

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