Some odd things happened Sunday - Monday and I want to write about them. This discussion will include some viewpoints that will likely offend people but I don't really feel the need to hold back punches so much today so read at your own risk, risk of molting your exoskeleton that is.
The beginning of this conversation must begin with some links that we've been watching at the house "back to back" sometimes. A friend shared them with us and it kind of tied together some other clips we'd been watching.
There are things that I have to say about what it made me feel about. Basically I like the idea that science actually can explain why we should be good to each other and work together logically to build a flourishing human cooperation on earth. It makes no sense logically for us to fight and disagree on who's version of the sky god is more accurate. It makes no sense to strap bombs to our chests and blow up a market. It makes no sense to have nuclear weapons and handguns. Yet every year, people all over the world die or are subject to human suffering as a result of religious beliefs and their ramifications.
Additionally, In a world that has unmanned guided missiles and expanding nuclear capabilities it is horrifyingly frightening to me that the leaders of countries still live in a reality of faith where their conscience is guided by a fictional sky god and corresponding story/set of morals. In a world where technology that could take down so many is controlled by fallible humans and those humans often times operate under religious/faith notions it utterly frightens me that the world population is still so staunchly opposed to convergent scientific thinking and collaboration based on reason and examination.
Point being, a logical scientific view of human success and fitness would say that machete-ing someone to death in Africa, or the Nuclear Armament of a Christian led super power, or a father murdering of recently raped women in the Middle East, or AIDS in Africa, or Rainforest destruction, or Climate Change, or any other seriously morally important issues would be more biologically important issues to deal with as a species than half of the religious nonsense that occupies so much time.
Moral Talent and Moral Ignorance is a cool idea also. I like the idea that if a seriously stupid person tried to have some input into a very very difficult idea like String Theory Physics or Global Economy the experts and most would agree that Billy Joe Bob hasn't really got anything helpful or valid to add to the conversation. We can all agree that there is skill/talent/authority of certain knowledge and those who don't know things are ignorant on the topic. BUUUUUUUUUT when it comes to morals/beliefs/faith and everything that realm "Everyone's beleifs must be valued." NO THEY SHOULD NOT. There is moral talent. There is Moral Ignorance. And I don't really feel the need to allow ignorant morals about "Gay Rights" and "Abortion" and "Creationism in School" into the conversation. Some of these things are morally ignorant but because we are so fearful of not being Politically Correct everyone has an equal part of the pie. Some things just aren't ok.
So yesterday Kyle and I (thanks be to Allah that I have an Atheist Roomate) drove his friend to Idaho and back. I needed to get out of the house and it gave me a chance to knit some hats and enjoy some scenery. As the landscape changed and we left the soft pillowy inner liberal folds of the Puget Sound and went further and further into the heart land all of the words of these lectures started making more and more sense.
As we drove through the vast expanse of spokane with its factory stores and mcdonalds and malls and box buildings I kept thinking about how we will never change as a species. This huge expanse of Christian consumers just plodding away.
As we drove into the track housing mega complex to drop off our friend, monster truck after SUV parked in each seemingly identical driveways, I felt like I was in the heart of the problem. We had been warned by our friend that his step dad was a redneck and his mom was really religious. In the front driveway a Ford 350 diesel on 43 inch tires sat. They weren't home yet but we walked around the house, RV in the back, four wheelers, snowmobiles, and 4 guns nonchalantly placed on the pool table, many many many bible verses posted around the house, bible versus hand written on the fridge, I just kept having flashes of these lectures and the words in my brain. We had to wait to meet the family before we could return to Tacoma. The family was late because they were getting Starbucks and then going to the GunStore to get more ammo for their new Beretta 9mm gun they had purchased. They finally arrived and after a short discussion about why a single action handgun is better than a double action the step dad left the room and came back in with a loaded gun and unclipped it, checked the chamber and removed a bullet and then pointed it at his dog and fired a bullet-less clip to demonstrate double action.
I was so uncomfortable that I could have run out of the room. I mean seriously. I know I didn't grow up around guns but this was totally f**ked up. What the hell was going on. Could these people fulfill anymore of the stereotypes? The conversation slowly moved from conversation topic to conversation topic. They were foster parents of local Indian girls and were so thankful to give them a Christian Upbringing. This and That and although I refuse to hold my tongue on many topics (having lived in a native village) I had to keep my mouth and opinions in check because an Atheist in a room with a loaded gun was probably not the smartest place to make a stand against moral ignorance.
If I had any delusions about the prospect of humans finding some sort of reason based common ground on which we could elevate our conscious for flourishing and collaboration and elimination of human suffering they had been squashed by a gun waving fat man in a SUV. So Kyle and I spent almost the whole drive home discussing what had happened relating it to these lectures and trying to decide whether anything is ever going to change.
We spend billions of dollars shoring up our oil life line in the middle east every year. We veil it under the eminent attack of terrorist forces from deep in the mountains of afghanistan and Saddam Hussein. Over 104,000 Iraqi civilians have perished from our occupation (if not many more) yet it is never on the news anymore.
Our schools are understaffed. Our elderly and disabled can't get proper care. Genocide in Africa. Suicide Bombings world wide. Catastrophic events are ongoing with not nearly as much aid as needed. AIDS epidemic in Africa. Catholic Priest Rapists and Molesters. China pumping pollution into the air. Human Trafficking. Animal Poaching. Torturing. Habitat Loss and biodiversity destruction worldwide. Pedophiles. Massive pollution. Yet instead of coming together to think about these things every sunday, instead of learning about sustainability, ecosystems and resource management and medicine and education and actually doing anything billions of people spend countless hours every week meditating on the same religious texts that have put our societies directly in the line of massive suffering. All retellings of the same story from before the Egyptians, just with different prophets, different versions of Abrahamic descendants, and we all just go along with it despite all the suffering and all the injustice and all the morally and logically ignorant crap going on.
So when you say we should respect religion and people's beliefs, I think not. When you say we should teach creative design in school I think not.
When I say the pledge of Allegiance every day I leave out the "One Nation Under God." If you are out there and you want to combat the injustice of religion then you need to get active. The reason it is so biologically/culturally successful is that it is so reproducible. The genetic code of the religion is its text which actually tells its body (the believers) to replicate it self, to spread the word. The reason "reason" isn't making it into popular culture body is because we are not reproducing it fast enough to combat the Bible (and its many versions) or the Torah or the Koran.
If you want to help then you have to do something. This blog isn't enough.