6.04.2007

only in america? (maybe not)
the creation museum

Many of you probably already know about this reading from evolution blogs, but not being a visitor to that world, my eyes popped.

There's a creation museum in Kentucky.

The country of my birth grows ever stupider, and ever more divided.

49 comments:

James said...

There's one in Canada, too. But it's in a run-down four-room shack in Alberta, IIRC.

PeterC said...

Actually, it's a $20 million brand spanking new animatronic man walking with dinos museum.
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2007/05/29/museum-ab.html?ref=rss

I think this allows certain home schooling parents to bring their children to a "good" museum and not have to answer any.... unfortunate questions. I feel it is very bad when this kind of thing becomes acceptable and legitimate. Normally, natural history museums are not just what the public sees but tons of fossils, and other collections in order to study nature. I do not believe this is the case here.
PeterC
P.S. Sorry for the deleted comment. Editing is a good thing before you click save.

L-girl said...

Peter, no problem. Thanks for that. It is indeed sad, and dangerous.

Here's the link Peter posted.

West End Bound said...

Yes, unfortunately, the US is not the only place these people spread their inaccuracies.

Alberta's got their very own version.

L-girl said...

Apparently we do not read each other's comments. :)

M@ said...

I know a lot of Americans were very excited to hear about the Canadian museum, because they started to feel like, hey, they weren't the only country with gibbering morons starting up museums. But soon they realised that Canada's was pretty pathetic by comparison. I'm not sure whether I should feel good or bad about that. (As a Canadian, I mean. As a human being, I'm just appalled.)

I heard a radio doc recently -- I forget if it was BBC or CBC -- about creationist idiots who take groups of kids to real museums and basically twist and reframe things in the museum so that they can make the kids see everything from a creationist point of view. I arrived at work in a pretty bad mood, let me tell you.

I don't know whether it's better to keep this crap in its own museum, where it can do less to taint our society. But I kind of think that if you bring kids, even sheltered and indoctrinated kids, to museums a few times, eventually they will start to see things. I really don't know. It's that this is all so abashedly about indoctrinating kids that is most upsetting to me.

L-girl said...

I'm not sure whether I should feel good or bad about that. (As a Canadian, I mean.

Good.

Re indoctrinating children, a way to feel hopeful is to remember that many of us were indoctrinated as young people, and later came to reject what we were taught to believe. Be that religion, politics, prejudices, or about how to live (family, relationships), we don't all live in our parents' belief systems.

This doesn't make any of this any less horrible, but it gives me hope. It also reminds me why we have to put the truth out there as often - and in as many places - as possible.

M@ said...

Good.

Okay. But not great. :)

Many of us were indoctrinated as young people, and later came to reject what we were taught to believe... we don't all live in our parents' belief systems.

Very true. I may be selling kids short in my fear that the indoctrination works, permanently. But with the resources that are thrown at them, I really worry about those poor kids. Kids growing up being told not to think -- selling these minds short to advance your own retarded way of seeing the world. Pathetic at best, evil at worst.

And it's true that I grew up in a religious household and went to a Catholic school... but I don't feel like I was subjected to this kind of indoctrination. (In fact, I can pinpoint where my atheism began: in a grade 12 religion class. Rather ironic.)

It also reminds me why we have to put the truth out there as often - and in as many places - as possible.

Absolutely. I had a letter published in the local paper on the subject last year, in fact. I'm very proud of that. I'm hopeful that creationism is the last gasp of a stone-age mode of thinking, and a couple of generations from now it will be at least laughed at, and at best forgotten.

Scott M. said...

As I understand it, a "creationist" for this discussion is a person who believes that the modern world was created in much the same way as described in the Bible.

But what about the religous movement towards recognizing evolution as an act of god, whereby there still is a "creator" but he's more the impetus behind the big bang than he is a 6-day wonder? Isn't that picking up steam?

dean said...

Sadly, creationism is finding adherents in Turkey, as well.

M@ said...

But what about the religous movement towards recognizing evolution as an act of god, whereby there still is a "creator" but he's more the impetus behind the big bang than he is a 6-day wonder? Isn't that picking up steam?

If we're talking about "Intelligent Design", then yes, that's picked up some steam in recent years. However, the circuit court ruling in Dover in '05 pretty much made it impossible to teach ID in US classrooms, same as creationism. (And the ID proponents made themselves look pretty silly in the process, to boot.)

But while I reject them both, at least ID accepts the basic facts of evolution without too much comment (it just tries to tack on a magic man in the sky). It's an attempt to create a wedge issue, but it's a weak attempt. Plus, it's being attacked from both sides -- by creationists who feel it's not biblical enough, and from the world of reality where it's seen as no more than unscientific drivel.

Anonymous said...

Well, the Canadians have YEC nutballs too. Very scarily, one of yours happens to be the Minister of Public Safety, Stockwell "Robespierre" Day.

It's one thing when someone is a religious nut like Day or John Ashcroft. It's quite another when a lot of men with guns are at his disposal, as in the case of Day.

L-girl said...

Yes, yes, we all know about Stockwell Day. We would know about him even if you didn't post about him on a regular basis.

I'd argue that John Ashcroft did a lot more damage than Stockwell Day will ever do. Although of course I can't see the future.

L-girl said...

I can pinpoint where my atheism began: in a grade 12 religion class.

I had a similar experience, from a class on comparitive religion, which I took through our synagogue. I compared them... and realized they were all very similar in what their goals.

That was a turning point, which I realize now was the first step on the road to atheism.

In general, I put great stock in people's capacities to rise above the propaganda of their upbringing. Although I definitely agree with you about how wrong it is to feed kids this crap. And it will stick with some, at least.

L-girl said...

I thought, as Scott mentioned, that "ID" has gained a lot of credence, and is being successfully used as a wedge issue.

I don't follow this issue closely, so perhaps it's not as strong as I think. But please, please, don't put too much stock in court decisions to control what goes on in classrooms in the US.

Prayer in public schools has been struck down again and again - yet it's done all over the country. Segregation, by design and de facto, went on for more than a decade after the Brown decision. Just to use those two examples.

I have absolutely no doubt that creationism and intelligent design is being taught in public schools. I'd be shocked if it were otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, we all know about Stockwell Day. We would know about him even if you didn't post about him on a regular basis.

Sorry, I just find him particularly scary. He so blatant about being a fundie nutball and YEC.

I'd argue that John Ashcroft did a lot more damage than Stockwell Day will ever do. Although of course I can't see the future.

Oh, without a doubt. Day didn't do things like challege Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law as Ashcroft did. Unlike the U.S., the religious nuts are not in charge in Canada.

L-girl said...

Sorry, I just find him particularly scary. He so blatant about being a fundie nutball and YEC.

I'm just taking the piss, as they say.

I see him as someone who would be scary if unleashed. We just have to make sure he never is.

Whereas in the US, they're all holding the leashes!

Unlike the U.S., the religious nuts are not in charge in Canada.

Exactly. Religion is very different here. It's so much more muted. Canada is just a much more secular country.

The US has always been so much more religious, throughout its history. Which would make most of its founders sad, I think, as they were not a religious bunch. (Despite what the fundies say!)

Crabbi said...

This place is definitely worth a special trip, if only to see Jesus riding around on Dino the dinosaur.

Ironic that a museum dedicated to bring us back to the Stone Age is so high-tech, no?

teflonjedi said...

sigh

L-girl said...

Ironic that a museum dedicated to bring us back to the Stone Age is so high-tech, no?

I can't think about it too much, or my head will explode.

David Cho said...

Boring. The guy should have used his money to build the Apocalypse Museum. Now I would pay good money to see that stuff.

deang said...

Richard Feynman recently said at a talk in Virginia that the existence of such places "debauches" the very idea of education. Do a YouTube search on Feynman and Liberty University and listen to the whole thing. It's great.

I was raised in a very right-wing, Texas fundamentalist Christian family and probably would have ended up a proudly ignorant fundie myself if my normal childhood interest in dinosaurs hadn't spurred an interest in the science behind them, which then led to an interest in scientific proof, reason, logic, and all that. The rest of my family didn't go that direction.

One of my most beloved nieces, a bright 12-yr-old girl, recently said to me in a very haughty voice, "I don't believe in evolution! I believe God created us just the way he wanted!" I told her that once she's out on her own and exposed to the larger world and a broader range of people and ideas, she may change her mind. I hope she does.

deang said...

I just realized that when I was first exposed to dinosaurs it was the early 70s, a good 10 years before US fundie Christers started constructing what Chris Hedges calls their "parallel universe" of institutions, including books on every conceivable topic, schools, and even museums. A US child today in a fundamentalist Christian family may only be exposed to fundie books on dinosaurs and thus never learn about the true science behind them. I guess we'll have to leave scientific advances to the rest of the world, then.

L-girl said...

DeanG, nice to see you here. :)

I didn't know that was your background. Wow! Since you are now a proudly leftist, egalitarian, radically open-minded person, there's a big lesson of hope in there.

Now I'm very curious about your relationship with your family, whether and how it survived your change, but I realize you might not want to share that in comments. So I'm not asking. ;-)

I know what you mean about what a child might see now vs when you were that age. But now there's the internet. It's a big world out there. Curious minds do find things. Intelligence will out.

I hope your niece finds the way, too. Her little world will have to come crashing in, but hey, we've all survived that.

loneprimate said...

Hey, Alberta's got one t-- oh, crap. Never mind. :)

It is indeed sad, and dangerous.

Yeah, this is the reason I get cold feet every time someone waxes eloquent about proportional representation. Sure, sounds great when you imagine it's just Latin for "the NDP gets more seats"... till you realize it also means folks like this, who couldn't get elected God catcher under the present system, suddenly wind up guaranteed a handful of reps who will give cheer and encouragement to the like-minded as they wind up on the CBC every night, quoted ad nauseam in The National Post, and potentially hold the balance of power in a system that promises minority government after minority government.

They're out there.

Let's KEEP 'em out there.

loneprimate said...

The guy should have used his money to build the Apocalypse Museum. Now I would pay good money to see that stuff.

Ehn. Only if it shows all those evangelists standing around with their arms upstretched and their spiritual pants around their ankles, shocked that they're about to be vapourized along with the "damned" rest of humanity.

L-girl said...

Yeah, this is the reason I get cold feet every time someone waxes eloquent about proportional representation.

Maybe I can invite Idealistic Pragmatist over to counter this claim. You might be right, but I'd like to have an alternate view sitting nearby. :)

L-girl said...

My dear friend AW1L (avid wmtc reader but not commenter) says by email:

"I wanted to make sure you know 3 of 10 Republican candidates for president say they don't believe in evolution. [What a country!]"

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

On a drive-by:

Sure, sounds great when you imagine it's just Latin for "the NDP gets more seats"... till you realize it also means folks like this, who couldn't get elected God catcher under the present system, suddenly wind up guaranteed a handful of reps

Fortunately, this isn't actually true. Only two potential systems have floated for use in Canada, the one currently under consideration in Ontario (Mixed-Member Proportional) and the one currently under consideration in B.C. (Single Transferable Vote). BOTH of these systems have thresholds that would prevent small fringe parties from being elected unless they had significant support. Scroll down in my FAQ to the question about "small regional or ethnic parties" for the full explanation.

L-girl said...

Thanks IP! :)

loneprimate said...

BOTH of these systems have thresholds that would prevent small fringe parties from being elected unless they had significant support.

Yeah, and the GST was "revenue neutral". As you've pointed out, it's possible under the current system for these people to get elected, with "significant support". We've had upwards of, if I remember correctly, six parties in the Commons at any given time, and some of these parties have significant support out west. Anything that lowers the threshold of what constitutes "significant support" makes me nervous. It gives them a voice that would almost certainly bleed off right-wingers who figure at least their vote counts for something if they vote Tory/Reform/CCRAP, whatever. Empowering a move away from moderation towards fragmentation... cripes, isn't that trend bad enough in this country already? I certainly think so.

I suppose it's bound to come to this sometime. All I'm saying is when you're tiptoeing through the tulips of democracy, be prepared to step... or even slip... in the fertilizer.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

loneprimate,

My point is that proportional representation wouldn't lower the threshold for significant support--and in some ways, it would raise it. If anything, first past the post is far, far more dangerous in this respect than either of the two PR-based systems proposed for Canada, as the inflated seat count of the Bloc Quebecois indicates. We've been slipping in the fertilizer for years, and it's time to wake up and smell the democracy.

And your assumption about "more fragmentation" isn't particularly warranted if you look at what happens in other jurisdictions. It's not impossible that PR would create more parties, but I actually find that highly doubtful, given how many we have already (I suspect there would be a realignment of the current parties instead, with lots of politicians changing teams for a year or two). Regardless, though, there would still be less fragmentation under PR because it demands true intraparty cooperation within stable, majority coalition governments. If you're sick of the infighting and grandstanding, PR is actually the solution, not something that would create more of the same problems.

(See also six reasons to support proportional representation and myth #1: proportional representation leads to minority governments.)

James said...

And it's true that I grew up in a religious household and went to a Catholic school... but I don't feel like I was subjected to this kind of indoctrination. (In fact, I can pinpoint where my atheism began: in a grade 12 religion class. Rather ironic.)

That's not that uncommon. Someone once said that there is no greater recruiting tool for atheists than the Bible.

Catholic schools are generally pretty good about not going overboard with indoctrination, at least around here. No doubt in part due to a history of not wanting to attract negative attention from Protestants.

But what about the religous movement towards recognizing evolution as an act of god, whereby there still is a "creator" but he's more the impetus behind the big bang than he is a 6-day wonder? Isn't that picking up steam?

It's pretty much the default for Catholics and most Protestants, but it doesn't get any press.

But while I reject them both, at least ID accepts the basic facts of evolution without too much comment (it just tries to tack on a magic man in the sky).

Accepts on paper. But if you dig down into the beliefs of many Discovery Institute types, you'll find that it's only a very superficial sort of acceptance.

ID is not a scientific endeavour, it's a political one. After Creationism started running afoul of the First Amendment, it got a makeover into Creation Science. That fell apart in a court case in the late 80s, it regrouped as Intelligent Design. Dover's now done that serious damage, so it's currently going through another evolutionary metamorphosis into "teach the weaknesses of Darwinism".

The goal of ID is not to extend scientific knowledge or come to a deeper understanding of the world. It is simply to get Christian mythology into public school curricula, and nothing more.

James said...

Here's another embarrassment:

Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.

In other words, "I reject anything that conflicts with my religious assumptions, regardless of the quality of the evidence supporting it."

The above quote was part of Senator Sam Brownback's explanation of his rejection of evolutionary theory.

I do love the phrase "atheistic theology". It perfectly summarized the cluelessness of the person uttering it.

loneprimate said...

IP,

You've done little to reassure me, I'm afraid. I understand how coalitions work — they're the issue for me. We effectively had one for most of Mulroney's tenure; he'd co-opted the sovereigntists and his constitutional and economic peddling to them and their eventual defection nearly brought an end to our country. Without their support, it's highly unlikely he would have won in 1984 and certain he wouldn't have in 1988. Thank God Harper has had the sense not to step into that mine field... but he does have to watch his step with them, all the same. I foresee even more dances with the Devil in a system that pretty much assures no single party in Canada will ever be able to plot a course without worrying about shoals around the fringe.

I look at Italy. The place has had nearly as many governments since WWII as it's had years. Israel is a country full of bright, progressive, educated people whose political process is perennially in thrall to a handful of people who really believe Samuel was right to denounce Saul for merely enslaving the Amalakites instead of killing them man, woman, and child as God commanded — a big part of the reason the place can never find peace with its neighbours or the rest of the people of the very same land.

Coalitions. And so a coalition between the minority Tories and, say, the Family Party? Would the recent vote on same-sex marriage been the non-issue it was under such circumstances? What would it mean for abortion rights? Immigration? The equality of faiths? The independence of the judiciary?

In the abstract, I love the idea of PR. It is more fair. It does give people more of what they want. But I'm not such a democrat and I'm not so generous that I don't look at what that means in practical terms in this country and look away in sang froid. When I think of what we have to lose, and I look at how close the example of that is even in a two-party system, I find myself retreating to the safer shores of known waters.

L-girl said...

ID is not a scientific endeavour, it's a political one. After Creationism started running afoul of the First Amendment, it got a makeover into Creation Science. That fell apart in a court case in the late 80s, it regrouped as Intelligent Design. Dover's now done that serious damage, so it's currently going through another evolutionary metamorphosis into "teach the weaknesses of Darwinism".

The goal of ID is not to extend scientific knowledge or come to a deeper understanding of the world. It is simply to get Christian mythology into public school curricula, and nothing more.


This is what I wanted to say but didn't have time. Thanks James!

loneprimate said...

Accepts on paper. But if you dig down into the beliefs of many Discovery Institute types, you'll find that it's only a very superficial sort of acceptance.

Yeah, something to the effect of "God permits the evolution of freckles on the cheeks of a fair Irish lass". I'm being facetious, of course, but not by much. There's no room in the Bible, particularly given an intercession the size of Jesus, for a God who simply sets up the basic rules of the universe and then watches what unfolds.

And who ultimately knows? There just might be an intercessionary divinity. The only problem is when human beings take it upon themselves decide what He/She/It (They?) is like, ascribe the doctrine to the Divinity, and then they try to force that set of beliefs on everyone else in our mutual public spaces. Science is designed to be objectively provable by anyone. Most religious doctrine is not... hence faith: "I know it sounds strange; all the more reason to believe it!"

L-girl said...

And who ultimately knows? There just might be an intercessionary divinity.

Well sure. Not that I think there is, but none of us actually know.

The argument about keeping a diety out of the public education (and the hell out of science!) is not about "there is no god".

Many deeply religious people understand the need for separation, too. They are often adherents of a minority religion, one that needs a secular society - rather than a state religion imposed from on high - to survive.

You don't find many Jews or Zoroastrians or Seventh Day Adventists arguing for prayer in public schools. (Whose prayer??)

M@ said...

You don't find many Jews or Zoroastrians or Seventh Day Adventists arguing for prayer in public schools. (Whose prayer??)

You also don't find many Christians arguing for Jewish or Zoroastrian prayer in schools. I've heard enough times that the "our father" is a prayer that works for all religions.

As for ID, absolutely, no question. I'm not saying it is anything but a political tool used by Christian fundamentalists. I completely resist its introduction into education. It is unscientific and demonstrably wrong (and even its star witness in the Dover trial admitted that it's about as scientific as astrology).

But its conclusions are less damaging than creationism. To speculate that a magic sky-man kicked off the universe's processes: go ahead, enjoy yourself. The only problem is where this speculation is labelled science.

As for the Dover ruling, Laura, yeah, I'm probably way too optimistic about that. I'm glad I don't live there...

Anonymous said...

James said...

Someone once said that there is no greater recruiting tool for atheists than the Bible.


How true, how true.

As we all are painfully aware, fundies revere the Bible as the literal and inerrant word of the Creator of the Universe. Because of this, the fundies say, our public policy must be consistent with said book. This is why we can't have gay marriage, abortion, women's rights. In fact, we can't have sex until after marriage, and then only for purposes of procreation. With me so far?

Realize now that the Bible is (1)stylistically inconsistent, (2) self-contradictory, (3) largely based on mistranslations of (4) quotes taken out of context (5) from ancient documents (6) of dubious provenance that (7) describe events that are absurd as being contrary to the laws of physics. Creationism? Hell, in its first two chapters, the Bible contains two contradictory accounts of creation!

It is easy to see now why only an imbecile would read the Bible as anything other than mythic storytelling by an ignorant, illiterate, backward mideastern tribe. Yet approximately one in four of my countrymen would formulate the civil government based on said book.

Uhh . . . yeah, my country is in deep trouble. It is probably irredeemable at this point.

L-girl said...

I've heard enough times that the "our father" is a prayer that works for all religions.

The arrogance of that is just stunning.

James said...

The argument about keeping a diety out of the public education (and the hell out of science!) is not about "there is no god".

Another important thing to remember is that the criticism that "evolution is inherently atheistic" is just silly. Gravitational theory is also inherently atheistic -- no-one is invoking gods to explain why things fall down. For that matter, plumbing is atheistic too. You don't have to pray to Jehovah to get the toilet to flush.

You don't find many Jews or Zoroastrians or Seventh Day Adventists arguing for prayer in public schools. (Whose prayer??)

A few months back an evangelical pundit wrote a long article about his sudden conversion to belief in separation of church and state. You see, he'd gone to a football game in Hawaii, and the pre-game prayer was Buddhist! He didn't know what to do! He couldn't stand, that would be blasphemous! But he couldn't ignore it, that would be rude! How dare those Buddhist put him in such a position!

[ID] is unscientific and demonstrably wrong (and even its star witness in the Dover trial admitted that it's about as scientific as astrology).

Not quite: Behe insisted that ID is scientific, but admitted that his definition of "scientific" was so broad that it included astrology.

It is easy to see now why only an imbecile would read the Bible as anything other than mythic storytelling by an ignorant, illiterate, backward mideastern tribe. Yet approximately one in four of my countrymen would formulate the civil government based on said book.

Check out David Plotz's Blogging the Bible on Slate. It's an excellent overview of the Old Testament, written by a non-observant Jew who got curious about all these old stories he'd heard bits of, but never really paid much attention to.

Dunno if he'll be doing the New Testament.

Asimov's Guide to the Bible is another great book on the subject (also by a non-observant Jew, as it happens). Asimov puts everything into historical context, while Plotz is more interested in social impact of the stories.

L-girl said...

For that matter, plumbing is atheistic too. You don't have to pray to Jehovah to get the toilet to flush.

[insert landlord joke here]

L-girl said...

It is easy to see now why only an imbecile would read the Bible as anything other than mythic storytelling by an ignorant, illiterate, backward mideastern tribe.

I don't know which I find more distasteful, the intolerant bigots from the Christian right, or the hateful spew that seeps out of our own side every once in a while. Why is this kind of thing necessary?

There's no need to call people who believe in the bible as a religious text as "imbeciles".

Our problem with them - I thought! - is their imposition of their beliefs on us, not the beliefs themselves. There are many people of faith - perhaps even a majority - who have no wish to do so. Many of them believe in the Christian bible as a holy text. They are not all imbeciles.

The people who wrote the Christian bible were not necessarily more "backward" and ignorant than any other ancient peoples. I wouldn't call the Mayans or the Incans ignorant and backwards, why the Christians? (Or whatever they were, please don't pick on the specifics.)

For me, it's a collection of myths. But for someone else, it's a holy text. That doesn't make me an heathen, but it doesn't make them imbeciles!

I don't mean to pick on you, M Yass. I took another commenter to task not long ago for a similar comment, something about religion as a crutch for the weak-minded.

Please do not use this blog as a forum for bigotry of any kind.

redsock said...

Creation Museum Actor Owns Porn Site

The man picked as Adam by a museum based on the Bible's version of Earth's history led quite a different life outside the Garden of Eden, flaunting his sexual exploits online and modeling for a line of clothing with an explicit mascot.

Registration records show that Eric Linden, who portrays Adam taking his first breath in a film at the newly opened Creation Museum, owns a graphic Web site called Bedroom Acrobat. He has been pictured there, smiling alongside a drag queen, in a T-shirt brandishing the site's sexually suggestive logo.

Linden, a graphic designer, model and actor, also sells clothing for SFX International, whose initials appear on clothing to spell "SEX" from afar and serve as an abbreviation for its mascot, who promotes "free love," "pleasure" and "Thrillz."

The museum's operators, informed Thursday by The Associated Press of Linden's online appearances, acted swiftly to suspend
airing of the 40-second video in which he appeared. The clip is one of 55 featured on tours of the museum, in Petersburg, Ky., which tells what organizers call, the Bible's version of Earth's history.

*********

L-girl said...

Please do not use this blog as a forum for bigotry of any kind.

I see I went a little overboard here, saying something three times when once would have sufficed. I apologize for that. The sentiment stands, of course, but I should have been quieter about it.

Anonymous said...

L-girl said...

I don't mean to pick on you, M Yass. I took another commenter to task not long ago for a similar comment, something about religion as a crutch for the weak-minded.

Please do not use this blog as a forum for bigotry of any kind.


Okay, I've run into this many times and not just here. This isn't meant to be confrontational, I am legitimately trying to understand something here. If someone gets their consciousness raised because of what I am about to say, so much the better.

How is it bigotry to criticize religion? Why does religion get a free pass?

I appreciate that there exists an idea of "freedom of belief," but that freedom isn't absolute. For instance, I would likely not be accused of bigotry if I loudly denounced someone who espoused, say, Holocaust denial. No one would criticize me for referring to a Holocaust denier as an imbecile, but I would be criticized for calling a Christian that.

The problem is, there is about the same amount of evidence to support either proposition. Both viewpoints are arguably equally divisive and damaging. Just read the Old Testament and how much support there is for Christian values like racism, ethnic cleansing, the death penalty, and on and on and on. Christians, however, say that one must embrace the literal truth of the entire book in order to be "saved."

Let's face it, it's really not okay to be a Holocaust denier. A fervent Holocaust denier will be relegated to the fringes of society. A fervent Christian, on the other hand, will waltz right on in to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Again, both views are equally dangerous and divisive.

I am aware that not all Christians believe in the literal truth of the entire Bible, but many, if not most, do. It could also be argued that the ones who don't are simply bad Christians since the Bible admonishes the reader to neither add nor take away from its teachings.

So, help me to understand, please. Help this former wingnut with his progressive evolution.

L-girl said...

So, help me to understand, please. Help this former wingnut with his progressive evolution.

Who could resist such a request. :)

First, this--

I am aware that not all Christians believe in the literal truth of the entire Bible, but many, if not most, do.

--does not ring true, in my experience. (If you're going off to find a survey, please don't bother. I'm sure we can each find some survey somewhere that backs up any claim.) I am not aware that "most" Christians the world over believe in the literal truth of the bible.

Second, we're not talking about who can "waltz into Pennsylvania Avenue". That's irrelevant to this discussion.

Religion has been used as a force for good in the world in countless ways. Gandhi, King (and the rabbis who marched beside him), Helen Prejean, Dorothy Day (Catholic Worker movement), the Dalai Lama, the liberation theology movement... it goes on and on.

There has always been a place for people of faith in people's movements - and in fact, they have often led the way. If you doubt that, you have not studied the abolition of slavery, or the US civil rights movement, or the death penalty abolition movement, or any peace movement, or most people's independence movement.

I myself have no religion, and I want none. But for me, this is a very simple principle of tolerance. I don't think we should say "atheists are...", or "African-Americans are...", or "queers are...." using sweeping, disparaging stereotypes. To my mind, that applies to all people, including Christians.

As I said above, I don't think our problem is - or at least, it shouldn't be - what other people believe. It's the imposition of their beliefs on others that's the problem.

And the problem is not Christianity. Fundamentalism of any religion, introduced to government, is dangerous. Fundie Hindus in India, fundie Jews in Israel, fundie Muslims in Afghanistan, fundie Christians in the US - they're all dangerous, for reasons we all know well. But for each of those religions, there are countless believers who do good in the world - or at the very least, do no harm.

Finally, I would say that if you don't see how "only an imbecile would read the Bible as anything other than..." is a bigoted statement, you have a lot of growing up to do.

L-girl said...

A fervent Holocaust denier will be relegated to the fringes of society.

In this discussion, the equivalent of holocaust denial would be creationism (evolution denial), not Christianity. They are not the same thing.

It could also be argued that the ones who don't are simply bad Christians since the Bible admonishes the reader to neither add nor take away from its teachings.

This is theology, and has no place in this argument at all.

Fundamentalists of all religions believe the less-than-fundamentalist adherents are "bad"
or "not true" --ists. I grew up hearing that from Orthodox Jews.

But that's their imposition of their own beliefs on others - their interpretation of the religion.

We on the other hand, who don't accept their interpretation, don't need to argue on those terms.