I’m a Christian. I believe the Bible teaches truth. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and came to redeem us from the spiritual penalty of our sin.
I thought I’d start with that, because most Christians would believe the rest of this blog is atheistic and immoral.
What our current administration (and indeed, the “Religious Right” all across America) doesn’t seem to realize is that “Freedom of Religion” also requires freedom from religion. Separation of Church and State must be absolute, or it is meaningless.
Our Congress and Judicial system is giving Bush unbelievable powers and authority – and the American Public seems to feel this is okay, because they trust him. Whether that trust is deserved is irrelevant; what happens when that power goes to someone that you don’t trust? This is why Washington refused to be a King. The power and authority must go with the office, not the man.
By the same token, we are currently a majority Protestant Christian. What happens if that ceases to be the case? If the majority of Americans 40 years from now are Muslim, does that mean we should all have to follow Islamic law?
I was raised to believe (not by my parents, necessarily; more by the churches I attended in my youth) that Christianity is under attack everywhere in America. That freedom of religion was being threatened, and that soon we’d all be forced to worship in secret, and persecuted if we professed a belief in God.
Then I actually looked at the real world. People who call themselves Christian are really the only ones doing the persecuting - not exactly something you find a lot of in Christ’s example. Take “Prayer in School” – there’s nothing against students, or even teachers praying. But what the churches want is to have everybody joining in a group prayer together. Why? Where does group prayer fit in with academia? For that matter, what kind of prayer do you want? What level of interaction do you believe the Holy Spirit has with our world? I know Catholic prayers all seem to rhyme. Pentecostals believe that God (and Satan) takes a very physical role in our world – I remember the time I saw a group of pastors trying to cast Satan out of the carburetor of the Youth Group Minivan (it broke down on the way to a youth group outing). Apparently, their faith wasn’t as strong as the mechanic who ended up having to fix it.
So should we have a Baptist prayer, and a Catholic prayer, and a LDS prayer, and a…? No, it’s quite ridiculous when you stop the rhetoric and actually think about it. If several students choose to get together and pray, I know of no teacher or principal who’d stop them, as long as it wasn’t interfering with the regular school events.
People ask me why I get so incensed with the ID situation. After all, I don’t believe in out current Public School system anyway, and furthermore, I’m a musician, not a biologist. Well, here’s the problem; I don’t think people should be lied to. Especially not in our schools. And the whole “controversy” about evolution is a lie. Plain and simple. I hear a lot of “teach the controversy” and “have a balanced view” and “show the other side.” But in science, there often isn’t another side.
I won’t bother trying to debunk ID here – I’ve said a few objections to it, and you can find far more reasoned and exacting arguments from others online, such as PZ Myers. But the truth is not what we’ve been taught. To scientists, evolution is not a controversy. It’s not a “what if” or even a “maybe.” Contrary to what I was told by the churches growing up, there are no “missing links” in our fossil records. We have virtually a complete fossil record showing development from single celled organisms through millions of years of change, leading up to humans. There’s not even a missing link from early primates to humans. All the things I was told were “unexplainable by science” are one by one being explained by science – from how bumblebees fly to the development of the eye.
There are controversies within evolution. But the theory itself? The bedrock of all modern biology. And students have a right to know this! We don’t “teach the controversy” of Flat Earth versus Round Earth. We’d be aghast if medical schools taught both sides “the four humors” versus our current understanding of organ and tissue function.
Another argument I often hear is that the majority of Americans believe in ID, so it should be taught in school. How many ignorant people does it take before believing falsehood becomes reality? If every American believed that babies come from storks, should it be taught in school?
For that matter, how about sex education? The current rationale seems to be that if you keep kids ignorant, they won’t want to have sex. News flash; kids don’t want to have sex because they hear about it from their teachers (if anything, that’s a turn-off!). They want to have sex because of their hormones. And they need to be taught what’s effective, what’s not, and why.
We are just a few years (perhaps less than one year) from having a vaccine that protects from HPV. The problem? It’s most effective when administered around age 10. I will be amazed if parents will allow their kids to be inoculated against an STD – despite the fact that it’s one of the fastest spreading ones, often has no outward symptoms, and is killing women by the thousands. That will have nothing to do with it; people will say that if they vaccinate their kids against an STD, they’re encouraging their kids to have pre and extramarital sex.
For that matter, while I’m spouting heresy, let me spout another one. In general, Monogamy doesn’t work. Neither does Celibacy. The churches are quick to expound on this subject over and over again, but what they’re not willing to say is the statistics. By the most optimistic studies, marriages are monogamous 20% of the time. And before you ladies say it’s always the man that cheats, consider this; a recent DNA study in Britain found that at least 4% of kids have a different dad than who the mother claimed was the father. That’s one in 25. Oh, I should mention – that’s of married women.
Can marriage work? Yes. Can it be monogamous? Yes. But the truth is that most people are not mature enough, self-sacrificing enough, and careful enough to enter into a marriage only when it’s the absolute right thing to do. It’s like a music career – it can be done, and it can be successful. But it’s a rare thing.
I remember being told by a Youth Pastor that if our hormones were uncontrollable, we needed to get married so we wouldn’t be sinning. Even at age 14 I thought that sounded like bullshit.
What does the Bible really teach? When you get down to it, what it really talks about is sin being physical and emotional harm. How there are emotional, spiritual and physical consequences to our actions. All the rest? If you look at it carefully, every single thing the Bible defines as a sin would have caused harm in the time in which it was written. And we see change even from the Old Testament to the New. I don’t think God changed, I don’t think the nature of Sin did; I think that society and technology changed, and thus, what caused harm did.
And it’s still changing. I see no point in trying to live 2,000 years ago. The Bible is not about Fact; it’s about Truth. There’s a difference. Do I believe that the Earth is 6,000 years old? No. My faith is not so weak that I have to take that literally. Nor do I have to pull a plank out of my eye before getting a speck out of a friend’s. I have never tried to change the geology of a mountainous region with my faith.
What I can do is try to take responsibility for my actions. I can try to do no harm to others, and do as much good as possible. I can try to live a life that is about showing love to others in every way that I can, every chance that I can. And for that, I need no organized prayer in school. I need no religious tone to my learning process. In fact, I need no organized religion of any sort for that.
If churches took all the money spent denying evolution… And all the money spent trying to get religion “back” into the schools… And all the money spent trying to get “God back into our Government”… And just spent it helping those in need…. If the Christians transferred all the time and effort preaching about sin, and condemnation… And all the time telling people which denomination actually holds the truth… And all the time telling people what they should be doing in their private lives… And spent all that time making the world a cleaner, healthier place…
Then Christianity would transform the world, make a real and lasting change… and become a force so powerful that none could deny it. To me, that seems much more like something God cares about, rather than whether or not there’s a statue of the Ten Commandments in front of the Courthouse.
More on this topic later. But not today.
A nice surprise
30 minutes ago