Faith and The Sparrow

I watched the new HBO documentary Questioning Darwin twice yesterday.  This film precisely defines the conflict between the people who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible and their objection to Darwin and evolution.  Even though I’m an atheist I’ve always believed that fundamentalists had a better intuitive understanding of evolution than the average church goer.  They know evolution is an alternative explanation for reality that absolutely contradicts their faith.  Most modern people are wishy-washy in their religious and scientific beliefs and try to hold both at the same time, believing they can keep God and embrace modern knowledge.  However, if you really understand evolution or you really understand faith in God, you know the two cannot coexist.  That’s what this documentary is about.

HBO-Darwin

People who understand science will see this documentary and wonder why the faithful cling so passionately to their ancient beliefs.  But the faithful who see this film will wonder at how the disciples of Darwin can’t see the obviousness of God.  The wishy-washy middle will wonder why we can’t have both.  It doesn’t work that way.  Often my friends ask me why I can’t just be an agnostic – why be an extremist. 

At one point in Questioning Darwin a preacher states it takes just as much faith to believe in science.  And he is right.  Both evolution and theology are systems to explain reality.  Backers of evolution firmly believe evolution is true.  Science is a process that evaluates evidences and selects the best explanations that describe the various workings of reality.  The science minded feel the evidence is overwhelming in support of evolution.  The fundamentalists insist God create reality and us.  The wishy-washy will say God created science and evolution.  But that’s a cop out.  Atheists and fundamentalists know there are two opposing explanations and you have to pick one. 

To the scientific minded, who dislike the word faith, I think they don’t understand the term as used by the faithful.  They think it means wish fulfillment.  They think when a religious person says they have faith in God they are saying they are choosing to “believe” God exists.  To the faithful, faith means they “know” God exists.  They have completely accepted God as the answer to explaining all the questions of reality.  By that definition of faith, atheists who back science have faith in science, and they “know” evolution is the explanation of how life arose on Earth.  But we’ll leave the word faith to the religious, and keep the word scientific for the science minded.

Folks in the middle will explain we can’t know anything for certain.  That’s true.  We can’t.  However, fundamentalists and atheists know there are currently only two choices, two theories, on the table, and they are exact opposites, and we feel it’s important to man up and pick one.  That’s what this documentary shows – the two conflicting options.

Even Darwin clung to God.  And many educated religious leaders want to understand and incorporate scientific knowledge into their metaphysical philosophy.  The vast majority of Christians are in the middle.  They aren’t Biblicists.  The Bible Christians, with their creationism and  Creation Museum insist the world is only six thousand years old, and use pseudo-sciences like intelligent design to attack real science to validate their beliefs.  It’s hard to say how many Americans believe this – one Gallop poll said 46% of Americans, but that’s probably not true.  The Raw Story analyzed that poll and concluded maybe 31 million Americans, or one tenth of the country.

Also, the numbers for people supporting evolution varies too, with atheists being the strongest at 87%, Buddhists (81%), Hindu (80%) and so on down to evangelical protestants at 23%, Mormons (22%) and Jehovah’s Witnesses at 8%.  Wikipedia using Pew Forum claims 48% of the U.S. population supports evolution.  Between the 46% Gallop figure and the 48% Pew figure, we can see how the country is polarized, and this topic matters.

The two choices are this.  The first theory is a supreme being is the starting point of everything, one of perfect knowledge, power and order, and reality descends from his being.  From perfect order towards chaos.  The second theory believes reality emerges out of nothingness, with no knowledge, no order, and no power, and is evolving toward something, becoming ever more complex and orderly.  From chaos to order.

Polarized Politics

One significant aspect of Questioning Darwin is to explain our polarize society.  If religious beliefs were merely personal it wouldn’t matter if some people believed in God and others in science, but the faithful want to change society so it follows their beliefs, and science automatically changes society through technological spinoffs.  I believe the rigidity of Republican party comes from the rigidity that believing in The Bible is the absolute word of God.  I also believe that anti-science philosophy is reflected in conservatives getting involved in the politics of education.  I used to believe that the small government movement merely reflected cheapness for not paying taxes, but more and more it appears to be because fundamentalist citizens hate spending their money on liberal ideas.

The documentary didn’t go into politics, but all the evidence was there to read.  Bible based believers want to redesign society so it matches their philosophy.  They feel both persecuted and empowered.  The documentary said that Bible based Christianity was the fastest growing religion in the world.  I don’t know if that’s true, but if it is, then expect an ever growing conflict between science and faith.

Accepting Science

My heart goes out to the faithful, to those people who embrace God.  When I watch this documentary I see all the reasons why they prefer God over science.  And I’m sure when they see this documentary their hearts will go out to all the non-believers.  But here’s the thing, the faithful believe us atheists live without many comforts they think they get from God, and I don’t think that’s true.  They cannot comprehend how we can live without God, and fear us.  They believe we embrace chaos.  We don’t.  We seek all the things belief in God gives the faithful.   We just find meaning and comfort by other paths.

We have a different approach to dealing with every sparrow that falls from a tree.  We can’t replace God and religion exactly, but we have many analogs.

Father Figure

One thing that comes through strongly in Questioning Darwin is the strong desire of religious people for a father figure.  People want a strong protector that is just and wise.  One that will always listen and always help, and most importantly, always care.  In Darwin’s reality, we all have to become our own father figures.  We want to grow up and leave home and stand on our own.  The faithful love the quote, “there are no atheists in foxholes.”  They believe when times are tough everyone will beg for God’s help.  That isn’t true.  True atheists understand and accept the randomness of the universe.  If there’s a shell with our name on it, then our time is up.  It’s not personal.  We don’t want to die, but death comes to us all, and usually it’s an apparently random fate.  Science and knowledge gives us understanding to how things happens.  It’s not completely random.  Sometimes its from the will or fault of another person, and we do find that evil and unjust.  We don’t expect a father figure to rescue us, and especially not one that will avenge us.

Darwin explains how we got here, but he said nothing about what it means to be a self-aware being finding itself in an unconscious reality.  Humans with scientific knowledge will be able to conquer the random chaotic indifferent universe.  There is no God that senses every sparrow that falls from a tree, but humans are now aware of sparrows and maybe it’s our responsibility to take care of all of them.

Order and Morality

Related to the father figure wish, is the desire for justice.  The faithful hate the idea that the universe is random and capricious.  The faithful want God to be the arbiter of right and wrong, and the punisher of evil doers.  The want the universe to have a referee who knows the rules that everyone must follow.  The faithful hate not having clear rules to live by.

The scientific have laws and ethics.  We do not believe the universe has morality built into it, but we do believe that intelligent beings can create their own morality.  We call that ethics.  We also believe that intelligent beings can invent their own rules to live by.  We can them laws.

We have also created the idea of human rights, and more recently, animal rights.  Even though we are Godless, we embrace ethics and morality completely.  Right and wrong is just as important to our philosophy as it is to literal Bible believers.

Yes, the universe is chaotic, seemingly ruled by random events, we see the emergence of order in everything.  If someone dies horribly from cancer we don’t see it as punishment.  We don’t blame God, or wonder if the person deserved to die a miserable death.  We study the environmental and genetic causes of cancer to understand how it happened.  Even though randomness is a major factor in everything that happens, we still find cause and effect.  It’s not a meaningless universe to us.  If a sparrow falls from a tree, we study why.

Immortality

Believers in God have one overwhelming wish they expect God to grant – everlasting life.  Science accepts death comes to us all but we work to extend life as much as possible.  Personally, living forever scares me.  It sounds like a cruel torture.  But us unbelievers do want a longer life, and we expect science to study reality and discover how to make people live longer.

Not only do we want longer lives, we want to make sure our species does not become extinct, and we want to protect all other species.

Heaven

As a nonbeliever who occasionally studies The Bible. it seems to me that two most important books are the first, Genesis, and the last, Revelation.  To believers, the first explains how we got here and the last explains where we’re going.  The Book of Revelation has the most extensive description of heaven in all of The Bible.  And if it’s the literal truth, I don’t think I want to go to heaven, especially not for all of eternity.

Those of us believe in science want to build paradise on Earth.  We want to conquer disease, live a long time, create a humane and just world, with lots of creative activities to pursue.  We want to live long enough, and then die peacefully.  We accept death, but don’t embrace it.  Not only do we want to create heaven on Earth for humans, but we want to recreate Eden for the animals.

Prayer

From watching the documentary I got the feeling that prayer was among the most cherish aspects of religion.  That being able to talk to God is the number one need.  I think we all feel lonely in this old reality.  When I saw the scenes of the happy people at the mega-church I envied them their community togetherness.  Praying together is a way of sharing hopes and fighting fears.

We unbelievers have a substitute for prayer.  Instead of asking God to change reality for us, we believe we should change reality ourselves.  We don’t plead to God to heal the sick, but spend money on medical research.  We vote for Obamacare.  We don’t pray to God to stop evil wrong doers, we pay for police and the judicial systems.  We don’t pray for world peace but build armies.  We don’t pray for rain, but build irrigation systems.  We don’t beg God to send us a husband or wife, but join Match.com.  We don’t ask for riches, but go to college or invent Candy Crush.

Also, I am constantly thankful.  I am grateful for being alive, for having a lucky life, for family and friends.  I spend a lot of time studying nature and science to appreciate the wonders of reality.  I constantly think good thoughts about other people, animals and all life on Earth, and even out into the universe.  That kind of positive thinking is our prayers.

Sin

Religious people are frightened and horrified by all the evil things that happen on Earth.  We nonbelievers are just as scared and repulsed by those events too.  In the documentary it shows a wing at the Creation Museum that depicts these horrors.  Many of the pastors and their followers interviewed talked about sin, and the origin of sin.  All pointed to the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden.  Some of the people interviewed even believed that dinosaurs existed in the Garden of Eden and that Adam and Eve and all the animals were vegetarians before sin came to us.  Believing there was no violence or suffering before sin.

The scientific minded don’t like violence either.  I’m a vegetarian.  I don’t want animals or people to suffer.  I’m a liberal and want the government to help needy people so they won’t suffer.  I give money to causes to end suffering.

Science, law, technology and ethics are all efforts to create order, to end suffering and to create justice.  We want to educate people so they won’t do evil.  So they won’t hurt other people, or protect the weak.

In a way I agree with the fundamentalists, and believe that it is humans that brought sin into this world.  I actually think the metaphor for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is a beautiful concept.  I think the writers of The Book of Genesis knew there was a time when we were like animals, and were innocent of good and bad, and that language and understanding let us know the difference between what should be and shouldn’t.  Those writers wished we still lived in the Garden of Eden, innocent and without sin.  Boy, they would have loved Jean-Jacques Rousseau.   Us disciples of Darwin see it differently.  Yes, there is sin in the world, but through knowledge we’ll learn to live ethical and good lives.  Violence is the rule of reality from The Big Bang to The Enlightenment.  It’s only been in the last few centuries have we learned that violence is wrong, and that human rights and animals rights is the way to end it.  We don’t believe Eden existed – yet.

Humans are an emergent phenomenon, sort of like the singularity we imagine for intelligent machines.  Humans woke up and saw reality and have been trying to figure it out ever since.  We reached a critical mass of brain cells that allowed us to be self-aware – aware of who we are and the reality we lived in.  We didn’t fall from grace, but emerged from the chaos of nature.  We became a new type of entity in reality – one that recognized it’s place in reality.  Reality is pretty scary.  Our job isn’t to die and go to heaven, but to conquer reality.

We left Eden not because we were exiled, but because we could no longer be unaware animals.  We wear clothes not because of shame, but because we don’t want to be animals.  We left Eden because we wanted freedom to become everything we can imagine.  Sure, we’ve fucked up the planet, but we’re still evolving.  Hopefully, we can make things right and get our shit together before we destroy everything.

Nature is not sinful, it’s just red tooth and claw.  Only humans can be sinful and evil.  We do that when we act like animals and destroy rather than create.  We achieve grace and transcend nature when we live up to our full potential and become good by our own definition of goodness.  The ten commandments were not from God, but our own creation to bring goodness into the world.

Sin defined by God is servitude and slavery.  Sin defined by humanity is escaping from nature.

The desire to return to Garden of Eden innocence is the desire to go back to sleep, to become unconscious to the nature of reality.

To the faithful, sin is not obeying God, but to the scientific, sin is not living up to our knowledge.

The evil of the red tooth and claw of nature is the hatred of chaos.  Science seeks to understand reality so that we might bring order to chaos.  Most of the evils of mankind are from when we act like animals, which reflects the programming of nature.  Currently the Earth suffers because humanity collectively acts like a cancerous growth on the planet, killing endless species and destroying the ecosystem.  It comes from being unconscious to the knowledge science has shown us.  The most evil of sin is being aware and doing evil.

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

The most disturbing of all the points they illustrate in the documentary is when they show a young girl in the hospital paralyzed from the neck down because she was in a car accident.  Her cousin said his wife prayed and prayed but wondered why it didn’t help.  The cousin wondered why an all powerful and all knowing God could let this happen.  They speculated that God had a purpose and claimed they had faith in whatever that purpose might be.

Here’s where I find atheism far more comforting than religion.  We can all be victims of random evil.  Sometimes it’s nobody’s fault, nor did we do anything to deserve punishment.  And when someone is at fault, it’s explainable, like a drunk driver, or mad gunman.   Isn’t it better to have something bad happen to you and not think God has it in for you?  Especially if you love God so much?

Being Saved

Towards the end of the documentary they interview at ex-prostitute crack user and a former heroin addict who both claim God saved them.  Religion has saved a lot of people.  Religion can bring order and stability to people.  But millions of nonbelievers have saved themselves too.  As an atheist when I meet people like these two saved people I don’t want to argue with them, or try to take away their faith.  They were lost and now they are found.  I can accept that.  But God isn’t my explanation for why they are better.

Both of these people were addicted to drugs.  Now they are addicted to a belief in God.  They switched from a negative addiction to a positive addiction.  They found a community of people to belong, and they’ve turned their life around.

Personally, I think they got a virus that changed them.  Memes are viruses of the mind.  God and religion are powerful generators of memes.  Memes replicate and spread like mental viruses.  They are like DNA in that they replicate.  Religious memes are very successful because they make people feel good.  Really good.  As good as crack or heroin.

My parents were alcoholics.  My father died of drinking when I was 18.  My mother eventually gave it up.  She was religious, but I think she gave up drinking and smoking from her own willpower.  I did a lot of drugs when I was young, but I gave them up.  I saved myself.  But I think some people need other people to save themselves.  They think it’s God, but it’s really a community of caring people.

Churches

If they had churches for atheists I think we’d have a lot more atheists.  I think a lot of people believe in God because they like going to church and being part of a community.  I’m pretty sure millions of people profess the doctrine of their church because that’s what they are told, and it’s easy to accept rather than study science books.  But what they really want is friends and community.  That professing belief in Jesus is just learning the secret password to join the club.

True believers of Darwin have their club houses too, they are called universities and research institutes.  But the average citizen who backs science usually don’t have scientific clubs to join.  Amateur astronomy is big on clubs, but we usually don’t see hangouts for physic and chemistry fans.  Birders and some other naturalists do have a lot of amateur associations.

I wonder if there would be more professed atheists in America if we had churches devoted to believers in science.  Imagine going to service on Sunday to hear lectures on cosmology and mathematics, mixed with singing and study groups for evolution and quantum mechanics.  With Sunday night dinners and Wednesday night social gatherings with kid’s activities, such as robot building contests.

Charles Darwin and Evolution

The thing believers hated most about Darwin and evolution is takes away the concept that humans are special, that we are special in God’s eyes.  Many of the preachers talked about humans being created in the image of God, and that we weren’t animals, as if being an animal was undignified, or lowly.  I thought it was strange that they’d prefer to be a servant of God to being the top dog of the animal world.  I find a kind of affinity with the line from Paradise Lost, “Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.”

Until we meet an intelligent alien from the stars, we are the kings of the universe.  We are now responsible for what happens on this world.  We can choose to be great, or act like animals.  We can create our own immortality, our own paradise, or own morality, our own health and happiness.  We are the father and mother to what will be.  This might be hubris, but only if imaginary gods are real, and there’s never been a shred of evidence to believe they are, only wishes.

JWH – 2/12/14

10 thoughts on “Faith and The Sparrow

  1. You’re right, I disagree with your use of “faith,” Jim. :) But I must say that I disagree about a lot of this. Words matter, and I think we need to use the correct ones.

    Evidence-based people don’t “know” that scientific explanations are correct, and we’ll change our minds if the evidence indicates that we were wrong. In fact, everything in science is provisional. That’s pretty well fundamental to science. Where’s the “faith” in that?

    We can’t know anything for certain? That’s science. And I don’t know of a single atheist who’d argue with that, not one. (Agnosticism and atheism aren’t mutually contradictory positions. Indeed, I’m an agnostic about everything, not just about the existence of gods. But I’m also an atheist.)

    As Bill Nye pointed out in the recent debate, there are a million things – often very simple things – which would get biologists to change their minds about evolution. All it would take is one contradictory piece of evidence. As Ken Ham noted, nothing would change his mind. Nothing.

    There are two choices, but they’re not both theories. (As you know, “theory” has a specific meaning in science. Let’s not contribute to deliberate attempts by creationists to confuse the ignorant.)

    The choices are between faith-based thinking and evidence-based thinking. Right now, the evidence overwhelmingly backs evolution, and there’s zero evidence which contradicts it. But if that ever changes, the scientific consensus will change.

    What will change the minds of the faith-based?

    Um, and note that your second “theory” – supposedly, the scientific one – isn’t accurate, either. Entropy increases in a closed system. We’re not “evolving toward something, becoming ever more complex and orderly.” There’s a great deal that’s wrong with that, starting with the implication that evolution has a goal, or even a direction, not to mention that the overall trend is toward disorder, not order.

    I disagree that death is a random fate, too. Most of the time, it’s not. That’s why science has been able to increase lifespans so greatly. We’ll still die, eventually, but we live far longer than our ancestors did. So how could death be a “random fate”?

    Of course, you knew I’d disagree about much of this, even though we’re both atheists. Obviously, there’s no reason we have to agree. And although I don’t think your view of evidence-based people is entirely correct, I have absolutely no idea when it comes to your view of the faith-based.

    I’ve never been able to understand that mindset, and so I’ve always been fascinated by it. Clearly, people are different. But that’s one of the things which makes us interesting (if frustrating, sometimes).

  2. Bill, I knew you’d object to the way I used the word faith – I was waiting for you to reply. Faith can have many meanings, and we can make up new ones. That’s how language works. Words are fluid. When I choose science as the best explanation of reality I can never know for sure if I’m right. Science is the horse I bet on, God is the horse others have bet on. Faith, as I’ve defined it, and is the act of making that choice. Science has superseded both religion and philosophy, so why not expect that a newer and even better method of explaining reality might come along.

    Also, I wasn’t writing the blog for scientists, but for the faithful, and I need to use the words they use.

    You know that I know that that science is always under examination and any current theory can be usurped by another. Science always promotes the current best explanation. When I say I have faith in science, my faith is in the method of science rather than the results. Currently we think the universe is 13.78 billion years old. I have no idea how scientists reached that number, and neither do you. We have to have faith they are giving us the best results at the moment.

    The idea of God is a theory, just as much as the theory of evolution or the theory of gravity. There’s just no proof to support it. That doesn’t mean believers don’t want to embrace that theory. The faithful will hate to hear me say “the theory of God” as much as you hate to hear me say “faith in science.” My point is we’re all theorists when it comes to describing reality. What we want is to accept the theories that have the most evidence, the ones that have the best explanations, or at least scientists do. Other people prefer to accept theories they like.

    Yes, entropy does increase in a closed system. Yes, this universe is destined for total dissipation. But the evolution of elements, of cosmological bodies, of life, of intelligence, is creating order – at least for a while. The term I like is emergence. The rise of intelligence, and the creation of knowledge is way to break free of entropy and evolution. We can now choose or create new things in the universe. We can consciously remake the universe if we want. That’s a whole new ball game – beyond religion, philosophy and even science.

    Death is an apparently random fate to the faithful. If God doesn’t exist, and they don’t understand science, reality is chaotic and random. If a believer gets pancreatic cancer and asks why, then its unanswerable to them. If you know enough science its explainable. Of course, the faithful like to use the word God to explain everything. It’s easy, until they ask why me?

    Bill, you should watch Questioning Darwin and see the people they profile. You’re a brilliant guy, Bill, but you can’t seem to muster up much empathy for the folks of faith. Look at this way, suppose tomorrow we discover a new tribe of people in the Amazon basin that’s never had contact with civilization before. Would you rush in and tell them everything they believe is wrong and start educating them? The faithful of this world live in a reality before the existence of the Enlightenment. Science does not make sense to them. Their only explanation of reality involves God. To take that away from this is as traumatic as rain forest people meeting us.

    Your evidence based reality, with precise scientific definitions of words is a foreign language to most people. You argue with believers using logic and science, and even though some of them try to use logic and pseudo-science, they don’t understand. Watch this documentary and see how they fight back, how the defend their beliefs. Especially the films at the Creation Museum and what they teach in home schooling. You will see pathetic efforts at pretend science, but I see heroic efforts at defending their world view. I see a tribe of people trying to survive.

    I think that’s the point of this documentary. It’s showing that knowledge about evolution is destroying a civilization. It’s like when people from Europe came to North America and crushed the Native Americans. Science is now crushing Christianity.

    1. “Faith can have many meanings, and we can make up new ones. That’s how language works. Words are fluid.”

      Sure, Jim, but unless we agree on what those words mean, there’s no communication. What’s the point of writing anything, if you’re going to write it in your own unique language that everyone else will misinterpret?

      “Faith” has a specific meaning in religion, different from the casual use of the word. Even more so, “theory” has a specific meaning in science. It doesn’t mean “guess.”

      So if you’re going to write about science and religion, why would you assign different meanings to those words? It’s guaranteed to sow confusion, don’t you think?

      I stand by my other comments, too. Do I feel empathy for the faith-based? No, probably not. But we’re not “rushing in” to a new tribe of people who haven’t had a chance to get used to science. (And if we were, I think I’d respect them more than to think they needed to be sheltered from reality.) These people have had more than 300 years to get used to the Enlightenment. How long do they need?

      When it comes to science, we’re going backwards in this country, and that’s something I’ll fight tooth and nail. I have zero empathy for people who want to drag us all back into the Dark Ages.

      Besides, have you seen what they’re teaching their children? What about them? That’s child abuse. Don’t you feel empathy for them?

      1. I agree completely that you have to fight for science with everything you have to fight with. Maybe you couldn’t even do that if you had the empathy I’m talking about. Sure, I’m horrified when I see the faithful indoctrinating their children with nonsense, with prejudice, malice and xenophobia, and especially with anti-science, but that doesn’t mean I can’t feel for them, and their way of life. We’re on a campaign of deocide and it is causing immense suffering.

        I also agree with you Bill that words should be precise and writing clear, but that’s very hard to achieve. The beauty of English is it’s very fluid. More than any other language, ours often surfs by using words with multiple meanings. English is spoken by billions and we absorb words from other languages like crazy. Because of the diversity of minds using English we often use words differently. Sure, this causes confusion, but it also creates elegance.

        But back to the word faith, the word you hate. You hate it from its association with religion, but it’s a perfectly good word even if religion didn’t exist. When I use it in relationship to science, such as I have faith in science, it’s to imply that I trust science, but I don’t know science. Anyone who doesn’t understand mathematics fluently cannot ever know science. We can only study the logic of science, the history of science, the nature of science, but we can’t know it. I suppose I could say, I trust science, or I believe scientists, but that’s not quite accurate in what I want to say. As a non-scientist who cannot comprehend the math, when I read about the standard model of physics all I can do is accept that scientists know what they are talking about and believe them. That acceptance, that belief is well described by the word faith.

    2. Oh, and it’s nothing like “when people from Europe came to North America and crushed the Native Americans,” absolutely nothing.

      Native Americans didn’t need to be protected from new ideas. They were smart enough to adapt to new ideas. They were just crushed by devastating diseases and superior military force.

      1. Yes, our diseases and our relentless expansion killed the Native Americans, but it wasn’t what crushed them, it was our philosophy, our way of seeing things. Read Empire of the Summer Moon about the Comanches. The Native Americans had a way of life and philosophy about reality that was extremely different from the Europeans, and even when we weren’t killing them with guns and diseases, we killed them with what we thought was kindness by teaching them our way of knowing, making them live in houses and plow the land, to go to schools and church. The Comanches had a way of life that was savage by our standards, even evil, but it was the way of life they loved and believed in. Making them change crushed their spirit.

        Now I’m not saying all of that shouldn’t have happen. Progress is relentless. Nothing stays the same. The Native Americas were forced to westernize, to Christianize. And, Christians today are being converted to science. Bill, I think you do an essential job converting the faithful to science. All I’m saying is I feel for the Christians in the same way I feel for the Comanches. For Christians to give up God is like the Comanches giving up roaming the high plains.

        Learning the truth is enlightening, but it can also be painful, devastating, and even lethal.

        I once read that when Europeans came to America and met the Native Americans, it was a cultural clash between the Neolithic and Modern. The cultural clash between the faithful and science is of the same magnitude.

      2. We won’t ever agree about ‘faith,’ Jim, so I’ll let that go, but let me give this disagreement another try. :)

        Yes, all people have “a way of life and a philosophy about reality,” including you and I. So, do you think you need to be sheltered from different ways of thinking? I doubt it.

        It’s very patronizing to think that other people do need to be sheltered from such things, don’t you think? “Oh, the poor little primitives. Let’s not upset them with difficult thoughts. Let’s keep them innocent and pure – on reservations, perhaps.”

        How would you feel if someone treated you that way? What if advanced aliens came to Earth and decided that us poor little primitives needed to be sheltered from such things? (“Firewater!” by William Tenn?) I know I’d be angry, myself.

        I think I have a lot more respect for the ancestors of today’s Native Americans than you do, Jim. And I respect religious believers enough that I don’t think they need to be sheltered from reality, either.

        What was the real problem? You said it yourself, they were forced to accept Christianity, forced to ‘westernize.’ Of course, they would have been ‘forced’ to change to some extent, anyway. Just contact with another civilization will do that.

        But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about military force. We’re talking about being forced, physically, off their land. And we’re talking about diseases which devastated North American populations – nothing anyone knew enough about to prevent, but which had a devastating impact on native societies, anyway.

        Without that, native societies would still have changed, because they’d have encountered different cultures, different ways of thinking, different ways of living. That’s a good thing. That’s healthy for a society (you recognize that when it comes to our society, right?), and no one needs to be patronized by being sheltered from such things.

        Note that native tribes did learn and did adapt. It’s ridiculous to even talk about the Comanches without noting that they became dominant on the Southern Plains because they adopted horse culture from the Spanish. That “roaming the high plains” you talk about? How do you think they did that? Horses were a European import!

        In Eastern North America, native tribes adapted, too – often quite successfully. What they couldn’t withstand was the double-whammy of European diseases and European military force. European ideas? They didn’t need to be protected from those. Indeed, the Europeans – future Americans – often learned from them.

        Don’t be so patronizing, Jim. They weren’t stupid people. They weren’t weak. And religious believers today may be wrong, but that doesn’t make them stupid or weak, either. The don’t need to be protected from ideas!

  3. I disagree with you a couple of points.

    I want to live forever. Dying is the end of everything, nothingness. Why would any one want to die? I never understand you okay with dying types. You kind of freak me out.

    Damnit, stop using the enemy’s words! I totally fucking things, I just don’t believe in magick sky people. Damnit, man! Stop letting them define the terms. We believe and probably deeper than they do. Remember that!

    Ah, the vegetarians. Another group I don’t understand at all! The human animal is one lucky primate, we are omnivores. That means we eat everything and that includes the flesh of other animals, even in extremes each other. Embrace the tasty goodness of the meat. :)

    Also, being one of the anti-social and someone who was forced to go to church as child, Catholic at that, I see church as a punishment not a cool club. I am just fine being by myself, it is when I get to know who I really am. I live for me being the selfish bachelor that I am, I don’t need clubs, especially ones that involve signing. But mostly, just don’t dig the church vibe, I prefer hanging out with friends’ house talking or playing games or whatever.

    Really, what it comes down to is those who cling to gods are scared of life. They also can’t deal with being uncomfortable. *shrugs* Sucks to be them, they need to grow the fuck up. I did, it is hard but it can be done.

    Now I will go and read the other comments since I just used the comment link in the email to post this and only while checking something that I saw the others.

    See there is another thing I bleieve in, reading is both good for me and joyful. :D

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s