Suppose that every memory, written word, and piece of technology on earth was destroyed at once, leaving humanity to start from scratch. Everything we have come to know about science would eventually be discovered again. Given a few thousand years, people would figure out chemistry, and rediscover all of the same elements we know about now. People would once again understand biology, including it’s evolutionary origins. People would eventually see that motions of other galaxies in the sky, and work out the details of the big bang.
This is the glorious part about science, it can and would all be replicated. I can assure you, however, that your story about a talking snake would be gone forever.
“This is a Catholic country,” was what Irish doctors told Savita Halappanavar after she learned she was miscarrying her pregnancy and asked for an abortion to avoid further complications. She spent three days in agonising pain, eventually shaking, vomiting and passing out. She again asked for an abortion and was refused, because the foetus still had a heartbeat.
Then she died.
She died of septicaemia and E Coli. She died after three and a half days of excruciating pain. She died after repeatedly begging for an end to the pregnancy that was poisoning her. Her death would have been avoided if she had been given an abortion when she asked for it – when it was clear she was miscarrying, and that non-intervention would put her at risk. But the foetus, which had no chance of survival, still had a heartbeat. Its right to life quite literally trumped hers.
US politicians and “pro-life” advocates like Joe Walsh will tell you that there are no circumstances under which women need abortions to avoid death or injury. The Republican platform doesn’t include an exception for medically necessary abortion. And the Republican party is trying to put laws similar to those in Ireland on the books in the United States – laws that would allow emergency room doctors to refuse to perform abortions, even in cases where the pregnant woman’s life or health depends on terminating the pregnancy. The GOP isn’t exactly the most science-friendly or fact-reliant crowd in the world, but to them, women like Savita either don’t exist or just don’t matter.
“…we live in a country in which a person cannot get elected president if he openly doubts the existence of heaven and hell. [...] In our next presidential election, an actor who reads his Bible would almost certainly defeat a rocket scientist who does not. Could there be any clearer indication that we are allowing unreason and otherworldliness to govern our affairs?”
~Sam Harris (The End of Faith)
“Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It’s like, it’s very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates. You’re just not going to get the right answer. Your whole world is just going to be a mystery instead of an exciting place,”
Is national gay kiss day at your local Chick-Fil-A! Get your asses in there and show some love!
That’s right. Enjoy it. Chow down. Get seconds and eat some more. Savor every bite.
But before you swallow, look at it. Get a real good look at that fried bird on bread. Take a moment to really take it in.
‘Cuz this is it. Your church leaders have failed you. Your politicians ignore you. The media laughs at your demise and mocks you daily.
Because you made fag sex your focus. All that insecurity about the life you chose, the company you keep, the future your ‘children’ will choose. And it comes to this.
A chicken sandwich. This is all the power you have left. A fast food sandwich. And you’re banking all the power you have left on expressing yourself through an ephemeral media event.
In two weeks no one will remember this, how you stood in line for a sandwich in hopes your little obsession might be noticed. And then it’s over.
The future is coming for you, for your family. There is no stopping it. You cannot resist the inevitable, you cannot depend on your church or your politicians to do anything but to keep selling you out.
All you have is this sandwich. Same-sex marriage will be a reality any day now, like gays in the military; the legal wheels are already in motion. Gays in your children’s schools. Gays on television and gays in the church and government. Because nobody with any real power actually cares what fags do. Only you.
(grabbed from a screenshot at 4chan.org)
‘Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.’
~ Barry Goldwater [R]
‘The divorce between Church and State should be absolute. It should be so absolute that no Church property anywhere, in any state or in the nation, should be exempt from equal taxation; for if you exempt the property of any church organization, to that extent you impose a tax upon the whole community.’
~ President James A. Garfield
If you were born in Israel, you’d probably be Jewish.
If you were born in Saudi Arabia, you’d probably be Muslim.
If you were born in India, you’d probably be Hindu.
But because you were born in North America you’re Christian…
Your faith is not inspired by some divine, constant truth; it’s simple geography.
Ok, a few answers to this:
(1) America was settled, at least initially, by religious fundamentalists who wanted to set up a sort of theocratic republic (before anyone jumps down my throat and says, “The founding fathers were not Christians” – yes, I know, I’m not talking about Jefferson or Paine or Franklin, the people who signed the Declaration of Independence and wrote the US Constitution – I’m talking about the people who went to America in the 1600s. This left a DEEP cultural idea in the American people that they were a ‘chosen people’ living in a ‘promised land’ etc. God loves America; so for an American not to love God back is seen as a sort of treason.
(2) The popular religion that developed in the USA, especially along the frontier and in the South, was anti-intellectual. Unlike in Italy, where the Catholics have a hierarchy and a trained priesthood, the dominant form of Christianity in the USA comes out of evangelical traditions and ‘revivalism’, where anyone with a spattering of Bible knowledge and a good shouting voice could start a church. This led to a very simplistic, literalist, bible-based theology. The broader education and humanist philosophy of the priests in catholic (and anglican and lutheran) churches in Europe mitigated against this trend and produced a religion which is in some ways more ‘porous’.
(3) More generally, the USA has an anti-intellectual culture. In most of continental Europe people look up to and respect ‘book learning’ and being a civilised, cultured human being. In the USA (in most parts) this would be looked down on – it’s what you DO that matters, how much money you make. This anti-intellectualism means that those who have a rational, scientific view of existence can easily be criticised as being ‘out of touch’ with ‘good honest god-fearing Americans’. (Read in redneck voice): ‘Them danged atheists thinks they is better than us folks, just cos they done got themselves a college edjikatishion’. It’s like the horrible reverse parody of the democratic ethos.
(4) Being part of a protestant church is a major commitment. It’s not something you just do as a social ritual, like catholicism can be. You have to make a choice, profess Jesus, get baptised by immersion, sign the members’ roll, turn up to meetings, sit on committees. This tends to harden the edges of the ‘in-group’ and the ‘out-group’. In a catholic country, everyone (or nearly so) is culturally catholic, even if they do not believe in god or go to church; you can’t be a ‘cultural baptist’ – you are either In or Out (and, according to the Ins, everything Out is evil).
(5) After the second world war, the USA had a massive internal propaganda system designed to attack socialism and the left. Communists were ‘atheists’, Communists were bad and anti-American, ergo atheists were bad and anti-American.
(6) The USA does not have a good welfare system. Indeed, the whole country is based on a sort of individualist myth, where the only reason that one guy is working 70 hours a week and struggling to get by with two minimum wage jobs and no healthcare, while someone sits by their pool and has a private jet, is that the first one is ‘lazy’ (i.e. unfavoured by God – remember, Protestant God Wants You to Work Hard) and the second is ‘hardworking’ (i.e. Blessed by God). This means that: (i) there is a lot of fear – fear of sickness, fear of unemployment, fear of annoying the boss, fear of random economic actions outside your control. Fear drives people into fearful, nasty, exclusive versions of religion – a ‘hunker down’ against ‘the world’; (ii) people need the social network and support provided by a church, because the state provides so little – thus atheists are a threat to people because people are terrified of being convinced by them, having to leave the church, and thus losing their social network and support system.
(7) This is the crucial one – it draws on 1 and 5, but goes beyond them and is vitally relevant today: There is, in the USA, a thing called ‘Christianity’ that has little to do with Christianity as it is generally understood in Europe, or in the longer view of the Christian tradition. It is a heavily nationalistic, militaristic, masculine, authoritarian cult, with Jesus as the Cadillac-Driving All-American Hero who has come to save his Chosen People from Gayness, Socialised Medicine, Arabs and Long Haired Hippies. This might best be called, “Amerireligion”. This was deliberately created after the 1960s by the American right, who wanted a way to stop the changes begun by the Progressive Era and the New Deal and to restore the dominance of the old ruling class. The civil rights and anti-vietnam war era brought it to a head. The right saw an opportunity to appeal to the gut-instincts of the white working class blue collar American male by playing on his prejudices – particularly on matters such as race, alternative lifestyles and the sexual revolution. So there was a deliberate demonisation and vilification of those who were seen as ‘different’ from that red-blooded white-skinned American male ideal – they were ‘liberal hippy tree hugging dirty commie atheist bastards’ – not to be trusted, because they were ‘anti-American’ (when ‘American’ is defined by the hard right). So, basically, American christians hate atheists because their religion is really a sort of tribal nationalism, and they’ve been played for fools by right-wing politicians.
How do you get poor and middle class people to vote for tax cuts for billionaires, constant war, erosion of civil liberties, and destruction of public services? Easy, tell them that if they don’t American Jesus will cry – and then the Gays and the Foreigners and the Nasty Atheists – and all who don’t Love American Jesus will continue to shaft them. Why are they unemployed? Not because NAFTA killed the jobs, but because God angry with America for teaching evolution. It’s the ultimate ‘bait-n-switch’. So what’s the answer to the current economic crisis – the worst in American history since the Great Depression? Is it a massive public investment and job-creation programme like FDR did? No, that would be Communistic Atheism. Instead, we must appease the All-Blessing God of America – by banning pornography!
The level of cognitive dissonance must be overwhelming. Faced with that, no wonder so many American Christians act with rage and hostility to the mere presence of atheists.
“Jesus was a peaceful radical revolutionary, who was anti-capitalism, anti-death penalty, anti-public prayer, never anti-gay, didn’t mention abortion, long-haired, homeless, middle-eastern, brownskinned jew. You think the average fundamentalist knows that?”