Hawking Up Hairballs

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Onward Christian Soldiers

I hate Christianity. Not that I much care for any religion but, if one lives in America, it’s Christianity that he has to confront. The thing that irks me most about it is its intellectual dishonesty. Any ideology which encourages one to accept certain positions on “faith”, even when those positions run counter to the facts, is bankrupt, and Christianity is bankrupt. I’m not just referring to the brouhaha over evolution and intelligent design. It’s bankrupt at its very source, claiming that Jesus Christ was a deity who died for the sins of mankind on the cross. Yeah, and Santa Claus lives at the North Pole. He’ll be visiting your house in a few days.

The intellectual dishonesty comes in when Christians take a position on faith and then try to twist the facts to fit that position. If they can’t twist them, they deny them. They even do this when it comes to their own Scripture. For example, the Catholics claim that Christ’s mother Mary was a virgin. This is an article of their faith. However, in the Gospels it says that Christ had brothers and sisters. They are even named. How does the Catholic Church get around that? Well, they claim that Mary never had sex, and that an angel implanted Jesus in her womb. Since her family didn’t want her child to be born a bastard, they found this widower named Joseph who agreed to marry her. He had children from his previous marriage and the Catholic Church claims that these are the brothers and sisters referred to in the Bible, even though there’s no Scriptural support for them.

But, hey, what else are we to expect from a creed that believes in ritual cannibalism, and the Catholics do. They claim that by a process called transubstantiation the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ. That’s right, the actual body and blood, and the congregation are supposed to consume it.

Not that the Protestants are any better. The fundamentalists among them claim that the Bible is an inerrant guide to behavior. Never mind that the Scriptures view practices like slavery as acceptable, and they do. Paul even tells slaves they should be subservient to their masters. It also leads them to make such ridiculous claims as that the earth was created in seven days 10,000 years ago. That means that they deny the validity of scientific practices like carbon dating, as well as those physical processes that led to the formation of the earth. Then, of course, there’s the big kahuna, evolution, and that’s what inspired this post.

As most of you probably know, there has been a political firestorm in Kansas in recent months over the question of teaching the “theory” of intelligent design in science classes in the public schools. I put “theory” in parentheses because intelligent design isn’t a scientific theory. It’s more along the lines of a philosophical bias.

Fundamentalist Christians succeeded in forcing the teaching of their views in the science classes in Kansas, but that hasn’t ended the political controversy. Recently, Paul Mirecki, chairman of the Religious Studies Department at the University of Kansas planned on teaching a course entitled “Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism, and other Religious Mythologies”. In the course, he planned to support the position that evolution was science, but that creationism and intelligent design were mythologies.

In an email to a sympathetic student group, Prof. Mirecki derided Christian fundamentalists, using the term “fundies” in referring to them. Fundamentalists apparently consider the term a slur and, when the contents of Prof. Mirecki’s email were made public, a controversy was ignited. Mirecki apologized for the use of the term and cancelled the course. However, that apparently wasn’t enough for the fundies. Mirecki was subsequently forced to the side of the road and beaten by two men who referred to his position as they were pummeling him. That served only to stoke the controversy, and Mirecki ended up resigning his chairmanship.

First of all, somebody needs to have a long talk with Mirecki about the concept of moral courage. If you’re going place yourself out there in the middle of such a controversy, you can’t go run for cover when the going gets tough. However, the real problem isn’t Mirecki, it’s the fundies.

The very concept of democracy rests upon tolerance. That doesn’t mean that you have to accept or even respect the positions of those you disagree with. It does mean that you have to respect them as people, and respect their right to hold those positions. That tolerance also rests upon the realization that your beliefs just might be wrong. Since the fundies aren’t willing to accept that possibility, they are by their very nature anti-democratic, and they are perfectly willing to shove their beliefs down the throats of others. There’s a name for that and we’ve seen it before. It’s called fascism.