I have always respected most religious beliefs. Sure, I put my foot in my mouth occasionally, but I have no problem with religion in itself. I can see how there’s a human need for spirituality of one kind or another, and that some of us have a bigger need for it than others. However, there’s supposed to be a separation between church and state in this country, and when that idea is so blatantly trampled, when religion interferes with science, education, politics and human rights to the degree it does here, then the respect is clearly not mutual, and I don’t feel as obligated to be religiously correct.
There’s a difference between a belief and scientific fact. After all, the whole point is that you can’t prove a belief; you have to believe it. The whole point of science is exactly the opposite; without evidence, something can’t be accepted as scientific fact. And I have a problem with the fact that those who can’t tell the difference have such a big a say in this society. Here’s some evidence:
According to a recent Gallup poll, 46% of Americans believe absolutely that God created the world and humans in their present form (without any gradual evolution from anything else) within the past 10,000 years, like the Bible says. That’s almost half the population! To my Dutch mind that’s inconceivable. That’s not being religious, that’s being medieval. Even my most religious friends in the Netherlands realize that Genesis should be read as a figurative creation story, not literal scientific truth.
So almost half of Americans are convinced that a god created humans, and that evolution is wrong. Does that mean that more than half realizes that evolution is a scientific fact? Absolutely not. According to the same poll, only 18% is convinced by the theory of evolution. The rest isn’t sure. Oh boy.
No wonder there was recently a big battle in Texas between science teachers and politicians who wanted evolution to be taught alongside creationism, as “another theory”. Surprisingly, common sense prevailed. I was genuinely flabbergasted. But this battle is going on in other states as well and it’s far from over. The creationists’ side is busily supported by pseudo-science that’s so hilarious I’ve just got to give you Dutch people a taste right here.
Scientific research is underfunded, in part because of religious politicians who are shamelessly anti-science and therefore give it no priority. For instance, when asked in an interview if he thought that climate change is causing the earth to be warmer, 88-year-old Texas Republican Ralph Hall, chair of the House of Representatives Science Committee, replied, “I can’t say it doesn’t have a percentage of effects on it – one percent, three percent, five percent. But I don’t think it’s the cause. I don’t think we can control what God controls.”
Why ever not? After all, the religious powers have always controlled what God wants, thinks, says and controls. That’s what the the Bible-thumping is all about. Because those who think that the Bible is the word of God have clearly never read it. It’s a collection of short stories, poems, songs, instructions and rules written by a whole lot of people, most of them men, between four thousand and two thousand years ago. And hundreds of years after that, another bunch of men decided which texts would be included and which wouldn’t. The whole thing has been a labor of convenience from the get-go.
The Bible has been used to argue what God wants and feels and does ever since. Killing is bad. Killing is good. Lust is bad. Come in, have a seat, have some coffee–no? At least have my daughter then, or a donut. Love thy neighbor. Thy gay neighbor is an abomination. Be a good Samaritan. God helps those who help themselves. Oh wait, that last one isn’t actually in the Bible, but it sure would be convenient if it were.
I’m sick and tired of people imposing their religious beliefs on everything. What the Bible says about creation is irrelevant in the science classroom, because it was written before science existed. That anyone believes God abhors gays is irrelevant to anyone who values human rights. And someone who’s convinced that global warming is controlled by a god shouldn’t be on a science committee.
As for the morality of religion, I think I need another post.