Tuesday, June 5, 2012

An Appeal to Those Who Want Creationism or Intelligent Design Taught in Public Schools

An Appeal to Those Who Want Creationism or Intelligent Design Taught in Public Schools.

There are those within our country that want Creationism or Intelligent Design taught in our public schools within the science curriculum.  They justify this by saying that Evolution is a theory and that a proper education should offer all view points.

I support and encourage all school systems to offer a world religions class teaching the history and the core teachings of all major faiths.  Through technology, our world has gotten much smaller and to understand the faiths of all peoples will only improve the dialog between us.  However, this should be taught as a social studies class not science. This is why;

The concept of Intelligent Design is based purely on faith.  The concept of God is a matter of faith.  The only resource to use in teaching of Intelligent Design is The Holy Bible.  There are almost no other corroborating texts in existence because after the full text of the Holy Bible was determined, all other writings were deemed heretical and destroyed.  The Holy Bible as the infallible word of God is a matter of faith.  Faith is taught in church.  Religious organizations have their own buildings that are tax free, where they have the right to teach their faith.  The First Amendment to The Constitution: “…Congress shall pass no law regarding the establishment of nor the infringement of the free exercise of religion.”…protects the church’s right to teach whatever faith they believe in.  And the government cannot tell them what they can and cannot teach.  The law also says “the establishment of” thus the church cannot tell the people (As our government is “of, by, and for the people”) what they will be taught.

I say to those that want to have Intelligent Design taught to their children; you already have that, it’s called church.  Many of you who want this taught in public schools say that you want “equal time”.  Well you can’t have equal time in our buildings if we don’t get equal time in yours.  The teachers of science in our country are not holding town meetings or writing legislation to demand that the Theory of Evolution be taught in Sunday School.  You are the ones imposing your beliefs on the rest of society.

The proponents of Intelligent Design do not grasp what the scientific process is.  You cannot teach Intelligent Design as science, because it was the scientific method consisting of systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses, that refuted Creationism and produced the Theory of Evolution, Astronomy, Geology, Genetics, and practically every other field of science in the first place.

In ancient Greece, people used to believe that the sun was the wheel of Apollo’s chariot moving across the sky.  It was believed that the Earth was flat until the western hemisphere was discovered 500 years ago. The Christian church taught that the Earth was the center of the Universe, until 400 years ago when Galileo’s observations proved that to be false.

If Christian fundamentalist thought is really analyzed concerning this matter.  To hold on to Creationism as fact, is essentially to say this: All scientists who have studied geology and determined how old the Earth is, and how tectonic plates work, and how the continents were formed, all of the Astronomers who work to explore the universe, the photos of the Hubble telescope, all of the zoologists and botanists who work to classify all life on Earth.  All of the paleontologists who dig in the ground searching for, assembling, and carbon dating the bones of creatures that lived millions of years ago, all of the geneticists who work to understand how the human body works.  All of these people throughout the past 500 years of history, and all of their books that you find in our libraries, all of their work is a lie and is the work of Satan trying to turn you away from their truth.  They are claiming that every scientific advancement in human history is the product of an infernal conspiracy to lie and deceive all of humanity.  This is their faith.  This is reasonable to them.  This is what they want to teach in public schools.

Defining Ourselves

Defining Ourselves

I have found that far too often people identify themselves by their heritage and not where they themselves were born.  This is seen most commonly in New England with people that have an Irish heritage.  Whenever the subject of nationality comes up, people whose ancestors came from Ireland will identify themselves as being Irish.   My heritage is Irish and English.  When I was a child I asked my grandfather if we were Irish.  He said that we are American.  Our ancestors did not come to this country to be Irish living in America, but to become American.  I understand how some of my ancestors faced racism and how the Irish were treated as second class citizens in our country.  I understand how some people find in their heritage a sense of pride for themselves.  However, I see these identifying labels as holding on to the past and holding on to what the past generations have said what we are, and an inhibitor in discovering who we are today.

Not only in heritage, but in matters of religious identity, people often label themselves by how they were raised and not by what they actually believe.  Often I have been engaged in conversation with someone and matters of religion will come up.  They will identify themselves as being “Catholic”.  This usually leads me to ask a series of questions such as “Do you believe that the Pope is a direct link to God and is the infallible voice of God on Earth?”  “Do you believe that prayers offered to The Virgin Mary, will be delivered to God by her?” These are almost always answered with a “No”.  I continue by asking “Is the Bible the Word of God?” “Is Jesus of Nazareth a physical incarnation of God?”  “Is his crucifixion and resurrection a fact and is the belief in these events and the acceptance of his sacrifice the only way to be absolved of your sins and the only path to a blissful afterlife?”  Again, these questions are often answered with a “No”.  I then proceed to ask “What do you believe in?”  Frequently, they respond by saying “I believe that Jesus was a great teacher, and I do believe in God, but I don’t go to church and I don’t believe in the Holy Bible.  To which I must tell them that they are in fact NOT Catholic, nor are they even Christian, they are by definition a “Theist”.  Sometimes they respond with “I don’t know what I actually believe in, I’ve never really thought about it that much.”  At this point, I have to break the news to them and tell them that they are actually an “Agnostic”.  I understand why people hold onto these identifying labels.  It defines a part of who they are, their past, events that made them into who they are today.  These identifying labels often make it easy to understand what their childhood might have been like or what their relationship with the older generations of their family may be like.  These labels however, do not accurately portray who they are spiritually, today, at this moment in time.

The time has come for all of us to have a conversation with ourselves.  It is time to encourage each other to really think about what we believe in and to find the right words to identify ourselves.  There are religious organizations active in influencing our legislature today.  They seek to pass laws founded upon their perceptions of morality based on their faith.  In asserting themselves to our elected officials, they will frequently toss around statistics of the American population, and of how many “people of faith” live in this country.  Based upon my experience with people and how they identify themselves, I fear that these statistics may be grossly inaccurate.  Democracy only works if the citizens are active and informed.  The most important information is knowing who you are as a citizen.

I offer these statements of belief. Which one defines you?

A “Theist” says “I believe in God.   I believe that God created all  
things, that he has a plan for all of us.  God hears our prayers and will perform miracles.

A “Deist” says “I believe in God, God the creator, but God does not have a plan nor does God answer our prayers or perform miracles.”

An “Agnostic Deist” says “I believe in a higher power, in some form of Divinity, but I do not know how to define it or explain it.”

An “Agnostic” says “I do not believe that God does or does not exist”

An “Agnostic Atheist” says “I do not believe in God, but it is possible that God or a Divine Consciousness exists.

A “Gnostic Atheist” says: “There is no God”

An “Antitheist” says: “There is no God and the belief in God is harmful to the advancement of human civilization”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Birth Control, Conservativism, The Catholic Church, & Rush Limbaugh

In response to so much knee jerk opposition to a Presidential legislative proposition, I must once again voice my position on the subject of distraction du jour.

   The proposed legislation was to require insurance companies to provide birth control, not the state.  Any statement made about "your taxes" is moot.  That being said, as a "fiscally conservative" taxpayer, I insist that the government spend it's tax revenue as effectively and efficiently as possible.  Obviously the label "fiscally conservative" is meaningless because all citizens regardless of their political ideology want the money spent as effectively and efficiently as possible.  A society costs money.  Taxes are necessary in order to maintain society.  I WANT my taxes spent on supporting Planned Parenthood and any NGO or state funded program that provides birth control.  I WANT my taxes being spent effectively and efficiently so that all citizens, men and women, have access to affordable birth control in all of it's forms.  Preventative birth control should be encouraged in our society.  Why?  Because it is more efficient and effective to spend our tax dollars on birth control then to have to pay for the cost of welfare, food stamps, housing assistance, child care, health care, education and unfortunately the criminal activity and incarceration that will occur with some unplanned pregnancies.  If every pregnancy in our country (and in the world) was a planned pregnancy, then the need for many of the social programs that rely upon tax dollars would virtually disappear.  To say that the taxpayer's burden, in order to maintain society would be greatly diminished would be the understatement of the century.

    What a tragic irony it is that those within the Pro-Life Movement, particularly the Catholic Church, that are also opposed to providing citizens with the tools needed to prevent unplanned pregnancy.  There are "realists", there are "idealists" and then there are "absurdists".  To think that the only message to the human race, is that the only option in life is to not be a sexual being unless you are planning on conceiving a child is absolutely absurd.  The Catholic Church does do an amazing amount of charitable work around the world, but with a global population that will soon reach 7 billion, and according to The World Bank, 80% of the human race lives on less than $10 a day, the message should be "prevent pregnancy" not "abstinence".   

    Rush Limbaugh, the most infamous of all knee jerk reactionary opponents of anything said by anyone that is identified as a Democrat or a Liberal, has committed in my opinion the greatest of all offenses, hypocrisy.  How often has he ranted about welfare moms leaching off of the system?  How often has he claimed that much of our financial burden as taxpayers comes from people who are on state assistance and continue to have children so that they can continue to stay on assistance and not have to work?  It is a fact that there is abuse within the system, I'm not denying that.  There is lots of abuse throughout the entire economic system, but Rush never complains about subsidies to already profitable oil or pharmaceutical corporations.  He just rants and places blame, and creates an Us vs.Them mentality.  That's his job.  Again, tragic irony that he is not the loudest voice advocating that all people on state assistance should be on birth control.  Republicans in several states are demanding that everyone on state assistance be drug tested, at their own expense (and to a net loss for the state of Florida)  But none of the conservative pundits are advocating for encouraging citizens on state assistance to be on birth control.

     So here is my proposal: Let's pick a county in the center of Maine.  Let's fund all forms of preventative birth control for all of the citizens in that county. How do we fund it?  I don't know, that's what our elected officials are for, figuring out a budget.  I will accept an increase in one of the state taxes.  Let's encourage the young people that as they become adults to use birth control. Commit to doing it for five years.  Track the number of teen pregnancies, the number of abortions, the crime rate, the number of new applicant single mothers and families on state assistance.  After we have the data, let's talk about the effectiveness of the program and whether or not it was cost effective.  If it works, then let's implement it on a state wide level.  If  it's not, I'll admit that I was wrong, but at least I was willing to try something to fix the problem. To all of the conservative pro-lifers out there, if it prevents one abortion, wouldn't it be worth it?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to respond when some tells you that Noah's Ark has been found.

On day, while engaged in a discussion on Christianity with a total stranger, [ This person had approached me and wanted to testify ]  the conversation turned to "faith vs evidence".  The young man made the statement that Noah's Ark had been discovered on Mt Ararat.  My response was, and I invite you to use the following..."If a wooden structure has been found on Mt Ararat, and if it is determined that the structure is an enormous boat, in order to prove that it is in fact Noah's Ark, the structure must be proved to be 6,000 years old.  The only way to prove that the structure is 6,000 years old, is to use the 'Carbon-14 Dating Process'.  If the Carbon-14 Dating Process is used, and the structure is shown to be 6,000 years old, then the data showing that the Earth is billions of years old is reaffirmed, thereby refuting the creationist belief that the Earth is only 10,000 years old and showing that doubt is justified with all biblical stories.  Therefore no one can ever 'prove' that they found Noah's Ark."  I bid the young man 'a good day' and left him standing speechless on the sidewalk

Monday, December 19, 2011

The War on Christmas

Every year it seems that someone within the Mass Media Industry will rant and rave about someone disagreeing with something that involves celebrating the Christmas holiday.  They will proclaim that it's another "example of the war on Christmas!"  As a citizen, who is not a person of faith, I do not want a "War on Christmas" but I encourage a "reform of the winter holiday culture".  The first amendment to the Constitution states: "Congress shall pass no law regarding the establishment of, or the infringement of the free exercise of religion."  Churches have the right to have nativity scenes on their lawns to celebrate Christmas.  A town clerk, who is Christian, does not have the right to put up a nativity scene on the front lawn of City Hall.  Public places are to be kept neutral.  To put up a display of a religious nature in a public park or at a public building is to show support and by it's very presence "establishes" the governmental recognition of that faith.  What the owner of a store or restaurant plays for music in their own establishment is their own business.  It is a private building.  I encourage my fellow citizens to be more mindful of what they do.  There are many many songs that are labeled "Traditional Christmas Music" and during the month of December, I enjoy hearing "Jingle Bells" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer".  I do not however, like being proselytized to.  Now I'm willing to bet that a lot of the music that is being played in Indian restaurants, are songs about Vishnu or Shiva, but as I don't understand Hindi, I don't care, and I enjoy the music while I am having my chicken curry and mango lassi.  However, songs such as "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Little Drummer Boy" are distinctly Christian songs about Jesus.  If I wanted to hear these songs, I would go to a Christian church, this is where it is appropriate, not at Staples when I am trying to buy printer paper and ink cartridges.

A Proposed Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America Concerning Citizenship

    Any person born in the United States of America, or it's territories, shall have the citizenship status of their parents.  If the parents are of differing citizenship statuses, then the child shall have the citizenship status of the parent that is closest to being a natural born citizen.