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Sat

01

Aug

2009

The World According to Religious Fundamentalists and Biblical Literalists
Saturday, 01 August 2009 10:54
by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

During the administration of George W. Bush, religious fanatics had a friend in the White House. Things have changed a bit in Washington, but those religious fanatics – perhaps better described as “theofascists” – are still at it. However, in the changed context that’s a good thing: it exposes their nonsensical twaddle even more overtly.

In late June I received this e-mailing from Don Wildmon of the American [anti-]Family Association, and was asked to pass it along. So I am… or at least the salient part of it:

Dear Friend,

Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, will present powerful new research as part of the Creation Museum's first live video webcast addressing the current spiritual state of our nation. Find out the reasons behind the attacks on Christianity in the Western world, then participate in a live chat…

Don’t miss this free webcast. Mark your calendar! Visit www.afa.net or listen in on the American Family Radio Talk network at afr.net, or OneNewsNow.com on Thursday, June 25 at 6:30 PM (CDT)

I suffered through most of the nonsense in Ham’s far too long webcast. It was truly painful to listen to the pronouncements of a self-aggrandizing bloviator who thinks the earth is 6,000 years-old, that Adam and Eve were real people and that human children played with dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden, that Mr. and Mrs. T Rex were vegetarians and, along with pairs of all the other dinosaurs, were passengers on Noah’s ark, and that that biblical flood carved the Grand Canyon in a matter of weeks.

Why would someone – a former school teacher, no less – embrace such patently absurd ideas? When asked by Bill Maher in the quasi-documentary Religulous why he insisted the earth is 6,000 years old and that dinosaurs coexisted with humans, Mr. Ham responded, “If you’re saying this part [of the Bible] over here that says God made land animals and man on the same day is not true, then, ultimately, why should I believe this bit over here?” Such blind-deaf-and-dumb faith is the antithesis of critical thinking, the process that advances human knowledge. It also demonstrates what a house of cards fundamentalist religion really is.

Aside from what he said in Religulous, why would Mr. Ham and those who share his delusions so fear the theory of evolution? Perhaps the answer is very simple. If we evolved from single cells into complex self-conscious creatures then there was no perfection from which to fall, no fall into sin, no need for a divine rescue, and no capacity to be restored to something we have never been. Clergy on Sunday mornings could no longer address “fallen sinners,” and religion would lose its most effective weapon: fear.

Dogmatic religious leaders – those self-appointed spokesmen for “God” – have historically used fear to scare people into believing, obeying and becoming sheeple that can be herded. But fear was so imprinted into the minds of the sheeple that they become afraid of the real world and anything – no matter how factual, no matter how empirically based – that disturbs their fear-induced sheeple mindlessness.

An important distinction must be made here. Spirituality is an inherent part of being human. For most it’s a personally liberating and uplifting experience, an encouragement to grow and evolve to more conscious perceptions, self-evolution, enlightenment, and peace. But when personal spirituality is organized into a religion, an institution is produced and as all institutions it produces a hierarchy who produce dogma that often has little to do with spirituality and everything to do with maintaining social and political control. Those religious leaders who claim to be “people of faith” are not. They’re dogmatists making a very comfortable living from spewing nonsense that encourages ignorance and inspires bigotry. In his 2006 book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Chris Hedges explained further, historically and contextually:

When Charles Darwin published The Origin of the Species in 1859, his findings further eroded the biblical account of creation. Lyell’s and Darwin’s works were catastrophic for biblical literalists. Evolution and natural selection shattered the comfortable worldview of many Christians, who saw themselves as created in the image of God. Evolution reduced the human race to the status of a species, one descended from primates. The scientific account of creation and the origin of the species became in the eyes of fundamentalist believers the materialist foundation for the human race’s moral and cultural decline. It dethroned Christians from their self-constructed platform of moral and ethical superiority. … The ideological pillars of literalist Christianity, which viewed the universe as revolving around and serving the interests of anointed Christians, were destroyed. (117)

Mr. Hedges visited Ken Ham’s Creation Museum and recorded in American Fascists some of what he saw and some of his thoughts about what he saw:

The danger of creationism is not that it allows followers to retreat into a world of certainty and magic – which it does – but that it allows all facts to be accepted or discarded according to the dictates of a preordained ideology. … Once the “science” of creationism is accepted, the Bible reigns as the undisputed word of God and the sole arbiter of truth. Leaders who interpret the Bible must be obeyed. Creationism is a key part of a system aimed at building a society that relinquishes the capacity to examine itself. (114-122)

Those last two lines bear repeating: “Leaders who interpret the Bible must be obeyed. Creationism is a key part of a system aimed at building a society that relinquishes the capacity to examine itself.” Consider them in relation to another display at Ken Ham’s Creation Museum, as described by Mr. Hedges:

One of the final displays in the museum shows how “a contemporary family experiences daily life without God.” It portrays a household in disarray, with fights and teenager drug use. Licentiousness, alcohol abuse and the breakdown of parental authority are tied to the failure to believe in the [Genesis] creation myth. (124)

Get it? All we have to do is follow “leaders” – like Ken Ham – “who interpret the Bible,” believe the nonsensical account of creation in Genesis and worship the murderous warrior sky-god of the Old Testament and, then, everything will be hunky-dory.

The ever-increasing absurd lengths to which Young Earth Creationists will go is well illustrated by another experience Chris Hedges had at the Creation Museum. John Whitcomb, a life-long advocate of creationism, was giving a lecture to a group of Christian school teachers from the Midwest:

Whitcomb brings up some of the stickier problems in Genesis, such as the account that God created light on the first day and the sun on the fourth day. He posits that God created a “temporary” light until the sun was formed. The reason for this, Whitcomb explains, is that God wanted to abolish the cult of sun worship. (125)

Huh? In order to have a “cult of sun worship,” you would need people to create and populated the cult, but according to Genesis, God did not make people until the sixth day. So how was the Almighty preventing a “cult of sun worship” before there were people to begin such a cult? Apparently the twisted “reasoning” of Young Earth Creationists knows no heavenly – or earthly – bounds.

Perhaps Mr. Ham and the rest of the Young Earth Creationists – along with advocates of “intelligent design” – could all benefit from some serious auditing by “clear” Scientologists who have the inside scoop on Xenu and how to get rid of those nasty Thetans. Their sessions could be overseen by Mormon elders who know all about “God” – the man – living near the planet Kolob and how he left there to have physical sex with Mary, whose bastard son is called “Jesus.” The Pope could also sit in to exorcise any demons that may pop up. An Imam should also be present, provided he can bring the “black stone” from the Ka’ba, the first version of which Muslims believe was built by Adam. (Eve must have been baking bread that day…)

Religions, ancient or modern, are built upon myths spawn by priests and prophets to secure their own power over the sheeple. That power endures as contemporary priests, prophets, and their secular spokesmen continue to use incestuous religious dogma to argue against equal civil rights for all Americans, to advocate Young Earth Creationism, and to defend the “I’m not a quitter” quitter, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who advocated abstinence-only “sex education” while her (unwed) teenager daughter was getting pregnant and then subsequently appeared – with child – at an abstinence only sex education rally.

Another piece of fundie “thinking” was penned by Jeremy Wiggins and appeared on the American [anti-] Family Association’s website in celebration of the 4th of July. Mr. Wiggins began his comments with, “It was 233 years ago. The colonists were getting tired of being oppressed by a monarchy that lived thousands of miles away, and was completely out of touch with the wants and desires of its people.”

A “monarch” – a King – who lives far away, physically and metaphysically, and who is “out of touch with the wants and desires of its people.” Sound like the “God” of the Bible to you? Mr. Wiggins concluded that paragraph with, “The founding fathers were all men of faith.” Yes and no. Yes, they had faith that they could construct a government that avoided the theopolitical disasters that had plagued Europe since the Holy Inquisition. No, the Founding Fathers – many of whom were Deists – were definitely not the type of “men of faith” the Christian Right claims to be.

Mr. Wiggins continued to enthrall with his blind and grammatically-challenged insight:

Lets [sic] look at the first few lines of our Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” One should notice the particular wording that Jefferson used. The first of which is “created equal”. He doesn’t say, “evolved equally”, or that we “fell out of a magic tree equally.” Thomas Jefferson intentionally spoke of creation. He also said that people are “endowed by their Creator.” This is the kind of man that Thomas Jefferson was. He was a devout christian [sic], who believed that men were created and given rights under God. …

Let’s begin with “The first of which is ‘created equal’. He doesn’t say, ‘evolved equally’, or that we ‘fell out of a magic tree equally.’” You have to wonder if Mr. Wiggins has ever heard of something called “history.” Darwin’s theory of evolution wasn’t published until 1859. And who knows what Wiggins was talking about with “we ‘fell out of a magic tree equally.’” But I’d hazard a guess that he certainly does believe in the “magic tree” of Eden and the talking snake and that Adam and Eve were real people who suffered the fall out from the magic tree and talking snake, but then copulated and populated the entire earth. How’s that for “magic” and the devolution of human thinking?

Wiggins continued: “The proof also of the founding fathers faith was in the signing of the Declaration at all. Can we honestly think that these 56 men would risk their lives in an act of treason if they thought they had nothing to look forward to after death?” Aside from the myriad logical flaws in that assertion, it’s the epitome of theofascist arrogance to presume to know, absolutely, why the Founding Fathers did what they did and to reduce the enormously complex forces and motives – personal, political and economic – that influenced them to a brain-dead assertion that it was because they had something “to look forward to after death.” It is also quite laughable and shines a very bright light on the dull bulb that wrote it and those that chose to publish it.

Apparently Mr. Wiggins is unaware that Deists, Agnostics, Atheists do good things too. Not because of some threat from a mythical warrior sky God who spent the Old Testament slaughtering people and telling people to kill each other if they wore clothing made of two different threads, and who then sent his only son on a bloody suicide mission to forgive the sins that the humans the All-Knowing Father-God made and knew they would commit, but for a much simpler, more human reason: because it’s the right thing to do. (Hey. If Jesus died for our sins, wouldn’t that mean that there are no more sins?)

Mr. Wiggins concludes with yet another series of preposterous assertions: “Anyone who does not think that we are a christian [sic] nation has never read the Declaration of Independence, has never been engrossed by our Constitution, and can indeed say they are wholly unfamiliar with our founding fathers. I would say that anyone who says we are not a christian [sic] nation knows absolutely nothing about the history of our country. …”

I’ve read the Declaration of Independence. What it speaks about in the First Amendment is freedom from the tyranny spawn by the incestuous union of church and state that had ravished Europe in the 17th and early 18th centuries. I’ve also read the Constitution. Can you please show me where, Mr. Wiggins, the word “God” is mentioned in that document? And I’ve also done considerable research – academic research – into the Founding Fathers and the social, political, and intellectual cultures that nurtured them. I suggest those who share Mr. Wiggin’s views read Jon Meacham’s book American Gospel: God, The Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation (Random House, 2007).

On 13 July 2009, another equally strange article appeared on the American [anti-]Family Association website. “The World as It Really Is” was penned by Jim Fletcher. Before reading the article, I wanted to know who Jim Fletcher was. The only identification given was his e-mail address at the end of the article: “jim@prophecymatters.com.” It was at ProphecyMatters.com that I discovered…

Jim Fletcher is director of Prophecy Matters, a ministry outreach of Creation Truth Foundation. The longtime editor for Master Books, the world’s largest publisher of creationism books, Jim now travels and speaks on the subject of apologetics. … Jim writes for a variety of publications, including the Jerusalem Post, WorldNetDaily, and OneNewsNow. He blogs weekly at the “Israel Watch” section of RaptureReady (www.raptureready.com).

After learning Mr. Fletcher’s latest book was titled It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – with the subtitle “How to stop worrying and learn to love these END TIMES” – I just had to read the article. How would someone who wrote a book with that title see the world “as it really is”? How could someone “see” the world as it really is if he writes for Wildmon’s OneNewsNow propaganda organ, “raptureready.com,”and Joseph Farah’s WorldNetDaily?

After listing some “miseries” he saw in Austin, Texas, Mr. Fletcher began his “seeing”:

But even in all this misery, I thought about how it confirms the Bible. If the Bible is true, we would expect to see a diseased and dying world. A physically dying world. Pollution. Corruption. Illness. …

The Bible’s early books contain the history of Earth’s beginnings. Genesis contains the historical account of man’s spiritual and physical fall. In those brief verses, we can know enough to figure out our world. God gave man free will, then set in motion a plan for man to be reconciled to Him. And further in Scripture, we see that God has a glorious plan to create a new world in the end. Which will be our beginning!

Fundamentalists (and young earth creationists) love to use the Bible to prove the Bible is true. Mr. Fletcher twisted that already twisted “reasoning” even further. Suffering proves the Bible is true, but it’s the second paragraph that really shows the total irrationality and blindness of biblical literalists: “The Bible’s early books contain the history of Earth’s beginnings. Genesis contains the historical account of man’s spiritual and physical fall. In those brief verses, we can know enough to figure out our world.”

That’s right folks, Genesis contains “the history of Earth’s beginnings”: the earth is a flat disk supported by pillars and covered by a dome to keep out all those celestial waters and, according to Mr. Fletcher, that’s all we need to know “to figure out our world.” A childish and ridiculous statement, to be sure, but it gets even sillier.

“God gave man free will, then set in motion a plan for man to be reconciled to Him.” Mr. Fletcher does have a talent for ignoring details when they run contrary to his ideology. To summarize: “God” gives man free will and then, when he uses it in a way God didn’t like but, being All-Knowing knew he would, Jehovah damns all humans for all time and then spends the rest of the Old Testament killing humans (and other defenseless creatures) and ordering humans to kill humans so that, according to Mr. Fletcher, “God” can “set in motion a plan for man to be reconciled to Him.” Aren’t the victims – not the perpetrators who knowingly cause harm – the ones to decide if a reconciliation is warranted or possible? In this myth, why would anyone want to be reconciled with the murderous god of the Old Testament who, among his other endearing traits, were a fondness for infanticide and incest and “burnt offerings”?

The “wisdom” of Mr. Fletcher continued when he explained how it was not the slaughter and torture of million and million of people during the last two millennia in the name of “God” and ad majorem gloriam Dei, but “the beginnings of modern evolutionary thought, which has destroyed millions and millions of people, and now has America’s children in its grip.”

Can you think of ANY incident in the 150 years since the theory of evolutionary in which evolutionists killed, maimed, waterboarded, or in any way “destroyed” Bible-thumpers in the name of Darwin? Mr. Fletcher would, no doubt, bring up Hitler and the “connection” his ilk like to posit between Darwin’s theory and Nazi-style eugenics. Madmen such as Hitler cherry-picked and used whatever they could to advances their cause, including Christianity, the type of “Christianity” America’s theofascists are so fond of. And as for science, reason and logical thinking having “America’s children in [their] grip,” GOOD! Perhaps they can then see through the irrationality and nonsense and attendant hate and bigotry that underwrite the type of “religion” theofascists advocate.

But I want to thank Mr. Wiggins and Mr. Fletcher – and of course Don Wildmon for posting their “thoughts.” Keep up the good work, guys. The more nonsensical tripe you write and post for people to read, the more insane you sound and the more you turn off and alienate people who actually think.

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leo said:

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I know only what I can prove.
One of the compelling issues in the Revolutionary Way of 1776 was religious freedom. Our ancestors escaped a dictatorial tyrannt in their pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. And the right to determine their destiny. Their way was guided by their religion, and history taught them to keep it seperate from government. Thinking men have the advantage of learning from their own accounting of history, and depend not upon someone to define it to them. Thinking men therefore generally do not repeat history. We have Supreme Court decisions that have protected our right to a government that is free of religious influences so that each man can worship in his own way, and no religion receives unfair favor from it. As such, we have found a society that is free from a repeat like the King of England in the 1700's. However, the republican party is rife with the influence of the religous right, and by it has allowed religion to make its presence felt in government. Right now, the republicans do not occupy the Whitehouse, they do not have a majority in the Senate or House, and the party is in disaray and on its way down like the economy was a few months ago. So who says the system in this country is not working? Who says we are going to repeat history? Who says we are going to destroy ourselves? The answer to the last question is answered to frighten us by the doomsayers of the religious right-they say we will destroy the world in armeggeddon. Right now, Rush Limbaugh is saying the country will fail, that it is not working. Will someone on the right please stand up and tell me how we are going to repeat history? Bush and Cheney almost took us to the brink of armeggeddon and war is a repeat of history. Undisturbed peace is not. So I can conclude that the reason the religious right is casting a dim light on the future of America is because they are not thinking men, they do not see the light, and want us to join with them. They cant pave a way to the future that we can follow, and seem afraid of tommorrow. Perhaps its a case of "misery loves company." Whatever you believe, the subtlety of religion can reverse all we have gained by seperating it from government. Those that want to take us back in history to a day when government was rife with religion are doomed to repeat history. They are not thinking men, despite the fact that God gave them gifts, brains to think with. Are we to listen to men who ignore gifts they've received from the diety they say everyone should worship?

I know only that which I can prove. Faith is but a carrot dangling from the end of a stick. Has anyone ever seen with their own eyes whose hand is on the stick?
 
August 02, 2009
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