Friday, May 06, 2005

Hooke on Ignorance Works For Some: The Coming Dark Ages

Welcome to the dawning age of ignorance!

As many of you may know, the State Board of Education of Kansas is presently hearing testimony from so called experts who are advocating the teaching of intelligent design in Kansas schools. I don’t know about you, but I for one see this as just another trend, another step towards the long dark night if ignorance that is presently engulfing the United States while the rest of the world looks on in both amazement and horror. And to make matters worse, the scientific community, in a truly stupid demonstration of obstinacy, has decided to boycott the proceedings and to allow the forces of ignorance to go unchecked and unchallenged. In a way I can understand their frustration. The State School Board in Kansas is controlled by a narrow minded clique of superstitious dolts who have yet to move forward out of the 13th or 14th Centuries; and the so-called “philosophers,” and “scientists” are hardly recognized by the vast majority of legitimate scientists as in any way knowledgeable in the topics about which they will testify. But that doesn’t mean that you give up without a fight. If the truth is to be told, and if ignorance and superstition are to be countered than reasonable, intelligent people must speak out. Or to paraphrase the late Carl Sagan, science should be used as a candle in the dark.

Well, if the scientific community doesn’t want to defend its beliefs then perhaps, just perhaps others need to question and challenge the beliefs of the opposition

It seems to me that instead of questioning the so called “theory” of evolution that we should be questioning the self contradictory fairytale that the Bible presents in the opening chapters of Genesis. At least when scientists talk about the theory of evolution they are talking about something about which there is physical, concrete proof while the so called creationists cherry pick scientific findings and twist results to fit the Biblical fantasy of creation. But the thing that never ceases to amaze me is the fact no one wants to question the self contradiction in the Bible which proves that the Judeo Christian Creation Myth is just that—a myth.

If we take the Bible literally then we must be prepared to accept two different stories of creation. That’s right. You aren’t seeing things. Contrary to what the Religious right would tell you the Book of Genesis presents not one, but two creation myths. The literalists would have you believe that the two versions are covering different aspects of the story, but when you read the stories in the original Hebrew you discover that the two versions use different names for God, and, more importantly, are written in different literary styles, indicating that they were not written by one man (Moses according to the literalists), but rather, by two different authors.

In Genesis Chapter 1, God creates the Heaven and the earth; after which he creates night and day, divides the waters and continents etc. Of more interest, however is the creation of humanity. In Genesis 1; 26-28 God creates man in his own image, but he does it in a rather unexpected way. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sear, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it…” Note the plurality. The author is not saying that God created a man and then a woman from out of a man’s rib. The author has specifically stated that God created man and woman together.

Now skip ahead to Genesis 2; 6-25 Suddenly the whole story is beginning all over again. We have a mist coming up out of the earth (mists usually represent confusion in mythology). We have God creating Adam (alone) out of the dust, followed, a few verses later, by the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib. This, of course, is the myth that the fundamentalist right likes to drag out whenever they want to denigrate women as unfit for just about anything from police work to serving as members of the clergy. But the fact remains that this is a second myth that was layered on top of the first myth.

To make the story even more fascinating, this obvious conflict in the text gave ancient fundamentalist Jews a major headache. On the one hand they wanted to take the text literally, and yet if they were to take the text literally they would have to accept not one, but two stories of creation. Ultimately the question came down to just who God had created in the first version. It clearly wasn’t Eve, so just who was the woman in Genesis Chapter 1? And what happened to her?

The answer was obvious. Then woman in Chapter 1 was Adam’s first wife, Lilith.

In many ways the story of Lilith is even more interesting that the traditional versions in Genesis. Not only because her story is a very nontraditional example of what happens when literal interpretations are carried to their (il)logical extreme, but because she provides a rather interesting example as to what can happen to a strong-willed woman in the fundamentalist mindset. According to mythology, Lililth actually rebelled when Adam decided to take the dominant position during the sexual act. “You shall lay beneath me and I shall lay on top of you.” Lilith was not amused, to say the least. Angry and defiant, she went to the Lord God and said something to effect of: “What’s the deal here? You created us together. That tells me the two of us should be equals. Why does he get the dominant position?” God, in his ever mysterious way, told Lilith to go back to Adam, talk it out with him, and settle it with him. Now obedient, Lilith did so. But when Adam tried to assume the dominant position again, Lilith again rebelled and again took the matter to the Lord God. And, once again, God told her to work it out with Adam and sent her on her way. After Adam tried to prove his dominance a third time, and after Lilith took her complaint to God for a third time, God finally lost patience, realized this was not going to work, and sent three angels to banish Lilith from the Garden of Eden. With Lilith out of the way, God proceeded to create Eve, Adam’s second wife. ( Kind of sounds like an afternoon soap opera, doesn’t it? Especially when you consider the fact that the men who were writing this baloney had such low opinions of women.)

So what happened to Lilith? Depending on the mythology you read, she either went on to become a regular character on the NBC sitcom “Cheers,” or, more likely, became a Queen Mother of Demons, giving birth to the little Hell raisers at the rate of 10,000 per day.

The upshot here is obvious. If we’re going to criticize evolution—with its many physical and verifiable proofs, then we should at least be willing to examine the alternative for the clear and obvious contradiction which proves its fallacy.* The fact of the matter is that the Bible, while in some regards, is a good book, is not the only book, and it is not always true on a literal basis. Rather, the Bible is the inspired word of God. It was written by ancient, primitive people who knew little about the scientific nature of the world in which they lived.

And the degree to which the a literal interpretation of the text is accepted as scientific fact by the State Board of Education in Kansas should tell us that there are still enough primitive people alive today to drag us back into a more ancient time.

With one scientific theory denigrated, you really need to wonder what other theories the fundamentalist right will attempt to bastardize. Theories, after all, are the most profound statements that one can make in the scientific world. Maybe we should get rid of the germ theory of disease? Maybe we should teach that the sun orbits around the earth. Better yet, we can teach the unsuspecting children of Kansas that the sun orbits around a flat earth! Hey, maybe with a little luck we can go back to blood letting, leeches, and exorcisms instead of science.

In fact, I think I have a solution that will finally, finally, make the fundamentalist right happy.

We should ban any and all technical, industrial, or medical advancements that were made after Christ ascended back to heaven. No, I am perfectly serious. We don’t really know if Jesus would have approved of electricity, or antibiotics, or computers, or automobiles, ad infinitum. So to keep in line with the Bible we can scrap evolution, germ theory, and the spherical earth. We can go back to an earth-centered universe. We’ll junk all our cars and go back to horses and buggies. Better yet, we can throw out our computers, replace them with clay tablets or papyrus scrolls, and use homing pigeons instead of emails. And that’s just the beginning. We could burn any and all medications that were created after Christ’s ministry on earth, and go back to herbs, beads, rattles, and exorcisms, surgical procedures being strictly banned Power lines could be chopped down and oil lamps used instead of electric lighting. Likewise, telephone poles could be toppled, long distance communication being carried on my youthful messengers or smoke signals.

Of course we’d have to go back to stoning witches and heretics in the public square, and we just want to pass laws which prevent women from speaking in our churches.

But aside from unsafe living conditions, abuse of religious dissidents, and massive death and the fall of civilization as we know it, the State School Board in Kansas may well be on the right track.

Hooked on ignorance works for some.

*I for one an constantly amazed by the fact that Moses, in the book of Deuteronomy, goes so far as to discuss his death and subsequent burial in a "valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor." Deuteronomy 34; 5-7.


halcyon67 said...

...ignorance that is presently engulfing the United States while the rest of the world looks on in both amazement and horror."

Great line.

Yep, we have discussed this extensively before. We need people to come read this stuff. We need to start a campaign.

Snave said...

I will definitely come here and read, as this stuff is right up my alley. Samantha, thanks for putting this address on Lizzy's wonderful weblog! Samantha, Chrisbilal, Enlightenment, Advocate1 and Brandong, thanks to all of you for this very right-on site. If you check out my weblog, you may find some very similar sentiments expressed there!

Samantha, glad to see you checking out J.Marquis' "Are We There Yet" too. J. is a great friend of mine, and he is righteous in his commentary! Have you been to "Who Hijacked Our Country"? I can't remember if I saw your name there or not!

This website is being linked on my site as soon as I finish writing this comment!

Snave said...

Oops, I left out Daniel! Thanks to YOU, too!!

Brandon said...

Thanks Snave! In a way this site began as an accident. We were having some tech problems at the time. Instead of accepting an invitation from YoungLiberals the damned computer kept inviting me to start a blog of my own. I simply could not get the fricking think to accept the invitation. Finally, out of frustration, I started one of my own, made an initial post, and then my teammate, Chris extendeded another invitation and things worked out on YoungLiberals. After that I more or less ignored Coalition. Meanwhile, Daniel had begun a short-lived blog called RIGHTS NOW, which was just beginning to go somehere when he realized that he wanted to join a team. I thought, "oh what to hell," and brought his material over here. This was the end result.

I don't know if this comes out in the blog description, but we are indeed a Coalition of nonfundamentalists. Our belief systems range from liberal Christianity, to Buddhism, to agnosticism, to outright atheism. In short we are religious dissidents who refuse to be burned at the proerbial steak b y a pack of power hungry, modern day witchhunters. Also, from time to time, my half brothers, Kyle and Brian will be offering lengthy comments as well. As will my fiance, Kelli, who is a liberal Catholic. I plan to bring in some humorous ieces as well. Some of which have alreay been posted on other sites, others new.

Most of us are located here in Southeastern Wisconsin. Contrary to Wisconsin's reputation as a "liberal" state we have pockets of intense fundamentalism where bigotry reigns supreme. Initially we had intended the group to be limitted to Advocate1(who is my best friend, Jeff), Daniel, and myself. But then we decided to bring in my dad (Trevor)--he hates to talk about it, but he was a former protestant pastor and became an atheist. Then it hit me. Shit, we have a ton of talent in Chris and Sam, so we sent out the invitations.

We're glad you like what we're doing here. This is such a refreshing experience from the fundamentalist bullshit that we get here in Southeastern Wisconsin.

We hope we live up to expectations

Brandon and the Colaition