Religion in the News

So let us start off with some fun with maps, shall we?

This is a humorous little map that the wife emailed to me the other day. Well, it would be humorous were it not so close to reality. I post it here mostly only because of a piece that I was reading at the Washington Monthly about red and blue states, and how the colors for the parties seem to have switched recently -which I might add was explained in more detail on that site today, if that is something that you really care about-. While the colors in this map aren’t the correct colors for the way the election shook down, it sure doesn’t take a genius to figure out why it is divided the way that it is.

My only regret is that I live in part of Jesusland in that picture. And I mean it, seriously, my only regret in the entire world is that.

Which leads nicely into today’s ‘What the Fuck is Wrong With You People?’ segment. Yet another one of those stories that makes me wonder just what century we are supposed to be in. The headline reads Judge to Rule on Georgia Evolution Disclaimers. Here to quote a bit from the story:

A public school board in Georgia violated the U.S. Constitution when it placed stickers that challenge the theory of evolution on biology textbooks two years ago, a lawyer for a group of parents said on Friday.

That part makes sense to me. This is the United States, after all, and there is supposed to be a separation between church and state (although that seems a bit clouded judging by the current administration, and the half the country that voted for it). Challenging the theory of evolution in textbooks seems to go a bit beyond a child praying during a recess break, that is the administration knowingly forcing religion onto the students. That is a violation of their rights, right?

The U.S. Supreme Court (news – web sites) ruled in 1987 that creationism could not be taught in public schools alongside evolution.

Seems pretty black and white doesn’t it? I mean honestly, even if you are religious, and you really believe that the earth is really only a few thousand years old, and that God personally created Adam, etc. None of that changes the fact that it is illegal to be teaching it in schools. It is absolutely fine for you to tell your own child that the idea of evolution is such nonsense and holds no merit whatsoever, then show them the first few passages of the Bible which state in no uncertain terms that God created man. Explain to them that it must be true since it was written a really long time ago; That they should count their lucky stars that God spared Noah and his wife when he flooded the entire world, else humanity would have been extinct; Anything that anyone else tries to say is the devil talking. That is all your choice, to do as you wish at home, not force it on others in school.

Off topic, how do people who believe in creationism explain things like dogs? There are hundreds of different kinds of dogs. The ones that live where it is cold have really thick fur and are usually pretty stocky, while the ones that live where it is warm tend to have very thin, short fur and are more athletic. Did God create all of them like that in his infinite wisdom? If so, how can the breeds of dogs that man himself created be explained away? I have seen a few shows on the discovery channel showing some of the strange breeding that kennels have done to make a dog more suitable for a certain task. Is it really believed that God decides that since the kennels are fucking with the purity of his creations he will reward their efforts by divining a brand new breed of dog? Does that really make more sense than evolution to them?

Digressions aside, I guess I am getting a bit too worked up over the whole thing. I am not religious, don’t plan on ever being religious, don’t plan on ever having children who could have religion forced on them, and when I read the disclaimer that was on the books I guess it might not have been as bad as I had thought. It merely says,

“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”

While reading that I guess it doesn’t actually say anything about religion at all. What I do find a bit disturbing is that it says that the material should be approached with an open mind. Isn’t that sort of the polar opposite of how religion approaches things? If someone religious were to read the bible with an open mind, I am pretty sure that they would come away with a far different view of it than they currently have. The problem seems to be that really religious people have selective amnesia about the bible. That is pretty easily evidenced in the fact that when you are at church (if you have ever been there), you will be instructed to open your bible to certain passages, not certain chapters, just one line, from one chapter, from one book, from the bible. Were you to read the passage before it, or after it, you might be in for a nasty surprise. It is that sort of reading between the lines and taking things totally out of context that makes religion seem so frightening to me. You can grab any random book off of the shelf and open it up to four different pages, pick a line, then throw them together to make a seemingly good point.

“They appeared abruptly from behind every tree and statue.”
“Then the Emporor smiled.”
“He’d walk through the city on that first great day and the people would be silent when they saw their natural leader.”
“And then someone hit him again.”

Just for fun, I did just grab a book off of the shelf (which happened to be Terry Pratchett’s novel Interesting Times) and opened it to four random pages. I didn’t take the first line that I saw on each of the pages, but they were each from the page that I randomly opened it to. It really does read almost like I remember the church services from my childhood. In this scenario it would likely have been making a point that arrogance brought down the mighty emporor, while the penitent were spared. Hmmm. I like that story. Maybe I should become religious. If I can extrapolate a moral from four random lines in a humorous fantasy novel just imagane what I could do with the power of God behind me…I could be the richest televangelist ever! But I don’t think I would like to rape prepubescent boys, so I guess I am out. Oh well, it was a thought.
That’s about it for today. Tune in next time to see where my convoluted mind takes me.

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