Thoughts and Perspectives

The United States IS Uneducated, NOT Fragmented & A Brief Case Study in Religion and Marriage Rights

This is probably mostly preaching to the choir, considering my audience. But a rant is in order.

Yes, of course, the United States is fragmented, but the real cause is rooted in vast anti-intellectualism, not increasingly divergent mores. People in the United States are far too absorbed in television, social media, various online or video games, and other rituals that consciously and unconsciously confirm and further embed preexisting cultural, moral, and social foundations. This anti-intellectualism is rooted in a religious and political culture that more and more often promotes, quiet literally, critical thinking as being the equivalent to devil worship. There are also roots in biology: We are preprogrammed to resist learning and thinking, but this part of our biology and physiology can easily be “rewritten.”

1ifNj

But as Galileo said:
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them.”

Life, regardless of worldviews and ideologies, should be grounded in never-ceasing learning and questions. People should never have an opinion about that which they know nothing or very, very little. Seeing one or two shows on the history channel about racism and civil rights does not qualify a person to engage in significant conversations about these topics. This is NOT to say everyone needs a Ph.D. to have an opinion. 

All of the social issues currently plaguing the nation—gun rights, marriage rights, voting rights, health care rights, immigrant rights, welfare rights, environmental rights, and freedom of expression rights, for example—could easily be solved by a small dose of education and basic, legitimate concern for fellow humans. This is not to advocate the elimination of various points of view or to suggest different ideas would go away, especially in regard to issues such as with gun rights or welfare rights, but there could be a much more informed debate occurring.

With a small dose of education and open-mindedness, tensions would go way, and our nation could focus on much more meaningful issues. 

Debates surrounding equal marriage make for a good and brief case study:

Utah became the 18th state to affirm the right of marriage to two consenting people of age a few days ago. Appeals were immediately filled citing all kinds of bogus concerns. Conservative Christians need to understand three major points:

The Constitution, not the Bible, is the law in the United States.
While the Constitution (as both a document and a metaphor for laws in the nation) has always been outright ignored in various ways, this does not negate the responsibility to push for its further implementation. People should vote beyond their personal mores in favor of equality and opportunity. The only limit to freedom of equality, movement, and opportunity should be things that HURT other people. Corporations, Republicans, and the top 1% and 2% are the real ones hurting the nation and the world.

The Bible is a very poor source for citing prohibitions on marriage rights.
This can be tackled from a variety of perspectives. First and most importantly, all of the “clobber verses” were deliberately rewritten to have anti-gay readings over the past century. Their true original meanings were completely different. Read
this article for more details. The important lesson here is that the study and use of any text cannot be conducted without considering context and translation issues. Moreover, it must be remembered that the Bible is a highly selected construction of a whole variety of ancient texts and that the notion of the Bible being the “divine word of God” is, historically speaking, brand new—around one hundred years. See this article and its videos for more on this last point. The study of History is also brand new, historically speaking. The Bible cannot fully be considered a “historical text” because when it was written “history” was not intended to be objective or exact at all. (This does not negate the importance of the Bible to Christianity.) Those who still hold firm to Biblical-supported homophobia and limitation of human rights need to recognize that calling for the strict enforcement of a handful of verses is the utmost hypocritical action.

Untitled

Science is not going away and cannot be ignored.
Biology affirms the premise that the “male”/“female” binary and heteronormative worldview are simply wrong. Non-heteronormative behaviors and families are observed in all species across the planet. Religions must find room for compatibility and discourse with scientific research. 

While totally impossible and utopian to the core, my “New Years Resolution” (or more of a wish!) is that people will wake up, care, and realize how much nonsense they are fed every-single-day.

It is profoundly frustrating to see so many problems and tensions that could so easily be fixed–if only people cared and weren’t so scared. 

Please see the following for more details on various points:

12 replies »

  1. AJP, you bring up several issues that I think need to be discussed even more in the public sphere — why (some) religions are so fearful, distrustful, fundamentally opposed to education, especially learning based on empiricism or other worldviews that omit (or at least look over) faith as a means of knowing about the physical and social world. Remember that Michele Bachmann descried both the Renaissance and the Enlightenment as movements that actually reversed the progress of mankind , and her views are not isolated.

    Myself, I come from a patriarchal background of Primitive Baptist preachers and then AoG/Pentecostal relatives who were/are all hostile to learning. The results are not surprising — I’m the first in the family to go to college since before the US Civil War (and I doubt those before then had any education, either); others in the family prefer to home school their daughters, etc., because of the pollution of the public education system (this, in Arkansas, where gun safety training is part of Phys Ed before deer season opens and where the state and local politics are certainly religious-right, and little else). I don’t disclaim these relatives, but, of course, it’s impossible to have a discussion about anything except … well, weather and … well, that’s about it. Having a discussion about politics, space exploration, and non-David-Barton views of history are impossible without someone (read: me) being portrayed as the Servant of Satan because of my curiosity and refusal to believe corporatist media, etc.

    Sometimes I feel this is really just high school drama carried over into the public sphere. But, instead of Jocks vs Nerds, it’s something like “Our Parents and School Board and Principal and Teachers refuse to accept 20th [sic] education and science” vs “Your Parents and Teachers” who love learning and express their curiosity and love reading and civil discourse, etc. The ones who have — for at least 30 years — been increasingly and more hostile in their discourse about the impending doom of the USA because of “free thinkers” are simply carrying over the high school rivalries of their youth, where it’s all about “us” vs “them,” and “we” have a dozen biblical texts that support our worldview and “they” … well, that’s about as far as the discussion goes, because bringing up even the possibility the fallibility of ancient texts is one of those tools of Satan, of course.

    Ah, we can go on. Needless to say, I don’t talk NASA when around my grandmother and her children when I visit. That’s too controversial.

    Like

  2. @criticalhit009

    Does that fit your experience from growing up there, if I may ask?
    When I’ve googled up things like “free thinker satan slave,” there are a variety of church signs that come up. I saw one article that said some of these were photoshopped. Nonetheless, the rhetoric and message is true from my experiences.

    Like

    • Mmm, in a way, yes. I’m no longer a part of the AOG, and any ties to it faded years ago, so I’m not the best judge. But it’s a pretty conservative tradition, so I can definitely see liberal thought being shunned. And of course “free thought” is only a convenient phrase to get at that pesky spirit of the age, and all that. Though I myself never received such a lesson in Sunday School.

      My fiancé and I did do a google search of the church at least, and found that it does exist. So there’s that at least.

      Like

  3. @Bruce

    I can relate some to knowledge making conversation difficult with some family members. It sad that religion–which theoretically by its theology–should bring more peace and happiness tends to do the opposite and increasingly so. What happened that let you break the tradition, so to speak, and go to college?

    Like

  4. Let me respond to the “slave” comment first. I was once in church — as an adult — and having a conversation with a fundamentalist believer. That’s fine. We were talking about the nature of evil and his complete sphere of knowledge was limited to his interpretations of a few verses in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. That’s fine, too. But when I countered with an alternative interpretation, essentially liberating myself from the clutches of Satan because I’m smart enough to sin on my own without being his little puppet, without his help, … well, that was that. The man declared that my soul was in jeopardy or something and I was on my way to Idaho (one of my euphemisms for Hell; Dallas is another). In other words, even within a discourse of using the same texts, a variant world view that permits an Enlightenment view of man was anathema to the anti-intellectual worldviews of this man.

    But to answer your directed question, I was fortunate to have a father who was somewhat a rebel in his earlier years (though he has retrenched himself significantly since Ollie North) — beatnik clubs, an avid reader of sci-fi, etc. He was also a big Carl Sagan fan. I taught me to love reading which then affected my attitudes towards learning and science and — since I had no desire to go to work in a factory — college was the only recourse. As Frost would say, “that has made all the difference.”

    Like

  5. One of the lessons people attribute to the Bible is to be in the world but not of it. It’s almost like these vary people, those who have such a bleak/damnation view toward critical thinning and creativity are more of the world than anyone else. I think there is a lot of fear involved. It doesn’t make sense to me (well it does but doesn’t make sense from a broader pov), but the man you mentioned was very much, truly scared-to-death to think anything differently. It’s great you had an opportunity to a different world view and life! 🙂

    Like

  6. [I think that’s because I was never actually logging into WP to comment, but was relying on my Google credentials. Seems WP doesn’t trust those credentials].

    Maslow — we all have fears until we reach some level (I think there are multiple and cyclic levels) of self-actualization. Those who reach S-A can accept others’ worldviews easily — Gandhi accepted the best of all religions and philosophies without judgement. But when we fear — especially because we lack esteem, love, or safety, and certainly physiological security — we tend to seek out “us” and avoid the “other” to buttress whatever security we have. Religion, at least most of the religions I’m aware of, answer to most people the need of esteem and love/belonging. When something threatens (or is interpreted by others to threaten) that esteem and belonging, then the fear surfaces and sides are taken. See Sherif’s 1954 boy’s camp experiment for a fun example of “us” and “them” with no rational basis.

    Like

  7. Some theorists say “self-actualization” is impossible for anyone to reach or that it can only be reach when a person is “old and gray.” I think those psychological theories are interesting. I particular enjoy thinking about Erik Erikson’s stage of psych-social development.

    You need a WP account! 🙂

    Like

Please Leave a Reply (markdown enabled):

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s