Posts tagged ‘freedom of religion’

Creationism could be coming to a high school near you

I wrote to Congressman Jim Buchy of the Ohio House about an alert I received that repealing Common Core Curriculum in the high schools could be used as a way re-open the path for Creationism to be injected in high school curriculums.  I’ll repeat the text of Rep. Buchy’s letter below the document to make it readable.  The original document seemed difficult to copy here.

 

 

buchy

 

Rep. Buchy’s email:

“Dear Douglas,

Thank you for contacting my office with concerns regarding House Bill 597.  I support this bill and recently voted it out of the Rules and Reference Committee, to be considered on the floor.

House bill 597 is not about getting creationism to be taught in public schools.  Instead, the bill aims to repeal Common Core in the state of Ohio in order to put control of schools back in the hands of local government and parents.

I support House Bill 597 because I do not agree with the Common Core standards, and neither do the majority of constituents I have heard from.  I haven’t, however, received one email or phone call from a constituent that shares your concerns.  The fact is that the 84th House District, myself included, is made up of many fine Christian people who [sic] people that God does have a place in everyday life.  If I find that a lot of my constituents would support a bill that requires creationism to be taught in schools, I would consider that very idea.

Thank you for contacting me regarding this important matter.  Please do not hesitate to contact me regarding further state issues.

Please help me determine key issues for this General Assembly: Complete my Legislative Survey.  Please follow the link.

Sincerely,

[signed] Jim Buchy

Jim Buchy

State Representative

84th House District

JB/bps”

I initially responded with the next two paragraphs when I was under the weather with a cold, then recently expanded my reply to the following:

From Douglas Falknor to Rep84

Dear Representative Buchy,

I’m saddened to hear that. Education was once the liberator of thought and did its part to free western civilization from religious dogma. It bears noting that the repeating of scientific and historical facts was punishable by death then. Now the lessons being taught by creationists reject objective knowledge in favor of religious belief posing as fact.

Even though there’s been a tradition of government held hostage by religion in this country, education has been free up ’til recently. If you take these steps backwards you may spawn home taught fundamentalists who over time may achieve a level of literal fundamentalism worthy of eastern madrassas and beyond what most Christians today would consider reasonable.

To test the rightness or wrongness of teaching creationism to America’s youth, you need only substitute the teaching of any other religion’s origin myth in place of it. Only that would be fair to the other religions. Or are our high schools only Christian schools?

The near total domination of the culture by Christianity for two hundred years has not served Christians well with respect to learning to treat other religions with equanimity. The greater diversity of race, for instance, has kept the unequal treatment of minorities on the American Christian radar (TV) screens until the culture has made a modicum of concessions in the treatment of those who are of different races and ethnicities.

Christians, however, have not had enough experience with believers of other faiths to know appropriate etiquette in their interactions with them… so sensitivity in the treatment of others—treating others the way you want to be treated—has lagged behind in the arena of religion. (…and nonbelievers? Christians send death threats and hate mail…and don’t see the reflection of themselves in their actions.)

There’s always been this confusion over whether America is a Christian nation or everybody’s nation. Even George H. W. Bush got it wrong. Why? It was the religion talking. The more religion focuses the full spectrum of the public’s attention on its misbehavior the more apparent it becomes that those affected by religion should recuse themselves from actions that would impose their religion on others. Shouldn’t this include those who would rule us? Or are our rulers agents of religion first before our democracy?

We recognize this bondage to religion in the fundamentalists of other religions. It’s not so obvious to us in ourselves. We inherit this devotion to religion naturally. See the evidence for this in Religion is God’s Way of Showing Us it’s a Lot Earlier in Human Evolution than We Thought on Audible and Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Religion-Showing-Earlier-Evolution-thought/dp/B00I8U6YWC/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8.)

Douglas Falknor

January 4, 2015 at 5:33 pm 1 comment

Boycott Pepsi?

I just read a call to boycott Pepsi, as the blogger relates the offense, for omitting “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance so as not to be divisive.  Pepsi supposedly did that when printing the phrase “one nation…indivisible…” on cans.  The call came from a Christian I know.  To put words in her mouth, she is probably saying that the Pledge should be recited as Congress has dictated it.

It took about ten seconds of my time to search on the words “Pepsi Pledge of Allegiance” to find that this is a rumor started about a decade ago over something Dr. Pepper may have done.    The “one nation…indivisible” phrase, it would seem obvious, is what one might say in saluting the nation.  “One nation, under God” is a religious observation.

Once again, though, we nonbelievers would have received the default discrimination, one that some beverage company would have tried to save the world from–sticking religion into everything–when religion was the intrusion in the first place.  (I’m sure you know, but around 1954 in the communist-obsessed environment overheated by Senator Joe McCarthy and others,  Congress thought they’d trip up the Commies but injecting God into the Pledge–the same environment that brought us Vietnam–because Commies wouldn’t say “under God” if it was in the Pledge.  Will someone one please answer my question:  Why would the Commies say the Pledge as it was?  And if they were going to falsely recite the Pledge, why wouldn’t they falsely Pledge to God as well?).

That’s what it is, you know.  A Pledge or acknowledgement that we recognize that the U.S. nation is under God’s charge and loyal to Him.  I would venture to say that the communist threat from within has passed… so is Congress likely to remove the phrase?   Congress has not only shifted Right, it has shifted even more to the Christian Right.  Individually, those congressmen and senators will tell you that their first loyalty is to God… just like their radicalized Muslim brothers would.

You may be familiar with my theory of why or how the religiously affected get that way (Religion is God’s Way of Showing Us it’s a lot Earlier in Human Evolution than We Thought).  If they are deceived, even if willingly, that makes ours a rough row to hoe.  Everywhere that religion encroaches, once it’s there, it’s locked on.  Marked territory not only to never be freed again–the religious are blind to it.  It no longer is open to question.  Religion gets a free ride, a pass.   It is outside the questions, outside the equation of things that can be examined for fairness or equality.

That’s why it is so hard for us to gain any ground even though religion has encroached so much into are world.  Blind justice may treat us fairly, but not if justice is blinded by religion.  Why do they think they should be able to treat us unfairly?  Well, they pay lip service to tradition, but it’s the underestimated effect religion has on the religious that  they are most blind to.

If you consider civil rights laws, and rest assured that is the field where the discrimination against us lies, we are being discriminated against due to religion.  The bigots among the religious say we can’t be because we have no religion.

IT’S NOT DUE TO OUR RELIGION THAT WE ARE BEING DISCRIMINATED AGAINST.  IT IS, RATHER, BECAUSE OF THEIR RELIGION THAT THE BIGOT DISCRIMINATES AGAINST US.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 19, 2014 at 4:20 pm Leave a comment

The Military Religious Freedom Protection Act has passed

(This is similar to the previous post, but the House Armed Services Committee did pass this de-Enlightenment legislation. There’s a URL at the bottom of the previous post if you think you want to hear Buck McKeon. I think he’ll prove you wrong.)

Chairman McKeon said if there were atheist chaplains, they would tell dying soldiers they would be “worm food.” Alternatively, when Rep. Fleming was asked what a Christian chaplain would tell a dying atheist soldier whom he believed would go to hell. Fleming said the Christian chaplain should offer the dying atheist soldier salvation through the Bible.

The last statement underlines the intent of the Military Religious Freedom (a malapropish misnomer in the long tradition of military and governmental oxymorons) Protection Act which became an amendment to a defense authorization bill which states that it is all right for believers of “a religion” to proselytize that faith to others.

The typical nonbeliever wouldn’t consider telling any dying soldier they might be “worm food” let alone a humanist chaplain. It’s a ludicrous proposition that he or she would do anything less than hold high esteem for an individual of any or no belief. This is because the average humanist believes that we all have an intrinsic human worth and that the human spirit is noble and a Humanist celebrant or chaplain is going to embody those qualities at a minimum. These congressmen are demonstrating that they do not value our service men and women in the same way.

Shouldn’t a chaplain to our men and women in uniform respect the faith tradition or beliefs of that person? That’s what a Humanist chaplain would do. But you have the congressmen’s words on it, that’s not what a Christian chaplain should do: They should offer the dying atheist soldier salvation through the Bible. This amendment supports that, but it is a one way street. Nonbelievers will have no “religious freedom” of their own protecting them from such inconsiderate behavior.
Gentlemen, you have our service members at too much of a disadvantage. They deserve better from you than this punishment for not being Christians. You can impose your will by a majority vote, but you can’t make it right or just. Are you treating the nonbelieving service members the way you want to be treated?
I take it these congressmen don’t feel the same nor do they feel that the men and women in uniform deserve equal treatment either. If they did, they’d ask each service member what kind of (faith) service they’d like, and it would be given.

It is possible for a bigoted person to go through a process of conversion. Our fellow Americans, bigoted though they may be, are our bigots and our brothers. As the humanism they denigrate would tell them, if they’d listen, all men are brothers. We must these help make these men better Christians. We must do this because as humanists we are our brothers’ keepers ..and we have no god that we would put before them.

Since only Christianity proselytizes, perhaps all Christians in the nation should weigh in. Tell these congressmen if you’re with them or against them. If we are not to judge you by your silence, speak up this one time. These men and women in uniform can’t speak up. They are at the mercy of the chain of command and it is to, and about, that chain of command they would have to complain—a career-ending move at best.

August 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm Leave a comment

Spiritual truth vs. Literal truth

Our minds often work in, and we typically talk and explain things by way of, analogies. “The 9-11 attack was like the attack on Pearl Harbor.” Some points of both attacks may correspond, some don’t, probably most don’t. It may take the recognition of only a couple of points in common in our minds to declare an analogy valid. All the more likely if it is we who suggest the analogy and less likely if it is someone else. The philosophical quicksand that analogies are built on await, ever ready to disappoint pro- and opponent alike.

In some instances our understanding of the world, and therefore our explanations, are also limited by our senses—we can’t see the infra-red part of the spectrum, if we did, there are a lot of hot things we wouldn’t touch.

And for simplicity, it’s things of an apparent nature. ‘You take a potato, stick it in a hot fire for 20 minutes and it’s done.’ We didn’t need to describe what took place chemically on the molecular scale in the creation of the fire or the cooking of the potato. We can’t see the microscopic and that also brings in the matter of scale. We interact with things at a certain size–on our scale of magnitude. We might agree that that is the factually descriptive level at which the events took place. On our scale, we cooked a potato in a fire.

What if we have poetic license and we choose to express the cooking of the potato in the hyperbolic purple prose of a metaphor, ‘We offered up an apple of the earth to the firegod and in exchange he nourished our souls.’

If we talk in metaphors, they are just high blow analogies. And sometimes the metaphor can capture a feeling, a mood, that mundane speech cannot. If little Suzy’s cat, Felix gets run over by a beer truck, a person might console her by saying he’s gone to a ‘better place.’ Suzy’s thinking, Shoebox buried in the back yard? But we say ‘No, that great cat paradise in the sky.’ He’s gone to his reward, in other words, for being a great cat. Now he’s beyond pain. No one’s carelessness or lack of respect can hurt him now. We reach for appropriate closure. One that ends Felix’s story well. A philosophically satisfying end. A spiritually right end. As we live long enough, you, me, and humanity, we build up a body of these ideas, these consoling old saws. The more spiritual metaphors take on more meaning as they elevate the various passages of life above the mundane. These high concept metaphors that seem to pique something bordering on the spiritual within us take on a significance that we might think of as ‘spiritual truths.’
You can probably see where I’m going with this. ‘Spiritual truths,’ among other things, might be how reality would be structured in a perfect world, or perhaps in a just world. Or one that would be in alignment with the human spirit (real, secular human spirit, reality-side, not supernatural). Or they might be what’s know about this world when revealed by our knowledge of the transcendent, or what was revealed to us via our knowledge of other spiritual truths. (What I’m building here is a case for how humans built or may continue to build a body of sacred thought, writings, eventually beliefs, and even a religion.)

Differing faith traditions may have different truths (if they didn’t, they’d be the same religion, right?) but there will almost certainly be similarities as well. I think (and here goes an analogy built of metaphors) that the differences(hundreds of religions) might truly have been the tower of Babel that God chose to confuse the religions of man with, a religion for every tribe. And that confusion is never more pronounced than when the ‘fundamentals’ are adhered to. Notice how the revealed truths are at odds between the Christian, the Jew, and the Muslim and as we say, those deities were all the one god of Abraham. Then if you want to delve into esoteric minutiae, one Christian denomination disputes the beliefs of the next.

I think this is the source of much of the problem we have with religious folk. Don’t you do a mental guffaw when you hear them say they’ve got the truth? And, don’t they seem to indicate it is a truth of a higher order. Then it’s easy to get exasperated when those guardians of the TRUTH support those sacred truths by attacking time tested facts of geology, history, and science and re-writing them to conform to their interpretation of scripture.

It’s kind of pathetic. Maybe we can sympathize. We know what it’s like to be thought to have kooky ideas. I think we can argue that we know more about being denigrated for those ideas. They say our nonbelief is our religion. For some of us it may be. Our thoughts are more along the lines of thinking that if our presidents tell us we’re a Christian nation, we have to bow to God to pledge our allegience to our nation (although I say, “with religious freedom” at that point), and to win over the minds of the youth they are re-writing the history and biology books to conform to their beliefs.

So, though we may have compassion for the individual, in the aggregate they trap us in a bizzaro world of religious zombies. If it’s the 78% of the U.S. population that the Pew Forum cites as Christian and the 4% atheist/agnostic, they are not the put upon faith they’d like to portray themsleves as. I think that comes from the 26% of the U.S. population that are evangelicals finding resistance to their exuberant proselytizing of their beliefs.

I think the evangelicals feel a little outcastish that there’s not public support for public proselytizing. Maybe the other ~73% feel that belief should be something private? There but for the grace of God go I. In other words, why do atheists speak out? For the same reasons that the GLBT community did (there’s an analogy again). Likewise with blacks. If you’re the recipient of prejudice, denigration and other injustices raising the awareness of society’s collective consciousness is the necessary first step. Protest? Well, even our 1.4% atheist population doesn’t agree on that.

More on this in another post, but it appears more and more likely that religion got a boost somewhere in our last 200,000 years of human evolution. When we get all spiritual we get a little dopamine to juice our brain similar to when we fall in love. I think we take that mini-spiritual event as confirmation of our religious thought. In otherwords, in the (relatively) normal operation of the human brain, religious behaviour gets an internal reward. A reward that makes people follow the ‘line of bread crumbs’ to find ever greater rewards (evidently even most believers turn away at this point–the evangelicals go on alone?). Some can follow this to a fullblown ecstatic religious experience. Get there by fasting in the desert and maybe you too can become a prophet.

What’s all this got to do with spiritual truth? A lot. The same neurochemical rewards (dopamine and others), give us that feeling of internal validation for those spiritual thoughts, statements, beliefs. Doesn’t sound like much? Consider every religious epiphany that anyone ever had–there’s probably dopamine, serotonin, and maybe others behind them all. These are the chemicals that help us produce those peak experiences in life. They are definitely there for Eureka moments of the religious kind.

That, then, is one of the reasons that spiritual truth, sacred truth is revered as a special kind of knowledge. Add to that the social reinforcements–I call it rant, chant, dance, and trance–and you have powerful forces at work seemingly from every quarter. What’s the individual to do? Well, it’s a lot easier to conform than it is to sray from the fold, is it not?

August 14, 2011 at 10:33 pm Leave a comment


Hello

I write for agnostics, freethinkers, atheists and humanists. In my nonfiction, the purpose is the celebration of our noble human spirit. The general pursuit may be Evolutionary Theology, though believers seem to populate that field (so maybe it's evolutionary Humanism). By looking at who we are and where we came from, we can derive much meaning, and perhaps more importantly, understanding, as well as some sense of where we could go.

Religion is God’s Way of Showing Us it’s Earlier in Human Evolution than We Thought

This title is an upcoming book at the publisher's now. I'd like feedback on this title. It's meant to make people think and feel something. And to hint at things for both believers and non- on multiple levels. The book is of a wider scope, though, one which is ultimately a way to grasp more meaning for ourselves. Believers are always telling us our lives don't have meaning without a god. We often counter that it's more meaningful to be looking for our own meaning than to be arbitrarily ascribed it by an imaginary supernatural being. Ultimately, and this is what I think is unique about this book, you'll see how we can be just as spiritual in our own way. Since we've inhertited a capacity for religion (some more than others) as an evolutionary adaptation, believers and non- are both potentially spritual in the same way--but it is an earthly, secular spirituality in which we all can share.