Monday, November 29, 2004

Where do we go next?

A few hundred years ago, a lot of us came to North America to escape the religious persecution back home in Europe. Rightly or wrongly (and there was a lot Wrong with that). In light of the current political situation, it seems like we've forgotten an important lesson.

Over on Gallup there's a story about a poll they did on religious belief in the US. It's troubling for a bunch of reasons. In this poll the Gallup organization found

  • About a third of those polled believe that the theory of evolution is sufficiently justified by "scientific evidence."

  • About a third disagree and believe that it is only one of many theories, all deserving of equal consideration.

  • About a third don't know.

Do the math.

Two-thirds of the polled people do not understand Evolution. On the one hand, this is a pretty distressing notion. On the other hand, I'd be interested to know how many of them understand Gravity. I also have to wonder, of the third that believe that Evolution is a scientifically-based theory, how many actually know what that means? How many were only 'going along' with the survey? Ironically, it's the third that say they don't know that gives me a little hope.

What is more distressing is the finding that almost half of the people polled believe that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago."

Who did Gallup call? Are there that many people living in the dark ages who have telephones? Lucy is a myth? Leakey's findings in Olduvai Gorge are a hoax foisted upon Man by Satan? What?

And what about the third of Americans who are, apparently, "biblical literalists who believe that the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word." My other blog is called Cognitive Dissonance - which is the ability to hold to two or more conflicting beliefs simultaneously - but I don't know that the level of spiritual schizophrenia outlined in the various books of the Bible can come close to mere "cognitive dissonance." And which version of the Bible do we take literally? King James? Gutenburg? Laridian? Geneva? American Standard? Concordant Literal New Testament? Which? "The one down at the Church" leaves a little to be desired in terms of an identifying citation.

Ok. I can see some overlap here. The third who are literalists must be the ones who reject Evolution. That's ok if it's the same group. It makes it much easier to accept, somehow. I'm sure it's not a hundred percent overlap, but there have to be some considerable numbers in common.

And THESE are the people who are in charge of the government?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-Christian. I'm one of those liberals who believes we all have the right to go to Hell in our own way. But just as freedom of speech doesn't include the freedom to yell "Fire" in a crowded theatre, freedom of religion doesn't include forcing me to worship your gods. And there is where the rubber is meeting the road.

The "Evangelical Christians" believe that it is their God Given Responsibility to force me -- and thousands like me -- to embrace Jesus as my savior and live life according to their interpretation of the Bible. And that's the problem.

The Big Deal with the "separation of Church and State" is that it provides -- not for freedom OF religion so much -- but for freedom FROM religion. The Evangelical Fundamentalists would take that freedom away in the name of freedom of religion.

A democracy isn't supposed to be like that -- it's not Majority Rule. It's supposed to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority. It's a concept that I think most Christians understand.

And if they don't, where else can we go to escape the tyranny?

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