Dreaming of Darwin: Fundamentalist Night Terrors

Some of the great scientific discoveries have been syntheses that emerged more or less organically from the systematic crunching of a compendium of data accumulated over time. Plate tectonics furnishes an illustrative example: the Grand Unified Theory of Geology was made possible by a great many observations made over the course of a couple of centuries, some of them serendipitous (e.g. the discovery of deep-ocean trenches and mid-ocean ranges during the submarine era). Put enough data like that in a room with enough smart people and a really big idea is sooner or later going to take shape, in a manner that kind of resembles abiogenesis.

 

Others have been leaps of pure intuition so striking as to seem truly original. One of them is Darwin’s theory of evolution. I wish I could have seen the look on his face when the idea of speciation driven by natural selection occurred to him. That’s got to have been one of the greatest OMG moments in history. It must damn dear have stopped his heart: imagine having a single insight that explains everything you’re interested in! He must immediately have recognized how revolutionary an idea that was, and how much resistance and rancor it would incur. No wonder he sat on the idea for two decades before going to press with it – and even then, only out of concern of having his thunder stolen.
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Four Double Standards in the Duggar Scandal

By now you have likely heard the tragic news of the Josh Duggar scandal. Here’s a quick recap: The eldest son of the Duggar family, the stars of TLC’s television series “19 Kids and Counting,” has admitted to sexually abusing several younger sisters and other children as a teenager. As news of the scandal broke from media outlets, some Christians have been quick to come to Josh’s defense. I am disturbed by this, not because Josh is undeserving of compassion and help, but because those who are so quick to offer him grace and forgiveness are the same ones so quick to condemn the LGBTQ community. Here are four double standards that need to be addressed in the midst of this scandal:

 

1. Until his resignation this week, Josh served as Executive Director of Family Research Council Action, a group lobbying against the rights of LGBTQ persons and women. The Duggar family has also been actively involved in campaigns working to prohibit transgender persons from using the correct restrooms, with the claim that sexual predators would endanger the safety of young children in public restrooms. DOUBLE STANDARD #1: Comparing the LGBTQ community with sexual predators, when in fact they have been hiding the secret that Josh Duggar had sexually harmed young girls.
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Let’s Talk about Snakes!

Gather ‘round, young creationist True Believers™: time for a little herpetology lesson from the Blessed Old Leather-Bound Bible!

 

Genesis 3 begins with a description of a talking animal – one of two such wonders found in God’s Word:

 

//Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”//

 

There follows the story of “the Fall.” Later, when the blame game is being played:

 

The woman said, “The serpent tricked me and I ate.” The LORD God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,

cursed are you among all animals

and among all wild creatures;

upon your belly you shall go,

and dust you shall eat

all the days of your life.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and hers;

he will strike your head,

and you will strike his heel.”

 

That’s all we hear of this wondrous eloquent reptile in the Bible, unless that “old dragon” reference in Revelation 20:2 is intended to refer back to the creation story.

 

There are many things about “the Fall” that I find puzzling, but as much as I’d like to start listing and raising questions about them – the kinds of impertinent questions that tend to aggravate the hell out of True Believers™ because they aim at getting people to think about the notions they take for granted – I’m going to focus on the snake because that’s the kind of mood I happen to be in at the moment (that copperhead I encountered in the Ozarks last weekend might have something to do with it). Let me address a few serpentine questions to any creationists who happen to reading this:
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On Barricades and the Stifling of Divergent Opinion

I’m going to use some ugly words in this essay. It makes me squirm whenever I have to do that, but in this case it’s necessary in order to make my point.

 

During the formative years of my life I spent every Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening at the Missionary Baptist Church in which my parents (well, mostly my mother) raised me. I got to know that church’s teachings very well: I was one of those kids who took everything very seriously and listened carefully to what the authority figures – chief among whom was the pastor of said church – had to say. I was then (as now) a very impressionable, vulnerable person. This trait is sometimes described as “hypersensitivity.” It’s the reason that I became a musician. It is also the reason that I have taken “spiritual” things so seriously throughout my life: there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ve read the Bible much more closely than most Christians, and I’ve scrutinized the holy books of some other cultures almost as thoroughly. More importantly, I have reflected deeply on that reading: have tried to download it into my very cells. I’ve been open to it all, and believed it all. I need to enlarge a little on that in order to make my meaning clear.
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Personal Journey Series: My Atheist Testimony

I get a lot of messages, most of which are asking about my deconversion from christianity. People want to know why I left, what it meant to me when I was a christian, and why I don’t see any reason to return. For anyone who has asked, and anyone else who is curious, here is my testimony.

 

I started life as an atheist. My parents, who were both raised as catholics, never felt the need to force religion or god upon me. I have never seen my mother or father as being faithful. As an adult I have come to know my dad is an atheist and my mother is (basically) a pantheist. My mum and dad were both followers of a man called Prem Rawat (Maharaji), an Indian guru with millions of followers world-wide who preaches peace and love. Many consider him to be a new messiah (he does not claim this himself). My parents often encouraged me to embrace the messages / teachings of Maharaji throughout my childhood and teenage years, but I never connected.

 

What I did connect with, though, was christianity. At age 6 my mum enrolled me into two christian institutions; the nearby lutheran church Sunday school and the local Girls Brigade company (pic below). Her only motivation for doing this was free childcare. She and my dad had divorced when I was 5 and my mum was working full time – the church offered what was ultimately cheap babysitting. For me though, it would start me on a path that would consume my existence for the next 15 years.
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