Yesterday I read a post on Heaving Dead Cats [great blog by the way] asking people to support House Resolution 81 in designating February 12 as Darwin Day. The resolution, put forward by Representative Pete Stark, D-CA, our lone self-acknowledged atheist in congress, seeks to recognize the anniversary of Darwin’s birth to recognize the importance of science in the betterment of humanity. [Full text of H.R. 81 here]
Seemed pretty innocuous when I put the link up – who is against science? Who’s against Darwin? Oh, yeah, I forgot…I live in America, land of the blue and red, and in those red swaths of America apparently there are many out there that are not only anti-Darwin, but anti-science.
Darwin, amazingly, is vilified for his evolution theory. Good Christians, especially in this country, view Darwin as a threat to God and the Bible. Many like to take humorous license to poke fun at evolution and the founder of the science by placing anti-Darwin/anti-evolution bumper stickers on their cars, hoisting images such as this one. Others however, try to stigmatize a man that has been gone from this earth for almost 130 years, by painting him as a Nazi-forerunner. Check out this link for a wide variety of anti-Darwin images
Darwin was a scientist and more aptly, a natural scientist. While “raised” in the church in England in the 19th century, he was a noted freethinker, but not an anti-Christian. He did not seek an alternative answer to mans existence when he arrived in the Galapagos – he simply observed and then analyzed his observations. Based on his science and his publications, by the time of his death, Darwin was a national hero worthy of a state funeral and internment in Westminster Abbey.
Darwin passed in 1882, but The Origins of Species had ushered in a new age of scientific thought that began to question the biblical origins of man. Darwin had become a de facto threat to Christianity – by 1915 a revisionist version of his death was presented to show Darwin rejected evolution and embraced Jesus on his death bed. The revisionist history has long since been debunked, although some evolution haters still cling to the false idea that he accepted Christ at his death.
My friend, Steve – who sometimes comments/rebuts my ramblings in this forum – took a poke at my Facebook link saying:
“Sean, if nontheists want complete separation of Gov and religion, then shouldn’t the atheist view also be separated? Atheism is a foerm [sic] by dictionary term,, a religion. A group of common beliefs?”
He had several other running posts that followed his original that I’ve since deleted as his main point was captured here; but I appreciated his posting as it provides an opportunity to dispel bad assumptions.
First, atheism is not a religion…[let that hang and linger a moment for it to sink in]. Nontheists, with the many labels used to describe themselves, are in fact, by definition, the very opposite of religion. I could go on ad nauseam
as to why atheism is not
a religion, but I’ll defer to Austin Cline
, whom I would have quoted liberally in my explanation.
Second, I’ve already covered
why the government should adopt an agnostic view toward religion in general, thereby fulfilling it’s pledge of not only providing freedom of religion but also to protect it’s citizenry from religion. In a perfect world, Steve would be correct. But we do not live in a perfect world, we live in 21st century America which continues through a culture war of religion and moral values as dictated by a book and philosophy that was piece-mealed together some 1,600+ years ago
. As religion remains such a high priority of the conservative right, so much so that in order to burnish Christian bona fides, Congress feels it necessary to reaffirm
“In God We Trust
” as the national motto and put that motto in all public buildings, including schools – as if the first time the motto was adopted in the 1950’s wasn’t enough…
What all this really boils down to is the argument of creationism versus evolution in America’s public schools. This is why Darwin is so hated by the religious right. Evolution has filled a giant God gap
and leaves remaining gaps smaller and smaller to fill and creationists are fighting back as hard as possible to open the gap for God – at the expense of our children’s education. That Darwin’s birthday is tomorrow, and a conservative-dominated House would have to pass this resolution, which isn’t going to happen, is just another example of the culture war.
I should note in closing that I have numerous Christian friends and that I do my absolute best to not offend the Christian belief system out of my respect for my friendships. I’ve always felt that attacking any belief system, be it Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc., is counterproductive – largely due to the fact that belief can not be argued with facts or logic – if it could be, it would not be a belief but a certainty. Moreover, religion may give people the strength and sense of goodwill unto others that if it were removed… However, where I do draw the line is pointing out issues and topics where a religious agenda infringes upon my freedoms from religion, where moral hypocrisy takes place and blind eyes are turned for political reasons, and where I put up a posting that reflects my values and get called on it. Thanks Steve – I owe you one 🙂