Saturday, October 10, 2009
Earth is Spherical and Religion is Over
Various cultures have had conceptions of a flat Earth, including ancient Babylon, Ancient Egypt, pre-Classical Greece, and pre17th century China. This view contrasts with the realization first recorded around the 4th century BC by natural philosophers of Classical Greece and later proved by brave seafarers, that Earth is spherical. Many Americans still believe the myth that it wasn't until Columbus sailed to the New World that Europeans knew
Earth was round, but even in medieval Europe, it was already too late to write an "even-handed" Time magazine-style article about the flat vs. round issue. Even in 16th century China, a culture holding a seemingly immutable belief in a flat Earth, the whole mental paradigm shifted almost instantly once the evidence for a spherical world became overwhelming.
By the same token, evidence from the sciences of biology,
chemistry, genetics, astrophysics, geology, etc. has piled up so high as to be overwhelming regarding the fact of evolution. Plus, for the first time ever in America, books against blind religious fundamentalism have hit the mainstream, with authors such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Chris Hedges, and Christopher
Hitchens writing NYT Bestsellers taking on religion. So again, major segments of humanity, including the whole developed world, are on the edge of another huge and almost instantaneous
paradigm shift. Like the belief in a flat Earth in 16th century China, fundamentalist religion is just about over. Unfortunately, most people don't know it yet.
Eighty percent of the world's people still believe that the creator of
the Universe dictated a book. Many believe this so strongly that they will kill other people who believe that a different creator dictated a different book. Many Americans reading this would immediately think, "Yeah, those damned Muslims, blowing people up over religious differences," forgetting that a large percentage of Americans in the 1960's and 70's, mostly "Christian" at the time, had little problem with their government killing hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people ("godless communists"), almost as casually as if they were ants at a picnic. If we had information about a domestic terrorist, such as Tim McVeigh, and we knew that he was hiding, in the Bronx for example, would we take out an entire block in order to get to him? The answer is no, we wouldn't. People in this country would be outraged if we bombed a block and killed civilians to get to this guy, and yet that's what we're doing every day with our killer drones to non-Christians in
Pakistan and Afghanistan.
But already, especially in the developed world, we're seeing more and more "Christians" believing in evolution. In 2009, it's almost impossible not to believe in evolution and still be sane, with so many scientific disciplines seamlessly proving it. For the "holy book" idolizers, knowledge of evolution seems to diminish the majesty of God. Yet with a slightly open mind, evolution and all the other amazing laws of the Universe should only lead us to feel more awe in the face of Creation!
What has been diminished is the stature of the primitive mythology books, written by superstitious, perhaps even insane men, at the dawn of the Iron Age, that people have dragged into modern times as literal guides to cosmology and correct human behavior.
Literally billions of people still base their lives on the stories in these books, a pathological, dysfunctional behavior that imperils all of humankind.
I've had "Christian"-deprogramming Web sites for 15 years (check out my vintage early-1990's web page design!--and click on the picture). Why do I bother? It's not just some pet peeve of mine. Fundamentalist religion is like a computer virus, which cripples the function of a computer. Teaching fundamentalist religion to a child is a serious type of child abuse. Sexual child abuse damages a child's self image,...
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