It is important that we recognize the divide between the natural world and the spiritual world. One's built on evidence gathered by qualified individuals, done so after vigorous study. The other's founded on assumptions that bear little to no confirmatory evidence. As it stands today, one seems to rule supreme over the world’s population. While figuring in the amount of scientific and cultural progress that has taken place, it is quite shocking to see that people still indulge in such stifling concepts. Christian theism has and may continue to contribute to the degradation of educated inquiry.
It is completely reasonable to accept that an individual in the past used religious thought to help make sense of this seemingly complex world because their ability to do otherwise was slim. They hadn't known converging plates create mountains, rain occurs due to an exceeding amount of evaporated water, and that microorganisms caused disease. They simply joined these natural events with folklore, handed down from generation to generation. Eventually, these stories would become such a believed concept that it transformed into something greater than what was ever intended.
As a nomadic herdsman, hearing such a thing seemed completely reasonable because there had been no other ulterior perspective to compare it to. As it pertains to the social understanding of that time, it was as perverse as it is today. Their ideas of sexual orientation and social hierarchy were understood as divinely produced. Today, our understanding of the natural world has given us an immense amount of knowledge, yet these ideals are still shockingly upheld. Ignorance runs rampant through the mind of the Christian, whether they may recognize it or not, and such beliefs are inexcusable.
Since the beginning of civilization, oppression, racism, misogyny, greed, acts of war, genocide, rape, and bigotry have been perpetrated by religion. These complex systems all have muddied their hands at one time or another, but words of peace, love, and tolerance mask the nasty stains. It hasn’t always been such a beautiful establishment. If one was not with them, they were against them. They would be met with hostility and ultimately resulting in death, socially or physically speaking. Intellectual progress within the confines of Christianity seems non-existent, then and now. Whether Christian fundamentalists are defacing another abortion clinic or halting an equal-rights bill, imposing these destructive ideals exists because of their followers’ inability to accept change at a scientific, rational, social and cultural level. I would suggest that the collective ignorance greatly outweighs any type of potential progress that we now show. Science and a progressive culture have effectively formed a case against religion, rendering it as unneeded, asinine, and naïve.
The levels of ignorance that thrives within the mindset of a believer can greatly differ from one to another, but is equally harmful. Surely we may never see moderate Christians taking part in some sort of devastating suicide bombing, but even their own minimalist view of this world can harm themselves and others when it comes to expanding one’s knowledge. I find it quite hard to understand why seemingly rational people can believe that a space deity from thousands of years ago holds the only key to salvation from damnation.
Whatever their justification is for doing so still does not make it correct. If it somehow makes someone feel loved, comforted and wanted, then by all means carry on with that belief. The issue arises when these ideas warp their view of other people. We are a very intelligent race of beings, and history has shown that we can do great things if we're determined. Christianity removes the need for progression because it has set the bar thousands of years before they even knew where to place it. The New Testament clearly states that an individual is to cast aside any wise and/or logical teaching and replace those with reasoning influenced by the faith of the Christian. By their own admission, the act of ignorance is greatly supported. How is a devout follower to ignore such a command when its word is understood as absolute?
In America, we have seen Christian zealots systematically try to destroy the intelligence of our youth. Many attempts have been made to destroy the teaching of evolution within public schools, while proving to be mute. Though our children aren't now being taught that our universe was constructed by a spiritual entity, we should worry. The fact that these people are still attempting this daunting task in the face of greatly opposing evidence tells a great tale of their commitment.
It takes a great amount of detachment from reality to be considered a “young earther”. These people are under the belief that the Bible tells the literal account of the world’s creation along with all living things. Their persistence to prove that the earth is 6000 years old, dinosaurs walked with man, and that humans could live to the ripe old age of 900 have yielded minimal results. With the plethora of information available, there is no excuse for an individual to abstain from learning. Religion is to blame for this anti-intellectual progression among their followers, they condone it as I’ve previously mentioned. As science advances, theologies have attempted to mend the two together with unfortunate results. Their efforts among the scientific community were with failure. Their cries of oppression and neglect have gone unanswered. This is because science and spiritual belief are mutually exclusive, and the incompetence of the believer prohibits them from understanding this.
Since this recognition, most of the popular religious establishments have made changes within their own doctrine to compensate for the discrepancies within their holy book. Even as a teen I could have told them they were ridiculous. None the less, many of them have sought to inject the notion of intelligent design into the public school system. They have recognized that it is much easier to attack the intellect of a child than attempt to infect the mind of an adult. This wonderful world and all of its natural beauty is in the hand of a child, but we’ve seen this ripped away from them. The injection of fantasy into reality is destructive to children because this indoctrination can transform itself into something much more negative. With a premature belief in Christianity, acceptance of the supernatural and disregard for the natural can stunt their hunger for knowledge, which is something that is unnecessary today.
While they proclaim to be the highest system of human beings, their actions have told a much different story. When in comparison to the collective understanding of how to respect one another, Christianity has been sub-par. Within their fallacious doctrine, God either permits or calls for the death of the innocent, oppression of women, permission of rape, and many other atrocious acts. How could someone who stands behind such a tale of terror expect to be held at a higher standard by those around them? No one in their right mind would support such a person, only if they're exposed to what is actually in their book. It is also in the mind of the reader, where it is up to them how they are going to decide what their god permits, spiritually, morally and ethically. Though mostly moderate religious followers will explain away these accounts as allegorical, the staunchest of religious believers will cling to these teachings of hate as the absolute order of living. We have been witness to what this ignorance can breed within an individual, especially one with support and acceptance from the public.
Politically powerful people with an extreme conviction of spiritual faith have done a decent amount of damage within the civil rights of our public. They look within their bibles and seek religious motives for whether to pass a bill or destroy it. When they read that their god calls for the oppression of homosexuals, they will do so. There has been much debate over abortions, whether it is morally permissible by the doctrine.
Recently, politicians have made ludicrous claims such as a child conceived during rape is a “gift from God”. These people are supposed to be the intelligent ones we are to look up to? Yet, these reckless statements point to the contrary. Intellectually deficient people shouldn't run this country. Of course, this explains this collective ignorance is of our own doing.
We elect politicians into office, so it is our responsibility to decide whether someone is progressive enough to make a true difference. This is a problem that has persisted for much time, and seems to have no end in sight as it remains increasingly impossible to elect a secular politician into office. As long as simple-minded religious followers vote for Christianity, not progression, we will stay in a state of immaturity.
This country does support a secular constitution that clearly outlines an individual’s right to believe in whatever they may please. As time has passed, this nation seems to have been hijacked by the right-wing Christian fundamentalists. From their pedestals, they have preached this nation as one under God, which is something that the founders would have frowned upon. Since it’s become such a prevalent belief, this directs much hostility toward any opposition.
If you are found to be a homosexual, you could be faced with extreme negativity from family and friends. The ignorance and egotism that helps a believer prove the discontent of their own children is spawned by their faith. Though their eloquence and charisma attempts to portray a different message, hate has become a necessity when publicly opinionated Christian people speak to their congregations. When their personal views directly correlate with something outlined in the Bible, they are given that allowance to oppress those they feel are inferior. The control of the civil rights of homosexuals within this country has been a heavily debated issue for several decades.
Fundamental Christian’s support that their god has made it genuinely clear that there is no reason a homosexual should be regarded as equal to heterosexuals. Whether they actually believe this, or they are merely standing behind this conviction to cover their own insecurities, it still demonstrates the power that Christianity can possess.
Almost all of us have been witness to a particularly atrocious pastor and his disgusting band of church members. Their picketing of funerals has made headlines, showing nothing but hatred that exists within their clan. The signs they tote display words of hate for all to see, as if it will actually manifest a reaction they would consider acceptable. Though they may only be one of the few that publicly recite such hateful words, the general understanding is shared by many of the Christians we interact with. Their only answer for why this ignorance would exist is that the scripture directly calls for the death of those who partake in homosexual acts. Looking back a few thousand years, we understand that nomadic herdsmen bore little knowledge of genetic instincts, which is what actually drives our sexuality.
The evidence that men and women are born every day with a sexual orientation for the same gender is great. While FMRI scans have shown that their brain releases the same chemicals when viewing attractive images of the same gender, there is one question that remains to be answered by those claiming that homosexuality is a choice: Why would anyone in their right mind make a conscious decision that could yield socially harmful effects? There have been instances where teenagers have taken their own lives because their religion has taught them that their instinctual attraction will only bring about a ticket to hell. I find it quite ironic that certain Christian leaders often find themselves in predicaments caused by their own sexual tendencies; it only strengthens the argument that personal preference is not an option. The Christian will continue to find passages that directly correlate with their ignorant place to prove their own bigoted reasoning, and this will continue until we realize that we are all human, with naturalistic explanations for why we are the way we are.
Rising Above the Ignorance
An intellectual movement must happen within the fabric of the Christian mentality. We will never achieve greatness until everyone sheds the ignorance and intolerance that Christianity has imposed on our culture and society. We shouldn’t shield any future generations from a scientifically influenced world, because if not the outcome will yield very detrimental results. I have seen people with a conservative theistic outlook display egotism in such hateful ways. One second you will hear them praise their god for his good deeds in their lives, and the next you will hear a litany of hate speech filled to the brim with racism, egotism, and bigotry. We need to embrace this world and ourselves with open arms and learn from the mistakes of our past.
Christianity has done nothing but prove to stifle any society that embraces it. If it weren't for men like Darwin, Russell, and Nietzsche, we wouldn't have the answers we do today. They cleansed themselves of ignorance and immersed themselves in reason and logic. Though there may not seem to be promise in the current status of our existence, be hopeful that a change looms in the future and it is up to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to make that change possible. Numbered are the days of ignorance and it will only be a matter of time before the faith-based consciousness dies and reasonableness thrives.
Photo Credit: Flickr/ledgard - Bryan Ledgard