Sunday, July 20, 2014

Not all Christians are Stupid

You may find this hard to believe, and I really don't blame you. The truth is that the people we're most likely to think of when we think "Christian" are the ones who scream the loudest, wave their Bibles in the air (instead of reading them) condemn innocent people to hell, and support the worse politicians we can imagine. Instead of Christians, let us call them "Fundamentalists." Such people claim to be True Christians, but there is nothing true about them.

The Christians who have a handle on reality, practice acts of charity, and have a pretty good idea about what the Bible actually does say, tend to be very quiet. You won't  find them standing on a soapbox  screaming at people, or on TV trying to con money out of you. They'll probably just smile at you when you pass them on the street. They may wish you a good morning, and actually mean it. Rarely will you ever hear them preach.

The Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 was not so much a debate between Science and Religion, as it was a debate between the Fundamentalists and the Modernists.  The Modernist are the intelligent Christians that we see everywhere, but don't recognize them as Christians, just nice people who are polite and courteous. And they actually do outnumber the Fundies, but are too modest to tell you that.

Modernists believe the Bible is an Allegory, especially the Old Testament, and most of all the book of Genesis. "Allegory" may not be a word you learned in school, but it's a good word to know and understand. It's not a giant reptile we find in the swamps of Louisiana. Here is the dictionary definition;
1. The use of characters or events to represent ideas or principals in a story, play, or picture.
2. A story, play, or picture in which such representation occurs.
(Greek - allegorein, interpret)

The Fundies, by contrast, believe the Bible is the unerring Word of God, meant to be taken literally in its modern English translation, if not the King James Version. An intelligent person who has actually read the Bible knows such a notion is completely insane.

Allow me to demonstrate. If you have a Bible, open it to the first page. Genesis chapter one, page one. If you don't have a Bible, never mind, just read this.  On the FIRST day God created LIGHT.
"And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night."

Jump ahead to the FOURTH day, and we find that God created the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars. Okay, does anyone see an error yet?  How did there get to be a day and night on Earth before there was a Sun? If you can answer that, see if you can explain how all the plants God created on the THIRD day managed to grow and cover the Earth without the Sun.

And we're not even finished with the first page yet. After all the birds, fish, and animals God created Man, and He created him Male and Female! (Gen 1:27) Thus as how God created all the animals so that they could multiply.
Somehow we managed to miss that.
Moving on to Chapter Two, we find the story of Creation retold in a more condensed version, with considerable differences that some of us have managed to ignore, not the least of which is that this time when God created Man, he created only a male, and decided to add a female sometime later. Perhaps we should have given that a little more thought also.

To the Modernist, there is no conflict here, as this is allegorical. The book of Genesis was written by humans. Inspired by God as they may have been, they were still ancient humans with a limited knowledge of science, and were doing the best they could with what they knew.

I went to a Catholic school and this was explained to us in the 7th grade when they taught about the Neanderthal Man and the Cro-Magnon  Man. "Which one was Adam?" was a question that was often asked. Catholic school teachers were able to explain this to kids barely into adolescence, but modern Fundamentalists still have a problem with it.

The Scopes Trial, I was told, had settled that argument long ago, when people didn't know any better like we do now, and now we must move on with our new scientific knowledge. After all, God gave us intelligence, and it must have been for a reason.

Yet when I was college I was surprised to learn that "Creation vs Evolution" was still being debated. I wondered how modern people could be so primitive, especially if they were college students. I participated in the debate on the side of evolution thinking this wasn't a fair battle, so maybe we should go easy on those poor Creationists. Our side presented all kinds of scientific facts  from Ichthyology to Herpetology to Ornithology to Primatology to Anthropology and all fields of Zoology amounting to stacks and stacks of facts. The other team had only Genesis to present their case.  What we thought was a sure win resulted in a tie. Our instructor told us we deserved to win, but the judges ruled it a tie under pressure from the state, as we are a state funded school and this is the Bible Belt.

I have been hoping to find vindication for my fellow students ever since, and today I believe I found it in  the Bible itself, the same medium used by the opposing team to support their argument. I recall it was Mark Twain who said "The best cure for Christianity is reading the Bible."

So remember this, boys and girls. If you believe in Evolution, it doesn't necessarily mean you're not Christian, it just means you're not stupid.

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