Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The Long March of the Koalas

I love Twitter - I just found an absolutely hilarious blog post about Ken Ham. Here is a great sample:

Wait, hold on -- Australia?

You can't be a young-earth creationist and be from Australia. I think if you're a young-earth creationist, you're not even allowed to believe in Australia. That continent is evolution's playground, it's showroom. Ken Ham couldn't have built his Creation Museum in Australia because they already have a thriving Evolution Museum there -- it takes up the entire island. The displays are fantastic.

Read it now.

I remember approximately 11 years ago when my form tutor, in sixth form, suddenly decided to give us all a talk about Ken Ham and how he'd found "evidence" for the Earth being only 6,000 years old. "He was received well by some, and . . ." (her face twisted in pained expediency) ". . . not so well by others." I think it was next week when she brought in a guy barely older than we were to talk to us about Christianity. He had a tragic-looking face and told us that Christianity was the world's oldest religion. We had of course all been taught that that was Hinduism (and don't get me started on all the squabbling religions in the Old Testament that preceded Christ), but we just looked polite and waited for lessons to begin. We could see that he wasn't capable of listening; it would hurt him too much. But I don't think anyone talked about it afterwards, or even remembered that he'd been there a few days later.

How do the Creationists account for Australian flora and fauna? But I appreciate the main point of the blog post: that arguing over details isn't worth it in relation to the terrible position of either believing Genesis to the letter, or your universe going to pieces. It sounds like the most horrendous, agonising mental trap to be caught in. Education and science are such a release! In practical terms, the best thing is that nobody is my enemy or the enemy of any deity I believe in; as far as I see it, the entire human race is up for my friendship.

What can actually be done to help people caught in such a mental trap? Well, I don't want to interfere in others' beliefs; it's not my business to be so arrogant or cause such pain. It does seem, though, that this extremism can only be a manifestation of a deep-felt terror and utter distrust. To these people, the Universe is evil, other people are evil unless they think a very specific thing. That sounds to me like a society full of distrust, where money means influence and, no doubt, violence - where trust and cooperation and sharing are not expected. But perhaps I got that out of Daughter of Persia (the society, not the religion) . . . A New Scientist article I read years ago, which I'm trying and failing to find now, linked religion to the belief that other people are evil and to societies which don't cooperate or share well. A discussion of another one, which I've just found, simply states that if someone you trust tells you religion is true, you're likely to believe it.

I have no interest in converting anyone to atheism. I do have an interest, though, in making people feel safe - safe with learning what an amazing Universe we live in, and safe with the idea of working together, sometimes with people who are very different.

(P.S. If you want to leave a comment, do read the article, which is on a site called Slacktivist and is much better than mine!)

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