Thursday, July 23, 2009

You Got to Have Faith-ah-Faith-ah-Faith-Ah!

Now, dear reader, we've spoken of faith before: What is Faith?, Things That Make You Go Hmm..., Knowing is Half the Battle, A Proof of Faith, If You Don't Believe in Flying Pigs, and Creationism, Faith, and Proof, just to name a few!

But one of the recurring things that come up in any discussion with a rabid fundamentalist is something along the lines of, "I don't care what science says, I have faith in god and that settles it!" or "I don't care what you say or what the evidence is, god said it, I believe it, and that settles it!" You get the gist: Despite evidence and reason to the contrary, if they can think of a verse that "contradicts" the evidence (as if man's written word from 2000+ years ago could be considered "relevant" and "up-to-date" when it comes to man's wealth of knowledge), it must be the bible that is true (as it does claim to be the truly inspired word of god [actually, that statement refers only to the first five books of the OT, but most fundies overlook that bit of literalism...] and how could we argue with such circularity?).

But what about this verse?

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Take a moment, digest it, think about where I might be going...

Let's highlight the most important portion there: faith is [...] the evidence of things not seen. One of the more wonderful and intelligent Christians I know put it this way: "[I]t should not be taken as justification for claiming what we see doesn't exist." He goes on to reiterate, "it may make room for Christians to affirm an afterlife, for instance, but it doesn't justify denying evolution."

To rephrase, faith is a wonderful thing for people to have (in fact, as stated in older posts, we utilize faith on a daily basis!) as long as that faith is based on something reasonable, logical, and based on experience and knowledge! The problem with fundamentalist faith, with baseless faith, is clearly seen in such silly arguments as "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!" In fact, such a statement settles nothing at all and flies in the face of all things based on reality as we know it, not to mention it even seems to fly a little bit in the face of Paul (but that's another argument altogether...).

As our growing body of knowledge increases exponentially every day with breakthroughs in medicine and technology in science labs across the planet, one would certainly not be remiss in pointing out that the amount of things "unseen" gets relatively smaller and smaller (although our understanding of the laws of physics continues to add more and more questions which we then set about trying to answer as well), so it is no surprise that the God of All Things in Times Past has become the God of Small Things in Times Present (and the foreseeable future!)...

Of course, the most jolting thing at the beginning of this century has been the rise of not only radical fundamentalism in Islamic circles, but the rise of ideological fundamentalism here in the land with brought light to the enlightened! ("G.E.: We Bring Good Things to Light!!") When our last president fully embraced the ignorance of his religion (exclaiming that "creationism" should be taught alongside the laws of evolution, for instance), people's whose brains had much better things to do suddenly had to put on the brakes and figure out who misplaced the Enlightenment, and once found, how to bring it back to the masses so that humanity could continue its course on finding The Answer. That it happened at all in this day and age is a bit embarrassing--after all, who expected humanity to suddenly prefer religious ignorance to the sound logic, realistic knowledge of the new century? (The enlightened certainly didn't!)

Regardless of whether or not this resurgent fundamentalism is a backlash against globalization or simply a matter of poor educational institutions putting up with too much riff raff, the question remains: How does society go about bringing everyone back up to speed on the current body of knowledge, and then keep them there? It may be all well and good to claim an afterlife--but what is the underlying motive behind preaching a seven-day creationism? In what way do such arguments hinder or help humanity? Even Paul, a favorite among evangelicals everywhere, preached that the only thing one needed to believe was that Jesus was the son of god, and that he had died and risen again--where does a belief in the seven-day creation period have anything to do with that message? And for that matter, what does being "pro-life" or "pro-choice" have to do with that? Never mind that the evangelical movement has lost its "mission from god" in a dramatic and dangerous fashion (one only need look at the recent murder of late-term abortion provider Dr. Tiller to see the consequences of unchecked radical fundamentalism), but it seems to me they've lost their sense of decency. After all, in what way could all this mobilized effort against health care reform and "protecting the unborn" be used more productively than in providing care for the widows and orphans, as was one of Jesus' main concerns? What would happen if Focus on the Family and the American Family Association, instead of trying to prevent gay marriage, used all that time, money, and propaganda to instead feed the homeless? Provide prescriptions for the elderly? Shelter the orphans?

It doesn't take a Christian to see where fundamentalist Christians have it all wrong, and in more ways than just the false science of creationism... They've become the followers of the God of Small Details That Ultimately Mean Nothing, something considerably worse than just being the followers of the God of Small Things... It may only take baseless, unseen faith to become a Christian, but it takes a special kind of on-purpose blindness to be a fundamentalist evangelical Christian... I am glad that I do know so many good people, Christians and non-Christians, who do take the time to say a kind word to a stranger, who hand the homeless guy a fiver, who offer the stranger a jacket or sweatshirt... These are the people who Get It, who realize that our common humanity is much more than ignoring the seen things. Indeed, these are the people who seek out the unseen in the hopes of making things better for all!

Faith is NOT a good reason for blindness to the human condition, and more often than not it is used as an excuse. Today's fundamentalists in religious circles (Islamic, Christian, Jewish, what-have-you) is nothing more than well-disguised political movement using god as a weapon and faith as a bludgeon against anything remotely "unbiblically based," even when (and sometimes seemingly especially when) the matters being discussed have no bearing whatsoever in the religious spheres and circles... I think that, if we are to drag humanity back past the Enlightenment (with probably a lot of the kicking and screaming we're experiencing today), we must once again focus on the basics of what it means to be a decent human being...

And have a little faith in one another... Not in the unseen sky daddies of the past...

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