Friday, June 24, 2011

Miss USA, pandering to supersition as a positive virtue or, an example of why I write "atheist screeds"

I have been accused of being hateful towards religion. I think the accusations may be fair. I do hate certain aspects of religion. My hatred stems from the time I spent believing the presuppositions of Evangelical Christianity and how this belief led me to enable sexism, bigotry and willful ignorance under the guise of complementarianism, Just-World Theory, and Biblical Inerrancy.

I started to doubt the virtue of my former faith and began to consider the positive intent within atheist arguments when I investigated the recent public conflicts regarding Darwinian Evolution and the preferred Christian "alternative theory" of biological diversity known as "Intelligent Design" (ID).

I investigated this conflict as a bible-believing-Calvinist-Christian and came away a depressed agnostic.

The arrogance and unscrupulous dishonesty practiced by my fellow Christians in defense of their "alternative theory" led me to doubt the doctrine of the Holy Spirit where, "The Holy Spirit has come to glorify Christ and bring attention to Jesus. He does this by empowering believers in the areas of evangelism and discipleship." I had always believed that salvation in Jesus provided a moral sense via The Holy Spirit which would provide wisdom in discerning fact from fiction.

Upon investigating the "ID" arguments I came to doubt a Holy Spirit as real. I didn't see any of the gifts of the spirit displayed in "ID" enthusiasts and, in fact, saw a contradiction to many of them. Where my religion said a believer should be wise, insightful, prudent, and knowledgeable, I saw frightened in-groups demeaning science because it challenged religious assertions with experimental fact.

When I understood the conflict between atheist scientists like Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins and pious Christians like Al Mohler and the leadership of my home church, I became frightened.

The atheists had a deeper commitment to evidence outside of their preferred bias than any Christian I knew. The atheist scientists practiced a truth-seeking method where they humbly admitted, "I don't know" and then allowed the probable facts to lead them towards a functional truth consonant with reality.

Religion didn't work this way. It asserted the truth and demonized opposition to this assertion in defense of the assertion. The confidence in demonizing contrary assertions were supported by additional "Gifts of the Holy Spirit" namely, "Piety"; "Fortitude"; and "Fear of the Lord".

I submitted myself to learning the theory of evolution in the face of this confusion and, continue to try to grasp its meaning. I have come to learn that life's diversity does not need a supernatural agency to explain its reality. My considerations have also led me to see the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as a superstition which keeps someone safe from the discomfort of ever having to change their mind, while ensuring the believer feels they have revealed knowledge which provides superior intelligence.

A Christian can be certain they are correct about what life is without ever having to defend this certainty or have it tested by evidence.

I was honest about my experience as a Christian and came to admit that the religion offered me the benefit of self-righteousness. This benefit was endorsed by a community of similar self-righteous people who could be blinded to their self-righteousness via the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. It wasn't they who were operating in the revealed knowledge of the world, it was the Holy Spirit moving within them. So bold assertion with an obstinacy to objective investigation was not cognitive bias but rather a holy commitment to god's saving grace.

I don't think this seemingly destructive idea is perceived as destructive by those who hold it. I think those defending Jesus against science believe they are pursuing something positive. The recent Miss USA pageant reminded me of my days in the Christian faith and why I am such a staunch critic of religion today.

The ignorance and lies of Christians defending "alternative theories" to evolution are not what make me an atheist today. I am glad I no longer have to identify with a group of people who seem to hide behind emotional appeals to privilege as a means of avoiding the hard work of understanding the real world but, my atheism is more complex than my fear of this type of in-group.

My fear however does motivate my criticism of religion and it is due to my unique understanding of the theories, like the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, that animate religious thinking. The Christian women in the Miss USA video are probably not aware of their ignorance of reality, nor the consequences towards social ill their anti-evolution and anti-science stance provides. My experience within the Church indicates they think their opposition to Darwinian Evolution is a positive thing because it allows them to evangelize for Jesus. Jesus is the only answer to every question.

I see that religion allows a person to be proud of their pandering to superstition as a positive virtue and therefore I choose to be a critic of their belief.

1 comment:

Tim said...

The arrogance and unscrupulous dishonesty practiced by my fellow Christians...

Ironically, you link to the Kitzmiller v Dover court case, here. Have you listened to arguments about it from both sides?

I use the word ironic, because the main group I know of which advocates ID, "Discovery Institute", actually opposed that case, and didn't agree with it.

So if KvD is some sort of proof of the dishonesty of ID advocates, then how do you square that with the fact the largest group of ID promoters actually was against the whole idea?

I'm not always sure what to think of ID. But I find many criticisms of it to be blatantly dishonest. I'm not sure how linking to the PBS portrayal of it dispels that impression.