A Place for Abuse at the Table of Diversity?

We’ve all heard of the apalling abuses within certain religious and cultural (and subcultural) circles, from coverups within the Roman Catholic Church to executions on ridiculous grounds in the most extreme radical Muslim areas in the world. More recent events include exposure of Fundamental Christian (non-Catholic) sexual and psychological abuse/oppression of children and women and, of course, Gamergate.

There are some contradictory reactions to abuse in certain contexts, and I’m not sure what to make of it. One one hand, many people will decry all manner of abuse in our Western culture and will “out” the groups and the mindsets that contribute to these abuses, and all manner of debates will follow. I’m happy to see this increasing level of awareness in our society.

However, it’s what’s on the other hand that has me somewhat baffled. While we’re over here essentially overhauling our culture into something more tolerant and, dare I say it, better, we’re simultaneously defending the sick, twisted practices of other cultures on the grounds that it’s merely a “different culture.” I’m not saying everyone is doing this, but I’ve seen enough of this to make me hit my head against a wall.

On one hand we’re listing extreme “black and white” “us vs them” mentalities as signs of being in a rather harmful cult. On the other hand, our super-subjectivity and super-tolerance has some of us defending extreme “black and white” “us vs them” ideologies in other locales, because “who are we to judge” another culture for being “different than ours?” Some of us are so conscious of standing up for the rights of others, that they’re now standing up for the right to strip certain citizens elsewhere of their rights based on a differing ideology in that area..

There’s a disconnect somewhere, a certain inconsistency, and it’s making my head spin. Are we really setting a place for abuse at the table of diversity in the name of culture?

Why Kurt Wise Was the Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back

I was recently asked why it was Kurt Wise who was the final straw in my deconversion from Christianity. Here I will attempt to explain.

I had watched a video (but it’s a blog post of his that I’ll link to) in which Richard Dawkins remarked on Kurt Wise, a Harvard educated geologist.

At the link, Dr. Dawkins says the following:

He achieved the first part of his goal, but became increasingly uneasy as his scientific learning conflicted with his religious faith. When he could bear the strain no longer, he clinched the matter with a Bible and a pair of scissors. He went right through from Genesis 1 to Revelations 22, literally cutting out every verse that would have to go if the scientific worldview were true. At the end of this exercise, there was so little left of his Bible that

[now quoting Wise]. . . try as I might, and even with the benefit of intact margins throughout the pages of Scripture, I found it impossible to pick up the Bible without it being rent in two. I had to make a decision between evolution and Scripture. Either the Scripture was true and evolution was wrong or evolution was true and I must toss out the Bible. . . . It was there that night that I accepted the Word of God and rejected all that would ever counter it, including evolution. With that, in great sorrow, I tossed into the fire all my dreams and hopes in science.

[the brackets were mine]

 Some Personal Background and Christian Train of Thought

At the point I heard this, I was teetering on the edge of Christianity. I had been a staunch Fundamentalist. Due to the abuse I experienced, I exited Fundamentalism, though not yet all of Christianity.  After that, I freed myself to think critically of… well… everything really. I began reading. I watched debates. I searched. I was doubting Christianity now, based on evidence that I had not seen or read while in the church. It was at this point that I heard Dr. Dawkins speaking on this.

I’m very familiar with the thinking that Dr. Wise illustrated in his above statement (granted the exact details of his thinking and mine likely differed on some slight points).  We were always taught that the Bible is the ultimate authority.  I have always had a healthy respect for logic and evidence, but I also had a very UNhealthy fear of the alleged consequences of disbelief. To trust science when it was at odds with the Bible was to “deny Christ.” In the church, you’re not even allowed to deny Christ to save your children if they are about to be slaughtered in front of you unless you do.

We were told that “Satan goes out to steal, kill and destroy.”  He uses many tools to instill doubt in us and “lead us astray” from God and from truth.  The word “science” was often put in quotes and accompanied by a Bible verse in which Paul is talking about “science so-called.” In short, we were to systematically deny anything–anything at all– that contradicted scripture on the grounds that the contradiction renders it (that is, the statement or evidence in question) a lie and a tool of the devil. If science contradicts the Bible, then obviously science is wrong, because the Bible says something different. God wrote the Bible and God knows what’s really true.

And you better not doubt. Doubt is sin.  Jesus suffered for that sin! Unless you’re doubting because you’re not truly a Christian. Are you REALLY a Christian? Do you want to end up in Hell?  You need to “decide this day which god you will serve.” Will you serve science and self? Or will you serve God?  That’s how the manipulation went anyway.

Back to Science and Kurt Wise

Many Christian circles subscribe to Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis. These churches promote these materials to their congregations and to their communities. The emphasis is supposedly on scientific evidence. While they filter the evidence through a tight Biblical filter, they do still promote the IDEA of facts and evidence, and the IDEA of following the evidence to the truth.  (And the truth will set you free, amen?)  The evidence for God was touted as undeniable and overwhelming at AiG. We could believe the Bible, and science proved it.  Didn’t it?

Evidently not, for Dr. Kurt Wise. His statements fly in the face of the whole purpose of Creation Science. He not only shows that the evidence does NOT back the Bible, but he demonstrates that truth/evidence is not what being a Christian is all about. If/since science does not stand in support of the Bible, then what even IS the purpose for the use of science in Creation Science?

His experience and education make him a rare treasure to Christianity. People love having him, because HE KNOWS STUFF. Well, that and the name Harvard; we can’t deny that a geologist from Harvard lends Creationism some credibility for many people (he might as well be, say, a biologist from Oxford. Fancy stuff there). He knows the science and can articulate it. On the one hand, Christians point toward science and evidence, as well they should.  On the other hand, they demonstrate (usually unwittingly) that it is merely a manipulative tool to be used insofar as they are able to shoehorn it into the Biblical narrative.

As I said before, I have a great respect for logic and evidence and always have. To see that it does not support the Bible after all (and Kurt Wise would know) was the tipping point. Kurt Wise demonstrating that truth/evidence must be discarded in order to believe the Bible was evidence that truth and Christianity were fundamentally opposed to one another, and this was the final straw for me.

His conversion story, rather than being a “witness” for Christianity, should instead stand as an ominous warning to others of what a person must sacrifice in order to believe.

That, I hope, is an adequate explanation for why Kurt Wise was my straw that broke the camel’s back where Christianity is concerned. I needed far more than Twitter’s 140-character limit to respond properly.

We’re in the Woodwork….

…but we’re coming out.

I’m talking about those people who do not necessarily hold onto god or onto faith. Secularists. Atheists. Agnostics. Those who doubt or have become disillusioned.

I’m currently located in the Bible Belt of the US, where religious catchphrases permeate the everyday speech of those around you. There are some days that I feel that simply attending a meeting somewhere or walking through Wal-Mart could qualify as a Sunday church service. It’s not an area that you normally find the outspoken non-believers.

For this area, I’m a relatively outspoken Atheist. Most of those around me know that I’m not religious and that I find no shame in that fact. This is a relatively new thing for me, as I’m a recent deconvert from Christianity, and I’m not exactly known for “going against the flow” of those I’m closely associated with.

Since I’ve become a little more outspoken about it (read: since I’m daring enough to even admit it in an area like this one) I have discovered something surprising: I’m in good company. Most non-believers seem pretty timid to say it or admit it, and no wonder! Atheists are viewed with such mistrust by the devoutly religious! There’s no telling how a believer will react! Depending on a particular Christian’s denomination and level of zeal, the Atheist might get anything from “you’re just mad at God” to “Come OUT of her, Satan! Glory to God!” It’s no mystery that non-Christians wouldn’t want to potentially subject themselves to that sort of debacle. Like I said, though, I’m in good company. Even here in the Bible Belt the number of unbelievers is surprising, and it seems to be growing.

Being the slightly more bold among the unbelievers here, I get to hear from those who are a little more shy. They admit to me what they’re not yet willing to say to those around them. I get to meet the unbelievers who are still in the woodwork, still in the closet as it were. I really think they would be surprised and relieved if they all came out at once. They would see that they’re not alone, not by a long shot. I’d jokingly say “we are legion,” but I think that might trigger someone into mailing me a bunch of wooden crosses soaked in holy water.

We’re easing out though. We’re slowly learning that there’s nothing to be ashamed about. We simply don’t believe in a god, that’s all.