Today’s Sunday Sermon: How To Break Up With “Miss Information”
Beyond all the common rhetoric used by non-believers and believers alike, and stepping away from the myriad of hypocritical (not to mention disturbing and contradictory) content contained in the Biblical text - because let’s be real, what other influential religion would we be talking about here? - there are much more obvious ways to reveal to someone under the influence of religion that they may not be thinking for themselves, blinded by den-sensitization toward critical thinking that religion causes.
I may write more of these each Sunday, depending on how well received this is, but for now, I wrote some thoughts on educational textbooks vs. religious text(books)…When using a math/science textbook, the proofs and solutions for problems or theorems are provided in the back. Similarly, literature on geophysics, genetics, or electromagnetism (for example), expand upon the information and explain further. Any and all content requiring a more meticulous and thorough justification is indicated with links and references to sources which either communicate the subject via the historical discovery process, educate the reader with current/ongoing research and scientific understanding amidst diverse fields, or both.
The reinforcement of "how we know what we know (or don’t know…yet)” is an imperative for proper understanding and curiosity, applicable across one’s life; the purpose being to strengthen a genuine and honest pursuit for knowledge while refining one’s ability to critically think.
What you will not find in scientific literature - when searching the appendix for further explanation: “please revert back to page (# here) upon which you request further explanation of (subject).”
Religious texts, however, do not operate on empirical evidence or informed understanding (Carl Sagan referred to the process or love of science as “informed worship”). Literature of the religious persuasion assumes the answers before asking the questions - or more appropriately - without doing their homework and turning in their results. Instead, a superimposed and constrained worldview is communicated by individuals or organizations not properly aligned with the scientific consensus of the previous 400+ years, let alone are they qualified to speak on such subjects for which they lack understanding while positioning themselves as educators. I mean, “Sunday School” is a bit misleading isn’t it?
School: an institution for educating children; to educate; or, (and this is where rhetoric becomes shaky) an institution at which instruction is given in a particular discipline. Is religion a “discipline?”
Religion: belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods; a pursuit of interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.
As Lawrence Krauss aptly expressed, “The purpose of education is not to validate ignorance, but to overcome it.”
What religious texts do, is reinforce preconceived notions about the way the world - specifically, the laws and physical properties of nature - operate, while under the influential hybrid of religious indoctrination and a society largely tainted by religion, superstition, and pseudoscience. Thus, the reason why global scientific literacy is so important amongst a dominant species as we, in which we have such vulnerable and easily manipulated minds, especially throughout our childhood. If a person isn’t properly educated on the how we know what we know, attempting to teach someone how to critically think becomes an even steeper hill to climb. Religion passively glosses over the “how” and claims (regardless of the billions of years of evidence to the contrary) the “why.” Any and all provided references within religious text are ultimately sourced commonly from the original text - primary example, the Bible - where the misinformation is rooted and disseminated.
Religious texts and fundamentalist literature serve as propaganda toward the perpetuation of ignorance bound by a spine of cyclical reasoning, distributed with the intent of celebrating (invoking Carl Sagan on this):
Confident assumptions grounded in presupposed absolute truths which support a comforting perversion of reality over the seemingly unquenchable appetite for awe, where education is always incomplete and knowledge is always in transition.”
Too many times I’ve seen defenders of such religious indoctrination retort with the excuses of the morality, love, and golden-rule lessons and implications in religious texts. That’s all fine and well, but let’s pose a simple scenario and see how it plays out:
Julie is in a math class with her peers. The class is split up into several study groups and provided problems to solve. Julie participates in her groups efforts, but when it’s time to show her work, the teacher notices she didn’t provide any of it, just the answers she gained from her group members.The teacher asks for her work, and she replies, “I only submitted these answers because I had to in order to pass.” The teacher says, “Julie, why didn’t you ask any of your group members, or me, for help?” And she states, “because I don’t agree with the answers in this book.”
The teacher, curious, asks her why she feels this way. Julie explains, “Because they don’t agree with this book [she pulls out a mathematics book from her back pack.” The teacher looks at the book, opens it, and notices the copyright date on it is from 10 years ago. She politely smiles and says, “Oh, Julie, that’s because this textbook is outdated, we don’t use that anymore. We’ve learned much more since then and the texts have been republished to communicate our current understanding.” Julie, frustrated, says, “Well, I don’t agree with the new books and this book is easier.” The teacher, taken back by Julie’s temperament, says, “Julie, without a current understanding of the progress we’ve made since this [her] book’s publication, our world, and in fact, our entire society, would still be struggling. We’ve advanced in our understanding of the issues we were stuck with 10 years ago. It’s important for your success in this class, but your continued education and for your future that you understand this as well.” Julie, nearly in tears, replies angrily, “You can’t make me, I can believe whatever I want to!” and runs back to her desk, crying out of offense that her teacher is trying to force her to do something against her prolonged and uninterrupted confidence in a book she became very familiar with.
This fictional example may be slightly embellished in terms of this kind of interaction actually happening in this setting and certainly in a math class; however, when a person - especially a child - is provided incorrect information about a subject (or in the case of religious texts, a multitude of diverse subjects), their entire worldview becomes incredibly complicated, which can and has invoked issues of trust for people in positions of authority over a specific subject. You can see examples of this when discussing a topic like climate change or evolution with
an Americansomeone who is either uninformed, has been steeped in religious fundamentalism, or both.
The reason’s behind ignorance aren’t always religiously charged; and we are living amidst many transitions throughout our culture, education being one of the major ones, to which generations ahead will greatly benefit, and educating - rather than teaching or schooling - will be much more intuitive, assistive, and technologically organic. Scientific illiteracy is a plague, and the only vaccine is a dramatic shift in education through every outlet currently utilized by mainstream capitalism: advertising, social media, television programs, commercials, every aspect of our society should reflect the intellectual capacity of our culture and global civilization. It’s overwhelmingly clear that this is not the case, and as Carl Sagan poetically proposed (and which this quote converges on our self-assuredness, policies, societal structure, conservation efforts and celebration of ignorance),
“You might imagine an uncharitable extraterrestrial observer looking down on our species… - with us excitedly chattering, “The Universe is created for us! We’re at the center! Everything pays homage to us!” - and concluding that our pretensions are amusing, our aspirations pathetic, that this must be the planet of the idiots.”
However, when observing a debate or discussion involving someone under the influence of religion or religious fundamentalist thinking, it’s becoming quite clear that we’re not dealing with a simple difference of opinion. A person is entitled to their own opinion - informed or not - but they are not entitled to their own facts. What we’re actually dealing with is a form of cognitive impairment. In psychiatry/psychology, the closest available term would be a psychosis: a disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality. When people hear this, they immediately are invoked with thoughts of someone who has “lost their mind,” or something. No. But understand that the definition of religion and faith (strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof) suggest that a psychosis is socially acceptable and not health concerns of an individual and a collective society.
You don’t cast out an individual because he/she has epilepsy, or autism, depression, schizophrenia, or any mental impairment. It’s a problem in need of a solution. And there may be one, maybe many alternative solutions. Either way, a solution - a cure, a correction regarding the flaws in our evolutionary development - is inevitable within our future, and neuroscience research is progressing at such an exponential rate, I’m confident we’ll be having a much more positive discussion about all of this within the decade.
We must keep pushing back against ignorance; the internet and social media have been the most powerful and intellectually informative force on culture and changes in society since the Library of Alexandria.
Recommended educational material:
Don’t pull that dandelion… It is food for the bees.
7 Simple Ways To Help Honey Bees:
1. Add your name to the petition urging the EPA and USDA to ban neonicotinoids, a widely used class of agricultural pesticides that is highly toxic to bees and believed to play a crucial role in colony collapse disorder. The EU has just enacted a ban on neonicotinoids and we must follow Europe’s lead as there is literally no time to waste.
2. Let dandelions and clover grow in your yard. Dandelions and clover are two of the bees’ favorite foods – they provide tons of nourishment and pollen for our pollinators to make honey and to feed their young (look at this bee frolicking in a dandelion below – like a pig in shit!) And these flowers could not be any easier to grow – all you have to do is not do anything.
3. Stop using commercial pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers – these chemicals are harmful to the bees. And they’re also harmful to you, your family, and our soil and water supply, too. Definitely not worth it!4. Eat more honey and buy it from a local bee keeper. This is a pretty sweet way to help the bees (sorry, I can never resist a good pun.) Unlike big honey companies, local bee keepers tend to be much more concerned about the health of their bees than they are about their profits. And their products do not have to travel far to reach your kitchen, either. You can almost always find local honey at your farmers’ market and it may also be available at your local health food or grocery store. It may cost a little more than the commercial options, but it’s well worth it.
5. Plant bee-friendly flowers. This not only helps the honey bees, it will also make your yard more beautiful and can also provide you with a bunch of great culinary herbs.
In addition to the dandelions and clover I mentioned above, bees love many other flowers, including: bee balm, borage, asters, lavender, thyme, mint, rosemary, honey suckle, poppies, sunflowers, marigolds, salvia, butterfly bush, clematis, echinacea (see the bee partaking of some coneflower goodness below) blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, fennel, yellow hyssop, milkweed, goldenrod, and many more.You can also just buy one of those pre-mixed packets of wildflowers with good results. And, if you’re ever in doubt, choose native plants as they will be best suited to the climate you live in and can help support the bees throughout the season.
6. Buy organic. Organic food and fibers like cotton and hemp are produced without the use of commercial pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides, making them inherently more bee-friendly than conventionally grown products.7. Share this post with your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to help build more “buzz” for honey bees.
Read more: 7-ways-to-help-honey-bees
I support bees as much as possible, even let the clover stay in my yard, encourage the wildflowers, and intentionally plant flowering plants. However, have you ever seen Texas Dandelions? They have thorns, and I don’t tolerate them any more than the variety of burrs I constantly war with. (In central Tx, dandelions are not really the only early bloomers.)