Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Faith Run Amok: Time for Reason?

Robin and I woke early this morning, giving us a chance to talk about all sorts of things as she got ready for work. Okay, I love her so much, but...

Here is where the reader goes, "Oops, this writer is entering dangerous territory!"

But she is one of those people who gets an idea about why something is as it is, not based on reasoned fact, but because she just "knows it." Today we were talking about honeybees. A study shows that the bees were hit by a multiple attack by different viruses and that is why so many bees recently have died. This is science. She looks at me and says, "well Monsanto is experimenting with hybrids that do not require pollenating. Then there is microwave and radio wave pollution. That weakened the bees so they were susceptible to the viruses."

"How do you know about this? Did you read it from some study?"

"People have been talking about it in my forum. I know it's true though." There are forums where the conspiracy never rests I've learned. Everything from chem trails to the eternal 'they' who are out to get 'us' of course.

"How do you know it?"

"It only makes sense." She looks at me exasperated. "I just know that's what it is."

Now I'm the one ready to scream "Arghhhhhhhhhhh."

But see, she's not alone. The world we live in is filled with these faith based pronouncements. Someone makes it up, then others repeat the mantra in a world where no conspiracy can be too large, or any plot by a drive for one world order too extreme. I turn on television, only to hear some guy ranting that health care legislation supports killing grandma, or that Obama is not really a U.S. citizen. "How do you know that?" the announcers ask.

"My Congressman said so."

"You know that it is not in the legislation. His birth certificate has been verified."

::holding fingers in ears chanting:: "I can't hear you! It's not true. I know it isn't. I just know."

It's like we stopped living in the real world and began a massive game of make believe. "He's a Communist and a Nazi!" Never mind that the two are mutually exclusive by definition. Do not interrupt me with those pesky facts.

Now we can disagree on certain things. I believe that government can and does provide useful functions that are good for the common welfare. You may be one who believes any government is bad government. We can disagree and that is cool. But what is NOT cool is arguing your position with made up facts. When a sizable number of people are playing this game of make believe while the other side is trying to adhere to facts, no conversation is possible and compromise is out of the question. Seriously, how do you compromise with a fairy tale?

How long might it be before these zealots of faith drown out and convert sufficient numbers to march with them. Here history provides some ominous warnings. One is the original bonfire of the vanities. The most famous was in 1497 when a priest Girolamo Savonaroma led a revolt against the Renaissance of that time burning great art, books considered immoral like Boccaccio's and out of fear it was said by some that the great artist Botacelli threw some of his own art into the fire as well. Faith distorted by fear and hate replaced reason on that day. Periodically these exercises of intolerance and faith based non-reason have arisen throughout history.

I long for another age of reason, similar to the one that took place when our nation was founded. I long for a place where proven science holds a loftier place in society than belief stated as fact. At one time religion was held separate from the political. Our founders knew the dangers of mixing the two. Sadly much of today's discourse comes from that forbidden blending. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and Tele-evangelists create their own realities, dispensing to an unthinking mob. Can't we distinguish fact from belief? Creationism is taught as science, but creationism is a function of faith not science. To put it on equal footing with Darwin is absurd.

I long for another age of reason, for in this polarized world, it offers our only hope in compromise and becoming one people again.

I long for another age of reason. Imagine reporters reporting facts. Long conversations with friends without elaborate conspiracies and distinguishing fact from hunch.

May it be sooner rather than later. Or if I"m wrong, could the reptilians come and devour me now?

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