By Amanda Fox
Over the course of the last week, I’ve come face-to-face with intolerance in many different ways – even my own intolerance. It’s true – there are certain things I won’t tolerate, I’m no different from anyone else in that regard. The specific issue we’ve dealt with, however, is religious intolerance. To me, in many ways, that is the worst intolerance of all. The thing is, it hasn’t been a matter of us not tolerating people having religious views that differ from us, it has been the religious not tolerating our views.
As I have written about here before, I was raised with religion being a central point of life. Even after my dad was widowed and married a Bible thumping Southern Baptist that was ready to pin every evil of the world on demon liberals like the Kennedy’s (Whom we are actually related to on my mother’s side not that it mattered to her), religion remained a constant. I don’t hate religion or belittle anyone for needing it to get through the day. If someone chooses to place their faith in a deity by any name, they have that right.
The intolerance I’m talking about, is that which has stemmed from some sectors of the religious community. You know the type – they believe so everyone needs to believe the same as they do and if they don’t, it means the non-believer is trying to take their religion away from them somehow. They don’t see the manner they interact with others as being intolerant. Quite the contrary, they likely think they are helping in some way. The thing is – they aren’t.
When people try to mix religion in with science, it’s like arguing about who the best southpaw pitcher of all-time is by using statistics from a soccer match. It isn’t going to work. Science is logic. Science is proof. Science is being able to duplicate something over and over again in a lab setting, regardless of who is performing the experiment and getting the same result. Split an atom? Science can do that. Clone a sheep? Science can do that. Combine a number of gasses in a controlled environment setting and create some forms of life – science can and has done that.
Religion is believing in something without having proof. Is it possible there is some omnipotent power out there who creates everything and controls the destiny of every organism? Yes. I can’t say it isn’t possible because I can’t disprove it. That’s science. By the same token, no one can prove that being exists either. You can’t say “look at the sky and tell me there isn’t a God” Or that some book in the Bible or some other religious tome says God exists. That’s not proof, that’s just you not understanding the atmosphere or evidence.
I asked a detractor, in a lengthy discussion on Facebook earlier this week, what is God in basic terms. He said “God is full of love and the giver of life.” I thought about it a second. I asked him, “Do you think Md., J. Craig Venter loves his family?” Seeing as he had no idea who that was, I knew I was fighting a lost cause in all probability, but he answered yes not really knowing why. He was comfortable saying this was in all likelihood someone who loved his family and others and likely compassionate too seeing as he is an MD.
I then asked him if he was aware that Dr. Venter and his team have created life in the lab – a bacteria, but life none-the-less. He wasn’t. I asked then, since Dr. Venter is loving and can create life, is he then God or a god or possibly a demigod of some sort. He did create life and his is full of love, so by his own definition of God….
Of course that didn’t go over well. Immediately our friend degenerated to words like blasphemer and started railing against atheists and all those snotty science intellectuals trying to destroy religion. What was sad is, I already knew to expect that. It doesn’t happen every time but it happens a lot.
The thing is, no one is really trying to destroy religion by attempting to explore life and the universe. Being a science geek that seeks answers which are universal is not trying to tear down religion because they are wholly unrelated and always should be. Science is the same everywhere you go in the world. God, or I should say, the divine creator, is different on the street I live on depending which door I knock on.
To my left, God is the Christian God. To my right, it is Allah. A couple houses down, It is the God of the Old Testament. The Hindus in the cul-de-sac … I suppose it could be Vishnu or something. Are they all right or are they all wrong? Each is completely right depending on who you ask. With religion, it means someone is always wrong for no objective or logical reason. Physics, chemistry, biology – it’s the same everywhere. Life can be created in a lab anywhere by anyone with the correct formula. Living organisms can be cloned. But that doesn’t mean the people who can do that are gods.It just means they are really freakin’ smart.
The thing I have noticed over the course of my life to this point is, religion is not bad. It just needs to be kept in perspective. There’s nothing wrong with a vagina either, but it would be considered rude to drop my skirt, prop my feet on a chair and force everyone to look at it. Religion is the same way – just because you like it doesn’t mean everyone else will and it doesn’t answer every question in the world in a satisfactory manner because it offers no tangible evidence. Religion is about feeling good about yourself and feeling secure – the world of science is about answers and evidence whether it pleases you or not. The right answer is always the same right answer. Logic versus emotion.
With that in mind, when we cite science, if your only and best response is falling back on a deity to counter it, expect to be ignored. Why? Because the answer is wrong – to someone. If you use the God of the New Testament as your “evidence” realize you are wrong to everyone that doesn’t believe in him. Same goes for any of the other Gods out there. Experience has taught us that when people resort to religion to argue science, it generally goes nowhere productive and wastes everyone’s time.
So please, if all you have to offer in the way of comments is that you disagree with, pretty much anything based on your God, save your comment. If you’re looking to pick a fight rather than have a rational discussion, save your comment. If you try to use religion to legitimize marginalizing others, we aren’t going to entertain your remarks. If all you want to do is evangelize and tell everyone they are evil because they don’t subscribe to the dogma of your skydaddy, save it for your church group.
We aren’t out to destroy your religion. We don’t care who you pray to. We don’t force you to read what we offer, so don’t try to bully us into believing what you do and don’t be a whiner if we don’t post your disjointed ramblings and then scream religious intolerance over it. That dog won’t hunt here.