Sunday, December 05, 2010

God's work on the march

I try to avoid being typecast as someone who criticizes only one religion, the one I was indoctrinated (remarkably unsuccessfully) in during my formative years, so every so often I like to point out that stupidity isn't limited to the Catholics. Here's a sampling.

First off, let's not overlook the Catholics. Here's what passes for moral reasoning in the Catholic Church:

KELLY: Are you saying that the pope was perhaps using some sort of sliding scale here? That while not condoning contraception, not condoning homosexuality, he's signaling that they are not the worst evils, and that passing on HIV is worse?

Father FESSIO: He's not giving a scale of evil or good here. But let me give you a pretty simple example. Let's suppose we've got a bunch of muggers who like to use steel pipes when they mug people. But some muggers say, gosh, you know, we don't need to hurt them that badly to rob them. Let's put foam pads on our pipes. Then we'll just stun them for a while, rob them and go away. So if the pope then said, well, yes, I think that using padded pipes is actually a little step in a moral direction there, that doesn't mean he's justifying using padded pipes to mug people. He's just saying, well, they did something terrible, but while they were doing that, they had a little flicker of conscience there that led them in the right direction.

I know I just blogged about this, but it's so horrifying that I had to bring it up again.

Next we have the theme park for ignoramuses: the state of Kentucky is plunging millions of taxpayer dollars into religious proselytizing of the most absurd sort.

It's true. In Kentucky, the idiots who run the Creation Museum are starting a biblical theme park in Kentucky, with the help of $37,000,000 from the taxpayers of Kentucky.

The governor is defending it as the kind of business giveaway that governments engage in all the time on the rationale that government-sponsored economic development creates jobs. So what's next? Government funds to Mormon missionaries because they buy airline tickets?

Finally, this is something that's actually kind of a sad story, but it illustrates the partial obsolescence of religion in general.

You know that back in October there was a volcanic eruption in Indonesia and a few people were killed in the eruption. One of the people killed was the guy identified as the spiritual guardian of the volcano.

The man, known as Grandfather Marijan, was among 29 people pulled from the fine grey ash as rescue workers scoured the slopes for victims and survivors of the eruptions.

From his house beneath the smoking crater, the royally appointed guardian, aged in his 70s, had for years led traditional rituals to appease the Indonesian volcano's ancient spirits.

His body was found on Wednesday covered in ash and reportedly in a position of prayer, suggesting the old gatekeeper had struggled to the end to soothe the violent energies in the mountain's core.

I take no pleasure in this old guy's death, but it does point out a crucial shortcoming of religions. At one point, religions had the function of explaining natural phenomena that were beyond the knowledge and understanding of humanity.

It's 2010, though, and the mechanism that makes volcanoes erupt is well understood, at least everyplace except the hillsides of Indonesia. Because of his ignorance, Grandfather Marijan died instead of removing to a place of safety, and he's dead now.

In fact, there is no longer a single natural phenomenon that can only be explained by some supernatural concept. I recognize that this isn't the only reason people cling to religion, but we're pretty much past the "god bowling up in heaven" as the explanation for thunder, right?

Time to move on.

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