Tuesday, July 17, 2012
EVOLUTION AND IGNORANCE
Found Katha Pollitt's column in the July 2/9 Nation. She writes about the curious phenomenon that almost half, 46% of Americans surveyed by a Gallup poll, believe "creationism" (religion and republican party) as opposed to Evolution (science and education). I had to laugh with recognition when she said, "After all, Americans are famously ignorant of many things---like where Iran is or when WWII took place...." It has come to the place where somebody says he is a "Christian" is to say he refuses to use the brains God gave him. The more vocal ones have made it a Christian creed to reject the scientific method. The republican party is appealing to the least educated half of the population for easy manipulation, which is visible everywhere. The "Christian" rejection of the evolution process has become a problem for everyone. Teachers in public schools have a great number of parents who adhere to ignorance in the name of Jesus. The republican party has validated the ignorance as ignorant enough to make a good republican. A couple weeks ago the top dog of the county's republican party shook my hand and hugged me like I was his best friend. I knew he knew otherwise, making me suspicious, very suspicious. I think he was mistaking me for an Obama fan, showing me republicans can cross-over too. Whatever it was, I don't care. It gave me the willies. Yet, what I believe was happening was him telling me that though we are of different opinions about the police state we're in, man to man we're ok. I gave a hug in return because I was saying within, the god in me greets the god in you, politics aside. I hoped he was too.
My problem when I am around republicans is the issue of raising ignorance to the highest good, which is, actually, American as it can be. Anti-intelligence has been the American way since the beginning. It is a conscious preference for ignorance. Brings to mind someone I knew in college years. She was in my Shakespeare class. A year or so after we were both out of school, we ran into each other and were talking. Something said reminded me of something from Shakespeare. I said, "Do you remember in the Shakespeare class...?" She retorted in a tone of voice to be certain I understood her meaning, "I forgot everything about Shakespeare when the exam was over." I thought: Wow. An unforgettable example of willful ignorance, the kind I grew up in, the kind I was trained from my beginning to become. The place where I fell down in church was Jesus kept harping about love, love your neighbor, love, love, and the preacher never noticed. He wanted to dwell in the OT. Being a kid in school who could read with minimal attention span, I couldn't help but think I got it when Jesus said "the kingdom of heaven is within." Why was everybody talking about beyond the clouds, out in the universe, out beyond the universe? It is not Out-There, it's In-Here.
In the time of the music store, a man and woman with white hair, living here about a year from Pennsylvania. We had very pleasant conversation. I saw right away they weren't going to buy anything, just seeing what's in the place. They weren't interested in mountain music. I didn't care if they bought anything or not. I enjoyed talking with people who came in. After we'd talked awhile, very pleasantly, here it came, "Are you a Christian?" I thought: Aw shit! Ruin a good conversation. I thought fast to find a way to put an end to this before it started, in a friendly way. I said, "Christian has become a political party and I'm not a member." Meaning, I am not a republican. Of course, next thing, "What I meant was, are you saved?" I wanted to say, What's it to you? That's my business. You see, they thought I was nice and couldn't stand to think of me going to hell for eternity. I thought: leave that to my mother, she's concerned enough for you and her both. From then on, our conversation was awkward, explaining and explaining. I wanted them out the door. I didn't want to have to explain in a nice way that the scientific method really does have something about it to recommend itself. Like that car you're driving, the synthetic clothes you're wearing, your cell phone. I have a hard time when I am looking at an advanced adult and expected to talk to a child, all of a sudden. My head became occupied with editing everything I might say to suit a ten year old. My head became logjammed with sentences I wanted to say, but the editor within recommended against. I became bored and they became restless. Soon we parted.
Back to Katha Pollitt, she tells about a biology professor at Brown University, Kenneth Miller. He's a Catholic and says, "Those of us in the scientific community who are religious have a tremendous amount of work to do in the faith community." Asked, Why bother? he said, "There's a potential for great harm when nearly half the population rejects the central organizing principle of the biological sciences. To have a near majority essentially rejecting the scientific method is very troubling." A republican in the Virginia state legislature made the claim, "Sea-level rise is a left wing term," and successfully had it changed to "recurrent flooding." Wouldn't he shit if he ever found out we wouldn't have television without science. He'd deny it. Left wing term? What left? There's no left wing in America, unless it's the half of the population that doesn't vote. And they don't care anything about sea-level rise or recurrent flooding or any of it. If republican agenda is to deny sea-level rise, it seems odd that the mountains are being inundated by what I call the White Tsunami, white republicans. Reagan republicans have been moving to the mountains in swarms until the republican "economic downturn" slowed them down.
I have to agree wholeheartedly that such willful ignorance is dangerous. Willful ignorance lost us our democracy. Willful ignorance is bringing on police state and happy for it. If you want to find out what we're headed toward in a police state, read some contemporary Chinese writings. Fiction tells it as well as non-fiction. USA has a lot more people in prison than China does. And China has a lot more people than USA. It seems to me a major shame that this is what the American experiment has come to: popular police state, ignorance the rule, the news media the propaganda wing of the police state. I've seen a convincing case made for ignorance as evil. While I complain about the Reagan Junta breaking down government, breaking down economy, the ruling class taking everything from the peasant class, I am distressed to see it all breaking down around me. However, I'm coming to see that this is the end of a belief system about government for the rich against the working people. We have become the working poor. It has to break down before it can be replaced by a better economic belief system. Like the way an old building needs to be torn down to make a place for the new building. The republicans are tearing down their own belief system with ignorance. As I watch ignorance devour the republican party from within, I'm willing to accept the economic downturn as the end of republican rule by ignorance. That can only be a good thing.