Audacity of Faith

The Captebagger Report’s guest blogger, Morbo, asks a very interesting question: Why are Creationists focused so hard on evolution when other scientific contradictions to the bible are frequently taught in our schools? I think I may have an answer.

There can be no question that virtually all religions today kind of pick and choose which tenets of their faith they do or don’t follow. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, and in fact is a natural thing to expect given that many religions are thousands of years old and if followed to the letter would be rather ill-equipped towards modern societies.

For instance, not working on the Sabbath day. If you have a profession that let’s you get away with it, that’s fine, but I have worked in Naval Nuclear Propulsion for over ten years now, and you don’t just stop paying attention to nuclear reactors one day out of the week. That would be unwise.

So why the focal point on this particular issue? Understand that while science and religion have different methods and rules, they share at least one thing in common; shaping our world view. Science provides a logical context through which we view the world, while religion provides a spiritual context.

Bit along with showing how we see the world, these two bases of knowledge also mold how we see ourselves. In this regard, faith, particularly Christian faiths, have had a very egocentric perspective. The world was flat, and everything revolved around us. God created us as the superior life form on earth, etc.

So when science contradicts these assertions, it performs a particularly harsh form of blasphemy. Not only is it calling into question the teachings of the faith, but it also calls into question our role in the universe. These scientific claims challenge our rightful place as God’s most beloved creature, created in his image from the very beginning.

In the case of the physical existence of earth, and how it is round and does rotate around the Sun, it is reasonable to assume that even fundamentalists have come to grips with this scientific fact because in today’s age of technology, it is irrefutable. One cannot contend the claim that the Earth is round, when circumnavigation is not only possible, but done on a regular basis. Likewise, with the multitude of telescopes and manned space flights, it would be difficult to make a case that the current model of the solar system is erroneous in any large detail.

But on the theory of evolution, for which so many questions still remain, fundamentalists are still provided enough room to question. And because it so deeply challenges the role of man in the universe, they will challenge it and challenge it ferociously.

At the heart of this phenomenon is a great audacity, the same audacity that fans the flame of race supremacy, imperialism, and manifest destiny. It is that simple concept that because we are who we were born as, we are greater than everything else. This is not meant to be a condemnation of fundamentalists, at least not to any great degree. I think most people have this profound lack of humility.

In some ways, this audacity can be great, and drive us to great things. It instills us with a lack of inhibition and allows some of us to break the mold and achieve where others have failed. But in too great of a helping, the lack of humility blinds and cripples us. It prevents us from seeing our own faults and recognizing when we are traveling down the wrong path. In short, while the correct amount of audacity gives us the temerity necessary to progress, too much audacity can only lead to a regression.

In the case of evolution, whether it is true or not, whether we believe it or not, will it affect the day to day life of the average American? Not really, a case could be made, but it’s not going to turn the sky pink or your grass purple. But the deeper meaning, the deeper repurcussions are simple; it takes us down a peg, it shows us that perhaps our audacity as humans is not as warranted as we once thought, and when our self image in the universe is challenged in such a fundamental way, it is only natural to expect a violent and forceful repulsion of the theory.

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