Religious Privilege
Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr. (+15388) 7 years ago
I know I am facing a challenge here in terms of attention span. Most people don't want to read more than a couple of sentences. I always try to explain my thinking in as short of space as possible. Sometimes it takes several paragraphs to complete the thought.

I am struggling with patience toward the apparent growing chorus of "Religious Privilege". This is the notion that I must be tolerant of opposing views rooted in religion, specifically the christian holy bible and its doctrine. Religious Privilege is really a euphemism where the religious tell the non-religious to sit down and shut the procreate up.

There are many ways in which this occurs; debates on FB, other social media, personal encounters, etc. These situations usually devolve into ugly conversation and name calling or someone saying "we will just have to agree to disagree". In matters of personal taste, agreeing to disagree is probably okay. But in matters of science and biology, it is not.

Putting your hypothesis of creationism up against the theory of evolution and stating that both should be taught in public school, is an example of religious privilege. Let's take a moment and define two words here, from the Oxford dictionary:

Theory: a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained: Darwin's theory of evolution.
• a set of principles on which the practice of an activity is based: a theory of education for example music theory.
• an idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action: my theory would be that the place has been seriously mismanaged.

Hypothesis: a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.

Nearly all theories start as hypothesis. Theories mature from hypothesis as the EVIDENCE is amassed and thoroughly tested.

Creationism is a hypothesis, NOT a theory, because the evidence is very limited. And frankly, the method, folks like Ken Ham uses is... well it's "ham-handed". You don't take antidotal pieces of evidence and shoe-horn them into your predetermined system of belief. Creationism is not a theory, it is a hypothesis and has no business being taught, period, inside or outside the church. It has no place in schools and they are NOT ideas that should be assumed to be on equal and competitve footling. Creationism has been clearly and repeatedly debunked. It is also historical FACT that the first five books of the hebrew bible are plagiarized from earlier Babylonian writings, that are, ironically, more than 6000 years old. 

Christians would do well to study and learn from the history of of Copernicus and Galileo. For hundreds of years it was taught, most likely beginning with Aristotle that earth was in a geo-centric orbit. This was the official position of the church until it was dropped from its "Index of Prohibited Books" in the 1835 index. It wasn't until 1968 that the Vatican issued a formal apology to the family of Galileo for its wrong doing.

The foremost reason for this position was that the heliocentric model, as stated by Copernicus and Galileo, violated what was taught in scripture. Martin Luther and John Calvin both railed against the heliocentric model.

Let that sink in a moment. 

Both Luther and Calvin believed that the earth was the center of everything and the sun revolved around the earth. They were wrong. The psalms are full of references to the idea that the earth is fixed and cannot move. The Battle of Gibbon in the book of Joshua is another reference the church used in its defense and persecution of Galileo. Yet, as the evidence amassed, what was once a hypothesis, became a system to explain the movement of planets in our solar system.

As a side-note, it's really ironic to consider we use GPS to find the nearest Starbucks, so we can go argue about whether both creationism and evolution should be taught in public school after the local MOPS meeting, and yet don't give any thought to the fact that GPS satellites are impossible without acceptance of Copernicus and Galileo's theory. Religion has been on the losing end of such confrontation every time it has attempted to assert itself.

Having said all of that, I am WELL aware that I once used to be on the side of religion. I too once foolishly believed everything that Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis taught. I understand the dualistic confusion where you want to believe what your church teaches and yet you can observe creation behaving differently than those teachings. It's not a fun place to be. I remember the pain of being told that I couldn't continue receiving communion in the misery synod if I didn't except a young earth view of creation. What to do? In my case, I walked away from it all.

As usual, Robert Ingersoll has a brilliant statement that sums up nicely this internal struggle:
"It is almost impossible to investigate any subject without somewhere touching the religious prejudices of ourselves or others. Most people judge the truth of a proposition by the consequences upon some preconceived opinion. Certain things they take as truths, and with this little standard in their minds, they measure all other theories. If the new facts do not agree with the standard, they are instantly thrown away, because it is much easier to dispose of the new facts than to reconstruct an entire philosophy".

Unfortunately, too many of the religious throw away facts because it's easier than reconstructing their entire worldview. They know too well that they had better support their church's position of condemning the LGBT community, contending that creationism be taught as a competing idea to evolution, trying to spiritualize every nook and cranny of civil government,etc. 

The results are tough to bear. Loss of friends, removal from your church, loss of spouse, etc. It's easier to play the religious privilege card than to do the right thing. It's easier to accept and live with lies than to extract yourself and experience true freedom that you can't believe really exists.

And yet it does. Inside, I am a much better person because I laid aside the crutch of religious privilege and took the journey to being secularly open, skeptical, free in thought and mind. Reconstructing my worldview has been worth all of the loss I have endured.
Posted by BSB (+627) 7 years ago
A simple, short response to a long, in-depth post: Thank you.
Posted by mikeh (+304) 7 years ago
Sorry, you lost me after the second sentence .
Posted by Brandy Allen (-2408) 7 years ago
Condensing thoughts is a hard thing for some, but I have faith that you will overcome your handicap.
Posted by howdy (+4945) 7 years ago
Thank you Richard for all your wonderful posts...I have learned so very much from you on this are one of the more learned men that I know on Christianity....
Posted by Bridgier (+9472) 7 years ago
I still disagree with his assertion that the Lutheran Church falls under the umbrella of 'Reformed', but that's probably somewhat immaterial