Peanuts, Coca-Cola, and Devolution
A lot of people harbor misconceptions about the South--some are more valid than others. It really can be a different world--or at the least a very unfriendly one in some areas if you're not Caucasian, Christian, and into Civil War history.
Even in Atlanta, my hometown, history classes throughout elementary school, middle school, and high school ignored the Civil Rights movement, probably our region's greatest, albeit also most highly contested contribution to the United States and the world.
Christian youth clubs at high schools were embraced, but gay pride organizations are contraband. And let's not forget that cops still have to keep watch at synagogues on Saturdays and holidays because somebody once threw a bomb onto the steps of The Temple.
Yet, Atlanta has one of the largest Jewish populations in the South (not counting Florida), is a mecca for the gay community, and is a flourishing center of black culture. She is a fickle animal, Atlanta, a symbol of old southern glory and new southern rebirth. And like Scarlett O'Hara choosing between her many suitors--so far, Atlanta has treated them all with vain indifference.
Sometimes I think we're making more progress than other cities, especially those in the North and then I go and read about a Georgia legislator sending a memo to his fellow politicians in Georgia and in other states to convince them that evolution is a Jewish "conspiracy".
We've been through this before. Even Penn & Teller picked on Cobb County's unabashedly anti-evolution education leaders. And rightly so. But I can't say I'm not heartbroken that my home state is moving closer to the middle ages than the new millennium.
Some people say science is just as much a religion as any other....there are fundamental belief systems established to explain the unknown. Nobody can really, fundamentally prove the earth rotates the sun, except for astronauts--and we all know they are paid by the government to lie like everyone else.
But seriously folks. If you've ever really sat down and thought about it, conspiracy theories are so much more complicated than the truth. More importantly, usually the people who come up with them have their own agenda and it may be no better for humanity than what the government or big business, or the public school system allegedly has in mind. Take the guys who jailed Galileo for example.
The big difference between science and many other religions is that science is about testing that which we accept on faith. Scientists who produce tangible, repeatable results to prove centuries-old common beliefs wrong are considered heroes, not heretics.
Why can't G-d have created all the fish in the sea and all the animals of the earth and ALSO have allowed them to adapt to their environment? And how long is a day in G-d's time anyway? If He/She/It is omnipresent, omniscient, and eternal then we have to assume that G-d's sense of time would be different from our own in some way. We know that fish existed before land animals and in the Book of Genesis it acknowledges that G-d created sea creatures first. Who knows if a day in G-d's life isn't a million years or so?
But that's not really what Creationists care about. They specifically take issue with the concept that humans evolved from ape-like species rather than from a mystical intervention. After all, if humankind is not made in G-d's image, than the whole premise that we are meant to be better than the animals falls apart. We are left then with all the sin and temptation in the world and no excuse not to enjoy it.
But in all fairness, let's think for a moment about what we would modern life would be like if evolution were from now on ignored in schools and university systems. There would be no new vaccines, no genetically targeted cancer drugs and an unstable food supply. We'd be back in the era of plague, pestilence, and war. Starting to sound a little bit like the End Times doesn't it?
That's not to say that things aren't so hot right now. War ravages the earth, HIV/AIDS is killing millions, malnutrition is a leading cause of death among the world's under 5s. But we have the tools right now to feed more people, encourage sustainable peace agreements in troubled areas, and find better treatments for the world's most horrifying diseases. The truth is, we're just not that invested in these lofty goals.
Does it matter if a life is saved, if it isn't saved? Perhaps I should save that question for another time...
The real choice Creationists have, as I see it, is not that people should believe in every word the Bible says, but that they should put every commandment by G-d (and if you're so inclined, Jesus) to the test.
Where you can, alleviate suffering rather than ignore it. Show mercy and forgiveness to your enemies. And judge not others in a way in which you would not like to be judged yourself. With all the money spent on glamorous Sunday school presentations on why Ms. Pringle is wrong about evolution, you could be feeding a village in Africa.