Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's in the Water!

Here's a book review I stumbled upon. The book is Heaven Without Her by Kitty Foth-Regner, the story of an atheist turned believer after her mother's death. This is a clear illustration of the fact that people do not turn to religion out of rational thought, but out of pure emotion. Because there is nothing rational about it.

But what particularly struck me is the opening line of the review:

We've all heard the charges: Secular colleges and universities negate the need for a Creator by teaching that evolution accounts for the universe, expose students to anti-Christian worldviews, and then teach tolerance as the highest virtue.

Could these charges possibly be true?

Say it isn't so! Our children are learning science, differing viewpoints, and tolerance in school? The horror!

It really is a shame that a lot of Christian families fear even the prospect of their children being exposed to other ideas. Simply the closed-mindedness and ignorance of that is enough for me to have a basic disgust for their type of belief.

Are they that insecure in their faith? Deep down do they realize that their beliefs can't hold a candle to science and rational thought?

My family also has this fear of education. It reminds me of the tree of knowledge in the Bible. I always wondered, why on Earth is it such a bad thing to have knowledge?

Because knowledge is power and religion thrives on the powerless.

I remember times when I would learn something new in school. Excited, I would share it with my parents when I got home, only to be disappointed by their response.

"That's ridiculous. Your teacher doesn't know anything."

At first I was a little hurt and confused by their response. Why didn't my parents appreciate the new information I had to tell them? I began to realize that my parents did not value science or rational thought. They did not value new ideas or anything that opposed their way of thinking. They were more content to keep believing whatever it was their parents had tought them, regardless of the evidence.

As an adult I am still shocked and dismayed by their reactions.

When I discussed with my brother a little while before I became an atheist how amazing it was to watch orangutans and to see the similarities we have with these relatives, my mother overheard and said, "But what about what the Bible says? That can't be true."

I replied, "But you can't take the Bible literally, Mom."

"Of course you can."

This was the first time I realized to what extent she was willing to ignore reality.

I was upset that so many people that I trusted as a child actually taught me ridiculous stories out of the Bible as literal truth. Did they really believe it themselves? How could these seemingly intelligent adults that I trusted actually believe such nonsense?

Even more recently I informed my grandparents that I had been in Berlin and had heard Obama's speech. They were disappointed when they realized I had made a trip there especially to hear Obama, and wasn't just in Berlin "by coincidence".

My grandfather warned me not to believe everything I had heard to which I replied,

"Don't worry, I don't believe everything I'm told."

But they only want me to believe certain things I'm told, they just wish they could censor the rest. Just as amusing (and/or depressing) was when they were saddened to discover that no, I unfortunately do not get the Fox News Channel in Germany. Apparently it's too risky watching other news channels because I might be brainwashed by the liberals that "run the media"! Terrifying thought, I know.

This is a fundamental problem I see with religion. It is so closed-minded that the potential of differing viewpoints even being overheard causes them genuine distress.

Of course there are people on every side of every issue who want to censor opposing viewpoints. I am in opposition to this idea no matter what viewpoint they support. But I feel that religion is especially eager for this type of censorship.

I do not oppose intelligent design in school because I fear my children will be converted to creationists. I oppose it in science class because it does not meet the requirements of a science. I oppose it because I am afraid it will lead to the total removal of critical thought and real science from the classroom and that my children will never hear about evolution. I have absolutely no problem with my children hearing about intelligent design and about religion in the appropriate venue. But that appropriate venue is not science class.

There is no fear of their children not hearing about their god and their creation story. They hear it at church. I wish they would be content to leave it at that. But the fear that their children might actually hear another side to the story is what leads them to try to censor and condemn differing viewpoints.

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Kitty Foth-Regner said...

Hello there, Amiable Atheist.
I read your essay with great interest, because I’m the author of Heaven Without Her – and I’d like to challenge you to read my book. You’ll find that it outlines, in easy-to-read memoir format, the hard scientific and historical data I uncovered on my journey from feminist atheism to doubt-free belief in the inerrancy of the Bible.

Yes, it was sorrow that caused me to launch my 15-month investigation into whether there could possibly be a God, and if so, which one might be the real deal. In fact, God often uses sorrow to get the attention of hard-hearted critters like I was. As C.S. Lewis said, pain is the megaphone God uses “to rouse a deaf world.”

As you’ll see if you’ll read my story, I did not want to become a Bible-believing Christian. I would've been happier to learn that this life is all there is. And I would've been happier still had some easy, pantheistic path to an afterlife surfaced as fact.

But truth has a funny way of making itself known to anyone who seeks it sincerely. And so it made itself known to me, a then-47-year-old science copywriter and a summa cum laude graduate of journalism school back when they still taught the sanctity of objective reporting along with the art and science of investigative journalism. My book describes in entertaining detail, so they say, highlights of the evidence I found that pointed insistently to the truth of the Bible.

As far as education goes, American children are not learning “differing viewpoints.” That’s the problem, Amiable: They are learning only evolutionary fairy tales, presented as fact.

No taxpayer-funded teacher or professor ever mentions, for instance, that before he died, the late great evolutionist Stephen J. Gould of Harvard resorted to resurrecting the “hopeful monster” theory of our origins – “punctuated equilibrium,” he called it to give it more dignity – because, as he admitted, the transitional fossils that evolution theory requires simply do not exist.

No taxpayer-funded teacher dares to look at the irreducible complexity or at the fact that positive, additive genetic mutations do not occur.

No taxpayer-funded teacher dares to even wonder aloud how the laws of thermodynamics or biogenesis fit into evolutionary thought.

Why are Christians afraid of exposure to other ideas? We aren’t. The better question is, why are evolutionists afraid of having the arguments for intelligent design and creation science presented alongside their proofs for evolution?

The truth is, real science confirms Genesis, not Darwin. But real science does not get a hearing in our schools these days. That was my point: For nearly 50 years, our schools have been teaching that evolution accounts for the universe, that anti-Christian worldviews are intellectually sound, and that tolerance is the highest virtue. Our courts have in fact outlawed any mention of Christianity in our schools. So who’s closed-minded?

C’mon, Amiable – give it a shot. Read my book. And while you’re at it, take the quiz at … maybe even take a look at Fox News. (I was a Marxist in my younger days, too, although that idealistic foolishness vanished when I took Econ 101.)

If you approach these subjects with an open mind, you’ll find that (gasp) your mother is right after all. I pray that you realize it while there’s still time to tell her so.

Auf Wiedersehen!
Kitty Foth-Regner

The Amiable Atheist said...

I really appreciated your comment and I also wanted to thank you because it encouraged me to do a lot of research and to learn new things.

I have provided an in-depth response to your points in a seperate blog entry that can be found here.