Monday, July 30, 2012

Mythology in 2012 as a Political Force

"Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time."
Richard Dawkins
Forty six percent of the American voters believe that religion is the litmus test for political leadership.  Many of them believe that Mary ascended to heaven on a white cloud and that Mohammad ascended to heaven on a winged horse. Ultra-Orthodox Jews pray to God morning, noon and night, and relegate their women to wearing wigs and bandanas.   They seem inhabit in America, a Saudi Arabian, burka-wearing world of subjugation, including the bearing of a child a year. Some believe that if people do not accept Jesus as a savior they are condemned to burn in hell in perpetuity.  They discount the beliefs of others and the Roman Catholic Church has perpetuated the infallibility of church dogma for centuries, and used its dogma as a basis for burning people at the stake, racking heretics, refusing to respect the rights of women and generally promulgating a world view that is irreconcilable with notions of modern science as well as its own dogma by accumulating great wealth, denying basic human sexuality and creating an atmosphere often tolerant of sexual predators.

In addition, religious fundamentalists think that men walked the earth with dinosaurs; the bible is the literal word of God, and that those that do not respect its edicts will not be rewarded with heavenly afterlives. “My ancestor was not a monkey,” said one recent Republican candidate for the Presidency.

There are people who live in my neighborhood who actually believe that mutilating the foreskins of young males is a civilized practice, conducting religious services to celebrate the event.  This practice, now the subject of medical debate, is a throwback to a primitive tribal ritual that binds the male child to its Judaic tribe.  The practice was instituted at a time when men believed the world was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth.  According to the Old Testament, Jacob died 2255 years after the creation of Adam.  Jewish scholars first translated the Torah into Greek in the 3rd Century BCE. They were polytheists, tolerating local gods as well as their own. When monotheism came along, automatically discounting other’s gods, it sowed the seeds of intolerance that continued down through the holocaust, ultimately smiting its originators, the Jews.  

Dating the world as a few thousand years old cannot, through the stretch of the wildest imagination, be reconciled with modern science.

Many of the fanatical Jewish zealots claim that Biblical injunctions prevent them from compromising their settlements with Muslims on the West Bank of the Jordan River.  Muslims also claim that the land was given to them by God.   The outcome of two distinct groups claiming deified backing cannot, by definition, be reconciled.   Religion evolved as an adjunct to tribes being successful against competing tribes, mostly in combat.

The origins of Jews and the Exodus from Egypt have never been confirmed by any scientific, archeological, paleontological or genetic evidence.  To the contrary, geneticists and primate paleontologists are now debating the origins of homo sapiens, and the general consensus is now that humans emerged from Africa some 50-60,000 years ago.  Moreover, a story recently appeared in the New York Times about the debate among scientists and paleoanthropologists as to the origins of Homo sapiens, that modern humans arose in Africa 200,000 years ago and that all archaic species of humans then disappeared, surviving only outside Africa, as did the Neanderthals in Europe.  New worlds of knowledge concerning human existence are emerging almost daily.  Most of this knowledge is coming from fossil evidence, DNA evidence, the decoding of the human genome, and radioactive carbon dating, which incidentally, states the world, is 4-5 billion years old, not 5,000.

What it does not come from is some bronze age tract by which US politicians seem to be bound to hypocritically extol, in the hopes of garnering votes from an ignorant electorate.

Mythology still rules our lives and our politics and it is 2012.