Friday, October 06, 2006

God, evolution, and guns

Josh Rosenau at Thoughts From Kansas spotted this banner from Answers from Genesis, making a connection we're starting to hear a lot more:

Those school shootings? Why, it's all because we teach evolution in the schools!

The script in the ad spells it out:
As a society, we reap the consequences of the unquestioned acceptance of the belief in evolution every day. It diminishes your worth and reduces human beings from being made "in the image of God" to being mere players in the game of survival of the fittest.

This is a line of reasoning we just heard in a more prominent place:
This country is in a moral free-fall. For over two generations, the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum, expelling God from the school and from the government, replacing him with evolution, where the strong kill the weak, without moral consequences and life has no inherent value.

We teach there are no absolutes, no right or wrong. And I assure you the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including by abortion. Abortion has diminished the value of children.

Suicide has become an acceptable action and has further emboldened these criminals. And we are seeing an epidemic increase in murder-suicide attacks on our children.

Sadly, our schools are not safe. In fact, we now witness that within our schools. Our children have become a target of terrorists from within the United States.

What a strange, genuinely perverse view of evolution and biology. Properly taught, biology only tends to instill in students a deeper sense of wonder appreciation for nature -- for God's creation, if you will -- and for the intrinsic value of life. And "removing God from the classroom" only means ensuring that every student's religious beliefs are respected.

Let's be frank about what is involved in a majority of these high-school shootings: a psychotic reaction to a high-school culture that permits intensive and incessant bullying and social intimidation. The latter is decidedly a product of an authoritarian mindset; returning to a system of school-sanctioned fundamentalist religious beliefs -- with all their authoritarianism intact -- would only heighten these tendencies, creating greater stratification along religious lines and drawing clearer "in group" and "out group" classes.

Indeed, what's worth noting is that the most effective programs in defusing situations like those at Columbine and elsewhere are those that try to attack the culture of bullying. One of the foremost of these is the Teaching Tolerance program that focuses on promoting an environment of inclusiveness in our schools and short-circuiting the cliqueishness and bigotry that travels hand-in-glove with bullying behavior.

However, these same programs are under attack by the religious right precisely because they promote cultural tolerance and try to prevent bullying -- including the most common kind, gay-bashing. And of course, being multicultural in their orientation, these programs tend to undermine right-wing authoritarianism as well.

If fundamentalists want to point the finger of blame, they should be pointed to their own back yards.

After all, it should be noted that the ad above can easily be read another way: Not a Christian? Then your life is forfeit. This is a mentality that fits readily into the Christian warrior video-game mentality that keeps bubbling up from the religious right.

Fundamentalist Christians, in truth, have their own version of "survival of the fittest": Only those who are "saved" are worth saving, and the rest are condemned. If they want to know where kids get these attitudes, they should examine the messages they send them. This black-and-white worldview plays out in social groupings, in cliques, in deciding who gets bullied.

Where do kids get the idea that life is cheap, that the strong dominate the weak, that morality, honor and decency are irrelevant in a culture where winning is all that matters? They don't get taught that in their biology classes.

No, they get it every day in their schools from participating in the culture: from the jocks and "in group" kids who dominate; from the teachers who coddle them; and from the larger world around them, where the ethics-deprived are more likely to become rich and the ruthless more likely to succeed -- all part of a system of "free enterprise" capitalism that the fundamentalist right celebrates.

And if you don't fit in? Well, you're just worthless. A non-entity. Your life forfeit.

So when right-wing Christians run an ad with a gun pointing at us, regardless of what they think they might be saying, it's hard not to first recall just who it is that likes to stock up on those items in the first place. And who, down the road, we are more likely to be seeing on the other side of that barrel.

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