Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gen. 1:1-3:24 v. “Origin of the Species”

In his book "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America," Chris Hedges makes a strong case, backed with evidence, that it is not gays, as Sally Kern would say, or a few Muslim terrorists, as our political leaders would argue, who are the greatest threat to America and American freedom. It is the well-meaning, deluded folks who pack the megachurches of the Christian Right, and give of their wealth and being to the great Pharisees of our time, such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. In other words, it is Sally Kern, and a lot of the folks who run around abusing tea instead of putting it to good use in a cup of hot water, not Barney Frank, you need to watch out for. People who believe that the first three chapters of the Bible are the true, literal account of the origin of our species.

I'll clarify that in a bit, but first I want to address the "controversy" between creationism and evolution. After all, Hedges refers to a 2004 Gallup poll reporting that "45 percent [of Americans] said the Genesis account of creation was a true story" (p. 117). Creation museums are sprouting up around the nation, at the cost of millions and millions of dollars. There must be something there, right?

Well, first, let's compare the sources of the two diverse theories, creationism v. evolution. Genesis 1:1Gen. 3:24 v. "The Origin of Species," by Charles Darwin.

The first, creationism, relies on two ancient metaphorical or allegorical tales, handed down verbally for eons before getting locked onto paper. The authors of these two stories are lost in the mists of time, as are their intents in creating them. And yes, there are two distinctly different stories here, with different authors and different deities (Elohim & Yahweh), which are also antagonistic to and contradict each other.

"The Origin of Species" was written by a scientist, based on his observation of physical reality, and developed over time by use of the scientific method.

One is myth-based, the other is science- and reality-based.

In other words, there is no controversy. Evolution is not in doubt; it's scientific fact. The supposed controversy between creationism and evolution amounts to no more than the comparison of myth with truth. Apples with oranges. Metaphor with fact. Creationism is bullshit. The effort to require the teaching of creationism in schools amounts to no more than an attempt to degenerate the education system still further, and indoctrinate our children to believe a lie.

But if you look more carefully, you'll see that Genesis and Darwin aren't contradictory or antagonistic at all. They are irrelevant to each other – they address different issues, they talk about different things. "Origin of Species" talks about the physical development over time of biological diversity. Genesis talks about the spiritual condition of humankind, and two contradictory paradigms of human relations. It teaches not to believe a lie.

The first account, Genesis 1:1 – Gen. 2:3, is a beautiful metaphor of God (Elohim) as Love and Spirit (as Jesus taught), and of what Riane Eisler, in "The Chalice & the Blade," would call the "partnership" paradigm of human relations. It begins with light (perhaps metaphorical of the Big Bang), develops from the most basic forms of life to man and woman as both co-equal and co-created, and ends with God blessing all, which is "good."

The second account, Genesis 2:4 – Gen. 3:24, describes metaphorically what Eisler would call the "dominator" paradigm of human relations. It begins with mist. Adam (man) is created first, and God (Yahweh) needs his help to finish the creation. Eve (woman) is an afterthought, created solely for man's service and enjoyment. And at the end, it is cursed.

It teaches not to believe a lie.

It is this second model that fundamentalist Christians have chosen to adopt, and that permeates our culture – a model of male domination over women, adults over children, white people over people of color, rich over poor, powerful men over less powerful men, powerful nations over those nations they can conquer and exploit, greedy men over the earth that sustains us and gives us life. A model that enthrones oppression, cruelty, tyranny, violence, pain, greed, and environmental destruction.

The first Genesis metaphor celebrates the creation of life as the power to be worshipped. The second celebrates death – the destruction of life – as the power to be worshipped. The first celebrates in foresight Jesus's life, work, and resurrection; the second celebrates in foresight his betrayal, trial, and execution.

What would Jesus do?

On p. 113 of "American Fascists," Hedges quotes Hannah Arendt, in "The Origins of Totalitarianism: "The force possessed by totalitarian propaganda – before the movements have the power to drop iron curtains to prevent anyone's disturbing, by the slightest reality, the gruesome quiet of an entirely imaginary world – lies in its ability to shut the masses off from the real world." Expounding on that, he (Hedges) says, "The power of these non-reality-based movements is that they appeal to our deepest-held, most primitive prejudices, or classism, sexism, racism – perversions based on fear of complexity or change. So the propaganda contains much of what we already yearn to believe. Its subversive message is that it's OK to believe what we want, to believe lies." Creationists, by buying into the belief in magic and denying scientific fact, have abdicated their grasp on reality, and thus their responsibility and ability to make choices based on reality, to cynical, power-hungry men who wish to establish in the United States a Christo-fascist state, unlike Iran's Islamo-facist state only in the name of the tyrannical deity they profess to serve.

Read the books. Wake up. And resist.


anne said...

Hey girl,

What's really strange about this is that it's STILL being argued. Now I argue punctuated equilibrium versus survival of the fittest with my friends, but Genesis? Whoo boy. That's just stupid, since the whole Pentateuch was re-written after Babylon and religious scholars admit to that. There is very little in literature more beautiful than the first sentences of Genesis, but it's a truth of the spirit, not of the flesh.

But what's so idiotic is that the Hebrew version does not agree with the King James version, so why don't the crazies go for the Hebrew version, since the KJ version is only a few hundred years old.

Well, I guess you can't use logic if you're a fundamentalist, for sure.

Max is raving about Christians, too. Must be in the air.

But, fundamentally, Christianity is a HEART religion, not a MIND religion, so no wonder they don't like facts, proof, logic and reasoning.

I just wish we could ignore them. Live and let live. But they seem keen on taking the fight to those who might otherwise tolerate them. That's just pathetic.

Be careful, Seda. Sometimes these people get really violent. I worry about you getting more than hate mail.


Black Diaspora said...

You offer a lot to digest, Seda. Let's see: What can I offer to the discussion? I'd admit, not much.

"The supposed controversy between creationism and evolution amounts to no more than the comparison of myth with truth...."

The creationists say the earth was created in six days, and the evolutionists say it all came about after a longer, a substantially longer, period of time--billion of years.

I read a book some time ago that states it esentially this way. It didn't take God six days, or billions of years to create everything.

God created everything all at once, in the holy moment of now, and, from human perception, it took billions of years of evolution for it to be humanly appreciated, declaring that both are right, the creationists, and the evolutionists, and that the contradiction arises because both are seeing creation from two different perspectives.

On the creation myth, I read a book years ago that cataloged many of the creation myths around the world.

What I found surprising was the similarities, especially to the Adam and Eve version of creation.

Seda said...

Thanks for the warning, Anne. I take it seriously, but I also believe in speaking truth to power. I'll be careful so far as I can, but I will not be silent.

And yes, the whole thing is idiotic.

Oh well.

Actually, you add quite a bit. I like your take that God created it all at once, "in the holy moment of now." If God is indeed infinite and eternal, then that must be the case.

Even that is metaphor, though, because our finite human brains can't wrap around it. I don't make the argument that the Genesis story is wrong, only that it is not literal - it's metaphor, or allegory. It's beautiful and true. But to say the world was made in six 24hr. days? That woman was made from man's rib, an inferior afterthought to serve and amuse him? bullshit.

Black Diaspora said...

"That woman was made from man's rib, an inferior afterthought to serve and amuse him? bullshit."

I second that: double "bullshit."

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our