08 November 2009

The Damnable Scrumpers.

The Intelligence Squared debate on Catholicism has made it onto YouTube (viewable here). I'd read about it, and the devastating turn from moderate negativity or indifference about the Roman version of the Christ mythos, to an overwhelming, humiliating vote against the church's "positive" influence.

The ongoing evils, such as the lies they tell Africans about condoms spreading AIDS, are doctrinal, and will never end. The sin of Onan, wasting "seed" in a prophylactic is considered a greater loss than the millions of deaths the spread of AIDS has caused. It's the same thinking that causes objections to life-saving treatments we could get from stem cell research. By the logic that drives these objections, a woman should hold a funeral every 28 days for a child that will never be, and the act of masturbating should be followed by a trial for mass murder. Those who call themselves "holy" in the RC tradition value spermatozoa and embryos more than living people.

I'll confess to feeling no small amount of glee when religion receives a nut-punch. It feeds on and encourages ignorance, and devalues this life by promising a much better one once you're putrifying in the dirt. It has a long established tradition of thuggishly subduing any knowledge and learning which contradicts, and highlights the contradictions in, holy texts. It is also a wilful partner in intolerance and sectarianism, both feeding, and feeding on base and malign instincts. Claiming to be the source of human morality, yet fuelling some of the most immoral, inhuman acts in history.

I've never believed in God, but only when I first stumbled upon a Creationist debate online, 8 or 9 years ago, did I give it any real thought. It wasn't something I felt any need to discuss, or even consider; but the inherent preposterousness of the argument from Creation genuinely shocked me. Every science contradicts the Young Earth view, geology, palaeontology, archaeology, biology, astronomy, astro-physics, genetics, carbon dating the list goes on. Each one devastates the notion of a young Earth.

Biblical literalists lump all sciences in with Evolution; anything which contradicts the notion of a young Earth created in 6 days, because the monkey idea gives them an unpopular hook they can use to try to drag down the entire scientific edifice. Darwin's dangerous idea did not involve the Big Bang, the red-shift, accretion discs, geological strata or any of the other things that offer indisputable proof of the ancient nature of the Universe and this world.

Darwin's notion was so simple it's a wonder it took so long for it to be recognised, and it is so easy to grasp that it is an act of pure willful ignorance to deny its reality. Mutations and variations in the genetic lottery which we can observe constantly within single families in a single generation; and the propagation of advantageous and neutral mutations and the decline of detrimental ones through natural selection. Both parts of the evolutionary process are observable, logical and undeniable.

Darwin's work has been subjected to hostile public reaction, hostile press coverage, hostile peer review and hostile court proceedings and stood unwithered by the most excoriating invective the forces of ignorance could fling at it. It has withstood every test thrown at it for 150 years, under the sort of scrutiny which leaves biblical "truth" lying in tatters.

Under fierce debate it always emerges that objections to Darwin are not actually based on scriptural adherence. The real difficulty with evolution boils down to vanity. Given the choice of being made in the image of God, or being a bald monkey, you can see that evolution knocks the glamour off the human condition a little. Personally, given a choice of being a clever monkey who can make his life what he chooses, or a guilt-ridden wretch who must constantly atone for the sins of a man and woman who ate a fucking apple, I'll choose the banana. Having the same face as God seems like a shitty trade-off for condemning humanity to an eternity of guilt because thousands of years ago a couple of naturists went scrumping.

Like the infantile objections to the fact of our simian ancestors, when reality and rationality has torn away all of religion's nebulous obfuscations, vacuous vagaries and smug sophistry, the final, last-gasp appeals routinely fall on what would be taken away if God weren't there. Hope for the underprivileged and downtrodden, the comfort of a guiding spirit and the hope of an eternal, post-mortem reward for a life of self denial. The infantilism of these appeals reveals itself by virtue of the fact it's impossible to make them without sounding exactly like someone explaining why you shouldn't tell a child there's no Santa Claus.

Removing the invisible, magic spaceman from the equation will make people less inclined to settle for a crappy lot in life, to take responsibility for their own fate and actions, and commit to making this, the only life we will ever have, worth living.