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Wed

02

May

2007

Bill Maher Was Right, sort of…
Wednesday, 02 May 2007 09:47
by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

Bill Maher drew fire when he said that Christian fundamentalists (and other religious zealots) suffer from a “neurological disorder” that “stops [them] from thinking.” He was right, sort of. Religious fundamentalism may not, strictly speaking, be a neurological disorder. But it certainly is a pathology that prevents rational thinking and leads to the advocacy of ignorance, stupidity and hate.



Consider the new $27 million, 60,000 square-foot Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, scheduled to open May 28, 2007. The brain-dead concoction of Answers in Genesis, the “creation-science” museum features exhibits of human children playing with dinosaurs in Eden.

AIG founder and president Ken Ham maintains that since the Bible explicitly says the world was created in six regular days, dinosaurs co-existed with man. Indeed, Mr. Ham has authored a book titled Dinosaurs of Eden. But if that $9.99 title is too expensive, try another of Mr. Ham’s titles – What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs? – in which he explains how “the Bible gives us a framework for explaining dinosaurs in terms of thousands of years of history, and solving the mystery of when they lived and what happened to them.” All that bible-based “knowledge” is on sale for just fifty cents on AIG’s web site.

Some of Mr. Ham’s other “scientific” arguments and exhibit information at the Creation Museum are that Tyrannosaurus rex was a strict vegetarian, every kind of dinosaur was among the passengers on Noah’s ark, dinosaurs went extinct only a few hundred years ago, and the waters from Noah’s flood quickly carved the Grand Canyon just a few thousand years ago.

 

But there’s still more at AIG’s Creation Museum, as Andy Mead noted in his Lexington Herald-Leader article. There’s more “scientific” absurdities:

The museum has a planetarium. But its programs, unlike those at other planetariums, will say that the light from the stars we see did not take millions of years to get here. …

And there’s even some “sociological” ones:

There also will be an exhibit suggesting that belief in evolution is the root of most of modern society’s evils. It shows models of children leaving a church where the minister believes in evolution. Soon the girl is on the phone to Planned Parenthood, while the boy cruises the Internet for pornography sites.

The “root of evil” theme was echoed by the president of Creation Worldview Ministries, Grady McMirty – “a full-time creation evangelist who travels the world teaching Christian and secular audiences about the scientific evidence supporting the biblical view of creationism” – when he claimed that teaching the reality-based theory of evolution was largely responsible for the massacre at Virginia Tech. McMirty’s nonsensical rant was the focus of a story carried by One News Now, the reincarnation of Don Wildmon’s American Family Association’s Agape Press propaganda organ, which is notorious for its own pathologies.

Let’s be honest. Only someone with a neurological disorder or a pathological need to promote stupidity and ignorance in the name of a bible-based, fairy tale worldview would argue for “scientific” answers in Genesis or that “belief in evolution is the root of most of modern society’s evils.” When one considers the realities unveiled by quantum mechanics, Einstein’s relativity and, more recently membrane theory, the pathology called “the biblical worldview” and the mental disorder – or more likely the ulterior motives – of those advocating it become clearer and even more sinister.

Mr. Ham – whose real-world compensation is reported to be $120,000 a year – and his profitable non-profit organization want people to disregard all scientific knowledge and empirical evidence and believe that the myths in Genesis are literal history. Like Jerry Falwell, they want everyone to believe “the Bible is the inerrant...word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters [including] geography, science, history.” And, of course, these bible-bleating Christian leaders want the sheeple to send money to support their “ministries” of stupidity and ignorance… and the posh lifestyles these spokesmen for “God” enjoy.

Beyond money, there’s power. AIG and its Creation Museum – affectionately dubbed “The Fred and Wilma Flintstone Museum” by mainstream scientists – may be quirky media curiosities, but they do help divert attention from the machinations of their brethren in the dominionist movement, many of whom are also involved with the ultra-conservative star-chamber known as The Council for National Policy.

From Chris Hedges’ book American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America:

Dominionism is a theocratic sect with its roots in a radical Calvinism. It looks to the theocracy John Calvin implanted in Geneva, Switzerland, in the 1500s as its political model. It teaches that American Christians have been mandated by God top make America a Christian state. … Dominionism preaches that Jesus has called on Christians to build the kingdom of God in the here and now … America becomes, in this militant biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America’s Christian leaders are view, quite simply, as agents of Satan. Under Christian dominionism … the 10 Commandments for the basis of our legal system, creationism and “Christian values” form the basis of our educational system, and the media and the government proclaim the Good News to one and all. Labor unions, civil-rights laws and public schools will be abolished. [links and italics added; the three “dominionism” links are to different reference sources]

Theocracy Watch offers extensive information about dominionism, its history and its advocates. The links in this excerpt provide a summary:

The theocratic right seeks to establish dominion, or control over society in the name of God. D. James Kennedy, Pastor of Coral Ridge Ministries, calls on his followers to exercise “godly dominion ... over every aspect ... of human society.”

At a “Reclaiming America for Christ” conference in February, 2005, Kennedy said:

“Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors – in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.”

The names and organizations of the Christian Right’s leading dominionists are well known: James Dobson and Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council, Louis Sheldon and the Traditional Values Coalition, Don Wildmon and the American Family Association. But there are less well-known ones who exert considerable influence. The Southern Poverty Law Center just put together mini-profiles of some of them in the African-American community. How odd that those who were once subjected to slavery and horrific discrimination by those advocating a previous version of “the biblical worldview” would now use the same tactics to engender hate and oppress others:

Bishop Wellington Boone [of] Norcross, Ga. A spokesman for the patriarchal and largely white Promise Keepers evangelical men’s movement, sidekick to Focus on the Family leader James Dobson and a popular guest on the “700 Club” hosted by Pat Robertson and his Christian Broadcasting Network, Bishop Wellington Boone preaches that homosexuality unchecked “will result in the ultimate destruction of society.”

Boone is a strict Christian “dominionist” who advocates replacing constitutional democracy with Biblical law. …

Rev. Keith Butler [of] Detroit, Mich. The Rev. Keith Butler is the pastor of Word of Faith International Christian Center, which has more than 22,000 members. Called “one of the Detroit area's most outspoken opponents of homosexuality” by the Detroit Metro Times, Butler wrote in a 2003 Detroit Free Press editorial that “the gay lifestyle is based on a behavior choice that endangers family, children, and the core of society. … The attempt to push this decadent lifestyle into mainstream society … is simply wrong.”

Ironically, Butler’s church has produced several gay pastors, such as the Rev. James Karl Jackson of Detroit.

A Republican since 1980, Butler served one term on the Detroit City Council before running for the U.S. Senate last fall. He said God handpicked him to clear out Democrats, who are “on the wrong side of Judeo-Christian issues.”

Science is the primary target of creationists. Gay Americans and civil equality are among the main targets of dominionists. Both groups are predominately Republican. As Andy Mead noted in his article about AIG’s Creation Museum,

When the Gallup Poll asked people about their views on the subject [of human origins] in March, 47 percent of the Americans polled said that God created humans pretty much in their present form some time in the last 10,000 years. That belief was strongest among those with less education, regular churchgoers, people 65 and older, and Republicans [italics added].

Ultra-conservative Republicans and bible-thumping dominionists are beyond the reach of reason and rationality. Not surprisingly, education is their archenemy. Perhaps that’s why they’re among the chief supporters of creation museums. (Others are being built in Arkansas, Texas, California, and Florida.) They need to corrupt the minds of the young to make sure the future moves backwards. And what better way to do that than with animated fairy tales masquerading as education. From Andy Mead’s article:

But Eugenie Scott, a former University of Kentucky anthropologist who is director of the California-based National Center for Science Education, said the information provided in the [AIG creation] museum “is not even close to standard science.”

Scott visited the museum recently as part of a British Broadcasting Corp. radio program. Although she didn't get a tour, she saw enough to know that the museum will be professionally done. And, she says, that's worrisome.

“There are going to be students coming into the [science] classroom and saying, ‘I just went to this fancy museum and everything you’re telling me is rubbish,’” Scott said.

Bill Maher was right, sort of. A neurological disorder is something one does not choose to have. But choosing to twist and warp education in order to advance ignorance and stupidity defines pathology. Choosing to twist and warp religion in order to advocate discrimination and hate and conjure a theofascist state defines pathology.

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