The United States of Religious Freaks

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine

Or why The New Amerika scares the bejesus out of me.

I am not going to write about raging homosexual evangelical preachers. I am not going to write about polygamists that marry their step-daughters and sisters-in-law. I am not even going to write about Witnesses, Waco or Jonestown. I am just going to tell you about three things I read today that once again make me wonder what happened to Reason.

One – the creationist with the doctorate in palaeontology. Apparently, this young doctor of geosciences does not see palaeontology and creationism as being in conflict with each other. Rather, he sees them as two different “paradigms” we use to study the past. His dissertation gives us a view of the end of the Cretaceous era about 65 million years ago. Yet he believes that the earth cannot be more than 10,000 years old. How does he do that? Trying to reconcile those two opinions would give me the mother of all migraines. Even just sitting here and thinking about it is making me dizzy.

Two – the Inquisition. I thought I would catch up with my friend Miss Mickey so I went over to Future Corpse. Miss Mickey has a post about anti-atheist discrimination. Apparently, in the South, your neighbours treat you differently when you admit that you’re a non-believer. I can only imagine that treating you differently might mean anything from not inviting you to their parties (where there is probably no booze anyway) to tarring and feathering you and burning your house down. I don’t know because I’m at work and I haven’t yet watched the video.

I would not have bothered with the creationist palaeontologist and I would certainly have left the very capable Miss Mickey to deal with the Inquisition on her own, but then I found the icing on the cake, the cherry on the sundae, the multiple olives in my martini, if you will. I found Arkansas.

Three – Thomas Paine denounced. Thomas Paine – inventor, writer of Common Sense and Rights of Man, American revolutionary and libertarian. Thomas Paine whom nine states have honoured by declaring Thomas Paine Day. Arkansas too thought they might like to name a day after Thomas Paine, but in the end their legislature decided not to. Their reason? In addition to his more acceptable works named above, Thomas Paine is also the author of The Age of Reason, in which he wrote:

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

Thomas Paine was an intellectual. He had his own opinions and beliefs and he exercised his freedom of expression. But the Arkansas House of Representatives doesn’t like what Thomas Paine wrote all those years ago. So the Arkansas House of Representatives denounced Thomas Paine as “anti-Christian and anti-Jewish” and therefore unworthy of being recognised for his great contribution to the establishment of what used to be the land of the free.

And once again, I thank god that I live in the most atheist country on the planet.

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Reason and the Grand Canyon

Saturday, 30 December 2006

Grand Canyon

The National Park Service of The New Amerika has been gagged. According to a news release from the non-profit service organisation Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Park Service employees are no longer allowed to state an official estimated age of the Grand Canyon.

The order came from Bush administration officials.

The reason: fear of offending creationists.

“In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’”

But that’s not all. When you visit the Grand Canyon National Park, you can go into any of its three shops and purchase a book entitled Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail. Mr Vail’s book explains how the Grand Canyon was formed just a few thousand years ago by the Big Flood. You know, the one that prompted Noah to build his ark.

Yes, I know, it boggles the mind.

The good news is that PEER is campaigning to restore rational thought and action to the Grand Canyon. We can only hope that they will be successful.

But you can’t argue with people whose beliefs are based on faith rather than reason.

A Religion News Service article contrasts these two opinions:

“The Grand Canyon was formed millions of years ago.” – William Ausich, president of the Palaeontological Society,

and

“The canyon was formed as a result of the after effects of Noah’s flood, a worldwide global flood. Most of the canyon was formed by a lot of water over a relatively short period of time.” – Mark Looy, vice president of Answers in Genesis.

And Tom Vail himself:

“For years, as a Colorado River guide I told people how the Grand Canyon was formed over the evolutionary time scale of millions of years. Then I met the Lord. Now, I have ‘a different view’ of the canyon, which, according to a biblical time scale, can’t possibly be more than a few thousand years old.”

According to Wikipedia, the general consensus amongst geologists is that the Grand Canyon is 5 to 6 million years old, whilst the geology exposed by its formation ranges from 230 million to 2 billion years old. Just so you know.