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Friday, July 07, 2006

When materialism trickles down: The collateral damage

Recently, I received this post from a non-admirer. I am publishing it, without any intentional identifying marks, because there is an implicit threat of some obscure kind at the end. I comment below:
Subject: Academic interest versus life assuring discoveries.

Great numbers of people view the theory of evolution with disdain. They believe that a deity created the world as it is in less than a week , and that the planet is really quite young. I do not question their beliefs , nor am I concerned with their dissemination. What does concern me , however , is the people themselves who hold these beliefs as the only possible truth . My interest in science is not simply from a belief system or academic interest , but is born of absolute necessity. My life literaly depends upon it . I am battling a syndrome of illnesses that has taken the lives of [more than fifty] close friends , and will eventually kill an enormous segment of Africa. HIV/AIDS. It is no small irony that those with conservative/fundamentalist beliefs that include creationism , are the same people who fought so relentlessly in opposition to funding for the development of treatment options to counteract , or prevent viral replication in HIV/AIDS. The medications we have today came too late for so many good and decent people. The judgemental and condemnatory attitude from the religious right , which persists today ; denied any possiblity of additional life to people I loved more than life itself. The rhetoric heard from the 'creationists', when addressing the subject of homosexuals and AIDS is at opposite ends of the spectrum from the actions of said group. I think it is appropriate to this topic of discussion , and the types of individuals that would participate , to remind them of a couple of facts that are self evident. Firstly , we are , here in [country] , a secualar democracy , to the chagrin of the O'Leary's , McVety's and Stilwells of society. Secondly the US Supreme Court gave what I think is the most articulate description of true freedom I've yet heard. They said "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one'sown concept of existence , of the meaning of the universe , and of the mystery of human life." I do not jest when I state that any further obstacles to continued life by those who despise science , in lieu of mysticism and superstition , will not for a moment be tolerated . You have not only done irreparable damage to the very fabric of humanity; you've gotten away with it.

A friend comments,
Sad, misguided thinking on the writer's part. Furthermore, most of the people that I know who are doing work in the AIDS field and ministering without judgment to the dying are all.....devout Christians of what the writer would call "the right-wing" variety.

So easy to scapegoat and stereotype indeed.

Oh, I am sure that's true! People must believe in something more concrete than warm fuzzies or "unleashing the inner beast" to risk themselves to get anything useful done. So I would expect more traditional Christians to risk themselves than post-boomer whatevers. And that is what we do see.

The writer of the threat post sadly displays the damage done by the trickleinto the popular culture of the point of view about humanity that Darwinists such as Dennett and Dawkins encourage (= no free will, hatred of religion).

Note that:

(1) He blames me and some people I don't know (McVetys? Stilwells?) for the fact that he has AIDS and nearly five dozen friends died from it. He simply does not consider that he and they made choices for their own lives. (Or, if they - for example - got AIDS from a blood transfusion, they are surely entitled to compensation. And I simply do not know anyone who would not support that.)

(2) He believes that conservative Christians are to blame for the fact that cures are slow in coming and also that "creationism" is somehow related to that problem. Presumably, he thinks that - just because many diseases can be treated successfully -cures are inevitable.

Therefore, if cures are slow in coming, someone is to blame.

Sorry, no. We are all mortal. We can actually put such a strain on our bodies that they collapse, despite the best medical interventions.

No one is to blame for human physiology in a world where all flesh dies, and all species go extinct eventually.

If we cooperate, our bodies usually work. In other words, we cooperate or die.

The creationist has no special protection from all this. But, acting under religious advice, he may well avoid triggering disaster. That does not make him responsible for the fate of those who refuse to heed the warnings that he did heed.

(3) Note the threat at the end: ("I do not jest when I state that any further obstacles to continued life by those who despise science, in lieu of mysticism and superstition , will not for a moment be tolerated . You have not only done irreparable damage to the very fabric of humanity; you've gotten away with it.")

One reason I am sometimes short-tempered with Christians who don't "get it" about the roots and fruits of this kind of hatred is that, by now, I think it is past time they started "getting it."

This guy hates me NOT because "Christians have failed him" or "he wasn't shown enough love by Christians" or "we need to radically alter society," or "the wrong sort of people are involved with ID."

Nonsense. All utter nonsense.

He hates me because he honestly cannot accept responsibility for the circumstances in which he finds himself.

He probably does not believe that he either can or should be expected to accept responsibility. Perhaps he does not even believe that he ultiamtely has free will.

So he is looking for a place to vent anger. This is sad because, no matter where we find ourselves, simply accepting responsibility for our share in where we stand makes us part of the solution. Looking for someone else to be responsible is a waste of time.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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