Galileo vs. “God Did It!”
by Senator Brett
I’m about to say a word that might offend a lot who stand on the “religious right” side of most social and political issues.
Yeah, you heard me correctly… science. Friggin’, all encompassing, take-no-prisoners, kick-you-in-the-balls, mother lovin’ SCIENCE! Boom! I said it!
So, now that I’ve offended you for A) mentioning science in a book that is more geared towards Christian theory, or B) wrongly supporting the secular notion that all Christians are adverse to scientific studies, or C) a little bit of both… let me say that I know that not all Christians are against science; however, the truth is that a great deal of Christians are only supportive of science and research if said science and research supports their ideas on things like: creation, abortion, the afterlife and the notion that gay people are possessed by a demon of lust and debauchery. We might not want to admit it, but all the polls and studies point to the fact that the majority of people who call themselves “Christian” tend to shy away from scientific data, especially when it contradicts their beliefs in what they think the Bible tells them.
And, that is sad… and it should not be so.
What is even sadder still is the fact that the church has earned this reputation through its long history of radical opposition to the growth of science, the murdering of people with scientific ambitions, the alienation it has dealt in the past and its downright stubborn opposition to those fields in the present.
But, that is who we were, and who we are, but it is not who we have to become. We can do better. We should do better. We owe it to ourselves, our children and our children’s children. (I don’t have any kids, but if I did, I’d want them to know that science and faith can run hand in hand. Also, if I had kids I would want them to know that I’m terribly sorry that I told their mother, perhaps that waitress in Las Cruces, New Mexico, that my name was “Kenny” and that I was a talent scout for an upcoming television series called, “ Waitresses with Beautiful Faces But Horrible Standards.”)
On the other hand, people of science often take the religious point of view as a non-factor, which is as equally sad. While it is apparently obvious that true science should never take faith into account, it does not mean that faith cannot play a role in scientific study, or more aptly put… there is no reason that science cannot only support ideas of faith, but in some cases, it can actually substantiate claims of faith.
So often, people in the academic world mock, or belittle, those of us who have faith in a “higher power” simply because it can’t be proven. And, while I will grant them that argument, the truth is that it has yet to be disproven, despite many attempts by people of science with a burning desire to do so. And, it is offensive that people of the world of science would automatically assume that people of faith are “ignorant” or “uneducated.” There are many Christians that are very intelligent, and who do study things like math and science, and who do work in those respective fields with integrity and competence.
Assuming that a person of faith cannot also be a person of science is hasty-generalization, at best. Assuming that a person of science cannot also be a person of faith is just ignorant. The only way those two worlds remain forever apart is if we make it so. So, let’s try not to do that.
F Your Faith!
First of all, let’s just get this out of the way so we can have a clear conversation: Faith does NOT equal Fact. Period. End of story. I don’t care how Christian you are, and I don’t care how far you went into your academic studies, and I don’t give a good goddamn if you are a doctor… the truth remains, Faith does not equal Fact.
Am I saying that there are no facts in the belief systems of the multitude of religions and religious practices? No, of course not. There are many fine facts in a great deal of Holy books. Am I saying that people who study the scriptures, whichever scriptures they may be, won’t find some hardened scientific facts in those tomes? Nope, not even close. What I am saying is that simply having faith in something does not make it scientifically factual.
Was our universe spoken into existence? Maybe. Is our world a result of continuous evolution from a single cell that sprang from the water? Maybe. Could both theories be correct? Again, maybe.
No matter how you much we Christians invest in our belief that the Bible is 100% accurate, the truth remains that a great deal of it is simply not fact. It is a series of stories that were told over time, and then later written down by men, men like you and me, and, like you and me, I’m fairly certain that fact became diluted with imagination and exaggeration, and in some cases, even down-right fabrication. It has been translated, and re-translated, and revised and then translated again and again. And, as much as it is a wealth of knowledge and insight, as much as it is a fantastic guideline on how to live a life and how to live that life well, it can, in no means, be considered a book of facts.
The reason why I bring it up, well, other than its obvious truth, is that we must remember that in believing the scriptures as hardened fact has led us down many dark paths in the past. People who were adamant that the Bible was “fact” convicted Galileo of “extreme heresy” and locked him away for the rest of his life… all because he challenged the notion that the Earth was not the center of the universe. (I am, of course, over-simplifying… but do we really want to start talking about tidal movements and “heliocentrism?”). And, that’s just one of many example from our past that illustrates how, when people start substituting faith for fact, we can lose sight not of only common sense, but common decency.
Oh, and don’t sell us short these days! We think we are so much more evolved than those small-minded “Christians” of the past. Oh yes, we are so much more advanced and open-minded… yet we still have people who would be more than willing to imprison scientists for experimenting with stem cell research. Easily, we have those people among us. Hell, some of you reading this right now are probably such people. And, while I won’t get into the abortion debate at this exact time (Don’t worry, I will soon), trust me when I say there are even more people in the “Christian” ranks that would secretly, and sometimes openly, love to see abortion doctors go to jail. So, let’s not pretend that we are something, as a whole, that we are not, because somewhere deep in the heart of the Christian church there still remains that illogical stubborn opposition to anything that makes us question our beliefs.
And, that is sad… and that should not be so.
If Your Science is so Right, Why Are You Wrong so Often?
One thing the scientific community is great at is asking the important questions of How & Why. What the scientific community is not great at is: A) always agreeing, and B) aptly explaining to the public that “theories” are not the same as fact. Granted, people should know the difference by use of the little things that I like to call “paying attention to words” and “knowing what words mean”, but let’s be honest, those two things are not foregone conclusions in today’s world. If it wasn’t defined, by use of small words, on top of a Domino’s Oreo Pizza box or on the back of a Coors Light can then there is a percentage of Americans who aren’t going to know what the hell you are talking about.
The other thing that a great deal of people in the scientific community have trouble learning to overcome is their pre-conceived idea that all Christians are out to “get” them, by either using legislation to halt research or using our political power to prevent funding. True, both of these things have happened, lots of times, but that doesn’t mean that we are all of the same mind; and, the scientific community makes itself an easy target when it acts as if that we are all against progress.
And, while I’m on the subject… the scientific community could only financially benefit greatly if it appealed to the “religious right” in a sensible, yet crafty, way. I always hear of scientists complaining about lack of funding, about how their grants are running out, or how their budgets were cut. And, yet they still don’t reach out to the conservatives, who have a shit ton of money, and who spend it, oftentimes, on total horseshit! Learn how to use the conservative language and get some of that horseshit money. Wrap a Chick-fil-A/Hobby Lobby wrapper around your science burger and watch the cash just come flooding in.
I’ll put it to you this way… this year the conservative Christians in this country are going to spend, and I’m just spitballing here, about 693 bazillion dollars on things like: Holy Ladies of the Churchy Church Conferences, bumper stickers that say things like “Jesus is my co-pilot and you’re gonna burn in a hellish fiery grave, you Son of Sodom!”, adult books that could have been written by third-graders (this book was written at a pre-kindergarten level so I don’t expect any conservatives to buy it, my mother included) and music played by musicians that wouldn’t make the Top 1,000 even if the entire music industry consisted of the Professor’s coconut radio and their album alone. For example, TobyMac is one of the highest selling Christian artists out there and has enjoyed a career that has spanned decades, when in the secular world he would have been Milli Vanilli, at best… and I say that even though I know that it probably offends Milli Vanilli! So, get your head out of your asses, scientific community, and start your campaign to include those of faith. We have shown we will spend money on anything, practically anything, as long as you throw a Jesus sticker on it.
Scientist, just so you know… people of faith oftentimes forget that we are being closely watched because we, as people of faith, know that we always can find forgiveness. People of science should know that as much as we forgive each other, we oftentimes find it hard to forgive those who question our faith because the questioning of our faith shakes the core of who we are as a person, and even more importantly, and here’s the part that most Christians won’t tell you… when our faith is shaken we become terribly aware that we might be wrong, and that our little life is just that, insignificant, and that scares the hell out of us. So, science community, you are held to a higher standard. You have to be absolutely right when you pose anything that questions the foundations of our faith because one slip up and we will ridicule and attack so that our lives have the meaning that we think it should possess. Is this right and just? No. Has it happened since the dawn of religion and will it continue until the earth sinks into the sun? Yes, without a doubt.
The Ultimate Laziness
I have an idea for a new television show on TBN (that’s the Christian television station that you are always skipping over because it has old people with the onsets of dementia hosting talk shows, or just as old people singing songs that were written by Quakers). It’s called, “Are You Smarter Than a PhD?!” and it is hosted by Pat Robertson. Basically the structure goes like this: a group of young children, between the ages of eight and ten, are brought in front of a live studio audience and asked questions about science, philosophy and history. Each correct answer will result in the child receiving a certain amount of “Jesus Bucks” which can only be spent at the 700 Club gift shop.
Here is an example of how the typical question would work:
Pat Robertson: “Name the brightest star in the belt of Orion.”
*One kid hits their buzzer first and it lights up while a sound clip rolls out a melodious “Hallelujah!”
Pat Robertson: “What is your answer?!”
Kid: “God did it!”
*Strobe lights go off to TobyMac’s… uh… who the hell cares because they’re all great songs!
Pat Robertson: “You are absolutely correct! You just won ½ of a Jesus Buck!”
Announcer: “All Jesus Buck’s are non-redeemable for cash and are only valid at the 700 Club Gift Shop and until the end of this… sentence.”
Honestly, I think it would be a big hit. I mean, who doesn’t like kids winning stuff? Be honest, if you’ve ever watched “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” you know that you really always rooted for the kid to be right and for the adult to look like an idiot. With this show the kids would always win! Someone call Mark Burnett and see if he’s willing to do Christian television. Better yet, call whoever does “The Bachelor” show because, Lord knows, that person is willing to put any type of cow dung out there and call it “television.”
Having pitched my perfect idea for making my first million dollars I will add this…
Christians, we need to stop using God as a crutch for our laziness. “God did it” is not the A, B,C & D answers on the “Things We Can’t Explain Because We Don’t Know” Test. More importantly, we need to stop teaching the next generation that it is okay to not earnestly search for truth simply because we don’t know the answer to something. The “God did it” answer is a simplistic ignorant answer.
I understand that our whole basis of faith is centered on the idea that God did, indeed, do it, so I’ll pose this: from now on, every time you feel the need to say “God did it” follow it up with, “ … but how did He do it? Let’s find out” or “… I believe, but other people believe differently and no one is entirely sure, just yet.” Those are much more real and honest answers. Those are the kind of answers that lead to personal growth and knowledge, not only in ourselves, but also in others.
If I am so Right, How am I Wrong so Often?!
As a person who will always side with science over faith I can honestly say that my ideas of God are not going to be swayed easily. I know there is God. And, as much as the science world has tried to disprove His existence, it can’t. And, in the same manner, as much as the religious world has tried to prove that there is a God, well, it can’t either.
So, what’s the answer? How do we balance our sincere faith with the undeniable substance of fact? I don’t know… well, I mean… I don’t know for you. But I do know for me.
When I was a child one of my older sisters got a telescope. I think that she had saved up to buy it, or maybe it had been a gift, but however it came into her possession she was extremely proud of it. She also had this book on the constellations, and sometimes, at night, she would spread a blanket in our front yard and we lie down and look at the stars.
And I was amazed. We lived way out in the country so all the Texas stars were big and bright (just like the song says!), and with the telescope we could see so much more. She taught many of the constellations, as well as the location of several planets, and for the first time I saw the spidery grey fingers of our Milky Way.
That was probably my introduction to science. And, man, did I want to go into space. And I probably would have become an astronaut until the day when I realized that they just didn’t hand out space suits and you had to do something they called, “try.”
When I was a child the stars were a million miles away, and in my mind, a million years away. But I saw God in them. I knew, deep in my heart, that there was something bigger than myself. Even as a child I knew.
Years have gone by since that time, and in those years man has done this: built a habitable room in the heavens (ISS), sent mechanical probes that have reached the far edges of our known “space”, landed a craft on Mars and as of a couple months ago… a man has literally jumped from space back to earth. All of this has happened in my lifetime, when at the time of my childhood it all was just a dream, not only to me, but to most of humanity.
And I see God in all of it. And I see science in all of it. And both are good, and both are fine, and there is no argument from me.
That is my answer. That is all that I know. And for now, that is good enough for me.