When I first started this blog – heck, before I even wrote the first post – I knew one thing:
I WAS NOT GOING TO WRITE ABOUT RELIGION OR POLITICS
I’m going to break that rule. Flat out snap it in half.
Let the hate mail begin.
My wife showed me a graphic last night that, at first reading, made me laugh pretty dang hard. After thinking about it though, I came to the realization that there were many things wrong with it.
Now, a bit about me so you know where I’m coming from and so I don’t get any hate mail.
I was raised a Catholic but when I became aware enough of the heavy dogma, pomp and sometimes hypocracy attached to the Catholic faith, I quit. I began a search for a faith that suited me. It is a search that has lasted for over two decades and is not finished yet. The closest I have come to finding a fit for me is Zen Buddhism, but I lack the discipline and self-control to be a practitioner. The best I have done is to adopt as many of the Zen philosophies as I can into my everyday life.
My search for a faith has made me somewhat of an amateur theologian. I have read countless religious texts, essays, treatises, holy books, dissertations - you name it. I have shelves at home stuffed with books about religion. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hindu, Shinto, Buddhism, Wicca, ancient cosmology, polytheism of the Greeks, Romans, Norse, Celts, Mesoamericans and North American tribes and even Satanism (I tried to cover everything) – the list can go on for a long time.
Have I studied everything? No way.
But I like to think that my research has been enough that I can speak intelligently about this subject. Obviously, I have learned a lot. Facts, mostly. But this search has also taught me the most important thing of all.
Caps and in bold. It’s that important.
As far as I’m concerned, you can practice any religion you want. But you better do two things:
- Understand your faith without blinders – what it means and how it works without misinterpretation.
- Don’t try and sell it to me or anyone else unless you’re asked to.
So, to sum up – I think I know what I’m talking about and I believe in religious tolerance.
Are we straight?
Here is the graphic my wife showed to me. Remember, the comments following the graphic are NOT INTENDED to bash religion (in this case Christianity). I have a point to make and I hope it will be clear as you read along.
The story is, a mother has an 8-year-old adopted son who received toy dinosaurs as a gift. The mother is concerned if she should let the boy keep the toys because, according to her faith, dinosaurs aren’t real. She is afraid that if she lets him keep them that he will eventually believe in evolution.
Does that sound about right? Yes?
I can not verify the validity of the graphic. I don’t know if this woman is for real or not – or even if the graphic was created by somebody as a joke. However, it doesn’t really matter because it has now become a useful tool to explain the dangers of ignorance and in my explanation, I will assume that the woman is for real since it will be easier for me to make my points.
The woman is guilty of ignorance on two counts:
- Ignorance of science
- Ignorance of the religion she practices
Let’s break down her post:
I am a little shocked. She says she is a Christian, but the Bible doesn’t say anything about dinosaurs. Should I let him keep them, as long as he understands that dinosaurs aren’t real?
She’s right, it doesn’t say anything about dinosaurs. It also doesn’t say anything about woolly mammoths, but frozen specimens have been found almost perfectly preserved in ice. In fact, the Bible doesn’t specifically mention tens of thousands of creatures that we do know are real. Does that mean they don’t exist too?
What the Bible does say (according to my Douay version first published in Latin in 1609AD) is rather vague. It specifically mentions in the first chapter of Genesis whales and cattle. Every other animal is lumped in categories of “creeping creature,” “winged fowl,” “every living and moving creature,” “beasts of the earth,” “fishes of the sea” and so on.
So, no, the Bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs, but it can lead one to believe that they could fit in there somehow as maybe a “creeping creature,” “beast of the earth” or better yet ”every living and moving creature.”
Even the PBS shows that he watches talk about dinosaurs and evolution, and how the scientists found these “bones” but the Bible doesn’t say that God ever created them, and the earth is only 6,000 years old, not old enough to have “bones” that they say are MILLIONS of years old!
There’s a lot going on in that sentence. Let’s start with the age of the Earth.
The popular scientific view is that the Earth is approximately 4.54 billion years old. Scientists have used a number of methods to arrive at this figure, and while not all of those methods agree on an exact age, 4.54 billion is accepted as an average.
The Bible never comes right out and gives an age for the Earth. Some math and counting is required. A number of people over the centuries have used the Bible to calculate the age of the Earth and, like the scientific method, they don’t all agree. 6,000 years is an approximate average.
Even I have done it. Back in the early 90′s, I was working on writing a book that focused on the final battle between Heaven and Hell which would happen in the year 2000. The turn of the century came and went – I never finished the book as it had become pointless. I did, however, do extensive research to create a timeline that combined biblical events, historical events and fictional events so that my book would have a rich history. Called The Annals of Heled, it puts the age of the Earth at 8,103 years (if you reference the birth of Adam on the timeline). [Ed Note: The link to the Annals will open a Google Document page. Please, be responsible.]
This is a little tricky. On the one hand, we have the scientific age of 4.54 billion years which was found by using the proven method of radiometric dating and on the other we have 6,000 years derived from following genealogical information from the Old Testament of the Bible.
Which are we to believe? I believe the scientific date and here’s why:
The scientific process is based on a process of many people being able to recreate the same or similar results given a certain set of criteria. In this case, many people have arrived at a date close to 4.54 billion years – and when your talking about such huge numbers, close really is good enough.
The biblical method is very flawed. Forget that the genealogical information is questionable. Many of the people mentioned in the Bible are said to have lived for hundreds of years. No, the flaw comes from something much more mundane and human.
The Old Testament of the Bible is derived from an older Jewish text called the Torah. The early Christians were Jews who were creating a new religion. In the decades after the death of Jesus, these early Christians found the greatest number of converts in and around Greece. The Torah was then translated from Hebrew into Greek. As Christianity and the Roman empire spread, Greek bibles were translated into Latin. From there, they were again translated into other languages. (Admittedly, this is a simplistic view, but it is close enough for the purpose.)
What we have today in America is a book that has been translated at the very least three times – in some cases as many as thirteen translations and versions. When comparing our modern English Bibles to the earliest known Torahs, many discrepancies are to be found.
There is even a school of thought that Moses (who brought the ten commandments to the Israelites) wrote in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs since he was raised in Egypt from an infant and then learned Arabic in his later years when he moved to Midian. It is very possible he never even knew Hebrew!
So, you can see the problem. Our modern Bibles are too full of errors to be trustworthy.
I know Satan tries to trick us in many ways, and this is one way that he tries to fool man into believing that there isn’t a God who created the universe. How can they be bones when they are made out of ROCKS?
Two things to address here: Satan and the bone/rock conundrum.
Let’s start with Satan and keep it super simple. I could write another entire blog post on the figure of Satan.
Satan is a Hebrew word for “adversary.” It doesn’t connote a demonic form with horns and a pitchfork. The parts of the Bible that mention a satan are to be taken in a metaphorical sense in order to teach us that we can overcome our own weakness to temptation.
Next, how can they be rocks? Rather than type it all out, this web page explains it simply enough, I think.
I told my son that dinosaurs are one of Satan’s many ways of tricking man, and he must talk to God before he plays with them.
She’s giving an 8-year-old an awful lot of credit if she thinks he can come up with an answer to that. Essentially, she expects an 8-year-old boy to be able to be mature enough to not do something that’s fun for an 8-year-old boy to do.
Am I handling this right?
I have always been of the opinion that parents should raise their kids from the heart. A mother’s intuition is usually the best to go by. I also won’t tell someone how to parent their children. I can only hope that this woman’s ignorance doesn’t have any adverse effects on her children.
My first 3 were all girls, and I adopted boys, and lots of mothers tell me that boys are often attracted to these dinosaurs. So I don’t know what to do. Is this just some harmless fantasy play for him, or should I be worried that he may go on to believe in things like evolution?
If her son grows into a healthy, happy, loving, law-abiding person, does it really matter what path he follows through life or what he believes? Again, I think the answer to that is a whole other post.
In conclusion, I think the brand of ignorance this woman shows of both her own religion and the science she refutes, can be harmful. It creates a new generation of children who are close-minded.
Believing in misinterpretations of religious books and thoughts and then passing on those falsehoods (either with malice or innocence), can be, and has proven to be, harmful. In this case, what this woman believes isn’t going to have a huge impact on the world but this type of thing – taken to an extreme – has been responsible for jihads and the Crusades, in which tens of thousands of people have died. The most recent extreme example is, of course, the 9/11 attacks.
Is this woman and her problem going to have such an impact on the world? Of course not. Am I suggesting that what she is saying is on par with the 9/11 attacks? Of course not.
What I’m saying is that the BRAND of ignorance, taken to an extreme, can be responsible for such horrible acts. The way words and meanings are twisted from religious teachings can have effects ranging from the very mild (the woman we have been discussing) to the horribly extreme (the 9/11 attacks).
We can only progress and get better as individuals and as a race if we are open to new ideas and seek out the truth that lies in front of us as well as the truth we have buried behind.