Sunday, January 25, 2009

The wheels on the bus go...

'round and round, round and round. Just like the earth goes round the sun. This week the air felt clearer as if a weight had been lifted and the future once again bright. I was wondering what in the world many of us bloggers will write about now that our favourite target has retired to his ranch in Texas, when the light shone down and gave me a sign:


What started as a little British story more than half a year ago, then spread to the continent has made the jump across the pond. That's right, it's the atheist bus campaign. In a two pronged attack the British movement is taking hold alongside an American incarnation. The nation that has spent so much energy trying to spread her beliefs across the globe finally seems to be willing to take some lessons from the rest of the world.

Could it be that the land of free and the home of the brave is once again ready to put science before the bible? While the first signs out of the new Obama administration are positive, there's still many reasons to fear the fundamentalists (I mean the scary kind, the Christians). Watching the Obama inauguration, not only did we have to listen to Rick Warren's invocation, one had to hear the g word uttered far too many times for comfort. However, there was a tiny crack in the religious armor that appeared with Obama's words: "For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers." That's right, even non-believers are citizens!

Two things flew in under the radar last week. One, the Texas Board of Education tentatively adopted new teaching standards that would make it more difficult to teach creationism in Lone Star state schools in an 8 to 7 vote. Even more importantly, President Obama lifted the ban on US funding for international organisations that offer advice or perform abortions, hoping to ease the suffering of millions of women worldwide. In a move that is sure to piss off a boatload of fundamentalists, he quietly rescinded what had become known as the "global gag order"- not the comedy kind of gag, the one where if you so much as think the word abortion, you lose your funding from the US government. Reagan created it, Clinton repealed it, Bush re-instated it and now Obama has continued the ping-pong rally between knowledge and faith. In fact, much like a mirror-image of Obama, Dubya re-instated the law in his first working day as president. After a campaign in which he said, "If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us...If we're a humble nation but strong, they'll welcome us. We've got to be humble and yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom." Then upon taking office, his first executive order imposed his way of thinking, the morality of the Christian Right, on the world. Of course, these were more innocent times, before the US was at war and there were more important things to worry about: (Get to about 1:20)

Yes, before 9/11 my friends, check out the date, June 14, 2001, ahh, those we're the days. One of the new president's biggest challenges is going to be overturning the ignorance that the Bush administration propagated and return his nation to the path of science.

Unlike the signing of the order to close Gitmo, this repeal was low-key. This follows the inauguration ceremony which featured a religious tightrope act by Obama involving the above mentioned Warren and the liberal appeasing invitation to Gene Robinson, the openly homosexual Episcopalian bishop. Someone from outside of America wouldn't understand the controversy surrounding the words "so help me G(g)od". The same could be said of the controversies around the Reverends Jeremiah Wright, Rod Parsley and John Hagee stories, strange doings in a strange land. Of course keeping people stupid has its advantages, especially for the big corporations, particularly big oil. A little learning might make us question why a nation would want to continue feeding a habit that directly supports and created the people who wants to destroy them. The only reason to deny that climate change is possibly created by mankind's actions and thereby avoid doing anything about it is the religious answer. Only God has the power to change the world, little ol' us couldn't possibly do any harm. They miss the point. Whether or not climate change is a dire threat, the solutions to it is primarily an energy problem. Reducing pollution is an energy problem, concerns about the global oil supply is an energy problem, reducing dependence on foreign oil is an energy problem, reducing the trade deficit is an energy problem, improving national security is, you guessed it, an energy problem.

Maybe we should capitalize the word Science. The window of opportunity is closing for America to change its ways, to become energy independent through smart investment in Science. Even one of the American dollar oil fed creation of Abu Dhabi is creating a zero-carbon city, heck it won't even have any cars, as the emirate can foresee a time when alternative energy is king. Yet, mention CO2 reduction as a good idea to a fundamentalist and the same old myths to protect their right to continue supporting the enemy in the 'war on terror' through the continued reliance on black gold spew forth. Maybe we should ask a Bulgarian if they think it's a good idea to continue to rely on Russian gas anymore. At a time when more effort needs to be focused on investing in education, specifically real Science, we shouldn't be wasting our energy arguing about whether or not intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution or if women should have access to all possible health information. It didn't seem to matter when it was far more important to get into business school and someday work on Wall Street, become a Master of the Universe by inventing a new financial derivative. The true Masters of the next century need to be the Science nerds who invent things we can use and once put a man on the moon. This time the work needs to be done closer to home, from the $1.6 trillion in needed infrastructure to the power grid to the means of producing that power. Time will tell if America can be guided off its course toward ignorance and hate, but reaffirming the division between church and state is a good place to start.


Troy said...

Who'd'a thunk it...a black man being sworn in as President actually admitting that Non-believers exist.

I suppose that's one step ahead in the long battle to actually enable us to even question those who believe in tooth-fairies, Thor, Jesus, leprechauns etc.

Question a recipe, a political ideology, a scientific theory as much as you please, but touch upon the celestial dictators and you're now offending!?

It's time to call these whims for what they are and move on...Only then can we really say...AHMEN!

Shane said...

Amen brother! Along with you I have no problems with people believing what they want, but as soon as it infringes on my life, the line must be drawn. Government represents me, therefore should have nothing to do with religion. Worse yet, the espousing of these beliefs often has side effects, such as slowing scientific advances. Keep it in the closet along with your sexual preferences!