The endless arguments between people who believe ABC and those who believe XYZ can get a bit confusing. To be helpful I decided to list some of the most common foundations for these arguments. The first part of this post is unprofessional and occasionally snarky, my take on the types of people who might rely on that particular foundation. It’s just to provide a few chuckles about a situation we’ve all been in–trapped by someone who is RIGHT, by-god, and don’t you forget it!
I heard it on the news, so it must be true! These are the folks you see buying the Enquirer at the local grocery store. Sometimes they don’t actually buy it, but you can be sure they are memorizing the headlines after they have unloaded their groceries on the conveyor belt. Those of us who consider ourselves above such written garbage are confidently sneering internally and thanking god (the REAL one) that we know better than to believe such nonsense. (But, seriously, wouldn’t it be a hoot if aliens had really taken over the US Government?)
Everybody knows that. Some people know “Everybody,” who is a close relative of “Somebody,” only with multiple personality disorder. They are tuned into some vague matrix of information that provides them with infallible truth about “Everything,” which is a close cousin of “Nothing.” When relying on this argument, they indicate that you are either pretty stupid, way out of the loop, not too popular, or a combination of all three. None of us want to be unpopular, so the temptation to buy into those things that “everybody knows” is hard to resist.
My best friend told me. She wouldn’t lie to me. This is a variant of “everybody knows that,” except it has much more clout, because this is first-hand information provided by someone who places truth at the top of the list. Certainly that was also true of the friend’s best friend, who learned it from her aunt, who heard it from her best friend, who read it in the Enquirer. Unfortunately by the time it filters down to you, it’s gone through the modern version of “Telephone,” which is called “Twitter.” (Wouldn’t it be a hoot if the US Government used Twitter to keep us all updated on “Alternative Facts,” which is closely related to “Alternative Truth?”)
I know nothing about this subject, but can spit out insults that will curl your hair. This person could rightfully be called a gladiator for the truth. He lives in a very comfortable echo chamber and is not at all interested in moving. Besides U-Haul doesn’t rent a moving van big enough to haul the mountains of theories (mostly listed under “conspiracy”) that this person holds dear, and will fight to the death to defend. The Roman Emperors may have been extremely proud of the Colosseum, but they would die of envy over Facebook and Twitter. The gladiator for the truth believes that any polite and rational discussion on any subject is a death ray pointed directly at him and everything he holds dear. When facing a death ray, it is really hard to think clearly because the adrenaline is taking over your brain, so resorting to playground insults–upgraded to “X”–is the only option. (Wouldn’t it be a hoot if there really was a death ray that the US Government could use to protect us from all our enemies? A special type of death ray that would only obliterate our enemies, but not leave a scratch on us?) God said….. Now, I am going to rein in my snarky attitude and irreverence. I try very hard not to be disrespectful of religious beliefs, unless they are clearly harmful. The human tendency to be especially passionate about religion is not restricted to any one culture, and there are fanatics and rigid thinkers in all of them. The most common argument seems to be between those who “believe” in science, and those who “believe” in literal interpretations of whatever scripture they think contains the truth. Because this is an area that many of us struggle with, I want to share something I once read in a novel that made a lot of sense to me.
I do not remember the name of the book or the author, so I cannot give credit where it is due. But this is the back story: A young man is studying to be a rabbi, but he is experiencing a great deal of uncertainty and doubt. He is particularly confused by the story of Creation, which he cannot reconcile with modern scientific “theory.” He seeks the counsel of a learned Rabbi and this is (as best I remember it) what the Rabbi said: “Torah is not meant to teach us what we can learn through our own God-given intelligence. It is meant to teach us what our spiritual responsibilities are to that which is sacred–ourselves, each other, our world and God.”
I do not think there is ultimately any conflict between science and religion. They are simply different languages by which we understand and communicate our experience of this world.
©Martha Hurwitz, 12/12/17
Inspired by daily prompt: theory