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Erasing Battle Lines

Posted: September 16, 2010 by Alexandria in Alexandria's Mind
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I was reading an opinion piece in USA Today by Columnist Chris Mooney.  See below.

We hear a lot these days about the “conflict” between science and religion — the atheists and the fundamentalists, it seems, are constantly blasting one another. But what’s rarely noted is that even as science-religion warriors clash by night, in the morning they’ll see the battlefield has shifted beneath them.

My Response to USA Today:

As a religious fundamentalist I was taught to deny science and fact.  Now that I have made my exodus from religion I am free to accept science and realize that it does not undermine my belief in God.  Religion is by no means an authority on spirituality, nor should we continue to allow it to be the sole arbiter on things sacred and moral.  Religions are man-made institutions; human perspectives of the divine, not divine perspectives of humanity.  A shift from religious fundamentalism to a focus on spirituality frees us to appreciate culture, history and science, moving us past the idea of tolerance, which most fundamentalists don’t practice anyway, to celebration and identification with all of humanity.

Gandhi said, “No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive.”  It has seemed impossible for religion to avoid exclusivity.  For when we seek to possess God, we create an atmosphere of ignorance, hatred and fear of anything that appears different, including other religions and science.  Religion teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world and draws arbitrary lines between science and truth; good and godly, so that the science is now in opposition to God and the good man is condemned to hell.  Not only does this support a narrow view of God, but it locks us into a narrow view of ourselves.  Spirituality is something everyone can have, and it seeks to erase the ancient battle lines between science and religion, promoting openness, appreciation, humility, and acceptance.

Mr. Keats stood at the front of the class staring intently into the eyes of his students.  He had a larger than life personality.  He was dramatic and convincing.  His colleagues said he missed his true calling.

“We’re going to begin the year with arithmetic,” Mr. Keats announced to the first grade class.

Lauren smiled to herself, very pleased with the topic of study.  All of that time spent with her mom in grocery stores and baking during the summer was going to pay off.  Mr. Keats turned his back to the class and scribbled on the board.  His arms swooshed in large motions, the grains of chalk pressed against the blackboard like mortar and pestle.  He dropped the chalk in its silver tray sending a puff of dust into the air and turned to face his class.

He looked out over the sea of faces.  Some of them smiled up at him, but more than half sat stunned.  The students exchanged glances with one another.  Lauren sat at the front of the class and stared at the equation on the board (1+1=3).  Her eyebrows furrowed.

“How can that be?” Lauren asked herself.  She thought about raising her hand.  Maybe Mr. Keats had made a mistake.  Her heart began pounding.  The sound flooded her ears until it was all she could hear.  Lauren never really spoke up in class.  She clenched her hands into fists.  Her palms started to sweat and her nails dug deeper into her moist skin.  She drew in a few deep breaths to calm herself, but it did not work.  Time ticked away.  Her stomach twisted and dropped as if caught in a free-fall.  She quickly abandoned the thought of speaking up. Maybe someone else would do it.  Maybe someone else would risk looking like a fool in front of the entire class.  She sat fidgeting at her desk and growing more and more anxious.  Mr. Keats made no attempt to correct the equation.  Lauren’s confidence was tumbling like an avalanche.  No one in the class made a move to ask the question.  Was she the only one?

Her voice went off like a siren in her head.  “Would somebody please raise their hand!”

*Stay tuned for tomorrow’s explanation.