Category Archives: Religion

Manners Matter

The recent trials of Curtis Reeves and Michael Dunn are sure to add fuel to the arguments for the increased need for more gun regulations. Reeves is on trial for the murder of Chad Oulson. Reeves had repeatedly asked Oulson to quit texting during the previews for the movie, Lone Survivor. He even went so far as to report the texting to the theater manager. Oulson, tired of being harassed by Reeves, picked up Reeves popcorn and threw it at him. Reeves then lost his cool, or panicked, or both, then took out his gun and shot Oulson.

Michael Dunn, is on trial for killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis. Dunn was at a gas station in Jacksonville, FL and asked a group of teens in an SUV to turn down their music. After the teens castigated Dunn with a barrage of threats and profanities, Dunn claims he saw a weapon in the SUV (no evidence of which was ever found) so he fired several rounds at the vehicle, presumably in self-defense.

It is easy to blame these murders on an angry racist subset of society, with too easy access to firearms. But that only gives us an excuse not to look deeper. The uncomfortable truth, one that most of us are guilty of, is that as a society, we have lost our sense of civility. We have forgotten that good manners are not something that we demand to be bestowed upon us, but rather something we bestow upon other people. It used to be an automatic attitude, drilled into us as children, that in order to live peaceably with others we sometimes had to endure some inconvenience and discomfort. We took our unruly children outside the restaurant or theater; we made our calls and answered our beepers outside or in the lobby. Even though we might be tired, we offered our seats to the elderly and handicapped. We didn’t push to the front of lines, or cuss out store clerks. As children we were taught to respect our elders and those in authority. We said please, thank you and excuse me, because it was how people with a good upbringing behaved.  Not because they were “magic” words we could use to get our way. We recognized that driving was a privilege not a right. We didn’t tailgate, cut people off, run red lights, or poach parking spaces on purpose.

We were also taught how to control our temper. We learned early that a tantrum would not get us toys or candy, but it might get us a spanking. Punching walls throwing things or otherwise destroying property wasn’t tolerated either. We were taught to try to find polite solutions to the people or activities that irritated us and if no polite solution was found, to remove ourselves from them.

Our homes, our schools, our churches and even the TV shows we watched, all taught us that everyone had rights. No one’s rights were more important than anyone else’s and those rights were to be respected. Sadly, not anymore.

Today’s gadget driven society feeds our egocentricity. We can be out in public without actually interacting with anyone. We have superficial conversations with friends, family, and even complete strangers, while ignoring the people right in front of us. We can hide in the apparent anonymity of a Face Book post or Twitter feed, and never have to really see the results of our words. We can blame guns, we can blame racism, we can buy into the ideal that we need more laws and stronger laws to protect us from each other. What we really need to do is some soul-searching, both individually and as a society. We need to ask ourselves how many more people have to die a senseless death before we recognize that our society is morally sick. It’s the kind of sickness that happens when people ignore the needs of their souls. It’s a sickness that no law, no government program can fix. It’s something we must recognize and heal ourselves.

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Good Thing I Have My Boots On (I Just Stepped Into the Primordial Ooze)

William Blake's etching/watercolour "Anci...

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I have been thinking about the controversy behind the teaching of intelligent design in the public school system. My opinion is that the classroom should be a place where the free exchange of ideas can take place. That cannot happen in an environment of political indoctrination. That being said lets examine some of the reasons for the controversy.

We are told that intelligent design is not taught because it promotes a religious viewpoint. To determine if that is true we first have to define what constitutes a religion. My Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary’s fourth definition of a religion is, ” A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” This same dictionary’s second definition of faith is, ” A belief in something for which there is no proof.” The third definition is, “Something that is believed esp. with strong convictions.”

There is nothing in the Bible, no sermon, no theological study that can prove concretely, without the shadow of a doubt that God does in fact exist.  My belief in God is the result of my faith, based on my study of the Bible, my observations of the world around me and the sum of my experiences. That element of faith is what makes my belief a religion.

On the other hand, there is nothing that science can produce, no controlled experiment, no theory, that can prove concretely, without the shadow of a doubt that God in fact does not exist.  People choose to believe there is no God based on their study of scientific theories, their observations of the world around them and the sum of their experiences.  Without proof of the non-existence of God their believe is also based on faith.  This defines Atheism as a religion.

I do not disagree that the theory of intelligent design leaves open a door to the theory of Creationism, but Evolution by its implied indorsement of Atheism also promotes a religious belief.  The public education system cannot use the Constitution to allow one belief but not another.

Let’s take a look at the first amendment. It states” Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

According to this principle, Public schools cannot compel nor forbid the teachings of evolution or intelligent design.  I say let out teachers truly educate our children by giving them a well thought out lesson on both theories, then teach them how to have a civilized debate on the subject and then draw their own conclusions.

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