In the year 9 BC, on this day, the shrine commissioned by the Roman emperor Augustus was dedicated to Pax, the goddess of peace. It was erected in Rome's Campus Martius (heh, irony) and consisted of a marble altar in a walled enclosure, with many beautiful sculptures representing scenes from Roman legends and the dedication ceremonies. It's still there, apparently, at least in part, and is considered to be among the finest examples of Roman art.
So I've been reading up on Scientology, just out of morbid curiosity, and I have something to say:
XENU??? ALIENS??? HYDROGEN BOMBS IN VOLCANOES??? What the HELL? I mean, I know that the whole Xenu thing is a less important part of the church's doctrine and that Hubbard was drinking and popping painkillers when he wrote the whole Xenu story, but come ON. This is why sci-fi authors shouldn't be allowed to start religions!!!
I mean, honestly, who converts to Scientology knowing that these beliefs are part of the doctrine? Plus anyone with a modicum of science education can see big ol' holes all through their "scientific basis" for the faith. I mean, at least I can see where the Christians were coming from, even if I don't believe- their religion was founded when there was need for explanations. We didn't really need to refute the Big Bang theory in the 1960's by saying that Dark Lord Xenu killed a bunch of people by exploding a volcano with an atomic bomb and then stealing their souls to brainwash them.
The scientologists combine all the crazy dogma of a cult with the annoying proselytizing of the worst evangelical Christians. If, for example, the auditors didn't often use the counseling as a mere excuse to push teachings, there would be good in this faith, but too often everything just becomes a chance for the church to get more power.
And that business about silent births? Personally, I'd rather I had an imprint in my "reactive mind" of joy and celebration at my birth, noises of laughter and happy and relieved tears, than of silence and forced calm. I'm just saying.
All right, I'm shutting up now. At least about Scientology.
I took an online quiz- a reputable one, too- on religion that said I was closest in my beliefs to Reform Judaism (actually, it said I was 100% Reform Jew, but that's because it didn't ask the kind of questions that would have shown the difference). It's said this before, pretty much every time. Unfortunately, the same thing differs me from Reform Judaism as differs me from every other religion- I believe that every faith comes from the same divinity, and the variations in faith come from either God backtracking and trying to correct the failings of free will, or from human interpretation gone terribly wrong. I guarantee you won't find many a faith that says "Every religion comes from God, the same God, but anything you hear in any religion is tainted by mankind's interpretation- including this one."
Basically, I believe that we're all going to be a little wrong no matter what and learning the truth is a question of learning as much about religion as possible, and finding the things in common- because if something is a common truth in all religions, chances are it didn't come from man, but from God's original message. Like "thou shalt not kill-" you'd be hard pressed to find faiths that condone murder of human beings. Thus, we can pretty much assume that that's not been mucked around with too much in the translation.
I'm sorry I keep leaking my faith out into this blog. I just got to thinking about religion today because we were talking about the concept of special creation in biology class. The professor's talking about opposition to Darwinian theory and he kind of had to address it. He seems to relish debunking Creationism and ID, though.
Don't get me wrong, I believe in evolution. Completely. I think that's how God created us. Not my point. See, the professor has this way of speaking about it that doesn't just say "Creationism and ID are religious viewpoints that are completely contrary to evolutionary evidence and can't be scientifically proven," but rather, "Creationism and ID are idiotic, antiquated viewpoints that deserve to be thrown out completely in favor of scientific theories, and anyone who believes them is an uneducated fundie redneck." Oh, and he refers to the special creator (in most religions, God) in a tone that so obviously says that he's an atheist, and he's going to think less of someone who chooses the divine explanation.
I'm an evolutionist and I think that creationism shouldn't be taught in schools. At least not public ones. But honestly? I was kind of offended. He's being completely intolerant! Some people are in that class because it's required for their major, and they might really be a creationist or in favor of ID. Most of that class probably at least believes in a higher power of some sort. I know he needs to explain that Creationism is not a valid counter-theory to evolution, but he could do it a little more tactfully. I never thought I'd be offended by pro-evolution comments.
My high school biology teacher had a good way of dealing with it. She said, "In this class I'll be teaching evolution. If you believe in creationism, that's your choice. I'm not asking you to believe in evolution, I'm asking you to understand the concept and it's importance to what we believe we now know about biology. If you feel concerned about something, bring it up with your religious leader and they should set you straight in regards to your faith-- I'm teaching what scientists believe."
I don't know. Maybe I'm being too sensitive about the whole thing-- I mean, you really can't understand modern biology if you don't believe in at least some parts of evolutionary theory. But he's got a bunch of freshmen, a good chunk of whom probably came from small towns that feared lawsuits and taught really crappy science, and he's asking them to completely flip everything they know on it's head, stop believing in what they've been told all their life, and do what he says, and he doesn't even have the decency to refer to their religious doctrine without scorn in his voice.
The least he could do is quit talking like God is a concept we should have given up with the Abominable Snowman and the Tooth Fairy.
Oh, and if you're curious, here's Penn&Teller's Bullshit on creationism in our schools: parts one, two, and three. Be warned, though, while they're interesting, they mock creation science at times. Then again, they're a show aimed at people who believe in evolution. If you want creationism or ID to be taught in public high schools, it's officially required reading.