The continuous record of progress in the ascent of mankind (and society) from the paleolithic era to the present, would inarguably appear to be commensurate with the rate of decline in superstitious belief. As eons of time passed, earthly phenomena, thunder and lightning, plague, successful or failed crops, change of seasons, extreme weather, childbirth, life and death, were subjects of empirical experience, by reason of which man began to acquire, and accumulate, rational explanations; these usefully supplanted former legendary lore which, universally, attributed causation to some supernatural agency.
Our Founding Fathers, several of whom were sincere Deists, bearing in mind Europe’s history of religious repression and injustice, desired to create a secular nation, featuring an unassailable mandate of separation of church and state. It is to be noted that there is absolutely no reference, whatsoever, to a deity in the Constitution (except the guarantee of freedom of belief). They also feared that the inclusion of religion in the foundational philosophy of the new republic, would run the risk of the undemocratic influence of religious zealots.
The early archetype of the ideal citizen of the new republic, was a self-made, self- educated person, who was successful by means of his diligence and pursuit of knowledge, fame and fortune. Thomas Paine described the latter part of the 18th Century as the “Age of Reason,” wherein a citizen’s intellectual capabilities was his primary judge.
The struggle to attain the goal of enlightenment, sadly, continues to date; the Scopes “Monkey Trial” in which the “blasphemous” teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution, was prosecuted by the State as a criminal offense, was as recent as 1925. At the present time there are a great many citizens who we have impatiently described as “flat earth people,” who, stubbornly cling to their beliefs in traditional, but disproven or irrational dogma, publicly denying evolution, as well as matters of serious existential concern, such as climate change.
It has been our consistent position that evolution’s truly generous gift of an advanced brain to mankind, carries with it the (grateful) obligation to make use of it to one’s fullest capability, in the pursuit of enlightenment. The atavistic dependence on irrational superstition is an unforgiveable impediment to the dedicated march of mankind toward a just and rational existence; from a morally responsible sense, it is a betrayal of his anthropological duty.
There persists, in this modern day and age, the atavistic belief that the Bible (Old and New Testament) is the primary authority respecting human life and is a reference to be consulted for ultimate answers to mundane and existential questions. Initially, it may be noted that every recognized religion (and perhaps certain cults) has its own distinct book of inherited “ultimate truths” which seems to demonstrate, respectively, major differences in precept.
The declaration that the holy scriptures contain life’s ultimate truths and is to be consulted on a regular basis as the guide to proper living is, apparently, grounded upon the belief that it was written with the inspiration and guidance of the Deity. The men who wrote the (very many iterations) of the Bible, and who “wrote with the inspiration of the omniscient Deity”, declared that the Sun orbited around the Earth [many were burnt at the stake for espousing the accurate, but blasphemous, heliocentric theory.] The Bible, in its “infallible” language approves of slavery, capital punishment, xenophobia, warfare, revenge and a servile place of women as compared to men.Further, It is worded in archaic obtuse language, readily capable of subjective interpretation, as necessary,for self-serving rationalization.
We sincerely do empathize with the many people who employ the Holy Book for needed comfort; life can, indeed, be difficult and disappointing, even tragic; the irrefutable, ever- present awareness, of our universal mortality is, objectively, very troubling. May we be forgiven if we, with due respect, use the metaphor of the common Teddy Bear, used by toddlers for comfort at bedtime, to portray the widespread use of the holy book for the acquisition of courage, or as a reaction to tragedy. At the risk of an accusation of being pedantic or lacking empathy, we are obliged to recommend the more rational and effective, reliance upon experienced wisdom, and on the comfort of close friends and family, rather than on any physical object of superstitious attribution. The recommended source of human comfort appears to be mature and certainly more in keeping with a rational acceptance our natural plight as mortals, but, all the same, as highly developed, healthy and, most importantly, rational beings.