Thursday, September 12, 2013

God in School

I wish I had a better title than the above for I do not believe it does this post justice.  Nothing better came to mind to kind of pull together the thoughts roaming around in my head.

Let's start with Miley Cyrus.  Not only did she grab attention at the VMA's, but the next thing you know, she is featured in a music video riding a giant wrecking ball naked (with hands strategically placed) seductively licking a sledge hammer.  I've read more than a few opinion pieces analyzing, criticizing, and supporting her behavior.  And I ask, "Is it surprising?"

Let's then move to Anthony Weiner.  I posted about a shouting match he had the other day with a fellow Jewish New Yorker.  New York voters soundly rejected him as a mayoral candidate particularly after he was found to be sexting even after losing his congressional seat for doing the same thing.  One of his sexting partners showed up at his election party.  After all was said and done, Weiner flipped the bird at reporters showing little contrition for anything he had done or was doing.  And I ask, "Is this surprising?"

We move now to violence and the horrendous murders we have seen taking place in the news--particularly those with a racial overtone.  I find it interesting how the different news networks have begun dealing with such matters after the George Zimmerman trial.  Suddenly, each time a black person harms or kills a white person, there is a racial overtone and vice-versa.  There seems to be a concerted effort to highlight violence that occurs between people of different color/race/ethnicity.  And I ask, "Is such violence surprising?"

Now, we head toward the widening gap between the wealthy and the poor.  I saw several stories in the past few days highlighting the fact that the wealthy keep getting more wealth while the poor remain in poverty.  The few are lording it over the many, and there are cries rising up about the injustice of it all.  But I ask, "Is it really surprising?"

I mean, I think all of these things have something in common.  There is a common thread that actually binds it all together.

Think about what we teach now in school regarding human beings and how they came into existence.  In our science classes we teach that man descended from apes.  Man is simply another animal who evolved--there is nothing special about him.  And how did that evolution occur?  Through natural selection and genetic mutation.  Now, we know we have little control over genetic mutation.  This happens when our genes fail to make exact replicas either by a mistake in the replication process or from some sort of mechanism including being affected by radiation from the sun.  It really doesn't matter--it's out of any control that we exert.

Ah, but natural selection--that's another story.  For natural selection is all about the survival of the fittest.  Death and disease wipes out the lesser and the weaker leaving the strong to thrive and survive.  Passing on one's genes means rising to the top of the food chain, striving to be the highest on the ladder to ensure survival of one's genetic lineage.  It means attracting the alpha of the opposite sex as well to ensure a good genetic bond.  And protecting one's genes from those considered lesser is paramount!  When a threat arises to challenge our status, it must be met and put down decisively.  This is the natural way of things.  Nature isn't some kind of Eden where everything gets along.  It's fight, flight, freeze, and reproduce to pass on one's genes and ensure the survival of the species.

Sure, we talk about tit for tat and kindness being a part of the evolutionary process.  We talk about how one species can be kind to ensure its survival--particularly if it's effective for a weaker beta male or female.  But this is merely descriptive--it is not proscriptive.

This what we teach in school.  Plain and simple.  And we offer no sort of corrective to this in our science classes at all.  Most high schools that I am aware of do not have the resources to offer philosophy or theology classes, and so most students are taught that this is what makes us tick--as the animals we have evolved to be.

And God forbid that we invoke any thought of a Creator in the educational process for that violates the separation of church and state.  That is establishing a religion, and we simply cannot have that. 

But we have no presented ourselves with a major conundrum.  For science isn't capable of getting us from what is to what ought.  And as a society, we have walked away from any sort of universal ought when it comes to morals and actions--in short we have walked away from any sort of religious foundations for morals and ethics.

And because of that, we are left with evolutionary thought guiding our behaviors and thoughts.  The very stuff we taught in school.  And it surprises me that many get so upset when people act like evolution has bred us to act:

When Miley Cyrus uses sexuality to make herself desirable and wealthy, she is simply using what nature gave her to climb the ladder and pass on her genes.

Anthony Weiner does the same thing from a male point of view.

Interracial violence mirrors what goes on in nature when different colors of fur cause species to attack one another from within.

Garnering more wealth is simply a way of garnering more power and prestige--rising to the top of the evolutionary ladder.

And even though kindness is shown in nature, there is nothing--nothing at all--there to take us from is to ought.  There is nothing which says kindness ought to be the rule instead of fight, flight, freeze, or reproduction. 

Only religion offers a foundation to take us from is to ought.  Only faith gives us a foundation to go against many of the evolutionary instincts which drive us. 

A failure to recognize this means we will simply keep teaching the same things and expecting different results.  Perhaps God does indeed need to be reintroduced in school--not as a means of forcing religion upon anyone, but by helping folks understand:

We are more than animals.

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