Saturday, March 17, 2012

Maybe Rick Santorum Was Right

I recently finished reading Jon Krakauer's Under The Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, which in part tells the story of the murder of a woman and her toddler child by two of the brothers of her husband because they believed it was a deed sanctioned by God.

I started reading Under The Banner of Heaven a few days after Republican presidential candidate and self-appointed busy body of all things sexual Rick Santorum called colleges "indoctrination mills" and claimed in an interview with Glenn Beck that 62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.”

Where Under The Banner of Heaven ties into this is near the end of the book.  One of the persons Krakauer introduces the reader to is an apostate from the Mormon Fundamentalist Church named DeLoy Bateman.

Bateman tells Krakauer what led him to eventually leave his church and abandon his faith.

"Even as a young boy," he says, "I remember wondering about contradictions between what the religion taught and scientific truth.   But Uncle Roy told us that the way to handle that was just to avoid asking certain kinds of questions.  So I trained myself to ignore the contradictions.  I got good at not letting myself think about them."

When he turned 18, Bateman attended Southern Utah State College, because his church wanted him to become a teacher.

Bateman says, "I loved college.  Looking back, I suppose it was the beginning of the end for me.  I stayed in the religion for another twenty years, but going to college in Cedar City was when I had my eyes opened.  That's where I took my first geology course.  Afterward I came home and told Uncle Roy, 'There's a professor over there trying to tell us the earth is four and a half billion years old, but the religion says its only six thousand years old.  How can that be?'  Which shows you why education is such a problem for the Work.  You take someone like me, who was always as stalwart as can be, and then you ship him off to get an education and the guy goes and apostasizes on you.  Happens over and over again.  And every time it does, it makes the leaders more inclined to keep people from learning."  (Bolding mine).

You see some of that with Rick Santorum, who constantly likes to point out that he homeschools his kids.  After all, he doesn't want his children to be exposed to somebody else's agenda, and Heavens forbid, be indoctrinated into becoming a liberal!

One of the things I have noticed about right wing conservatives is the way they frame their language.  They begin with the premise that their beliefs are normative and correct.  Therefore, anyone who advocates for positions that run contrary to their own have "an agenda."  Anything taught to their children that runs counter to their beliefs is an attempt to "indoctrinate" them.  These people are either being disingenuous or willfully obtuse when they refuse to recognize that they too have an agenda and trying to teach their children strictly in accordance with their own beliefs involves indoctrinating them.  After all, to believe in the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation ultimately involves telling a child, "This is what the Church teaches.  You just have to have faith and believe it."

I don't know if anyone has explicitly asked Santorum this, but I would like to see him be asked, "What is the difference between telling a child that a Communion wafer becomes the flesh of Jesus Christ when it enters one's mouth and telling a child that human activities are releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, which traps heat and warms the planet?  After all, one cannot physically test the communion wafer to detect changes in its properties when it enters the mouth of a believing Catholic, but one can measure the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the rise in temperature and the shrinking of glaciers and Arctic sea ice." 

Rick Santorum may consider it a terrible tragedy if an 18 year old Catholic enters college believing in the doctrine of transubstantiation and leaves college at 21 believing it to be nothing but medieval superstitious nonsense, but it shouldn't be a reason to oppose expanding opportunity for Americans to  attend college.

8 comments:

Robert the Skeptic said...

If we were to compare what people knew about the natural world 2000 years ago versus today, the amount of factual information man has gained is remarkable. I have heard statements like 90% of what we know about medicine we have gained in the last 50 years; about cosmology, in the last 10. But if we, unlike our predecessors 2000 years ago know what causes lightening, the atomic structure of matter, that bacteria and viruses cause illness… why does this strong belief in the supernatural transcendence persist?

I think it goes to the underlying acceptance that humans seek life, pleasure, meaning and they want that to not come to an end when they die. Period! All religions, and I mean ALL of them from the Catholic Church to the indigenous tribes living in the deep wilderness worshipping the Monkey God or whatever. Humans really really really want their beliefs to be true and contradictory information to that fact is threatening to some.

Some philosopher once said: “One believes readily what one hopes for earnestly.”

Tommykey said...

Well said, Robert!

desertscope said...

I was just about to recommend Under the Banner of Heaven as a comment to your previous post when I saw this. I thought the book was quite an eye-opener for those of us not well-versed in the only major religion founded in America.

As far education causing people to question their beliefs, I think Santorum and other religious loons are correct in seeing education as a threat to their social order.

Tommykey said...

Hi Desertscope!

In the book, Krakauer refers to some people who made comparisons between Mormonism and Islam.

With any religion, there will always be a spectrum of religious devotion, from those who are really only nominal in their practice of it to the hardcore at the other end of the spectrum. With the latter, there is often a tendency to emulate the founder or early founders of the religion because that is seen as the holiest one can be.

We see it in Islam with the Salafists, who try to dress and eat and conduct themselves the way they believe Muhammed and his earliest followers did.

In Mormonism, because of the polygamous beliefs of its founders, a segment of Mormons will always try to be polygamists in an attempt to capture what they believe to be the purer beliefs of Joseph Smith.

Kold_Kadavr_flatliner, sub/dude said...

I have found what few other human mortals on this playing field have yet to discover: a Way Home, past this violence and materialism that has so engulfed, so enveloped our populace on this journey to our demise; because you’re ignorant on how to rise above the whorizontal world and one-outta-one shall croak sometime, somewhere soon, God has set-up this magnificent feature on the Way either Upstairs or downtown: the Warning. Everyone (me, too) living on this planet will see and feel the Warning lasting about 20ish minutes, showing U.S. a gorgeous picture of Heaven, Purgatory (depending whether our sins demand a greater punishment before being allowed into the Great Beyond), and dagnasty Hell. Remember, God doesn’t condemn; we condemn ourselves by our sinful lifestyles of unbelief. The Warning’s just a wake-up call. Don’t believe me? Guhroovy. You will soon. God bless you with discernment: atheism is cool, isn't it, till you croak...

Tommykey said...

I have found what few other human mortals on this playing field have yet to discover: a Way Home, past this violence and materialism that has so engulfed, so enveloped our populace on this journey to our demise

Hey, everyone suffers from delusions of grandeur at some point in their lives.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

I only claim I'm perfect in arguments with my wife, and for some odd reason she never agrees.

"whorizontal"?; "Guhroovy"? Oh, jeebus, you gotta appreciate the pure comedy that unintentionally comes from these holy rollers, sometimes. My eyes are watering...

Tommykey said...

I'm still trying to figure out what "dagnasty Hell" means.