Thursday, April 30, 2009

Faith Must Make Room for Doubt

A couple of weeks ago, I was preaching on the morning gospel text taken from John. In the text, Jesus appears for the first time to the disciples after his resurrection. First, they think they are seeing a ghost. They are scared, indeed terrified. It's not every day that a dead guy comes by to visit. They really don't know what to make of it all.

This may seem a bit surprising. All the more so, since, according to the gospel account, Jesus had told them that he would die, be dead three days, and rise again. Then there was Mary-- the first evangelist of the resurrection. She had told the disciples that she had seen the Lord. Peter and John had "checked out" her story and found an empty tomb. Cleopas and his traveling companion had seen Jesus-- who even provided dinner for them. They told the disciples as well.

Now, the disciples see. But, they can't believe their eyes. Jesus meets them where they are. He offers his hands and feet for inspection. Eventually, he eats a little snack in front of them. This is no ghost. He was offering the disciples all kinds of proof that he was really alive.

The disciples? The account says that that they were filled with joy. But, it says they were also "disbelieving and wondering." How can this be? It's all faith. Or is it doubt? You see, faith walks a fine line. True faith is about belief, certainly. But it also makes room for doubt. In fact, as Paul Tillich insists, faith includes doubt.

Those with true faith must always come praying the prayer of the pleading parent seeking Jesus' help. "I do believe! Help my unbelief!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Why What Happens to the Baha'is Matters So Much

There seems to be no end to the evil towards which absolutism tends. How can there be? When one is right in the eyes of God Almighty, all else seems to vanish in insignificance. So it seems with right-wing Christian fundamentalists. Witness their ridiculous tirades against such "forces of evil" as insuring adequate health care availability for all Americans. Or ponder their war on humanity and our very survival as they grapple for yet more control of the GOP and attempts to stymie efforts to stop a global climate catastrophe. Like all fundamentalists conceptions-- it's all pretty nuts. (Remember how they supported George in the killing of WHO KNOWS HOW MANY Iraqis.)

Lately, my posts have dealt with fundamentalism from the atheist side. Just as dangerous. Read a few of the posts beginning with the 4/6 posting until this one. The "new atheists" (also fundamentalists) have much violence to promote and much hatred to spew. It seems like it just comes with the territory of absolutism-- a phenomenon which certainly, at some point, begins to incorporate religious and/or political authoritarianism.

The "or" of the "and/or" is bad news, but pity the one under the tyranny of the "and." And that is the case in Iran. Of course, every authoritarian regime must have it's "whipping boy." For the Nazis it was the Jews. For the Iranian Islamic crazies, it's the Baha'is.

The Baha'i Faith began in Persia in the mid nineteenth century. It no doubt had it's roots in messianic shi'a Islam, but it soon transcended those roots to become a tolerant faith, embracing the prophets of all the major religions. Baha'is eschew partisan politics and work for global understanding and world peace. Yet, their openness and tolerance, they hardly fits in with the fundamentalist Islamic state, which has legally ruled that they are not a religion, deserve no protections, and have engaged in a policy of killing, arresting, confiscating of Bahai's property, and incarceration.

There current tack is to label Baha'is spies for Israel-- a completely ludicrous charge. Why not, when they have been labeled spies and executed as spies for about every other nation as well? This is religious hate-- pure and simple.

As Roya Hakakian points out, this should carry special concerns for Jews, who have first hand knowledge of such treatment at the hands of their countrymen. The situation has not escaped the noticed of US lawmakers. HR Resolution 175 was proposed in February, but never made it out of committee. Is that because Baha'is represent only a small portion of the American electorate and therefore can be summarily dismissed? I invite all readers to read Representative Kirk's official posting on the situation. He far outdoes me in eloquence. I don't know if he is a liberal, conservative, Republican, or Democrat, but you need to read it. The Resolution likely is more symbolic than effectual. Still, what if masses of Americans raised an outcry-- an opportunity offered by the Resolution? Doesn't morality at times call for moral outrage?

So why does all of this matter to you and me? I could mention that I have a good friend who is a Baha'i, a fellow spiritual traveler, one who challenges my thinking, and is one of the most fair- minded individuals I know. That's all true. Still, it is not, ultimately, my rationale for deciding why this matters. It plays a role, because it tells me something about Baha'is. Still, there are larger concerns. Really, it's simple. Absolutism of all stripes is on the rise. It offers simplistic answers to complex questions. "Just check your brains at the the door, and let BIG DADDY [whoever that may be in any given case-- whether Bush, Dobson and Robertson, or Dawkins, Hitchens, or Harris, or worse (to a degree anyway) hatemongers like bin Laden or Ahmadinejad] do the driving." Only in isn't so simple. And as anyone can see, it is a tree with rotten fruit. No. We must reject the way of the absolutist religious and political zealot and demand a different way. How much more such "religion" can the world endure?

What will you do? Maybe a good place to start is by contacting your US representative.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where is the Self? Who Are You (Really)?

Recently, I have been reading Chris Hedges book I Don't Believe in AtheistsHedges has already distinguished himself by writing several brilliant books. He is especially adept at taking on fundamentalism (see esp. American Fascists). Hedges has produced an insightful look at the craziness and scariness of Christian fundamentalism. Now he sets his sights on atheist fundamentalism. This short series will take a chapter by chapter look and offer some commentary on I Don't Believe in Atheism.  


Final Chapter:  "The Illusive Self"

Strange that I happened to be finishing this Hedges' book at the exact same time that I was finishing Fuller's Psychology and Religion.  Of course, as advertised, these postings are my attempt at an interaction with Hedges' book.  They are sort of a commentary/dialogue.  We've looked at the book a chapter at a time, and I don't want the reader to think that this has all been some blog version of a "book report."  There is way too much James Alexander and far to little Chris Hedges here for that conclusion.  Hedges' book is quite a worthy read.  As always, he is brilliant, engaging, and provocative.

But, as a bit of an aside, Fuller's book fits right in here.  It is look at eight classical positions coming from psychology relative to religion.  It begins, as one might expect, with William James, then Freud, on to Jung, Allport, and so on.  One thing is pretty apparent,  Most of the classic voices of psychology are not hostile to religion (exception being, perhaps, Freud).  Also, many of them agree that humanity's problems are largely spiritual in nature.  They may not agree about who or what God is-- the eight theorists offer a range of opinions ranging from our own subconscious to an actual Supreme Being to uncertainty concerning the whole question. But, they all deal with Hedges' topic of the illusive self.

We really don't know the self.  We may know the ego, the "I" that the knower within us observes.  We may identify ourselves as the knower.  But, we fail to know who we really are.  As such, we are easily taken in and easily bedazzled by fast-talking car salesmen, TV preachers, and popular atheists.

The real essence is captured by Albert Camus as quoted by Hedges, "On the whole, men are more good than bad; that however isn't the real point.  They are more or less ignorant...."  It is here that the danger lies.  Being convinced that we can "fix ourselves up" with a bit of effort, we let our guard down.  Our ignorance kicks in, and we underestimate our potential for choosing the wrong.

Religion can guide folks here.  Not the institutional stuff.  That is something that all eight of the psychological gurus Fuller reviews are clear on.  Folks know that.  As Hedges points out, people all pick and choose, they choose the parts of the religious tradition that helps and ignore the crazy, unhelpful parts.  Religion, as Allport and James so clearly point out, is a living changing endeavor.  This is as true for Christians as for Muslims-- and everyone else.

But, the "new atheists" come along and, since we are ignorant of our true nature, offer a short cut:  Just let them do the driving.  They will show us the path to Nirvana.  And more of us are being suckered in to absolutist unthinking religion or absolutist unthinking atheism all of the time.  We want an easy way out of the confusion of this so confusing world.  We simply don't want to do the "work" of life.  All of the fundamentalists-- religious and atheists make it seem so easy.  It really is the opiate of the masses, you know.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Humiliation and Terrorism

Recently, I have been reading Chris Hedges book I Don't Believe in Atheists. Hedges has already distinguished himself by writing several brilliant books. He is especially adept at taking on fundamentalism (see esp. American Fascists). Hedges has produced an insightful look at the craziness and scariness of Christian fundamentalism. Now he sets his sights on atheist fundamentalism. This short series will take a chapter by chapter look and offer some commentary on I Don't Believe in Atheism.

Chapter 6: "Humiliation and Revenge"

Hedges begins Chapter Six with a discussion of Harris' The End of Faith. Harris does not see Islam as being legitimate or peaceful in any reasonable manner. He does not view Islam as a large faith that is being hijacked by a minority of extremists. He believes that Islamic terrorism is the only logical conclusion to Islam as a whole. It is the logical conclusion of the Koran and the literature of the hadith.

Of course, as Hedges points out, none of the "new atheists" are students of Islam, neither Harris nor Dawkins; Dennett nor Hitchens. From the perspective of Hedges (one time middle east bureau chief for the New York Times), they write out of their ignorance, but there is more.

In their confident assertions concerning Islam, they completely ignore the role that humiliation and historical forces (much bound up with US policy and hubris) have had in fermenting anger. Humiliation is a strong force in extracting revenge. The Serbs justified ethic cleansing of Muslim populations on former humiliations. Israel justifies repression of the Palestinian populations as it recalls the Holocaust-- an atrocity with which no connection can be claimed. Yet, Arabs are equated with Nazis. Americans, at least under the Bush administration, were taught to equate Iraqis with al-Qaeda, yet no credible connection was ever established. In each case, national humiliation has been used to justify revenge.

We now have ( I hope this will decrease) a situation, where many Americans were taught an apocalyptic view, as were many Islamists. Both believe they are morally right and beyond the possibility of error. It has become a battle, for both sides, of good vs. evil, God vs. Satan. The new atheists, being overwhelmingly right-wing neo-cons offer a secular version of all of this-- but the same old absolutist story.

Yet, the longer the US maintains an occupational war on and in Islamic nations, the more the humiliation will grow. As it grows, more terrorists will be recruited to the cause. Bush announced a war without limits. I hope Obama is not so foolish. An endless war is every bit as apocalyptic and crazy as any idea that al-Qaeda's leaders have suggested. Isolation and containment of extremists within their own societies and nations has been judged by many strategists as much more effective than occupations and further marginalization of whole populations and associated humiliation: The breeding ground for more terrorists.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Nature of Human Nature

Recently, I have been reading Chris Hedges book I Don't Believe in Atheists. Hedges has already distinguished himself by writing several brilliant books. He is especially adept at taking on fundamentalism (see esp. American Fascists). Hedges has produced an insightful look at the craziness and scariness of Christian fundamentalism. Now he sets his sights on atheist fundamentalism. This short series will take a chapter by chapter look and offer some commentary on I Don't Believe in Atheism.


Chapter 5: "The Myth of Moral Progress"


Hedges prefaces this chapter with a quote from Reinhold Niebuhr. Embedded within that quote, one finds the words, "The idea of progress is only possible upon the ground of a Christian Culture." Of course, non-absolutist that I am, I'd have to argue with Reinhold on that one. But, Hedges isn't quoting it to assert the absolute superiority of the Christian religion. He, too, rejects absolutism. What is a most positive aspect about the Judeo/Christian epistemology is that it takes "human fallen-ness" (human "flawen-ness") so seriously.

The Enlightenment changed everything about western culture-- even that of those who claim to be Enlightenment rejectors. At the heart of the Enlightenment was a positivism that was (almost?) cocky. The certainty flowed out of Enlightenment faith that science would solve our problems and make our twisted world turn round right. In short, it was a utopianism that was, in some manner, replacing the millenarian views of religion. Yet, at the end of the Enlightenment road that Europe traveled was WWI which killed eight and half million soldiers, ten million civilians, and wounded millions upon millions more.

As the belief in the perfectibility of humanity marched on, WWII killed some sixty millions-- well over half civilians. Behind it all stood a maniac with plans of making a thousand year empire, populated by perfected, master-race people. Utopia. Since that time, at least fifty million more have been slaughtered by various other wars and ethnic cleansings.

In War a Force that Gives Us Meaning, Hedges discussed at length how killing and, perhaps, ultimately killing ourselves-- everything even-- is our collective human neurosis. Freud, certainly no religionist, made a case for a deep struggle of the life force, Eros, forever engaged in battle with a death instinct, Thanatos, in the innermost being of all people. Freud sounded a warning that something like WWII was surely in store for a world that saw itself as the current pinnacle of the path to perfectibility as opposed to product, and part (and an active part at that) of the flawed nature of humanity's past that will ever live on.

Hedges points out that the basis of all totalitarian regimes is the idea of the perfected society. This is true in the case of the fascists and the communists. Hedges points out that it was also true of the pacifist movement following WWI. It was based on a utopian belief that humanity could be educated to reject war. He feels that steps certainly could have been taken to stop Nazi Germany, but pacifiers who believed in the innate goodness of humanity often stood in the way.

Of course, one might argue that point a bit. As St. Paul asks, "Shall we do evil that good may come?" As many of the old Mennonite peace folks I deeply respect have said, "Better be wronged than do wrong." Yet, as a national policy, pacifism would hardly stand as a workable plan of deterrence. The issue is this: What do I do when my personal beliefs conflict with my national obligations? I guess, for me, taking the life of another is a solution I would have great trouble accepting. Bonhoeffer struggled with this and finally decided there were times that "doing evil that good may come" was acceptable. Who are we to judge? Have we faced the evil he faced?

Still, Hedges' point is well taken. Both the absolutist Christian and the fundamentalist atheist deny the notion that humans are not inherently perfectible. Many religious pacifists also deny the notion of, let us say, "original sin" and keep hoping for a perfection of the human race they are never going to achieve. The conflict is played out, says Hedges, not between pacifism and militarism but, rather, between accepting the notion of a human utopia or admitting humans will always be limited and flawed.

The perfectionists will tend toward totalitarianism. Sam Harris, one of the "new atheists," believes the salvation of the world lies in a "benign dictatorship" that must be imposed from without via economic sanctions and military options. Hitchens agrees with the idea of endless military occupation to bring about utopia.

All of this sounds as nuts as the the ideas of our former fundamentalist president, "W." He authorized (commanded?) destruction in Iraq that rivals anything that Saddam imposed. In so doing, his stated intent was to bring about US style democracies in Iraq and the rest of the middle east. In true utopian fashion, the ends were believed to justify the means-- even if it means that Americans would lose their political heritage of freedom and rule of law-- their national soul.

Hedges believes that it is impossible to have an ethical/moral stance without the acceptance of human limitations. I would amplify that statement to say, "...human limitations and fallibility, including our own." In fact, in our analysis of the situation, maybe the place to start is within.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Only Fooling Ourselves

Recently, I have been reading Chris Hedges book I Don't Believe in Atheists. Hedges has already distinguished himself by writing several brilliant books. He is especially adept at taking on fundamentalism (see esp. American Fascists). Hedges has produced an insightful look at the craziness and scariness of Christian fundamentalism. Now he sets his sights on atheist fundamentalism. This short series will take a chapter by chapter look and offer some commentary on I Don't Believe in Atheism.

Chapter 4: "Self-Delusion"

We delude ourselves when we buy into the notion of the perfection of humankind. Usually, those who support such a delusion buy into a false dichotomy of good and evil. They fail to recognize that very many of our ethical decisions are only of the "lesser of two evils" category. There is no perfection. And ethics, from earliest times, is largely a religious proposition.

Our fundamentalist atheists friends want. as Hedges so clearly points out telos-- completion, finality, perfection. The god of science will work to collectively make all of our lives better and better until utopia is achieved. This will no doubt involve the dehumanization and eradication (as is already proposed by fundie atheists regarding Muslims) of those who will spoil utopia. Such a view avoids the unpleasant reality that the world is not getting better, but more hate filled and violent-- much of that "evil" helped along by science. The new atheists are true believers and as such desire to eliminate voices of dissent that question the goal of telos.

Although Dawkins and company continually assert the accidental nature of our existence, in doing so, they go well beyond the domain of science. Then, such talk becomes an article of faith. Just like all fundamentalisms, articles of faith drift into mystery and mysticism. Neither religious nor atheistic fundamentalism can be proven. Therefore, both are based more on wishful thinking than fact.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fundamentalism, Old and New

Recently, I have been reading Chris Hedges book I Don't Believe in Atheists. Hedges has already distinguished himself by writing several brilliant books. He is especially adept at taking on fundamentalism (see esp. American Fascists). Hedges has produced an insightful look at the craziness and scariness of Christian fundamentalism. Now he sets his sights on atheist fundamentalism. This short series will take a chapter by chapter look and offer some commentary on I Don't Believe in Atheism.


Chapter 3: "The New Fundamentalism"


The "new fundamentalism" Hedges speaks of is atheistic fundamentalism. Really, it is not much different from the religious variety. Both are centered in a world view that is absolute in outlook. Both are highly dismissive of alternative viewpoints. Both are, as he states "binary" worlds.
In such a world everything can be framed in terms of right and wrong-- or better yet, good and evil.

In the binary world one can find all kinds of fear and intolerance. It would seem as if fundamentalists all share a good measure of xenophobia. Our fundamentalist atheist friends have certainly not escaped this. They make confident statements regarding the evils and naivety of religion, although they are unwilling to look into the matter in any in-depth way. One can find in the fundamentalist atheist world many confident statements made by the progenitors of the "theory", yet they have little knowledge about religion and less inclination to obtain information.

This is why I reviewed the book Godless so highly on this blog. It is a book written by a former evangelical turned atheist that leaves the vitriolic hate behind. Such knowledge and such an even-handed treatment of a view the author no longer accepts (theism) makes the book more rational, measured, and likely to gain a hearing and engender dialog. That approach, however, is sadly missing from the great "high priests" of atheism. You might say that the fundamentalists are giving atheism a bad name.

Earlier, I had written about the need to approach an investigation of religion agnostically (not an original idea, as you can see by the post). Our fundamentalist atheist friends seem incapable of even attempting such a view. Their minds are firmly made up. Don't confuse them with the facts, thank you!

Fundamentalist atheists do not see any "moral worth" in believers. Christian fundamentalists share that belief concerning those "in the world." Even though, as Hedges points out, science cannot form a moral code, as it does not operate in that domain, fundie atheists still keep trying to claim the moral high ground. They see those who disagree as standing in the way of their simplistic scientific utopia. Those who differ may be viewed as "throw away" people.

It seems as if atheist fundamentalists and their religious counterparts share something of "the same religion"-- absolutism.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Atheism, Fundamentalism, and Pseudoscience

Recently, I have been reading Chris Hedges book I Don't Believe in Atheists. Hedges has already distinguished himself by writing several brilliant books. He is especially adept at taking on fundamentalism (see esp. American Fascists). Hedges has produced an insightful look at the craziness and scariness of Christian fundamentalism. Now he sets his sights on atheist fundamentalism. This short series will take a chapter by chapter look and offer some commentary on I Don't Believe in Atheism.

Chapter 2: "Science and Religion"

Darwin changed everything, there is no denying that. Even though fundamentalist Christians may say "the Bible only," they are well aware that in our day, that is not enough. So what do they do? They turn to pseudoscience and "cook-up" theories that sound scientific, but really are not-- theories like intelligent design. It seems that since Darwin, we must all answer to science in one way or another.

The fundamentalist atheists also resort to pseudoscience in setting forth their fundamentalist utopian visions of the world to come. Science is not capable of answering the "real" questions of religion. By this, I don't mean literal creation accounts, flood stories, etc. Here I speak of the existential questions of humanity. Science has no answers for humankind's experience of the transcendent, the mystery
of being, or the human search for meaning. These things are not things that can be quantified and empirically dealt with in any meaningful sense.

Still, the new atheism uses pseudoscience to create, prove, and defend a non existent utopia (by the way, the word "utopia" literally means "no thing"-- an appropriate word for what the new atheism proposes). Why pseudoscience? What do I mean?

As Hedges points out, Darwin dealt with biological change over time. The modification and origin of species. He made no claims about applications of the theory to the "way the world should be" in a social/cultural sense. Other associates such as Galton, Wilson, and Spencer saw the theory as somehow, someday arriving at "perfected humanity." This resulted in theories such as eugenics, or biological engineering that fueled the insane theories of Nazism.

Other theories, such as social Darwinism, have been used to justify the oppression of the poor, minorities, and women. Really, it is not so different than religious fundamentalism. An opiate, drugging the proponent so that kindness can be excused in some sort of larger cause. Yet the quest to create a perfected humanity-- something proposed by the new atheism, is based on a myth. The myth of perfected humanity is neither true, humane, nor scientific.

In Dawkins theory of "memes" (sort of a personality/psychosocial version of genes), the goal is to to get rid of the "bad" memes and cultivate the "good" ones. Sound a bit like utopian social engineering of many a despotic regime? Fundamentalism is always a bit nutty, you know.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Is Atheism the Answer?

Recently, I have been reading Chris Hedges book I Don't Believe in Atheists. Hedges has already distinguished himself by writing several brilliant books. He is especially adept at taking on fundamentalism (see esp. American Fascists). Hedges has produced an insightful look at the craziness and scariness of Christian fundamentalism. Now he sets his sights on atheist fundamentalism. This short series will take a chapter by chapter look and offer some commentary on I Don't Believe in Atheism.

Chapter 1: "The God Debate"

There is indeed an atheism that is every bit as fundamentalist and crazy as the Christian or Muslim variety. That can hardly be escaped. It is myopic and sees only its views as right. It is intolerant. And just like the nutty Right Wing Christians, its answer to dissent from the atheist party line is disenfranchisement, isolation, and (strangely enough, as is clearly proposed by Harris in The End of Faith) even physical violence-- and lethal violence at that. Like all true fundamentalists, atheists demonize the "other side" (the religious side) and attempt to make them "less than."

As Hedges points out, the issue isn't really one of whether or not one believes in God. (I've read most of his stuff, and I never have been able to answer that question concerning him.) The issue is whether or not one believes in sin. He makes a good case for the existence of evil in the world (something I would sure not deny) and points out that the world is not getting better. Terrorism, the "War On" not withstanding, is unlikely to cease. Planetary resources are being rapidly spoiled and depleted by human greed. At some time in the not too distance future, one can imagine global violence related to dwindling resources.

The problem with Christian fundamentalism is that it is fully utopian. The notion is that God is going to give the true believers heaven, or a renewed earth, or pie in the sky, by-and-by. Since Christian fundamentalism is basically apocalyptic, the thought is that God will wipe out the enemies of the true believers and their God, and bring back THE GARDEN.

Being fundamentalist as well, the "new atheism," represented by folks such as Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens is also utopian. Science will bring about THE GARDEN (so to speak). The new atheists, however, seem rather "apocalyptic" as well. Science must engineer out, remove, isolate, or, if need be, destroy those obscurantists who get in the way. Just like the Christian version, where the earth is cleansed by fire, the atheist world will be cleansed by the fire of reason and science.

Hedges points out that just as many religious folks are not fundamentalists, neither are all atheists. There are those atheists with much more of a "live and let live" attitude, just as there are Christians willing to accept diversity.

Atheism may be a valid approach to life. Fundamentalist atheism, however, is every bit as obnoxious, insane, and dangerous as the religious variety. Currently, their numbers are much smaller. But as sales of books such as The God Delusion (Dawkins) demonstrates, the influence is growing-- and helping many folks down the path of intolerance and hate.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Christian Right, Fundamentalists, and Global Warming (destruction!)

Sometime back, I watched a very interesting DVD documentary entitled Jesus Camp. The movie mostly dealt with how fundamentalists utilized fear, emotionalism, disinformation, and well, what can I say, religion as the opiate of the masses, to indoctrinate their children in the Religious Right thought patterns. Actually, the entire process was quite frightening.

It's been a bit, but I can still remember one incident from the video where a homeschooling parent was teaching her child that global warming was a bunch of crap that just didn't matter. She told her kid that temperatures were rising less than a fraction of a degree each year, and that could hardly be termed a global warming crisis. The main figure in the DVD (the main indoctrinator in general) appeared to be a woman named Pastor Becky. I would liken what she was doing to psychological child abuse. Be that as it may, for all of the Pastor Beckys and fundie homeschooling mammas out there, here are a few facts that I recently gleaned from an AP article by Randolph Schmid that I would like to share.

It appears that the Arctic sea ice is melting at such a rate that it will be mostly gone in 30 years. Why is that important? The Arctic sea ice acts as a giant "air conditioner" for the planet. It is white and shiny (of course, after all, it's ice!) and as such, it reflects huge amounts of the sun's heat back out of the earth's atmosphere. As it becomes melted, it creates darker water. The water absorbs heat. Now the AC unit has become a space heater-- except the space is the whole planet.

How do we know all of this? Due to the 2005-2008 loss of sea ice, the Arctic air temperature is already nine degrees Fahrenheit above what would be expected. Complex computer models reveal that changes that were already expected by the end of the century are likely to occur much sooner.

The prediction is that summer sea ice will decline from the normal 2.8 million square miles to 620,000 square miles within 30 years. The six lowest minimum records for ice coverage for summer ice have all occurred in the last six years.

The climate is changing. Any scientist worth his/her salt seems to agree that it is a human created phenomenon. Yet, in their religious-blinded arrogance, and perhaps their latent desire to see the world end and Jesus come, along with all of the fatalism that implies, the fundamentalist Religious Right refuses to acknowledges any problem. Further, they consistently stand in the way of those who want to work to, at least, slow down the process. It seems to have passed the tipping point for fixing it.

So, here we are, in the sinking ship. Some of us are bailing water as fast as we can. At the same time, Pastor Becky and the fundie homeschooling mommas of the world are on the the other side of the boat-- filling up buckets and dumping them onto the sinking boat. Strange world, indeed!