Let REASON, not dogma, be our pole star.
(The following commentary is part of a weekly series called “Yahweh Speaks” by Yahweh. Yahweh is an assumed name to protect his identity on-line. He is a noted free thought advocate and Constitutional attorney. His series airs on my American Heathen® internet radio show. Airdate 08/18/12)
Sunday Night/Monday Morning 8/5-6/2012 I watched live( delayed , of course, by the speed of light’s time to transmit the images 100,000,000 miles or so)on NASA TV as the Curiosity Rover safely landed on Mars. It was an exulting time for the Scientists and Administrators , many of whom had labored a decade to bring this mission to fruition. It was also a jubilant and triumphant time for American technology and an exalting time for the most noble aspects of all humanity. As earthlings embark on our next tentative, and hopefully, peaceful steps in the exploration of the universe and the scientific understanding of existence I am buoyed by the hopes that science, logic and reason can be our pole stars—not divisive dogma, politics and beliefs. As I viewed the images of the Scientists at their respective control panels I saw NO Christians, no Jews, no Muslims, no atheists, no Dems., no Reps., no Cons., no Libs.—-just (primarily YOUNG) women and men working, pulling together jointly to accomplish a common,important objective.
If these”best and brightest” can pull together for the common good, stifling their OWN personal ideology, beliefs, dogma, political paradigm, why can NOT the rest of us do the same for the Greater good of America, and humanity in general?
But, what dampens my idealism and jerks back to reality are those in positions of political power who don’t rely on science, those who don’t rely on reason, those who don’t rely on logic , but, rather, rely on bronze age myth texts to guide and direct public policy.
For example, Sen James Inhofe, of Oklahoma, has said climate change is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”, He also has referenced Genesis 8:21and 8:22 to reinforce his conviction. In Genesis 8:21, we find the Hebrew gawd promising never “will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.” In Gen. 8:22 we find, “While the Earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” According to Sen. James Inhofe, we don’t need to worry about the climate because God has that under his control. Of course, Sen Inhofe is not only influenced by xtian fundamentalism. According to the website http://www.opensecrets.org the right, righteous Senator has received $1.39 million in campaign funds from the oil and gas industries. So, if Sen Inhofe and those of his ilk have their way, rather than real science like that practiced by NASA to design, plan and successfully land the Curiosity rover on Mars being the polestar, we run the the very real and calamitous risk that environmental and other policies in this country will be shaped by a combination of petro-chemical money, other vested interests, and bronze age myths.
I suggest Senator Inhofe and his ilk, who profess xtian fundamentalism and adherence to the principles of the founders, fail to comprehend or acknowledge the true guiding principles of the Age of Enlightenment, as exemplified by Jefferson’s 1787 letter dated one month before the Constitution was promulgated addressed to his teenage nephew, Peter Carr:
“RELIGION.Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty & singularity of opinion. Indulge them in any other subject rather than that of religion… shake off all the fears & servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first, the religion of your own country. Read the Bible, then as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature, you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy & Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor, in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature, does not weigh against them. But those facts in the Bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from God. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong, as that its falsehood would be more improbable than a change in the laws of nature, in the case he relates. For example, in the book of Joshua, we are told, the sun stood still several hours. Were we to read that fact in Livy or Tacitus, we should class it with their showers of blood, speaking of statues, beasts, &c. But it is said, that the writer of that book was inspired. Examine, therefore, candidly, what evidence there is of his having been inspired. The pretension is entitled to your inquiry, because millions believe it. On the other hand, you are astronomer enough to know how contrary it is to the law of nature that a body revolving on its axis, as the earth does, should have stopped, should not, by that sudden stoppage, have prostrated animals, trees, buildings, and should after a certain time gave resumed its revolution, & that without a second general prostration. Is this arrest of the earth’s motion, or the evidence which affirms it, most within the law of probabilities? You will next read the New Testament. It is the history of a personage called Jesus. Keep in your eye the opposite pretensions: 1, of those who say he was begotten by God, born of a virgin, suspended & reversed the laws of nature at will, & ascended bodily into heaven; and 2, of those who say he was a man of illegitimate birth, of a benevolent heart, enthusiastic mind, who set out without pretensions to divinity, ended in believing them, and was punished capitally for sedition…These questions are (to be)examined,but keep your reason firmly (fixed)…”
Let me pose this: Which vision of our Future is likely to be most beneficial for posterity? That laid out by Sen Inhofe and his ilk where, funded by vested petro-chemical and other interests, we would return to the days of bronze age myth texts determining public policy, or guided as suggested by Jefferson with “reason (fixed) firmly in her seat” we look to the stars not as things “fixed in the firmament of heaven”, but, rather, as inspirations guiding us to utilize the laws of nature, science, and reason as we design, plan, and direct our future, hopefully as successfully as did those who landed Curiosity on Mars?
It is our choice, and I fervently hope reason, not dogma, not vested interests, guides our choice!
“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god.It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”