Earlier this month during a speech he was delivering in Waco, Texas, everyone's favorite Science Guy, Bill Nye, was booed for saying that the Moon reflects light from the Sun.
Yes, if you have to read that again, I can wait.
According to the Philadelphia Examiner (and confirmed by a reprint in the Waco Tribune), Nye was giving a family-oriented science lecture focusing on the possibilities of life on Mars and the importance of conservation when he strayed into the realm of religion. Mentioning Genesis 1:16 which reads, "God made two great lights -- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars," Nye pointed out that this "greater light" is actually only one of millions of other similar stars in the sky, and that, in fact, the "lesser light" is not a light at all, but rather exudes its glow from reflecting the light of the Sun.
To which jeers were jeered, boos were booed, and a number of people actually stormed out of the lecture including one mother with three children who said, "We believe in God!" as she herded her little hellions from the auditorium.
Really? This is actually a point of contention in the Science vs. Religion debate? Whether the Moon creates its own light or not? Holy hell in a handbasket, somebody needs to crack open a second grade science book.
But honestly this speaks to a much bigger problem we've got in America: our breeding of stupidity on the backs of Faith. Not just religious faith, but Faith in general. Some call it Belief, others Opinion. They're all slightly different, and none are bad in and of themselves, but teamed with our inordinate sense of entitlement, our Beliefs and Opinions don't even need to be grounded in reality to become our Truth. Like the bumper flair I saw at Green Dragon today. Miller and I were walking by a stand selling Christian books when he pointed out their selection of Jesus Fish. There was the standard plain fish, another with "JESUS" written inside it for those who don't want drivers behind them thinking that maybe just really like Swedish Fish or something, and then there was another I had never seen before. It was a giant Jesus Fish with its mouth open, swallowing one of the opposing Darwin Fish With Legs--but on the Jesus Fish it did not say "JESUS," it said "TRUTH." That's right. It's not Jesus that is better than Darwin--it's The Cold Hard Truth of Life that is better than scientific fact. Whose Truth is that exactly? Somebody might have to find a fifth grade science book for that one. I hope they can handle all the big words.
Faith can be a good thing, as can Belief and Opinion. Really, they're what defines the vast majority of our Selves, our values and our personalities. But when we start trying to mold them into Truth--especially Ultimate Truth--I start to have a problem. If you want to close down your mind and allow yourself to believe that the world was created in six days in the face of carbon dating, I guess I can't stop you. If you want to believe that the dinosaurs are an elaborate joke on the part of God, I guess that's your prerogative. If you think that every word and every idea that you find in a 2000 year-old book written from dreams and visions of men who displayed schizophrenic tendencies is 100% true and gives you the right to hate gay people, I guess I just have to let you go on your merry way. Freedom of Religion, right? How about Freedom From Religion? I might try to educate you first, or at least discuss the fallacies in your argument, but chances are you'll just boo and run for the door. Because we keep ourselves stupid. We can believe in anything so long as it doesn't get in the way of watching American Idol. Truth is, more than ever, relative.
And our power elite couldn't love it more. As long as we believe whatever Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh tell us, they can convince us that President Obama is a secret Muslim and that his winning the presidency is all just part of his plan to bring down This Great Country from the inside! They can make us love capitalism and fear socialism, even though if you'd break both philosophies down to their barest of parts, stripping away buzzwords and bullshit, virtually every middle to working class voter in America would vote Karl Marx into the office of King of Fucking Everything. But keep those scary words in play and the American people, off reading Twilight instead of the Washington Post, will suck it right up. Where does funding get cut first when the government has to scale back? Libraries and public schools. As long as you know how to put a thingy on a whatsit, you can make Hummers for the rest of your life. Who cares about Aristotelian ethics and the works of Mark Twain? That stuff's boooooring anyway. I'd rather watch the movie. Ooh, I hope Zac Efron is in it!
I know I sound like a psychotic conspiracy theory nut (maybe I should get together with some other people with the same opinions and we can put a book together and you can all worship us for the next couple thousand years), but it really has become all but completely transparent to me. The dumber we are kept, the easier we are to use. We do it to animals all the time, conditioning them to behave in proper manners. We just don't see the leash tied around our own necks because there's so much shiny stuff to look at over there. What's it matter? We get fed, we have a place to sleep and someone to scratch us behind the ears. But is that all we want? To just be led on through this mess until we die and can finally get our prize? Our prize. Good one, very clever. The ultimate dumbing, unprovable but even more disprovable because it's become Truth over thousands of thousands of years of a need for a higher meaning than just existence itself.
I just hope that if the Afterlife really does exist that it's not up on the Moon; it's gotta be pretty toasty up there with all the chemical reactions of gases burning to make it glow. Oh wait, I mean Magical God Farts. Sorry, got a little too science-y on you there for a second.