A woman in Iran is threatened with being stoned to death. Gay men sit in jails in Uganda awaiting their fate. A teenager and two others are slain when Islamic fundamentalists toss a grenade into a house where people are watching the World Cup in Somalia. A Christian fundamentalist church protests at the funeral of a Marine killed in Iraq. Afghan women are clothed from head to toe in a burqa.
Meanwhile, scientists all over the world are moving ever-closer to finding the first traces of life on this planet- now dated back 2.9 billion years ago. That’s billion with a ‘b’.
At the same time, in churches, mosques, temples and other houses of worship, children are being taught that ‘creation’ took place 6 or 7 thousand years ago. That’s thousand, with a ‘t’.
Quite the differing timeline, eh?
Nora Noffke, a trace fossil sedimentologist at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. and her team recently found rocks in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa with evidence of cyanobacteria dating from 2.9 billion years ago, which is the oldest confirmed evidence of these life forms. Cyanobacteria is a type of single-celled bacteria – still thriving on the Earth today – that gains its energy from sunlight, through photosynthesis.
Three billion v. 7 thousand. Amazing.
This time difference brings us an interesting conundrum for the children whose parents school them in fundamentalist beliefs. Oh, not for the Afghan, Somali, Iranian or Ugandan children. But for the American children, specifically. Those other children have no means of refuting what their fundamentalist parents teach them- no Internet, no Bill of Rights, no history of a fight for Democracy. Those children are closed-off from all of that and will, therefore, absorb the radical, fundamentalist ideas that are taught to them.
The American child, on the other hand, lives in a democracy with a Bill of Rights and a history of fighting for individual freedom from oppression- especially religious oppression. Additionally, there is freedom of the press and easy access to the Internet.
How does an American child of a fundamentalist faith maintain the ‘beliefs’ drilled into them when, all around them, the American system of laws and human rights belie those beliefs?
More specifically, I took note of a Federal Court decision rendered yesterday- a federal judge in Boston has ruled the US gay marriage ban unconstitutional- the so-called Defense Of Marriage Act of 1996. Homophobia is an essential virtue in the fundamentalist camp and it appears that gays and lesbians citizens will be recognized with the same rights as straight citizens. Great confusion for the children.
Another confusion for these children is that Adam and Eve creation story. Clearly the exploding set of scientific discoveries shoot that ‘story’ all to pieces. No matter how parochial the ‘education’ of the children of fundamentalists, they will need to confront the science evidence one day- no matter how fervently their parents and Sunday school teachers preach Creationism.
It almost borders on child abuse- mental abuse that is. Two biblical teachings, homophobia and creationism, taught as ‘fact’ to young, eager and innocent children. At least ‘stoning’ isn’t taught.
America- the land of the free and the home of the brave!