Monday, December 31, 2012

The Garden of Eden

Now, there are a lot of parts of the old testament that I don't get, and I can honestly say that without reading the whole thing. But one of the most well known stories, is the origin of humankind, the Garden of Eden, and it is also my least favorite.
It seems to be the spring of the science versus religion debate. Not only does it blatantly contradict common scientific knowledge by saying the world was created in seven days and that the earth was created  before the sun, but it actually supports ignorance and demonizes knowledge.
For anyone who is not aware of the story, there are the two first humans, Adam and Eve, were created in a perfect world in the garden of eden. Then the serpent tempts them into eating the fruit of knowledge, which is also forbidden by god. They eat it and have knowledge, but they are cast out by god and have to toil in the world in order to survive.
Now, I understand that this might not be meant literally. I have heard many examples of how both the story and the actual creation of the world could have happened, but its not the inaccuracies I dislike as much as the moral. Its surprising that so many people I have talked to, when attacking the christian faith, have used the scientific inaccuracies of that story, instead of pointing out that it clearly implies that knowledge is evil and complete trust and reliance on god is preferable to independence and the knowledge to make decisions.
The defense to that argument is that reliance in god is preferable to knowledge and independence, and that this story is to show the humility you should show before god. But humility is different than complete dependence. And the trouble with relying and trusting completely in god is that no one has any idea exactly what god wants them to do, and a lot of people get it really wrong.
The bible is a good book, but large sections of it, as I've said before, seem to be fictional, almost like myths or stories that have been hugely changed through the eras. and I think that the story of creation is probably fictional.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I've been reading to kill a mockingbird in school. Although I in no way dispute that it is a great work of literature, i do disagree with one thing, the emphasis put on the title. It is clearly said in the text that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because they do no evil, only good. This is a direct metaphor for a trial that happens in the book, where a black man, Tom Robinson, is being wrongly convicted of a terrible crime, and could be sentenced to death, therefore killing the man (Metaphorically a mockingbird) who doesn't do hasn't done anything wrong. My english teacher, and entire class, have been discussing how the title is a great insight, and I don't understand how that works. No one has ever disputed that killing an innocent person is wrong. When the class is discussing the title, I am tempted to say "Well what if the mockingbird wasn't innocent?" I bet that would cause quite a bit of different discussion. Unfortunately, my english teacher has directly banned me from leading in-class conversations into digressions.

But what I said, about what if the mockingbird was really guilty, leads into a much more serious question of justice vs. mercy. I'm not talking about the death penalty (I think I've posted about that topic quite enough) but whether the law, be it regular rules, city ordinances or federal laws, be intent on punishing equally to the crime or less than it. I'm pretty sure any other regular readers of my posts know my answer, but let me explain why.

I don't know what justice means, but commonly when I discuss it with people, they use it interchangeably with vengeance. And it makes sense that someone who commits a crime should go to jail, but not because it's what they deserve, although deep down that's what I, and most others, feel. It should be because they need reform, or at least to be kept off the streets so they can't repeat it. That is the fundamental flaw with the death penalty (Sorry, it just came back to it). It is impossible for any kind of reform. You have to remember that these are people, and can't be generalized as good or bad. One or two hours of a life can't possibly be more important than a lifetime of others.

Often,  I've heard people, mostly christians actually, refer to "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". This was, as I understand it, a jewish law, but seems odd that they use it because Jesus himself directly refuted it with the "If you are hit, turn the other cheek" quote. I think the reason that it is used is because it so strongly connects to our pathos, to think of ourselves as the ones who decide who is wrong or right, while not knowing that we have no idea about the reason the wrong was committed. But the upside to this is that hopefully if we have more open, less judgmental minds, others will consider this when judgeing us.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Symbols, part 2

Recently, I've been reading Angles and Demons and the sequel, The Da Vinci  code. The conspiracy theory basis seems somewhat weak, so I don't believe it, but some of the other things in it seem interesting. Specifically, the religious symbology discussed in it.
See, the main character is  a Harvard symbologist (Yes, I know that's not a word) so much of the book is about different symbols in our everyday lives. It got me thinking about how symbols affect our lives.
It's odd, especially, how symbols change. The Nazi symbol once had a christian meaning, and the cross, which, to christians, is thought to be a symbol of love, was once a form of Roman torture and would be associated with execution in Jesus's time. 
Particularly I feel like in the U.S., we are too sensitive to our national symbols. You aren't allowed to hunt eagles, which are just another bird, and every week at school I have to pledge my allegiance to an inanimate piece of cloth decorated with stars and strips.
To be honest, I don't think we should be so serious about symbols. All in all, they're just lines on paper.
Sorry that this isn't my best post, but right after I posted the first part, I got sick and then had a lot of other things going on.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Relgious symbols, part 1

Sorry about the last post.
Anyways, I have a good post now  to validate the last one.
Recently, I've been reading Angles and Demons and the sequel, The Da Vinci  code. The conspiracy theory basis seems somewhat weak, so I don't believe it, but some of the other things in it seem interesting. Specifically, the religious symbology discussed in it.
See, the main character is  a Harvard symbologist (Yes, I that's not a word) so much of the book is about different symbols in our everyday lives and
Sorry, I have to go. I guess this will have to be in 2 parts. The rest will be in another post tomorrow.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Selective memory

A couple days ago my parents told me I did certain things when I was eight or so that were really embarrassing. I found this weird because I don't think I would forgot something as bad as that. My moms explanation was "We all remember selectively".
I think that is really true, and kind of scary. We all forget things we did wrong that we don't want to remember. I wonder what else I don't remember.
If you look at it at not a personal but a societal scale, it's true too. People tend to talk less about wars they consider unjust, like the war in vietnam or Iraq, than wars that are considered just, like World War 2 or the union side of the Civil War (Although arguably, no war is just). And when you look at it from societies from a religious stand point, things get really interesting.
Take ancient Egypt for example, when I was in kindergarten in sunday school I learned that Egypt, it's many idols, and it's evil slavery were all unholy and terrible. However, in sixth grade (At a religious school) Egypt was referred too a great, industrious civilization. Each side seems to have forgotten about the other. Or Rome, for another example. I know priests who refuse to acknowledge Rome as a civilization because of Pontious Piolot, yet every time they vote they are entering into a Republic-style government that was partially developed by Rome. And those who praise Rome's government (Before it got all corrupt) forget that that government is the one that ordered Jesus executed.  
In my opinion, selective memory works best in positive light, and although it is slightly deceiving, it is necessary to having a functioning history book. If we take all the crimes of even the greatest civilizations, they look terrible. Forgetting the crimes of individuals in thinking of a society is the best way to remember, in my opinion. Of course, turning someone into a hero (By putting them on the $20 bill for example) who did terrible things shouldn't be done.
Sorry if this post was a bit off, I am running out of ideas.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

No Room for Grey

For school I have to make a spoken word poem. I wrote this one and some people said I should put it on my blog. Hope you like it.

No Room for Grey
We are all raised
To believe there is:
Good and bad,
Law and Chaos,
Black and White.
Bright, shining heroes,
Bathed in sunlight.
Evil, haunted villains
Under a heartless moon.
All out problems will end
When he is in the grave.
It’s not just fiction.
History book have their favorites,
And their hated.
No room for grey
In the human psyche.
The death penalty lives as
long as we believe this illusion.
But what if we’re in the equation?
Not like we’ve ever killed,
Or saved a life,
Or started a war,
Or stopped a killer.
We are told
In the library,
In the theater,
In the classroom,
In our minds,
That there is good and bad,
Law and Chaos,
Black and White.
But what if we’re in the equation.
History books have their favorites.
Are you one.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Science vs religion

I know, I haven't been posting in a while. My excuse is homework, coupled with the fact I haven't had access to a computer where I knew how to use spell check (Which, if you consider the spelling errors I have with spell check, would make a post practically impossible to read) over christmas vacation.
At school, in history class, I've been learning about the John Scopes case, in which a science teacher named John Scopes was tried for teaching the theory of evolution. The simple case of whether or not he had broken a small, local law spiraled into a huge debate over the age-old question of science versus religion. And the defense, by the end, resorted to more or less trying to disprove much of the old testament. Given that the defense lawyer was a practicing christian.
I believe in evolution, but this kind of questioned my faith.
This doubt was deepened when, in science, we learned started our unit on the universe, which, if you believe it (Like I  do) pretty much discounts the whole creation story. But the thing that disturbed me most of all was the fact that, apparently, the earth was going to be burnt to a crisp slowly and painfully. Why would god put us on a planet that was doomed from the start?
The universe unit also exposed how small earth is compared to the whole world. I have never heard of anything in the bible saying we were the biggest thing in the universe, but it is still pretty demeaning.
To be honest , lately I've been doubting religion in general. It seems as though the word of god is somehow fighting things that can easily be proven true. And, although in some cases religion and science can agree with or even back up each other, they clash so much that it seems hard to hold onto christianity.
But the thing is, it only really disagrees with the old testament, which is also the part which has God go out killing the Hebrews' enemies (A very un-Godlike thing to do) and says the homosexuality is a sin. I can't find a single passage in the new testament where science would disagree with it (Except possibly Revelations, which is most likely in code anyways). And that is where true ideals of Christianity come out.
I'm not saying the old testament is a lie. Jesus does agree with most of it, doesn't he? But in the fine details arguments spring up.
But, whether or not he created the earth in seven days, god is out there. Why else would people who are resuscitated describe an after life? If matter and energy can't be created or destroyed, who made all this? Why is there life on the earth in the first place? These are the true questions that prove fatih.