I have been posting on the last few Saturdays about why I am an Atheist. As I mentioned
previously, there is not one single reason why I left Christianity and eventually became an atheist, but instead I thought a lot about religion and eventually came to my current positions. The entire process took around 10 years to my best estimations.
This week is a little different than the previous 2 weeks because I honestly don't think it is a good argument for atheism by itself. What do I mean by this? Suppose I am correct and the church is anti-science. Does that mean God does not exist? no. Does that mean Jesus didn't/doesn't exist? no. Does it mean you should leave the church? maybe. Does it mean you should question the church? Yes! That is really the point I want to make with this post. Am I an atheist because I perceive the church as anti-science? Not directly, not really, but it got me thinking and helped put me on a path that eventually led to me becoming an atheist. I saw the church be wrong in matters of science and thought to myself "what else does the church have wrong?"
As I was writing this post I felt the need to go back to the top and add a little disclaimer. What do I mean by "the church"? Well, sometimes I mean the church I grew up in, which in hindsight was a bit extremist. At other times I mean the catholic church, and in my final little story I am not even sure which church I am talking about. The point however is unchanged, I saw how these various churches clashed with science and it got me thinking.
I have 4 anecdotes to share about this which I will share in chronological order as they happened to me. The first happened when I was quite young, I'm going to guess around 5-6 years old. My dad had bought a book to read to me about dinosaurs that was apparently from a young earth creationist group. It held the position that dinosaurs and man must have walked side by side. There were dinosaurs around during bible time, it was just not an event worthy of note which is why it isn't explicitly stated anywhere (if you were writing the bible you wouldn't mention every plant and animal you came across). This is the conclusion that you must reach, I guess, if you believe in the genesis story and that the garden of Eden was literally true. At the time I was young enough that I didn't question it. I actually forgot about it for years, but sometime later (probably in high school) something sparked the memory and the whole thing seemed quite bizarre.
My second story occurred while I was in 6th grade. We were watching a video in school (I'm almost positive it was voyage of the mimi) and there was a guy in the video who said he had proof of evolution. Basically there are pelvic bones in whales that don't serve any purpose, but make sense from an evolutionary perspective. I thought this was really cool and when my dad got home from work I told him all about it. He responded very strongly that this was incorrect and told me that evolution is a lie. I was pretty shocked, what was said in school seemed so reasonable and he just dismissed it out of hand. I accepted that evolution was false for a long time but everything about that experience bothered me for quite a while. (it actually still bothers me that my father is that indoctrinated)
The third thing I want to talk about here happened when I was in high school. I was in a freshman biology class and we learned the story of Mendel. Basically he made some pretty incredible discoveries in his lifetime that weren't accepted until long after his death. The church did not like his work and after he died the church even destroyed it. (the wikipedia page seems to be largely contested and this is not mentioned there, but I found a reference to it here)
Around this same time I learned about Galileo and his run in with the Catholic Church. I'm sure everyone knows this story already, but basically he was also brilliant and discovered many great things, unfortunately, some of those things went counter to the church and he was found "vehemently suspect of heresy" and put under house arrest for the remainder of his life. This is how the church treats new ideas, pretty disgusting. In my opinion this is exactly what is happening currently with evolution.
I have one final anecdote I want to share, it is amusing and also a little sad. I was in a history class in junior college. We were discussing the idea of social darwinism. Basically an old idea that no one really believes anymore, but it was a history class. The important thing here is that it is a concept with the word darwin in it. There were 4 students in the class who were so offended by "darwin" that they interrupted lecture to complain that we were learning it. The teacher tried to explain that she wasn't trying to convince them that it was true (in fact she didn't think it was true either). This did nothing to calm them down, the cried, left class and complained to the dean.
To me this last story is a perfect example of how the church sees science. If there is something that might shake your preconceptions, don't learn it. You are better off ignorant. It's what those students did, it is what the church did with mendel and Galileo, it's what my dad did when I brought home a story about evolution.
One final observation. What is the big sin that adam and eve committed to get kicked out of the garden of eden? They ate from the tree of knowledge. The fact that this is such a horrible thing says a lot to me.