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Homophobia, racism and anti-evolutionism – bigotry and the denial of life
The devaluing of metaphor
“You shall not lie with a man as with a woman: that is an abomination.” - Leviticus 18:22 (New English Bible).
There is a, let's call it “philosophical” for want of a better word, approach to life which seems to devalue metaphor and figurative narrative, which seeks to impose a literal view of the passing show of life as definitive and of universal application.
It is a disarmingly simple philosophy, it gives clear and authoritative direction, it leaves the follower in little doubt.
It is morally questionable because it allows little room for humanity and human failings, or even the possibility of human growth except in one dimension. It is questionable philosophically because it is deterministic and monist, allowing no other explanations than the explanation given by the accepted “authority.” It is questionable epistemologically and scientifically because it simply ignores facts and insists on faith, a faith one has to accept blindly, not taking into account any other source or kind of knowledge.
This philosophy, I'm not sure if it has a name, seems to focus on three aspects of life to the exclusion of almost all other things in the vast diversity that is our wealth in this world: men loving men or women loving women; the putative hegemony of the most important or “chosen” “race” (usually the so-called “white” race); and the theory of evolution, to which it is implacably opposed.
Homosexuality is roundly, and pretty unequivocally, condemned by the followers of this philosophy as a “sin”, primarily on the basis of the text from Leviticus quoted above. I wonder if all the men who make this condemnation also don't “round off [their] hair from side to side, and [do not] shave the edge of [their] beards”, practices also outlawed by Leviticus (19: 27).
Sexual morality has always been a troubling thing for us humans, because of the power of sex and its importance both as a bonding process and as the mechanism of procreation. And isn't that an interesting word itself?
That same book, Leviticus, also has some harsh words to say about adultery: If a man commits adultery with his neighbour's wife, both adulterer and adulteress shall be put to death.” (20: 10- 11).
Now I don't know about you, but that word “adultery” seems to me to be fraught with a heavy weight of meaning in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) which is not perhaps so in other religions.
Jesus himself said, “If a man divorces his wife for any cause other than unchastity he involves her in adultery; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Are those who condemn homosexuals as “sinners” and “deviants” all married to one woman? None of them divorced? None of them married to a divorcee?
The condemnation of homosexuals by self-righteous people of any religion reminds me of the TV evangelist who condemned what he claimed was the loose sexual morality of other people while his own pants were around his ankles. Not to be taken too seriously.
Homosexuality has been around from the beginning of time and is not found only among humans. Since on the surface homosexuality could be seen as maladaptive relative to evolution, much research is still going on into the nature of homosexuality.
That homosexual humans have been subjected to sometimes vicious discrimination at times has led to, in more recent years, an aggressive assertion of gay and lesbian rights. Within the Christian churches especially homophobia has led to much hatred and acrimony.
One of the churches most affected by this has been the worldwide Anglican communion which is threatened with schism over the issue. In 2007 the Church received a report on the issue from the Royal College of Psychiatrists which stated, among other things, "It would appear that sexual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment. Sexual orientation is therefore not a choice, though sexual behaviour clearly is."
Sexuality and all its wonder is too precious and beautiful to be taken over by bigots. Liberty surely is not licence, and morality is just as surely not condemnation.
Translation of the text of the poster above
German people’s comrades! German housewives!
You all know the disgraceful methods that so-called “German” Jews abroad are using to incite against the German people and Adolf Hitler’s national government.
If we do not want to give up and sink into deeper misery, we must defend ourselves.
We therefore call on you to heed the appeal of our Führer, the German people’s chancellor,
for a boycott against the Jews
and expect the full support of each person in this defensive action.
Do not buy from Jewish shops!
Do not go to a Jewish doctor!
But maintain the strictest discipline. Do not even touch the hair on a Jew’s head.
The boycott begins Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m.
From that moment on, we will watch to ensure that the boycott is strictly followed. He who tries to ignore the boycott will be seen as an enemy of the German people.
On Saturday morning at 9:30 at the Lindenplatz and the Pflänzer there will be a large public
Appear in masses and show that, in the hour of need, you stand with the German people.
In Geisenheim, the following establishments will be boycotted:
Georg Strauß, grain merchant, Marktstraße
Gebr. Strauß, shop, Marktstraße
Moritz Strauß, ironware, Marktstraße
Hugo Forst, leather goods, Landstraße
Dr. Nathan, physician, Landstraße
Löwenthal, butcher, Pflänzer
The local group office of the NSDAP
Courtesy of Ken Fields.
“There is no such thing as Jew and Greek, slave and freeman, male and female; for you are all one person in Christ Jesus.” - St Paul's Letter to the Galatians, 3:28. (New English Bible)
Now I don't know about you, dear reader, but that seems pretty clear to me. If you are a Christian, don't discriminate.
The very concept of “race” is in fact a myth with no basis in biology or anywhere else. That arch-racist, the one whose racism has caused so much misery and conflict in the last century, Adolf Hitler, knew that race was a fiction, and yet he built his whole “1000-year Reich” on it, quite deliberately: “I know perfectly well … that in a scientific sense there is no such thing as race, but I, as a politician need a concept which enables the order which has hitherto existed on historic bases to be abolished and an entirely new and antihistoric order enforced and given an intellectual basis ...And for this purpose the concept of races serves me well ...With the concept of race, National Socialism will carry its revolution abroad and recast the world.”
Well, thank God it didn't at the time, but perhaps those of us who still preach racism will try to keep it going for the 1000 years.
As John F. Kennedy said, “There are no 'white' or 'coloured' signs on the graveyards of battle.” Think about that a while!
There are, however, still those who would say that all of Western culture and its wonderful achievements was created by white people, forgetting that millions of people of other “races” died to enable those achievements.
This view also simply ignores the fact that so-called “Western Culture” is an amalgam of many cultural currents which flowed, and still flow, in the world.
“Whites” have no
moral or rational reasons to claim any special place in the world.Indeed some of the worst atrocities committed in the last 100 years or so were committed by whites. At the same time it is important to note that no other "race" can claim any special place either. In the great stream of history no "race" has so distinguished itself that it can make such a claim.
Albert Camus wrote in 1951, after the horrors of the Second World War, apropos of something else, admittedly, but it still has relevance to this point: “Who, despite the pretensions of this society, can sleep in it in peace, when they know that it derives its mediocre pleasures from the work of millions of dead souls?”
A dear friend recently sent me a sort of family newsletter, the sort that people like to send to all those they know when changes occur or at special times. He ended his newsletter with the words: “ek glo aan God die Vader, ek glo aan God die Seun, ek glo aan God die Heilige Gees, en verwerp die evolusie teorie in totaal (I believe in God the Father, I believe in God the Son, I believe in God the Holy Spirit, and reject the theory of evolution in its totality)”.
I have no problem with his credo, his belief in the Triune God, that's really OK with me. I might not share it, but it's really OK. But what about that last phrase, the one about evolution?
Now we have never discussed evolution, so I did wonder a little about why he inserted that – maybe someone else to whom he sent it does accept evolution, I don't know, and he wanted to send a message to that person.
Evolution is a scientific theory propounded, not for the first time, but most effectively, by Charles Darwin in his great book The Origin of Species .
More ink has been spilt and more bile spread over this book than perhaps any other in the history of books!
Those who accept evolution as a possible explanation of the origin, diversity and proliferation of life in the world have been called “demon-possessed”, “liars” and “atheists”, “immoral” and all sorts of other names.
Why a scientific theory propounded a century and a half ago still excites such vitriol is difficult to understand. After all, the question is a rather simple one: which is more credible and scientific, that “the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2: 7); or that life evolved in a long process over aeons, a process which is still continuing today, and that humans are part of this evolutionary process?
For me that is a no-brainer. The evidence in support of evolution is overwhelming in comparison with the evidence for "special creation", which is, frankly, non-existent.
I come back to the literalist versus metaphorical view of life. I can accept the Genesis text as a wonderful, metaphorical statement of how connected we humans are with the world – we are formed from the same material as everything we see around us. And we have a breath of life in us – we have a consciousness which helps to question and seek answers and reasons for the world around us, for our experiences. I have no problem with that.
However to call me “demon-possessed” because I don't take that text literally, because I don't believe that some extra-terrestrial being physically formed me like a clay model and then made me breath, that is a bit much!
Because there is absolutely no evidence for the Genesis story, none whatsoever. So asking me to believe it is asking me to deny my reason, to give up on knowing based on fact, and accept a fairy-tale as the truth. Now, don't get me wrong. The fairy tale can be truth, in the sense that it teaches us something especially in the moral sphere. What is teaches me is that life is precious and that we as people are unique. Not that some deus ex machina came into the world from somewhere and fashioned a clay doll which he or she then, Pygmalion-like, made come alive.
I love fairy tales because they expand our minds, they give a glimpse into experiences beyond our own. They enrich us. They enhance our creativity.
But they do not describe scientific fact. When they are read literally instead of as metaphors they can be deadly.
What is this philosophy?
First off I have to admit that I am taking just three of the factors that followers of this as yet unnamed (as far as I know) philosophy get hot under the collar about. There are also factors like abortion on demand, guns and violence, and more. I have just taken the three factors here as being the most indicative of the philosophy. If I encounter racism in a person I think I will most likely, though not always, find anti-evolutionism and homophobia. If I find homophobia, almost certainly racism and anti-evolution will follow quite soon. Where there is strong anti-evolutionism there is almost bound to be racism and homophobia.
As I say, not an inviolable rule, but one which seems to apply rather often.
Why is it important to understand this philosophy?
I think it is important
to understand and to oppose this philosophy because it is
fundamentally (a word very relevant to it) anti-human.It is an approach to life that does not allow for ambiguity, and we humans are nothing if not ambiguous in so many ways.
It is a philosophy which wants us to deny our humanity, especially our reason, but also our sexuality and our oneness with all other humans and indeed, all of life, except on its own rather limiting terms.
Finally, this philosophy is a problem because of its insistence on its special position in society. It wants all of society to conform to its beliefs and moral code and makes a sharp division in society between the "us" who accept this philosophy and the "them" who do not.
So it is a philosophy of conflict, a philosophy which both feeds on and feeds insecurities about the self and the place of the self in society.
Two important issues to note
Firstly those who share the philosophy or worldview that I have briefly described here are not bad people. On the contrary they are very often very fine and good people with deep convictions.
Secondly it is not only Christians who have this kind of worldview. It is found among other religions too, though most often within the three Abrahamic ones. Indeed it seems to be the very reverence for the "word" that is a common characteristic of these religions that causes the problem of this worldview.
The word is seen as literally the "word of God" and so not open to human interpretation - the denial of metaphor is seen as an article of faith. Literalism becomes synonymous with rectitude, encouraging the us-and-them exclusivity that is the cause of so much mistrust and conflict in the world.
The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.
© Tony McGregor 2011