American Atheists and Mormon culture

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With the advent of the American Atheists 2014 Convention, in Salt Lake City, Thursday, April 17th, to Sunday, April 20th, there have been many heated discussions – most notably in the comment sections, following stories run in the Salt Lake Tribune, focused and following up on the Atheists of Utah, and the American Atheists combined march around ‘Temple Square,’ the week end of the LDS General Conference, July 12th and 13th.

And much of that heat has been generated by Mormons – albeit members of other Christian denominations as well – who’ve taken renewed exception to being largely characterized by the more skeptical elements as brainwashed. Or, as the American Atheists President David Silverman, alluded to – victims of religious indoctrination.

Cries of sacred fealty to religious truths being dishonored, the faith of followers discounted and ignored.  And charges of Mormon hating, being leveled at atheists as a matter of course. And, of course, challenges about proof, or lack of proof, being leveled on all sides.

Yet I was struck by the number of religious apologists who openly contest the possibility that anyone could possibly know enough, to honestly question a belief in God.

“The reason why faith has been, is and will remain (for the foreseeable future) a viable act for humans is because we can’t know everything and hardly know anything,” is an actual example of this surprisingly ubiquitous sentiment.


And yet, in this day and age, to defend ignorance and abjure knowledge – rather than educate oneself about those things you CAN know – seems to me, the height of arrogant complacency.

Both of my paternal grandparents were born in the last half of the 19th Century. My granddad graded roads, with a team of horses and a Fresno. My maternal granddad was born the same year the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk. So I came to understand their deeply held ‘beliefs,’ hinging on fear of the unknown, that substituted and provided a stop-gap for broader scientific knowledge and understanding. But I would consider myself lame and cowardly, if I continued to ‘hide’ behind those same superstitious notions, I was raised to believe in.

I was aboard an aircraft carrier, when the first man stepped on the moon. (“A giant step for mankind” that was accomplished with hardware so limited and archaic, I’m still amazed they were able to successfully pull it off.)

Everything has changed so rapidly – and progressed so far.  But the knowledge of one scientific fact, known to man for over 150 years – the discovery of the biological mechanism for evolution – was actively suppressed by organized religions , in the school systems of this country, for most of those same 150 years.

Does anyone think suppressing this knowledge has changed the fact of evolution one iota?  But what has been harmed, are generations of American citizens – raised in ignorance and spoon-fed on intolerance and superstition – and their demonstrated inability to get past this blank spot in their educational understanding. And lacking even a nodding acquaintance with the equally rapid and astounding advances in this science.

But current groups of individuals and organizations, acting as defenders of the status quo, – through ignorance and their own hobbled understanding – are a hindering anachronism to modern civilization. And its further progress – by their own sons and daughters. And they would thumb their noses at the single biggest lesson of evolution. That those who are unable to adapt, can expect to perish as a species. Or, I might add, become increasingly marginalized, as a culture.

'14 MAth footer, Bk

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