Curses, choices, blame and bad ideas

This is part two of what’s shaping up to be a rather long screed rebuttal to an opinion piece. Reverend Jeff Barnes of Newsong Fellowship Church believes Adam and Eve cursed the entire planet when they ate the forbidden fruit. And:

In the same way, this curse has fallen upon humanity as well. Things like cancer, viruses, birth defects, unnatural sexual urges, mental disorders and the like can be traced back to the distorting effects of the curse.

I find this kind of idea both troubling and perplexing. How can anyone in this day and age believe this? There’s evidence that certain cancers have an environmental root caused by what we’ve done as humans but to claim it all started because of what happened in Eden? Seriously? We’re supposed to read that and believe that’s the whole reason? Facts stated? Q.E.D? Seriously?

Today in the Huffington Post (sorry), primary care physician and director of the Chicago chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Sarah Lovinger has a piece reporting on “What Your Doctor’s Not Telling You” about those effects. She explains why it’s hard to track it efficiently. She states that it has to do with how risk is assessed on an individual level, whether countries accurately report their statistics, and how impossible it is to pin the blame on one particular environmental problem over all others, especially in the case of cancers that might take 20 years to manifest themselves.

There’s been debate as to whether viruses are “alive” in the same way as those in which they affect. Technically speaking, they’re just chunks of RNA or DNA wrapped in protein and if they are not in contact with a host cell, they’re harmless and dormant. If you’re going to claim that life requires self-awareness of some sort then viruses won’t qualify. If you’re going to stretch the definition to include anything that can reproduce, then it is. Virus excel at that, frankly, and if anything is likely to kill us dead, it’s going to be a virus that can’t be killed by any antibiotics we currently have in our arsenal. It will wipe us out mindlessly and won’t give a snit about its victims begging for mercy and prayers to a god. Viruses excel at adapting and if anyone still needs proof of evolution, it’s there. (Vaguely related, I was just reading an article yesterday about cold cuts in the refrigerator and the bacteria called lysteria that has adapted to thrive in a cold fridge climate. Heat that meat before you eat, peeps.)

Don’t birth defects tend to have genetic links more than they have environmental? They aren’t all caused by things like Thalidomide or recreational drugs. Mutations and defects happen and have always happened in some small statistical way. No doubt the potential is increased with risky behaviour and intake habits of the mothers-to-be but that can never account for all of it.

There are few unnatural sexual urges. There’s just variety, some more socially accepted these days than others. I think there probably was a time when it was necessary to impregnate young girls. Life spans have extended a lot since hominids first roamed so girls don’t have to be mothers by 9 anymore. Some girls do start menstruating by then, (part of Eve’s curse, too, supposedly), so speaking by evolution there must have been good enough reason to start that young. Morally icky now, but to propagate the species, useful. Don’t know why little boys get targeted, though. What evolutionary defense could there be for that? If you want to talk mutation, maybe the tendency toward male-centered pedophilia might count as one. That and psychopathy. They just keep on happening, no matter what the environment.

Which brings me to other mental disorders. Some have been thought to be the result of chemical imbalances in the brain but debates go on about that. If brain chemicals are at fault for depression, why don’t the drugs work better than placebos? Why would one safe LSD trip help when repetitive ingestion of legal drugs don’t? What if schizophrenia has a root cause other than dopamine? Are current drug treatments useful at all beyond a palliative capacity? Assuming they can even manage that?

Back to the Rev.

It is human choice (sin) that causes children to be abused, marriage relationships to be wounded, cyber bullying and the spiraling ripple effects of gossip and revenge.

I dislike him declaring that the opportunity to choose one’s actions qualifies as sin, but that’s how he thinks. He’s not alone in that, sadly. For him, and those like him, Eve was swayed by the serpent to rebel against God and taste the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, thus damning us all. For Barnes and his audience, our only hope and rescue lies in following Christ, the only one qualified to be our savoir and will guide us on the right path toward heaven.

Poppycock and horsepucky is all I’ll say about that.

I agree with his statement otherwise, though, that the way we act could negatively affect those around us. Depending on where you stand on the idea of free will, are we making choices consciously, or are we guided unconsciously to act based on our own brain functions behind the scenes? Philosophers have pondered this concept for a while, too.

When I was a kid, I’d come across a game at a garage sale or flea market that I wound up buying called “A Question of Scruples.” I no longer have it but the game was filled with moral and ethical questions, the purpose being to grill players on what they would or wouldn’t do in a particular situation. Amazon and other sellers still have it, I see. Worth a thought…

Adults spend a lot of time telling kids what they can or can’t do, in much the same way as God tells Adam what he can and cannot eat in Genesis 2. There’s usually a good, parental-sensible reason to allow or forbid an act but up until a certain age, kids can’t be expected to comprehend cause and effect like adults can. They simply don’t have the mental capacity to extrapolate from one to the other. They just know they’ve been told “No” and aren’t always going to be gracious and accepting of that. Is that really the Fall’s fault, or simply human nature? They just want what they want and are incapable of listening to reason. So then they do what they want and wind up surprised by the result, and possibly in need of a band-aid.

A lot of adults still behave this way, too, like they missed a lesson somewhere about actions having consequences and lack the awareness that what they do can matter far beyond their own selves. I think the main trouble with decision making is that reason and rationality seem divorced from the process a lot of the time. We’re lured by savvy ads or salesmen into buying more than we need. We’ll react immediately to a perceived offense, sometimes above and beyond what should be necessary. A lot of the time we just don’t take the time to think before we act. (Or, we use that time to justify reasons why God will let the bad behaviour pass and then go ahead with it.)

This is the last bit I’ll quote from this guy.

Jesus promised His followers that by following Him, we will not only be forgiven of our destructive choices (sin) and accepted by God, but that we will one day be released from this cursed planet and our cursed bodies and be with Him in a renewed and perfect place called Heaven.

It does people no favours to promote this shit as truth. Rather than focus on improving ethics and morality across society, rather than improving education and human rights, regardless of religion or lack thereof, this kind of garbage gets trumpeted by those people willingly agree to follow. We’re cursed on this earth forever and the only cure is life in heaven. Isn’t that terrific.

You know, this kind of thought pattern has been used to justify child abuse, or at least acts that nearly qualify. A kid’s already a sinner, may as well tell her she’s a sinner every day, set her up for failure every day and reiterate the fact that she’ll never be good enough. It’s a great way to kick off what’s bound to be a miserable life where death ought to be greeted with a “Thank you, Jesus.”

No, thank you.

That’s “Jesus” used as an expletive, in case it’s not clear.

This whole article has depressed me. I need some kittens.

About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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2 Responses to Curses, choices, blame and bad ideas

  1. eugene hill says:

    ummm… antibiotics do not work on viruses!

  2. 1minionsopinion says:

    It’s been tried, though, and continues to be tried. Steve Salerno has a series going right now called “Placebo: How a sugar pill became a poison pill” and I quote from part one:

    To this day, the CDC reports, “almost half of patients with upper-respiratory-tract infections in the U.S. receive antibiotics from their doctor,” even though “90 percent of upper- respiratory infections…are viral.”

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