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The Ultimate American Gothic Horror Story (Part II)

Robin Alexander

Posted on February 5, 2018 08:59

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So, what IS the tie that often binds predatory capitalism and creationism? Something connects a bundle of ideologies that interprets christianity in the most authoritarian terms, cherishes a disdain for evolution and has no problem casting aside the most vulnerable.

There is an explanation for the whole bizarre package; at least it’s the only one I can think of. It requires looking at the overall approach concerning what it means to be human.

There are well-respected religious leaders and scientists who hold with theistic evolution, a belief that God created the material universe, the life within it and the natural processes that guide it, including evolution.

Each of the seven “days” in Genesis is era. We emerge as amoebas and sprout into fish on day five; we progress to creeping things (amphibians/reptiles), blossom into beasts (cattle/monkeys), and make a dramatic entrance as humans on day six. The biblical account of the development of the animal world is strikingly similar to the scientific one, although it does put cattle before creeping things. And, there’s an issue with random versus guided change, but I’m not debating these points. I’m simply showing that the two views can be reconciled.

Right-wing Christians are not interested in reconciliation. So what’s the common denominator between predatory capitalism and creationism? Call me crazy but there’s a large amount of hubris in both — hubris, self-righteousness and the comfort of absolute certainty. That’s really the point.

We couldn’t possibly descend from apes: we’re superior beings made wholly (holy) in God’s image, and therefore granted dominion over everything (1:26). The economically privileged are chosen by God and deserve their position (narcissism?). For those who are not economically privileged, it’s surely the fault of an immigrant, or a brown person, or a brown immigrant — ah the comfort of scapegoating and the fire under the butt of Trump’s base — but not to worry because God wants you to be rich (part three).

It’s not only that descending from apes feels less than holy. Right-wingers adore the idea of the superior status bestowed by creationism. And creationism fits like a glove with predatory capitalism (the pay-off for accepting an authoritarian god).

If they were Greek, they’d live in fear of a tragic ending. But in fact, they fervently believe in a happy one (part five).

Conversely, what is the common denominator between rejecting predatory capitalism and accepting evolution? While the other duality has hubris at its core, this one has humility: the willingness to embrace the chimp with 98.8 percent of our DNA without feeling threatened; the willingness to accept science’s ever-changing empirical evidence; the willingness to accept the moral ambiguities of human existence; the willingness to get down and dirty with human frailty.

Scientific theory remains open to revision. We never absolutely know anything. Similarly, attempting to alleviate human suffering is daunting and arduous, but we try, and we try and we try some more. There are no easy answers. Problems are not whisked away by platitudes, or scapegoating or divine intervention. It’s messy and not at all comfortable. But it’s real.

(Part three: The new bully on the block, dominionists, whose economic ideas are truly out of this world.)

Robin Alexander

Posted on February 5, 2018 08:59

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Source: Variety

For much of the 20th century, being a radical meant being left-wing. Starting in the '80s, with the rise of the loaded-for-bear...

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