Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Guest Column: Why Pushing Intelligent Design To Our Kids Is The Wrong Thing To Do...

A good friend of mine, Jamie, just sent me this. To quote her, "I got annoyed with an Intelligent Design article I just read and was inspired." It's a great opportunity for a rant AND a history lesson. I don't know about you guys, but I think Feathered Serpents pretty much trump all. I also think this pretty much covers my position on Intelligent Design, so I thought I'd share it with you:

The amount of press that Intelligent Design is currently getting is proof that ethnocentrism is growing rampant in America. An age-old yet conveniently unfamiliar concept, ethnocentrism is “the tendency to evaluate other groups according to the values and standards of one's own ethnic group, especially with the conviction that one's own ethnic group is superior to the other groups.”

You may wonder why I’m placing such importance on stopping ethnocentrism. I’m no history expert, but I’m pretty sure the last time a country let an ethnocentrist movement take over, World War II was the result. And it’s why Israel and Palestine are fighting, and why millions of Africans were sent to America as slaves, it’s what caused the Spanish Inquisition, and even the reason why Jesus was crucified by the Jews. That’s how dangerous ethnocentrism really is. It’s the primary reason why we “can’t all just get along”.

By telling our kids Intelligent Design is an alternative to the Theory of Evolution, we are committing yet another heinous act of ethnocentrism. If the Religious Right is truly concerned about telling our children about all of the possibilities, they should not be ethnocentric and insist on just teaching Intelligent Design as an alternative to Evolution, they should insist on telling our children about ALL of the creation theories. Here are some creation theories I found:

Native American Creation Theory - Before there were any people, the world was young and water covered everything. The earth was a great island floating above the seas, suspended by four rawhide ropes representing the four sacred directions. There were no people, but the animals lived in a home above the rainbow. The plants were placed upon the earth. The Creator told the plants and animals to stay awake for seven days and seven nights. Only a few animals managed to do so, including the owls and mountain lions, and they were rewarded with the power to see in the dark. People were created last. The women were able to have babies every seven days. They reproduced so quickly that the Creator feared the world would soon become too crowded. So after that the women could have only one child per year, and it has been that way ever since.

Eskimo Creation Theory - In the beginning, Raven was born out of the darkness. He was the Raven Father, Creator of All Life. He gathered strength and flew out of the darkness and found new land, called the earth. Raven wanted living things to be on the earth, so he made plants. One day, Raven was flying overhead and saw a giant peapod, and out came a man who was the first Eskimo. A woman was soon created for the man, and Raven taught the pair to make clothing, build homes, and make a canoe. The two became parents. Other men came from the peapods, and Raven fed and taught them too. When they were ready, Raven made women for these men and they, too, became parents. Soon the earth had many children.

Haida Creation Theory - One day, long ago, Raven was on a desolate beach. Alone, he needed company and came upon a half-open clamshell. When he examined the shell, he saw tiny people inside. The people were shy and slowly peeked out of the shell. "Come out! Come out!" called Raven. The tiny beings opened the shell and climbed onto the sandy earth. These were the first Haida.

Navajo Creation Theory - First Man and First Woman were to bring light to the world. They created a sun from a large turquoise disk and made the moon from a piece of rock crystal. As the light began to shine upon the earth, they saw an infant lying in a cradleboard decorated with rainbows and sunrays. The Holy People, who are friendly spirits, helped to raise the child on pollen and dew. She grew to be Changing Woman, the creator of all Navajo and the most beautiful woman who ever lived. She created the people from cornmeal and pieces of her own skin. She later had two sons who would grow to be monster killers, ridding the earth of evil beings and making it safe for all creatures. Then, all on the earth could live together in peace and harmony.

Australian Creation Theory - In the beginning the earth was a bare plain. All was dark. There was no life, no death. The sun, the moon, and the stars slept beneath the earth. All the eternal ancestors slept there, too, until at last they woke themselves out of their own eternity and broke through to the surface. Two such beings, self-created out of nothing, were the Ungambikula. Wandering the world, they found half-made human beings. They were made of animals and plants, but were shapeless bundles, lying higgledy-piggledy, near where water holes and salt lakes could be created. The people were all doubled over into balls, vague and unfinished, without limbs or features. With their great stone knives, the Ungambikula carved heads, bodies, legs, and arms out of the bundles. They made the faces, and the hands and feet. At last the human beings were finished.

Celtic Creation Theory - The giants are the gods of old. In the first winter, a mighty giant was created from hoarfrost. And when fire came, he melted. From the enormous bulk of his body came the world. From his blood flowed the sea, from his bones the mountains, from his hair the forests, from his skull the sky. In the centre of the Earth, on hills rising high as mountains, live the gods, and below seethes the Underworld, land of the dead and all their secrets.

Egyptian Creation Theory - In the beginning, before there was any land of Egypt, all was darkness, and there was nothing but a great waste of water called Nun. The power of Nun was such that there arose out of the darkness a great shining egg, and this was Re. Re named all things that are upon the earth, and they grew. Last of all he named mankind, and there were men and women in the land of Egypt. Then Re took on the shape of a man and became the first Pharaoh, ruling over the whole country for thousands and thousands of years, and giving such harvests that for ever afterwards the Egyptians spoke of the good things "which happened in the time of Re".

Greek Creation Theory - Zeus ordered the gods to unleash a flood onto the earth. When Zeus looked down upon the earth and saw that all below had perished, except for Deucalion and Pyrrha whom he knew for kind god-fearing people, he relented, and ordered the gods to return the dry lands as they had been. Deucalion, and his wife, floated in the chest for nine days and nine nights, before coming to rest on Mount Parnassus. When they discovered they were the only beings left alive they prayed to Themis, the Great Goddess of the Titans, and asked for her advice. Themis advised them to go forth and cast the bones of their great mother over their shoulders behind them. They strode the land casting stones from the great mother as instructed. The stones so thrown turned into a new race of mankind; men from the stones thrown by Deucalion, and women from the stones thrown by Pyrrha.

Hungarian Creation Theory - Above in his golden house, sits the great heavenly father on his golden throne. On his black robes there are thousands of sparkling stars. Besides him sits his wife, the Great Heavenly Mother. On her white robes (palast) there are thousands of sparkling stars. She is the ancient material of which everything is made. His son turned himself into a golden diving duck that brought up the sleeping seeds and dreaming eyes, to create a world out of them. When his beak hit the bottom of the sea, into its sand, he took some of it into his beak and like an arrow, he shot up to the top of the water with it. From the surface of the sea bed, he brought up the sleeping seeds. The sleeping seeds awoke, their sleepy eyes opened and grew up and became living beings.

Hindu Creation Theory - He, desiring to produce beings of many kinds from his own body, first with a thought created the waters, and placed his seed in them. That seed became a golden egg, in brilliancy equal to the sun; in that egg he himself was born as Brahma, the progenitor of the whole world. The Divine One resided in that egg during a whole year, then he himself by his thought divided it into two halves; And out of those two halves he formed heaven and earth, between them the middle sphere, the eight points of the horizon, and the eternal abode of the waters. From himself he also drew forth the mind, which is both real and unreal, likewise from the mind ego, which possesses the function of self-consciousness and is lordly. Moreover, the great one, the soul, and all products affected by the three qualities, and, in their order, the five organs which perceive the objects of sensation. But, joining minute particles even of those six, which possess measureless power, with particles of himself, he created all beings.

Meso American Creation Theory - The Feathered Serpent first created man from mud. These creatures were a failure; they couldn't see, they dissolved when it rained, etc. So the god broke them up and tried again. Then he made men out of wood. They were better than the mud-men. They could walk and talk; they had many children, built many houses, but they had no minds nor souls nor hearts. The Feathered Serpent was disappointed with what he had created, so he sent a great flood to cleanse the earth of his mistake. With the help of Mountain Lion, Coyote, Parrot, and Crow they fashioned four new beings. These four beings performed well and are the ancestors of the Quich.

Mongolian Creation Theory - Long ago Father Heaven had two sons, Ulgen Tenger and Erleg Khan, Ulgen became the lord of the upper world and Erleg Khan became the lord of the lower world. Ulgen Tenger created animals and humans out of mud and he spread them out to dry. He created the dog to keep watch over the bodies of the new humans while he was gone. Erleg Khan, unhappy to see that his brother was creating humans, came to see the new bodies. The dog would not let him come close, at that time the dog could talk but had no fur. It was cold, and snowing, so Erleg Khan tempted him, saying that if the dog allowed him to see the humans' bodies he would give him a beautiful fur coat. The dog agreed, and was given a shiny beautiful coat. Erleg Khan then spat on the bodies so that humans would have diseases and not be immortal. When Ulgen returned he saw that the dog had fur and that the humans had been damaged, so he punished the dog by making his coat smelly, taking away his voice, and by making the dog follow humans in order to get its food.

Scandinavian Creation Theory - Odin is the All-Father. He is the oldest and most powerful of the Gods. He created heaven and earth. He shaped man from an ash tree and woman from a vine.

There are even more theories. Did the religious right decide these creation theories were not valid enough to teach to our kids? Is it because they seem ridiculous to them? They seem just as ridiculous as teaching the non-scientific Intelligent Design to a science class.

I offer an alternative approach that should appease everyone (even a flaming heathen like me)--leave our science classes alone and truly do our planet a service by having schools offer a course about all of the major belief systems (Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, and Atheism).

If you put all belief systems on the same level, people will no longer feel like theirs is superior to the others. This effectively puts a stop to ethnocentrism. The right thing to do is teach our kids that being who you are is not bad if its different from others, its just who you are.

Posted by crimnos @ 2:21 PM