Devil's In The Details? Not If You Ask Most Americans genre: Hip-Gnosis

Ouija Board

Welcome to the latest American renaissance...a loathsome return to the "dark ages". A new poll tells us that more Americans believe in hell and the devil...literally...than believe in Darwin's Theory of Evolution. The only good news...and I say as much with all available that nearly two thirds of all Americans believe in miracles. Why is that good news? Because it now appears it's going to take a miracle to get this country tracking on a set of rational rails and not hitching it's wacky wagon to a messianic magic carpet.

More Americans believe in a literal hell and the devil than Darwin's theory of evolution, according to a new Harris poll released on Thursday.

It is the latest survey to highlight America's deep level of religiosity, a cultural trait that sets it apart from much of the developed world.

It also helps explain many of its political battles which Europeans find bewildering, such as efforts to have "Intelligent Design" theory -- which holds life is too complex to have evolved by chance -- taught in schools alongside evolution.

It further found that 79 percent believed in miracles, 75 percent in heaven, while 72 percent believed that Jesus is God or the Son of God. Belief in hell and the devil was expressed by 62 percent.

Darwin's theory of evolution met a far more skeptical audience which might surprise some outsiders as the United States is renowned for its excellence in scientific research.

Only 42 percent of those surveyed said they believed in Darwin's theory which largely informs how biology and related sciences are approached. While often referred to as evolution it is in fact the 19th century British intellectual's theory of "natural selection."

What I find so baffling is that in real life you can't get most of these people to accept hard and fast facts...but when it comes to faith, they're willing to believe in the cookie monster. Global warming...not a chance. No connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11...not on your life.

If the above data isn't enough to convince you we're on the fast train to rampant regression, not to worry...there's more data to report.

More born-again Christians -- a term which usually refers to evangelical Protestants who place great emphasis on the conversion experience -- believed in witches at 37 percent than mainline Protestants or Catholics, both at 32 percent.

OK, it was just a few months back when James Dobson and Focus on the Family released the following statement with regards to Harry Potter.

"We have spoken out strongly against all of the Harry Potter products." His rationale for that statement: Magical characters — witches, wizards, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, poltergeists and so on — fill the Harry Potter stories, and given the trend toward witchcraft and New Age ideology in the larger culture, it's difficult to ignore the effects such stories (albeit imaginary) might have on young, impressionable minds.

At the time, I assumed Dobson was opposed to Harry Potter because it glamorized "witches, wizards, ghosts, goblins [...]" to children...leading young people to embrace irrational notions and engage in irrational fantasies while distracting them from their religious studies. Little did I know that nearly a third of all Americans actually believe that witches exist and probably think the Harry Potter books were written to recruit more witches.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Many of these same people believe that Tinky Winky and Sponge Bob Square Pants are characters created by militant homosexual sympathizers that are intended to indoctrinate children into the gay lifestyle. When did a duck stop being a duck?

I must admit I'm totally flummoxed at the number of foolish and fallacious fixations. Have they become the means by which people disconnect from the harsh realities that permeate their increasingly complex lives? Are average Americans so disconnected from the practice of reason and an understanding of the technology that surrounds them that they seek comfort in the simplicity of these virtual fabrications?

I don't know the answers to my questions...but I do know it's increasingly important for us to find them before we return to the logic that believed witches would float if tossed into a body of water...fully ignoring the fact that the accused was condemned to death either way. If they did float, they would be put to death for being a witch; if they sank and drowned, they weren't a witch...but nonetheless dead? Frankly, we're not that far from the wholesale suspension of cognition.

Makes a person want to dig out the Ouija Board and look into the future...but I'm going to stick with my Tarot Cards...I've found the results are much more to my liking.


1 On November 30, 2007 at 12:01 PM, Ben in oakland wrote —

I have often contended that the focus on make-believe-in-the-sky takes people's attention and energy away from the here-and-now-on-earth, so all the world comes to be seen as a part of some heaven-and-hell scenario, thus allowing no personal responsibility to be taken for what is happening. Likewise, the ability to swallow religions's claims, despite all of the contradictions and absurdities-- and worse, the sheer UNLIKELINESS of it all-- indicates a frame of mind where you can believe just about anything: for example, that a land-war in Afghanistan can be won (as it has so many times in the past), that you pray-away-the-gay if you just believe in Jesus (pace Ted Haggard!!!!), allowing gay people to marry is just like having sex with dogs (only hotter), or that the Queen of Heaven has time to make sure her likeness ends up on a taco. Religion becomes like AIDS-- it prepares the way for opportunistic intellectual infections.

If you subtract an atheist from a true believer, the remaineder is 1. One religion.

Or put another way, there are and have been thousands of religions. I will have to take their combined testimony that any given religion-- for example, christianity-- is true the same way that I am scratching my ass as I type this is true.

I can tell you, it is not.

but, unfortunately, as my former professor, C. West Churchman, said 30 years ago to me: If something is perceived as real, then it is real in its consequences. Religion is, unfortunately, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, perceived as real. The consequences for our country and our planet are therefore unfortunately real, too.

Far from enobling mankind, religion is what keeps us from advancing as a species. Or a country. Or even as a human being.

Having said all this,

Thought Theater at Blogged

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Tracked on November 29, 2007 5:39 PM

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