I loved Mad Libs when I was a kid. You know, those silly books of paragraphs that encourage others to find nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc, that are to be placed is deliberate spots so that the paragraphs take on ridiculous but mostly humorous resolutions. I think they’re great because most adults I know don’t even know what an adverb is, and these books actually force you to figure it out. All in good fun.
I brought this up because I use these to help illustrate my problem with religion. I know — quite the analogy. But follow me on this.
Ever since I could figure out that the most basic rational things, it wasn’t a huge move to start questioning religious stories. (What do you mean God created a woman from a rib? That doesn’t make a lick of sense! If he can arbitrarily create the rest of her, what did he need the rib for?) When I got a little older – say about eight grade or so -we did a unit on mythology in Language Arts class. I can still remember Mrs. Cavin telling us that myths were created to help humans explain things they didn’t understand. Like the ancient belief that the sun was actually a fiery chariot that crossed the heavens. Now that we’re all smug and modern, we’ve done away with silly explanations for things that can be proven by math and science. But make no mistake, Idioticus of Troy believed that shit back in his day. Of course, no one believes that now. But why is that?
We filled in the Mad Lib correctly. The sun travels across the sky because of the rotation of the earth and any other suggestions that at this point are silly and ridiculous to the point of humor. Anyone who makes a serious statement to the contrary is , justifiably, laughed at. Laughter is the first choice weapon when dealing with willful ignorance. At least it beats killing one another.
Over the years, humans have managed to fill in a great deal of the Mad Libs correctly. What’s interesting is how long it generally takes for the rest of the folks out there to realize that it was filled in with ink, not pencil. At least not the big things — one can argue the details. (That’s the beauty of science.) That’s also not to say that there aren’t a great deal more Mad Libs that need filling in.
My problem is that religious people, by and large, tend to be a sort of one-trick-pony with the Grand Mad Libs of Life. If they see a space, they automatically fill it with God/God wills it/Godly. The easiest example of this is death; specifically, what happens afterwards.
We already know what happens to the physical body. That’s been studied to the point that scientists can determine, with a reasonable amount of certainty, what killed creatures hundreds of years after they died.
The arguments come from what happens to the soul. To me, this is a discussion worth having, but I fear that the old Spock belief (that one cannot discuss death with another person who has no frame of reference) is a huge wrench in the works. Religious people, however, have had this particular part of life all to themselves. The soul goes to hell, limbo or purgatory — in essence, that’s what God set up. There’s no extensive evidence to study on a scientific level, so the faithful have had the lock on this for a couple millenia.
God: The Great Mad Lib answer that the faithful punch like a pleasure button whenever it suits their ignorance. I don’t understand it, so it must be God at work. Why did that happen? God wanted it that way. To me, this is no different that making up gods who control tides or make lightning. It has no real place in the modern world. Forgive my flippancy, but grow the fuck up already.
The one Mad Lib that the religious folks out there are currently defending admirably is that of evolution versus the Artist Formerly Known as Creationism, Intelligent Design. This is something I personally find ridiculous beyond what should be a healthy dose for the average human being. Evolution is one of the most tested and proven correct theories in written history. When one of the religious comes forward to refute it, they often are affirming it without realizing it because they simply do not understand the science or the lengths of time that are spoken of.
Let me be as crude as possible to make this point.
If all creatures on earth are God’s creations, and they’re perfect because of his design, consider the following:
- What, exactly, do you need an appendix for?
- Why do rabbits eat food, poop it out and then need to eat it again to absorb the nutrients properly? Cecotropes are a shitty fucking design — literally.
- Why would we be designed in so many ways that we’d use those differences as a reason to kill one another — sometimes justified by the very religions that tell us it’s an unforgivable act? (You say “free will” and you get kicked in the face.)
The point is that nothing is perfect. If this is God’s work, he’s not perfect either. Somewhere over 99% of the life that has existed on this planet is now extinct. The vast majority of those had nothing to do with humans, either. Talk about a seriously awful design. I’d argue it’s rather unintelligent.
Are you now starting to understand that God cannot be the answer to everything? I really didn’t mean to get into such charged subjects, but lately I’ve seen a trend of folks who seem to want it both ways: Science is great and awesome, but I also have room to believe in the invisible man in the sky…even though that flies directly in the face of science. I just don’t get it.
Apparently people just really love Mad Libs.