My next column in The Everett Herald:
Concerned for fellow Americans, I was relieved to see people lining the shores of Florida, praying Hurricane Dorian away. It seems their god or gods (the photo didn’t specify) heard the prayers and changed his/her/their/its mind/minds. Kept the worst of the storm hovering over the Bahamas, where it seems to have killed or ruined the lives of mostly black people. So, thanks. Good job.
I wish I had the power to get God to rethink His plans, too. I’m not sure how many congregated down there, but I doubt I could gather much of a crowd. Plus, I’m pretty sure any god that put Trump in office wouldn’t be interested in hearing from me. “How dareth you assume I have no plan,” He’d say. “Or that I wouldst change it for such as you? Only my children who loveth Trump as do they Me may so beseech. Also, why all your caring for the needy?” Is my guess.
But as long as we’re speculating about what God wants, the true, exclusive understanding of which is given only to Trumpists, I found it enlightening to have been informed by Tony Perkins, among Trump’s most ardent Evangelical supporters, that teaching evolution is what’s causing America’s mass murders. (By consensus of his similars, hurricanes are on gays.) He seemed stumped when asked why countries with far fewer believers than ours, or those whose people believe in different gods and theories of how we got here, don’t have mass murders.
But he’s not the only one who’s borne that witness. As a biology major, learning more and more about the evidence for evolution and the inherent beauty of how it works, I couldn’t wait to start killing people. The science lab had a stock of loaner ARs, as I recall. It was a while ago; I might be misremembering.
Weirdly, the Pope isn’t an evolution-denier. But how could the view from the throne first occupied by Saint Peter be as clear as that of Mr. Perkins, et. al? Ex-cathedra, shmex-cathedra, right? If he doesn’t get stuck in an elevator again, maybe Papa Francesco will defend his love of science in an upcoming balcony appearance.
But I don’t need his blessing to affirm that medical school was a constant stream of amazements, as the beauty and intricate secrets of the human body were revealed. No less than staring at the heavens, it imparted a daily sense of wonder. If conditions in our tiny corner of the universe happened to be perfect for the sparking and evolution of life, why should that negate belief? Why the fear of teaching what’s more of a miracle than many that are claimed?
If there’s a creator, I figured, he/she/it’s brilliant, if careless. I could ignore the problem of how something as complex as a creator could exist without a creator, just as I could make myself not dwell on all the imperfections that seem to have slipped by. I was learning to repair many of them, after all. Such enlightenment made me grateful and satisfied to be here, now; in the demonstrable, interconnected beauty of it, I found wonderment enough.
There’s spiritual delight in that, which can be experienced by people of any belief or lack thereof. Arguing to keep that joy of discovery from our children, thinking one’s particular belief-choice, or preferred translation among many, of one book among many, is superior to all others, and to demand universal acceptance at the expense of knowledge, is born of arrogance and fear. Plus, as we just saw, it seems to lead people to pray, wittingly or not, for harm to others rather than themselves.
Whatever happened to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God?” If Tony Perkins and Donald Trump are exemplars of justice, mercy, and humility, it’s hard to see how teaching their professed beliefs would end mass murder. Besides, Trump’s is transparently phony, and who knows what Perkins is really about?
For years, climate scientists have been predicting increasingly powerful hurricanes. Trump said he’d never heard of Category 5 till now, though during his reign of error there’ve been four others. When not golfing, he kept warning Alabama, even after the NWS corrected him. Then, pure Trump, unable to admit error, he altered their map with a Sharpie. Breathtaking, even for him.
“Presidential” ignorance. Pray away hurricanes. Stop teaching evolution. Excuses for doing nothing, when times demand the opposite.[Image source]