Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Darwin, Ali, and Satan


Jewish date:  4 Tishri 5770.

Today’s holidays:  Ten Days of Repentance (Judaism), Tuesday of the Twenty-Fifth Week of Ordinary Time (Roman Catholicism), Mabon (Wicca).

Worthy cause of the day:  Urge your Senators to Protect the EPA’s Ability to Curb Global Warming Pollution.

Topic 1:  “Who Cares About Darwin?”:  This article deals with a creationist tactic of claiming that Charles Darwin is a horrible person who is responsible for Hitler, the Nazis, the Holocaust, and anything else awful one can imagine.  I have already dealt with why this is completely unfounded this to some degree in my review of Expelled:  No Intelligence Allowed, largely that anti-Semitism, including violent anti-Semitism, existed long before Hitler and that Hitler fails completely to reference Darwin or evolution in Mein Kampf.  This article goes into other aspects of why this guilt by association fails:  that we do not believe in evolution because of the authority of Darwin, Darwin’s life is irrelevant to whether evolution in true, and how evolution works (really or allegedly) is a matter of physical fact and not moral prescription.

Topic 2:  “Store Honors Islamic Martyr”:  This article is a warning to make sure one is interpreting something correctly.  This article deals with a sign saying a store would be closed on September 11 to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Ali.  Someone mistook this for a celebration of one of the 9/11 terrorists.  However, Imam Ali was really Muḥammad’s son-in-law and cousin.

Topic 3:  “Why do I”:
funny pictures of cats with captions
This is yet another LOLcat picture featuring Basement Cat, and like all good religious humor, it is founded on something actually part of religion.  Basement Cat is the LOLcat equivalent of Christianity’s Satan, who in Matthew 4:1-11 attempts to tempt Jesus.  This picture reflects an interpretation of evil as something external to and separate from us.  While not the only explanation given for the origin of evil, it is one with an inherent danger when taken literally:  since ultimately Satan is the author of evil, not us, arguably it is Satan who is responsible.  “Satan made me do it” is thus an easy way of shirking moral responsibility.  Such a conclusion is a position neither the Hebrew Bible nor the New Testament take; “Satan made me do it” is never used as a defense by anyone therein, and similar defenses (e.g., ’Adham blaming Ḥawwah and Ḥawwah blaming the Serpent) do not past muster either.

Somebody bug me to blog about what I believe to be the real origin of evil at some point when I have more time...