Friday, July 16, 2010

The Laws of Physics have a Liberal Agenda

   First it was Evolution. Now it’s the Theory of Relativity., the hilarious right-wing encyclopedia, has a problem with Einstein’s theory. Apparently, relativity in physics leads to moral relativism, the bane of religious fundamentalists, because it challenges the idea that there are absolutes governing the universe. And because some politicians have tried to liken scientific relativity to moral or legal relativism, suddenly Einstein is in conflict with God’s order. And that means he's wrong. Conservapedia says so.
   You see, if everything is relative, it means the changeless, eternal laws of the Bible can be questioned or dismissed. It's planting our moral flag in the shifting sands of human fashion. It means we have no standards, and that means slipping into all kinds of horrors—Nazism, communism, Healthcare Reform, unemployment insurance, whatever. What humanity needs is the unmoving polar star of God’s Truth, and you’re not gonna get that from some agnostic science guy who insisted that the speed of your watch was subject local conditions.

   Alas, this is kind of goofiness you get when you spend your life confusing metaphors with fact to convince yourself the Bible is literal history. When Jesus offers himself as “the bread of life,” these folks break out the cream cheese and jam. But beyond that, they have an aversion to the facts, claiming that Relativity Theory is not verified by observation, and that it's not used in NASA probes. Both claims are false. Einstein's ideas have been verified many times, and his theories are incorporated into spacecraft navigation and even in GPS technology. If Conservapedia has any doubts about the validity of Einstein’s formulas, they might try contacting the residents of Hiroshima. 

   What's more, the absolutists who are offering God as our unmoving polar star forget that Yahweh doesn’t offer changeless, eternal absolutes any more than Albert Einstein does. You think we cling to eternal biblical values? Check out the Laws of Moses in Exodus and see how many of them you still observe. (They include the proper way to sell your daughter into slavery and a death penalty for being a drunk.) Contrast the bombastic, demanding, violent deity with a thing for spattering bull’s blood on an altar with the loving, forgiving, pacifist BFF of Jesus. Some of the biggest fights in early Christianity were over which ‘changeless, eternal’ rules of the Old Testament were no longer in force. Example: Jesus’ interpretation of the commandment against working on the Sabbath was a big part of what got him in trouble. His followers gathered food on their day off. Might he have been a Sabbath relativist? 

   Traditional Christian values are not eternal or changeless. Five hundred years ago, churches preferred Christian monarchy to democracy. Separation of church and state was a bad idea, and being a “freethinker” could get you torched. Slavery was acceptable, women’s equality was not. Religious tolerance was called heresy and free speech had to be approved by the pope. Then there’s my fave: 1 Corinthians 14:34 “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak…” That’s St. Paul sounding like the Taliban. Fortunately, churches pay no more attention to this rule than they do to the rule Jesus gave his disciples about not taking money. 

   For some time now, Biblical literalists have felt the universe of science closing in on them, and I guess they want to push back. First it was denying Evolution. Now it’s rejecting Relativity. What’s next? “Gravity—the evil force that keeps us bound to the corruption of the Earth. Isaac Newton was a Satanist, inspired by a clunk to the head by an apple! The forbidden fruit! The thing kids bob for on Halloween!” Shouldn’t Glenn Beck be wetting his pants about this right about now?


  1. Well, they should be afraid of the laws of physics.

    As I took physics classes in high school and college, I realized that either they were right, or the Bible/Koran/book of Mormon were right, with their fantastic stories of men flying, riding flying horses, walking on water, etc. I went with what the physicists (none of whom ever uttered an anti-religious word)were telling me.

    It was precisely this topic that led me step-by-step away from relgious belief.

    Tom Miko

  2. Reason and evidence have a way of doing that. I think that's sort of why we had a Renaissance, followed by an Enlightenment. Western civilization went through the same process you did, and I did.