Religion, Politics, and Close mindedness

I hesitated to even mention religion because it can arouse more fervor and close-mindedness than any topic I can think of. But my urge to speak out on the topic is greater than my need to keep quiet – a malady that has preceded the downfall of many great people. In my case I don’t have far to fall.

My primary purpose in writing this is to point out what may already be obvious – that the more political or religious a person is, the more close-minded he or she tends to be on the subject matter about which he or she is close-minded. In religion this close-mindedness has another name – fundamentalism. Granted there are probably many exceptions to this, so before you send me any religious hate mail (an oxymoron if there ever was one) consider yourself to be one of the exceptions and we will both be better off.

Two recent examples: One from a good friend and die-hard Texas Republican who told me that, “Time will prove George W. Bush to be the greatest president who ever lived.” Shortly after he said that, noted author Kurt Vonnegut said to an audience of 2000 in people in Columbus, Ohio, “The only difference between Bush and Hitler is that Hitler was elected." Nothing that you or I could do or say would ever change either of these people's minds.

My latest encounter with closed-mindedness, and the final straw to break my silence, came from reading about research that is being done at North Carolina State University by Dr. Mary Schweitzer. Dr. Schweitzer is a paleontologist and an evangelical Christian – which is essentially a fundamentalist. She is one of the more noteworthy exceptions that I mentioned above, however her research on Tyrannosaurus rex has caused a flood of close-mindedness to surface.

Since 1997 Dr. Schweitzer has been finding evidence in ancient fossils of once living cells. What caused all the commotion was when she found it in 65 million year old fossils of Tyrannosaurus rex and 70-million year old bird eggs. Soft tissue is not suppose to last that long. Her research, and that of others is considered credible and accurate – unless one is a close-minded creationist. One scientific reviewer of her work told her that he didn't care what her data said, her findings were impossible. When she asked him what data would convince him, he replied, “None.” That’s about as close-minded one can get. For anyone in the scientific community, it is unforgivable.

Close-minded, religious fundamentalism is just as dangerous here in the U.S. as it is in the Middle East, and it has no secular boundaries. Most of the wars in human history were, and continue to be, fought over close-minded religious differences. Suicide bombers who take their own lives and the lives of others in the name of Allah, are following their close-minded, religious fundamentalist beliefs just as much as those who blindly argue for teaching creationism and against teaching evolution in public schools.

Dr. Schweitzer's philosophy is that the best way to understand the glory of the world is to open your eyes and take an honest look at what is out there. God bless Dr. Schweitzer!

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Note: You can click on the blue chicken at the top and check out a web site that is devoted to stomping out close mindedness.