Thursday, September 15, 2016

Women Beyond Belief

By then I had finished a college degree, and for a while I taught in a Christian primary school. The science workbooks promoting Intelligent Design to children just made it more clear to me that Christian beliefs were holding on to ignorant ideas of the past. The workbook actually used a butterfly as an example that one kind doesn’t change into another. It proclaimed that butterfly eggs always hatch butterflies. Of course they do; no organism ever outgrows its ancestry. For example, humans still have ancestral traits all the way to Eukarya, as all our cells still have nuclei. So we are still eukaryotes. Evolution isn’t metamorphosis. It’s gradual change at the population level. There is no such thing as a taxonomic "kind" either. That is a pseudoscience term. Evolution never allows for one "kind," like the dog example, to produce a different "kind." Every organism that ever evolved is just a modified version of whatever its ancestors were.

A butterfly is a species that actually undergoes a startling metamorphosis from a caterpillar to a winged butterfly in its own lifetime. Nature is not fixed and immutable, requiring a deity to tinker with it. Butterflies aren't poofed into place by a god for the purpose of being pollinators with all the biological traits designed to do that. Neither is there this cosmic creator that decided to make butterflies colorful to delight people in the Garden of Eden. Different butterfly colors are various adaptations to attract mates, scare away predators, and camouflage depending on the environment of that particular butterfly species. It angered me that creationists often are successful in inserting their agendas into textbooks, deceiving young minds into being incurious about the way nature works through evolution. Using the simplistic explanation that god created it that way kills inquiry into finding out why nature actually is the way it is.

-Lilandra Ra
Lilandra Ra was raised Catholic and Baptist. Her role as a science teacher led her out of religion. She's just one of 22 authors who wrote an essay about her journey away from religion (excerpted above). Karen L. Garst has compiled these essays into a book entitled "Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life without Religion," which can be pre-ordered on Amazon. Dr. Garst (former executive director of the Oregon State Bar) became incensed when the U. S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby in 2014. This decision said that because of its religious views, Hobby Lobby, a craft store, would not be obligated to follow the dictates of the Affordable Care Act and provide certain forms of birth control to its employees. Of course all manner of tribal irrationality can "infect us in our most basic integrity", as Hitch said for religion, as we also see in just one example of anti-vaxxers; but politicians the world over appeal consistently and uniquely to religion in attacks on women's health, supporting restrictions on abortion, banning funding for Planned Parenthood, and a host of other issues. Atheists, rationalists, skeptics: this is where the rubber meets the road. This is where our actions matter most. Not about Flat Earthers, not about 9/11 Truthers,but about the effects of irrational beliefs that are causing immediate harm to people right now.

The first leaders of the New Atheism movement that arose after 9/11 were men: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett. They came with backgrounds of science and philosophy. They launched a renewed effort to show people how destructive religion can be and how all Abrahamic religions are based upon an Iron Age mythology, borrowing from other mythologies of the time.

Dr. Garst wants to add a focus on women and the role this mythology has played in the culture of many countries to denigrate and subordinate women. She states that "Religion is the last cultural barrier to gender equality." And she is right. More and more women atheists are speaking out. And as we all know, if women leave the churches, they will collapse.

She has received support with reviews by Richard Dawkins, Valerie Tarico, Peter Boghossian, Sikivu Hutchinson and other atheist authors.

I encourage you to check out Dr. Garst’s blog at and to pre-order this excellent book.

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