I went back to the church a few weeks later to hear about how god is the only foundation for absolute morals. Hoo boy, let me tell you about that one! From this visit, I learned something very important. I learned that this church is set up in a way that does not allow for any sort intelligent discourse. The first visit was an interview, so I did not think it was representative of the church’s usual Sunday meetings. But this Sunday was a typical Sunday meeting of people with like interests who were there to learn something good. To learn something that will help them get through hard times in life. To learn to help others and to form a community. All the things a church is rumored to do. However, the very way the church is set up is counter productive to learning. The pastor only talks at people. There is no intellectual exchange. There is only one person, telling all 3000 other people what to do, what to think and how to think it. Did any of the supposed desire for change or hope for togetherness and to help others come through in this sermon? No, all that came through was that no one on earth can have a basis for their moral thinking unless they use the bible. The pastor pointed to Levitcus in specific, showing the basic morals such as do not steal, do not cheat, do not kill, and saying, the reason we can take these as moral absolutes is because it says, “I am God the Lord”. This is apparently all that needs to be said on the matter and all the proof needed that these are moral absolutes. However, Mr. Steadman made sure to leave out the commandments halfway down the page that talk about such moral absolutes as not cutting the hair on the sides of ones head or not wearing cloth woven from two kinds of materials (not to mention all the offenses such as talking back to your parents that warrant stoning). Perhaps he is hoping his congregation will ignore the fact that they, too are choosing their morals, they just have a written list to choose from.
This particular pastor was a teacher of philosophy, yet he missed out on the very basic lesson anyone could or should learn from a basic philosophy class: Nothing is for certain. There is no black and white, no better or worse. Yet he led those people to believe that they alone had the corner on the market of morals. And he was so cunningly deceptive in his way of doing it. He gave them what appeared to be the only 3 other ways to get morals, from cultural relativism (doing what those around you do), that morals can be based solely on feelings and lastly, morals can be based on his very twisted view of the theory of evolution. He gave everyone a sheet to fill in answers (the “answers” were printed on the big screens on the video) to such views as “The Darwin position: Might makes ___right__”. Which again betrays his lack of understanding that natural selection is not about the bigger creature destroying the smaller creature. He proclaims on this sheet, which is in front of me right now, that there are only 2 options regarding morals, the ones listed above and god. In one ignorant, foul swoop, Mr. Steadman tells all these people that someone like me and my family base their morals on might makes right. It took him less than15 minutes to develop an excellent reason for his congregation to pity, fear and very possibly dislike me and my family.
All in all, I came away from that church feeling more sad and disillusioned than anything else. All those people have found a nice place to belong, but at what price? Is a feeling of mass acceptance worth giving up ones reason and ability to think critically? Is it worth surrendering your right to what I think of as the very basis of American liberty, to question authority? Is there no other way to get that feeling of love and of being right? Is a church such as that going to truly help bring people together? No, it isn’t. The worship leader is dishonest with his people and we all pay for that dishonesty. We pay for it in school where evolution, the single most important theory for our latest medical advances, is not be taught in a competent manner for fear of offending someone. We pay for it on the playground where our children are being harassed for thinking differently. We pay for it in politics where an entire presidential campaign is run on ones belief in a book 2000 years old. We pay for it with the ignorance that is not only accepted, but encouraged. We pay for it with the lack of critical thinking in our culture exemplified by the purely politicised debate between creationism and evolution. I am not a member of that church and yet I pay for its promotion of herd mentality and its desire to squelch creative and critical thinking while filling the hearts of those people with lies and deceit. This is the main reason I went to this church. I wanted to see where other people are coming from so I can try to counteract the deceit. I feel the need to learn how to let those people know that those who are not like them have just a good of chance at doing what it “right” as they do. I hold no ill-wishes or lack of respect towards those people, they are doing what they think is good and right. I just want to…I don’t know…I want to help. I want what any parent wants, I guess. I want my kids to not have to hide their thoughts on god for fear of being ostracized or beaten up. But I don’t know how.