Speaking of scientific literacy and playing connecting the dots

I posted how more people are accepting evolution in recent years. But as you would imagine, it’s divided among political party affiliation. While more republicans have given credence to the theory since the numbers were taken in the 80s, more democrats are likely to accept evolution as true than their friends across the aisle.

Yesterday I was chatting with a close female friend. In response to me telling her about how Tina had poison ivy so bad she was prescribed a steroid and some more advanced creams, she ended up writing:

Makes me think of the COVID vaccine
You can’t kill the virus completely
It needs a host and the vaccine will only cause the virus to mutate into something else even worse. Just my thoughts

I stared at what she wrote for a while before asking, “I’m curious why you think the vaccine is causing mutation?”

And she wrote that a doctor out of Minnesota whom she listens to said it.

Trump card.

A doctor said it. Then it must be true.

I didn’t press it. I wanted to mansplain a response. But I just couldn’t. I wanted to approach it more delicately. This would be a deal breaker if I asked her to leap from “vaccines cause mutations” to fecundity within the rapidly multiplying virus is the culprit for mutations. It’s the cause of any molecular mutation. Little changes happen. And as they strengthen, they replicate that RNA/DNA sequence rather than the one that doesn’t work as well anymore. It’s based on the same foundation, but now slightly different.

Mutations occur when something is replicating a lot, not a little. The vaccine stymies and hinders replication, thereby impeding mutations.

Unfortunately, someone hiding behind a veil of a Ph.D. in medicine, a trusted person in our communities, is providing information that is antithetical to the science. I don’t know who this person is, and whether or not they are really a doctor. But if they are, they should be ashamed and if they aren’t, they should be given a what’s up.

With a little basic information and a modicum of thought, the statement that vaccines cause mutations doesn’t add up.

Over night, I ruminated on the topic of responding to her, and finally remembered that maybe she could make an associated leap by considering the idea that all dogs have a common ancestor. And the amount of sex they had to have to get changes enough to land at something that looks like our French bulldog Josie standing next to her Great Dane friend.

So I asked her if she had ever heard of the idea that all dogs share a similar ancestor. I actually had just heard my dad telling my mom and sister about that, to which they were dubious, but my dad rules that kingdom and they shoot their heads in frowning agreement.

I also remembered when I visited the Creation Museum in Kentucky that Ken Hamm had an answer for the problem of the sheer number of dog species. He, they, them, whoever came up with the idea that dogs do share a common ancestor, but it was human hands, not evolution, who directed it using artificial selection. So the idea is “dogs can beget dogs, but cats and dogs do not share a common ancestor because cats are cats and dogs are dogs.”

The same is said of monkeys and humans and any other number of evolutionary rabbits out of hats.

I posed the question to my friend and she responded that she didn’t think evolution was the truth.

I told her about my visit to the Creation Museum, and that Noah wouldn’t be able to house all the different kinds of dogs, so they agreed that wolves were on the boat and that men helped the changes along, not evolution.

“Makes sense,” she said.

As of right now, I still haven’t explained why I brought it up. I thought that was enough science for her for one day. Nobody is going to jump from “this is ridiculous” to “oh yeah, I see you’re point and I would like to assimilate that into my knowledge bank from now on.”

I fished a little bit, though, and started asking her some questions. I asked: “It boggles my mind that Noah built the ark at over 500 years old. And that everyone in the world is a descendant of him and his sons and their wives. How old do you think his sons were when they were making all their babies?”

She said she didn’t know, but seeing how Abraham and Sarah had a baby at 80, crazier things could happen.

Fine. I certainly used to believe that, too. No harm. No foul.

Then I wrote:

“I can’t imagine a 100 year old building a boat. Times must have been so different! Could you imagine what Methuselah looked like? His friends were probably like, “Methy, you don’t look a day over 450!”

She laughed at that.

Then I wrote:

“Weird, too, that cousins must have been marrying and making all the babies that would be our ancestors, too. Nowadays, that produces mental and physical problems. Lots has changed. So cool!”

Her response moved me to stop:

“Now you have me thinking about stuff I enjoy talking about but I’m not as intellectual as you are with your vocabulary and college learning. Not that you are doing it but I feel I know your brain surpasses what you actually say.”

I held back my next thoughts.

But it brought me back to the first day of Bible 101 in college. Until that day, I lived in a world where the earth and universe were literally created in six days. The majority of people I knew up until that day believed the same thing. Mine was an echo chamber of sorts. And I feel that way when I’m in North Carolina when I run into old friends and hang with family.

The professor in Bible 101, first day, asked, “By show of hands, how many of you believe God literally created the world in six days?” I raised my hand, but when I looked around, I was only one of maybe three or four. “By show of hands, how many of you believe it was more akin to the idea that one day equals a thousand and it took much longer, maybe 6,000 years or so?” he asked. More hands went up.

“How many of you believe that God set the world in motion and used evolution to arrive at where we are today?” Several hands shot up.

I was red with anger. This was the first time I was in a minority regarding my beliefs. Thousands of years, I could almost understand. But millions? That was for atheists and idiots. For people that opposed GOD! And that was off the table. This crackpot was our college’s Chaplin, for godsakes! How can he be promoting the questioning of literalism!?!

I imagine my professor saw how pissed I was and he asked, “Why did you choose the first category?”

“Because,” I said, “If God is all powerful, and he is who he says he is, then he could easily create the universe and everything in it instantly.” But then he asked someone else why they chose what they chose, and I was appalled that EVERYONE had a varied opinion and not the robotic one as me. These kids were all going to hell. I crossed my arms and steam rose from my ears.

The detail and information we went into about the Old Testament that semester will never leave me, like how there are some who think at one point God had a wife. Or that there are two completely different creation accounts, but the evangelicals forced them together. The lessons on Adam & Eve were more than I had heard before. I never gave much thought to the women whom Cain and Abel married. But when you read that a nearby town populated with people was the source for Cain’s wife, you start to wonder how many people were there and how big of a ruse the Adam & Eve were the only two people at creation. Or that in all of God’s wonderful foresight, women were an afterthought, because he noticed men were lonely.

Bible 102 covered the New Testament, and that was even more amazing. And when I was able to really dig into the details of even a fragment of what is out in the world that was available, it became way too difficult to remain a literalist. Or to accept Jesus as the only savior. Or to respect the institution of literalism.

Literalism is literally for anyone who cannot grasp a wider set of knowledge bases for changing and growing.

Just the other day, I heard a close friend say, “That group of Christians doesn’t believe that Jonah was in the belly of a whale.”

“Wait, does or does not?” I responded. I forgot that people think these things really happened.

“Does not.”

As if the Jonah story just being a story would ruin everything about the message of Jesus. But some people’s foundation is built on literalism, and if that’s taken away, it would be like taking a precious toy or blanket from a child. It’s too much to bear.

I was recently asked about my conversion story, my deconstruction from Christianity. And telling it again was both therapeutic and nauseating. It reminds me of how much I must disappoint those who love me, and their love includes being on the same page as to God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and their insistence that life without them is unlivable and unthinkable. Those around me talk freely of their faith.

I told her it started with little things, like realizing gay people aren’t going to hell and they aren’t abominations. It also helped when I started voicing my doubts rather than keeping them boxed up and hidden. Once you have freedom to say out loud that any of the impossible bible stories are unbelievable, it becomes much easier to let it go. But if those thoughts do not bloom into flowers all can see, repression causes mental regression. It arrests development and you find yourself at 50 saying things like “After all this bible study, I feel like Joseph is my best friend.”

Joseph, my friends, never existed. And if he did, that story is almost completely made up.

I mean, dream interpretation meant something then, but not now? There’s another example of a vestige of evolved thought about the Bible.

But I do not share the freedoms of being vociferous in shadowing doubt over biblical concepts in North Carolina. I complain about it here, but it’s okay. I don’t need validation from them. They repeat their love of God and the Bible often because they are insecure and it’s literally the most unbelievable stories ever. I mean, how disconcerting it is that science is irrefutable on having sex with your siblings or cousins and how it causes physical and mental deficits and “mutations.” Not to mention that procreating after 35 or 40 for women is highly likely without modern science, and yet some people LOVE to think they descended from the same band of 500 year olds interbreeding?

The joke stereotype of marrying cousins in the south is there to alleviate the pain of thinking Noah is your great great great great great great great grandpa.

No, I bring my insecurities here and repeat the stories with gusto. Here! A place where no one reads and no one comments. But at least it goes out into the world and my voice is banging against an empty room of empty walls (just like my head). And it saves my friends and family from hearing me claim the impossibilities and complete nonsense of accepting a literal Noah.

Or maybe my friend is right. Viruses mutate because of vaccines.

But that’s weird. How come the same isn’t said about the Polio vaccine? Tetanus, Hepatitis A or B, Rubella, Measles, Whooping cough, mumps, chicken pox, diphtheria? Oh that’s right. It’s because it hinders the spread of those viruses.

And every so often, the doctor gives you a booster shot. Why, because the disease, while mostly eradicated, still exists in some form and is slowly mutating. It takes very little brain bandwidth to connect the dots.

And I hope that more people start playing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s