Sunday, April 10, 2005

I Am Evil Incarnate

On paper i am probably the least interesting person on the planet. I'm a straight, middle-class white guy with two kids. I've been married and monogamous for almost 18 years. I don't evade taxes, i give to charities, i've never been arrested, and the only drugs of which i partake are dry red wines and single malt scotch. I have a house in the suburbs, a dog named Zane, a steady job, and a US flag decal on the back window of my pickup truck. I love my parents, i love my country, and my idea of a good time is hanging out with my kids.

Given all that it's probably surprising to discover that i am Evil Incarnate. Not quite the devil himself, i'm too modest to claim such a thing. But still run-of-the-mill destroy the souls of your children Evil. It's not so much that i'm trying to be Evil, it's just that i'm not really trying that hard not to be. I'm not going to put any effort into committing violent or deceitful acts, or even tempting others into sin. I'm not anti-religion, i attend Catholic mass most weekends, though it's true that i'm not Catholic and i go primarily to support my wife and kids. I am a confirmed Lutheran who grew up in a Lutheran parochial school; and i once toyed with the idea of attending the seminary, so i have some religious education and experience.

So back to the Evil thing. Somewhere along the line, i came to follow the philosophy that is now called secular humanism. This was the result, i admit, of attempting to think for myself. I read the Bible without supervision, i read about evolution and the scientific origins of the universe. I experienced doubt. To the legitimately religious, doubt is not a bad thing. In fact, without doubt faith is meaningless. If you claim to have faith but you've never had doubt, then you're no more spiritual than my dog. But if you arrive at skepticism and demand convincing evidence of the universe, you'll never work your way back to religion.

In the popular view secular humanism is not a morally-based philosophy. To conservatives the term is pejorative, like liberal or academic. To me, it's just morality minus nonsense. But morality for many has an essentially Biblical (or Koranic, depending on the locale) basis, so that if you're not a believer you are incapable of moral action. Despite the fact that my behavior is effectively moral (albeit boring) by most standards, i don't pass the loyalty oath. Hence, Evil Incarnate.

I didn't actually realize i was Evil until Pope JP2 died. After his death, Bill O'Reilly explained to me that anything less than hagiography with respect to the late Pope constituted an attempt to propound my secular humanist world view. If i were to contend that, say, the Pope's uncompromising stand on birth control encouraged over-population in developing countries, that would be advocacy of a wordly, materialist, rationalist, humanist viewpoint. We do this because we are desperate, we secular humanists. We've been unable to convince the general population that biological evolution is a scientific fact, we've been unable to sell the idea that perhaps homosexuals are in fact human and therefore deserving of civil liberties, we've failed miserably to convey the idea that separation of church and state is better for both. They're on to us now, the moralists. Our Evil is exposed.

If you think i'm kidding, then i feel compelled to paraphrase Kent, my cousin and childhood friend: "No shit, Sherlock".

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