Sunday, June 17, 2007

A slight altercation

I had an interesting experience today, in hindsight. As usual I went to Grampa's house today and ate lunch with the family. All well and good. When it got interesting is when my aunt started talking about how she had looked some into Native American cultures and discovered that the Cherokees she talked to seemed to be very private about their religious beliefs. She said she thought that it could be because when the white folks took over they tried to assimilate the Natives into their culture--and make them stop following their religion and telling their native stories. As a result, a lot of the old native stories and traditions were lost, and they are struggling to hold on to what they have left. (I'm not claiming to know anything about Native American tradition, just showing the line of the conversation.) Something was said (I don't remember if this was my aunt's own words, or if she was quoting someone else) that though the white people came here seeking religious liberty, they didn't intend to give that liberty to anyone here following the indigenous religions.

Somehow this lead to the topic of what kids should be taught about religion in the schools. (Had something to do with the transmission of culture to the kids, I think.) I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but Mom started going on how evolution shouldn't be taught in school. This got me started and I started going on about 'of course evolution is science', and how you can't teach biology without teaching evolution. Of course she disagreed on both points and said she didn't like my attitude toward Christianity. Which was puzzling in a way since I never said a thing about religion or Christianity (except a brief mentioning that no discoveries ever came out of creationism.) I even brought up that there are people who believe in both Christianity and evolution, even if I don't. Yet at the same time it was not puzzling in that it really got to the heart of what was bothering her.

Of course the argument had nothing to do with a scientific theory. To her it was my atheism and what she perceived to be an attack on her religion (starting with the conversation about how Christians oppressed the Native Americans and drove their religion underground). It seemed to me my Aunt was perplexed over why Mom was getting so upset when all she was doing was talking about historical matters. I got upset about Mom's apparent condemnation of evolution when I'm quite sure she has never studied it and didn't know what the hell she was talking about in claiming that it's not science. And her idea that it shouldn't be taught in schools--while I'm quite convinced that a person has not been education worth beans as far as science goes until they have a basic understanding of evolution. And this lead to a rather noisy altercation that ended in me stepping out for a walk around the block to cool off.

So, as I've suspected all along, there is definitely some tension between us remaining about this atheism vs Christianity thing. Driven underground in the effort to keep the peace but still there. I spoke to her later about how it was silly of my to get so heated over a scientific theory, and tried making some peace that way. But the tension does still linger...

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