The Tea Party, Science, and the “Shut Down”

Science is the prevailing mythology of the day and I even think that in a way it is our God for our consensus in our culture is that the answers to life appear to lie in science. Now by calling it our “mythology”, I am certainly not dismissing it but merely drawing attention to the ephemeral nature of the whole of reality, including human reason. Now I think this modern day “prevailing myth” is a step in the right direction, providing mankind with opportunities to make this world a better place for all of us. AND, I do think that use and application of this prevailing mythology could be greatly enhanced by a moral perspective that can be obtained from such mythologies as that of the Judeo-Christian tradition that I subscribe to. I do not think that science and faith are mutually exclusive.

But the Tea Party extreme of the Republican Party represents a different take on this matter. Their deep-seated aversion for science reflects a view of the world that influences everything they think, say, and do and explains their Taliban-like rigidity. For example, modern science presents us with a view of the world as a dynamic process which is difficult to understand and is actually very humbling if you stop to think about it. True, some scientists don’t look at it this way, viewing it only a matter of time until we figure it all out and can…basically…wrap our head around the mystery of life. But then there is the other extreme, represented by the Tea Party science deniers, who insist that their view of the world…the physical world and spiritual world, the whole of reality…is “right” and that they have been able to wrap their head around it. The notion that reality is in flux would bring them face to face with a Mystery that would challenge their concrete-thinking faith and make them deal with the profound existential uncertainty and doubt that lurks in their heart. It is because of the unconscious fear of this abyss in their heart that they cling tenaciously to their way of looking at the world, to their “certainties”, and can brazenly declare they are “right” on matters such as the current government shut-down and looming debt crisis. Now, once again, this is not idle theory nor is it “fact.” I speak from experience as I have “been there, done that” and sure enough there is an “abyss” of uncertainty and doubt that has to be addressed when you forego your concrete-thinking grasp of the world. But, I can say with utmost sincerity that the “abyss” was an opportunity for faith in my case and my faith has deepened through the experience. But, my faith is not of the same variety as it used to be when, I now realize, it was basically merely a faith in my faith; or, to put it differently, a faith in myself or my ego-consciousness. It was a confidence in reason as a way to figure things out and to “”wrap my head around” a Mystery that cannot ever be grasped but which is powerfully Present nevertheless

Obama was right that he can’t negotiate with people who have a “bomb strapped around their chest”. Karl Rove has called them “the nutty fringe” of his party. John Boehner has referred to them as “knuckle draggers.” Other Republicans have openly admitted, “We’ve been hijacked!” Yet, the Tea Party was able to accrue this power because the Republican Party had such little confidence in the tenability of its agenda without the support of these “low-information voters.”

This is a scary moment for our country and even for the world, given the significant position we have in the global economy. There is no telling what will come of this. As Shakespeare put it, “”We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

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