The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingThe Howler - Issue Six
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The Howler Monkey photo from Christian Artuso

The Howler Monkey
The Howler Monkey is among the largest of the New World monkeys. They range in size from 56 to 92 cm, and like many New World monkeys, they have prehensile tails. They have a short snout, and wide-set, round nostrils. Howlers eat mainly top canopy leaves, together with fruit, buds, flowers, and nuts and have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. They move quadrapedally and do not brachiate, usually holding on to a branch with at least two hands or one hand and the tail at all times. They very seldom leave the trees, rest about 80 percent of the time and are considered the least active of all monkeys.



What's Wrong With this Picture?


Cynthia Bissell

No, this is not a scene from the Flintstones, this is a display from a new $25 million creationist "museum" under construction in the Cincinnati area ( When I visit a museum, I expect to learn something that is scientifically and historically verifiable. According to this museum, a God created the world in six days and our planet is just 6,000 years old. Scary to think that millions of people actually believe this and this museum will only serve to encourage this kind of thinking.

My first question is, what's with all the dinosaurs? Is there any mention of dinosaurs in the Bible? I think we can all agree that dinosaurs did roam the earth and it was not in the last 6,000 years. The rest of the creationist view makes as much sense as the dinosaur problem. And what about human fossils? How does that fit in with Adam and Eve? Answer: it doesn't fit.

Science is knowledge gained by observation and experimentation. The studies of Anthropology, Archeology and other related areas are not perfect and we donít have all of the answers, but there is ample physical evidence to prove the theory of evolution. There is absolutely no evidence to support creationist theory. It cannot be observed or proven through experimentation, therefore it is not science by the very definition of the word.

How can so many intelligent people believe in something that cannot be proven? The answer is evolution and brainwashing. Belief in a higher power has evolved as a result of the need to explain what we can't yet understand. It's a trait that is passed from generation to generation, much like physical and emotional traits. Over millenia, religion has helped to bring people into groups. Therefore, it has helped humans to survive and adapt: a kind of survival of the fittest. It has also helped people to cope with the fear of death, and to help people come to terms with terrible circumstances in the world over which we have no control. This trait is much stronger in some people than others and this is why intelligence is not as powerful as some individual's need to believe.

Religion is now like a virus that infects the majority of the world's population and we are passing this infection on to our children. It teaches them to believe in superstitious nonsense: myths that cannot be tested or proven. Religion is like an infection of the masses that continues to spread generation after generation. It's a virus that causes delusions of the ultimate imaginary friend.

Children by nature trust their parents. What children are taught at an early age stays with them for life. It is impossible for a young child to make a judgment regarding faith. They are too young to understand these supernatural ideas. Therefore, it is not possible for a child to be a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim or whatever their parents happen to be. When parents force their superstitious beliefs upon their children, this is a form of brainwashing.

Children should be taught facts - not ancient superstitious beliefs - so that they can grow up to be open-minded, thinking adults who are able to form their own objective opinions. There is a difference between teaching a child about the religions of the world and scaring a child into thinking they are going to burn in hell if they don't believe in whatever particular god their parents worship.


Religion is not necessary in order to give children a moral foundation. We should practice and teach "the golden rule" because it's the right thing to do, not out of the fear of God or Hell's fire. They should be taught history, science, literature, mathematics and most importantly, critical thinking.

In order to become a global community, we need to move beyond these ancient myths and taboos; we have plenty of real-world differences and problems to overcome. We have come to a crossroad in human history. Our brains are evolving to a point where supernatural stories are no longer useful and the need for religion is losing its evolutionary advantage. While there are still benefits to believing in a higher power, there are also huge risks.

If world peace can ever be possible, we must break this cycle and stop brainwashing our young. Religious dogma is a slippery slope that leads to segregation, bigotry and hatred. Religious wars have been around for as long as religions, however, we now have the power to destroy not just humanity but also our entire planet. Religion is a destructive force that has caused anger and bloodshed throughout human history with no end in sight. Let's not drag it into our already fraught future.

It's time for free thinkers to stand up and be heard. I'm all for religious tolerance, but not when it's taught as science in a museum and especially in our public schools. I hope that we can evolve beyond the dogmas and myths of religions before we destroy ourselves.

Cindy Bissell is a mother and a wife, an RN and Disability Advocate, a Web Developer and an Internet Addict, a Liberal Democrat and Free Thinking Atheist. Look for her at:

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