Anti-Life Justifies My Ignorance: Evangelicalism and the Pandemic

By Matthew Brake

Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis billed itself as “The Day Evil Won.”

The evil New God Darkseid had finally attained the long sought for Anti-Life Equation, a macguffin that gave him the power to control and subjugate the minds of others.

In Morrison’s story, Darkseid’s coming is heralded by a “Religion of Crime” (complete with its own Crime Bible). This religion sets itself against rational informed thought, as adherents are told to “renounce science” and swear allegiance on the Crime Bible.

In one tragic moment from a series tie-in, Final Crisis: Submit, the hero Black Lightning is captured by Darkseid’s forces while rescuing a super villain and his family. Within Darkseid’s thrall, readers see Black Lightning holding a copy of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, regarding it with disdain. “Trash. Heresy,” he says as he throws it into a fire.

“Anti-Life justifies my ignorance!” he exclaims.

Morrison is obviously playing on certain religion v. science tropes that are as old as the Scopes Monkey Trial…or even Copernicus.

In his famous “Rock of Ages” story from his acclaimed JLA run, Morrison portrays a future much like the story he would tell in Final Crisis when Darkseid has taken over the earth. Ray Palmer, the Atom, bemoans that “science lost to religion.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (whose ideas actually influence some of Morrison’s work) has noted that Christianity on the whole has not always liked science.

One need not look any further for an example of this than the current pandemic and the conservative evangelical reaction in the U.S. to health and safety guidelines and vaccines. It would be a mistake to think that these reactions have come out of nowhere.

In the American culture wars, the scientific community is looked upon with skepticism by many conservative Christians. Evolutionary theory is reduced to “atheists attempting to explain life without God” while the science concerning climate change is viewed as a New Age, earth-worshipping conspiracy that wants to destroy the U.S. economy.

This anti-science attitude is perpetuated by flat-earthers (some of whom will point out that the Bible fuels their views) and anti-vaxxers.

And now, conservative religious leaders like John MacArthur assert that “there is no pandemic,” while other worship enthusiasts like Sean Feucht bemoan regulations on church gatherings, fueling conversations that these regulations are a form of “persecution” (and not simply a matter of public health and safety). In Feucht’s case, he smiles at the camera while flagrantly downplaying the pandemic and sporting “Jesus Christ super-spreader” t-shirts.

Conservative friends and relatives (and a former president) have denied and downplayed the importance of wearing masks due to some public messaging issues on the front end of the pandemic related to supply, but plenty of studies have shown the effectiveness of even simple cloth masks (here’s just one sample of an article about this reality with embedded links to other sources. Really, a simple google search will provide plenty of sources).

And now, 500,000 people are dead in the U.S.

These numbers are inching up to Spanish Flu level numbers.

But this didn’t have to be the case. This many people didn’t need to die. But the powers of Anti-Life won.

And where the Christian Church should have been on the frontlines of safeguarding the most susceptible among us and honoring the scientific and medical communities, its distrust of science and “big government” (in this case, federal agencies run by some of the top medical experts in the world) has caused it to side with death.

Like followers of Darkseid, so many Christians have succumbed to Anti-Life.

And it isn’t just that they’ve been ignorant.

They’ve JUSTIFIED their ignorance.

By appealing to Trump. By appealing to freedom. By crying persecution. By declaring that people need to have “faith over fear” (whatever that means. I seem to remember Jesus refusing to jump off of a high place when tempted).

A more generous response might point out that religion often deals in “certainty” and science deals in “approximation,” which means that scientific information is open to change as more data is collected. This lack of certainty perhaps is off-putting to certain types of religious believers.

And yet it’s this “approximate” knowledge that has put humans on the moon and ended numerous diseases (through the use of vaccines I might add).

Regardless, many Christians have thrown Darwin on the fire (as they have Copernicus and Galileo before him), and with him, everything that he represents: scientific progress, medical wellness, and planetary sustainability.

Sometimes, it seems like they aren’t following the God I think is real, one of life, love, and reason (and oh, so much more).

They’re following some sort of twisted, anti-human god.

And the result isn’t life.

It’s Anti-Life.

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