Why Fundamentalists are Beyond Reason
As a teacher and a lifelong student of science and history, I must say I
sit in dismay at the state of life in America. This country spends more on
education than most countries in the world combined.
Yet for all the money, talk, and hype on education, America ranks at the bottom of the industrial world in biology, geology, ancient history, geography, etc.
Caught in the endless culture wars between religious fundamentalists and
secular humanists, education takes back seat to social engineering
extracurricular activities, and after school jobs.
Fundamentalists blame low academic achievement on the Left; the Left blames their failures on a lack of money. Illiteracy was here in Appalachia long before forced religion was removed from public schools in the 1960s.
Science in particular has been caught in a cultural crossfire: Held in God-like admiration by some or a tool of Satanic humanists by others, reason/science has become the target of religious mystics both "New Age" and Christian fundamentalist alike. Atheists misuse science to undermine religion in general.
Christian fundamentalists see it as undermining their understanding of God (Adam/Eve and original sin) while New Age religionists see the technology created by science as a tool of abusive capitalists and a desecration of their "Mother Earth." Gaia and the environmental movement have become more of a fundamentalist' religion with little to do with science or saving trees.
This is not to suggest every environmentalist is a Gaia nut any more then every Christian is a loony Pat Robertson, but all of this demands close consideration. While these groups are very different in outlook, they are the same in their rejection of reason/logic and their embracing of a mystical fantasy world. Eden never existed and never will.
We have to keep science clear of religion and politics, which are often in combination with each other.
My sole concern here is the effect of this on both the scientific and educational worlds. This is a free country and we all have a right to believe as we wish as long as others are not hurt. When religious fantasy ends up used in the political arena and effects all of us, I draw the line.
These groups have launched a full-scale attack on modern science for a variety of political and social reasons. While Christian fundamentalists want it censored or rewritten to match their religious system, New Age type religion resorts to distortion and misuse to promote a political agenda, (often socialism) which in the end takes on a religious aspect. Both of these groups weave an intricate web of lies, misinformation, and fears, which is a greater danger to our freedoms than any Soviet Union ever was.
An arrogant science community that speaks in mathematical riddles further compounds this problem. They act as if they are the priests of a type of mystery religion beyond the understanding of mere mortals. This plays into the hands of frauds and mystics of all kinds and leaves the public in contempt of the whole subject. Of particular problem is government funding of research, which can lead to distorted outcomes just to get more funding.
I will attempt to tackle all of these questions here and what I say will anger most extremists on these issues. Atheists will be enraged because science does not prove there is no god and that they are wrong to use it for that purpose. Christian fundamentalists whose entire faith rest on original sin and a literal Bible will be just as unhappy.
Who will be happy with this? Any reasonable person with an open mind and a willingness to check out the facts will do fine. Those moderate Christians whose faith evolves around Jesus and not the end of the world paranoia may find this helpful. Agnostics/atheists that really don't know what to believe because of conflicting information and our rotten education system could find this of interest. Finally, any person who really wonders what science is about outside of obscure mathematical jargon should find this helpful.
Age of the Irrational
In 1348 a plague would break out in central Asia. By 1349 this plague had reached every corner of Europe. In the cities of France, Italy and Germany, much of the population would die within a year and in England half the population of London would die.
To the Christians of Medieval Europe the long promised Apocalypse had arrived, and Jesus would surely return soon to claim the faithful and punish the sinners. The Church had taught for ten centuries that all events, natural, political, and social must follow the Bible and all knowledge is revealed there.
All events are the work of God for His ultimate purpose. So millions stopped planting crops, stopped planning for the future, and awaited salvation as Christian leaders promised.
But Jesus didn't come and the death continued. In 1357-62 a second outbreak would kill millions more, still no Jesus. All of this was made worse by famine, political chaos, and war. "It must be the work of the Devil" proclaimed Bishops while doomsday prophets lined every street corner. But, It must be those in league with Satan, so who are they would ask?
Never mind the seven-year Tribulation had already gone beyond seven years, and anyone who mentioned this must be in league with the Devil! The great Satan hunt would begin. First came the Jews, the favorite target of church hatred and abuse.
Dragged from the ghettos that Papal decree had imprisoned them in, entire families would be burned alive or tortured to death. Thousands more would flee to Poland and to Islamic nations seeking safety.
The screeching mobs failed to notice the clean streets and the lack of filth on every corner. They also failed to notice the absence of dead rats that lay with the Christian dead as whole families fell before the Black Death. Kosher laws were very strict on sanitation.
Murdering Jews didn't stop the plague, so the hunt went on. The Inquisition worked day and night to root out Satan and his followers as the screams of thousands of men, women, and even children echoed in the torture chambers of Europe.
Unabated, the Black Death continued its dance across Europe as thousands of rats danced in the streets. In Germany the Hansel and Gretal fairy tale has its origins in this period as pregnant women and even children were roasted alive in ovens to drive out the Devil.
It wasn't witches (there is no such thing as witches, just those who think they are) it was the Inquisition inflicting this horror. Things became so absurd that even domestic cats were burned at the stake, which produced even more rats.
Even the church itself and the Pope came under attack in the chaos. Jan Huss of Bohemia (1372-1415) openly accused the church of conspiracy and gets burned at the stake for his trouble. This led to the Husite Rebellion under Jon Milic (d. 1574) archdeacon of Prague.
The crushing of this rebellion devastated much of central Europe. Catholics and later Protestants alike engaged in an orgy of murder and brutality that lasted long after the plague ended. In the end the plagues subsided, and Europe's population would not recover until the 17th century.
The witch hunting and Inquisition also ended by the 18th century as well. From 400 AD to the late 1500s Europe had progressed little in science and all learning/inquiry was relegated to religious dogma. Reason never had a chance.
Today we know the Black Death (bubonic plague) is a disease carried by fleas on rats whose bites kills humans and rats. This has nothing to do with anything in the Bible or any Apocalypse. Its death toll would rival a nuclear war today.
It is just a part of nature that today can be combated with vaccines. Science and the scientific method gave us the vaccine. By the dawn of the 19th century science and the scientific method would disentangle itself from superstition and dogma.
A product of the Enlightenment, the scientific method would produce jet aircraft, the Space Shuttle, super computers, and biotechnology. The average person today lives two-three times longer than just 200 years ago.
Yet according to fundamentalists like Phillip E. Johnson in his book Reason in the Balance, the case against Naturalism in science, law, and education, and other Christian fundamentalists, the child roasters and cat killers were correct after all and science has everything all wrong.
Everything we know of modern science is wrong, as he hints at some evil atheist conspiracy to lock out God in the science community. His proof is simply the fact everything that happens isn't contributed to some supernatural theme as opposed to it just happened.
As fundamentalist religion and New Age mysticism consume millions, our nation is falling into a bottomless pit of mediocrity and irrational thought that dominated the Europe for over 1000 years.
The fact is that many people just don't have the knowledge to understand what separates issues of faith and humanity from the natural world. What is worse, they don't want to know because they have withdrawn from reality.
What is fundamentalism? For the purposes here, I'll relate it to social and political themes, not religious. More on this at http://www.sullivan-county.com/news/index.htm
Fundamentalist religion, (Either New Age, Christian, or whatever) are social phenomena caused by the stress of social, political, and economic change. Both groups in the theological sense are mortal enemies, but in practical reality are much the same.
Both reject the modern world and the use of science and logic. They feel helpless, vulnerable, and their lives have no meaning. They operate on emotion.
Both have an attitude of impending doom and the end of the world. Christian fundamentalists arrive at their doomsday traditions from ravings of 19th century cults and mystics such as William Miller (Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses), John Nelson Darby and the Scofield Bible, and Joseph Smith (Mormonism).
Though their distorted view of the Biblical Book of Revelation, they see God's punishment for sin in every job loss, school shooting, or natural disaster. All we have to so is follow whatever gospel they preach and the world will be great.
Everybody wants a reason why, a way to escape the bad things in life, a certainty that they can cheat death and misfortune. They can't and won't accept that for an answer. Instead of dealing with reality and facing it, they often end up resorting to irrational fantasy or hidden enemies, secret plots, etc.
Like the Christians of 1358, they are on a great Satan hunt even today. They tend to see government either with them in stamping out "sin" to save the world from destruction and judgment. Or against them if neutral or otherwise.
(They, like the Puritans, see government as a theocracy with no separation of church/state.) They tend to ally themselves with the extreme political right and carry a large degree of paranoia.
New Age followers often have a degree of earth worship (a spiritual view of nature) and a doomsday theology of their own. It's a mish-mash of Eastern religion, the occult, pantheism, etc. Their traditions tend to see Armageddon via nuclear war and environmental destruction. Their version of "sin" is materialism and degradation of their "earth goddess."
Recent surveys of US adults indicate that many Americans hold at least some new age beliefs:
8% believe in astrology as a method of foretelling the future
7% believe that crystals are a source of healing or energizing power
9% believe that Tarot Cards are a reliable base for life decisions
about 1 in 4 believe in a non-traditional concept of the nature of God which are often associated with New Age thinking:
11% believe that God is "a state of higher consciousness that a person may reach"
8% define God as "the total realization of personal, human potential"
3% believe that each person is God
Aliens have landed on Earth: 22%
The lost continent of Atlantis: 33%
Dinosaurs and Humans Lived Simultaneously: 41%
Noah's flood: 65%
Communication with the dead: 42%
Actually Had a Psychic Experience: 67%
They ally themselves with the political left and also see government as a tool to end their version of "sin" and save the world. (A rejection of modern technology and return to mud huts in some simplistic/mystical world.) They dominate the feminist and environmental movements. Like Christian fundamentalists they tend to be authoritarian, undemocratic, and hunt for their version of Satan under every rock.
Satan as far as I'm concerned is a myth used by Christians as an excuse to silence their critics and terrorize others. The concept comes from Eastern religion and doesn't even exist in Judaism today. Christians seem to have gotten this from the Essenes and Gnostics.
Most people would be shocked to know that the ancient Greeks invented concepts of reason, modern science, modern history, and democracy 2500 years ago. They knew the world wasn't flat and even touched on evolution knowing the world wasn't 6000 years old. Even the church fathers such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas figured out the earth was not only very old, but life also sprang from a common source.
Even more shocking to many people in America today is the gifts the Arabs would transmit to the modern world. They would not only preserve the great discoveries of the Greeks, but would greatly expand them. They would invent algebra (an Arabic word), and transmitted from India the base 10 number system (the concept of zero did away with the cumbersome Roman system), and expand science and math far beyond even Greece.
Greek philosophy, destroyed or lost by the Catholic Church, would be brought back to light by contacts with Arabs in Spain. Arab writers in the 10th century even knew that mountains were formed by rain, wind, and land upheavals over a long period of time and figured out what Christian Europe rejected until the age of Charles Darwin.
The Christian churches knew of all of this, but rejected them for political reasons and mindless dogma.
The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 would finally end the genocidal wars between Protestant and Catholic Christians. Religion would be left up to the ruling authority of a region. Thus French Protestants moved to Protestant sections of Germany while say Catholics in Holland could go to France, etc.
Two very important events occurred at this time. The Protestant countries, located mainly in Northern Europe and England, were finally free of church dogma and were ruled by princes who wanted commercial advantage and trade.
Here would grow the first a middle class of merchants, artisans, etc who demanded a free and more open society. Many restrictions on the press, publishing, education, and thought were removed, thus creativeness exploded.
Protestant Europe would advance technically and socially over the Catholic nations where the Inquisition still reigned terror on its citizens.
Do not make the arrogant mistake that Catholics are somehow backwards. The Renaissance began in Catholic Italy then moved north to what are Protestant countries today. Great men in Italy, France, and even Orthodox Russia all contributed to our technical world today. The Catholic nations were behind for a while, but caught up fast.
The other important event is the Islamic world would turn inward in the manner of 4th century Christian fundamentalist Europe. Steeped in mindless fundamentalism and dogma, time would stand still and the great Arab tradition of learning and achievement would wither away.
The Islamic world, except perhaps Turkey that threw off Islamic fundamentalism in the 1920s under Ataturk, today are poor, backward nations. Oil wealth aside, many of these nations are socially backward as ever.
From the 1496 to about 1700, "Christian Science" would be shoved aside by one discovery after another. The founding of the New World was conclusive proof of a round world (the ancient Greeks knew it but the church refused to accept it) would turn Christian Science on it's head.
Copernicus and Galileo would put the crystal sphere, earth centered universe of Ptolomy in it's grave once and for all. The moon, planets and stars are made up of the same material as the earth, the Earth circled the Sun, and the Earth was not the center of creation. So much for angels in the clouds.
Newton's Laws of Universal Gravitation would reinforce what the Greeks knew thousands of years before; the universe operates by natural laws that apply everywhere, don't rely magic, and supernatural intervention. Bacon would introduce the concept of empirical evidence (verifiable, physical proof, open debate) and this idea would greatly extend to civil law.
No more torture and absurd accusations such as those used at the Salem Witch Trials, which sickened even the most ardent Christians. Thus the natural world operated on predictable, universal laws that didn't need divine intervention. (Note that Newton was an Arian Christian and while rejecting the Trinity, never rejected Jesus.)
So what is the problem with Johnson and other fundamentalists? To quote Johnson himself, "Rational beliefs are those that are consonant with reality." (P, 10)
Because science doesn't attribute everything to supernatural micro-management of God and leaves some elements to chance, he feels it undermines the Bible. Sorry, science works on reason and verifiable proof, not revelation.
The other fact is science/reason actually produces results, something the claims of magic have always failed to do. Science at the same time doesn't address the matter of God at all. It comes down to a literal Genesis and the Adam/Eve story and original sin, which Jesus never mentioned, but was created by the Apostle Paul.
How revealed religions such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam derive truth is by divine revelation. That is direct communication either directly from God via voices visions, etc. or by angels and other divine massager.
All we have is the word of the founder, because Christians (as an example) claim angels can't be seen. This revealed "truth" can't be disputed and all other ideas must be derived from it. So anything "observed" must be seen in the light of revelation.
To quote Tertullian of Carthage: (150-225) "Divine revelation, not reason, is the source of all truth."
Phillip Johnson is a law professor and lawyer and knows little about the workings of science. Science is based on naturalism and thus deals only with what can be observed. Johnson considers naturalism a religion. (He uses other terms such as modernism and liberal rationalism, etc.)
As a lawyer he plays a deceptive game of words mixing liberalism, rationalism, etc. then claims they have no relation to nature. (Which he says is God) What he really object to is a marginal treatment of Christianity; "the establishment of a particular religious philosophy does not imply competing philosophies are outlawed, but rather they are relegated to a marginal position in private life"
On a California textbook policy change, "this policy encouraged textbook publishers and teachers to give much greater emphasis to accepted scientific doctrines and to relegate any consideration of nonscientific subjects such as divine creation, ultimate purpose, and the ultimate cause of the physical universe to literature and social studies classes." (P. 40-43)
Science does not deal in questions of God or ultimate purpose to begin with. Even he admits these are nonscientific subjects, thus they don't have any place in the science classroom. The facts are only 5% of the population is atheist, 95% believe in God.
Over half believe in evolution as fact, but over 80% of those believe in theistic evolution or evolution as the work of God. What they don't buy is his particular Protestant Evangelical religion. To Johnson and other fundamentalists, he is in a cosmic battle of good and evil. There is no in between and he means literal six-day Creationism and a historical Adam.
The loathing of personal choice and freedom on any subject by Johnson is well stated throughout his book. Even those that believe in theistic evolution (for example many mainline Protestants) are heretics. That also applies to those that see the Bible different from him.
He is little different then Tertullian and other church fathers. To quote Elaine Pagels in her book The Origins of Satan, the true Christian simply determines to "know nothing...at variance with the truth of faith."
Jesus says in Matthew 7:7, "Ask, and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you." Tertullian attacks even this because "the church can...answer all questions..." (P. 164)
And on heretics or those they don't buy the fundamentalist' line, "Heretics ought not be allowed to challenge...for since they are heretics, they cannot be Christians. (P. 166)
As Pagels points out, this whole business of Satan is an excuse to destroy anyone that questions their authority. Believing in God isn't the point, you are not even allowed to ask, they will tell you what it is.
It's time we cleared up the questions of Naturalism, the scientific method, and the misuse of both the Bible and science.
Naturalism and the Scientific Method
Naturalism simply says the universe operates by natural, predictable laws free of divine control. Naturalism rejects miracles and magic. Science on Do not think for one minute that the universe is a random juggling of atoms and planets.
There is a large overall order, but many things at the lowest levels are left to chance. This doesn't mean there is no God, or that miracles may or may not happen, that there was no divine creation, etc.
It means just what is says, don't try to add things to it like religious fundamentalists often do with the Bible by "filling in the blanks."
Thomas Aquinas (Doubting Thomas) would promote the notion that reason and faith could coexist because both ask a different question. The bottom line is simple: when one dominates the other, conflict will arise.
In the Middle Ages natural science and Christianity did live side-by-side in an uneasy truce. As long as reason didn't infringe on dogma, it could stay. The Protestant Reformation and the questioning of authority would break that truce.
At this point I must say I have severe reservations on some things that are called "theories" but really shouldn't be. They belong in the realm of hypothesis or even mysticism (mysticism in my way of thinking are not good, bad, or stupid, but things of the mind or soul beyond the everyday physical world.)
Things such as black holes, Chaos Theory, etc. These ideas have never been seen, tested, or can be tested. They are little more than some unproven math or just ideas.
The facts are science and religion are not really at odds and the problem is often political and social. The Catholic Church has accepted evolution as science since 1950; most mainstream Protestant churches do as well. All still believe Jesus is Lord and Savior.
The Scientific Method is not dogma. There are some variations in it, but works largely like this:
A. An event is observed./
B. A hypothesis (educated guess) is given as to why this occurred or what caused it. Both induction and deduction are used.
C. The hypothesis is tested. This is important in that it MUST be testable. And the test must be repeatable. There must be testable evidence to support the hypothesis.
This is where revelation, prophecy, and magic always fail. All psychic events, spiritual events, etc never pass this point. All tests and procedures must be published for others to check and verify. Sorry, no secret revelations allowed.
D. If the hypothesis passes the test it becomes a THEORY. This is totally different from "theory" as used in everyday life, where the meaning of hypothesis and theory are totally confused.
Most science is theory: the electron spin theory of magnetism, electron flow theory of electricity, etc. The electron is a theory, but no one argues the existence of electricity. It's only the theory of evolution that's attacked.
E. A theory accepted as fact becomes a LAW. For example, Law of Gravity, Law of Thermodynamics, etc. These are mainly limited to mathematics proofs.
Deduction is a process where one begins with a general idea and describes everything else based on that. The church in using the Bible to explain the plaque could only deduce some type of divine cause of which it is not.
What really happened was anything that couldn't be accounted for with their notion of Scripture was heresy and was thus rejected: If Scripture had bothered to mention flees and rats, perhaps a lot of cats wouldn't have been burned at the stake.
Induction is a process where many observations/tests are used to arrive at a new hypothesis or theory. This is often used to obtain new knowledge and is most often used in science.
Science also uses deduction. Evolution is a theory because it passes the test (in multiple scientific fields and thousands of tests) but is not a Law because some the mechanisms are still under dispute or study.
Unlike truth derived from divine revelation, science looks at the evidence then draws truth from that. Thus it is the polar opposite of revelation.
What is "pseudo-science?
Pseudo-science are beliefs held as true by many people but lack proof, can't be tested, etc. This would "Creation Science," UFOs, Big Foot, all New Age beliefs such as pyramid power, faith healing, all psychic phenomena, talking to dead people, crystals, spiritualism, Gnosticism and self-revelation, and on and on. Science does not deal with any of this stuff and to claim "proof" one better be ready to produce it.
"Six Day Creationism" and all New Age beliefs are pseudo-science. I also have to include parapsychology, psychology, and sociology in this realm because they really don't stick to the scientific method and ignore "pass/retest section. The dismal record of social engineering stands as testimony to this that applying science to human emotions is problematic.
Science, reason, and the scientific method do have limitations that when ignored or misused have led to disaster. There is no way that reason can say why a rose is prettier than a daisy or vice-versa.
It can't even ask questions related to the soul, why we are here, is there gods or no gods, etc. Science cannot and should not be used for such questions. Science will ask, "How does it work?" It can't ask, "Why am I here?"
Fundamentalists and New Age religion both claims one can't prove the Apostle Paul didn't talk to a dead Jesus or a New Age mystic can't communicate with the dead.
That is true, but just because I can't prove there isn't a tooth fairy, doesn't mean there is one. In all of this one must be very careful of what passes for "truth."
Because we are on evolution, let us look closely into how scientific evolution-reinforced misuse of the Bible. Charles Darwin has to be the most hated man in the world by religious fundamentalists.
He is also known as the father of evolution, a process that basically says all higher forms of life on earth evolved from lower life by way of random genetic changes. Terms such as "natural selection," and "survival of the fittest" would be on everyone's lips.
His Origins of Species, published in 1859 put in scientific terms what many geologists of the day already suspected. Like all science, it did not deal with the concepts of God, Providence, or salvation, science never does. His later publication in 1871 of The Decent of Man would create uproar between science and religion that goes on to this day.
Christian fundamentalists just love to bash Darwin's "Theory of Evolution" and claim the earth was created in 4004 BC. Where did they get the idea of 4004 BC? It doesn't come from the Bible at all where the age of the earth is not mentioned.
Anglican Archbishop James Usher of Ireland (1581-1656) read the Bible and claimed the earth was created in 4004 BC. The Anglican Church or anyone never accepted this else even in his own day.
It somehow got printed on the margins of the Authorized Version of the English Bible; thus it became the "word of God" to American fundamentalists of today. The Bible simply doesn't deal with the age of the earth in any scientific sense of the word, period.
What is more important is Darwin never invented any "Theory of Evolution." He promoted the hypothesis (oh, that word again!) that species evolved by random mutation and random chance. Modern science provided the proof he was basically right and thus it accepted by many as fact today.
The "fit" would survive by some natural advantage and the least fit wouldn't. Does that mean if the bubonic plaque wiped out the human race that the decease was more intelligent (fit) than man? Of coarse not, that is an element of chance.
Today most scientists know evolution works within known parameters but there is also an element of chance as well. Darwin did not use fossils or radioisotope dating (radioactivity would be discovered in the 1890's after his death) nor did Darwin ever apply natural selection to civilized human beings.
To quote Darwin himself: "Under civilized conditions the social and cooperative virtues were useful characteristics assisting in survival, so that we may expect that virtuous habits will grow stronger, perhaps becoming fixed by inheritance."
And evolution doesn't deal any deathblow to Christianity because most reasonable Christians (excludes fundamentalists) see the Old Testament as symbolic and reject Mosaic Law as done away with Jesus.
I know several very strong church-going Christians who have no problem with evolution. Many fundamentalists today follow a cult known as Christian Reconstructionism that does away with Jesus (they refer to Jesus/Jews and their God as Satan) and prefer the Old Testament as the Law and themselves as the new chosen people. Followers of Jesus who actually believe in Him have no problem with evolution.
What really upsets many people is uncertainty, that the universe isn't really an orderly, predictable thing. Yes it is orderly within certain points; such as gravity will make a bowling ball dropped on one's foot painful.
One could simply never bowl again or go near a bowling alley and be fairly assured that a bowling ball won't fall on their foot. If a meteor the size of a bowling ball hits you in the head, you are dead; there was no way to prevent it. That is random chance.
Life in reality is both, 50% random chance beyond our control, and 50% what we make it. Genetics plays the biggest part of all in cancer, so those who eat only brown, organically grown rice may die of cancer as easily as anyone may.
One knows that not smoking tobacco lessons the chance one may get lung cancer, but sometimes we still can. Our choices in life only change the odds, but in the end we all die, nobody knows for sure beyond that.
I don't believe in modernism which says everything is relative and there is no right or wrong. Humans have intelligence and are not animals vulnerable completely to the whims of nature.
To quote Einstein himself, "I shall never believe God plays dice with the world." We can make choices if we can separate what is certainly and stop wasting our time chasing phantoms. God gave us the ability to make choices for good or evil.
Life is uncertain as social, technical, and economic changes are a fact in today's world. Many people refuse to, or just can't handle the world around them, so they turn inward.
In America this is made worse by an appalling education system that leaves millions in confusion unable to separate science from science fiction and religious faith from blind superstition and mysticism. All of this confusion limits many choices one could make.
Mr. Johnson's entire 245-page book never mentioned anything Jesus ever said, just his own frustration with the world. He wants his version of a spiritual world to be physical reality.
Jesus clearly separates the spiritual from the physical world and is right on this matter as are many church fathers. I don't think these people believe what they preach, because if they did they wouldn't care what others think, and would be happy with life.
The happy Christians, the ones who actually follow Jesus, who live as He says to live, aren't screaming at the world from the pulpit. I salute them.
The problem with fundamentalists like Mr. Johnson is we live in a technical and diverse world and they just can't handle it. Nobody tells any Christian in this country how to pray, when and where to go church, or what to believe. Nobody! They preach politics, power, and money, not God.
If they want to remain ignorant and uneducated, that is their choice. If they refuse to read the Bible and substitute their own self-revelations and political nonsense over the words of even conservative Christian scholars, they are free to do so.
If Mr. Johnson wants to write a book claiming some unfounded garbage that the science community is conspiring to destroy Jesus, he is free to do so. (I bought his book, which I'm certainly free to do.)
If these fundamentalists want to attack even their fellow Christians because they don't see the same flat, 6000-year-old earth they see, that's fine. If they choose to be beyond reason and live in some fantasy world, it is their choice.
But they can't force the rest of us to follow them or meddle in the personal lives of other people. I've been in the scientific and technical fields for over 25 years and the fundamentalists leave us only two choices: believe in their flat-earth world or atheism. They drive millions out of the Christian community and often into irrational New Age religion. There is a third choice.
Get an education and read the Bible for yourself. I'm glad I did or I'd be an atheist! Stops adding in things that are not there! The recent Y2K fiasco was the work of fundamentalists Christians (along with New Age technophobes) who thought they knew more than the Bible did. These people are preaching politics, not Jesus. The Bible is not a science book or was not meant as a history book.
The earth is not 6000 years old, evolution is accepted scientific fact, and the Bible isn't threatened by it at all if properly studied and considered. Most of all allow an element of reason into these discussions and stop hunting for Satan under every rock.
Finally, if being a Christian produces only anger and resentment of others, go find a new church. There are plenty of good Christian churches around that don't act like cults or endlessly attack everything they don't understand or refuse to deal with. It is up to you!
God gave man the one gift we have above all life in this world: reason and the knowledge of right and wrong. It doesn't come from holy books full of visions from unknown writers, depicting a flat earth, circled by the sun.
All we have to do is look around at this vast beautiful world and endless universe. How do I know? Look out and see it, just like I did. It doesn't take magic and anyone can do it.
Abuse of Science
When Charles Darwin wrote Origins of Species he warned that "natural selection" didn't apply where intelligence is involved, The reason is simple: intelligence changes the odds on outcome.
The use of clothing for example enables human beings to withstand adverse weather conditions and changing climates. Defeating the weather enables humans to live and travel over wider areas and climates be it frigid Russia or tropical India. "Natural selection" just doesn't apply when natural conditions can be overcome.
The greatest problem in science is personal bias and keeping it from causing the researcher to draw the wrong conclusion. Because science by the middle 19th had achieved so much, it would be a short time before it would applied to people.
"Social Darwinism" is a misuse of science to justify racism and class warfare. It easy for the Victorian English to justify their mistreatment of the Irish and Indians was the idea Englishmen were superior due to "natural selection."
They reinforced much of the Calvinist/Puritan garbage and would follow the English to America. Here is a case where some misguided Christian ideas/distortions were reinforced by doing the very thing Darwin warned against.
Christian ideas of "chosen people," John Calvin's predestination, and the Apostle Paul's hatred of women, Jews, etc, reinforced the concept that "natural selection" had placed men above women, whites above non-whites, and Protestants above Catholics.
Racists in America had misused Scripture for years to justify slavery/segregation felt more justified with "scientific proof" that their version of Christianity is correct after all.
The ultimate horror would come in the 1940s when Social Darwinism, Christian anti-Semitism, and a type of New Age mysticism would result in the near extermination of Europe's Jews.
In the genetic sense, humans are nearly identical. We are one species because all races can produce children who can go on to produce children.
This is because there was enough intermixing over the eons (due to migration) that the gene pool never drifted enough apart. (Unlike horses, zebras, donkeys.) There are no chosen people in the scientific sense.
Cultural and social conditions often determine achievement outside of genetics. India was civilized long before the first Roman set foot in England and today India produces some of the world's best science/technical people.
The Irish were treated like animals being stripped of their property rights, denied an education and other opportunities, would prosper in America. And the Jewish "untermenschen" murdered by the Nazis included many of Europe's finest scientists and artists.
All people when they receive the blessings of personal freedom will excel to the best of their abilities. Freedom makes all people equal, just as God intended. Only those who wish crush freedom, enslave their fellow man, or use terror to enforce dogma, are the real Satan.
Satan is not a actual being but does represent human evil. For that we must be on guard. Jesus wanted His people to be free from Roman tyranny and died at the hands of Romans for His beliefs. Anyone who wants less than freedom for others is no Christian.
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