Sunday, May 06, 2007

More Comments

Well things are starting to crystallize a bit. And I'm not too surprised, but I wanted to throw out a few quick comments of my own.

First of all, with regard to the Bible, I do believe it was Divinely inspired; sorry for that misunderstanding. Perhaps this is why I'm so fascinated by those moments of Divine inspiration within the stories. I'm a theist. I believe there is a bit of the Divine in each of us.

But back to Cervantes comments about those who take the Bible literally. I'm genuinely surprised that half of Americans believe the creationist view. But there it is. I think that number has a lot to do with the rise of Christian Fascism in our country. I can only say I don't think you can engage the thinking of hard core believers in the way you are attempting because of their political agenda and the magical thinking they use to advance it. Attacking their beliefs or pointing out logical inconsistencies seems to do nothing. "Well," they laugh, "God can do anything." What you can do is point out their political agenda (which you are quite good at) and (hopefully) watch their 30 year political grip on our nation begin to wane.

I'm particularly dismayed to discover 41% of Catholics agree with the creationist view. John Paul II acceded in 1996 that evolution was more than just a theory. Of course I say all the time that Catholics are poorly educated about their own faith. Especially people of my generation. I wonder, like this guy, if perhaps they respond to the poll as they do because of the way it's worded?

Because if you're just looking at which denominations ascribe to creationism literally, I would expect the numbers in that poll to be much smaller. More in line with these statistics about the Largest Religious Groups in the United States. In other words, I would expect Baptists and any other of the smaller fundamentalists to be in this camp, but no majority. This world view has been usurped in an attempt to give moral justification to a fascist government model. If you want to fight religion with religion a better way would be to steer away from deuteronomical justice, and toward Jesus--whom the Christian Fascists claim to follow. It's much easier to find clear contradictions when you use the words and actions of Jesus. He was, after all, a progressive liberal. I think that is a better way to engage the thinking of American Christians.

And with regard to Cervantes comment, "This is an artifact in the history of culture, but in that respect it is not particularly distinguished from Aesop's fables or the Vedas or the epic of Gilgamesh." We can just disagree on that. I think what distinguishes the Bible is it's attempt to understand God and the degree to which those good intentioned efforts succeeded. Certainly the ancient ideas were not complete, but they laid the foundation for the evolution of Christianity and modern theology.

Many modern theologians believe we are co-creators and that the Divine spirit exists within humans and is infused throughout creation. But that's a more evolved position. In any case it is a position which is not in opposition to empirical data. Theology should never be opposed to empirical data. Science should inform us about the mechanics of life; faith should inform us about the purpose of life. To quote Joan Chittister again, "Science drags faith beyond magic. Faith challenges science to principles beyond utilitarianism. One does not explain the other. We look in vain for faith to tell us how the world began or why it functions as it does with floods in wetlands and desertification in dry places and massacres in Algeria and pain in my own small life. But we do look for faith to tell us what it means to have to deal with such things."

(Post script: With regard to the Adam and Eve story and the suddenness of their loss of innocence; meh. I don't know. I think flashes of insight are not an uncommon way of coming to moral understanding.)

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