Biblical literacy and literalism are as highly regarded in Alabama as football. Gov. Doctor Robert Bentley said that, unless I am not a born again Christian, I can not be his brother. Candidates for public office must prove their Biblical bona fides in the form of Sunday School classes taught. It seems that the state's forty year experiment with segregation academies, run by fundamentalist churches, has destroyed the capacity for critical thinking in the adult population of Alabama.
In my discussions with anti-choice voters, I observed certain people who Clarence Darrow called "fundamnentalists" don't abide by the rules of logic in public policy debates. Science is trumped by scripture. How did that happen, especially in the Deep South? This is what I have been pondering lately. I am not a historian, so feel free to verify my accounts.
Think about Plato's Cave analogy. Our knowledge of truth (or reality, whatever your description of the most accurate level of understanding) is limited by our perceptions.
Language and writing allowed us to write all we learned. There were many writers who observed different things, and much debate. Philosophers come up with the concept of logic, scientists come up with a method. Ideas were tested and refined. Progress was made.
The Printing Press was invented. Up until this point, few people had books and most were illiterate. Books were handwritten and expensive. Only sons and occasional daughters of the wealthy were educated by tutors. All the average churchgoer knew about the Bible was what was preached to him.
King James of Scotland ascended to the throne of England when Elizabeth I died, and became head of the Anglican Church. He ordered scholars to write and publish an English language Bible. The scholars wrote a Bible containing 67 books of the Jewish Torah and the Christian New Testament, with a protestant influence. They had no original writings. The best sources were located in other parts of the world. The King James Bible is great poetry and prose, but it was written by a committee using a source containing old translation and scrivener's errors.
Settlers from the British Isles came to to Appalachia and the Deep South, bringing their KJV Bibles. Those who could not afford a ship ticket made a deal for free passage and land, if they settled in areas west of where the gentry lived to form a buffer between them and native Americans. These settlers had this one book, and it was used to teach children to read. No college schooled priests were available to marry people, so common law marriage was accepted. Sermons were delivered by preachers who interpreted the Bible without benefit of any formal education.
New sects formed in Christianity, as dissatisfied members left the Church of England for branch sects. These branches split again and again. Fundamentalism took root. Church leaders formulated a doctrine that the Bible was the inerrant word of God, and must not be questioned.
This is how I surmise the Bible became a filter, through which all new learning in the Deep South is processed by fundamentalists. Education, logic and science is regarded as with deep suspicion. All conflicts are resolved by resorting back to a primitive understanding of the Bible.
Have they heard about Galileo yet?
For a discussion of fundamentalism, go here:
For further consideration, go here:
James Webb, Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America