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I’m reading False Presence of the Kingdom by Jacques Ellul, written in 1963. In the chapter called Incompetence and Irresponsibility (p. 154) he writes,

In this day and age, it would never occur to Christians to send notoriously incompetent persons into a scientific milieu to enter into discussion with physicists and to take sides on some theory in physics, on the basis of a few general ideas and clippings from the weekly newspapers.

In this day and age, not 50 years later, it seems that Christians are more than willing to do that very thing. To see “competence” as corruption and an actual disqualifier to speak to an issue (competent=elite; going to college=snobbery). To have politicians spreading rank untruths (to cite two well-known recent examples) on rape (because I heard the body shuts it down) or inoculations (I was told in the parking lot by a doctor who was seven-feet tall) and call them the “Christian” candidates and the pushback on their ignorance, “religious persecution”.

Part of my motivation (aside from the Ellul book) is the interaction I had recently on a "Christian" site. I linked to an explanation showing a popular "Christian" argument in "the culture wars" to be false. To that, somebody responded "I don't think this article is trustworthy because, as scientists, they have an agenda", with no indication that he considered his own cynicism as maybe being agenda-driven or that his motive was more about fear of losing a talking-point than any concern for truth.

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Comment Preferences

  •  you have truth and "Truth" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Killer of Sacred Cows

    truth is what is found out by scientific study or research of facts via investigation.  (think evolution, fraud, crimes)

    "Truth" is what you have when you believe a religious text (any) and what the religiousily employed (priest, pope, preacher, mulallah, etc,) tell you without questioning the source and/or specifically looking in the "holy book/text" for a word or sentance that appears/can be twisted to support your belief.  

    I think the best are the religious who say followers of a slighly different version of thier religion are not "true" or "really" __.  I.E. I know an mega church style religious person that think Catholics are not really as Christian as they should be.

    Other fun:  At a xmas service where all people are "blessing" the nativity scene.  Imagine if you will several hundred (may be 1,000) people with right arms outstreched and hands held flat.  Now imagine the same scene in black and white and the people dressed in military uniforms and/or 1940's clothes.  Scary.

    Then again, spent some time in Germany (where they have really old cities) and looked at many of the old (1000's, 1300's,) Gothic style churchs and catherdals.  I have to say, if you need a building to scream "CHURCH" it is one of those.  I have a hard time looking at an industrial building/ storefront, or multimedia theater as a church.

    Two quotes I wish to live by "Strength and Honor" (Gladiator) and "Do or Do Not, There is no Try" (SW-ESB).

    by SQD35R on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 12:10:04 PM PST

    •  When I was in Germany (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Killer of Sacred Cows

      I was struck by a torture chamber in a castle with a crucifix on the wall in sight of the rack. "Oh bless this tormented man. And bless us, the holy ones doing the tormenting"

      I guess by "truth" in that last line I meant "what is true" concerning the talking point and the article I linked, rather than the broad philosophical question.

  •  There's a Creation Museum about 15 miles from me (6+ / 0-)

    in the Cincinnati metro area, and people come from all over the country to see how the dinosaurs played with early mankind.  You can't argue with these people, because facts and proof are the works of the devil when it contradicts what God's Holy Word says.  

    They take every word in the Bible literally...well, the St. James version, anyway...and if you don't agree with them, then you're going to hell unless they can find a way to gang-save you.  I gave up trying to talk to them about anything more than football or something equally benign a long time ago.  You can't argue with a fool...they'll drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

    •  Every Word They Believe From Among the Majority (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Killer of Sacred Cows

      that they actually oppose.

      Run thru the Sermon on the Mount, the meaty instructional bits after the Beatitudes, they're against most of it.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 12:29:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  too bad they don't actually read the first (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skrekk, Fishtroller01

      two chapters of their King James bible, because if they did they would discover this supposedly inerrant work has two irreconcilable versions of creation

      •  Don't confuse them with facts... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wilderness voice

        ...they've made up their mind, and that's that.  Doesn't matter that they are actually fighting against the "literally Word of God" teachings of their Messiah and Savior.  It really is quite amazing to watch sometimes.  How can they not see for themselves what's going on?  

        I grew up in Alabama, and was spoon fed Baptist doctrine from the cradle.  I was at church twice on Sunday, and most Wednesday evenings too.  Let me tell you something, the Baptists are really, really serious about teaching The Word.  There was a lot of learning to quote Scripture.  From a very early age, I learned all about how Jesus loves us and died for our sins so we can enter the kingdom of heaven even though none of us deserve it.  we're supposed to be nice to each other and make sure old people and sick folks are taken care of.  Clothe the poor.  Feed the hungry.  Heal the sick.  For God so loved His Son...

        And I believed it.  

        The really funny thing is that I rejected religion a long time ago, but it seems to me that I'm doing more to follow the teachings of Jesus than my Super Deluxe Christian friends and family.

  •  Which Christianity are you talking about? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SQD35R, commonmass, annominous

    To quote Mencken (loosely):  (Fundamentalist) Evangelical Christianity, as everyone knows, is founded on hatred. just as the Christianity of Jesus was founded on love."

    In the early 20th century, Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, and Mencken were not just literary figures but major influences on the public discourse.  Since Gore Vidal and Nader were  marginalized after the '60's & '70's, that strain of truly American iconoclasm has been almost totally missing from public life, with the possible exception of Michael Moore; and we saw how a purportedly liberal audience reacted to his daring to speak out against a despicable war when he accepted his Academy Award.  Most people assume Orwell got it wrong in 1984, but IMO he got the date and the effects right -- he just didn't see that the methods would be more Murdoch than Mao and the content would be more Milton Friedman and Calvin than Marx.  

    •  Good Point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Christianity as a title represents a broad un-uniform group. For any public "Christian" there are many who would say "this guy doesn't speak for me". Besides Ellul and my friend on the "Christian" site, I am looking at public figure Christians who, in today's America, are largely made up of right-wing "culture warriors".

  •  You really want to know why this is? Really? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Look no further than the navel-gazing liberal/Democrat community that for 3 decades (and more) have allowed rightwing talk radio to DESTROY everything about them without fighting back. The community has ALLOWED this to happen because they were too confident in their own magical abilities to be noticed, to confident that they don't have to explain things to people who are snapping and attacking them, and the worst of all, that anyone who attacks them is automatically seen by the "world" as an idiot and won't be believed. To the contrary, the audience ATE IT UP FOR 30 YEARS. Now you have a generation of children weened in rightwing households that have been trained to HATE scientists, HATE anyone not holding a Bible and standing behind a gun.

    The liberal community ALLOWED  this to happen. Why? The answers would be too varied to get into on one single post. The biggest failure, IMO, is their utter failure to fight back using the exact same tactics used upon them - name calling, character assassination, creation of nonsense jingles, etc. Oh, that behavior is sooooo immature. It won't work! We'll ONLY look as BAD as THEM! So what did liberals do? Nothing. I, for one, am NOT surprised by this outcome. In fact I and many others saw this coming 30 years ago when we noticed who rightwing hatriot radio could attack libeals and Democrats with total impunity. They noticed it too. They didn't stop, they just got worse.  So, try to stay above it all and assume the world will know truth from baloney? Or fight back using EVERY weapon on hand? Looks like we tried the first. Didn't work. When will liberals start using the second?

    Even if you end up looking like an ass every once in a while, you win more than you'll lose, plus you've got truth and SCIENCE on your side, potent weapons if you've got the balls to use them and the COURAGE to fight back even when you know you'll look bad to some in the liberal community.

    Send conservatives to for re-education.

    by filthyLiberalDOTcom on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 01:10:58 PM PST

    •  Indeed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice

      I can't count the number of times I have been lectured about rhetoric I used that a liberal thought was too much, such as when I lamented that Obama "capitulated" to Republicans. "Don't say 'capitulate'", I was scolded, "that's a straw man". Um ... he did and so it's not.

      I really would rather not join them in the mud pit but the public really shows no indication that they are tiring of the splashy disingenuousness and they've been programmed to salivate "both sides do it" whenever it is pointed out.


      FINALLY, I have someone to blame, 41 long years after the Powell memo.

      Why weren't YOU and your cadre leftist anti-corporatist billionaires spending your billions of dollars building leftist policy think-tanks, funding lobbying firms, promoting a privately-funded 50-state strategy complete with canned leftist legislation, buying AM radio networks, subsidizing a Washington DC newspaper, paying for a worldwide media empire blanketing the airwaves with left-wing lies and propaganda, calling names, engaging in character assassination, spreading nonsense jingles, whatever the fuck it took to keep your foot on the GOP's throat and make right-wingers look like the greedy, warmongering, divide-and-conquer parasites they are? YOU knew this all along, YOU claim you only knew this for 30 of those 41 years, but neither here nor there -- YOU had all that power at your disposal but YOU held out on us, YOU sandbagged us. YOU knew that all we navel-gazing, over-confident, magical-thinking, cowardly liberals had to do was be as unscrupulous, hate-filled, lying, treacherous, corrosive, and goose-stepping as the right wing and still claim to have TRUTH on our side.

      And we would be high in the saddle right now, yes, we would have at least the White House and the Senate (i.e., next dibs on SCOTUS nominees), maybe not both houses, but certainly the Senate because it will be so crucial in the next 4-12 years. And our President would be riding pretty high in public opinion and the public would have a poor opinion of the GOP.

      But instead we're nothing but a bunch of fucking LOSERS with NOTHING to show for it. The GOP has ALL THE POWER and we're eating SHIT, SHIT I TELL YOU.

      And it's all YOUR fucking fault. But at least you're big enough to admit it. Now it's time to STFU, get all your billionaire buddies together and START KICKING SOME GOP ASS.


      by raincrow on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 05:27:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  All kinds of people spout off about things (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of which they know little or nothing. Our job is to figure out how to be more persuasive than they are.

    If you can't convince people that your theories about how the world works are the correct ones, your theories -- if they actually ARE correct -- will have to wait to take their place until society has determined, by trial-and-error, that other theories are incorrect. The arc of discovery is long but always bends toward correct theories.

    Those of us fighting the good fight against anti-science find ourselves confounded by humanity's time-honored foes, vanity and ignorance -- our own.

    The first mistake comes in vainly believing that The Doing Of Science is a relatively recent undertaking when preliterate humans, young and old, as well as non-human organisms, ubiquitously and necessarily engage the world using the scientific method.

    Another mistake comes in vainly believing that science and religion are incompatible when nothing could be further from the truth.

    Yet another arises from ignorantly conflating science with reason and religion with superstition; and theism with moral absolutism or morality, and atheism with moral relativism or immorality; when both scientific and religious thought each have a long history of slaloming in and among reason, superstition, and morality.

    Then comes the fallacy of believing that two or more non-intersecting bodies of knowledge, no one of which entirely captures the experience of being alive, cannot be held in mind at the same time. Physicists do it (e.g., the wave-particle duality of light); religionistas of the Christian persuasion do it (e.g., the divine-human duality of Jesus); everyone does it (e.g., the existential-shared duality of human perception).

    And if one's thinking about science is mistaken, one does not begin from the start of every child's life teaching her or him that s/he uses the scientific method constantly. As a result, depending on the culture, s/he may grow up receiving the nonverbal message that learning Science is something Very Special and perhaps Scary, Difficult, and Best Studied By Someone Smarter. But at least in our culture religion is something anyone can study, perhaps is studied by everyone the child knows from her/his earliest memory. Thus we introduce an artificial divide.

    Most shes and hes in a population being, by definition, average, will carry that belief into adulthood, including parenthood and teaching; and we know from studies of parents and children, and teachers and learners, that adults very effectively project their beliefs and attitudes on their young charges, for better or worse.

    The hundreds of hundreds of lessons kids learn about physics, chemistry, materials science -- glowing red means HOT, socks on slippery floor means owie, Mentos in Diet Coke makes a VOLCANO!, two things that snap together can be turned upside down but two things stacked atop one another can only be tilted so far before the top one slides off the bottom one, ice cubes left out of the freezer melt and turn into water, water in a pot on the stove gets hot and then turns into steam, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. -- are never viewed as physics, chemistry, materials science, i.e., as anything special, as a bodies of knowledge we can learn in school to formally characterize, model with equations, build further predictions on, harness for other uses. So when most parents and their kids encounter the formal body of teaching commonly called science classes, they have no clue how ordinary and ubiquitous science is, that everything they do in their material lives employs it, is built on untold millennia of the doing of science. They do not understand that THEY are scientists. Thus they don't see or teach the progression of ideas from informal science to formal science, so they don't innately trust that, over time, the conclusions of formal science are as trustworthy as the science of skinned knees.

    That makes science education much too easy a target for societal factions who are distrustful of Science and other Very Special subjects that might be elitist, or societal factions who stand to gain money and/or political power by purposely mischaracterizing science education. It's much too easy for mistaken adults to persuade susceptible children (and even susceptible adults) that science is too different or exotic, beyond the desires and/or capabilities of average people, demands striving and/or elitism that breaks from community norms, etc. And where the science vs. anti-science battle devolves into an arm-wrassle between naturalism/scientism and religionism, even moderate and somewhat educated religionistas can be peeled away from the science education agenda.

    And here we are, and what are we going to do about it to correct the imbalance introduced in the past several decades?

    Hint: it has nothing to do with exerting scientism/ naturalism/ agnosticism/ atheism over religionism. It has to do with emphasizing the irrelevance of theism/atheism to science education, to learning how to see and model and manipulate and predict what's in front of our eyes, period. No hidden messages that promote, deny, or subvert anyone's religion or non-religion. It's just a box of tools that we can learn how to wield. We have to find ways to convince teachers, and eventually parents (or parents, and eventually teachers??), that we all live our lives doing informal science and that doing formal science takes a few more steps that even little kids can learn and begin building on.


    by raincrow on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 07:03:47 PM PST

  •  Can We Reference Christians Less Broadly? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There are millions of Christians who believe in science and understand the Bible as His story, rather than history. There are also many eminent scientists who happen to be people of faith.

    I understand that those you refer to are those (unfortunately) most visible on cable news and in Republican politics, but I think it's unfortunate that so many people equate being progressive with being anti-faith. Many Christians are progressive because of our faith, not in spite of it.

    I think the phenomenon you reference, which is odious, is a direct product of the ridiculous point/counter point nature of our current news, wherein every point, no matter how obvious, must have someone on to refute it.

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