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November 8, 2010 Tags: Christian Unity

Today's entry was written by Mark Sprinkle. You can read more about what we believe here.

Come and See

The 10th Chapter of Acts recounts the events surrounding the conversion of the first gentile Christians—those in the household of the Roman Centurian Cornelius. As an artist and a naturalist, I have always been delighted by Peter’s vision of the sheet with commingled clean and unclean animals. But my reaction to the story as a follower of Christ is somewhat more complex: it has by turns thrilled, comforted and convicted me, for at various times in my life I have been on both sides of what was actually a double-conversion—of Cornelius the pagan turning to Jesus, and of Peter the Jewish Christian also turning towards Jesus, but away from his surety in who was “in” and who was “out” of the Kingdom of God. In the context of the BioLogos project, the image of Peter being led reluctantly along the Lord’s path offers a corrective to the way many—particularly Dr. Al Mohler—have joined the debate over the compatibility of science and faith.

The visions Peter saw of the sheet were, prior to any revelation that he was being sent to a gentile household, offensive to his sense of purity as a devout Jew who respected and loved the Law. Add to this that Cornelius was not just a gentile, but a military commander in the hated occupying forces of Imperial Rome. Though Peter came to understand that the vision meant he was to make no a priori judgments about who could and could not be saved by the grace of Jesus, the command from the Lord to “Get up, Peter. Kill, and eat” was an affront to his identity and was in direct contradiction to what he believed set him and the other Christians apart from the rest of humanity in addition to their confession of Jesus as Lord.

He clearly didn’t like it and proceeded with some reservations, but he was at least open to the leading of the Spirit, and was prepared to set his own prejudices aside to see what God was up to. Soon enough, Peter recognized that God was again upending his understanding of reality as much as of the Scriptures, just as He had with the irrational-seeming idea of a Messiah who died, and then the even more outrageous fact of a resurrected Jesus. In the end, the Lord did more than instruct Peter to share the Gospel of Jesus with Cornelius’s household, He demonstrated that repentance and belief in the Gospel of Jesus were, alone, the prerequisites for belonging to the family of God by pouring out the Holy Spirit upon the men and women gathered under that Roman roof.

As Peter discovered, our theology is descriptive, not prescriptive; it is our collective and halting attempt to describe in coherent terms what we know of God by what we have seen of His acts and what we have read in His Word—and, above all else, by what we have seen in the acts of the Word, Jesus. And though it morphs into rules we try to impose on the divine and our neighbors, it does not in any way constrain the Lord who is constantly calling us in new ways, through new means, and telling new stories with the most unlikely characters. On the contrary, theology is put to the test not just by our logic, but by the witness of what God is doing in our lives and in the lives of others around the world. Evidence of the Spirit at work is the only true measure we have of our theology; all other measures, including whether it fits our carefully-reasoned arguments of who is in and who is out, are vanity.

But, in very public fora of late, Dr. Al Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has been making it known that he regards those associated with the BioLogos project to be, at best “confused Christians,” with the implication being that we may be worse than unbelievers, dangerously leading the gullible to destruction. Despite his focus on the “logic” of our position vis-à-vis the Bible and his very specific definitions of both theology and evolutionary theory, the heart of Mohler’s claim that one cannot be a fully-functioning, authentic Christian and hold that God created using the process of evolution, is not, finally, about the compatibility of science and scripture, but about the power of the Holy Spirit. It is about the limits that Dr. Mohler has put on God’s ability to redeem and transform whomever He so pleases, in whatever manner He so pleases.

It is the same issue Peter faced when confronted with the vision of the sheet lowered out of heaven, which prepared him to meet Cornelius where he (and his family) were. Having seen the Holy Spirit poured out on these gentiles and former servants of Caesar, he had to ask, “Is there any reason why these should not be baptized?” In short, it is not a matter of whether Dr. Mohler (or Ken Ham, or Jerry Coyne, for that matter) find it reasonable or logically consistent or even in conformation with their readings of scripture, it is a matter of whether God has and is doing His redemptive work in the hearts, minds and lives of men and women who understand evolution to be a true material account of God’s creative work that does not in any way constrain God’s agency and sovereignty. And that is not an academic issue, but a very concrete and intensely personal one about the lives of those who hold views Dr. Mohler places outside the realm of truly following Christ.

Particularly coming from the head of the largest Southern Baptist seminary, Dr. Mohler’s repeated implications and suggestions, if not outright pronouncements, that I and anyone else who does not reject evolutionary processes are, therefore, not Christian in any but a nominal or diminished way, not authentic followers of Jesus no matter what we say and despite the evidence of the Holy Spirit both in us and working through us, seems to me to fly directly in the face of one of the central facets of Baptist tradition—that my salvation and relationship with the Father is not a matter for rulers or authorities or institutions to decide. Is there not a danger that 21st century ecclesiastical rulers and authorities might unwittingly oppose the Spirit through their all-too-human decrees, though their intention be to defend doctrines that are good and true and right?

We in the BioLogos community have on more than one occasion failed in our love precisely as Dr. Mohler and writers on all sides of this debate have. Nevertheless, our President, Darrel Falk, has repeatedly called (and been ridiculed from both left and right) for seeking unity among believers. I do not naively believe that we will miraculously come to a common understanding about the means God used in His creation, or how to read (or even translate) every passage in the Bible, or how best to organize our lives as believers together as Baptists, or Presbyterians, or Nazarenes, or Catholics, etc. Though such divisions, such divorces within the church are the surely result of the hardness of our hearts , our different theological and ecclesiastical traditions may also reflect God’s will and his desire to inhabit and work through all the myriad cultural environments in which we live, revealing and highlighting different aspects of His character in each. To the extent that we wrestle with each other over these issues with compassion and love, we demonstrate that even our conflicts may be redeemed by the Lord.

It is no small miracle that the Spirit is uniting a broken, diverse, and far-flung people into one Body, often—if not always—in spite of us, its members. In seeking unity we will see that the diversity within the Body formed by our common claim of being saved by the free, costly gift of God’s grace directs us towards a fuller understanding of the glory of God Himself and a greater humility before our brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, while it is problematic that Dr. Mohler so warmly agrees with Jerry Coyne regarding the ‘logical compatibility’ of evolution and religious belief, more hurtful for the Church is Dr. Coyne’s nearly gleeful account of the lack of charity within the Christian community. Dr. Mohler’s attitude and tone provide what Coyne and others take as another proof that our faith is a foolish and destructive lie.

So, recalling Peter’s conversion along with that of Cornelius, I invite Dr. Mohler to refrain from condemning (even by faint praise) those whom the Spirit has sanctified and is sanctifying, and through whom He is calling more of the lost to Himself. More, I invite him to join me at the table as a brother and to put off the too-common practice of acting as if we know everything we need to know about those on the other sides of these issues from what we read on-line.

As Cornelius asked Peter “to stay with them for a few days” to see what the Lord would be teaching them together, I invite Dr. Mohler to come and see what I see in the hearts and lives of people in the BioLogos community. Come and see what I see in the hearts and lives of specific, real live Christians in my adopted home town of Richmond, Virginia. Come and see what I have seen for years in the hearts and lives of men and women of faith directed towards the Lord by their studies of evolutionary biology, and who see the glory of God in the very process you find ugly and abominable. Come see the Spirit at work in hearts and lives focused and unconfused in their pursuit of Jesus and of His Kingdom.


Mark Sprinkle is an artist and cultural historian, and was formerly Senior Web Editor and Senior Fellow of Arts and Humanities for The BioLogos Foundation. A phi beta kappa graduate of Georgetown University, he received his M.A. and Ph.D. in American Studies from the College of William and Mary, where he studied how artworks embody complex relationships in different cultural contexts. Since 1996 he has been an independent artist and frame-maker, also regularly writing and speaking on the role of creative practices in cultural mediation and renewal, especially in the area of science and Christian faith. Mark and his wife Beth home-schooled their three boys, and are active in the local home-school community in Richmond, Virginia.


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gingoro - #39668

November 13th 2010

BioLogos@39612

While I agree that a post by someone like Michael Ruse does not represent the BioLogos position it does appear to me that the overall selection of writers of posts does in some sense at least represent the BioLogos position.  For example the treatment of Behe in numerous posts does seem to suggest that BioLogos considers him professionally incompetent and not someone to take seriously and maybe even guilty of terminological inexactitude.  Similarly Mohler seems to be viewed as a scientific Neanderthal and probably a fundy.  While I do NOT expect BioLogos to stand behind all the statements made by the authors of the BioLogos posts, the overall selection does in most cases represent thinking of BioLogos at least to some extent.
Dave W


Darrel Falk - #39672

November 13th 2010

Gingoro and Martin,

With all respect for Behe as a person, his science has turned out to be highly incompetent in the field in which he writes—biology.  Since he chose to take his science to non-professionals many of whom have not had more than one college course in biology (if that), you are correct: BioLogos needs to show that he, bless his heart, is professionally incompetent; one of our God-given tasks (to be frank this is the way we see it) is to demonstrate this to a public which (unlucky as they are) doesn’t have the biology background to know better.

With regard to Mohler, I view him as a brilliant communicator and a highly gifted man of God.  I would never use loaded derogatory terms like “fundy” and “Neanderthal” to describe how BioLogos views him. He would be the first to admit that he does not know science and I would be the first to admit that I desperately wish he would pay much closer attention to God’s second book. But, believe me, he is no Neanderthal.   

Martin, we are working hard on getting material that lays out options for those who embrace evolutionary creation and who like BioLogos are committed to Scripture as the Word of God.  You are correct that we have not yet done as good a job at this as we would like.

AN ADDENDUM (added 18 hours later)

Soon after I wrote the above, PDS asked for clarification of my opening paragraph.  Here is the response I posted in Comment #39719.  I am reposting it here to be sure it is not missed.  I have a deep personal concern for those who have been mistaken, and Michael Behe, for sure, is one.  Here is what I posted in response to PDS’s request for clarification:

PDS,.

Thanks for asking for clarification.  I will give you my thoughts.  Michael, in my opinion, was a brilliant young scientist who worked in a great lab and did very fine work in molecular biology.  Being highly creative, he came up with a very interesting idea.  He developed the idea, and successfully communicated it in an inimical and highly talented manner.

Many of us in science get exciting ideas which we are absolutely certain must be correct.  My wife would be able to tell you how many times I was convinced I was on the verge of a national academy-level discovery, if not a Nobel prize.  I never was.  More often than not, scientists are wrong about their initial ideas.  Even Nobel prize winners succeed because they are willing to hold lightly onto what they think will turn into their greatest ideas.  Being willing to be wrong regularly may even be one of the most important attributes of a highly creative mind.

Michael, in my opinion, got backed into a corner.  He took his highly creative idea to the public and it became married to a whole social movement.  Under those conditions it is very difficult to let go if it turns out to be wrong. (Remember, highly creative people are likely wrong as often as they are right.)  Because of that Michael’s idea became much different than the typical scientific hypothesis.  He couldn’t let go because there was so much at stake.  Under those conditions it is possible to allow yourself to become engaged in ad hoc reasoning and to keep convincing yourself that you are right even when, under normal circumstances, you would have long since been able to move on.

His work has long since transitioned into that ad hoc phase and he is, despite his sincerity, (i.e. probably unwittingly)  misleading the public because he is unable to say that what happens to all of us, happened to him as well.  My prayer for Michael is that God will be close to him.  Had we been as brilliant as Michael was at the beginning, it would have happened to us as well.  He was also very brave and he did what he thought was right.  I admire him for all of that.  For the sake of the public, it is time to say, “I too was wrong and I need to stop tilting at windmills.”  Michael is in my prayers—not so much that he will see that he has been wrong—my concern is more for him personally.  I pray that God will help him feel reassured that he is loved by Him who is source of all that really matters in life.


pds - #39690

November 13th 2010

Darrel,

How exactly is Behe “professionally incompetent”?  That is quite an insult.  Are you going to back it up?  Does he have any professional competence at all in your opinion?

How did he get a PhD and tenure if he is professionally incompetent?

Which ID proponents are professionally competent and which are professionally incompetent?

Do you think this really furthers the discussion?


Darrel Falk - #39719

November 13th 2010

PDS,.

Thanks for asking for clarification.  I will give you my thoughts.  Michael, in my opinion, was a brilliant young scientist who worked in a great lab and did very fine work in molecular biology.  Being highly creative, he came up with a very interesting idea.  He developed the idea, and successfully communicated it in an inimical and highly talented manner.

Many of us in science get exciting ideas which we are absolutely certain must be correct.  My wife would be able to tell you how many times I was convinced I was on the verge of a national academy-level discovery, if not a Nobel prize.  I never was.  More often than not, scientists are wrong about their initial ideas.  Even Nobel prize winners succeed because they are willing to hold lightly onto what they think will turn into their greatest ideas.  Being willing to be wrong regularly may even be one of the most important attributes of a highly creative mind.

Michael, in my opinion, got backed into a corner.  He took his highly creative idea to the public and it became married to a whole social movement.  Under those conditions it is very difficult to let go if it turns out to be wrong. (Remember, highly creative people are likely wrong as often as they are right.)  Because of that Michael’s idea became much different than the typical scientific hypothesis.  He couldn’t let go because there was so much at stake.  Under those conditions it is possible to allow yourself to become engaged in ad hoc reasoning and to keep convincing yourself that you are right even when, under normal circumstances, you would have long since been able to move on.

His work has long since transitioned into that ad hoc phase and he is, despite his sincerity, (i.e. probably unwittingly)  misleading the public because he is unable to say that what happens to all of us, happened to him as well.  My prayer for Michael is that God will be close to him.  Had we been as brilliant as Michael was at the beginning, it would have happened to us as well.  He was also very brave and he did what he thought was right.  I admire him for all of that.  For the sake of the public, it is time to say, “I too was wrong and I need to stop tilting at windmills.”  Michael is in my prayers—not so much that he will see that he has been wrong—my concern is more for him personally.  I pray that God will help him feel reassured that he is loved by Him who is source of all that really matters in life.


Papalinton - #39726

November 13th 2010

Hi Martin

You say, “That would include morality itself, for morality is not a physical entity that can be weighed or seen through a microscope or detected with physical instruments of any sort. “

Morality is not supernatural; neither is there a ‘moral law’ that all humans share.  There are interpersonal, social, behavioural regularities and concerns and the biological bases for them which add up in humans to a moral sense.  Since there is no moral law but rather moral habits or moral interests or moral concerns, the foundation on which C S Lewis built his elaborate argument for christianity comes crashing down: no moral law, no need for a moral law-giver, and no need for his god. The ‘morality’ we feel is what the premoral tendencies and capabilities feel like to an incorrigibly social and painfully self-aware species like humanity.

Through evolution, it seems humans have gained some abilities and lost some abilities. We have gained self-awareness and language and formal abstract thought, but we have lost many instincts that, for most species, make these wonderful qualities unnecessary. 

[cont]


Papalinton - #39727

November 13th 2010

@ Martin [cont ]
Most species are born knowing more or less what to do.  Of course there are species, including non-primates like lions and dolphins and birds of prey, that must learn some of the critical skills [like hunting] to survive; this why such animals raised in captivity must be ‘taught’ by humans ‘how to be wild animals’.  So humans are not the only species that needs to learn to be itself.  But no other species needs to learn so much or needs to learn it so badly. 

Because we are not born with innate control mechanisms, humanity “is precisely the animal most desperately dependent upon extragenetic, outside-the-skin control mechanisms, such cultural programs, for ordering his behaviour”. [Geertz 1973,  44]

There are many sources of morality, and religion has colonised this domain as surely and effectively as it has colonised so many others.  I am reminded of Eller [2007: 391] to let religion claim morality as their private possession is tantamount to simpering acquiescence with no capacity for further development.  At the same time, we must not simply ape their view of morality as some mystical, incomprehensible, and unnatural element in human existence.

[cont]


Papalinton - #39728

November 13th 2010

@ Martin [cont]
Martin, the sanctions for morality are also many and natural.  Oneself, one’s family, one’s neighbourhood, one’s nation, one’s species, and one’s world are plenty, and any person who needs more sanction than that is probably a menace to us all.  I have heard religious people say, and indeed as you write in your comment above, that without religion and their god they would run amok. Perhaps they would, [would you Martin?] but if so then they are actually less moral than those of us who control ourselves.

Martin, do you really believe a person who has absolutely no need for your god, will be a person capable of wanting to “run an old lady down with his car or torture her to death”?  This is insane thinking, and is dangerous.  What it demonstrates is that religion does indeed poison everything, even your thinking about good and decent people who happen, either by choice or accident of birth, not to believe in your god.  This is quite an astonishing admission [though not unexpected] to make of fellow humans, the passive-aggressive bile that goes for ‘morality’ under christianity.

[cont]


Papalinton - #39729

November 13th 2010

@ Martin [cont]

Martin, “I am grieved by your hateful attitude toward God”,  is ungracious hyperbole.  How can one exhibit an emotion against non-existence?  What concerns me is the manner in which generally good folk, like yourself, can say silly things and hold them as proper. 

Cheers


Steve Ruble - #39732

November 13th 2010

@Martin

Theologians have long struggled with the question as to how human language can be meaningful when applied to God. The basic answer is that such language language is true on an ‘analogical’ level.

And I’m sure that you’re always careful to point that out, aren’t you? Oh, wait, no, you just say God is “just”, or “righteous”, or whatever, without prefacing your remarks with the caveat that your use of those words is merely analogical.  And since your use of “just” (for example) when applied to God includes doing things that are the opposite of “just” by any normal definition, it seems that your definition of “analogical” is “anything that Martin can convince himself sounds good.” 

You say that your God is incomprehensible; how can you then claim to know his properties? Don’t respond, “He’s revealed some truth to me.” If he’s incomprehensible, then it’s entirely possible that what he’s revealed to you is not true - you just don’t comprehend how that is possible and consistent with what you think has been revealed to you.  How can you believe in a being with the power to deceive you entirely, and believe you can have reliable knowledge about that being?


Martin Rizley - #39733

November 13th 2010

Papalinton,  “Morality is not supernatural; neither is there a ‘moral law’ that all humans share.”  I agree that different moral value systems are found among human beings.  Among the Nazis, it was considered a virtue to exterminate Jews, thus ridding the world of a class of people whom they believed were not fit to live and who were impeding society’s social evolution.  When one of the Nazi leaders (I don’t remember which one) was convicted at Nuremburg for ‘crimes against humanity,’  he responded by asking his judges if anyone could tell him WHY what he did was wrong.  Although he had violated the ethical code of some societies, he had not violated the ethical code of his own Nazi society.  So why were his actions “wrong”?  Apparently, none of the judges could answer his question, because they had bought into the moral relativism which is a part of our modern culture.  You ask me, “Do you really believe a person who has absolutely no need for your god, will be a person capable of wanting to “run an old lady down with his car or torture her to death? This is insane thinking, and is dangerous.”  (continued)


Martin Rizley - #39734

November 13th 2010

But I am not making any statement about what atheists desire to do; I am saying, that no matter what a particular atheist may DESIRE to do, he has no philosophical ground, within the context of his worldview, for telling Jeffrey Dahmer that is WRONG for him to want to kill and eat people, or wrong for him to act on those desires.  If that’s what he wants to do, the most society can say to him is, we don’t want you to do that, and because we’re more powerful than you, we will lock you up or execute you, because ‘might makes right.‘  What an atheist cannot tell Jeffrey Dahmer is that what he did was wrong, for how can there be such a thing as right and wrong, if the ultimate reality we face as individuals says nothing to us about the moral character of our actions, since that ultimate reality doesn’t even know we are here?  Why SHOULD I care about ‘accidental collocations of atoms” that talk and move and think more than I care about ‘accidental collocations of atoms that come together as rocks?  The fact is, however,  I do care infinitely more about people than about rocks, (continued)


Papalinton - #39735

November 13th 2010

Hi pds
You ask, “How exactly is Behe “professionally incompetent””? 

Behe has written nothing of any substantive kind in over ten years published for peer review.  That is a signal of incompetence in the science fraternity by any measure.  Indeed his professional competence is so shattered as to render it worthless.  I suspect LeHigh rues the day they offered tenure to Behe as they can only remove him when he dies.  Note,  “In 1985, he moved to Lehigh University and is currently a Professor of Biochemistry. Due to Behe’s views on evolution, Lehigh University exhibits the following disclaimer on its website:  “While we respect Prof. Behe’s right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally and should not be regarded as scientific.”

This is professional incompetence writ large.

Cheers


Martin Rizley - #39737

November 13th 2010

but the fact that I do care doesn’t answer the philosophical question as to why I SHOULD care.  If you answer, that’s the only way human society can thrive and prosper on the earth, that only leads to the further question, why SHOULD I care whether human society thrives and prospers on the earth?  After all, there are people who seriously believe that our planet would be better off if the human race went extinct.  Are they wrong to think that way? After all, if human beings are nothing but ‘flukes of nature,’ mere fertilizer in the making, on what philosophical grounds must we value them more than we value fertilizer?  What makes human beings more ‘sacred’ than manure? You may wish to dismiss that question with a wave of the hand as “insane”—but philosophical questions do not go away so easily.  To say, “No sane person thinks that way” is to avoid answering the question by quoting statistical data.” Perhaps those you call insane are simply seeing the nature of ultimate reality more clearly than you, since you are treating people with a ‘sanctity’ that only makes sense, philosophically, if ultimate reality is personal and meaningful, rather than impersonal and meaningless.


Papalinton - #39738

November 13th 2010

@ Martin
You say, “I am saying, that no matter what a particular atheist may DESIRE to do, he has no philosophical ground, within the context of his worldview, for telling Jeffrey Dahmer that is WRONG for him to want to kill and eat people, or wrong for him to act on those desires.”

You must remember Martin, with over 80+% of christians in the US, and with god at his most glorious, and the US protected by god, Jeffrey Dahmer did all those things on your god’s watch.  This didn’t happen in an atheist state.  Where the freaking hell was He, Martin?  So much for god’s willingness and intentions about right or wrong.  So much for your intentions about right and wrong.  It simply describes god’s depraved indifference to the notion of right and wrong and that he is as useful as ‘tits on a bull’ in doing anything about it.  Indeed if he is omnipotent, omniscient, omni-benevolent, he decided not to intervene, he knew all along it was going to happen and indeed it was His will that drove Dahmer to kill and eat, and it was a benevolent thing to do because ‘god in his mysterious ways’ knew this was the right thing to do; because He can never be wrong, he is the Law.
Rocks in your head, Martin, as sure as night follows day.

Cheers


merv - #39739

November 13th 2010

Papalinton, you said your ‘vision’ would be like mine minus the ‘god bits.’  Well, thanks for your irrational confidence in me—I hope you don’t say that to every stranger you meet.  I suppose the nearest analogy could be something like “well, I like this science stuff, but minus all the math, though.”

Also ...
I know you and Steve want desperately to see nothing but injustice and caprice in Biblical accounts, but I just don’t see the inconsistencies you try to manufacture.  You confuse God’s calling us to be like him with license to be whimsical (which I don’t think God is, though it may appear that way to us at times.)  Nevertheless, God still shows us how we can be like him in the person of Jesus Christ.  THAT is what it would mean to be Godly in our limited human form.

—Merv


Papalinton - #39740

November 13th 2010

Hi Martin

You ask, “why SHOULD I care whether human society thrives and prospers on the earth?”

Because you are a human being with all the care and responsibility that goes with that honour, for you family’s sake, for your children’s sake, for your friend’s sake.  Don’t follow your god’s propensity for depraved indifference to humanity for the purpose of stroking His ego.  Such activity is beneath contempt. 

I was wondering when you were going to bring up the nazis.  A couple of things:

1.  Richard Rubenstein (1924 -) American rabbi, theologian and writer:

“Only the terrible accusation, known and taught to every christian in earliest [and/or by Mel Gibson (my words)], that the Jews are the killers of Christ, can account for the depth and persistence of this supreme hatred. In a sense, the death camps were the terminal expression of christian anti-Semitism.”

[cont]


Papalinton - #39743

November 13th 2010

@ Martin cont

2.  Doris L. Bergen “Nazism and Christianity: Partners and Rivals? A Response to Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich. Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919–1945 (Journal of Contemporary History © 2007 SAGE Publications, London, Thousand Oaks, CA andNew Delhi, Vol 42(1), 25–33. ISSN 0022–0094.DOI: 10.1177/0022009407071629):

...“Richard Steigmann-Gall has vigorously argued that ‘the insistence that Nazism was an anti-Christian movement has been one of the most enduring truisms of the past fifty years’. Bergen mostly agrees but identifies particular weaknesses both in the analytical framework and the empirical adequacy of Steigmann-Gall´s work.  Bergen also stresses the following very crucial point:

“The overwhelming majority of Germans remained baptized, tax-paying members of the official Christian Churches throughout the 12 years of nazi rule. In hindsight, it may seem impossible to reconcile the vicious hatreds of nazism with Christianity’s injunction to ‘turn the other cheek’ or to square the circle of nazi antisemitism with Christianity’s obvious origins in Judaism. But the vast majority of Germans — over 95 % by the last count in 1939 —evidently had no problem doing so.” cont


Papalinton - #39744

November 13th 2010

@ Martin [cont]


Indeed, the Nazis could never have overrun Germany except by appealing to interests, beliefs, hopes and fears of Germans who viewed themselves as good Christians. The Nazis did not come to power thanks to some imagined ideological void following the acceptance of “God is dead”. They came to power on the shoulders of German Christianity.

3.  Martin, imagine the reality, German christians praying to god for a successful war against Great Britain. British catholics praying fervently to that exact same god for a successful war over the German catholics. German army padres, British army padres, all praying to the same non-human with deep religious conviction in their hearts.  Martin, don’t you smell a dead rat [apart from me, of course] in your version of woo-woo pooh-pooh?

[cont]


Papalinton - #39745

November 13th 2010

@ Martin [cont]

4.  Martin,  there is an empirical law:  “As a Usenet discussion gets longer, the probability that someone in it will compare someone else in it to Hitler asymptotically approaches 1.”  In other words, atheists looking for a quick shot may claim Hitler was a Christian;  similarly, Christians looking for a quick cheap-shot may claim he was an atheist.  And the loser is the first to introduce Hitlerian notions into the debate.  So don’t put up the Hitler stuff when you’re on a hiding to nothing.  It does not bode well for the veracity of your arguments.

Oh well, I can’t say I didn’t try to help you out into the ‘natural light’. Theological light is the call of the siren. The term “siren song” refers to an appeal that is hard to resist but that, if heeded, will lead to a bad result.

Cheers


Papalinton - #39748

November 13th 2010

Hi Merv

“Nevertheless, God still shows us how we can be like him in the person of Jesus Christ.  THAT is what it would mean to be Godly in our limited human form.”

Such naiveté. The only aspect that characterises all of humanity is our humanism, which simply transcends the multiplicity and diversity of our cultural heritages and transcends the religious tripe that is a function of our diverse cultures.  I say my “‘vision’ would be like yours minus the ‘god bits,’ is perfectly rational, indeed the only thing that would be considered testable and verifiable, pitted against the rubbish you offer [so tribal, internecine, ‘them and us’,  separationist in tenor, and so parochial and small-minded].  After all, humanism is an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek rational ways of solving human problems.

Where is the evil here, Merv? 

[cont]


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