"...I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me..." [Deuteronomy 5:8-10]

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's a while...

It's a while since I wrote regularly as PTET. Maybe it's time to start back up.

When I started this Blog, I thought I would be able to reason with Fundamentalist Christians and Creationists. I didn't expect to "deconvert" anyone, but I did hope to have them question their beliefs - and I hoped too that they would help me question mine. I've learned a lot in my writings and explorations... But there is of course a whole lot I don't know - and there always will be.

At first, I tried to reason with these "Religionists". Invariably, they came back with the same arguments and sets of factoids which they said supported their beliefs. It was like arguing with people who were reading from a script. I then tried to show them that their script was wrong. I took great care to check their sources, and to show in detail where and why their sources were incorrect.

I would demonstrate, for example, that evolutionary theory did not "exclude" ideas of God, by showing that most religious scientists had no problem reconciling their faith with the "fact" of evolution. I laid out how archaeology and history and studies of comparative mythology should as sure as anyone could hope for that the Bible was not literally true, or historically accurate, or anything which could even be said to approach being "inerrant".

But still, the same arguments came back, time and time again, as if those arguing with me inhabited an alternative reality.

This became frustrating, and I tried a different tack. I pressed the point that the sources used by these Fundamentalist Christians and Creationists were demonstrably wrong and mis-represented the opinions of scientists and theologans... And that the repeat them was to bear False Witness. In effect, I thought, they were *lying*. However, these accusations only led to anger, and those arguing with me becoming ever more entrentched in their positions.

And, after a while, it all became just too tiresome, and I came to the conclusion that these people were just crazy.

But of course, they are not "crazy". And they are not exactly liars either - because no matter how much their opinions differ vastly with reality, and no matter how much they are demonstrably wrong, the simple sad fact is that Fundamentalist Christians and Creationists believe fervently, sincerely, and wholeheartedly that they are true.

The beliefs of Fundamentalist Christians and Creationists aren't based on reason. Therefore they are not open to reason in arguments against them. Their beleifs come from faith, and this faith that they are right infects every part of their thinking.

Quite terrifying, this "faith based reasoning" has escaped from the confines of religion, and has become a standard part of the political, moral and philosophical discourse of the twenty-first century.

In the past few years we've seen an ill-judged war in Iraq inspired, fought, and mis-managed beyond belief not on the basis of reason and fact - but on the understanding (not always inspired by religion) that the mere *belief* in the existence of weapons of mass destruction, or that a war could be won with minimal resources, or that the Iraqi people would treat the Americans as liberators, would make these things come true.

It's important to stress that this faith has not all been religious... However, without a doubt the increase in the influence of faith-based reasoning has been led, inspired and promoted by religion - and by those who's sincerest wish is to take humanity back, back before the time of the Enlightenment, back to a mythical golden age when religion and faith ruled humanity, and science and unpleasant reality could and should be ignored.

And with that, I think it's time I got back to some occassional blogging :-)


No comments: