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Sunday, May 06, 2007
(5:06 PM) | Stephen:
Round And Round We Go

Here we go again with another discussion of the merits of being atheists who believe that "life is a meaningless round of pleasure, pain and machiavellian campaigning" versus religious believers whose minds are "infected......by the gruesome death-worshipping homo-erotics of christianity."

It is interesting to read people like Ezra and Matt who, though they are atheists, would actually like the ability to believe in a deity. I can understand that sentiment, at least in reverse, since I have at times wished for the ability to be an atheist. We are, if nothing else, contrary creatures.

What all this really teaches us, again and again, is that we are not all so different as we would like to believe. The level of arrogance and willful ignorance displayed by religious fundamentalists is equaled only by the same traits we find in the fundamentalist atheists. And there is such a thing as a "fundamentalist atheist," if we are to keep the meaning of the word "fundamentalist" that we usually apply to current Christian fundamentalists.

A fundamentalist is a person who does not allow, either rhetorically or literally, for the existence of views other than his or her own. A belief that our current levels of scientific understanding preclude the existence of anything that cannot be empirically proven is the same type of thinking that produces the certainty that the Earth is 6,000 years old. Is science now to occupy the grave next to God's? Is there no more knowledge to gain, no more understanding?

The scientific proofs against the existence of God are no more valuable than the earlier scientific proofs for the existence of God. Perhaps God can be empirically proved and contacted with the right technology, and when we do he will tell us all the secrets of the universe.

If you can't imagine that technology may one day put us in contact with God, then you're merely standing in a long line of those who have confidently assumed that humanity's scientific development during their lifetime was the apex, the pinnacle, the telos of our ability to explore and learn. I do wonder, though, how many of us want to place ourselves in the company of popes, archbishops and those who ridiculed the Wright brothers.

Of course, a person with religious faith should not need to rely upon the ability to scientifically prove the existence of God or the historicity of the stories in the Bible. I wrote a post some time ago that declared science the winner in its battle with religion. If we are to submit the Bible to a scientific review, then we clearly can see that it is a collection of myths and fables. It's clearly contradictory in many places and just plain wrong on much of its history. The stories it contains are fantastical and often nonsensical. Anyone who strives to believe that the Bible is a scientifically accurate record of verifiable history must put his mind through so many logical contortions it's a wonder that anyone could do it and remain sane.

But there is no reason to subject the Bible to such scrutiny. There is no reason to place our current scientific understanding in a position of authority over the contents of the Bible. The Bible simply doesn't make claims about science. That a statistically insignificant portion of all the Christians in history have for the last 100 years or so tried to say that it does make such claims doesn't mean that anyone needs to take them at their word.

To restrict one's views of Christianity to that type practiced and presented by current American Evangelicalism is rhetorically desirable but intellectually lazy. As one of of the millions of believers who are not represented by the likes of Dobson and Falwell, I'd like to add that we're sick of it. Entering a comment thread in order to declare that all people with religious faith are delusional simpletons who choose comforting lies because of their character flaws is, bluntly, to parade one's own ignorance and prejudices.

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