YOU already know about the scientific method, and you’re aware that its development is one of the finest achievements of the Enlightenment. But do you really understand the enormous gulf that exists between our philosophical outlook and pre-Enlightenment thinking? Here’s one example:
At the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG) we found a fascinating new article titled Other Religious Writings: Can They Be From God, Too?
Most of that article isn’t relevant to our blog, but two consecutive paragraphs struck us as being quite interesting:
God never tried to prove His existence or prove that His Word is superior to other writings. God simply opens the Bible with a statement of His existence and says His Word is flawless (Genesis 1:1; Proverbs 30:5). The Bible bluntly claims to be the truth (Psalm 119:160), and Christ repeated this claim (John 17:17).
For the sake of completeness, we’ll give you the King James version of those cited passages:
Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.”
Psalm 119:160 “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.”
John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”
Okay, that’s what the Good Book says. Now what? Here’s the next paragraph in the AIG article:
In fact, if God had tried to prove that He existed or that His Word was flawless, then any evidence or proof would be greater than God and His Word. But God knows that nothing is greater than His Word, and therefore He doesn’t stoop to our carnal desires for such proofs.
So there you are. That’s perhaps the ultimate argument from authority.
You are also familiar with the Scottish Enlightenment, which so strongly influenced the Founding Fathers who led the American Revolution. That Wikipedia article says: “[T]he thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment asserted the fundamental importance of human reason combined with a rejection of any authority which could not be justified by reason.”
It was only by rejecting blind obedience to authority that the Founders could entertain the idea of rebelling against their king and establishing a totally new form of government — one which had never seen on earth, and which was certainly not described in scripture. As we’ve noted before, there was no scriptural basis for concepts like a decentralized federal republic, a two-house legislature, limited government with enumerated powers, representation based on population, checks and balances, prohibiting religious qualifications for holding office, allowing secular oaths, and providing that a man-made Constitution was the supreme law of the land. But that’s what the Founders gave us.
Obviously, the American Revolution was no garden-variety palace coup. It was utterly … well, revolutionary. And to put it simply: No Enlightenment, no Revolution.
Despite the extra-ordinary achievements of the past two centuries, it’s obvious that the authoritarian mode of thinking still has wide appeal. For the folks at AIG, it’s not merely the basis for their religious outlook, it’s their entire worldview. It’s also obvious that scriptural authority is the sole basis for creationism, which has no foundation whatsoever in science. See: The Folly of Creationism.
You know all that, but have you given much thought to the connection between creationism and those who want to rewrite the philosophical history of the Revolution? The thinking in both cases is the same, and you can easily observe it at work in the same people whenever the circumstances permit. See Texas Education War: Phase Two.
So please, dear reader, remember that what’s at stake here isn’t just the theory of evolution. We’re concerned about much more than the confused ravings of misguided simpletons. What’s really going on is a conflict of infinitely greater importance. We’re engaged in a war for the preservation of the Enlightenment, which is the ultimate accomplishment of Western Civilization.
It’s a war we can’t afford to lose.
[Related posts: Salem and Philadelphia: A Tale of Two Cities and Discovery Institute: Enemies of the Enlightenment.]
Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.
Whenever I talk to Biblical literalists I ask them about Christ’s parables–usually the man who built his house on sand. I ask them; are the two men in the parable real? Could archaeologists go dig up those houses, or find their tombstones? If Christ made them to prove a point, does that make Him a liar and the Bible false?
Gabriel Hanna says: “Whenever I talk to Biblical literalists I ask them about Christ’s parables …”
Lemme guess — your argument doesn’t have any effect, right?
The main point of the theocrat’s goal is not religion and really never was. Its about power and control. They don’t want to merely have the reins of power, they want to control the way people think and how better to do that then to force everyone into a “religious” box where only they have the interpretation that’s acceptable. That’s the reason I oppose them however I can.
Lemme guess — your argument doesn’t have any effect, right?
It has the effect of forcing them to think something through which they may not have thought of before. Doesn’t change any minds about evolution. But I am satisified with any argument that ends in “reasonable can disagree on this one”. If a Biblical literalist admits that some parts of the Bible are explicitly intended as parables or metaphors, then that’s where you end up on a literal six-day creation.
I went ahead and read the article and I have to say that these guys must hold some kind of record for the amount of circular reasoning they employ. The bible’s true because it says so. All other holy texts contradict the bible, so they are false, because the bible is true because it says so. Actually, I’m not sure circular reasoning really applies. Its more like black hole reasoning in that everything is sucked into one point where there is just no escape.
I must, reluctantly, disagree with you, Albanaeon.
What they are saying is not circular, it is a Mobius strip, where you get twisted upside-down as you follow the loop.
They are saying that they can prove the Bible is true; and that to prove something is to claim to be superior to it. Therefore, although they do not spell it out, they are claiming to be superior to the Bible.
That happens to be the practice of those who claim their own interpretation of the Bible, and none other from the varied faiths of Christiandom, is the only legitimate one.
I wonder why God was so inept at writing that He was unable to make Himself understood by anyone for two thousand years until some tiny group discovered what He really meant.
I’ll go ahead and kind of disagree with you. It always returns to the same concept and never escapes, so therefore its blackhole logic. But that they, in effect, claim to be superior to the Bible and, by their own admission, superior to God, I will heartily agree with.
OMFSM, how can you visit that site and come out able to write complete sentences?
Do you have to o/d on Wittgenstein to recover? Do you get flashbacks and start preaching salvation to your neighbour’s goldfish?
You’re a better mn than I, Curmy.
Amadan says: “OMFSM, how can you visit that site and come out able to write complete sentences?”
It’s painful. I only do it when there’s no news about The Controversy.
Much as I agree that The Controversy is of fundamental importance to the survival of Western Civilisation, I feel that the wisest decision is to leave Thierry Henry alone and look forward to the European Cup.
And there’s always creationism to laugh at.
I’m honestly surprised they left out John 1:1
The word of God *is* God. Why didn’t they use that one?
There is a quote from a fictional sermon on that verse I liked enough to blog about myself tonight.
As long as we’re quoting Bible passages here, maybe the Bible-thumpers should heed Matthew 6:5-6 — ” 5 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Unusual blog, Oroboros. Hey everyone, check out: Multiverse In Here.
Curmudgeon: “It’s painful. I only do it when there’s no news about The Controversy.”
So “create” a controversy. Ask the Discoveroids if they agree with AiG’s “reasoning.” They can’t say yes because that would undermine their pretense that design is empirically detectable. And they can’t say no because that would alienate the Biblical literalists in their audience. But I’m sure that they’ll find some “creative” language to weasel out of an answer.
Frank J says:
That’s your dream of Helter-Skelter, which will initiate a war of extinction among creationists. It ain’t gonna happen. They’re all preaching to their own market segment of rubes. Expecting them to fight is like expecting a Buick dealership to throw a bomb at a Chevy dealership. No way, they’re all in the same business.
Curmudgeon: “It ain’t gonna happen.”
Of course not. I think I said this before, but my goal is much more modest. I’d be content if they did just have their own “market segment of rubes”, with the total of the ~25% that is beyond hope. But they have varying degrees of success with a much larger segment, and the strategy of saying as little as possible about their mutually contradictory “theories” and throwing anything that will stick at “Darwinism” is what’s keeping that going.
Thanks for the shout-out Curmudgeon. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read here in the last week or so since discovering you.