Sunday, August 20, 2006

Pastor Kennedy's Deadly Hair

Dr. D. James Kennedy, founder of Coral Ridge Ministries, is funding a new multimedia program called Darwin's Deadly Legacy to delegitimize Darwinism by crediting it with all of the ills of the 19th and 20th centuries, including the Nazi holocaust, eugenics, abortion, atheism and bad hair. I normally don't troll the internet for anti-Darwinist drivel (okay, I really do), but I managed to catch the TV infomercial for Kennedy's slick oevure of lies while flipping channels this morning between the early Sunday basic cable fare of ESPN sports, local news "magazine" shows, evangelical preachers and paid promotional spots for get rich stock trading seminars and wonder mops (speaking of wonder mops, Kennedy's hair could probably absorb five gallons of spilt milk).

What first caught my eye about this disinfomercial was the creepy visage of Ann Coulter railing against the evil lies of Darwinism. I guess Coulter's slide to the bottom of the barrel is official. If you are going to position yourself on the far right wacko fringe, an alliance with someone like Dr. Kennedy will do the trick. Kennedy is arguably one of the most influential Christian voices on the rightwing fringe, that group of religious activist that truly represents Andrew Sullivan's overplayed accusation of "Christianist". The mission statement for Coral Ridge Ministries (CRM) states "Coral Ridge Ministries (CRM) is a television, radio, and print outreach that is touching the lives of millions -nationwide and overseas. CRM's three-fold mission is to evangelize, nurture Christian growth through biblical instruction, and act in obedience to the Cultural Mandate by applying the truth of Scripture to all of life, including civic affairs. He is closely aligned with the Reconstructionist/Dominionist movement, which seeks to impose Biblical law upon American citizens:
Kennedy is an active member of COR (Coalition on Revival), a Reconstructionist/Dominionist organization dedicated to a social gospel/activism agenda that proposes to impose Biblical standards (e.g., Old Testament law) on unbelieving peoples and institutions. Kennedy is also a Steering Committee member of COR, and was scheduled to be the moderator for the first phase of COR's 1994 Church Council on theology (held 7/25/94-7/30/94 at Campus Crusade's Arrowhead Springs Hotel in San Bernardino, California), which seeks to establish doctrine on 24 topics in nine major areas, one of which is "Unity of the Body of Christ in any city as non-optional." He was a signator to all of COR's founding documents. As an indication of what the people affiliated with COR believe, the following is from a recent brochure announcing the 12th Annual Northwest Conference for Christian Reconstruction. Does this not sound like a different gospel? (All emphases added):

"The Christian Reconstruction movement believes that the Bible contains not only a message of personal salvation through the blood of Christ shed on the cross, but also a comprehensive law structure which is alone able to provide a just basis for society. It is committed to the view that sovereignty and thus government belong to God, and that all delegated government, whether to family, church or state (civil government), is to be exercised in obedience to the law of God's covenant. Furthermore, salvation involves every aspect of man's life and thus also the relationships he sustains to the world around him. The exercise of dominion in accordance with the terms of God's covenant is therefore basic and vital to the Christian faith. To neglect this is to deprecate the extent of Christ's victory at Calvary."

One should note that the above accusations are from a Christian website, and not some secular site that is paranoid about impending theocracy (like this site). Among Kennedy's other heresies are his love for the "Roman Church" his belief in the "Gospel in the Stars", an occultic astrological theology, and Heaven forbid, Freudian psychology!

OK, enough about Kennedy and his unnatural hair. What about the charge against Darwin? Did Darwinism lead directly to eugenics and the Holocaust? This is a belief that is far more popular than the wacky, dangerous fantasies of a plasticized TV preacher from Florida. Even subterranean New Hampshire bloggers are known to fall for this fallacy.

Undoubtedly the principles of Darwinism were used to support the eugenics movement, but ideas about fit and unfit bloodlines and the segregation of society by racial characteristics predate Darwin, and indeed are supported by traditional religious sources, including the Bible:
The notion of segregating people considered unfit to reproduce dates back to antiquity. For example, the Old Testament describes the Amalekites – a supposedly depraved group that God condemned to death.

In the US the eugenics movement found strong support from some Christian organizations and was actively preached from the pulpit.
With the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust behind us, opponents of Darwinian evolution wish to rewrite history to absolve Christianity of any blame for the terrible legacy of eugenic philosophy. One trope that is commonly invoked is that eugenics is contrary to the Judeo-Christian notion that all people are born in the image of God and therefore of equal worth and dignity. But this seems to be a historically recent emphasis of Christian values, and not a permanent attribute. Christians in previous times have found ample support within their theological canon for the radically unequal valuing of human lives, whether in justification of the slave trade or the oppression of Jewish and non-Christian populations. Bad theology is hard enough on civilization. Lets not allow the religious fringe to inflict bad science on us as well.

32 Comments:

Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I recently learned, from Richard Dunn's 'Sugar and Slaves,' that chattel slavery of modern type was invented on Barbados (as far as English law is concerned) and was explicitly justified on the grounds that Africans were incapable of being Christianized. This was in the mid-1600s.

August 20, 2006 10:46 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Duck, watch out for that old blood pressure. I really do think you may be taking those performance reviews too seriously.

Harry:

Barbados? The 1600's? What about the pope's medieval galley slaves you once told me about? How could a faith whose promotion of slavery was, in Duck's words, supported by traditional religious sources, including the Bible take so long to get around to inventing it? It seems they sat on their duffs for a millenium and a half and just got serious at the same time secularist thinking was starting to take hold. Talk about coincidence!

August 20, 2006 11:05 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Peter,
This is what I do to help my blood pressure. I can't let loose like this at work.

Secularism starting to take hold? In the mid-1600's? You mean the same time that this , this and this were taking place?

August 20, 2006 11:49 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 20, 2006 11:57 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Peter, I wrote 'as far as English law is concerned.'

Until the rise of secular notions of law, there had been no particular reason to legally define slavery as such (in contrast to legally defining how masters could treat slaves).

Slavery had mostly died out in England, for lack of bodies, but none of the Christians there ever thought to question it in principle. John Hawkins was a hero in the 16th century.

However, by the mid-1600s, after England had just gone through a revolution concerned, in large part, with defining individual rights, the novel question of how to legally treat bondsmen (both white and African) on English territory arose.

The legalists came to different conclusions depending on skin color (whate slaves did not pass their status to their children), and the ONLY justification for permanently enslaving Africans and (a bit later) their children was based on their heathenishness.

The pure confluence and racism and religion, untainted by darwinism.

It is one thing to deplore customs accepted unquestioningly because they were handed down from time immemorial, quite another to condemn carefully thought out atrocities.

August 20, 2006 12:08 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

I always thought of Darwinism as the lazy man's belief system. If some other "race" is unfit, why you need do nothing at all! Natural law will take care of it for you. Why, you don't even have to make the effort to decide or even think about. It all just works out automatically, without one having to lift even a mental finger. That's my kind of belief system.

August 20, 2006 12:30 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Oh, that is rich, Harry. Slavery died out for lack of bodies? Where do you get this stuff.

In fact, slavery of Christians and Jews was prohibited by the Church very early in the Middle Ages, much as judicial torure ended abruptly in 1215 when the Church refused to participate further in trials by ordeal. It is true that when the colonial period started, slavery was tolerated on the grounds you state, but it was neither prescribed nor encouraged. I know it is an article of faith for you guys that the Church controlled everybody and everything, but it didn't and it had to choose its battles for better or worse. Do you think the Church was in any position to take on the English, French Spanish and Portuguese empires and stop all those juicy secular profits? There was always dissent within the Church that grew louder, albeit slowly, from then on.

Now, it is great fun to trade sweeping generalizations with you, but how about some primary sources. Can you please link us to:

A) Any papal bull or proclamation urging that anyone be enslaved;
B) Any papal bull or proclamation urging that Jews be killed or defending anyone's right to do so.
C) Any "secular" (i.e.anti-religious or anti-Christian or even just anti-clerical) voice from before, say 1750, that attacked the Church for promoting slavery or anti-Semitism or argued they were necessary incidents of Christianity.

That should be easy in respect of an institution for which slavery and the destruction of Judaism were intrinsic goals. Or do you suggest everybody was squeamish and never talked about it in public?

August 20, 2006 1:26 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

The issue of judicial torture is an interesting one. The Church spoke with forked tongue on that one, and it never (still has not, so far as I know) denounced torture as a universal moral no-no.

The bulls establishing the judicial functions of the Holy Office (Inquisition) did direct murder of Jews, and sanctioned torture of the most hideous kind.

Then, after condemning the poor wrecks to death, the Church was so squeamish that it would not do the last deed itself but handed its victims over to the civil arm with a recommendation for mercy, secure in the knowledge that (wink, wink) everybody understood it wasn't meant seriously.

Remember, you are defending not just a particular judgment on a unique problem, but the standing of an organization to offer moral judgments on everything all the time to everyone.

If it cannot get a simple matter like slavery right, how can it claim any credibility for its other teachings?

The early Barbados codes also provided for executing Quakers (who were duly executed), and you cannot tell me that showed the feebleness of the Church to influence civil law when it put its mind to it.

And why does it matter whether antisemitism is a 'necessary' part of Christianity. You don't find any warrant for Jew-murder in Jesus' words.

But the only doctrine shared universally by all Christians for the first 1,700 years or so of the cult was Jew-hatred.

August 20, 2006 2:54 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Harry:

Ah, I see. You are the primary source.

What you are talking about had nothing to do with Jews. Civil and ecclesiastical courts fought for jurisdiction throughout the Middle Ages. The Church had jurisdiction over all Church officials for any offence against either canon or civil law (benfit of clergy), but as the Church's power and landholdings increased, the definition of who was included expanded exponentially to eventually include just about anyone who worked church lands or could read--as much as a quarter of the population. That the Church occasionally (not often) used torture is true (and Duck said nothing about torture--nice diversion), but it's methods were so much softer than the civil/royal courts that everyone who could claim benefit of clergy did so--there are no records of anyone fleeing from church courts in order to be tried by the king.

Naturally, the civil authorities protested what they saw as a usurption of their authority and so compromises/devil's pacts were reached based upon realpolitick whereby Church jurisdiction would be preserved at the first instance on the understanding that any guilty party would lose benefit of clergy and be turned over to the civil authorities--the plea for mercy was genuine even when there was no expectation it would be heeded.

As to slavery, I though you might enjoy this. I'm surprised, though, that you didn't point out that the Church did turn a blind eye to the Muslim slaves that existed in Eastern Europe, although in far fewer numbers than Christian slaves under Islam.

As to Quakers in Barbados under English Law, as all of England had been under an interdict since Henry VIII, and as England and the Church were bitter enemies, and as no force was more anti-Catholic than the English common law lawyers and judges of that era, I am utterly perplexed to see you try to pin that one on the Church. Crafty devils, weren't they?

August 20, 2006 6:50 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Sometimes the Church, sometimes the antiChurch. All Christians.

No, I didn't have space to get into the issue of enslavement of Muslims, but it would have been more pertinent to the current discussion to have cited the experience of the Portuguese as they began exploring the coast of Africa towards Cape Bojador. No Christian of any stripe objected to enslaving black Africans since it was assumed they were Muslims, although, in fact, some were not.

The issue, you know, is moral antislavery. No variety of Christians ever thought of that until 1711, when Judge Samuel Sewall wrote "Joseph's Coat."

Sewall was an unusual man -- contrary to your statement, trial by ordeal did not end in 1215 under English jurisdictions, and Sewall participated in it in Massachusetts in the 1690s; he later apologized and regretted it, the only example I know of a Christian of any stripe (he was Congregationalist) who ever did.

Even today, moral antislavery is limited almost entirely to white, English-speaking societies and the states of northwest Europe.

You might want to be wary about using the bull regarding the natives of the Canaries. It is true that shortly after that bull was issued, there were no more natives enslaved. They had all been murdered.

(NPR has a little feature today, the 350th anniversary of the expulsion of Spinoza from the community of Amsterdam. The Jews were in Amsterdam because they had fled Lisbon for their lives from the Catholics.

August 20, 2006 9:15 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

No, there was plenty of both moral and legal anti-slavery and the Church drove it, highly successfully. What there was not was a universal sense of obligation that extended this beyond Christians (and, unevenly and often begrudgingly, Jews), which is why you must look beyond Europe for examples to support your claims. Church bulls and pronouncements were not like the modern "Pope calls for Peace" moral enjoinders directed at the whole world and meant to inspire without binding. They were based upon very real, legal authority and violating them had consequences in both this life and the next. The Middle Ages were marked by constant competition between Church and king for this jurisdiction and the whole basis of the Church's claim was its spiritual authority over Christians. That's why the bull I linked you to makes such an effort to stretch the definition of baptism. If you want to complain that they didn't set their moral sights beyond Christendom, fine, but there is no basis for concluding a pro-slavery position as a result. The royal courts of the colonial powers who sponsored the slavetraders would have told the Church it was none of its affair. That's also why there was such frequent tension between settlers and missionaries in South America. Baptism made a heck of a difference and was not good for profits.

Even today, moral antislavery is limited almost entirely to white, English-speaking societies and the states of northwest Europe.

Now, that is interesting. When anti-semitism surfaces in that part of the world, for whatever reason and under whatever creed, you and Skipper assure us it is a direct and sole result of their Christian heritage, even though there are plenty of instances of popes trying to stop court and locally-inspired pogroms. When a moral anti-slavery ethos speaks up, the anti-Christians (whoever they were) get all the credit, even though it was the Church that ensured there was no slavery in Christian Europe. Cool.

August 21, 2006 4:14 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

This is all going beyond the scope of my original post. I was not trying to place the onus for all crimes against humanity upon the shoulders of Christianity, merely it's fair share. And also to refute this ridiculous charge that all moral calamities visited upon the world from 1860 onward can be traced to the promulgation of the pernicious "lie" of evolution.

Without even getting into the slavery issue, I think that the fact that respectable Christian leaders promoted eugenics here in the US should put paid to the notion that eugenics was some horrible alien secular concept that radically altered traditional Western values. As I mentioned in my post, a lot of forgetting and revisionist history is required to paint the modern Christian position of respect for all human life as equally worthy of respect as the historical norm. Undoubtedly secular as well as religious thinkers used Darwin's ideas as justification for eugenic policies. It wasn't that alien a concept to the thought of the day. Our modern horror at the idea is informed by the Holocaust and other fascist and communist atrocities in the 20th centuries.

That said, it doesn't follow that the evolution of speciesis such a pernicious idea that it necessarily leads to social darwinism and eugenics. As we constantly remind our readers, it is descriptive, not prescriptive. Kennedy and his creationist cohorts want to torpedo evolution not because it undermines Western values but because it undermines fundamentalist religious thinking. There is a self-serving agenda within their explicit agenda to save the planet from genocide.

August 21, 2006 5:31 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

Surely Pastor Kennedy is a spoof puppet character created by the makers of Team America?

In fact, the picture on this page is a dead giveaway.

August 21, 2006 5:59 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

OK, Peter, you've given up Christian claims to universalism. That's a start. Now, if you can just get Dr. Kennedy to see it your way.

In fact, the bull 'protecting' the Guanches with the bat of excommunication means something if, but only if, some slaveholder was actually sanctioned. The way we'd know that would be if any slaveholders were denied the sacraments.

No evidence for that. Hugh Thomas, no enemy of the Church, writes quite a bit about the enslavement of the Guanches in 'Rivers of Gold.' If there had been any real penalty, he'd have mentioned it.

As for modern times, the Church has honed its nod-and-wink methods. Everybody knows when the thunderations are meant seriously and when not.
'
In 'Germany from Defeat to Conquest,' Knight-Patterson describes how the pope thunderated against those nasty Nazis and said that members of the party would be refused the comforts of the Church.

The following Sunday, Storm Troopers in uniform approached the rail at Cologne Cathedral for communion and were served.

August 21, 2006 10:22 AM  
Blogger David said...

Harry: The Priest could tell that they were harmless aspiring authors.

(By the way, didn't there use to be a post up about the Running Herdegens?

August 21, 2006 10:54 AM  
Blogger David said...

)

August 21, 2006 10:54 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I don't mind the churches taking credit when they did something good.

No question, once somebody had the idea of moral antislavery sects like the Methodists signed on, although there was quite a bit of backsliding.

But I am not going to just accept churches patting themselves on the back for things they did not do -- and they have no claim whatever to have been morally against slavery until late in the 17th century. Or to trying to have it both ways.

The Church (captial C this time) certainly claimed universal dominion in the Treaty of Tordesillas (to mention a closely connected incident). It is worse than nitpicking to then say, as Peter does, that the church did not feel responsibility beyond the crowd of Christians.

Either one or the other. You cannot have it both ways.

It's been a long time since I read it, but I once had a collection of antislavery statements by Christian religious leaders, the earliest of which dated to the 9th century.

Cannot recall now who collected it, but I vividly recall that the objections to slavery were all of two types: objections to enslavement of Christians, or objections to the brutality of slavery as practiced by Christians.

Thomas, in 'The Slave Trade,' says the first 'reasoned' argument against slavery (what I call moral antislavery, as opposed to merely objecting to being a slave one's self) was Sewall's, and that was as late as 1711.

Which is not to say that Quakers and some other leveling sects had not objected to slavery earlier, but Quakers were almost as far outside the Christian commonwealth as the heathenish Africans.

August 21, 2006 10:44 PM  
Blogger Vynette said...

Hello all,

Regarding Creationism vs Science, I'd like to just place the tip of my toe into these troubled waters and recount to you something that was pointed out to me by my old Hebrew Professor. Now this man, who must remain unnamed without prior permission, is an internationally renowned authority on the subject of Biblical Hebrew.

What fascinating fact did he point out to me? Well, that an understanding of the very first Hebrew word in the Bible, bereshith, may provide the answer to a question upon which gallons of ink, whole forests of paper, and now excessive amounts of bandwidth have been expended.

This Hebrew word is actually four words in English. It means 'in the beginning OF'. (For the more technically minded, bereshith is actually in the 'construct state' meaning that we must append 'OF' to 'in the beginning')

Only one little word - OF - has been left out of the English translation. But, dearly beloved, the significance of that one little word.

It changes the entire meaning of the introduction to the Bible.

Paraphrased then: In the beginning OF God's creation of the heavens and the earth, the earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep.

What the Bible tells us is that God did not create the world 'ex nihilo', he IMPOSED ORDER ON CHAOS.

But the subtlety of it! The beauty of it! A sort of 'pox on both your houses'.

Surely, proof positive that 'he who sits in the heavens" has a sense of humour.

On a more serious note, some Hebrew scholars may be inclined to argue the point. Nevertheless, it bears just a little consideration...

August 21, 2006 10:52 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

Yes, if even 'redefining as allegory' fails, there's always re-translating to fall back on.

August 22, 2006 1:43 AM  
Blogger David said...

However long it took religion, it took reason longer.

August 22, 2006 5:50 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Peter:


A) Any papal bull or proclamation urging that anyone be enslaved;
B) Any papal bull or proclamation urging that Jews be killed or defending anyone's right to do so.


Well. how about John 8:41-45 for starters. That's the part where Jesus says the Jews are sons of the devil. And John 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

And Matthew 27:25: [Jesus'] blood be on us and on our children.

Or, St. Augustine, in The City of God, Chapter XVIII, page 46, where he states the continuing suffering of Jews at the hands of Christians is proof of God's approval of Christianity.

Then there is host desecration, rooted in the doctrine of transubstantiation (which was formally established by the 4th Lateran Council, the same one sanctioning torture by inquisitors, and prohibited Jews from owning land or having civil and military careers). See Profession of Faith of the Roman Catholic.

The Vatican perpetuated the blood libel in its newspapers as late as 1914.

In 1907, Pope Pius X declared modernism heresy, excommunicated its proponents, and put all critical analyses of the Bible on the Index. Not one leader of the Third Reich, not even Hitler, was excommunicated.

In a 1936 pastoral letter, the Polish Cardinal Hlond: There will be the Jewish problem as long as the Jews remain. It is a fact the Jews are fighting against the Catholic Church ... It is a fact the Jews deceive, levy interest, and are pimps. While Hlond stated these facts did not justify the murder of Jews, it begs disbelief to assert such sentiments from the leading Catholic in Poland had nothing to do with the fact that Poland became the ground for the Holocaust's most prolific concentration camps.

For a full rundown, see The Popes Against the Jews: the Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism


C) Any "secular" (i.e.anti-religious or anti-Christian or even just anti-clerical) voice from before, say 1750, that attacked the Church for promoting slavery or anti-Semitism or argued they were necessary incidents of Christianity.

Sorry -- ran out of time. However, based upon your question, it seems that attacks on the Church for its racially dependent tolerance of slavery were a consequence of Darwinism. How can that be?


David said However long it took religion, it took reason longer.

Depends on how you define longer. Moral anti-slavery is a phenomena that occurred only after the Enlightenment. From some arbitrary starting point, it took reason longer, but surely religion had a substantial head start.

Just as surely, it strains credulity to suggest the Enlightenment, hence reason, had nothing to do with moral anti-slavery, even if religionists became the primary proponents. After all, at the time, virtually everyone was religious, even if only in a deistic sense.

Vynette:

Welcome aboard, it is always good to hear a new voice.

I'm not sure where "OF" makes much difference. Whether ex nihilo, or ex chaos, the resulting order, such as it is, is God's.

August 22, 2006 7:41 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Skipper:

I'm speechless. Did you honestly think I was arguing that anti-Semitism was unknown to Christianity and the Church?

August 22, 2006 8:33 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

That's the only place it exists, or was until fairly recently.

Religion hating religion is inherent in any monotheism. The world doesn't pay much attention to the Shia hatred and murder of Baha`is, but it is exactly parallel to Christian hatred of Jews.

August 22, 2006 9:31 AM  
Blogger David said...

Harry: People have been thinking for, what, 20,000 years. I'm not sure why we should give reason a 19,600 year handicap.

August 22, 2006 10:16 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Peter:

Did you honestly think I was arguing that anti-Semitism was unknown to Christianity and the Church?

No, but you did ask for sources.

Harking back to another thread, though, one would think objective morality would immediately put paid to anti-Semitism, or at least put the institutional Church firmly and continuously against it.

David:

People have been thinking for, what, 20,000 years. I'm not sure why we should give reason a 19,600 year handicap.

Well, perhaps until about four hundred years ago, all thinking was through the prism of institutional religion.

August 22, 2006 1:47 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

This whole reason versus religion argument is a red herring. It hasn't been an change in Western civilization's commitment to reason between the medieval period and today that is responsible for our different moral taboos, but changes in our values.

Reasoning doesn't lead to values. As I've stressed on Brothers Judd many times, reasoning, or logic, is merely a thinking tool. It is a calculator, it arranges facts and observations into statements of truth based upon presuppositions. Values are presuppositions, you don't arrive at them through logical deduction or induction. You assert them. You either feel that negroes are the moral equals of whites or you don't.

It is nonsensical to speak of Judeo-Christian values as a constant through history. The values that actual Christian authorities and communities have exhibited through the ages have run the gamut of human moral potentiality from benevolence to depravity. In each case there were reasoned arguments based upon biblical texts and grounded upon the presuppositions of the cultural milieu of the time and place. It was an obvious presupposition of the early slave traders that blacks were savages and inferior humans, if even human. They read their bibles from that moral vantage point and were able to find the confirmation for their predudices that they sought.

August 22, 2006 3:20 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

And as I said many times on Brothers Judd, if that's true then religion has no special claim to order people around.

We're back to 1968, 'If it feels good, do it.'

There are several reasons why reason has generally lost out to superstition.

1. Religionists have had a strong tendency to settle arguments with reasonable people by killing them; whereas until fairly recently, the irreligious have not felt the need to kill the religious merely for religion's sake.

2. It is much harder to think than to believe. In particular, self-conscious reasoning is not something people do spontaneously.

Aristotle's Organon was the first explicit set of rules for thinking things through, and most of the world is still ignorant of those rules. Even possessing the Organon is not enough; Islam took over the Organon but decided, for religious reasons, not to make use of it.

3. It is not clear to me that reason reinforced by a structured system of testing conclusions is 20,000 years old. I don't know of any clearcut examples earlier than 1600 AD.

August 22, 2006 4:04 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Sheesh, I ask for papal bulls and I get Skipper's amateur textual analysis of scripture and Harry's ex catherdra cribbed notes on the full sweep of human history.

August 23, 2006 3:26 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Peter:

I ask for papal bulls and I get Skipper's amateur textual analysis of scripture ...

Wrong. If you re-read carefully, you will note I supplied facts only, and not one syllable of analysis.

I didn't have time to research papal bulls, unfortunately. I'll bet, though, that I would just as hard a time finding bulls prohibiting anti-Semitism as those requiring it.

Given the prevalence of Christian persecution of Jews over the centuries, why is that?

August 23, 2006 4:08 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Peter is making a good lawyerly defense of Christianity, the kind any good corporate lawyer would make for its client accused of wrongdoing. "Sure, my client cooked the books and misdirected shareholders funds to his own personal account, but show me one document that proves that it was the company's policy to do so. My client has always held in all his public, written statements that the company is fully committed to its shareholders and the law."

August 23, 2006 6:49 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

The modus operandii of the Church seems to be: atrocity, long period of silence and denial, centuries-belated apology.

The Church is, after all, just people.

It makes no more sense to criticise today's Church for the attitudes of the historic Church than it does to criticise George W. Bush for Vietnam.

If we (rightly) mock the Church for such nonsense as papal infallibility and its paedophile priests cover-ups, we should also praise it, albeit slightly sarcastically, for moving with the secular times when it does so.

August 23, 2006 7:05 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Although you'd never guess it from the ripostes to my posts, I've always given religion credit for whatever good outcomes it can legitimately claim to have promoted.

That I don't do it often is because there's not much on the credit side of the ledger.

I can hardly recall, though, defenders of the faith being so even-handed with secularism/atheism, and I suppose with Dr. Kennedy it is a matter of principle not to even if deserved.

I, at least, have always praised Christianity for allowing itself to be tamed by secularism and have often said that modern Christians are nowhere near as dangerous as the old-time ones.

On the other hand, the old-timers would likely not accept tham as still being Christians.

It's important, I think, not to allow religion, of any sort, to claim for itself credit for ideas that never came from religion but were imposed on it from outside.

Slavery is, I suppose, the chief example. Despite Peter's protest, there just isn't any evidence whatever that Christianity or any other religion ever stumbled across the idea of moral antislavery.

It might have. The equality of humans before the deity that is, off and on, emphasized in Christianity, Buddhism (sorta) and Islam might easily have led to moral antislavery. But it never did.

August 23, 2006 11:40 AM  

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