As I’ve joined a new Bible study group, I feel the need to disclose the unfortunate finding - on my own - that is the widespread permeation of fundamentalist thought in what I feel should be a more personal religious travel. That is to say, fundamentalism tries to strictly control other people’s actions no matter what they believe (so much for the first amendment), and these fundamentalists and their teachings are slowly creeping their way into many churches. This fundamentalism is being brought up in one major way to me: apologetics for fundamentalism. In other words, fundamentalists (e.g. James Dobson) claim that they’re being persecuted (e.g. War on Christmas) and also try to instill pride in anyone willing to listen to them saying that they need to engage in a battle for God.
When in reality – the place I live in – Christianity is not under attack. No one is telling me not to be a Christian, or pray whenever I want, or to live my life any differently. But back to fundamentalism…
The most visible and easiest way to reveal this is through speaking about creationism. Personally, as much as I believe in what are amazing things (e.g. Jesus being the messiah), I also believe that science is bringing us closer to the true and factual answers of our origins and how God has created us. Once again, let me reiterate in case you are breezing your way through this: I believe that science is continuing to show us how we got to be where we are. Now, as Neil de Grasse Tyson will tell me, religion can become a philosophy of ignorance, but I most enjoy the effort of seeing how science proves and sheds light on my faith in God.
And while I feared for the longest time that I was alone, stuck between strict fundamentalists and scientists who would most likely scoff at my belief in deity, I have in the past, recently, and now continuously come across people of similar beliefs in allowing science to affirm and guide our faith.
Firstly, there’s Andrew Sullivan, who linked to this article where:
He [Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno] described creationism, whose supporters want it taught in schools alongside evolution, as a "kind of paganism" because it harked back to the days of "nature gods" who were responsible for natural events.
So, the Catholic Church also seems to be on board with evolution. Even Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury said:
[for] most of the history of Christianity there's been an awareness that a belief that everything depends on the creative act of God, is quite compatible with a degree of uncertainty or latitude about how precisely that unfolds in creative time.
Personally, I’ve still struggled to speak up for what I believe is the proper search for our own history and who God truly is, rather than accepting the fallacy of man’s descriptions for deity, which by definition should be beyond our comprehension. But man’s history, earth’s history, the universe’s history, these are areas we can fully explore and discover to shed light on ourselves. However, I have fear to bring out this conversation because I’m afraid to lose an argument. But I soon found this excerpt from Stephen Jay Gould when he spoke at Caltech in 1985 (from Shermer, Michael. Why People Believe Weird Things, Owl Books, 2002. Paperback ed, p. 153)
Debate is an art form. It is about the winning of arguments. It is not about the discovery of truth. There are certain rules and procedures to debate that really have nothing to do with establishing fact — which creationists have mastered. Some of those rules are: never say anything positive about your own position because it can be attacked, but chip away at what appear to be the weaknesses in your opponent's position. They are good at that. I don't think I could beat the creationists at debate. I can tie them. But in courtrooms they are terrible, because in courtrooms you cannot give speeches. In a courtroom you have to answer direct questions about the positive status of your belief. We destroyed them in Arkansas. On the second day of the two-week trial we had our victory party.
Andrew Sullivan, whom I believe has more guts than I do, is still writing in a dialogue with Sam Harris about faith (or as Sam would put it, our error in having faith). In this latest piece, Andrew touches on the topic of creation again.
Also, while I know he’s a humorist, Scott Adams describes in this blog post some of the feelings I have on the science. I have doubts all the time, even in the science, but I’ll continue to read the latest research as I too look for answers to my questions.