A reader writes…

Greetings from the Mid South! I was curious of your take on the attached article. I realize this article is in the WSJ and thus must have some business related themes, but this article seems disjointed to me. Frankly, I don’t want big business to get into the religion “business.” We see the federal government getting into the business of religion currently, and that has been all kinds of bad. Do we really want the ruling class to continue its march against liberty, religious or otherwise? My response: no, thanks.

This guy has been making the rounds lately, trying to figure out what atheists can learn from religion while steadfastly ignoring the main thing they can learn. He’s better than the New Atheists because he’s not a ranting, close-minded, unthinking, unlearning bigot. Indeed, one of the more entertaining phenomena has been watching some of the more utterly unhinged New Atheists grab themselves by both legs and tear themselves in two with rage at this guy, who they hate even more than they hate theists since they regard him as a quisling and a collaborator. P.Z. Myers and his spittle-flecked herd of independent minds are particularly fun to watch as they freak out, so I gotta give the guy points just for putting up with that deranged mob of crazy haters. But he’s still pretty thick it seems to me. The whole attempt to treat “religion” (and what *is* that anyway?) as a sort of corporation is hopelessly wrong-headed it seems to me. You treat religion on its own terms (which means you treat each religion on its own particular terms) and try to understand what it is saying. You don’t tell religions what they are “really saying” and then try to fit them into a business model. Talk about tin-eared.

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    Whenever he sees the name of Jesus
    Appear on his computer screen
    He wants to cover the screen with spittle

    The face of God that sweat fell from
    In the garden of Gethsemane
    Was later spittled with such scorn

    Would he also whip that sacred flesh
    Until the pores sprang out with blood?
    Oh yes perhaps he would

    Would he drive those iron nails between
    The sinews of the flesh of God?
    Oh yes perhaps he would

    Would he like to crown and crucify
    Anyone, both you and me?
    Perhaps the death of God he wants to see

    Does he want to join the mocking of
    The light of light, the love of love
    So bitterly?

    It is the world he would spit out
    And all that loves and is devout,
    Himself as well he would spit out

    March 25, 2012

  • Ted Seeber

    What’s worse is that he fails to understand the purpose of a materialist modern corporation. One comparison between the income of the Vatican Bank and the income of JP Morgan Chase (to pick on a corporation of approximately equal size, industry, and ubiquity) shows that when it comes to materialism, religion has nothing to teach the modern world at all. The Vatican Bank’s total income is measured in the millions; JP Morgan Chase’s is measured in the trillions. There is no comparison.

  • Dan C

    I think that religion and the love of God must be the center and the secondary consequences for society and industry must not even be considered if in conflict with the religion or love of Christ.

    On a related note, I have just finished reading the Chaput essay on culture, religion, and “where we need to go.”

    My critique is he only tells half the story, and this is the only point at which his conservatism shows. He maps out a “path to where we are” noting godless consumerism, ignorant and religion-hostile media, and a libertinism that would be in any project of a libertarian as roots of our current crisis of culture.

    One thing he fails to note is the role in which conservatism played in the “path to where we are.” It is fair to say that politically, at most levels of government, for over 25 years, religion-in-the-service-of-conservatism was ascendant. From local burgs to state levels to the national scene, the political project of the Moral Majority was successful. I worked at Boy Scout camps and couldn’t discuss Darwinian evolution. I saw town hall meetings in my “blue” northeast state overtaken by John Birch-supporting opponents to recycling. Religion-in-the-service-of-conservatism was the routine, particularly among evangelicals. The reactionary environment and the young men and women rejecting religion today were the children raised in this era in which state-wide battles ensued successfully (again, in my northeast blue state) for school prayer.

    I maintain that much of anti-religion antagonism experienced today is a thoughtless, evil reaction to the evil perversion that was “religion-in-the-service-of-conservatism.”

    As such, I am hesitant to allow “religion subservient” to anything.

    • Martial Artist

      Dan C,

      I mean no disrespect, but must honestly ask you about one of the things you point to to make some sort of point. You wrote:

      I worked at Boy Scout camps and couldn’t discuss Darwinian evolution.”

      Had you been allowed to discuss Darwinian evolution, what qualifications would you have brought to the discussion and what would you have to say about the subject?

      Your comment seems to suggest that Darwinian evolution (very specifically the classical form of Darwinian gradualist natural selection—i.e., the idea that members of a species undergo mutations and adaptations over many generations, and that those which provide an advantage for the survival of the mutated or adapted creatures are then better able to survive, thereby coming to dominate over their unmutated or unadapted fellows who retain the ancestral forms) can explain the development of currently observed and extinct life forms starting with simple unicellular organisms and culminating in the present day biota, presumably including humankind.

      The problem with Darwinian gradualist evolution is that there are a plethora of characteristic of living creatures that consist of very complicated processes or structures, the components of which would have to have arisen simultaneously within one or more examples of one generation in order to have conferred any survival advantage. Two examples of such are the process of blood clotting as seen in many creatures including humans, and those structures called cilia, which exist in unicellular microorganisms and are used to propel themselves in a fluid. Had any of the components of either of these not sprung into existence simultaneously, in an organism or small population of organisms, the organisms would have gained no survival advantage, and in the case of blood clotting, the mutated organisms would have perished.

      Ergo, Darwinian gradualism cannot account for the fact that when we sustain a cut we do not immediately either exsanguinate or suffer a rapid coagulation of our entire circulatory system.

      If you doubt any of this, I would refer you to the Darwin’s Black Box by Professor of biochemistry Michael J. Behe, of Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. He has written what may be the explanation of the idea of “irreducible complexity” which is likely the most accessible to the non-biochemist layperson. If you meant something else, then perhaps you are qualified to expound on it to Boy Scouts.

      Pax et bonum,
      Keith Töpfer