Shame really… but this myth needs to die

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Those who have magnified more recent controversies about the relations of science and religion, and who have projected them back into historical time, simply perpetuate a historical myth. The myth of a perennial conflict between science and religion is one to which no historian of science would subscribe.

via Setting the record straight: Christianity and the rise of modern science – Opinion – ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

The entire article is well worth the read. This is some of the same ideas expressed in ]].

one of the more interesting aspects of this is the role religion played in advancing science — not that we do it any more, what with whole sects of fundamentalists created on the idea of science is the devil.

anyway, unless you are a loon on the run in south korea, give it a read.

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One Reply to “Shame really… but this myth needs to die”

  1. Much like Rush Limbaugh, fundamentalism feeds the anti-intellectual current that courses just beneath the surface in American life. Although ostensibly arising as a reaction to Darwinian theory, fundamentalism’s primary purpose was to perpetuate a perpetual class of wage slaves unable to formulate meaningful questions much less organize into a cohesive labor movement. Execution of this design was most easily accomplished through Baptist churches. After all, unlike Methodists and Lutherans, Baptists have no cohesive national hierarchy to question local decision making. Some Baptist sects even lack legitimate schools of theology.
    Anyone can start a Baptist church. They need not obtain approval from anyone. In fact, some Baptist churches are privately owned by the minister. The building, the land on which it sits, the pews, even the hymnals are all the property of one man. Talk about a fire proof pulpit! Such individuals typically act as gatekeepers of salvation as well a purveyors of God’s plan. Many of these churches resemble the spiritual inbreeding found at Westboro Baptist.
    Other Baptist churches were built by money elites to pacify a local workforce with religion for slaves. In some places, especially in the South, it was (and still is) not uncommon for the town council and the board of deacons of the biggest Baptist church in town to either be cronies or the very same good ol’ boys. When this happened, the preacher simply served as their mouthpiece. He stayed only so long as he preached the gospel of obedience. If he (and there were no shes) strayed from that preordained message, God mysteriously called the preacher to moved on.
    Much the same was true of schools. Elites built schoolhouses as their gift to the community. Schoolmarms, often young unmarried women with limited life experience, were hired to do little more than babysit the children of workers until they aged out of any enforced child labor restrictions. Functional illiteracy and innumeracy were desirable outcomes in these circumstances. So was isolation from perceived evils of the outside world. Union organizers ranked right up there with Satan!
    In both the schoolhouse and the church, science was also demonized. So was original thought. To be a good Christian, one had to be told what to think, when to think it, and how to think it. To do otherwise was to invite Satan into one’s heart. Sermons were drawn from a blue-penciled Bible.
    Simply, put, fire and brimstone is the cheapest way to control workers. It puts all of the responsibility on the parishioners. Obedience in this life is paramount if one has any hope of going to heaven. In addition to being a threat, hell is a useful distraction preventing congregants from looking too closely at what’s really going on around them. Meanwhile, local elites can pretend to be blessed by God. Ignored is that the Bible really has some very unkind things to say about rich men.
    Earlier, in a separate thread, I wrote that the tension between conservative/fundamentalist and liberal/moderate Southern Baptists fractured the denomination after 1970. That was only part of the story. Behind the scenes, local money elites were being replaced by international power elites. As a result, many Baptist churches lost their true purpose to exist as local companies were either bought out or closed as jobs were exported.
    Having no one to pull the strings in the background, many Baptist churches foundered. This helps explain why, among other things, Baptists began taking their marching orders from Rome on the issue of abortion. Even diehard fundamentalists, once given to labeling the Pope as the Antichrist, stood shoulder to shoulder with their former adversaries. The loss of direction also allowed Baptists to be co-opted by the Republican Party without getting anything, such as a return to school prayer, in exchange for their allegiance. It all happened because Baptist preachers were hired to herd the sheep rather than feed them. Tired of being rounded up and fleeced, many congregants moved on to greener pastures.
    Nor were Baptists alone in feeling the loss of guidance once provided by local money elites. Much of the chaos that caused Lenoir-Rhyne University, the current parent of Lutheran Southern Theological Seminary, to abandon its original mission of providing a quality liberal arts education on a Christian campus resulted from the school having sold its soul in the believe that it would keep the doors open.

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