DRAFT: Lit. Review, Science Modeling Attitudes

This is a rough draft of a required Literature Review (pdf) for one of my classes. The subject is near and dear to me, of course. One particular aspect? The report by Bartkowski, Xu, & Levin (2007) on the modeling of discussion v. argument. It is supposed to be proposed research which explains why it looks like it does.

Abstract

modeling in science education
Logo of the Office of Science Education, part of the United States National Institutes of Health. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This paper seeks to answer the following question: What effect does modeling behavior have in the reception of scientific data, especially in regards to evolution and climate change? After an examination of recent studies on the effects of modeled behavior, with such behaviors identified either as science-positive or science-negative, by both educators and parents on the displayed attitudes of students, a phenomenological methodology is proposed in order to collected data via person-to-person interviews to construct a narrative. Specifically, the research seeks to examine two current discussion points in science and national science standards, evolution and anthropologically driven global climate change. Research results are then summarized, indicating modeled behavior create expectations of science reception in students, with negative attitudes by one or both models driving down the ability of the student to meet national science standards. All aspects of the paper are done with respect to examining the phenomena in West Virginia. Discussion is limited to specific results and transferability is noted. 

Introduction

            The 2015 Bayer Facts of Science Education Surveys reveals a lack of science education in the schools of the United States while a report by Pennsylvania State Survey Research Center (SRC) and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) reveal attitudes by science educators hindering proper science instruction. The 2015 survey reveals a consensus that more emphasis should be placed on science education, among educators (61%) and parents (40%). In regards to educators, the SRC-NCSE report reveal a lack of proper understanding on several important science standards, specifically global climate change, where 77.4% of educators report some form of refusal or inadequate teaching of this subject. In regards to attitudes of educators, 2% denied climate change exists, 15% believe it is completely natural, and 15% believe climate change is produced by both human and natural causes. In regards to evolution, 28% of educators consistently teach evolution compared to 13% who advocate for creationism. On the other hand, 60% of educators simply take no stand, which Berkman and Plutzer as playing a “far more important role in hindering scientific literacy” (Berkman & Plutzer, 2012). More locally, West Virginia has received a “D” in science preparation, noting that West Virginia “flirts with creationism” (Finn & MaGee, 2012, 191–195). In recent standards changes, West Virginia’s Board of Education is attempting to remove inferences and evidences of anthropologically driven climate change (Eyre, 2016).

While the author of this paper believes it is necessary to reform science curriculum, I also believe it is necessary to first examine the attitudes of both parents and educators and the role they play in reception of science education by students. This study will examine students, specifically in West Virginia, for transference of negative attitudes towards science and ask the question: What effect does modeling behavior have in the reception of scientific data, especially in regards to evolution and climate change?

Review of Current Literature

            Berkman and Plutzer (2012) note that within the coming decade, the number of decisions based on science to be made by the public and leaders in the United States will greatly increase. They likewise note that students are increasingly seeing science as a matter of opinion. According to a 2005 Pew Research study, a majority (57%) of the American public believed creationism (that the earth is less than 10,000 years old) should be taught in public schools as science alongside evolution. Berkman and Plutzer (2012) note that according to the report, 33% of the American public believes creation should be taught as science, ignoring evolution completely. The authors draw the reason to religious fundamentalism. The Coalition of Scientific Societies likewise notes the role Christian fundamentalism plays in the public reception of evolution and other scientific data (2008). Miller, Scott & Okamoto (2006) are able to establish a direct correlation between the religious beliefs about science with its reception in the American public. The National Academy of Sciences believes that a positive teaching “offers educators a superb opportunity to illuminate the nature of science and to differentiate science from other forms of human endeavor and understanding” (1998). Taylor, Jones, Broadwell, & Oppewal (2008) showed the need for science instruction creativity, by introducing scientists to educators to foster a new teaching method, with educators indicating that after introduction, their understanding and instruction methods had changed.

According to Scheitle (2011), undergraduates are likely to come to understand that science and religion are not necessarily at odds as they progress through coursework. But, this conflict narrative is identifiable earlier, especially in middle school where the views about science are starting to be determined (Kitts, 2009). Long notes that it is during this time educator’s attitudes, either science-positive or science-negative, begin to affect the students (2012). Further, Long notes that the inculcation of religious views against science begin to firm up in early adolescence, so much so that the worth of later attempts to improve science-positive metacognitions is questioned (Long, 2011; Winslow, Staver, & Scharman, 2011). Science-negative attitudes may emerge early and thus become ingrained not because of active enforcement by guardians, but because of a passive form of control (Long, 2011, p. 72). However, the same passive perspective manipulation may be used to produce science-positive attitudes. Mooney (2011), in examining how perspectives can be changed via science-positive attitude notes that “Conservatives are more likely to embrace climate science if it comes to them via a business or religious leader, who can set the issue in the context of different values than those from which environmentalists or scientists often argue.”

Yalacki (2010) argues that rather than looking beliefs and practices of educators, assessors should examine value and value systems, so that while Yalacki understand the role educators play in forming the attitudes of the students, countering it must begin with the value placed on science rather than particular beliefs or instruction method on any particular topic. It is this value system that must be examined in light of Losh & Nzekwe (2010) who found that future educators saw little to no value in science, which informed belief systems in as much as they saw no point in educating themselves, mirroring, somewhat, the adolescent view as identified by Kitts (2009). This view is that while middle school students saw value in scientists, expressing admiration, they saw little to no value in studying science. In one study, pre-service educators showed an unwillingness to engage in critical literacy on controversial topics (Smith & Lennon, 2011), leading the researchers to recommend various new instructional methods.

Thus far, I have attempted to establish the opinion that educators are in fact playing a part in science reception among students. What is revealed is that an identifiable portion of educators does not teach controversial topics, hold to what may be called pseudoscience, or place little to no value on science as a whole. As noted above, these methods aid in enforcing the lack of need for appreciating science among students. I will now turn to the role of parents in devaluing scientific education.

As noted above, parental control is sometimes passive, but even in this it has a purpose beyond passing down generational views and family traditions. As Stokes & Regnerus (2008) has pointed out, when parents and their children share the same religious beliefs, family discord is reduced. I therefore suggest that the value of the child, to be accepted by the parents, is greater than the value of science, especially if science is not the value of the parents or if science is counter the values of the parents.

Bartkowski, Xu, & Levin (2007) have shown that religion does have a cognitive effect on the development of children and adolescents. They note that the difference comes from the difference between discussion and argument, “The frequency of religious discussions significantly bolsters children’s cognitive development in the household setting, while arguments about religion significantly undermine it” and “Frequent parent–child discussions about religion often yield positive effects on child development, while any effects associated with family arguments about religion are deleterious for children.” Therefore, I propose that the more rigid a religious sect is, the more likely arguments are to occur, leading to a more science-negative attitude in the home.

Christian fundamentalism, specifically of the Protestant variety, has been shown to shape children and adolescent views in relation to education. Sherkat & Darnell (1999) have shown how religion places constraints on educational options. Values dictate that college preparatory curriculum is avoided, especially in the more fundamentalist (strict sectarian) households, producing students avoiding certain subjects altogether. Evans (2000) is able to establish a pattern of beliefs regarding the origin of life as a merge of “community beliefs and age-related changes.” Regnerus (2003), after a review of more recent research, has produced similar results. Unfortunately, there has been little recent research in this area, which is now necessary given not only increased issues with such things as climate change, but so too a paradigm shift in information availability which has created a different social world for adolescents (Mesch & Talmud, 2010).

Given the need for scientifically literate adults, the need for understanding how science-positive attitudes are nurtured is prevalent. The research will examine two role models in the adolescent’s life, the educator and the parent, in order to access where the most effective intervention may lie, in order that proper interventions may be developed to address science-negative attitudes.

Methods

For this study, I will need to utilize in-depth interview techniques to understand “how human beings make sense of experience and transform experience into consciousness” (Patton, 2014, p. 115) given that it is very much the phenomena of modeling attitudes I propose affecting attitudes of science reception. As I research I will conduct pointed interviews with participants, gathering needed data that will be coded using an established model. Participants will be selected based on grades and classroom performance after a short interview with the educator, where the focus questions will be two fold. First, I will want to identity likely students based on the above-mentioned guidelines. I will look at high achievers and students who make average grades, assuming a 5-letter grading scale. The sample size will seek to represent equally male and female students, students across various economic statuses, and students who stand in various religions or forms of their particular religion. Once the initial students are chosen, I will from among those create a sample where students are then selected based on their grades in other classes, so that the student who is averaging a “C” in science classes will be selected if their other classes show high achievement. Exclude will be students who identify with certain disabilities and those with established behavioral issues. Following Polkinghorne (1989), my sample size will be at least 25 of those who have approximately similar phenomenological experiences (Green & Christensen, 2006). After a sample has been secured, I will then ask the educators as to their views and instruction methods on science as a whole and then in regards specifically to evolution and global climate change.

To ensure safety and privacy, I will ask a school counselor, whom I will also inform of the methodology of this study, to be present during student interviews. Students will not be named in the study, but identified by a randomly assigned number. Parents will be informed and consent sought.

I will collect data via individual interviews, with each interview focusing on two aspects, the educator’s attitude as well as the parental. In regards to the latter, parental involvement in homework assignments will be measured as well as political and religious viewpoints, or lack thereof. This will be gathered through informational queries, such as asking specific questions regarding evolution and global climate change and the views representative of different viewpoints of those issues, such as “Evolution states the earth is four billion years old. Is this true or false in your opinion?” Keywords, such as “bible” or “young earth” or misuse of the word “theory” will be noted and catalogued. Particular care will be given to note facial reactions as well as body language in regards to specific lines of questioning. Data review will follow the outline for phenomenological interpretation established by Merriam & Associates (2002).

I note my bias against science-negative attitudes as well as my pro-religion and spirituality stance. I have attempted to write the question prompts to emit any bias by soliciting advice from the local IRB, engaging educators, religious leaders, and other counselors.

Discussion of (Possible) Outcome

After the examination was completed, a narrative was constructed. I found 63% of students who exhibited science-negative attitudes via grades had had those attitudes modeled by a parent while 35% of students reported negative modeling by educators. Only 5% of students who received negative modeling from both parents and educators were able to earn above average grades only 2 students reported they “lied to get an A,” and action their science-negative parents encouraged. This comports with previous studies conducted by Long (Long, 2011, p. 36).

Educators who exhibited science-negative attitudes did so by shrinking instruction time, removing hands on activities, and by presenting counter arguments, often times with a 3-to-1 time difference. Further, educators would note that if they did not accept current theories on evolution and/or global climate change, they would often grade students easier on particular questions. Finally, 73% of educators with science-positive attitudes would teach according to science standards but admitted to not engaging controversial statements by students in the classroom or on tests because of the political climate. This must be examined in future studies, since this study sampled students by grades prima facie. Following the suggestion of Taylor, Jones, Broadwell, & Oppewal (2008), this study supports the suggested need for continued interaction between educators and scientists to develop not only positive instructional methods, but to also help change science-negative attitudes among educators.

The outcome reveals that modeled attitudes by authority figures, especially in regards to science and major scientific theories, are transferred to students at least in West Virginia. On the issue of transferability of this study, it is recommended cautiously, given that the study was accomplished with a near strict dichotomy applied to viewpoints by the author of this report. Further, the research was conducted only in West Virginia, a largely rural, Christian, and White state. I also note that parents were not interviewed.

This research should help not only school counselors and curriculum counselors identify and prioritize values among educators, but should serve mental health counselors in understanding the role religious attitudes of authority figures in the life of developing adolescents. It is a given that mental health counselors will have adolescents in their care, directed either by parents or the courts. It would be helpful to understand the cognitive environment fostering some of the client’s development and reception to science or perceived scientific methods. Future studies should examine the perception of medical and counseling professions among adolescents in strict sectarian families.

References

Bartkowski, J. P., Xu, X., & Levin, M. L. (2008). Religion and child development: Evidence from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. Social Science Research, 37(1), 18–36. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2007.02.001

Berkman, M., & Plutzer, E., (2008, Fall) “The Polls—Trends: Evolution, Creationism, and the Teaching of Human Origins in Schools,” Public Opinion Quarterly 72, no. 3: 540–553

Berkman, M., & Plutzer, E., (2010) Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control America’s Classrooms. New York, Cambridge University Press.

Berkman, M., & Plutzer, E. (2012, June). An Evolving Controversy: The Struggle to Teach Science in Science Classes. American Educator, 36(2), P12-17, 20-23, 40.

Coalition of Scientific Societies. (2008). Evolution and Its Discontents: A Role for Scientists in Science Education. The FASEB Journal, 22(1), 1–4. http://doi.org/10.1096/fj.08-0101ufm

Evans, E. M. (2000). The Emergence of Beliefs About the Origins of Species in School-Age Children. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 46(2), 221–254.

Eyre, E. (2016, February 26). WV House OKs block on science standards over global warming. Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Finn, C. E., & Porter-MaGee, K. (2012). The state of state science standards. Washington, D.C.: Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Green, E., & Christensen, T. M. (2006). Elementary school children’s perceptions of play therapy in school settings. International Journal of Play Therapy, 15 (1), 65–85.

Kitts, K. (2009). The Paradox of Middle and High School Students’ Attitudes Towards Science Versus Their Attitudes About Science as a Career. Journal of Geoscience Education: March 2009, Vol. 57, No. 2, pp. 159-164. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5408/1.3544253

Losh, S. C., & Nzekwe, B. (2010). Creatures in the Classroom: Preservice Teacher Beliefs About Fantastic Beasts, Magic, Extraterrestrials, Evolution and Creationism. Science & Education, 20(5-6), 473–489. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11191-010-9268-5

Long, D. (2011). Evolution and religion in American education: An ethnography. Dordrecht: Springer.

Long, D. E. (2012). The politics of teaching evolution, science education standards, and Being a creationist. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49(1), 122–139. http://doi.org/10.1002/tea.20445

Merriam, S. B., & Associates. (2002). Qualitative research in practice: Examples for discussion and analysis. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mesch, G., & Talmud, I. (2010). Wired Youth: The Social World of Adolescence in the Information Age (1 edition). London ; New York: Routledge.

Miller, J. D., Scott, E. C., Okamoto, S. (2006) Science communication. Public acceptance of evolution. Science 313, 765–766.

Mooney, C. (2011). The science of why we don’t believe science: How our brains fool us on climate, creationism, and the vaccine-autism link. Mother Jones. May/June.

National Academy of Sciences, (1998). Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science National Academy of Sciences, National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

Patton, M. Q. (2014). Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods: Integrating Theory and Practice (4 edition). Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Plutzer, E., Mccaffrey, M., Hannah, A. L., Rosenau, J., Berbeco, M., & Reid, A. H.

(2016). Climate confusion among U.S. teachers. Science, 351(6274), 664-665. doi:10.1126/science.aab3907.

Polkinghorne, D. E. (1989). Phenomenological research methods. In R. S. Valle & S. Halling (Eds.), Existential-phenomenological perspectives in psychology: Exploring the breadth of human experi- ence (pp. 41–60). New York: Plenum Press.

Regnerus, M. D. (2003). Religion and Positive Adolescent Outcomes: A Review of Research and Theory. Review of Religious Research, 44(4), 394–413. http://doi.org/10.2307/3512217

Scheitle, C. P. (2011). U.S. College Students’ Perception of Religion and Science: Conflict, Collaboration, or Independence? A Research Note. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 50(1), 175–186. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2010.01558.x

Sherkat, D. E., & Darnell, A. (1999). The Effect of Parents’ Fundamentalism on Children’s Educational Attainment: Examining Differences by Gender and Children’s Fundamentalism. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 38(1), 23–35. http://doi.org/10.2307/1387581

Smith, A. M., & Lennon, S. (2011). Preparing Student Teachers to Address Complex Learning and Controversy with Middle Grades Students. International Journal of Progressive Education, 7(2), 33–51.

Stokes, C. E., & Regnerus, M. D. (2009). When faith divides family: Religious discord and adolescent reports of parent–child relations. Social Science Research, 38(1), 155–167. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2008.05.002

Taylor, A. R., Jones, M. G., Broadwell, B., & Oppewal, T. (2008). Creativity, inquiry, or accountability? Scientists’ and teachers’ perceptions of science education. Science Education, 92(6), 1058–1075. http://doi.org/10.1002/sce.20272

Winslow, M., Staver, J., & Scharman, L. (2011). Evolution and personal religious belief: Christian university biology-related majors’ search for reconciliation. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(9), 1026–1049.

Yalaki, Y. (2010). Value Systems: A Better Way to Understand Science Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices? Hacettepe University Journal of Education, 39, 359–370.

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the progressive fundamentalist

In the thick of the street festival, some demo...
In the thick of the street festival, some demonstrators used the occasion to get their message out. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, because of a shared post on FB and my recent post on Rob Bell (1 that was critical v. the dozens or so that are supportive), I have encountered what can only be called progressive fundamentalism. Do not get me wrong. Not all of those who disagreed with me can be labeled as such, nor do I want to make a sweeping generalization, but in these examples and in my continued defense of orthodox Christianity (doctrines, creeds, councils, etc…), the progressive fundamentalist will regularly rear its head. As a former fundamentalist of the opposite side, it is pretty easy to spot one. The behaviors are the same, almost exactly so.

It is neither logical nor fair to label everyone who is different than I a “fundamentalist.” Indeed, this term is often debated. Does it refer to the early 20th century movement? Yes, but when I do so, I usually try to capitalize the “f” (Fundamentalist). However, it can and should refer to those who have adopted an unquestionable stance. Like the Fundamentalists who drew a line around historical inquiry into Christianity, these modern-day fundamentalists draw lines around certain things as well. Granted, for them, the line is drawn rather tightly around specific axioms of individual experience and belief. While we often look to conservatives to be the bastions of immovability, progressives have their fair share of individuals who simply require intellectual inquiry.

Unmovable and unquestionable are two different things, to be sure. For example, I have a high Christology (which is connected to my orthodox stances). This is unmovable because what makes up orthodox Christianity begins with a high Christology. Yet, this belief (in the divine sonship of the Second Person of the Trinity) is questionable given new data regarding such things as Second Temple Judaism and the like. I welcome questions because, frankly, a faith without questions is stupid. And it keeps me less judgmental because I’m usually okay with most things, even Gnostics (Gary!).

The one thing I usually lack the strength to overcome is fundamentalism. Why? because fundamentalism is a harmful system.

Progressive fundamentalism is a real thing. These PFs tightly define a set of specific believes, albeit even if it is a “this is what we cannot allow” and require others to follow it. As I wrote previously, even progressives build walls to keep people in.

Because I want to use others sources to help flesh out fundamentalism as a label (before adding “progressive”), I want to turn to a recent post highlighting a growing trend of fundamentalism in the Orthodox Church, a system I once thought impenetrable to fundamentalistic thinking.

Dr. George E. Demacopoulos writes,

Like other fundamentalist movements, Orthodox fundamentalism reduces all theological teaching to a subset of theological axioms and then measures the worthiness of others according to them.  Typically, this manifests itself in accusations that individuals, institutions, or entire branches of the Orthodox Church fail to meet the self-prescribed standard for Orthodox teaching.

We can see this easily applied to both the conservative (not merely Westboro types, but the Ken Hams, Mike Huckabees, and Robert Jeffresses of the world) and the progressive sides of Christianity (for instance, those who think we cannot dare challenge Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and current attitudes towards justice, peace, and inclusion). Each side has a litmus test established, usually on individual preference, to insure that the axioms of the “faith” are followed and in this litmus test, they deem all others unworthy, if not sinful/heretical/evil — or, ironically, fundamentalist. Equally so, they are legalistic. If you step out of line, you will know about and you will be shamed into compliance.

If you read Demacopoulos’s post, you will see more connections between what he describes as an Orthodox fundamentalist and what you might see demonstrated by both the left and the right (especially in Protestant circles). For instance, the regular use of misrepresentations of history and act to achieve their goals. In reality, Jesus wasn’t about inclusion (unless it was about Gentiles into Israel’s covenant). He excluded (abusers, sinners who refused to heed the call, and those who hated others). Further, Jesus did have social justice aims (what the ancients called a “leveler”). Eunuch doesn’t mean what you want it to mean. Yet, often times these facts are chucked in order to make a point. They create this fanciful notion of the idyllic Christian message — either to the welfare line or to hell.

Demacopoulos goes on. “The insidious danger of Orthodox fundamentalists is that they obfuscate the difference between tradition and fundamentalism.  By repurposing the tradition as a political weapon, the ideologue deceives those who are not inclined to question the credibility of their religious leaders.” If you remove “Orthodox” and replace it with conservative, progressive — or, better, just the word “ALL”, it becomes truer.

Fundamentalists, as he writes, are reductionists. They (both conservatives and progressives) remove Tradition so that their interpretation remains unchallenged. They create a basic set of unquestionable doctrines or tenets of belief required to be “right.” They remove points of departure and unity so that the walls remain high — to keep people in. Then they go heresy hunting.

Both sides, both extremes, include more fundamentalists than they care to admit. They share similar behaviors, and similar worldviews. Indeed, they inhabit the same system of abusive, control, and manipulation. Neither side allows questioning and if it happens, such action is met with abusive behavior and shunning.

There is no way to stop it — it develops naturally in every system. The best we can do is to recognize it and attempt to provide a buffer against it — without becoming fundamentalists ourselves.

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The struggle against extremism.

I am known as “decisively moderate”. This is a very difficult hat to wear in the “bible belt”, where the bible is adored, quoted, and even worshipped; all while there is little interest in understanding the historical development of the text or the varying and often contradicting views held by orthodox Christians throughout the history of the church.The reality of “God said it and I believe it”, became all the more clear to me in my fifth week as a new pastor in the United Methodist Church.

Although I am not a conservative nor am I a Calvinist, I really like Tim Keller. In spite of his conservative Calvinism, I see in him a seriousness about the transformative nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a humility that is missing among far too many preachers; left, right, and center. I find him intriguing and even inspiring.

Recently I came across a Youtube video of Keller speaking on hell. In short he believes in hell, but instead of committing to hell as a literal “fire pit” of eternal torture, he is reminiscent of C.S. Lewis and even Billy Graham. In other words he understands hell as eternal, consciously experienced, but one more of the suffering of unbearable anguish as opposed to literally burning in fire. His view was thought provoking and if true it is a terrible condition in which one may find oneself.

I shared the video on my Facebook page and to my surprise I was lambasted by a self identified “fundamentalist” Baptist because it was “a man’s opinion” and not the “Word of God”.

I tried to be charitable. I tried to offer as a token of peace that yes I believed in hell as does Keller but we really don’t know exactly what hell is. Yet it certainly is real and a condition that should be avoided.

It devolved into a continuous verbal assault that was CAPITALIZED to make the person’s point. It became a real “bur in my saddle” and it became a minor public spectacle that was only made worse as the days dragged on.

This experience tells me quite a bit about ideological extremism. Extremism, (and by extremism I mean, taking a position that is far enough removed from the “solid center” of Orthodoxy, whether in word or spirit, that it becomes contentious), is fruitless and driven by fear, loathing, and wrath.

It happens both left and right. There are really mean, fearful, and angry people at both ends of the spectrum, but here in the “bible belt” it tends to be most evident from the “fundamentalist” perspective.

So what is a “moderate” UMC pastor to do to deal with this? I guess I could curse and be angry, laugh and deride the inability to understand nuance, literary genre, and the historical development of theology. This might make me feel superior but in the end it accomplishes nothing.

I think that the cure might consist of a fresh immersion into Paleo-Orthodoxy, Ante-Nicene Christian thinkers, narrative theology, as well as Reformation and Wesleyan theology.

It may not convince the fundamentalists of anything, but perhaps it might help those faithful and humble United Methodist Church “church folks” that I serve.

This should be fun but hopefully it will help us Methodists to understand our faith a bit better and to show love and patience with those who refuse to do the same to us.
Jdg

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The most dangerous thing to give a fundamentalist

Is books…

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Pox on the flavour of Christianity.

Note: This is a departure from my normal genre of writing, and is in the format of a rant or vent….one of which I don’t apologise.

John Piper has got up my nose when he said, “God’s intention for Christianity is for it to have a “masculine feel” 

I made the following comment elsewhere today:

Pipers ‘sodmonisation’ of Scripture is what happens when you cowtow to a certain theological belief system and community, in which the peer pressure to remain “one of the boys” is immense.

Seriously this guy has overstepped the mark. Joel made a great comment about his marriage improving in his recent post about leaving Fundamentalism in which he posted about a new book being released by IVP.

Shame on you John Piper! Shame!  Do you really believe that God’s intention is for Christianity to have an masculine feel!

I thought Christianity was about Christ, freeing all of humanity from the bondage of sin and reconciling us back to God. I thought within the framework of Christianity we recognise that both male and female were created in the image of God. And I thought that within the glorious liberation of the Gospel that there is no distinction between gender, race and societal class / position in Christ.  … H.T my blog 

Piper, Driscol, et al, all remind me of a school boys club where they get a grip on each other, if you know what I mean? I think Paul’s vent to them would be….guys I wish you would go and cut all your tackle off! Such is the nature of circumcising the body. …..end of my rant!

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For Discussion… Fundamentalists have no interest in history

Fundamentalists have no interest in history, culture or social or linguistic differences. They are a remarkably uncurious, self-satisfied group. Anything outside their own narrow bourgeois life, petty concerns and physical comforts bores them. They are provincials. They do not investigate or seek to understand the endemic flaws in human nature. The only thing that matters is the coming salvation of humanity, or at least that segment of humanity they deem worthy of salvation. They peddle a route to assured collective deliverance. And they sanction violence and the physical extermination of other human beings to get there. Advertisement All fundamentalists worship the same gods—themselves. They worship the future prospect of their own empowerment. They view this empowerment as a necessity for the advancement and protection of civilization or the Christian state. They sanctify the nation. They hold up the ability the industrial state has handed to them as a group and as individuals to shape the world according to their vision as evidence of their own superiority. Fundamentalists express the frustrations of a myopic and morally stunted middle class. They cling, under their religious or scientific veneer, to the worst values of the petite bourgeois. They are suburban mutations, products of an American landscape that has been perverted by a destruction of community and a long and successful war against complex thought. The self-absorbed worldview of these fundamentalists brings smiles of indulgence from the corporatists who profit, at our expense, from the obliteration of moral and intellectual inquiry. Chris Hedges

ht.

Interesting… I can’t tell if he is talking about religion, science, or political fundamentalists…

Discussion… clearly I see something in there I agree with, although I am uncomfortable in applying it broadly to every fundamentalist.

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God (Doesn’t) Win?: 2nd Kings 3:27

If I was a Classical Theist, who believed in the traditional (let’s face it, imperial notions) of divine omnipotence and omniscience over and against God’s Wisdom and Power, I would be going through a faith crisis right now.

I have read the Hebrew Bible over and over again, yet never noticed 2nd Kings 3. Perhaps because I just thought it was just another divine war story.

In 2nd Kings 3, Elisha’s prophecy, at first seems to succeed, but at the end, it fails. Why? Because the king of Moab offers his son and heir to the throne as a sacrifice.

Read more from Thom Stark’s blog: here, here, and here.

I will say, as my tendency to defend *unpopular* people persists, that it was unfair for Thom to say it is Hess’s dedication to inerrancy that is the problem with Hess’s reading of the passage. That is not the case at all. Affirmation of inerrancy need not lead people to believe in classical theism. It is Hess’s dedication to traditional categories of God’s knowledge (omniscience) that is more at play than anything.

2nd Kings, another case in point that God’s knowledge is contingent upon our free will decisions.

And Elisha wasn’t completely wrong; the Israelites defeated all but one city of Moab.

Oh, and does not anyone else find problematic that the king of Israel was taking tribute from Moab as a colonial political power?

#justprayin

Footnote 1: post has been editted to change ableist language; 1/3/14.

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What are your False fundamentals?

I am convinced that what drives most people away from Christianity is not the cost of discipleship but rather the cost of false fundamentals. False fundamentals make it impossible for faith to adapt to change.

Rachel Held Evans | False fundamentals.

I haven’t read Evans’ book yet, but I will at some point. However, this caught my attention. I think we all have false fundamentals. Like a fundamentalist belief in the 6-day Creation. For many, it is their one and only card holding up their faith.

For some, it is a literalist reading of this or that passage

Or the idea, which Scripture doesn’t call for, of infallibility of Scripture.

(Note to Jason – I am using the lower case ‘f’ 🙂 )

I have a few singular ‘fundamentals’ but I am trying to leave upon the possibility that I may be wrong on those as well. God is the ultimate Truth, of that, I have no doubt. I, on the other hand, I am just a human who is liable to be wrong a time or a million in my life.

One thing that bothers me though is that I don’t want to become as fundamentally liberal as I was a fundamentalist conservative/close-minded/know-it-all.

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