Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Evolution "Debate" - An Observation

This post has its roots in some observations about the reactions I have observed when the "devout" (read fundamentalist) are confronted with evidence, or are pressed to provide evidence to substantiate their position.

The common pattern is to pull up a collection of largely disproven arguments. When those objections are reasonably disproven, one of two things typically get dragged out - a series of "why doesn't evolution explain ", or a variation on Pascal's Wager.

It doesn't matter whether we are talking about someone who is a member of the clergy or simply a follower of the faith, the pattern is consistent. No amount of persuasion will get them to even attempt to consider or assimilate new information.

This reveals a serious problem in the modern practice of Christianity, especially in the more hard-line groups. The real strength of Christianity in its early years was its ability to adapt and absorb as it encountered new situations and practices.

Through much of the re-awakening and renaissance, the Church was both the primary force of objection to the findings of early science as well as the sponsor of so many of those whose work ultimately became the foundations of science in some form or another.

Then there is what we see today - a concept of faith that is rigid and inflexible. One that is unwilling to consider anything except that which validates their interpretation of scripture. Whether I think about the current Pope in Rome, or the so-called "evangelical" leaders, the story is the same - rigid adherence to an inflexible understanding of the "absolute truth" of scripture.

It seems to me that what has happened is that monotheistic faith has reach a predictable point. No longer is it able to adapt to a changing world, but instead it is now insisting that the world must conform to it.

The railing of the Pope against "creeping secularism" is an excellent example. Instead of providing a meaningful alternative through leading by example, we find the Roman Catholic Church increasingly mired in scandal and its very credibility on such matters being rendered moot. The continued insistence of evangelical leaders on a very judgmental and harsh interpretation of scripture is being rendered equally irrelevant every time a high profile evangelical leader is found to be engaging in the very activities they decry as evil and sinful.

In the past, religions have been able to morph and change to fill the power vacuum that often exists with the gap between the day to day realities of governance and the guidance of that government overall. Today, the increasing rigidity of how scripture is interpreted for "truth" has rendered these bodies unable to morph and fill in the gaps. Instead, they are becoming obstacles to be overcome and later discarded as they cease to be constructive members of the dialogue.

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