Letter to a Christian Nation

Many Christians do not believe that Scripture supports the Young Earth Creationist position. This moderated forum is for good natured scholarly debate.

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Letter to a Christian Nation

Postby Roger Stanyard » Mon Oct 30, 2006 8:21 am

I emailed Sam Harris over the weekend to find out when his new book, Letter to a Christian Nation, will be published in the UK. It was published in the USA last month.

He says January or February (Blackwells in Oxford told me last week it will be published "about Christmas time").

There was a similar time lag with Harris' last book, the end of Faith. However, such is America today that he took a year to find an American company that would publish it.

Christopher Hitchens is also joining the list of notables writing books critical of religion. His book is due out in the Spring. His brother, Peter Hitchens, is one of the best known columnists in the UK, writing for the very right wing Daily Mail. He is evidently a supporter of Intelligent Design.

It really doesn't surprise me that such books critical of religion are emerging. It appears that until Sam Harris published The End of Faith some two years ago, Betrand Russell's 1957 book on religion was the last best seller on the topic.

My guess is that the new spate of books is partly a reflection on the increasing extremism of religion in recent years - the fundies being at the forefront of both nastiness and bigotry. Attitudes towards religion appear to be polarising.

The evidence from the USA is that atheism is a growing view point.

My own position on religion has been described as Aptheism which I'll go along with - I'm no "fundamentalist atheist" but find the fundies so utterly abhorent that I find them a turn off for all religion. That's not helped by the fact that so many of them detest religious people who disagree with them. Witness, for example, Cecil Andrews in Northern Ireland.

Ian Lowe, one of our five moderators, is a former Christian who has been turned off by fundamentalism.

Comments please on whether fundamentalism is a factor in pushing people towards atheism. Or, put it another way, are they a disaster for religion?

Roger
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Is fundamentalism is a factor

Postby Chris Sergeant » Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:19 pm

Things can sometimes happen when fundamentalists encounter the real world. Such as Glen Morton:
http://home.entouch.net/dmd/gstory.htm
A mixture of stories from people remaining religious or not are listed in:
http://home.entouch.net/dmd/dmd.htm#pers
Of course I am equating young earth creationists with fundamentalism.
Wendy Wendel did write that she was not in an overly fundamentalist family, cause her parents listened to rock music!
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Postby jon_12091 » Tue Oct 31, 2006 2:10 pm

Glen Morten's experience and those of others like him do not surprise me. The oil industry has probably finished off more "creationists" than any other. Geology is precisly why I cannot take the bible as inherent literal truth.....

All religions will have past adherents who for one reason or another will have jacked it in. I suspect its easier to fallout with a philosphy/religion if it has starkly black & white views.

Christain fundamentalists, like any other, are heading in the direction of ghettoisation IMO. They deplore modern "secular society" but refuse to understand it, the visor on the helmet of salvation being firmly closed and lacking eye-holes! Ultimately this will damage their ability to engage constructively with society (Stephen Green being an example of what can look forward to having more of....). This is well illustrated by creation psuedo-scientists clearly refusing "to see" anything that disagrees with their pet theories, self-rightcheous arrogance that transends even the most arrogent secular academic I've met by several orders of magnitude. However their largest and most dangerous failling is that they loose the ability to comprehend that others may hold diametrically opposing views to theirs and that those views are as valid as theirs. They will loose their battle with science & "secular society" one way or the other, its just a matter of how much damage they do ti the rest of christianity on the way down...
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Postby Michael » Tue Oct 31, 2006 4:50 pm

jon_12091 wrote:Glen Morten's experience and those of others like him do not surprise me. The oil industry has probably finished off more "creationists" than any other. Geology is precisly why I cannot take the bible as inherent literal truth.....

All religions will have past adherents who for one reason or another will have jacked it in. I suspect its easier to fallout with a philosphy/religion if it has starkly black & white views.

Christain fundamentalists, like any other, are heading in the direction of ghettoisation IMO. They deplore modern "secular society" but refuse to understand it, the visor on the helmet of salvation being firmly closed and lacking eye-holes! Ultimately this will damage their ability to engage constructively with society (Stephen Green being an example of what can look forward to having more of....). This is well illustrated by creation psuedo-scientists clearly refusing "to see" anything that disagrees with their pet theories, self-rightcheous arrogance that transends even the most arrogent secular academic I've met by several orders of magnitude. However their largest and most dangerous failling is that they loose the ability to comprehend that others may hold diametrically opposing views to theirs and that those views are as valid as theirs. They will loose their battle with science & "secular society" one way or the other, its just a matter of how much damage they do ti the rest of christianity on the way down...




As a geologist I have never had any problem with the bible

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Postby Timothy Chase » Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:59 pm

Michael wrote:
jon_12091 wrote:Glen Morten's experience and those of others like him do not surprise me. The oil industry has probably finished off more "creationists" than any other. Geology is precisly why I cannot take the bible as inherent literal truth.....

As a geologist I have never had any problem with the bible
Michael


Well, if by "creationist," one means a "young earth creationist" such as Glen Morten was, then I think it is fairly easy to see why geology (which gives us an incredible amount of evidence that the world is quite old) would be highly problematic, although saying that the oil industry itself has finished off more creationists might be somewhat hyperbolic.

*

At the same time, it seems that while organised creationism is decidely young earth in the UK, intelligent design might stand a chance of increasing creationist troops - at least until people become aware of the difference between intelligent design (pseudo-science) and theistic evolution (which is essentially a theological and philosophical position)...

Lenny Flank brought the following survey to our attention on DebunkCreation yesterday, although one might want to find out how they picked their those they interviewed, exactly what questions the survey used and how those who performed the survey chose to interpret them:


Most Brits don't believe in evolution
Shock BBC claim
By Lester Haines
Published Thursday 26th January 2006 12:30 GMT
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/26/evolution_claim
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Re: Letter to a Christian Nation

Postby Ian Lowe » Wed Nov 01, 2006 11:30 am

Roger Stanyard wrote:Ian Lowe, one of our five moderators, is a former Christian who has been turned off by fundamentalism.

Comments please on whether fundamentalism is a factor in pushing people towards atheism. Or, put it another way, are they a disaster for religion.


My own "de-conversion" is not a particularly useful yardstick here - I was a born again christian who converted from being nominally methodist to an evangelical church in my early teens, moving towards more "hardcore" churches as time went by.

I rejected christianity completely - biblical literalism played a large part in that, as I found a huge amount of incredibly unpleasant material in the bible, things which cast doubt (for me) on any concept of a loving or indeed even a moral god.

Many christians do not find this a problem - the contention of the fundamentalists (and, indeed, those who reject the entire religion for this reason) is that they simply choose to ignore the bits they don't like.

In any case, this is a conversation I do not wish to have at this point - my views on religion are well known, and there's no need to elaborate on them here.

Ian.
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Postby jon_12091 » Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:05 pm

Michael wrote:
jon_12091 wrote:Glen Morten's experience and those of others like him do not surprise me. The oil industry has probably finished off more "creationists" than any other. Geology is precisly why I cannot take the bible as inherent literal truth.....

All religions will have past adherents who for one reason or another will have jacked it in. I suspect its easier to fallout with a philosphy/religion if it has starkly black & white views.


As a geologist I have never had any problem with the bible

Michael


Well geology does conflict somewhat with a "literal" reading of the first part Genesis as a history of the Earth's creation and the development of life upon it (though it never made me doubt the existance of God even in my most awkard agnostic phase). As for inherency, I'm sure there are many Christains who accept inherency, but do not read the bible "literally". I personally do have some issues with the concept of inherency, but little overall problem with the contents of the bible (though I make no pretence of understanding anything beyond the basics). I have greater issue with what some of my bretheren and sisteren in Christ choose to do with it......

I'm firmly with those theologians who have said that bible should not be read as manuel of the Earths "natural laws".

It may well be something of a hyperbole to say the oil industry has finished off alot of creationists, though the anecdotal evidence seems pretty strong, but I can't think of another industry which will challenge YEC and to a lesser extent OEC ideologies so consistantly and so thoroughly with the wealth and volume of data you have to work with on a day to day basis if you're a practising geoscientist.

The popular perception of what ID is, I suspect diverges from what the DI would define it as, and fairly certain many people think it does include theastic evolution. But then the society at large has a way of messing with ideas.
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