Thursday, September 25, 2008

Secular Superstitions

This post over at Uncommon Descent pretty much confirmed my view of the so-called 'Enlightenment': the 'Enlightenment' simply replaced one set of superstitions (Dark Age beliefs) for another set of equally superstitious beliefs. From the post:


The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won’t create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that’s not a conclusion to take on faith — it’s what the empirical data tell us.

“What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.


During the Renaissance, men who rejected the authority of Rome went one of two ways. They either reformed their beliefs by conforming to Scripture and got rid of many of the superstitions of the Middle Ages, or they rejected propositional revelation altogether and were left to figure out the nature of reality (a universal) starting with only their own 'reason' and experiences (particulars). Seeing that one cannot validly reason from a particular to a universal and having cut themselves off from the only Source that could possibly give them answers to the nature of reality since He alone possesses complete knowledge of it, they were left with nothing but fear of the unknown.

Thus, instead of believing in elves and fairies, they now believe in UFOs and little green men.

Instead of believing in spontaneous generation of flies from trash, they simply add billions of years with the same belief and declare it to be 'scientific'.

Instead of believing in astrology, they now believe in multiple-universes.

Instead of believing that a frog can turn into a prince, they simply add a few million years and call it "our hominid ancestry."


Jeffrey said...

This merely assumes that which it wishes to show, namely that Christianity itself isn't a superstition. I'd bet belief in Islam decreases belief in palm reading too, but the way Islam protects its believers from certain kinds of error doesn't support the claim that Islam isn't an error itself.

If speaking in tongues was added to the list of superstitions, I'd bet that alone would make the superstition level of Christians jump above non-Christians.

Saint and Sinner said...

Alright, Jeff. If you want to believe in bed-time stories of UFOs and little green men, then it's a free country...

Jeffrey said...

I don't believe that little green men came to the earth and are lurking around.

I also don't believe that sons of God came to earth and reproduced with human women and started a mighty bloodline of the half-demon, half-human.

The amazing thing about Genesis 6 is that I don't even have to caricature it. I just have to say what it says.

Saint and Sinner said...

"I don't believe that little green men came to the earth and are lurking around."

Yeah, but you do believe in spontaneous generation...over the course of a few billion years. Poof!

"I also don't believe that sons of God came to earth and reproduced with human women and started a mighty bloodline of the half-demon, half-human."

Well, that's the funny-mentalist reading of Gen 6. It might do you well if you actually read a scholarly commentary which interprets the text as its original hearers would have understood it instead of importing your 21st century American cultural presuppositions into the text.

Now where was I? Oh yeah...I was busy getting lost in the ever expanding (mythical) multiverse...

...superstitious atheists...

Jeffrey said...

The book of Enoch says precisely what I'm saying Genesis says. Enoch 6:2-3a “And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.'” Furthermore, this is from a text that was nearly canonical and was accepted as inspired by no less than Tertullian. I don't suppose Tertullian and the author of Enoch suffered from 21st century American cultural presuppositions.

Jude 14-15 directly quotes from Enoch. Jude 6-7 makes reference to Enoch's idea of the Nephilim as well: “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these [angels] indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh.” Jude makes reference to some kind of sexual sin of angels – it's a very short step to thinking Jude accepted Enoch's interpretation.

The phrase used for “sons of God” in Genesis 6:4 is also used in Job 1:6 “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.” This helps justify “sons of God” as meaning demons/fallen angels.

Also, the Nephilim were mighty men of renown (Genesis 6) and giants (Numbers 13). This makes sense for a half-demon bloodline (by ancient standards of “makes sense.”) It doesn't make sense for the sons of Seth marrying other human beings to produce giants.

The “superstitions” of seculars differ in one key way: they aren't foundational. Suppose you convinced me absolutely for certain that multi-verses, abiogenesis, and a god-less Big Bang were all fictitious. I would shrug, admit I was wrong on several lesser points, and return to deism. This would be a “shuffling of the seculars” and no more a defeat for seculars than a Christian switching denominations is a defeat for Christianity. This would knock off the pieces of my worldview I hold to least tightly.

This contrasts with the superstitions in the Bible which are all foundational to biblical inerrancy. Most are foundational to any level of biblical reliability. A donkey talks, Moses raising his arms changes the battle, staffs become snakes, etc. Jesus' Resurrection is the foundation for anything remotely Christian. Christianity is on very weak ground with the topic of face-value ridiculousness of superstitions.