Sunday, July 29, 2007

Atheists are manipulating the young through their minds?

Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins, authors of the Left Behind series of Christian fiction, gave a recent interview on Belief.net in which they re-state their claim that the mythical Jesus is destined to return. During the interview, however, they had some things to say about the recent notoriety of atheistic works (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, et al). The accusation they made was that the atheists are taking advantage of the absence of god in public schools to reach the minds of impressionable young children.

One other reason I think the atheistic books are very prevalent in America is because, for 50 years, we've expelled God from the public school. We've expelled Him from many of our places. The ACLU and other anti-God agencies have tried to eliminate God from our public square. And so people are interested in reading from people like that to support their beliefs.
The non sequitur above, which implies that the ACLU is “anti-god,” is not the only logical fallacy these two make, and it is utterly fascinating to watch these two spell-casters create false dichotomy after false dichotomy as they try to paint reason and intellect as tools of the devil, while supporting childhood indoctrination of mythology –what Dawkins refers to as amounting to child abuse. Never mind that the ACLU’s primary mission is the preservation of civil liberties. One of those being religious freedom, which means that no single cult or superstition gets to codify their doctrine as the right one or the state sponsored one. The limited thinking of Christians usually follows with comments about how they “removed prayer” from public schools, but this is, of course, complete bollocks. Prayer exists in probably every public school in the United States. Teachers just aren’t allowed to lead it, since this would be the establishment of a state religion. Prayers that adhere to a Christian superstition would exclude Muslim or Hindu cults and their superstitions, not to mention the Wiccans and their silliness.

Another passage by Lahaye, one that precedes the above quote by one paragraph is perhaps the most revealing of either Lahaye’s limited education or his willingness to deceive. A third option, of course, would be his complete and utter delusion into the fantasy he has fleshed out in his fan-fic series with Jenkins (the Left Behind series):
Did man just originate spontaneously through evolution? It's always interesting to me that atheists who can't believe in God can believe in anything else. They believe in evolution, and evolution is the biggest fairy tale in our past two centuries. And yet, there are millions of intelligent, well-educated people who believe it because they just don't want to believe that there is a God.What they don't realize is they don't want to have to give accountability to God.
Which do you suppose Lahaye really meant, “spontaneously” or “evolution?” Does he really think that evolution is spontaneous? Or is he using an intentional hyperbole to deceive those of limited intelligence who might be inclined to read his fan-fic series of Christian fantasy with credulous abandon? It’s no secret that religious fundamentalists, particularly those that get the spotlight, frequently say nonsense like the comment above which calls evolution a “fairy tale.” They bank on the fact that our nation is one with great challenges in the field of science education and that people have a limited education regarding biological sciences, chemistry, physics, archaeology, and geology. All of which have produced overwhelming evidence that evolution is a fact that can only be denied by the ignorant, the utterly deluded, or those bent on deceiving the first two. These “millions of well-educated people” have come to the realization that there is a grand deception – a spell, to quote Dennett – with regard to religious belief in the United States and that there is no longer a reason to adhere to the superstitions of Christian mythology. Why should one be accountable to a god that isn’t there?

The Left Behind series, which I have loosely referred to above as a fan-fic, is fiction. The authors make no bones about it. Bookstores shelve it in the section ironically labeled “Christian Fiction.” Indeed, the interviewers of Lahaye and Jenkins prefaced their interview with a comparison of authors to other authors of the supernatural such as Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Dan Brown. But readers of these authors, with the possible exception of Brown, don’t accept that the supernatural as they depict it is real or that the story they tell will really occur. Harry Potter is fun to read and the imagination can truly take a vacation at Hogwart’s, but no Potter fan is expecting to attend the next Quiddich match. Lahay fans, however, truly believe that their messiah will return and that there will be a battle on earth during their lifetimes! For all intents and purposes, Left Behind is an instruction manual for the deluded!

End times theology is a widely held belief in Christian mythology and that so many people believe that “the End,” or the “rapture” will occur in their lifetimes is a serious threat to reason and society. What reason, would one have to conserve the environment or leave a sustainable future for one’s descendants if the End is near? Why shouldn’t political decisions also reflect the delusion that Israel is a holy land and that the people of Israel are the chosen people of God? Believers in End Times (or those that are willing to cater to them) would be biased against any Middle East solution that would fail to consider this.

In their latest book of the series, Kingdom Come, Lahaye and Jenkins attack reason and the intellectual as tools of Satan. Clearly a message to their deluded followers that they should avoid reason and intellect –avoid thinking for themselves – since these are tricks of Satan. As religious dogmas go, Christianity is one that you have to admire when it comes to its self-inoculating ability. Christians are frequently quoting scriptures like, “the fool hath said in his hear there is no God” (Psa. 14:1) and “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). The reward offered through Christian mythology is, likewise, an inoculation against doubt since it provides “eternal life” (Rom. 6:23) for believing in “one God” (Jam. 2:19).

When asked if reason is dangerous, Lahaye responds:
Yes, reason without God. You show me two people with brilliant minds. If one believes in God and has a respect for almighty God, he can be like a Louis Pasteur or a Sir Isaac Newton or one of the many Christians who were scientists and contributed greatly to the well being of the world. Or, they can be like
Karl Marx or Sigmund Freud or many of the others who hated God or were ambivalent about God, just had no time for Him or His word, and they went their own way.We're living in a society where you have the wisdom of men on one hand and the wisdom of God on the other. Bible-free reasoning is going to lead you to one decision, [and] a Satan-filled [mind] or an empty vacuum is going to be contrary to that.
Christians often cite early scientists for their religious beliefs, in spite of the fact that few had any sort of choice. We may never know what scientists like Pasteur may have really thought about religion. We know he was a Roman Catholic and that he commented that religion and science were compatible, as did many of his scientific contemporaries. But how much of this is his attempts to justify his scientific pursuits with the Church that controlled so much of society? We know that Newton was religious and wrote much on the topic, but we also know that this brilliant mind had an obsession with alchemy and with finding “hidden messages” in the Bible.

What’s interesting in Lahaye’s comments above, however, is the false dichotomy and non sequitur he creates with his association of atheism with Satanism. The intent is clear: to associate atheists and their intellectual arguments with the work of the Christian deity of evil (Satan). “Bible-free reasoning” is likened with a “Satan-filled mind” and thus, the Christian should avoid thinking any thoughts that might question the spell cast by Biblical doctrine. The less educated the believer is, the easier it is to keep them inoculated.

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