Mike the Mad Biologist

A while ago, I wrote about the effect that the rise of certain forms of Christianity was having on the military. To summarize: certain ideological or religious views mean that you might not be able to do your job very well. Bob Broughton carries the analysis over to the White House staff. His surprising finding?

The number one academic recruiting ground for the White House interns is Patrick Henry College (italics mine):

At about 35 minutes into this program, Harris said that the main source of White House interns is not Harvard, MIT, Stanford, or Bush’s alma mater Yale. Instead, they come from Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA. Not familiar with this institution? Well, it says this on the “Statement of Faith” page of their web site: “Jesus Christ literally will come to earth again in the Second Advent.”

Harris points out elsewhere in this program that there are people who believe that Elvis is alive, that Poseidon still controls ocean storms, and the Holocaust didn’t happen. However, people who hold these beliefs don’t get jobs like White House Intern, or Secretary of Defense. That means that there’s a different standard for people who believe the equally silly things taught by Patrick Henry College and similar institutions.

It also creates a big problem for an Administration that, whether we like it or not, we depend upon to deal with terrorism that comes to us from Islamic fanatics. What makes a Christian who believes that “The Bible in its entirety is the inspired word of God, inerrant in its original autographs, and the only infallible and sufficient authority for faith and Christian living” (quoted from the same “Statement of Faith” mentioned above) any different from someone who believes the exact same thing about the Koran? The answer is, there is no difference.

And consider this; we have a justifiable concern about when and where the next passenger jets, piloted by Muslim engineering students, will crash into the next office building. Or when someone sells such terrorists a nuclear bomb. But try putting yourself in a different set of shoes. Imagine that you’re a young Palestinian or Lebanese, and your local school or hospital has been hit by an Israeli artillery shell. Your local political and religious leaders won’t hesitate to tell you that Israel is supported by a U.S. government run by people who believe that Israel’s existence is part of the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. And if it’s OK for Christians in positions of power to hold apocalyptic beliefs, how can we tell Muslims that it isn’t OK to kill “infidels” in large numbers?

Security concerns aside (given that they’re not negible, this isn’t exactly easy to do, but try anyway), does anyone think that someone who believes that “The Bible in its entirety is the inspired word of God, inerrant in its original autographs, and the only infallible and sufficient authority for faith and Christian living” will have evidence-based views on reproductive health issues, like the HPV vaccine, or biology (stem cell research, emergency contraception, evolution), or public health issues like reducing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases? Given the track record so far, the answer has to be no.

At least with the Democrats in control of both houses, some, although probably not all, of the insanity promulgated by the Easter Bunny wing of the Republican Party will be checked.

Comments

  1. #1 John McKay
    November 13, 2006

    Have any of these people actually seen the Bible “in its original autographs”–the original hand-written copies by God or whoever was taking dictation for that particular book?

  2. #2 Ick of the East
    November 13, 2006

    And why worry your pretty little heads about the environment or extinctions or global warming when Jesus, America’s One True King, is coming back any day now* to make things all better?

    *Subject to Revision

  3. #3 Bob Broughton
    November 14, 2006

    Thanks for the plug. I got a little nervous when I read the part about my “surprising finding” because it was Sam Harris’ finding, not mine, and I didn’t go to any trouble to get a confirmation of it.

    All is well, however. I just googled “patrick henry college white house interns”, and learned that seven of the approximately 100 current interns came from Patrick Henry College. (See http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0421-09.htm . Also, some interesting stuff in http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/050627fa_fact )

  4. #4 Bob
    November 14, 2006

    haha: “…the insanity promulgated by the Easter Bunny wing of the Republican Party…”

    Great way to sum up the last 6 years!! =)

  5. #5 MarchDancer
    November 14, 2006

    I was raised as this type of “Christian”. Bigoted, war mongering, hatefilled, you don’t need any answers, the answers you need are all in God’s infallible Bible. Of course the version of that Bible changed I don’t remember how many times through the years, but still…the Bible is yet found to be infallible. Crazy stuff, sorry to say, very crazy. Look where it has brought us!

    And yes, the church of my childhood believes and preaches to this day that Christ, not Jesus people, Jesus Christ or Christ, get that straight here, that Christ, God’s only Son ever born, will return. Any day now. See the wars in Mesopotamia? See the Jews fighting the hated Muslims? And after all, they must all die during the Rapture while true Christians, the very most hateful ones, will rise to the heavens. The rest of us. God doesn’t love any one who isn’t of that accord, so God hates us, gotta understand that part, too. God even hates his own people, the Jews, because they didn’t follow in Christ’s footsteps then when they had the opportunity.

    They’re not ever going to change. Maybe in a few centuries, but first, the more rational among us MUST maintain control. I’ve held my breath for six years. I’m finally breathing shallowly after 11/7/06. I want to breathe deeply again after ’08.

    Conflict is not all bad, not at all. Differences of opinion are certainly not bad. The desire and the hope that many millions will die while you gloat is evil.

    I’ve said my piece.

  6. #6 Liam
    November 14, 2006

    Ugh, I’m tired of the double standard. People are free to be atheist without fear of being judged, but to be a Christian? Then you’re inviting yourself to be thought of as arrogant, having all the answers, and unwilling to accept other opinions. Classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. The very title of this post (typo not withstanding) is just pure ignorance, without any effort spent to look at things in an honest and open light. How can you possibly invite people to take you seriously if you compare anyone who takes the Bible literally to children who believe in stories (like the Easter Bunny)?

  7. #7 clk
    November 14, 2006

    Liam, I think you misunderstood. He’s comparing anyone who takes the Bible literally to *adults* who believe in stories like the Easter Bunny (this certainly makes it easier for me to take him seriously). Few people mind if children believe in such things: the problem is people who fail to outgrow it.

    I’m tired of the double standard, too. It is time to start showing up in Bible class to teach evolution!

  8. #8 Pete
    November 14, 2006

    I’m a Ninth Day Easter Bunnyist and I’m tired of the double standard too.

  9. #9 Liam
    November 14, 2006

    I don’t think there’s much difference between calling Christians children and calling Christians adults who believe in childish things- I’m not sure which one is more insulting. clk I’m sure you’re aware that there are a lot of Christians who believe in evolution (Ken Miller, for example). But I know several smart people (engineers and scientists, oddly enough) who are creationists, and if anyone is saying that they’re not qualified for a job due to their religious beliefs, I’d say that’s a strong example of bigotry in itself. It’s exactly why employers are not allowed to ask questions about religion.

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  11. #11 mood
    November 14, 2006

    The story belies your headline.

    Patrick Henry College is the most common “academic recruiting ground for the White House interns”.

    Except that the interns are not “running things” in the White House.

  12. #12 Mike the Mad Biologist
    November 14, 2006

    Liam,

    Let’s take Gen. Boykin (see the post I reference). Would you want the life of a loved one dependent on the judgment of an officer who presented photographic evidence of Satan? I wouldn’t. If you do, then you’re a lunatic. If not, then as a Christian, clean your own house. Also, why do you assume that if I oppose Biblical literalism and Christianist nationalism, that I am, therefore, an atheist? Talk about close-minded. When religion is the basis for specific government policies, it would be irresponsible not to criticize both the policies and their intellectual underpinnings in the same way I would with any policies and ideologies not based on religion.

    mood,

    you’re right in that the interns don’t run anything. But they’re often the ones right at the point of contact, both in terms of interacting with people, as well as deciding what information gets passed up the chain (as well as organizing and interpreting that information). They do matter. Also, who picked these guys? That speaks volumes about judgment, doesn’t it?

  13. #13 Rob
    November 14, 2006

    Don’t forget the recent debacles with the FDA and NASA. Fundie moralizing was at work suppressing sound science at the FDA and a Fundie whack job tried to erase 40 years of Big Bang theory at NASA web sites. Why? Cuz the F’n Easter Bunny told ‘em so.

    The Fundie’s own bigoted stance has ultimately pushed reasonable people out of the policy discussions time and time and time again and have promulgated junk science and bad policy so far up Shit Crik no paddle or power boat is gonna bring back full trust. Liam. Get used to people of opposing views pushing back.

  14. #14 SlashdotTroll
    November 14, 2006

    I, for one, welcome our new Atheist overlords.

  15. #15 FutureDead
    November 14, 2006

    The bible like the easter bunny or the tooth fairy is just that, stories.
    It’s not hard to fathom why some of us are skeptical in leadership that believes in things without proof.
    We are also all in this terrorist mess because of said beliefs. Throw them out the window and the world becomes a better more logical place.
    Praise be to science!

  16. #16 Joshua
    November 14, 2006

    Let’s get rid of this idea that creationism or post-millenial dispensationism are “religious beliefs”. They’re dangerous, desctructive ideologies, and they need to be stamped out for the good of the species. God has nothing to do with them.

  17. #17 Blake Stacey
    November 14, 2006

    Joshua wrote:

    Let’s get rid of this idea that creationism or post-millenial dispensationism are “religious beliefs”. They’re dangerous, desctructive ideologies, and they need to be stamped out for the good of the species. God has nothing to do with them.

    To which I can only say, “???”

    Maybe they have nothing to do with a deist conception of an Infinitely Removed Watchmaker. Come to think of it, I’ve yet to hear about a deist mailing anybody anthrax. But the people who adopt these dangerous, destructive ideologies do not worship the Watchmaker. The handwriting is all over every palace wall: these are religious movements, and no amount of clever redefinition can obscure that fact.

  18. #18 rael
    November 14, 2006

    None of this is new. It, alas, is a constant tension in American history and will not go away. Because of the way we’re set up, democracy-wise, they are entitled to their say and to try to exert power over others, crazy as it may be, since that’s what they want to do. Sinclair Lewis knew what he was talking about.

    The question isn’t how do we get rid of them or how do we convert them or how to we do stuff TO them. They will always be among us. The question is how do we marginalize their impact. The answer is we educate everybody else, including ourselves. I’m perfectly content to leave them the hell alone. But, since they will never, ever leave me the hell alone, I have no choice but to protect myself. That’s why I’m friendly toward my neighbors.

  19. #19 SLC
    November 14, 2006

    Re Liam

    I am totally unimpressed by non-biologists who don’t believe in evolution. Most of them have degrees from phoney bible colleges. I know of a number of distinguished scientists who believe or believed in all kinds of nutty ideas. Linus Pauling, a Nobel Prize winner believed vitamine C was a cure for cancer. William Shockley, a Nobel Prize winner believed black people were inferior to caucasians and orientals. Peter Duesberg, a candidate for a Nobel Prize in the 1960s believes HIV has nothing to do with AIDS. J. Allen Hynek, a former president of the American Astronomical Society, believed that UFOs were piloted by extraterrestrials. Brian Josephson, a Nobel Prize winner, believes in PK, ESP, and cold fusion.

  20. #20 new.atheist
    November 14, 2006

    Liam,

    I wouldn’t want a surgeon who believed that it was possible for bodies to come back to life working on me. I wouldn’t want a scientist who didn’t believe in evolution creating my anti-biotics. I wouldn’t want an engineer who believed the second coming was imminent designing a building I plan on living in for the next 20 years. Just as much as I wouldn’t count on the astrology charts to guide my love life. And I wouldn’t trust a gardener who dances to the rain-gods on my lawn. I’m sorry if that’s “bigotry.”

    And so; I don’t like the idea of these people, who believe that some god wants Israel to take over the middle east in order to bring-on the “Apocalypse”, influencing decisions about what our military does.

  21. #21 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 14, 2006

    Harris points out elsewhere in this program that there are people who believe that Elvis is alive, that Poseidon still controls ocean storms, and the Holocaust didn’t happen. However, people who hold these beliefs don’t get jobs like White House Intern, or Secretary of Defense.

    Do we know for a fact that Rumsfeld and Gates are not Elvis-believers?

  22. #22 Lesser of Two Weevils
    November 14, 2006

    Liam : People are free to be atheist without fear of being judged, but to be a Christian?

    You have got to be kidding me. How many times in the past few years have Christians been told by the soon-to-be PRESIDENT OF THE USA that they are neither citizens nor patriots? Didn’t he also say, even after becoming President: “I don’t see how you can be president at least from my perspective, how you can be president, without a relationship with the Lord.”? (Hint: He did)

    It really sounds like he’s pre-judging them to me. Do you have any idea how often I hear or read ‘If you’re an atheist, you can’t possibly have any morals’.

    I’m sorry Liam, I’m going to have to call you on this one – That is simply not true.

    Weevil

  23. #23 DireW
    November 15, 2006

    Blake Stacey:

    Well, if you’re not aware of “deists mailing anybody Anthrax”, then you’re not paying attention:

    http://www.alternet.org/story/43182

    It seems to me that most of the hate and evil imposed on us comes from deists. I’m not aware of Atheists who’ve sent anyone Anthrax, are you?

  24. #24 Cathlofascist
    November 15, 2006

    Quote: But I know several smart people (engineers and scientists, oddly enough) who are creationists, and if anyone is saying that they’re not qualified for a job due to their religious beliefs, I’d say that’s a strong example of bigotry in itself.
    Posted by: Liam | November 14, 2006 05:10 AM

    When someone does not know the explanation to an unknown (evolution/creationism) and the only answer they can come up with is “it’s magic”, they are not scientists. Although they may be using such a title.

    Here’s their argument, “since man cannot replicate evolution in the lab it must be God’s doing.” Assigning the unknown to God’s will is just as ignorant today as it was a thousand years ago. (9/11 notwithstanding.) Until gravity was defined God made things stay on the ground.

    BTW there’s a difference between bigotry and discrimination. And faith is not a scientific protocol.

  25. #25 Ramble
    November 16, 2006

    I agree that this is worrying, but I think the term ‘Easter Bunny Wing’ isn’t appropriate. If these people are biblical fundamentalists, it’s likely they’ve already removed the easter bunny and other pagan elements from their Easter celebrations. They probably call it ‘Resurrection Sunday’ or something like that instead.

  26. #26 pogue
    November 16, 2006

    Quote: “I wouldn’t want a surgeon who believed that it was possible for bodies to come back to life working on me. I wouldn’t want a scientist who didn’t believe in evolution creating my anti-biotics. I wouldn’t want an engineer who believed the second coming was imminent designing a building I plan on living in for the next 20 years. Just as much as I wouldn’t count on the astrology charts to guide my love life. And I wouldn’t trust a gardener who dances to the rain-gods on my lawn. I’m sorry if that’s “bigotry.””
    It may not be bigotry, but it certainly seems short-sighted. What it seems you are saying is that people cannot put aside personal beliefs and do their jobs: an engineer who believes the 2nd coming is imminent cannot put that aside and design a building according to code, a surgeon who believes that “it was possible for bodies to come back to life” cannot do the surgery he was trained to do. For all you know, the engineer who designed the building you live or work in DOES believe that the 2nd coming is imminent. How do you know? Do you query everyone on their personal beliefs before hiring them? Most of the founding fathers of this country did believe in Christianity or were, at least, deists. One signer of the Declaration of Independence was even (dare I say it?) Catholic. Yet these men were able to put aside their personal beliefs and state that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . .” Doesn’t sound to me like they let their personal beliefs interfere with what they needed to do to found a country. It’s unfortunate that you seem to believe that people cannot set aside their personal beliefs and do their jobs. Bigotry? Perhaps not in the strict definition of the word. Short-sighted? I think so.
    As for the Christian/Atheist controversy, you all seem to be tarring all Christians and Atheists with brushes that only a relative few deserve. Not all Christians intolerantly think that their way is THE way, and not all Atheists think that every Christian believes in childish things. The relative few may get the headlines (as well as getting your dander up), but it doesn’t mean they are necessarily representative of the majority. To tar all with the same brush smacks of wanting to believe something only because it fits one’s preconceived notions. At least for Christians, tolerance and acceptance is an integral part of Christianity (Love thy neighbor as thyself) no matter how an intolerant but relative few have cared to pervert it.

  27. #27 Liam
    November 16, 2006

    Wow, so many replies directed at me, I should probably just open up my own webpage. First, thanks to pogue to fielding one for me. Second, Mike, your attack on Christians is a classic ad hominem. It’s like saying Bill Clinton wasn’t a good president because he was a womanizer. Whether you think Bill Clinton was a good president or not isn’t the issue- whether you think it’s possible to be a womanizer and be a good president at the same time is more of the issue. Regarding Boykin and photographic evidence of Satan- are you referring to “a demonic presence in that city that God revealed to me as the enemy”? And if so, are you being sarcastic, or are you unable to recognize metaphor when employed by Christians? I’m hoping it’s sarcasm, which I think in this case makes for an ineffective argument. Are you telling me that someone can’t openly profess faith in God and be a good general? There are a number of holes in this argument, maybe we should continue that line by email if you want.

    I’m not sure if I went so far as to call you an atheist; to call me close-minded because you could infer it indirectly is a stretch. At most, I may have been lumping you in with a lot of other people (some of them making comments on this page) who are speaking out against any deists in general, but if that’s the case, and you’re taking offense, then you might want a thicker skin.

    SLC, in all of your examples you have the glory of hindsight- many of the beliefs you talk about (HIV having nothing to do with AIDS, blacks being inferior to whites) were prevalent at the time, and have absolutely no grounding in religion whatsoever. Don’t forget that the concept of evolution (as Darwin has framed it) is only about 150 years old- I’m sure you can find a few creationist scientists/engineers back then that you can respect. Charles Babbage, as a random example, who lived during the same time as Darwin.

    Lesser of Two Weevils, while Bush has made rash statements about atheists as a whole, I think you’d be hard pressed to find any given atheist who is taking heat from the mainstream for a lack of faith. Mike has named many specific Christians who are taking heat- can you name just as many atheists? Can you name any?

    Cathlofascist- who are you even talking about? That’s a straw-man argument. Christians don’t even believe in “magic”. Christians don’t attribute things to God just because they haven’t been proven in a lab. Nobody actually holds these beliefs you’re talking about, not even the fundamentalists; i really think you’re getting upset about things you don’t understand properly.

  28. #28 new.atheist
    November 17, 2006

    If someone truly believes, they don’t set aside their beliefs for anyone/anything. I wouldn’t compromise my beliefs for my job and I would respect anyone who wouldn’t hire me if they thought my beliefs would compromise my ability to do my job. In turn, if an employee is willing to set-aside their belief in god to do their job, I wonder what other personal values one might willing to set-aside. What would prevent them from setting aside the their loyalty to the company, their honesty, or work ethics? And I would think, if you really believed in god, setting-aside god to do your job would be the ultimate insult to him?

    Perhaps a true Christian would do a good job because they wouldn’t want those who won’t be following them at the Apocalypse, when they disappear into the sky, to suffer as much. I respect all Christians (or anyone, whatever they might call themselves) who put love and goodness first in their beliefs, and hold to it. I have no respect for anyone who preaches hate or war.

    And here’s a bit de-bunking the Christianity of some of the founding fathers. http://monotheism.us/ There are many other sites like it. Those men believed in a free society; Liberty was their prime objective.

    I also must say that I only sorta acknowledge that not all Christians believe in childish things. Many people who call themselves “Christians” don’t actually believe in a lot of things in the bible. But then they are painting themselves with the wrong brush. Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian; believing that Jesus actually rose from the dead, that he was the son of god, and that only through a belief in Jesus will you get to heaven, that is the definition of a Christian. (I dunno what someone should call themselves if they don’t believe these things actually happened while they still use the bible as a guide for their lives.)

    So I still stand by the original article; that people who believe, really believe in their hearts, that “The Bible in its entirety (all 66 books of the Old and New Testaments) is the inspired word of God, inerrant in its original autographs, and the only infallible and sufficient authority for faith and Christian living,” shouldn’t be running the government. If this is truly their faith, they would put god/the bible before the good of the people of their country, and where would we all stand?

  29. #29 pogue
    November 17, 2006

    Thank you for your thoughtful response; it gave me much to ponder. However, I still disagree with you in terms of setting aside one’s personal beliefs in order to do a job. Many people cherish deeply-held personal beliefs that will not allow them to take certain jobs so that they do not compromise their beliefs. That is not the same as being able to set aside a belief in order to do a job one chooses to do or, more accurately, not allowing personal beliefs to interfere with one’s chosen job. There is a difference between one’s personal beliefs and the need to foist those beliefs onto others. It does not necessarily follow that having a deeply held belief means that one thinks others should believe the exact same way; that is what tolerance is about.

    You provide the link to information de-bunking the Christianity of some of the founding fathers. The site gives some information on 9 or 10 of the founding fathers. But there were, if I’m not mistaken, 55 framers of the Constitution. And (again, I may be mistaken), but there were approximately 25 Episcopalians, 10 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Methodists, 1 Deist, 2 Dutch Reformed, 1 Lutheran, 2 Roman Catholics, and 3 Quakers. It stands to reason that some of those gentlemen held their beliefs more closely or deeply than others; why would it be any different from the way it is today? But it is apparent that Christians were in the majority among the framers of the Constitution so I still have to believe that some of them were able to separate their personal beliefs from the job of creating a viable society for all. Yes, they did believe in a free society. A belief in a free society and liberty is not mutually exclusive with a belief in God and Christianity.

    I also don’t agree with your statement: “Many people who call themselves “Christians” don’t actually believe in a lot of things in the bible. But then they are painting themselves with the wrong brush.” As far as I know, it is accurate that a belief in Jesus and his Divinity, and an adherence to His teachings, are requirements for being a Christian. But that’s not the same as believing that “the Bible, in its entirety, is the inspired word of God, inerrant in its original autographs, and the only infallible and sufficient authority for faith and Christian living.” I am a Christian, with a bone-deep conviction in God and Jesus as His Son. Yet I don’t go to church (there is a difference between faith and religion) nor I do not believe that every word of the Bible is the inspired word of God. The Bible is a book that was cobbled together from a myriad of sources by a myriad of people. Any student of religion and religious history understands the many ways in which the words in the current Bible could have been altered over the years. Difficulty in translations, personal biases, nuances that don’t easily translate from one language to another, archeological discoveries, sociological changes – all of these make it very difficult to determine what is actually “The Word” and what has become altered over the years. The Bible contains much that is good, but also much that is contradictory and confusing. “Thou shalt not kill” is a commandment, yet in some sections of the Bible it talks about how smiting your enemies is not only perfectly okay, but desired. So go figure. Not all Christians are of the same stripe, not every Christian believes in creationism, and I’m not aware of any rule stating that a belief in Christianity requires a complete and utter acceptance of each and every word in the Bible.

    Lastly, there is a difference between belief in God and/or Christianity, and morals and ethics, although the last two often result from the first for many (but obviously not all) people. Rarely does a belief in God or Jesus conflict with our societal ethics or values. But I take issue with your statement that if one truly believes, they don’t set aside their beliefs for anyone/anything. Christians are not the only ones who have deep beliefs; I’m sure that you and others who are not Christians or believe in God have very strong beliefs. Most of us share a belief in acting in the best interests of society in general in order to have a viable, well-functioning society. This is why society codifies actions and behaviors, allowing some and forbidding others. But according to what you write, an EMT, police officer or fireman sets aside this belief when s/he breaks speed limits, putting others at risk, in order to do their jobs. People of all types (Christian, Atheist, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, etc.) often subscribe to situational ethics. Not everything is black or white.

    When you come down to it, there are rarely instances that might require setting aside a belief in God and/or Jesus in order to do a job. I would imagine that most people, whatever their beliefs, will not choose a job that is in daily conflict with their beliefs. And a belief, even a bone-deep conviction, in God and/or Jesus and Christianity does not require an acceptance of every single word in the Bible. Don’t confuse the two, and don’t confuse faith and religion. An engineer need not set aside a belief that Jesus will come again in order to build something that will last for years and years. A scientist can believe in God and evolution and still create your antibiotics. They probably have.

  30. #30 new.atheist
    November 17, 2006

    I’m gonna try to address those points as they were brought up:

    If someone is putting aside personal beliefs for their job, then they hold their job as more important, perhaps for a greater good in the end. Many people bite their tongues because they need the paycheck. I’m not saying that’s bad or good; it’s just life. There are also many people who stand up for what they believe to be the truth. Many Christians wouldn’t set aside their faith to work at an abortion clinic, but how many of us have lied at work for one reason or another? What makes one “sin” worse than another is up to the Philosophers to decide.

    On the founding fathers; I’m not saying Christianity & a free society are mutually exclusive; I’m saying the founders must have believed in Freedom above their Christianity (or whatever religious belief they held). I still wouldn’t want anyone running our country who put their Christianity above all else.

    Why do people get to call themselves Christians while picking/choosing out of the bible what they feel like believing? (I know, the Catholics started it when they picked which books to include to begin with.) In that sense, it is easy to be an atheist; I just don’t believe in anything supernatural. Christians get to call themselves so, but then they get to to examine which super-natural events they believe were real. Most just believe what their preacher tells them. Aside from the contradictions in the Bible (which many Christians deny), do you justify the death & resurrection of Christ because it’s not gotten the scientific rebuttals as say, creation or the flood have received? Why would some stories be more likely to be true than others when non were written as events were happening, and those who wrote them definitely had an agenda?

    Lastly;
    I “confuse” faith & religion only because religion dictates faith for most people. I don’t like to lump all “Christians” together, I understand many people take their faith very personally. I have much more respect for anyone who’s given their faith some thought as opposed to those who just believe whatever they are told. But religious dogma is what many people live their lives by. Any individual person I meet I treat as an individual, but often enough they pigeon-hole themselves by defining themselves by some aspect of their lives, and for just as many people the biggest part of their lives is their religion/faith.

    I agree that not all beliefs are black/white. But many people justify their unjust actions with that shade of grey.

    When you come down to it; people who went to a school with this statement of faith (http://www.phc.edu/about/faith.asp) probably believe in it, and hold their faith as a BIG part of their lives. And it is worrisome that they are being chosen as the future to run the government.

  31. #31 Liam
    November 17, 2006

    new.atheist, you’re exactly right that anybody who truly believes in something shouldn’t put that belief aside. That’s really the only thing I like about GW Bush, the only single thing I can respect about him. (There’s got to be some good in everybody, right?) All of the other people that Mike has talked about share that same quality- Boykin for example was a Christian first, a general second.

    And I think you’re saying that that’s part of the problem- that there might be some sort of conflict of interest. There isn’t. So there’s supposed to be a second coming- why aren’t all Christians out holding picket signs that say “repent, the end is nigh”? Well if it’s been 2000 years since the first coming, then chances are, it’s not happening any time soon. And even if it does happen soon, that doesn’t mean that all of the sudden I get to ignore my responsibilities and do a poor job of designing a building, as in your example. Same thing with the surgeon. As far as the non-evolutionary doctor is concerned- here’s my understanding, but it’s of course limited, as I’m not a creationist. My understanding is that the concept of evolution predates Darwin by quite a bit- but it has always been localized evolution. This idea was shared to a certain extent by both Christians and scientists alike. Darwin’s contribution wasn’t the idea that mutation exists, but rather, that natural selection drives the evolutionary process both small and large. I don’t think there’s any conflict between creating medicines and not believing in natural selection, and if you can go through medical school and still not believe in natural selection, then more power to you.

    You compared Christians in these occupations to someone who lives their life according to an astrology guide. I hope you see that there are huge differences, and that the two aren’t actually anything alike. An astrology guide gives you no set of guiding principles- no golden rule, etc- on how to live your life. Christianity, on the other hand, doesn’t try to tell you your future. Sure, the world will end some day (don’t we all believe that?), but that shouldn’t dictate your daily decisions. Christians alter their behavior by trying to be more Christ-like (What Would Jesus Do? etc), not by trying to plan for end times.

    If I were to tell you that I wouldn’t want a Jew managing my money, would you think that I’m a bigot? I’d hope so. Saying something like that would demonstrate that I don’t really understand Jews, and what it means to be a Jew. I’d say that in this case, you don’t understand Christians, and what it means to be a Christian. I believe that you wouldn’t second-guess your surgeon if he/she was black; you wouldn’t think that your doctor only got into medical school because of affirmative action. You shouldn’t second-guess a Christian doctor either; they all have to not only get into med school, but pass it as well, something I sure couldn’t do. And ask yourself if you really think that a Christian doctor couldn’t live up to the hippocratic oath. The answer is, there’s nothing in there that would be difficult for a Christian to accept, and many values which are taught in Christianity. So again, maybe you need to rethink your understanding of Christians, even the ones who take the Bible literally.

  32. #32 new.atheist
    November 18, 2006

    I still consider a conflict of interest at hand between certain Christian views and Politics. Recently I received a pamphlet in my door which describes the Harlot sitting on the back of the 7-headed beast (Revelation 17:1-4) as being the worlds political powers, and this harlot will wipe-out false religion; Jews & Muslims. This pamphlet came from Jehovah’s witnesses, which I will grant you are a bit on the Christian edge. I acknowledge not all Christians believe this, but I have no doubt that those who do believe this are influenced by their faith in their political views. Where do we draw the line? What makes them crazy in many Christian’s eyes, but George Bush, who has said god talks to him, is to be looked up to? http://www.economist.com/world/na/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3502861

    “My understanding is that the concept of evolution predates Darwin by quite a bit- but it has always been localized evolution. This idea was shared to a certain extent by both Christians and scientists alike. Darwin’s contribution wasn’t the idea that mutation exists, but rather, that natural selection drives the evolutionary process both small and large.”

    I believe you are talking about micro vs. macro evolution. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macro-evolution

    Evolution vs. Intelligent Design is a perfect example of conflict of interest between religion and politics, with the decision potentially hurting every child’s education. Evolution as Darwin thought it up wasn’t perfect; but there have been many additions to & tests of those theories since Darwin’s time. Explaining creationism/ID (whatever label they want to stick on it) in science class is telling kids that the super-natural is scientific! It’s encouraging kids to stop looking for natural answers when it gets kinda hard & just let them say god-did-it. And yes, it’s still a matter of “we don’t know how it happened, so god-did-it,” it’s just what they think god-did is getting smaller (literally; down to parts of cells). http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/050530fa_fact In my eyes this is no different than saying gods made the sun rise before we knew about the laws of gravity.

    “I don’t think there’s any conflict between creating medicines and not believing in natural selection, and if you can go through medical school and still not believe in natural selection, then more power to you.”

    Evolution & natural selection have HUGE implications towards antibiotics & medicine. Every day, more bacteria evolve to become immune to antibiotics we are constantly bombarding the environment with. (These antibiotics get into the water systems, and our oceans are hurting because of it. It’s all a delicate balance…but I digress.) “Like all biological systems, both disease-causing organisms and their victims evolve. Understanding evolution can make a big difference in how we treat disease.” http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/medicine_01

    I understand your point about an astrology guide vs. a moral guide. But I still don’t see much difference between those who read the stars or cards to tell the future, and those who read the Bible to tell the future. And while Astrology itself doesn’t provide one with a moral system, it does guide some people in how they live their lives. I acknowledge that the dogma is completely different; that the supernatural beliefs are completely different. But they are both just unfounded supernatural beliefs to me. If you believe nothing supernatural about the bible, but wish to use it as a moral guide, than how are you a Christian or a Jew? (Jewish as the religion, not heritage.)

    I don’t think rejecting someone on the basis that their personal beliefs are in conflict with their potential job is bigoted. I don’t see how Jewish beliefs would conflict with them handling my money (but maybe I just don’t know enough about Judaism), nor how being black would conflict with being a surgeon, and judging someone based on things that aren’t potential conflict to their jobs is bigoted. But what if my banker was a former felon? What if my surgeon was a former drug addict? Would you still say it is bigoted to judge them? Knowing these things about my banker or surgeon, I would tread lightly & get all the facts, but it would tend to give me reason for worry. They might still be able to do their jobs perfectly well; but I’d be cautious.

    I meet every individual in my life with an open mind. But those who apply labels to themselves should be prepared to be judged for them. It might not be right, but it’s the way the world works. I guess my mind is just made up to judge people based on what I know about them. I’m sure people do the same about me, even if they say or think they don’t. And I will continue to think that anyone who isn’t a bit worried about religious influence in politics isn’t paying enough attention.

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