Tag Archives: Christian fundamentalism

The Earth as seen from Apollo 17

Twisted views of ‘Christian’ fundamentalist disinformation group Cornwall Alliance

Resisting the Green Dragon and related far-right ‘Christian’ fundamentalist conspiracy theories

I just opened a mass marketing email I received a few days ago from the Cornwall Alliance. [Read Cornwall email, below]

NOTE: It is very important to remember that everything you read here (and everywhere else) consists of opinion or is slanted in some way, as pure objectivity is not within reach of humans. This fact is examined more closely on our About pages.

Great blue heron posing at Radnor Lake; May 2011, Frasier PhotosThe Cornwall Alliance is one of many excellent examples clearly demonstrating the closed-minded, “everyone-is wrong-but-us” mentality of ultra-conservative Christian fundamentalism wherein dominionism is wrongly seen as trumping ‘secular’ environmentalism.

According to the Cornwall Alliance & its disinformational video series Resisting the Green Dragon, secular environmentalism is a wholly negative, “evil” conspiracy bent on taking over the world. Environmental concern and action is worthwhile and acceptable only if it comes from the perspective of far-right religious fundamentalists and those who choose an ultra-literal interpretation of the Bible.

religious freedom means any religionIn a nutshell, the Cornwall Alliance and its cronies are teaching children that environmental stewardship/activism is actually a conspiracy against the church (seriously!) — and society as a whole — unless care of our planet is married to old-time religion with its myriad superstitions[1].

Even so, this blogger is a die-hard supporter of freedom of religion; folks should be able to choose to believe and worship however they choose.

Should some of the biodegradable materials published by the Cornwall Alliance, if any, perhaps be buried where they can best decompose into fertilizer to further green growth somewhere on our planet? Earth is in effect our aquarium… it’s our doorstep, which certainly should not be shat upon, even for eye-popping corporate profits. The planet we all share has been ravaged, quite possibly beyond a crucial threshold from whence unrecoverable. The destruction, the degraded environment, the increasingly acidic & trash-filled oceans, et al are only a scant few of the dastardly results of Big 1% Money, Corporate Personhood, the drive for business profit at the expense of all else, and other factors… concerns with which I don’t see organized religion as taking issue or having a problem. Yet these folks — fine folks, I expect — decide to take an over-the-top, highly divisive stand against environmental activism? Go figure.

Religion going green?

It is a real relief that so many churches and religious groups have finally embraced care of the environment in the last decade or two rather than merely shrugging off:

  • Engaging in responsible stewardship of natural resources
  • Preventing pollution
  • Using renewable resources
  • Treating animals and other creatures humanely
  • and so on…

religious art: painting of God…as something only liberals and tree-huggers can embrace. Religion’s belated adoption of these and other ideas has been a long time coming. Despite these delays, many are pleased to see that some religious groups seem to be increasingly progressive.

Let’s break out the critical thought

The hesitancy of many religious groups to change old beliefs and behaviors to match (or begin to catch up to) humanity’s vastly increased understanding of how the world works is certainly no surprise, but it’s discomfiting to see ignorance being embraced, common sense relegated to irrelevancy, vehemently anti-science attitudes, and other hyper-fundamentalist actions, beliefs, and superstitions[1] which hearken back to the Dark Ages, contribute to the decline of the planet, and actively steer the more gullible, less educated portions of society into closed-mindedness. It seems the absolutely necessary practice of critical thought becomes ‘Satan’ himself when applied to certain beliefs.

We must work together, not splinter off into controversial, obviously divisive factions.

Dominionism: A problematic religio-political stance?

7 mountains of dominionism, dominion theologyDominionism is a worldview among Protestant Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists which sprung from a literalist, legalistic interpretation of the Bible. Dominion theology encourages them to not only be active political participants in civic society (as more of us perhaps ought to be), but also seek to dominate the political process as part of a mandate from God.

Characteristics shared by various forms of dominionism

  • Dominionists celebrate Christian nationalism (and often American exceptionalism), believing that the United States once was, and should once again be, a Christian nation, generally rejecting the Enlightenment roots of American democracy most of us deeply appreciate in a sort of throwback to darker, unenlightened ages when superstition ruled.
  • dominionism, dominion theology

  • Dominionists in general represent the epitome of religious fundamentalism in that they don’t respect the equality of other religions, including the many hundreds of other versions of Christianity. In their view, they and only they are right. We are increasingly seeing such closed-minded attitudes in the Muslim world and elsewhere.
  • Dominionists endorse Biblical law, believing the Bible should represent the foundation of American law; they believe the U.S. Constitution should be a vehicle for implementing Biblical principles.

The only true order is founded on Biblical Law. All law is religious in nature, and every non-Biblical law-order represents an anti-Christian religion.
Rousas Rushdooney

religious art: Adam and Eve"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." (King James Version).

The vast majority of Christians reads this text and concludes that God has appointed man as general stewards and caretakers of the earth. It seems only a very small subset of Christians reads the same passage and believes that Christians alone are Biblically mandated to join and eventually lead the government, secular institutions, etc. until the trumpets sound and Christ returns. Of course, there is absolutely no consensus among the countless flavors of Christianity, factions within Christianity, etc. on when Jesus will return.

Notes

[1] …old-time religion with its myriad superstitions…

Please note that my use of the word superstition is not a blanket reference to all religion; this statement applies to literalist/ legalistic/ fundamentalist and especially fideistic scripture interpretations and worldviews that fly in the face of common sense, logic, long-accepted science, or even basic universal spiritual principles. Examples might be Noah’s ark & the global flood as an actual event, talking animals, literal physical resurrection after death[2], literal creationism (esp. Young Earth creationism (YEC)), and the list could go on.

Branches of science you have to ignore to believe in young Earth creationismRationalWiki

Superstition (noun) defined

  1. a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like
  2. a system or collection of such beliefs
  3. a custom or act based on such a belief
  4. irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, especially in connection with religion
  5. any blindly accepted belief or notion

Source: Definition of superstition – Dictionary.com

[2] …literal physical resurrection after death

(Yes, a note about another note…) I feel I should explain, given the beliefs of so many people close to me. Many of us believe all the examples of physical resurrection in the Bible to be a metaphor for ego death, elimination of ignorance, enlightenment, etc.

Resources: Twisted views of disinformation group Cornwall Alliance

  • Resisting the Green Dragon — Views might be summed up as follows: Environmentalism is one of the greatest global threats… Without a doubt one of the greatest threats to society and the church today is the multifaceted environmentalist movement. Although its reach is often subtle, there isn’t an aspect of life that it doesn’t seek to force into its own mold…
  • Cornwall Alliance – Wikipedia
  • Cornwall Alliance home
  • The oily operators behind the religious climate change disinformation front group, Cornwall Alliance – ThinkProgress — Defenders of the dirty energy status quo, particularly the lobbyists and politicians associated with the oil and coal industry, have repeatedly trotted out a group of evangelical leaders known as the Cornwall Alliance to counter the growing sentiment in the evangelical community that anthropogenic climate change is a threat to God’s creation. Cornwall declares that true Christians believe “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming.” In this repost, Wonk Room exposes the Big Oil funding behind the Cornwall Alliance…
  • Behold the ‘Green Dragon’: Whopper of the Month – Nashville Scene — But a group announced in June 2010 and bearing the catatonic name “Resisting the Green Dragon” is now using The Tennessean to peddle its wares, according to an article that appeared Tuesday. The group, a top-down kind of affair composed of a few heavy-hitters in the evangelical community, is suggesting the creation care movement is a “cult” and that Christians who believe in environmental stewardship are “radical&quot…
  • Dominionism, dominion theology – Wikipedia — In the context of American evangelical efforts to penetrate and transform public life, the distinguishing mark of a dominionist is a commitment to defining and carrying out an approach to building society that is self-consciously defined as exclusively Christian, and dependent specifically on the work of Christians, rather than based on a broader consensus… Source: Barron, Bruce A. (1992). Heaven on earth? The social & political agendas of dominion theology. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan. p.14
  • Dominionism and Dominion Theology: Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party – Theocracy WatchIf Rushdoony and his disciples have their way, democracy will be abolished and a Christian theocracy will be established: A theocracy based on the Bible along the lines of John Cotton’s Massachusetts Bay Colony. Rushdoony wrote, “The only true order is founded on Biblical Law. All law is religious in nature, and every non-Biblical law-order represents an anti-Christian religion.” He also made it clear that he expects that force will be necessary to impose such order, “Every law-order is in a state of war against the enemies of that order, and all law is a form of warfare”…
  • 5 Facts About Dominionism – Huffington PostVery few Christians identify themselves as “Dominionists”… experts say the New Apostolic Reformation has gained traction among charismatic Christians and Pentecostals under the influence of C. Peter Wagner, a church-growth guru and prolific author. Prominent “apostles” in the NAR include Lou Engle, co-founder of TheCall assemblies and Mike Bickle, director of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Mo…

Body of July 10, 2014 mass email from Cornwall Alliance re: Resisting the Green Dragon

July 10, 2014–Haven’t had a chance to see Resisting the Green Dragon yet? Do you have friends or family members who would like to see the series? This is your chance! The entire Resisting the Green Dragon Series will be aired on the NRB Network beginning today, July 10th. Don’t miss out! The Introduction begins tonight at 8:30 p.m. EST.

This lecture series, conducted by some of the top Christian leaders and scholars in America, contains 12 half-hour sessions, along with a special bonus 30-minute documentary. To buy the Resisting the Green Dragon series go to www.resistingthegreendragon.com or call the Cornwall Alliance at 703-569-4653.

Have you ever wondered why so many non-Christian, Left-wing organizations like George Soros’s Open Society Institute, Ted Turner’s United Nations Foundation, the Tides Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Bauman Family Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and more—many of them strong supporters of population control, abortion on demand, and government-run “family planning” programs some of which include forced sterilization and abortion, as well as supporting steps toward global government and the erosion of American liberties—give millions of dollars to evangelical organizations?

A brand new Cornwall Alliance Report entitled, “Evangelical Environmentalism: Bought and Paid for by Liberal Million$$$?” reveals the truth behind the funding of many so called “creation care” organizations, and the worldview behind that funding.

You can obtain this report with a donation of any amount to the Cornwall Alliance during the month of July. Remember to request offer code 1407. You can make a donation online, by phone at 703-569-4653, or by mail to Cornwall Alliance, 9302-C Old Keene Mill Rd., Burke, VA, 22015.

If you are already a designated monthly donor, you will receive this offer automatically.

If you would like to become a monthly donor, go to our secure online giving site or call our office, 703-569-4653. You can use your credit card or arrange for automatic withdrawal from your checking or savings account.

Bible in handIn Christ,
Megan Toombs
Communications & Outreach Coordinator

The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation seeks to magnify the glory of God in creation, the wisdom of His truth in environmental stewardship, the kindness of His mercy in lifting the needy out of poverty, and the wonders of His grace in the gospel of Jesus Christ. A coalition of theologians, pastors, ministry leaders, scientists, economists, policy experts, and committed laymen, the Cornwall Alliance is the world’s leading evangelical voice promoting environmental stewardship and economic development built on Biblical principles. The Cornwall Alliance is a non-profit religious, charitable, and educational organization. All gifts are tax deductible.

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But fundamentalism hides behind several masks, such as political fundamentalism[3] (commonly referred to as partisanship).

[3] Political fundamentalism
Today’s hyperpartisanship has obviously created what may be the most serious political divide ever for this country in recent times. It seems the U.S. has screeched to a grinding halt when in fact much action needs to be taken, the precursor of which is compromise — not closed-mindedness, intellectual dishonesty, and line-toeing.

Attending a conservative men’s Bible group in Nashville

An experience with Nashville Inner City Ministry

downtown Nashville, Tennessee - Batman buildingA couple of weeks ago, I accepted a very kind invitation to serve, at minimum, as a warm body at an unspecified type of gathering at a local Church of Christ-supported thrift store. (It is related to the Nashville Inner City Ministry, as I later learned.)

Had I known in advance that it would be a conservative religious men’s group discussion, I still would have attended the initial meeting just to check it out in the interest of maintaining an open mind. The reasons for taking part in the men’s discussion group (perhaps preferable to excuses for declining such offers) might include…

  • Desire for new experiences, including spiritual experiences
  • To meet new people
  • To serve in a meaningful and welcome capacity, if possible
  • To be challenged; to gain fresh knowledge & insight
  • To open minds & challenge others to apply often-difficult critical thinking
  • To ascertain what the prevailing worldview amongst the men might be
  • To discover if the experience is a fit for one’s own path of self development and seeking
  • To determine whether the conversation is intellectually engaging, spiritually challenging, etc.

book cover image - Siddhartha by Herman HesseAnd of course there could be many other possible reasons one might wish to participate.

Many spiritual-but-not-religious types, skeptics, freethinkers, scientists, those with advanced degrees, Buddhists, agnostics, Taoists, ex-Christian fundamentalists, or any other type of non-Protestant might refuse to attend such a meeting outright. Except in the case of former fundamentalists who may have left the church (and are thus already quite familiar with the given set of religious teachings), the refusal to at least take a chance on new experiences is often due to the closed-minded view known to many as contempt prior to investigation within A.A. and other 12-step recovery circles.

[ Related: Is Alcoholics Anonymous fundamentally a religious program or a spiritual program? A relatively objective, realistic, experienced look at 12-step recovery programsSearch for Truth ]

IMHO, no genuninely thorough seeking or spiritual quest can occur with an attitude of closed mindedness. One of the most common and unfortunate closed-minded viewpoints we see on a regular basis in the more conservative factions of all major world religions is this one:

I already believe in the one and only true religion; everyone else is wrong, lost, or even doomed.

Why Do Most People Have Contempt Prior to Investigation? The Lang Report

Taoist yin-yang symbolizing absence of dualism I have since decided to abstain from regular attendance of this religious meeting for heartfelt personal reasons. (Those reasons are probably obvious to anyone who has read much of the content here on the Search for Truth blog.) Listening to the other men revealed that the group focuses primarily on their shared supernatural religious beliefs as opposed to what we would consider to be a more objective, realistic, or rational quest for solutions and life purpose.

It may have been my error to attempt to make it more an interfaith experience than what it was: a purely religious Christian affair. There is nothing wrong with this for those who choose to hold those beliefs. It helps them feel comaraderie, and I totally get that. It just happens that I no longer believe in the concept of a quot;one true religionquot;, that’s all.

In general (& IMHO, as always), a more-spiritual-than-religious journey perhaps…

    critical thinking, critical thought

  • Demands a genuinely open mind (probably rare in all types of fundamentalism)
  • Suggests a willingness to at least consider the possibility that one’s longtime beliefs could be wrong or too literally interpreted (esp. concerning the fundamentally unknowable supernatural realm)
  • Requires intellectual honesty and heartfelt dedication to real critical thinking
  • Implies a preference for practical, pragmatic, basic universal spiritual teachings (e.g., the Golden Rule, nonviolence/pacifism, a love for all beings, etc.) rather than to divisive supernatural aspects of a given religion

[ Critical thought & religion: Thinking critically about religious belief systems… Are you really willing to devote demanding critical thought to your religious beliefs and political opinions? Those who take on this difficult personal challenge may come to deeply appreciate it. (Search for Truth) ]

Men’s meeting: A positive experience, enjoyable fellowship

drinking coffeeIt should also be stated for the record that the meeting’s environment was generally friendly, loving, and accepting of all present (including yours truly). In addition to consuming most of the available coffee, I enjoyed meeting new people as well as reconnecting with those I already knew. There’s always a sense of togetherness, belonging, and fellowship in situations where people bare their souls in often brutally frank ways. Hearing men describe some of their challanges and successes is always affirming and encouraging, and I feel this is universally true — apart from which religion or spiritual path one chooses to embrace (if any).

In keeping with our core beliefs and values, we believe inner peace, salvation, heaven, enlightenment — or whatever one may call the ultimate spiritual goal of dedicated seekers — is unrelated to which religion — if any — happens to ring true in one’s heart, which religion or path one might choose to practice, etc.

This Nashville Inner City Ministry men’s meeting was a positive affair. I can think of only a couple of comments I thought odd or out of place; these are described below. NOTE: In the event any group participants are reading this — highly doubtful, I’m guessing (!!) — complete anonymity is always assured here at Search for Truth.

  1. Beyond Religion, by the Dalai Lama - coverWe initially took turns introducing ourselves, and I admitted (1) Leaving the church many years ago, (2) Being "spiritual-not-religious", and (3) Deeply respecting HHDL (the Dalai Lama), thanks in large part to his wonderful book and mission Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World[1]. Later in the meeting one participant asked me, "Is the Dalai Lama here in our presence at the meeting?"

    I completely understood his well-meaning attempt to contrast my spiritual-not-religious stance with the far more locally popular and socially acceptable conservative religious belief in a literally interpreted version of Bible God. Evangelicals believe they are doing the right thing to bring others to accept their own worldviews, since others are almost always deemed wrong in their beliefs. Often ascribed many unity, oneness anthropomorphic qualities, the Bible God — possessing the superpower of omnipresence — is widely believed to be in attendance at all meetings, any time, any place, and on any subject. The view of God being some sort of external superbeing has long been rescinded by so many of us who feel the true “Source” (or whatever one prefers to call the unknowable realm) comprises anything and everything, and we are all pieces of it. The ultimate reality is oneness, not separateness: a delusion caused by the human ego, as Einsteein once commented. Others may be more comfortable taking on a more literal interpretation of a separate, external being saddled with the frailties of a human-like ego; it remains a common view of God when one interprets religious texts literally or near literally.

    Though no offense was taken to the comment about the Dalai Lama — a surely rhetorical question as to whether Tenzin was somehow present at the meeting — I thought I’d mention this slight dig as standing out a bit from the rest of the meeting; it’s also an example of the common dismissal by religious fundamentalists of any alternative beliefs. I’ve become quite accustomed to it!

  2. earth from space,  clouds and weatherOne young fellow at the meeting opined that belief in his religion is warranted because "science cannot expain the changing of the seasons". Some of the others merely nodded in implicit agreement, indicating either (A) A serious lack of basic scientific knowledge, or worse, (B) Willful complicity in perpetuating the ignorance of fellow believers in hopes of continued adherence to the given religion. (Had there been no nodding, I’d probably have written off the missing responses as a desire not to embarass our fellow man by correcting him in front of others… certainly a well-mannered approach!) Although the second point above — (B) willful complicy — was a bit of an exaggeration, many of us have experienced overt fideism[1] at local churches such as Brentwood Hills Church of Christ and at Lipscomb University.

Why not be a regular at the men’s meeting?

After quite a bit of careful contemplation, it doesn’t look like alternative views (such as those of spiritual -not-religious people) would be likely to succeed in opening minds, affect any real positive change, or provide any meaningful contribution to a deeply religious gathering such as this one. This is among the reasons I have decided to abstain from regular attendance.

Taoism: statue of Lao TzuMy decision not to be a weekly attendee at the Nashville Inner City Ministry weekly mens’ meeting was not reached lightly or without careful contemplation and thorough consideration of the possibilities. It’s certainly true that I am in need of far more social experiences than I’m currently engaged in; however, as some would agree, associating with like-minded folks and following heartfelt passions & callings can also be very rewarding.

Prioritizing efforts, targeting our message toward those actively seeking it

anticrepuscular rays of the sunI honestly feel my time and effort are better spent writing and promoting religion-independent spiritual material and encouraging interfaith tolerance, cross-cultural acceptance, nonviolence, open mindedness, and other teachings that seek to offer principled alternatives to the status quo of fundamentalism, as if rigid devotion to it were more important or helpful than love for all beings and environmental responsibility. Spreading [what we see as] inherently positive messages via the Search for Truth blog — however unpopular they may be with religious folks in certain parts of the country — increases access to content not found in manta ray swimming in oceanchurch libraries where objective seeking is not likely to occur due to the probable inherent bias of that material.

Thanks to the Internet and excellent search engines like Google and Bing, Search for Truth material has a greater chance of being located and read by open-minded seekers desperately seeking for refreshing, alternate viewpoints. Thanks to the experience of our partners in search engine optimization and web marketing, the relatively high search engine rankings of the articles here at Search for Truth mean that the message really is getting out and making a difference, however small that difference may be. For this we are infinitely grateful.

At least one Search for Truth partner has a small blog — Nashville SEO & Web Content — that describes content-oriented methods of search engine optimization, how to write blog posts that will be found on Google and Bing, etc.

Occasional attendance might be nice

Although I’ve opted not be a regular member or attendee of this Nashville Inner City Ministry men’s group, I would nevertheless like to attend occasionally — not only to gauge where it’s going, but also to help these men, their group, and their support network in any way that I can in such a way that does not require going against beliefs or principles. After all, once certain aspects of conservative religious beliefs are paraphrased into the language preferred by many of us who are spiritual-but-not-religious, we’ll find we have far more in common than not. It’s can be a beautiful thing, for those who will allow it to be.

The only real difference is that we do not claim to know or insist on labeling whatever might exist in the supernatural realm — whatever invisible forces may lurk behind the so-called curtain of reality. (Generally, in our experience, religious folks do claim to know these things and often insist that others follow suit.)

Whatever that realm might contain, it’s probably far beyond what any human has ever imagined or could ever imagine.

NOTES

[1] Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World

The gist of this book — that the proper way forward for all of humanity is to practice basic universal spiritual principles in our treatment of others, including those of other cultures and religions — is an excellent fit with the Search for Truth mission and accurately describes the worldview of most bloggers contributing herein.

Executive summary of Beyond Religion: His Holiness the Dalai Lama (HHDL) describes why religion is not a necessity in the pursuit of a genuinely spiritual life. The author stresses that the right way forward for all of humanity is fostering and enhancing the tolerance and understanding between religions, as well as between believers and non-believers; this applies to people of all faiths, religions, and spiritual paths.

The bottom line is this: most major religions and paths agree on the practical aspects of human living and doing good, or what we often refer to as basic universal spiritual principles. In contrast, it is the wildly differing supernatural stories and culture-specific traditions that make literally interpreted religions so incredibly divisive.

[2] Fideism: A common element of religious fundamentalism, political hyperpartisanship

Fideism was a new word to me when I began a truly serious, long-term investigation into the Christian belief system I was raised to embrace. Fideism is a travesty and an insult to any reasonably intelligent human being because it involves the automatic rejection of anything that disagrees with a given set of religious beliefs or political opinions. For example, the fideistic Christian fundamentalist refuses to consider carbon dating or evolution or dinosaurs simply because their strictly literal interpretation of the Bible does not agree. Likewise, political fideists reject notions like man-made climate change and removing the current $4 billion tax incentives for oil companies simply because these things conflict with what they have stubbornly decided to embrace no matter what.

Another way to describe fideism: complete and utter closed mindedness with a large dose of ignorance and lack of concern for seeking truth.

Resources: Attending a conservative men’s Bible group in Nashville

Removed content: Didn’t really fit here; might be posted elsewhere soon…

Affecting the opinions of the indoctrinated is a far greater (and more frustrating) challenge. In this case, why carry a locally controversial message where it is not genuninely welcome? ocean waves crashing in storm(We are all for carrying difficult messages in some cases, including delivering crucial lessons of environmental responsibility & stewardship, encouraging love for all beings, etc..) Pretending to believe things I don’t is out of the question, and this was part of what led to my leaving the church many years ago — despite the fact that staying the course and pretending to conform (as some church members prefer ocean waves crashing in stormto do, per private conversations) would be far better for me socially, financially, and probably in other ways as well. Rich social activity is a hallmark of many happy lives, but some of us are not willing to abandon heartfelt principles, ignore spiritual truths, or conform at any cost (what some might call "selling our souls") merely to increase social standing, influence others’ opinions, procure jobs, etc. This sometimes feels too much like politics.

Don’t misconstrue these words to imply we believe most church members are faking it or engaging in such a level of hypocrisy; clearly there remain many ‘true believers’ among them. That’s all well and good.

Help eradicate religious fundamentalism & hyper-partisanship for humanity’s sake

One of the most interesting statistics of the Search for Truth blog is the extreme rarity of opinions and comments from Christian fundamentalists and others who would almost certainly take issue with the material found here. The writers and partners find this rather amazing since the Search for Truth is a blog coming to readers from the near-center of the Bible belt (Nashville, Tennessee)… not that location has much, if anything, to do with blog comments.

Look, we are not intentionally dissing anyone here — even though some readers may feel dissed after reading some of our content.

All we want to do is to encourage the adoption of basic universal spiritual principles and to discourage closed-minded, unquestioning belief in all forms of religious fundamentalism, Biblical literalism. Koran literalism, and political hyper-partisanship… and yes, even 12-step/recovery fundamentalism. Closed-mindedness and judgement can decend upon and ultimately darken & corrupt any set of beliefs or views… and this author has experienced critics from most of the aforementioned groups.

In short, beliefs formed by the literal interpretation (or near-literal interpretation) of so-called revealed religions like Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, and so on are deeply in error… and fatally so.

Let’s help the world to heal and to come closer to peace, not the other way around! Let’s adopt fully, wholly, 100% sustainable lifestyles in order to do what little we can to help preserve life on this extremely fragile planet.

If these are not worthwhile goals, then what are?

Is the United States a “Christian nation”?

BibleOf course not; however, a crucual clarification is in order…

CLARIFICATION: To be fair, the answer to this question really depends on one’s perspective: Precisely, what does one mean by the words "Christian nation"? The context of "Christian nation" as discussed herein relates to whether Christianity was ever intended to be an officially preferred or formally adopted religion in the U.S. — not which religion happens to have the most "adherents"[2] in our deeply pluralistic country.

Collective Christianity: Still most popular set of religions in U.S.

Obviously, if one is asking which religion claims the most "adherents" in the United States, then the correct answer must be something to the effect of "a collective representing hundreds of varied, often incompatible group - excited worship and praise sects of Christianity". It should also be noted that the modern Evangelical brand of Christian fundamentalist — often perceived as being hostile toward Muslims, Mormons, agnostics, atheists, followers of "competing" religions, etc. — thankfully does not represent a majority of Christians in the United States. Evangelicals currently comprise about 27% of adults identifying themselves as Christian, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Evangelicals do, however, represent at least half of all Prostestants in the U.S. [Source: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life]

Thomas Jefferson stampsIn the name of honesty, objectivity, and respect for our Founding Fathers, one must carefully examine the motives behind any implication that the United States officially prefers any one religion over another. Such statements are typically biased and uninformed — not to mention an offense to the authors of our great nation: people like Benjamin Frankin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and many others who practiced something far closer to Deism than modern Christian fundamentalism (a system of fideistic superstitions which many Founding Fathers would deem offensive and preposterous, no doubt).

George WashingtonIt is a misnomer of sorts, though quite a common error, to refer to the United States of America as a specifically "Christian nation". To many, such a characterization flies in the face of decency, truth, and reason. Given the dubious history and strongarm tactics of the more vocal conservative, evangelical flavors of Christian fundamentalism, continued references to our country as a Christian one can be rather divisive, offensive, exacerbatory… quite understandable under modern circumstances.

The Constitution does not require that the president take the oath of office by swearing on a Bible. That would have been a very simple requirement for the constitutional drafters to include. To the contrary, the Founders wanted to ensure that Americans of any faith — or no faith — could hold federal office.

They set it forth plainly in Article VI: “… No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Placing a hand on a Bible while reciting the presidential oath is simply a tradition started by George Washington. Indeed, two presidents, Teddy Roosevelt and John Quincy Adams, did not use a Bible at their swearing-in ceremonies.
Source: Presidents should not swear in on a Bible – CNN Opinion

United States is a pluralistic nation valuing freedom of religion

United States ConstitutionThe U.S. is a pluralistic nation whose most rational, intelligent thinkers have always placed an extremely high value on diversity and freedom of religion — certainly not its opposite. However, it is certainly true that the United States of America is a country which historically and presently happens to have more adherents to Christianity than to other religions — certainly more than the rapidly growing number of U.S. residents claiming no religious affiliation).

And the squeakiest wheels (by far) on the rusting, doomed vehicle of irrational fideism are those who still, for whatever reasons, continue to defy reason man worships excitedly at church with a hand in the air in support of literally interpreted brands of Christian fundamentalism. Such worldviews are perhaps analogous to dens of hyper-partisanship wherein political talking points are repeated ad infinitum, long after those points are clearly acknowledged as untrue or shown to be uncivilized and/or unprincipled (e.g., continued denial of climate change, bigotry, discrimination by race or sexual preference, etc.).

vicious cycle, vicious circleThe cause-effect relationship concerning the proliferation of Christianity in the West is deeply rooted in the history of its Western culture and has absolutely nothing to do with any particular relgion being “the right religion” or “true religion” — or even “best religion”.

If the rulers of a country serving as an important precursor to the West go so far as to deny religious freedom and declare Christianity as the official state religion — and when failure to comply is met with torture and death — then chances are the declared state religion, no matter how ridiculous and untrue its tenets, will catch on with the populace.

In other words, no rocket science is required. It isn’t very mysterious or difficult to understand why Christianity happens to be the most widely claimed religion in the West, given its cultural roots.

Our Constitution doesn’t allow adoption of state religion.

United States ConstitutionThanks to our Constitution, the United States is barred from adopting any sort of national religion (or preference to any religion) in the manner of countries like Afghanistan (an Islamic republic), Iran (also an Islamic republic), and Israel (where strongly preferential treatment is given to Jews and their relatives seeking to emigrate). Technically, we aren’t even supposed to require our presidents to conform to any particular religious standard — and, although it presently seems rather far-fetched that any non-Christian could possibly hold the top office, I suppose we don’t really apply this litmus test in a technical or offical capacity. Even so, I predict that in the coming decades (should we survive long enough) we’ll have our first non-Christian president here in the United States.

Founding Father views generally weren’t in line with today’s Christian fundamentalism.

George WashingtonIt is interesting to note that our first few presidents were not taken by the type of Christian fundamentalism that seems to rule the Christian roost these days[1]. The first several office holders were closer to being Deist than Christian fundamentalist by modern standards; however, as always, far more important than one’s officially declared religion are the application and practice of one’s closely held beliefs.

In reality, folks have been vacating divisive denominational Christian churches in droves during the last decade or so in favor of community churches and other less U.S. militarydiscriminating, more tolerant groups. This will continue, and rightfully so. However, it will probably take a great deal longer for a majority to both “see the light” and actually develop the stones necessary to adjust their views to be more in line with something that includes real tolerance and global responsibility (of the sustainable, non-violent variety, that is).

earth from space,  clouds and weatherThe wide availability of knowledge, opinion, debate, apologetics, and related criticism on the Internet has already begun to chip away at divisive, superstitious, "old-tyme" religious belief systems. The widespread nature of related information will soon, we imagine, have a far more serious effect on religious fundamentalism — particularly those systems which continue to violate basic universal spiritual principles most egregiously.

Notes

[1] Most popular brand of Christianity in the United States

Actually, it isn’t that the hard-core, evangelical, in-your-face type of Protestant fundamentalist Christianity is the most popularly held Christian worldview in our great country; it’s just that ultra-conservative, Hard Right adherents happen to be relatively loud and outspoken in comparison to members of more tolerant Christian sects.

[2] …the most "adherents"

The word "adherents" was quoted because many who identify themselves with a particular religion do not actually practice or believe the given set of religious tenets in a literal sense, but were rather born into it.

Resources: Is the United States a “Christian nation”?

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movie still: Creation, 2009 film about Charles Darwin

It is garbage like this [in-your-face Christian fundamentalism] that has turned my sons off to even the possibility of a God, much less Christianity. You idiots are running off people! You don’t speak for God!
(Source: Comment on post: America is a Christian Nation. If We Don’t Like it, We Should Get OutPolitics USA)

Fundamentalism may even be on its way out… albeit very gradually.

Christianity lacks coherent teachings on environment

The dearth of Biblical advice concerning nature & environment is yet another major problem with Christian fundamentalism

northern fence lizard - hiking at Fiery Gizzard - Monteagle, TennesseeAs if intelligent, objective folks needed any more damning evidence concerning Christian fundamentalism…

In 2013, there is no longer any question whatsover that mankind — along with billions of other living beings of all kinds — is inextricably linked to the environmental condition of planet Earth.

All life on earth lives in what is essentially an encapsulated enclosure comparable to an aquarium or a terrarium. If our aquarium is poisoned, dries up, or gets too hot, then life as we know it will evolve the best it can but will probably perish nevertheless. Natural evolution simply cannot keep up with the rapidity of planetary changes we are seeing today — changes that will be made far more evident and, sadly, punishing to most life on earth in the coming years.

What do world religions and spiritual traditions have to say about life on earth? Quite a bit, actually.

But what does literally interpreted Christianity have to say about the sanctity of life on earth (apart from the portion of humanity designated as God’s chosen people, that is)?

Christian fundamentalism: At best, silent on environmental issues

The most positive thing that can be said about Christian teachings on nature and the environment is that these issues are skirted or not addressed at all; however, many fundamentalist Christians continue to argue that Bible God has given man what amounts to a blank check – total “dominion”, as they call it – when it comes to animals, nature, and/or the environment as a whole.

Certain groups on the Hard Right, including many conservative evangelical Christians, continue to embrace climate change denialism. For instance, the Cornwall Alliance is a religious organization taking a carefully masked, generally opposing view on environmental issues in relation to the more encouraging Evangelical Climate Initiative. The National Association of Evangelicals has stated that "global warming is not a consensus issue", and is internally divided on the Christian response to climate change.

What a travesty. Failing to recognize the crucial role of our environment does not seem an oversight worthy of a supposedly omnicient being like Bible God. A wise and caring deity, should one exist, would probably demand consideration of all life on earth as a going concern. If so, then man would be expected to place a high priority on sustainability in the interest of all life.

[ Apparently, some diehard fundies actually hope to usher in so-called "End Times" sooner rather than later, making the environment a totally moot issue according to their supertitious worldview. Could any view be more lame or preposterous!? ]

Apart from the Biblical value of animals as murdered sacrifices, Christianity has virtually nothing to say, advise, or recommend when it comes to the 100% essential nature and environment. Even more ominously, those who interpret the Bible literally (or near literally) have no choice but to believe that their Bible God deeply enjoys the smell of burning flesh.

Is that sick, or what? Sadly, it isn’t surprising for those who have gathered the courage and taken the time to subject these ancient beliefs to honest critical thought.

(There’s much more to come on this post… decided to publish it early. Thanks for reading!)

A few more serious problems with literal Bible interpretation

(Updated Sun 20 Jan 2013)
Please see the list below for a few more unfortunate examples which serve to reveal the complete inadequacy of literal (or near-literal) Bible interpretation.

Introduction: Problems with literal interpretation(s) of the Bible

open BibleWe’re well aware of the myriad apologetic defenses and fundamentalist objections to the kinds of examples listed below. Having read more than our fair share of Josh McDowell‘s material and other fundamentalist Christian apologetic works, it remains a mystery why such fallacy-ridden, hindsight-enabled excuses for Biblical errancy, literal interpretion of ancient poetry & literary devices, etc. continue to be swallowed hook, line, and sinker by gullible types, religious fundamentalists never really Sean McDowell, fundamentalist Christian apologeticsexposed to anything else, wishful thinkers, the indoctrinated-from-youth, the brainwashed, conformists who fear independent ‘controversial’ thought for a variety of reasons, etc.

Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of adopting such fanciful beliefs — many of which border on (or perhaps represent or even define) the superstitious — is that such wholesale acceptance of supernatural deity stories almost always occurs virtually without question… without a naturally wise level of skepticism and without any responsible application of honest, serious, objective critical thought to those beliefs. Such quickness to believe supernatural tales lacks the type of rational analysis rarely if ever seen on biased sites such as Conservapedia.

We hope our readers, if they haven’t already, will resolve to apply honest critical thought prior to taking on any potentially influential, portentous religious beliefs or political opinions; we can assure you it is well worth the time to remain informed, maintain a modicum of rationality and intelligence, and keep ignorance at bay.

With that, here are:

A few more serious problems with literal Bible interpretation

    Imagine a world without religion: WTC twin towers, NYC
  1. Viewed objectively from outside church walls, the entire Biblical system fails to make a lick of sense when it is mistakenly interpreted literally, or near literally, as a cohesive set of divine revelations. Anyone who has ever read the Bible objectively can plainly see it is nothing even resembling a cohesive set of divine revelations — certainly not from any omnicient, omnipresent, or even wise deity, anyway.

    If these ‘controversial’ words sound like sacrilege or blasphemy to you, that’s OK… this type of "doubt talk" made me quite uncomfortable at one time, too. religious art: Creation painting Thankfully, the indoctrinated, fear-based, closed-minded phase of my religious thinking began to wane after I earnestly, honestly, and seriously began to apply critical thought to all aspects of the fragile belief system. I urge all readers who are still believers in Biblical literalism (aka ‘biblicism’) to undertake such a study. You will be rewarded… but you may be end up being far less popular… especially if you live in the Bible belt and are truly honest about your ‘radical’ new perspective on religion. :)

    The only perspective from which the system of literally interpreted Christianity makes any sense at all is from the biased & indoctrinated inside: religious art: Adam and Eve in the garden of edenthat place of blind, unquestioning devotion & strong desire to believe a certain thing. Incidentally, any other known religion or superstitious tradition, no matter how intellectually deficient, also "makes sense" from such a rationally deficient perspective.

    One might start from the fact that Christian fundamentalism (that is, Christian Biblical literalism as opposed to rational Jeffersonian Christianity) is a religious system rooted in the act of eating the wrong fruit. How odd.

  2. All things originiated from and are ruled by a supposedly loving entity who/which also happens to be perfectly willing to play Nazi death camp with the souls of sun above cloudsall those who fail to feed its (the deity’s) ego in a precisely prescribed manner. According to literal interpretations (and what we at Lipscomb were taught in the 70s and 80s), the Bible even indicates that more souls will be punished than saved. What kind of love is this, again?

    Even the multitude of Christian denominations and branches of Christianity themselves cannot agree upon the "required" details of faith, belief, religious practice, et al; according to the World Christian Encyclopedia in 2000 [ apologetic explanation ], Christianity worldwide had at least documented 33,820 denominations, 3,445,000 separate congregations or churches, totaling almost two billion affiliated Christians. (How much more confident could one possibly be even after the Christian apologists whittle the number of Christian sects down to ‘only’ several thousand, or even a few hundred? Not much.)

  3. Literal/near-literal interpretations "reveal" a universe created only six or eight thousand years ago by an omnipotent (all-powerful) entity. This deity lost control of its creation so quickly and so terribly so to have effectively created another virtually omniscient power (known to Christian fundamentalists as Satan) after only a little while in the Garden of Eden. What kind of omniscience/omnipotence is this, exactly?

    Southern ringneck snake at Percy Warner in NashvilleThe aforementioned presupposes that one has accepted talking-snake-as-Satan religious dogma; Genesis doesn’t actually say what the serpent represented. One must ask: If the real culprit were Satan — that is, if the serpent really were "The Devil" disguised as a snake — then why would a supposedly loving and just Bible God decide to forever punish all snakes for this misdeed (by forcing them to crawl on their bellies)?

  4. sketch of Hot Stuff, drawn by Frasier on March 9, 2012 for post about Rick Santorum

  5. The evil entity known as the Devil is supposed to be responsible for the temptation of all of makind (humanity in its entirety), so it/he must therefore possess the ability to be everywhere at once (i.e., omnipresence) — a superpower many believers assume possessed only by that literally interpreted (read: imaginary) Bible God.

    The story of Satan’s fall indicates that other individual angels and their cohorts can also change their views and leave (or be cast out of) the fold . The “fact” that Satan (along with his dedicated crew of demons?) fell away from Bible God and quickly became such a powerful, feared, godlike being should concern those who, for whatever reasons, choose to interpret supernatural Bible passages as literal historical truth or fact — fantastical material far more likely to have been written as poetry, fictional literature, or ancient teaching stories for primitive cultures.

    Simpsons: Flanders as the devilBriefly considered, the story of Satan’s fall from grace indicates that countless other angels could likewise have “fallen” or split off to form their own groups, now holding various religious views or attitudes toward the “Bible God”. Since so many centuries have passed since the books of the Bible were written, there’s really no telling how many powerful, godlike entities have since split away and are floating around out there now, trying to influence humanity — just as Satan might (if it/he and his crew of demons actually existed, that is)…

  6. some Christian fundamentalists believe Satan dominates U.S. schools

  7. If this evil “god” known as Satan were really so crafty and clever, then wouldn’t it/he eventually wise up and opt to repent? (Let me guess: This scenario is not possible because Satan committed the one “unforgivable sin”…) After all, the Evil One is surely familiar with the modern Christian version(s) of the Bible, and therefore must already know that it/he is ultimately “prophesied” to lose the ultimate conflict between “good” and “evil”.

    The repentance of Satan sure would save a lot of pain and suffering. Satan’s repentance would apparently fix the entire, unintelligible mess instantlyNo hell would even be necessary, as there would be no one to administer Hades, the underworld, or whatever they’re calling that fictional “place” of eternal torture these days.

  8. religious art: Creation painting

  9. The “loving” Bible God — who/which, by the way, is apparently “pleased by the smell of burning flesh” — was also a genocidal, despotic, repeat-offending baby-killer, having commanded Old Testament troops on multiple occasions to kill all women and children and take their possessions as spoils of war.

    (With friends like a literally interpreted Bible God, who needs enemies? And speaking of enemies, how does the divine command to Love your enemies fit in, exactly — and why should we make the effort to love our enemies if the Bible God (an amalgam which also includes Jesus and the Holy Spirit) doesn’t even do so himself/themselves?)

  10. The story of Saul and the Amalekites is a case in point. It’s not a pretty story, and it is often used by people who don’t intend to do pretty things. In the book of 1 Samuel (15:3), God said to Saul:

    “Now go, attack the Amalekites, and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”
    (Source: How Christian fundamentalists plan to teach genocide to schoolchildren – Guardian)

  11. Wasn’t one of the ten commandments Thou shalt not kill? How does this jibe with a warring Bible God, exactly? Is Bible God — which includes in its inexplicable Trinitarian mashup the entity known as Jesus — supposed to be any sort of role model at all?

    (The root causes of all the warmongering, weapon-toting, discriminatory attitudes and actions of the Far Right/Hard Right/Tea Party/Religious Right are beginning to come to light, after all… They are apparently using a literally interpreted Bible God as a genuine role model. Talk about frightening and portentous…)

  12. Why would an all-powerful entity be guilty of such chronic absenteeism, perpetual invisibility, & ultimate unknowability? Why would an omnicient, omnipresent, loving deity so utterly lack the ability to demonstrate itself powerfully enough to build any consensus whatsoever… even among all the disparate “Christian” sects, many of which insist that they alone follow the “uniquely correct version” (i.e., interpretation) of Christianity?
  13. Believers in Jesus will perform miracles “even greater” than his own. When and where does this occur? (…And ditto the related promises: (1) To grant “whatever is asked” in his name, implicitly without exception; (2) For the kingdom of God/heaven to arrive before another generation comes to pass…
  14. Mark 16:17-18 describes "and these signs will follow those who believe in my name they will cast out demons they will speak in other tongues and… will heal the sick." ( Note: these particular verses are not found in the majority of the manuscripts. Lets grant that it probably is.)

    (Source: Purpose of signs and wonders – Let Us Reason)

    8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

    (Source: Bible, New Testament, John 14:8-14)

  15. With the proper type of faith, the Bible says we can “move mountains.” Apparently no one has ever possessed such faith; after all, no faithful Christian fundamentalist can move so much as a mole or freckle on one’s arm.

    The only mountain-moving this blogger has seen consists of massive construction projects, and worse, the horrific mountaintop removal mining (aka mountaintop mining, MTR, MTM) — all accomplished with explosives and massive machinery & equipment built by modern man.

  16. The Bible (per literal/near-literal interpretations, as we continue to stress here) expresses rampant discrimination as implicitly and explicitly acceptable in forms that include slavery, the subservience of women & their total domination by men, and so on.

    (Where’s the love? How is the Golden Rule applicable in such discriminatory acts, exactly? "I own you and I totally dominate you… therefore, I must want you to do the same to me, since I am treating you, woman/slave, just as I want to be treated…" Right!)

  17. Why would an all-powerful deity possess — and thus be so crippled by — a frail, self-serving human-like ego? Undoubtedly, the “fact” that a literally interpreted Bible God craves worship so badly, fears mankind, expresses hatred and jealously, often behaves like a spoiled child, doesn’t practice what it/he preaches, etc. clearly demonstrate that the deity is, like humans, ruled by its fundamentally egotistical nature… demonstrating once again that the collection of disparate books known collectively as the Bible were all written by man and were neither written or inspired by any worthwhile deity — at least, no more or less than any other written work in history.
  18. On that note, why would an all-powerful deity be saddled with ANY anthropomorphic (i.e., human-like) qualities whatsoever? (It wouldn’t.) The Bible God — literally interpreted, that is, which we are stressing is the wrong way to read and interpret religious texts — is really nothing more than a humanoid with superpowers.
  19. Even if ancient religious poetry were meant to be interpreted literally (it certainly wasn’t), we humans have clearly demonstrated time and time again a complete inability to apply religious teachings in a positive, uniform manner — that is, without perverting the basic teachings as modern Christian fundamentalists have done so completely.

    Christians slaughtered & mistreated New World natives in the name of God and then proceeded to steal all their assets… firstly, when Columbus & his Christian Spainiards landed in the Caribbean — and secondly, subsequent to the Mayflower‘s dockage on the East coast. Later came witch burning, slavery, racism, and many other forms of discrimination, usually based on excuses rooted in religious fundamentalism and the ludicrous idea that white might makes right. Even today, all manner of religious fundamentalists (e.g., Christians, Muslims, Jews) continue to commit atrocity after atrocity — usually against those practicing “incompatible religions” in the name of their so-called God(s):

    Modern atrocities
    Look, it doesn’t take a genius or a human rights group to point out the most flagrant atrocities being committed in the name of Bible God, Christianity, etc. A handful:

    • Iraq war: Fraudulently based on Iraq’s WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction), which they did not have (U.S./NATO)
    • Civilian “collateral damage” in Afghanistan (U.S./NATO)
    • Myriad covert operations harming civilians (U.S.)
    • Guantanamo Bay, related extrajudicial detention facilities (U.S.)


    Ancient atrocities
    As soon as Christianity was made legal (circa 315 C.E.), increasing numbers of pagan temples were attacked and destroyed by Christian mobs; pagan (i.e., non-Christian) priests and followers were killed. Between 315 and the 6th century C.E., thousands of pagan believers were slain. Destroyed “pagan” temples included the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis, and so on.

    (There isn’t room here for a comprehensive list of atrocities perpetrated by Christians in the name of their Bible God throughout recorded history.)

    If these actions represent “religion”, then what is “evil”, exactly?

    Another recent example of atrocious behavior: The worst U.S. president in recent memory was a Christian fundamentalist who lied his way into wars, divided the world, made the U.S. the most hated country on earth, and so on. (What is loving and spiritual about this type of leadership, we’d like to ask?)

  20. In the beginning, Bible God is supposed to have created “two great lights”; obviously, this is pure, poetic fantasy. Today we know for certain that the sun is a more or less average star — only one of countless hundreds of billions of massive lights lumped into galaxies across our universe. The second “great light” — the moon — isn’t even a light at all but merely a reflector of light.

    Assuming divine inspiration were real and trustworthy, shouldn’t the Biblical inspirees/writer(s) have known such basic facts?

This small list of serious problems resulting from the literal (or near-literal) interpretation of the Bible could go on ad infinitum. As a quick Googling will reveal, there are already plenty of comprehensive lists on the web that delineate such Biblical inconsistencies & errors and speak to the unfortunate consequences and outright silliness of literal Bible interpretation.

A brief reminder: Mission of Search for Truth

As per the mission of the Search for Truth blog, we do not wish to ridicule or offend any particular believers; we hold no grudges and we support complete religious freedom. However, we do wish to clearly demonstrate the massive failure and utter errancy of religious fundamentalism and political hyper-partisanship as rigidly held, ignorantly practiced, ultimately divisive, destructive, alienating, outmoded worldviews.

Would any Christian or other religious fundamentalists care or dare to contrast the modern behavior of their given fundamentalist group(s) with basic universal spiritual principles of the sort taught repeatedly throughout history by Jesus, Lao-Tsu, the Buddha, and so on?

Probably not; however, we do hope eyes will be opened to the great chasm between modern Christian fundamentalist superstition and pragmatic, real-world universal spiritual principles, spiritually principled behavior, actual application of the “Golden Rule” — even to “enemies” (i.e., groups with whom a given group fundamentally disagrees), et al.

Religious fundamentalism cannot possibly cure what ails mankind; only the adoption and practice of basic universal spiritual principles — practiced in a secular, non-religious, non-culture-specific manner — can even begin to heal man and start to restore the precious planet on which we all reside and to which all of mankind is inextricably connected… a planet that is now RAPIDLY losing the ability to sustain life as we know it due to man’s continued irresponsible actions in the name of comfort, progress, religion, et al.

For ALL our sakes, humanity must soon awaken or suffer dire consequences.

On taking money from the ignorant

Imagine yourself healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, or casting out demons! Jesus Christ said that you can do these things and more. Based on what? — on faith, on believing in Him. If you can believe, you too can do the mighty works that Jesus did. He Himself has promised you this!

(Source: You Too Can Do Jesus’ Mighty Works, by Jim Feeney)

On an incoherent wish of the Tea Party: We need a Christian President!

…it just so happens that every single President of the United States has been Christian – even the presidents that the Tea Party protesters don’t approve of. Clearly, the Tea Party protesters are unhappy with the condition of the nation, a condition that has been brought about by uniformly Christian presidents. If the Tea Party protesters were capable of clear, logical thought, they would understand that electing a Christian president will not in itself get them what they want.

(Source: Christian Fundamentalists Steeped In Tea Party Movement: Bitter Religious Intolerance At The Heart Of The Tea Party Protests – Irregular Times)

On the United States as a decidedly “Christian nation”

Of course, the United States is not a Christian nation. It’s a nation that happens to have many Christians in it. The nation itself, however is a non-Christian entity, as its representative government is forbidden from acting to establish any religion. Christianity is never mentioned in the Constitution. Neither is any specifically Christian belief. Besides that, the culture of the United States of America has always been diverse, with people of many religious backgrounds, including non-Christian religions and traditions of rejection of religion as a whole as well.

The language of the Constitution is profoundly against many biblical principles, despite what Tea Party enthusiasts claim. The rights to free speech and free [expression], for example, contradict the command against making graven images. Freedom of religion contradicts the command that people worship no-one but the Jewish-Christian deity God.

(Source: Christian Fundamentalists Steeped In Tea Party Movement: Bitter Religious Intolerance At The Heart Of The Tea Party Protests – Irregular Times)

Please keep checking in on us; there’s much more on all these things to come here at Search for Truth. (As always, thanks for reading!)

Resources: Serious problems with literal Bible interpretation

Resources: Contradictions, errors and inconsistencies in the Bible

Resources: Christian apologist answers to errors in the Bible

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Oh yeah… the Old Testament god(s) and New Testament god(s) actually represent separate fictional deities/entities. (History of God)

– supposedly floating around worshipping God 24/7 –
, precisely as Satan was supposed to have done according to Christianity

God, save us from organized religion

NOTE: This quickly written, headstrong post was substantially updated and broadened Dec 16-17, 2012

sheep Odds are this post will be ignored by those who perhaps need the message most urgently: The “chosen ones” who claim their own set of supernatural religious beliefs is superior to other similar systems — or that there is such a thing as one true religion.

We’ve nothing at all against religious folks, of course… just some qualms, shall we say, about the fallacious interpretation of ancient texts, the supernatural aspects of their belief systems, the global devastation and warmongering continually wrought in the name of their so-called deities, and so many related matters which serve to so effectively divide rather than unite mankind.

If you, dear reader, still cling to religious fundamentalism & continue to believe that your own religious views are in reality the only correct, right, or true religious beliefs to hold — and if you hold to that worldview regardless of what anyone else says or does in their attempts to demonstrate otherwise — then we say, welcome to the psychological, ego-based trap of extreme closed-mindedness that only religious fundamentalism and its hideous sister fideism[1] can offer.

We only hope you don’t stay there too long.

Some readers may now be thinking:

I KNOW my religion is right; the special feelings I get — which can only be divine communication — when I meditate, pray, or worship God at church PROVE this. God speaks to me personally… and this proves beyond a doubt that my own personal faith is correct and that my organized religion of choice is invested in something real — not some type of superstition as you crudely suggest in your evil Search for Truth blog.

Such objections are quite common and only serve to demonstrate the probable religious isolation of those holding such views. We will risk making a couple of educated guesses about readers who agree with the argument above as representing evidence that the technical details of their religious beliefs are actually correct:

  1. You have never really known any other worldview nor have you seriously practiced other spiritual traditions apart from your current religion. There is probably an element of fear here (e.g., I am afraid God will send me hell for questioning the Bible) as well as a liberal dose of contempt prior to investigation. You decided on an “answer” before applying any objective and challenging critical thought to the tough questions[2] that will always plague your religious belief system. That is, you believed you already had all the necessary answers… thus negating any & all need to continue learning challenging material.
  2. You do not have (m)any close friends of opposing or incompatible religious faiths (e.g., Christian vs. Muslim, Taoist, Buddhist, Jew, etc.) with whom you discuss religious and/or spiritual matters in a serious, respectful, or substantial manner. Doing so would certainly go a long way in helping to open the mind… guaranteed.

In fact, the very same kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings are experienced by most people who hold sufficient intent & regularly practice connecting spiritually with God, the Tao, the Self, Allah, one’s ancestors, the universe, Universal Intelligence, a/the “god” of one’s own understanding, or whatever else one might prefer to call that unknown, unknowable mystery that resides behind the curtain of reality.

Such divine communication often occurs during contemplative practice and group worship for those of any and all faiths, not just yours. And since a given set of religious teachings is so often highly incompatible with the other ones, they cannot ALL be right, can they?

Well, yes and no… for the most part, all major religious and spiritual traditions agree on the true parts of their teachings; this universal truth is represented by the practical aspects of spiritual living (e.g., love your neighbor, practice the Golden Rule, practice unity and not division, avoid attachments, do not be given to material things like money and savings, et al). On the other end of the spectrum lurk the division and discrimination created when poetic or fictional sections of a given religious text are mistakenly interpreted in a literal (or near-literal) manner… including the poetic supernatural stories (e.g., talking animals, a human created from a rib, a despotic, genocidal, egotistical judge of a God, virgin birth, global flood, Noah’s ark, the Tower of Babel causing God to be afraid of mankind, people rising from the dead, virgins awaiting the martyr for sex in heaven, and this goes on ad infinitum…).

The “religious ecstasy” we feel as the result of certain religious or spiritual practices is certainly more of a physio-psychological phenomenon than a religious one, but this is a fairly moot point due to the strength such divine experiences often have on us personally.

Other readers may posit the following in support of their organized religion(s):

No matter what your godless blog might say, I happen to KNOW that both my CHURCH and my ORGANIZED RELIGION serve to make the world a better place. We love everyone and we contribute substantial portions of funding and manpower to charity and other worthwhile causes — and this would not happen if we, as you so callously suggest, “dumped church.”

This type of argument can come only from those who’ve never really bothered with deep, honest, loving, reasonably objective contemplation. After all, the Taliban, organized crime, the Islamic Brotherhood, and countless other “Christian-incompatible” institutions also contribute substantial portions of funding and manpower to charity and other worthwhile causes. Does this mean you accept their views and actions as being as moral, right, or true as your own? Does this mean the net effect of their actions makes the world a better place? Of course not; the whole benevolence objection is simply more logical fallacy heaped on all the other logical fallacies employed every single day in the wholly indefensible apologetic defense of religious fundamentalism.

The folly of fideistic fundamentalism is quite simple to see — unless, of course, you happen to be trapped inside of it.

Until one is willing and able to see, contemplate, and understand the disastrous global effects of divisive supernatural/superstitious religious belief systems, the status quo will indefinitely rule mankind and nothing will really changeregardless of whatever level of esteem in which one holds organized religion.

And the status quo is simply unacceptable to those who are willing and able to see the bigger picture of the human condition — those who actually care about the well-being of planet Earth, which happens to be our only home (for now, at least)! We are not separate from each other and we are not separate from our environment. As Wayne Dyer once put it, we are environ-organisms.

Wake up! Do something different…(open lyrics; separate tab/window)

Shake things up. Rock the boat. Ask the hard questions — and actually seek the answers. Was your Jesus, your Buddha, your Mohammad a materialistic, conformist, corporate tool?

Hell, no.

Awaken to reality; clear your eyes so you can see the dire need for global healing — something divisive religious views and supernatural superstitions never have and never will accomplish. After 2,000 years of abject failure, fantasy, division, and war, exactly how much more time should we give your religion to even BEGIN to cure what ails our planet?

We say, no more resting on the laurels of fantasy and superstition; it is time to grow out of childish geocentric belief systems and get real… pragmatic… practical… useful.

Only with the adoption of basic universal spiritual principles and encouragement of their widespread practice on a unifying secular level — that is, with an emphasis upon the practical as opposed to the supernatural — can the planet begin real healing.

Superficial, nonexistent, fairy-story Wonderland (XTC, Mummer)

[ XTC’s Wonderland (lyrics) ] In any case, we genuinely hope the material found here on the Search for Truth blog (and other spiritually friendly resources) helps to encourage even only a handful of fundamentalists and fideists to eventually become willing to apply serious, honest, objective critical thought to their beliefs. Presently, many religious adherents will read only those books supportive of current viewpoints & continue to be afraid of any potentially challenging literature that might demonstrate the wisdom of some "opposing" ideas.

It is absolutely key to remain pliable like clay, to remain teachable like children… a principle which was and continues to be taught by many great spiritual teachers from the Buddha and Lao-Tsu, 500 years later by Jesus, and even today by the greats like Wayne Dyer, Miguel Ruiz, and so many others.

What will religious people tell their kids, their grandkids?

[ This World Over (XTC) lyrics ]

Will you tell them about that far off and mythical land
And how a child to the virgin came?
Will you tell them that the reason why we murdered
Everything upon the surface of the world
So we can stand right up and say we did it in his name?

That’s this world over
Or so it seems
That’s this world over
The end of dreams

That’s this world over, over, over and out.

(Source: Lyrics to XTC’s This World Over from SongMeanings)

Christianity & other monotheistic religions

All organized monotheistic religions with which we are familiar preach and/or practice an exclusivist doctrine, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any organized monotheistic religions which preach and practice oneness, unity, and tolerance in the vein of something like, say, Taoism or Buddhism.

It’s just that we don’t know of any such monotheistic religions.

It’s certainly not that religion as a whole is necessarily wrong; indeed, the only wrong religions are those which:

  • View their own religious group as being superior to other religious groups
  • View their own beliefs as superior to alternative beliefs
  • Push their own particular beliefs upon other groups, especially upon the disadvantaged, needy, gullible, uneducated, etc.
  • Continue their ambivalence toward nature in general, including tacit acceptance or failure to address problems like harm to living beings, damage to the environment, etc.
  • Continue to promote the unfortunate status quo
  • Oppress others, infringe upon the rights of others
  • Attempt to inject their supernatural religious views into our national politics, public schools, etc.
  • Practice or promote lifestyles that are not fully sustainable and environmentally responsible (much more on this one later; if interested in the environmental & sustainability aspects of right living, please see Greenism)

Religious exclusivity — the horrifyingly ignorant idea that "only our religion is right", a longtime fundamentalist standard — is rooted in the human ego, which can, in a sense, be seen as the source of all "evil" (such that evil is).

The basis of virtually all global problems is spiritual.

religionSome of the best evidence that certain organized religions are wrong (e.g., do not yet teach the whole truth) is the fact that their specific religious beliefs continually change and evolve towards more tolerance and acceptance and usually less literal interpretations of their “revealed” scripture.

For instance, take the religion of my own upbringing: Church of Christ-flavored Christian fundamentalism, as taught at Lipscomb University and so many local (Nashville, TN) congregations.

I was recently treated to lunch by a dear younger cousin of mine (who has thankfully switched his career goals from ministry to computer science.) During our lunch, I lamented the conservative religious views promoted by Lipscomb University (way) back the 70s and 80s — the years I personally attended David Lipscomb Elementary, David Lipscomb Middle, and David Lipscomb High Schools. At this point, my cousin enthusiastically pointed out that things have really changed, and continue to change — progressive change towards less literalism and more tolerance — at Lipscomb… that Lipscomb’s present ideology is not nearly as conservative or as religiously, rigidly “fundamentalist” as David Lipscomb school doctrine used to be.

Amanda Peet, incredibly beautifulWell, that’s certainly a step in the right direction, and given the ardent resistance to change in those closed-minded circles of superstition and supernatural belief, I admire it and strongly support it; however, truth doesn’t change.

If any reader requires additional evidence to demonstrate the continued error of organized religious belief systems and teachings, let us broach the subject of discrimination.

In centuries past, discrimination was practiced against the fairer sex. (Women — or bitches, more accurately, given those pathetic, prevailing religious views — do what your man tells you do to… and for Chrissakes, be silent in the church!)

Michele Bachmann: Proof the Hard Right is largely devoid of intelligenceAfter discrimination against women was finally and properly seen as completely ignorant bunk — that they were not merely the subservient objects or bitches as they are framed in the Bible and other ancient poetry, but rather fully empowered women — discrimination moved to target minorities. Think slavery — which, BTW, is discussed as an implicitly acceptable activity in the Bible. Of course, discrimination against minorities continues in some circles, even in these supposedly enlightened times — and even though whites will soon no longer represent a majority. Think Hard Right conservative politics; think Obama-haters. Sadly, discrimination has not ended with race.

Are you a fundamentalist? Take the short quiz

Even now, the publicly trumpeted, en vogue discrimination — especially in places like the Bible belt and other preferred Hard Right stomping grounds — targets gays… despite the fact that anyone who’s ever had a couple of honest gay friends knows, they did not necessarily choose that lifestyle as so many old-school religious fundamentalists want you to believe.

Hard Right religious protest signs of hateEach new century tends to reveal at least some of ignorance from the previous century. In the next century, discrimination against gays will be seen as ignorant by Christianity at large… I guarantee it (although I have no vested interest in this, should the reader be wondering)! :)

Lipscomb schools and virtually every other religious organization will continue to change and evolve until they finally meet the truth of basic universal spiritual principles… which at some admittedly ideal point would be devoid of any and all supernatural fantasies and superstitions. Sadly, I expect mankind will probably destroy itself before many religious folks finally overcome the ego and come around to truth.

Hatred, fear, and discrimination coming from the Hard Right/Religious Right - caused by Satan??Religions in current forms are for the most part a sham. Religions as commonly viewed and practiced actually comprise a large portion of the so-called “evil” that continues to plague mankind (as opposed to the yester-century belief in any actual evil entities, such as Satan).

You won’t hear of such “evils” as war being perpetrated by those who hold basic, universal spiritual principles in the same esteem that religious groups continue to mistakenly hold supernatural entities and stories.

Tithing was created by church power to sustain itself – church power – indefinitely. With only a dash of objectivity, anyone can see this, as there seems to be no other reasonable scenario.

Try to understand…
Sowing the seeds of peace is a must, and this doesn’t really coincide with spreading religious beliefs; they’ve have had around 2,000 years to work. Yet modern religious war is as prevalent & common as it ever has been, with even more incidents of war and killing on the basis of religious fundamentalism likely to occur in the near future (as usual).

If you really think about it, firm religious beliefs are so incredibly odd! How could any person or group claim not only to know something that’s fundamentally unknowable, but to ridicule and rail against those who beg to differ – that is, those with only slightly differing claims of the unknowable? It really is bizarre. But it’s far, far more unfortunate, portentious, and sad for mankind than it is bizarre.

BELIEVE, interesting live performance by electronica group Gus Gus

I bought myself a liarbird
He came with free drinks just to blur
The lies falling out like rain

On an average English summer’s afternoon

Methinks world is for you
Made of what you believe
If it’s false or if it’s true
You can read it in your bible
Or on the back of this record sleeve

I bought myself a liarbird
Things got more and more absurd
It changed to a cuckoo
And expanded filling up with all I gave

I bought myself a big mistake
He grew too greedy, bough will break
And then we will find that liarbirds
Are really flightless on their own

I gave away a liarbird
A couple less drinks and now I’ve heard
The truth shining out like sun
On an average English winter’s afternoon…

(Source: Lyrics to XTC’s I Bought Myself a Liarbird from SongMeanings)

(Please help spread this message… not by giving money, unless you’d like to support this blog, but FAR more importantly, by being objective and honest in your dealings with others… by passing along the link to this Search for Truth blog to anyone you think would be willing to read it…)

Notes

[1] Fideism

Fideism can be described metaphorically as the hardening of one’s beliefs from the pliability of clay — the condition of “remaining teachable” — into immovable positions, like fire-hardened, easily breakable pottery; to be sure, fideism is a very tough nut to crack.

Fideism is essentially the worldview that generally recognized truth-telling or reality-indicating tools such as science, reason, logic, experience, philosophy, etc. are enemies of genuine religious faith. Fideism is often the undesirable, negative, closed-minded position which can result from longtime exposure to fundamentalist, “only WE are right” teachings and attitudes.

Therefore, fideism serves as a strongly divisive global force; it should be avoided at all costs. Fideism perhaps represents the worst feature of those things that serve to divide mankind: religious fundamentalism and political hyper-partisanship.

See also Religious fundamentalism, fideism, and critical thought (Search for Truth)

Ultimately, whatever works for you is what you will probably stick with… but please refrain from framing supernatural beliefs as facts to children, the uneducated, the ignorant and gullible, etc. Religious beliefs are just that: beliefs… not facts. Let’s be honest about this.

[2] Tough questions that will always plague your religious belief system

NOTE: The following list — More serious problems with literal Bible interpretation — has been expanded and converted into its own post which can be found here. (25 Dec 2012, samana)

Off the top of my head, here are a few paradoxical, unanswerable examples demonstrative of the pervasive unbelievabililty of literal Bible interpretation.

  1. A “loving” entity which is perfectly willing to play Nazi with the souls of all who fail to feed its ego in some prescribed manner (FAIL)
  2. An omnicient (all-powerful) entity which lost control of its creation so quickly and badly so to have effectively created another virtually omniscient power (known to fundamentalists as Satan) after just a little while in the Garden of Eden (that is, if one believes the talking snake was actually Satan; Genesis doesn’t say)(FAIL)
  3. If supposedly omnipresent (everywhere at once) Satan is so crafty and clever, then perhaps he would eventually wise up and opt to repent… right? This would be wonderful, right, as it would fix everything instantly?!
  4. A “loving” God who also happens to be a genocidal despot and baby-killer (FAIL)
  5. An all-powerful entity guilty of chronic absenteeism, perpetual invisibility, and total inability to demonstrate itself powerfully enough to build any consensus whatsoever… even among those calling themselves Christians (FAIL)
  6. Believers in Jesus will perform miracles “even greater” than his own (FAIL)
  7. With the proper type of faith, we can “move mountains” (FAIL)
  8. Bible expresses rampant discrimination as implicitly and explicitly acceptable: Slavery, subservience of women, et al (FAIL)
  9. As if an all-powerful deity would even possess — and thus be crippled by — a human-like ego, causing the entity to crave worship (or ELSE!), or have ANY anthropomorphic qualities whatsoever (FAIL)
  10. Even if ancient religious poetry were meant to be interpreted literally (it wasn’t), we humans have clearly demonstrated time and time again a complete inability to apply it in a positive, uniform manner. Christians slaughtered & mistreated the American natives and all manner of religious fundamentalists (e.g., Christians, Muslims, Jews) continue to commit atrocity after atrocity in the name of God, even today… (FAIL)
  11. In the beginning, God created “two great lights”… pure fantasy. The sun is a more or less average star, one of countless hundreds of billions of massive lights lumped into galaxies across our universe. The moon isn’t even a light at all but merely reflects it. Assuming divine inspiration were real and trustworthy, shouldn’t the writer(s) have known such basic facts? (FAIL)

This list goes on and on… there are already plenty of such lists on the web.

Amazing lyrics: Human Alchemy, an XTC song condemning slavery …

Music video on YouTube: Human Alchemy by XTC

This post was started on Monday, November 19, 2012

Removed content
interesting structures in dubaiSpiritual activism is no longer an option in my life; it is a requirement. “God” (life, actually) itself demands it.

Apart from those holding such a view having gotten the words know and believe confused,…

The five (5) steps to peace

Religious fundamentalists would have us believe that the way forward is the way backward.

The spiritual root of all man’s problems may remind some readers of the partly-spiritual (but sadly, not wholly spiritual, as honest and knowledgable 12-step practitioners must admit) teachings of 12-step groups. It’s true that life-affirming spiritual principles can be learned in 12-step programs (and even yours truly will readily list at least two wonderful, eye-opening examples of such principles); however, most AA/12-step groups eventually taint or even ruin their own basic messsage by insisting/instructing that participants get religious in some way… such as praying to an external deity and similar stuff which obviously flies in the face of all possible alternatives to theism.

Out of depth
Out of class
Phase of your life
Will come to pass
Caught in this tragical wonderland
All of the riches that shine will turn sour
Each moment you slip you will bring near the hour

One day you will break out of your spell
And some day you will want me for your own
And I’ll say welcome to reality

Wrapped in your mysterious wonderland

Caught in your superficial,
Nonexistent,
Fairy-story,
Wonderland
(Source: Lyrics to XTC’s Wonderland from SongMeanings)

What modern U.S. Christian fundamentalists lack in real answers and true spiritual practice, they make up for in comaraderie. It is definitely true that church offers one of the best intra-caring social networks available, but this of course is no excuse for teaching ancient poetry as literal truth.

Sadly, herds of followers continue to be taken for their precious time, their hard-earned money, and their very lives… it’s a sad epidemic of superstition with naggingly deep roots (which will eventually wither — if mankind doesn’t wipe itself out first, that is).