Friday, August 26, 2011

Atheists dismissing Rick Perry/Christianity

About a week ago, Rick Perry had a discussion with a boy evolution and the age of the earth. A couple of atheists have chipped in on posts in The Washington Post.

Richard Dawkins first addressed Rick Perry and the Republican party.
There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office. What is unusual about today’s Republican party (I disavow the ridiculous ‘GOP’ nickname, because the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has lately forfeited all claim to be considered ‘grand’) is this: In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party ‘in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job.
Of course, he also had things to say about evolution:
Darwin’s idea is arguably the most powerful ever to occur to a human mind. The power of a scientific theory may be measured as a ratio: the number of facts that it explains divided by the number of assumptions it needs to postulate in order to do the explaining. A theory that assumes most of what it is trying to explain is a bad theory. That is why the creationist or ‘intelligent design’ theory is such a rotten theory.
The simplicity of Darwin’s idea, then, is a virtue for three reasons. First, and most important, it is the signature of its immense power as a theory, when compared with the mass of disparate facts that it explains - everything about life including our own existence. Second, it makes it easy for children to understand (in addition to the obvious virtue of being true!), which means that it could be taught in the early years of school. And finally, it makes it extremely beautiful, one of the most beautiful ideas anyone ever had as well as arguably the most powerful. To die in ignorance of its elegance, and power to explain our own existence, is a tragic loss, comparable to dying without ever having experienced great music, great literature, or a beautiful sunset.

Paula Kirby also addressed the issue. She strayed away from Rick Perry and focused more on evolution and it's impact to Christianity.
Evolution is a simple fact. We can choose to remain ignorant of it, we can stick our fingers in our ears and refuse to think about it, we can even rail against it and shout and scream that it is not allowed to be true. But facts are facts, and will not go away just because we don't like them. We don't get to vote for our preferred method of having come into existence as a species, any more than we can choose to have been delivered by stork rather than conceived and born in the usual way.

The primary role of the school is pretty straightforward: it is to educate. It is to give young people the opportunity to learn as much as possible about the world, on the basis of the very best knowledge we have. Education is about overcoming ignorance - so the idea of allowing ignorance to set the school curriculum and to perpetuate itself by continuing to teach generation after generation information that for the last 150 years we have known to be false, is a shameful betrayal: a betrayal of young people, who put their trust in us and who deserve better; and a betrayal of the very concept of education itself.
...Evolution means that the creation accounts in the first two chapters of Genesis are wrong. That's not how humans came into being, nor the cattle, nor the creeping things, nor the beasts of the earth, nor the fowl of the air. Evolution could not have produced a single mother and father of all future humans, so there was no Adam and no Eve. No Adam and Eve: no fall. No fall: no need for redemption. No need for redemption: no need for a redeemer. No need for a redeemer: no need for the crucifixion or the resurrection, and no need to believe in that redeemer in order to gain eternal life. And not the slightest reason to believe in eternal life in the first place.
She also point out that, "...Many Christians happily accept evolution: they see Genesis 1 as merely a metaphor, and declare that if God chose to create us using evolution..." So, while evolution doesn't instantly get rid of Christianity, it creates a weakened form. The following is such an example:
...when Christians realize God created the world to be free to grow and change, they do not fear evolution as “rampant secularism” but celebrate it as evidence of the astonishing power of an infinite God.
I'd really like to hear what she has to say about Jesus. I feel I can speculate a few things, though: I suspect that she finds Jesus to still be the "Son of God," but that he was sent to serve as a moral teacher and an example for us humans. I also suspect she does not believe in a torturous hell (I had an encounter on YouTube yesterday where the theist was claiming hell fire is part of a purification process, and that people don't stay in hell forever), though likely still believes in a heaven. I also suspect that she would have been raised in a family or culture that takes a more literal view of the Bible. This is good news for the next generation as long as atheist stay vocal. If she teaches her children that Jesus was just a good moral teacher sent by God, then pressure from atheists can get them to look at those teachings. They will find that those teachings are nothing special. They may still go about believing in a god, but at least they wouldn't be "the end is nigh!" type of Christians. It would be progress.

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