A Brief History of Science and Religion

AABsunastronomyRelationship between Religion and Science

An Excerpt from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

The relationship between religion and science has been a subject of study since Classical antiquity, addressed by philosophers, theologians, scientists, and others. Perspectives from different geographical regions, cultures and historical epochs show significant diversity, with some characterizing the relationship as one of conflict, others describing it as one of harmony, and still others proposing little interaction.

Science and religion generally pursue knowledge of the universe using different methodologies. Science acknowledges reason, empiricism, and evidence, while religions include revelation, faith and sacredness. These methodologies are totally different. They are diametrically opposed. Reason, empiricism, and evidence simply do not recognize revelation, faith, and sacredness as valid sources of knowledge. Further, revelation, faith, and sacredness, which are examples of religious dogma, only accept conflicting scientific opinion when the evidence becomes overwhelmingly accepted by the general public.

Despite these differences, most scientific and technical innovations prior to the Scientific revolution were achieved by societies organized by religious traditions. Many features of the scientific method were first pioneered by ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Egyptians, Indians, and Sumerians. Later during the Middle Ages, the Catholic church was responsible for saving much of the scientific knowledge from these civilizations, thus allowing the scientific method to develop in Europe during and after the Renaissance and through the enlightenment period. Islam also made great contributions to areas such as Mathematics, and Astronomy. Many of the most noted scientists in history, such as Blaise Pascal, Copernicus, and the founder of modern genetics Gregor Mendel, were devout Christians. The Big Bang theory was first proposed by a Jesuit priest named Georges Lemaître. Hinduism has historically embraced reason and empiricism, holding that science brings legitimate, but incomplete knowledge of the world[citation needed]. Confucian thought has held different views of science over time. Most Buddhists today view science as complementary to their beliefs.

Events in Europe such as the Galileo affair, associated with the Scientific revolution and the Age of Enlightenment, led scholars such as John William Draper to postulate a conflict thesis, holding that religion and science conflict methodologically, factually and politically. This thesis is advanced by contemporary scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Steven Weinberg and Carl Sagan, as well as by many creationists. While the conflict thesis remains popular for the public, it has lost favor among most contemporary historians of science.[1][2][3][4]

Many theologians, philosophers and scientists in history have found no conflict between their faith and science. Biologist Stephen Jay Gould, other scientists, and some contemporary theologians hold that religion and science are non-overlapping magisteria, addressing fundamentally separate forms of knowledge and aspects of life. Scientists Francisco Ayala, Kenneth R. Miller, John Polkinghorne, Denis Alexander and Francis Collins see no necessary conflict between religion and science. Some theologians or historians of science, including John Lennox, Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme and Ken Wilber propose an interconnection between them.

Public acceptance of scientific facts may be influenced by religion; many in the United States reject the idea of evolution by natural selection, especially regarding human beings. Nevertheless, the American National Academy of Sciences has written that “the evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith,” a view officially endorsed by many religious denominations globally.[5]

Perspectives

According to Richard Dawkins, “not only is science corrosive to religion; religion is corrosive to science. It teaches people to be satisfied with trivial, supernatural non-explanations and blinds them to the wonderful real explanations that we have within our grasp. It teaches them to accept authority, revelation and faith instead of always insisting on evidence.”[6]

The kinds of interactions that might arise between science and religion have been categorized, according to theologian, Anglican priest and physicist John Polkinghorne are: (1) conflict between the disciplines, (2) independence of the disciplines, (3) dialogue between the disciplines where they overlap and (4) integration of both into one field.[7]

This typology is similar to ones used by theologians Ian Barbour[8] and John Haught.[9] More typologies that categorize this relationship can be found among the works of other science and religion scholars such as theologian and biochemist Arthur Peacocke.[10]

Incompatibility

According to Jerry Coyne, views on evolution and levels of religiosity in some countries, along with the existence of books explaining reconciliation between evolution and religion, indicate that people have trouble in believing both at the same time, thus implying incompatibility.[11] According to Lawrence Krauss, compatibility or incompatibility is a theological concern, not a scientific concern.[11] In Lisa Randall‘s view, questions of incompatibility or otherwise are not answerable since by accepting revelations one is abandoning rules of logic which are needed to identify if there are indeed contradictions between holding certain beliefs.[11] Daniel Dennett holds that incompatibility exists because religion is not problematic to a certain point before it collapses into a number of excuses for keeping certain beliefs, in light of evolutionary implications.[11]

According to Neil deGrasse Tyson, the central difference between the nature of science and religion is that the claims of science rely on experimental verification, while the claims of religions rely on faith, and these are irreconcilable approaches to knowing. Because of this both are incompatible as currently practiced and the debate of compatibility or incompatibility will be eternal.[12][13] Philosopher and physicist Victor J. Stenger‘s view is that science and religion are incompatible due to conflicts between approaches of knowing and the availability of alternative plausible natural explanations for phenomena that is usually explained in religious contexts.[14] Neuroscientist and author Sam Harris views science and religion as being in competition, with religion now “losing the argument with modernity”.[15] However, Harris disagrees with Jerry Coyne and Daniel Dennett’s narrow view of the debate and argues that it is very easy for people to reconcile science and religion because some things are above strict reason, scientific expertise or domains do not spill over to religious expertise or domains necessarily, and mentions “There simply IS no conflict between religion and science.”[11]

According to Richard Dawkins, he is hostile to fundamentalist religion because it actively debauches the scientific enterprise. According to Dawkins, religion “subverts science and saps the intellect”.[16] He believes that when science teachers attempt to expound on evolution, there is hostility aimed towards them by parents who are skeptical because they believe it conflicts with their religious beliefs, that even some textbooks have had the word ‘evolution’ systematically removed.[17]

Others such as Francis Collins, Kenneth R. Miller, George Coyne and Francisco J. Ayala argue for compatibility since they do not agree that science is incompatible with religion and vice versa. They argue that science provides many opportunities to look for and find God in nature and to reflect on their beliefs.[18] According to Kenneth Miller, he disagrees with Jerry Coyne’s assessment and argues that since significant portions of scientists are religious and the proportion of Americans believing in evolution is much higher, it implies that both are indeed compatible.[11] Karl Giberson argues that when discussing compatibility, some scientific intellectuals often ignore the viewpoints of intellectual leaders in theology and instead argue against less informed masses, thereby, defining religion by non intellectuals and slanting the debate unjustly. He argues that leaders in science sometimes trump older scientific baggage and that leaders in theology do the same, so once theological intellectuals are taken into account, people who represent extreme positions like Ken Ham and Eugene Scott will become irrelevant.[11]

Conflict Thesis

The conflict thesis, which holds that religion and science have been in conflict continuously throughout history, was popularized in the 19th century by John William Draper‘s and Andrew Dickson White‘s accounts. It was in the 19th century that relationship between science and religion became an actual formal topic of discourse, while before this no one had pitted science against religion or vice versa, though occasional complex interactions had been expressed before the 19th century.[19] Most contemporary historians of science now reject the conflict thesis in its original form and no longer support it.[1][2][3][20] Instead, it has been superseded by subsequent historical research which has resulted in a more nuanced understanding:[21][22] Historian of science, Gary Ferngren, has stated “Although popular images of controversy continue to exemplify the supposed hostility of Christianity to new scientific theories, studies have shown that Christianity has often nurtured and encouraged scientific endeavour, while at other times the two have co-existed without either tension or attempts at harmonization. If Galileo and the Scopes trial come to mind as examples of conflict, they were the exceptions rather than the rule.”[23]

Most historians today have moved away from a conflict model, which is based mainly on two historical episodes (Galileo and Darwin) for a “complexity” model, because religious figures were on both sides of each dispute and there was no overall aim by any party involved to discredit religion.[24]

An often cited example of conflict was the Galilio affair, whereby interpretations of the Bible were used to attack ideas by Copernicus on Heliocentrism. By 1616 Galileo went to Rome to try to persuade Catholic Church authorities not to ban Copernicus’ ideas. In the end, a decree of the Congregation of the Index was issued, declaring that the ideas that the Sun stood still and that the Earth moved were “false” and “altogether contrary to Holy Scripture”, and suspending Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus until it could be corrected. Galileo was found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the center of the universe, that the Earth is not at its centre and moves. He was required to “abjure, curse and detest” those opinions.[25] However, before all this, Pope Urban VIII had personally asked Galileo to give arguments for and against heliocentrism in a book, and to be careful not to advocate heliocentrism as physically proven yet. Pope Urban VIII asked that his own views on the matter be included in Galileo’s book. Only the latter was fulfilled by Galileo. Whether unknowingly or deliberately, Simplicio, the defender of the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic geocentric view in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, was often portrayed as an unlearned fool who lacked mathematical training. Although the preface of his book claims that the character is named after a famous Aristotelian philosopher (Simplicius in Latin, Simplicio in Italian), the name “Simplicio” in Italian also has the connotation of “simpleton”.[26] Unfortunately for his relationship with the Pope, Galileo put the words of Urban VIII into the mouth of Simplicio. Most historians agree Galileo did not act out of malice and felt blindsided by the reaction to his book.[27] However, the Pope did not take the suspected public ridicule lightly, nor the physical Copernican advocacy. Galileo had alienated one of his biggest and most powerful supporters, the Pope, and was called to Rome to defend his writings.[28]

Independence

In the view of physicist and Hindu monk Mauricio Garrido non-Euclidean geometry proved that Euclidean axioms, such as “there is only one straight line between two points”, which were considered self-evident, absolute truths until the 19th century, are in fact interchangeable with different axioms. Therefore, claims by any ideology to exclusive truth, proved by reason or by any other method are obviously wrong.[29]

A modern view, described by Stephen Jay Gould as “non-overlapping magisteria” (NOMA), is that science and religion deal with fundamentally separate aspects of human experience and so, when each stays within its own domain, they co-exist peacefully.[30] While Gould spoke of independence from the perspective of science, W. T. Stace viewed independence from the perspective of the philosophy of religion. Stace felt that science and religion, when each is viewed in its own domain, are both consistent and complete.[31]

The USA’s National Academy of Science supports the view that science and religion are independent.[32]

Science and religion are based on different aspects of human experience. In science, explanations must be based on evidence drawn from examining the natural world. Scientifically based observations or experiments that conflict with an explanation eventually must lead to modification or even abandonment of that explanation. Religious faith, in contrast, does not depend on empirical evidence, is not necessarily modified in the face of conflicting evidence, and typically involves supernatural forces or entities. Because they are not a part of nature, supernatural entities cannot be investigated by science. In this sense, science and religion are separate and address aspects of human understanding in different ways. Attempts to put science and religion against each other create controversy where none needs to exist.[32]

According to Archbishop John Habgood, both science and religion represent distinct ways of approaching experience and these differences are sources of debate. He views science as descriptive and religion as prescriptive. He stated that if science and mathematics concentrate on what the world ought to be, in the way that religion does, it may lead to improperly ascribing properties to the natural world as happened among the followers of Pythagoras in the sixth century B.C.[33] In contrast, proponents of a normative moral science take issue with the idea that science has no way of guiding “oughts”. Habgood also stated that he believed that the reverse situation, where religion attempts to be descriptive, can also lead to inappropriately assigning properties to the natural world. A notable example is the now defunct belief in the Ptolemic (heliocentric) planetary model that held sway until changes in scientific and religious thinking were brought about by Galileo and proponents of his views.[33]

Parallels in Method

According to Ian Barbour, Thomas S. Kuhn asserted that science is made up of paradigms that arise from cultural traditions, which is similar to the secular perspective on religion.[34]

Michael Polanyi asserted that it is merely a commitment to universality that protects against subjectivity and has nothing at all to do with personal detachment as found in many conceptions of the scientific method. Polanyi further asserted that all knowledge is personal and therefore the scientist must be performing a very personal if not necessarily subjective role when doing science.[34] Polanyi added that the scientist often merely follows intuitions of “intellectual beauty, symmetry, and ’empirical agreement'”.[34] Polanyi held that science requires moral commitments similar to those found in religion.[34]

Two physicists, Charles A. Coulson and Harold K. Schilling, both claimed that “the methods of science and religion have much in common.”[34] Schilling asserted that both fields—science and religion—have “a threefold structure—of experience, theoretical interpretation, and practical application.”[34] Coulson asserted that science, like religion, “advances by creative imagination” and not by “mere collecting of facts,” while stating that religion should and does “involve critical reflection on experience not unlike that which goes on in science.”[34] Religious language and scientific language also show parallels (cf. rhetoric of science).

Dialogue

The religion and science community consists of those scholars who involve themselves with what has been called the “religion-and-science dialogue” or the “religion-and-science field.”[35][36] The community belongs to neither the scientific nor the religious community, but is said to be a third overlapping community of interested and involved scientists, priests, clergymen, theologians, and engaged non-professionals.[36][not in citation given] Institutions interested in the intersection between science and religion include the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, the Ian Ramsey Centre,[37] and the Faraday Institute. Journals addressing the relationship between science and religion include Theology and Science and Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science. Eugenie Scott has written that the “science and religion” movement is, overall, composed mainly of theists who have a healthy respect for science and may be beneficial to the public understanding of science. She contends that the “Christian scholarship” movement is not a problem for science, but that the “Theistic science” movement, which proposes abandoning methodological materialism, does cause problems in understanding of the nature of science.[38]

The modern dialogue between religion and science is rooted in Ian Barbour‘s 1966 book Issues in Science and Religion.[39] Since that time it has grown into a serious academic field, with academic chairs in the subject area, and two dedicated academic journals, Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science and Theology and Science.[39] Articles are also sometimes found in mainstream science journals such as American Journal of Physics[40] and Science.[41][42]

Philosopher Alvin Plantinga has argued that there is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and religion, and that there is deep conflict between science and naturalism.[43] Plantinga, in his book Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism, heavily contests the linkage of naturalism with science, as conceived by Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and like-minded thinkers; while Daniel Dennett thinks that Plantinga stretches science to an unacceptable extent.[44] Philosopher Maarten Boudry, in reviewing the book, has commented that he resorts to creationism and fails to “stave off the conflict between theism and evolution.”[45] Cognitive scientist Justin L. Barrett, by contrast, reviews the same book and writes that “those most needing to hear Plantinga’s message may fail to give it a fair hearing for rhetorical rather than analytical reasons.”[46]

Cooperative

As a general view, this holds that while interactions are complex between influences of science, theology, politics, social, and economic concerns, the productive engagements between science and religion throughout history should be duly stressed as the norm.

Scientific and theological perspectives often coexist peacefully. Christians and some non-Christian religions have historically integrated well with scientific ideas, as in the ancient Egyptian technological mastery applied to monotheistic ends, the flourishing of logic and mathematics under Hinduism and Buddhism, and the scientific advances made by Muslim scholars during the Ottoman empire. Even many 19th-century Christian communities welcomed scientists who claimed that science was not at all concerned with discovering the ultimate nature of reality.[33] According to Lawrence M. Principe, the Johns Hopkins University Drew Professor of the Humanities, from a historical perspective this points out that much of the current-day clashes occur between limited extremists—both religious and scientistic fundamentalists—over a very few topics, and that the movement of ideas back and forth between scientific and theological thought has been more usual.[47] To Principe, this perspective would point to the fundamentally common respect for written learning in religious traditions of rabbinical literature, Christian theology, and the Islamic Golden Age, including a Transmission of the Classics from Greek to Islamic to Christian traditions which helped spark the Renaissance. Religions have also given key participation in development of modern universities and libraries; centers of learning & scholarship were coincident with religious institutions – whether pagan, Muslim, or Christian.[48]

Bahá’í

A fundamental principle of the Bahá’í Faith is the harmony of religion and science. Bahá’í scripture asserts that true science and true religion can never be in conflict. `Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, stated that religion without science is superstition and that science without religion is materialism. He also admonished that true religion must conform to the conclusions of science.[49][50][51]

Buddhism

Buddhism and science have been regarded as compatible by numerous authors.[52] Some philosophic and psychological teachings found in Buddhism share points in common with modern Western scientific and philosophic thought. For example, Buddhism encourages the impartial investigation of nature (an activity referred to as Dhamma-Vicaya in the Pali Canon)—the principal object of study being oneself. Buddhism and science both show a strong emphasis on causality. However, Buddhism doesn’t focus on materialism.[53]

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, maintains that empirical scientific evidence supersedes the traditional teachings of Buddhism when the two are in conflict. In his book The Universe in a Single Atom he wrote, “My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science, so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation.” and “If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false,” he says, “then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.”[54][55]

Christianity

Science, and particularly geometry and astronomy, was linked directly to the divine for most medieval scholars. The compass in this 13th-century manuscript is a symbol of creation.

Most sources of knowledge available to early Christians were connected to pagan world-views. There were various opinions on how Christianity should regard pagan learning, which included its ideas about nature. For instance, among early Christian teachers, Tertullian (c. 160–220) held a generally negative opinion of Greek philosophy, while Origen (c. 185–254) regarded it much more favorably and required his students to read nearly every work available to them.[56]

Earlier attempts at reconciliation of Christianity with Newtonian mechanics appear quite different from later attempts at reconciliation with the newer scientific ideas of evolution or relativity.[33] Many early interpretations of evolution polarized themselves around a struggle for existence. These ideas were significantly countered by later findings of universal patterns of biological cooperation. According to John Habgood, all man really knows here is that the universe seems to be a mix of good and evil, beauty and pain, and that suffering may somehow be part of the process of creation. Habgood holds that Christians should not be surprised that suffering may be used creatively by God, given their faith in the symbol of the Cross.[33] Robert John Russell has examined consonance and dissonance between modern physics, evolutionary biology, and Christian theology.[57][58]

Christian philosophers Augustine of Hippo (354-430) and Thomas Aquinas[59] held that scriptures can have multiple interpretations on certain areas where the matters were far beyond their reach, therefore one should leave room for future findings to shed light on the meanings. The “Handmaiden” tradition, which saw secular studies of the universe as a very important and helpful part of arriving at a better understanding of scripture, was adopted throughout Christian history from early on.[60] Also the sense that God created the world as a self operating system is what motivated many Christians throughout the Middle Ages to investigate nature.[61]

Modern historians of science such as J.L. Heilbron,[62] Alistair Cameron Crombie, David Lindberg,[63] Edward Grant, Thomas Goldstein,[64] and Ted Davis have reviewed the popular notion that medieval Christianity was a negative influence in the development of civilization and science. In their views, not only did the monks save and cultivate the remnants of ancient civilization during the barbarian invasions, but the medieval church promoted learning and science through its sponsorship of many universities which, under its leadership, grew rapidly in Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries, St. Thomas Aquinas, the Church’s “model theologian”, not only argued that reason is in harmony with faith, he even recognized that reason can contribute to understanding revelation, and so encouraged intellectual development. He was not unlike other medieval theologians who sought out reason in the effort to defend his faith.[65] Some of today’s scholars, such as Stanley Jaki, have claimed that Christianity with its particular worldview, was a crucial factor for the emergence of modern science.[66]

David C. Lindberg states that the widespread popular belief that the Middle Ages was a time of ignorance and superstition due to the Christian church is a “caricature”. According to Lindberg, while there are some portions of the classical tradition which suggest this view, these were exceptional cases. It was common to tolerate and encourage critical thinking about the nature of the world. The relation between Christianity and science is complex and cannot be simplified to either harmony or conflict, according to Lindberg.[67] Lindberg reports that “the late medieval scholar rarely experienced the coercive power of the church and would have regarded himself as free (particularly in the natural sciences) to follow reason and observation wherever they led. There was no warfare between science and the church.”[68] Ted Peters in Encyclopedia of Religion writes that although there is some truth in the “Galileo’s condemnation” story but through exaggerations, it has now become “a modern myth perpetuated by those wishing to see warfare between science and religion who were allegedly persecuted by an atavistic and dogma-bound ecclesiastical authority”.[69] In 1992, the Catholic Church‘s seeming vindication of Galileo attracted much comment in the media.

A degree of concord between science and religion can be seen in religious belief and empirical science. The belief that God created the world and therefore humans, can lead to the view that he arranged for humans to know the world. This is underwritten by the doctrine of imago dei. In the words of Thomas Aquinas, “Since human beings are said to be in the image of God in virtue of their having a nature that includes an intellect, such a nature is most in the image of God in virtue of being most able to imitate God”.[70]

During the Enlightenment, a period “characterized by dramatic revolutions in science” and the rise of Protestant challenges to the authority of the Catholic Church via individual liberty, the authority of Christian scriptures became strongly challenged. As science advanced, acceptance of a literal version of the Bible became “increasingly untenable” and some in that period presented ways of interpreting scripture according to its spirit on its authority and truth.[71]

Individual Scientists’ Beliefs

Many well-known historical figures who influenced Western science considered themselves Christian such as Copernicus,[72] Galileo,[73] Kepler,[74] Newton[75] and Boyle.[76]

Isaac Newton, for example, believed that gravity caused the planets to revolve about the Sun, and credited God with the design. In the concluding General Scholium to the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, he wrote: “This most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.” Other famous founders of science who adhered to Christian beliefs include Galileo, Johannes Kepler, and Blaise Pascal.[77][78]

According to 100 Years of Nobel Prizes a review of Nobel prizes award between 1901 and 2000 reveals that (65.4%) of Nobel Prizes Laureates, have identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference.[79]

Perspectives on Evolution

In recent history, the theory of evolution has been at the center of some controversy between Christianity and science. Christians who accept a literal interpretation of the biblical account of creation find incompatibility between Darwinian evolution and their interpretation of the Christian faith.[80] Creation science or scientific creationism[81] is a branch of creationism that attempts to provide scientific support for the Genesis creation narrative in the Book of Genesis and attempts to disprove generally accepted scientific facts, theories and scientific paradigms about the history of the Earth, cosmology and biological evolution.[82][83] It began in the 1960s as a fundamentalist Christian effort in the United States to prove Biblical inerrancy and falsify the scientific evidence for evolution.[84] It has since developed a sizable religious following in the United States, with creation science ministries branching worldwide.[85] In 1925, The State of Tennessee passed the Butler Act, which prohibited the teaching of the theory of evolution in all schools in the state. Later that year, a similar law was passed in Mississippi, and likewise, Arkansas in 1927. In 1968, these “anti-monkey” laws were struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States as unconstitutional, “because they established a religious doctrine violating both the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution.[86]

Most scientists have rejected creation science for several reasons, including that its claims do not refer to natural causes and cannot be tested. In 1987, the United States Supreme Court ruled that creationism is religion, not science, and cannot be advocated in public school classrooms.[87]

Theistic evolution attempts to reconcile Christian beliefs and science by accepting the scientific understanding of the age of the Earth and the process of evolution. It includes a range of beliefs, including views described as evolutionary creationism, which accepts some findings of modern science but also upholds classical religious teachings about God and creation in Christian context.[88]

Reconciliation in Britain in the early 20th Century

In Reconciling Science and Religion: The Debate in Early-twentieth-century Britain, historian of biology Peter J. Bowler argues that in contrast to the conflicts between science and religion in the U.S. in the 1920s (most famously the Scopes Trial), during this period Great Britain experienced a concerted effort at reconciliation, championed by intellectually conservative scientists, supported by liberal theologians but opposed by younger scientists and secularists and conservative Christians. These attempts at reconciliation fell apart in the 1930s due to increased social tensions, moves towards neo-orthodox theology and the acceptance of the modern evolutionary synthesis.[89]

In the 20th century, several ecumenical organizations promoting a harmony between science and Christianity were founded, most notably the American Scientific Affiliation, The Biologos Foundation, Christians in Science, The Society of Ordained Scientists, and The Veritas Forum.[90]

Roman Catholicism

While refined and clarified over the centuries, the Roman Catholic position on the relationship between science and religion is one of harmony, and has maintained the teaching of natural law as set forth by Thomas Aquinas. For example, regarding scientific study such as that of evolution, the church’s unofficial position is an example of theistic evolution, stating that faith and scientific findings regarding human evolution are not in conflict, though humans are regarded as a special creation, and that the existence of God is required to explain both monogenism and the spiritual component of human origins. Catholic schools have included all manners of scientific study in their curriculum for many centuries.[91]

Galileo once stated “The intention of the Holy Spirit is to teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.”[92] In 1981 John Paul II, then pope of the Roman Catholic Church, spoke of the relationship this way: “The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise, but in order to state the correct relationships of man with God and with the universe. Sacred Scripture wishes simply to declare that the world was created by God, and in order to teach this truth it expresses itself in the terms of the cosmology in use at the time of the writer”.[93]

Influence of a Biblical World View on early Modern Science

According to Andrew Dickson White‘s A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom from the 19th century, a biblical world view affected negatively the progress of science through time. Dickinson also argues that immediately following the Reformation matters were even worse. The interpretations of Scripture by Luther and Calvin became as sacred to their followers as the Scripture itself. For instance, when Georg Calixtus ventured, in interpreting the Psalms, to question the accepted belief that “the waters above the heavens” were contained in a vast receptacle upheld by a solid vault, he was bitterly denounced as heretical.[94] Today, much of the scholarship in which the conflict thesis was originally based is considered to be inaccurate. For instance, the claim that early Christians rejected scientific findings by the Greco-Romans is false, since the “handmaiden” view of secular studies was seen to shed light on theology. This view was widely adapted throughout the early medieval period and afterwards by theologians (such as Augustine) and ultimately resulted in fostering interest in knowledge about nature through time.[95] Also, the claim that people of the Middle Ages widely believed that the Earth was flat was first propagated in the same period that originated the conflict thesis[96] and is still very common in popular culture. Modern scholars regard this claim as mistaken, as the contemporary historians of science David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers write: “there was scarcely a Christian scholar of the Middle Ages who did not acknowledge [earth’s] sphericity and even know its approximate circumference.”[96][97] From the fall of Rome to the time of Columbus, all major scholars and many vernacular writers interested in the physical shape of the earth held a spherical view with the exception of Lactantius and Cosmas.[98]

Floris Cohen argued for a biblical Protestant, but not excluding Catholicism, influence on the early development of modern science.[99] He presented Dutch historian R. Hooykaas‘ argument that a biblical world-view holds all the necessary antidotes for the hubris of Greek rationalism: a respect for manual labour, leading to more experimentation and empiricism, and a supreme God that left nature and open to emulation and manipulation.[99] It supports the idea early modern science rose due to a combination of Greek and biblical thought.[100][101]

Oxford historian Peter Harrison is another who has argued that a biblical worldview was significant for the development of modern science. Harrison contends that Protestant approaches to the book of scripture had significant, if largely unintended, consequences for the interpretation of the book of nature.[102][page needed] Harrison has also suggested that literal readings of the Genesis narratives of the Creation and Fall motivated and legitimated scientific activity in seventeenth-century England. For many of its seventeenth-century practitioners, science was imagined to be a means of restoring a human dominion over nature that had been lost as a consequence of the Fall.[103][page needed]

Historian and professor of religion Eugene M. Klaaren holds that “a belief in divine creation” was central to an emergence of science in seventeenth-century England. The philosopher Michael Foster has published analytical philosophy connecting Christian doctrines of creation with empiricism. Historian William B. Ashworth has argued against the historical notion of distinctive mind-sets and the idea of Catholic and Protestant sciences.[104] Historians James R. Jacob and Margaret C. Jacob have argued for a linkage between seventeenth century Anglican intellectual transformations and influential English scientists (e.g., Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton).[105] John Dillenberger and Christopher B. Kaiser have written theological surveys, which also cover additional interactions occurring in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.[106][107] Philosopher of Religion, Richard Jones, has written a philosophical critique of the “dependency thesis” which assumes that modern science emerged from Christian sources and doctrines. Though he acknowledges that modern science emerged in a religious framework, that Christinaity greatly elevated the importance of science by sanctioning and religiously legitimizing it in medieval period, and that Christianity created a favorable social context for it to grow; he argues that direct Christian beliefs or doctrines were not primary source of scientific pursuits by natural philosophers, nor was Christianity, in and of itself, exclusively or directly necessary in developing or practicing modern science.[24]

Oxford University historian and theologian John Hedley Brooke wrote that “when natural philosophers referred to laws of nature, they were not glibly choosing that metaphor. Laws were the result of legislation by an intelligent deity. Thus the philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) insisted that he was discovering the “laws that God has put into nature.” Later Newton would declare that the regulation of the solar system presupposed the “counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”[108] Historian Ronald L. Numbers stated that this thesis “received a boost” from mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead‘s Science and the Modern World (1925). Numbers has also argued, “Despite the manifest shortcomings of the claim that Christianity gave birth to science—most glaringly, it ignores or minimizes the contributions of ancient Greeks and medieval Muslims—it too, refuses to succumb to the death it deserves.”[109] The sociologist Rodney Stark of Baylor University, argued in contrast that “Christian theology was essential for the rise of science.”[110]

Confucianism and Traditional Chinese Religion

The historical process of Confucianism has largely been antipathic towards scientific discovery. However the religio-philosophical system itself is more neutral on the subject than such an analysis might suggest. In his writings On Heaven, Xunzi espoused a proto-scientific world view.[111] However during the Han Synthesis the more anti-empirical Mencius was favored and combined with Daoist skepticism regarding the nature of reality. Likewise, during the Medieval period, Zhu Xi argued against technical investigation and specialization proposed by Chen Liang.[112] After contact with the West, scholars such as Wang Fuzhi would rely on Buddhist/Daoist skepticism to denounce all science as a subjective pursuit limited by humanity’s fundamental ignorance of the true nature of the world.[113] After the May Fourth Movement, attempts to modernize Confucianism and reconcile it with scientific understanding were attempted by many scholars including Feng Youlan and Xiong Shili. Given the close relationship that Confucianism shares with Buddhism, many of the same arguments used to reconcile Buddhism with science also readily translate to Confucianism. However, modern scholars have also attempted to define the relationship between science and Confucianism on Confucianism’s own terms and the results have usually led to the conclusion that Confucianism and science are fundamentally compatible.[114]

Hinduism

In Hinduism, the dividing line between objective sciences and spiritual knowledge (adhyatma vidya) is a linguistic paradox.[115] Hindu scholastic activities and ancient Indian scientific advancements were so interconnected that many Hindu scriptures are also ancient scientific manuals and vice-versa. In 1835, English was made the primary language for teaching in higher education in India, exposing Hindu scholars to Western secular ideas; thus starting a renaissance regarding religious and philosophical thought.[116] Hindu sages maintained that logical argument and rational proof using Nyaya is the way to obtain correct knowledge.[115] From a Hindu perspective, modern science is a legitimate, but incomplete, step towards knowing and understanding reality. Hinduism views that science only offers a limited view of reality, but all it offers is right and correct.[117] To clarify, the scientific level of understanding focuses on how things work and from where they originate, while Hinduism strives to understand the ultimate purposes for the existence of living things.[116] To obtain and broaden the knowledge of the world for spiritual perfection, many refer to the Bhāgavata for guidance because it draws upon a scientific and theological dialogue.[118] Hinduism offers methods to correct and transform itself in course of time. For instance, Hindu views on the development of life include a range of viewpoints in regards to evolution, creationism, and the origin of life within the traditions of Hinduism. For instance, it has been suggested that Wallace-Darwininan evolutionary thought was a part of Hindu thought centuries before modern times.[119] The Shankara and the Sāmkhya did not have a problem with the theory of evolution, but instead, argued about the existence of God and what happened after death. These two distinct groups argued among each other’s philosophies because of their sacred texts, not the idea of evolution.[120] With the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, many Hindus were eager to connect their scriptures to Darwinism, finding similarities between Brahma’s creation, Vishnu’s incarnations, and evolution theories.[116]

Samkhya, the oldest school of Hindu philosophy prescribes a particular method to analyze knowledge. According to Samkhya, all knowledge is possible through three means of valid knowledge[121][122]

  1. Pratyakṣa or Dṛṣṭam – direct sense perception,
  2. Anumānalogical inference and
  3. Śabda or Āptavacana – verbal testimony.

Nyaya, the Hindu school of logic, accepts all these 3 means and in addition accepts one more – Upamāna (comparison).

The accounts of the emergence of life within the universe vary in description, but classically the deity called Brahma, from a Trimurti of three deities also including Vishnu and Shiva, is described as performing the act of ‘creation’, or more specifically of ‘propagating life within the universe’ with the other two deities being responsible for ‘preservation’ and ‘destruction’ (of the universe) respectively.[123] In this respect some Hindu schools do not treat the scriptural creation myth literally and often the creation stories themselves do not go into specific detail, thus leaving open the possibility of incorporating at least some theories in support of evolution. Some Hindus find support for, or foreshadowing of evolutionary ideas in scriptures, namely the Vedas.[124]

The incarnations of Vishnu (Dashavatara) is almost identical to the scientific explanation of the sequence of biological evolution of man and animals.[125][126][127][128] The sequence of avatars starts from an aquatic organism (Matsya), to an amphibian (Kurma), to a land-animal (Varaha), to a humanoid (Narasimha), to a dwarf human (Vamana), to 5 forms of well developed human beings (Parashurama, Rama, Balarama/Buddha, Krishna, Kalki) who showcase an increasing form of complexity (Axe-man, King, Plougher/Sage, wise Statesman, mighty Warrior).[125][128] In fact, many Hindu gods are represented with features of animals as well as those of humans, leading many Hindus to easily accept evolutionary links between animals and humans.[116] In India, the home country of Hindus; educated Hindus widely accept the theory of biological evolution. In a survey of 909 people, 77% of respondents in India agreed with Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and 85 per cent of God-believing people said they believe in evolution as well.[129][130]

As per Vedas, another explanation for the creation is based on the five elements: earth, water, fire, air and aether. The Hindu religion traces its beginnings to the sacred Vedas. Everything that is established in the Hindu faith such as the gods and goddesses, doctrines, chants, spiritual insights, etc. flow from the poetry of Vedic hymns. The Vedas offer an honor to the sun and moon, water and wind, and to the order in Nature that is universal. This naturalism is the beginning of what further becomes the connection between Hinduism and science.[131]

Islam

From an Islamic standpoint, science, the study of nature, is considered to be linked to the concept of Tawhid (the Oneness of God), as are all other branches of knowledge.[132] In Islam, nature is not seen as a separate entity, but rather as an integral part of Islam’s holistic outlook on God, humanity, and the world. The Islamic view of science and nature is continuous with that of religion and God. This link implies a sacred aspect to the pursuit of scientific knowledge by Muslims, as nature itself is viewed in the Qur’an as a compilation of signs pointing to the Divine.[133] It was with this understanding that science was studied and understood in Islamic civilizations, specifically during the eighth to sixteenth centuries, prior to the colonization of the Muslim world.[134] Robert Briffault, in The Making of Humanity, asserts that the very existence of science, as it is understood in the modern sense, is rooted in the scientific thought and knowledge that emerged in Islamic civilizations during this time.[135]

With the decline of Islamic Civilizations in the late Middle Ages and the rise of Europe, the Islamic scientific tradition shifted into a new period. Institutions that had existed for centuries in the Muslim world looked to the new scientific institutions of European powers.[citation needed] This changed the practice of science in the Muslim world, as Islamic scientists had to confront the western approach to scientific learning, which was based on a different philosophy of nature.[132] From the time of this initial upheaval of the Islamic scientific tradition to the present day, Muslim scientists and scholars have developed a spectrum of viewpoints on the place of scientific learning within the context of Islam, none of which are universally accepted or practiced.[136] However, most maintain the view that the acquisition of knowledge and scientific pursuit in general is not in disaccord with Islamic thought and religious belief.[132][136]

Ahmadiyya

The Ahmadiyya movement emphasize that there is no contradiction between Islam and science. For example, Ahmadi Muslims universally accept in principle the process of evolution, albeit divinely guided, and actively promote it. Over the course of several decades the movement has issued various publications in support of the scientific concepts behind the process of evolution, and frequently engages in promoting how religious scriptures, such as the Qur’an, supports the concept.[137] For general purposes, the second Khalifa of the community, Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood Ahmad says:

The Holy Quran directs attention towards science, time and again, rather than evoking prejudice against it. The Quran has never advised against studying science, lest the reader should become a non-believer; because it has no such fear or concern. The Holy Quran is not worried that if people will learn the laws of nature its spell will break. The Quran has not prevented people from science, rather it states, “Say, ‘Reflect on what is happening in the heavens and the earth.'” (Al Younus) [138]

Jainism

Jainism does not support belief in a creator deity. According to Jain doctrine, the universe and its constituents – soul, matter, space, time, and principles of motion have always existed (a static universe similar to that of Epicureanism and steady state cosmological model). All the constituents and actions are governed by universal natural laws. It is not possible to create matter out of nothing and hence the sum total of matter in the universe remains the same (similar to law of conservation of mass). Similarly, the soul of each living being is unique and uncreated and has existed since beginningless time.[a][139]

The Jain theory of causation holds that a cause and its effect are always identical in nature and hence a conscious and immaterial entity like God cannot create a material entity like the universe. Furthermore, according to the Jain concept of divinity, any soul who destroys its karmas and desires, achieves liberation. A soul who destroys all its passions and desires has no desire to interfere in the working of the universe. Moral rewards and sufferings are not the work of a divine being, but a result of an innate moral order in the cosmos; a self-regulating mechanism whereby the individual reaps the fruits of his own actions through the workings of the karmas.

Through the ages, Jain philosophers have adamantly rejected and opposed the concept of creator and omnipotent God and this has resulted in Jainism being labeled as nastika darsana or atheist philosophy by the rival religious philosophies. The theme of non-creationism and absence of omnipotent God and divine grace runs strongly in all the philosophical dimensions of Jainism, including its cosmology, karma, moksa and its moral code of conduct. Jainism asserts a religious and virtuous life is possible without the idea of a creator god.[140]

Perspectives from the Scientific Community

In the 17th century, founders of the Royal Society largely held conventional and orthodox religious views, and a number of them were prominent Churchmen.[141] While theological issues that had the potential to be divisive were typically excluded from formal discussions of the early Society, many of its fellows nonetheless believed that their scientific activities provided support for traditional religious belief.[142] Clerical involvement in the Royal Society remained high until the mid-nineteenth century, when science became more professionalised.[143]

Albert Einstein supported the compatibility of some interpretations of religion with science. In “Science, Philosophy and Religion, A Symposium” published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, Inc., New York in 1941, Einstein stated:

Accordingly, a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance and loftiness of those superpersonal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation. They exist with the same necessity and matter-of-factness as he himself. In this sense religion is the age-old endeavor of mankind to become clearly and completely conscious of these values and goals and constantly to strengthen and extend their effect. If one conceives of religion and science according to these definitions then a conflict between them appears impossible. For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary. Religion, on the other hand, deals only with evaluations of human thought and action: it cannot justifiably speak of facts and relationships between facts. According to this interpretation the well-known conflicts between religion and science in the past must all be ascribed to a misapprehension of the situation which has been described.[144]

Einstein thus expresses views of ethical non-naturalism (contrasted to ethical naturalism).

Prominent modern scientists who are atheists include evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and Nobel Prize–winning physicist Stephen Weinberg. Prominent scientists advocating religious belief include Nobel Prize–winning physicist and United Church of Christ member Charles Townes, evangelical Christian and past head of the Human Genome Project Francis Collins, and climatologist John T. Houghton.[41]

Studies on Scientists’ Beliefs

Statistical analysis of Nobel prizes awarded between 1901 and 2000 reveals that (65.4%) of Nobel Prizes Laureates, have identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference.[79] Specifically on the science related prizes, Christians have won a total of 72.5% of all the Chemistry, 65.3% in Physics, 62% in Medicine, and 54% in all Economics awards.[145] Jews have won 17.3% of the prizes in Chemistry, 26.2% in Medicine, and 25.9% in Physics.[145] Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers have won 7.1% of the prizes in Chemistry, 8.9% in Medicine, and 4.7% in Physics.[145] According to a study that was done by University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1998, 60% of Nobel prize laureates in physics from 1901 to 1990 had a Christian background.[146]

Many studies have been conducted in the United States and have generally found that scientists are less likely to believe in God than are the rest of the population. Precise definitions and statistics vary, but generally about 1/3 of scientists are atheists, 1/3 agnostic, and 1/3 have some belief in God (although some might be deistic, for example).[41][147][148] This is in contrast to the more than roughly 3/4 of the general population that believe in some God in the United States. Belief also varies slightly by field. Two surveys on physicists, geoscientists, biologists, mathematicians, and chemists have noted that, from those specializing in these fields, physicists had lowest percentage of belief in God (29%) while chemists had highest (41%).[147][149] Among members of the National Academy of Sciences, only 7.0% expressed personal belief, while 72.2% expressed disbelief and another 20.8% were agnostic concerning the existence of a personal god who answers prayer.[150]

In 1916, 1,000 leading American scientists were randomly chosen from American Men of Science and 41.8% believed God existed, 41.5% disbelieved, and 16.7% had doubts/did not know; however when the study was replicated 80 years later using American Men and Women of Science in 1996, results were very much the same with 39.3% believing God exists, 45.3% disbelieved, and 14.5% had doubts/did not know.[41][147] In the same 1996 survey, scientists in the fields of biology, mathematics, and physics/astronomy, belief in a god that is “in intellectual and affective communication with humankind” was most popular among mathematicians (about 45%) and least popular among physicists (about 22%). In total, in terms of belief toward a personal god and personal immortality, about 60% of United States scientists in these fields expressed either disbelief or agnosticism and about 40% expressed belief.[147] This compared with 58% in 1914 and 67% in 1933.[citation needed]

A survey conducted between 2005 and 2007 by Elaine Howard Ecklund of University at Buffalo, The State University of New York on 1,646 natural and social science professors at 21 elite US research universities found that, in terms of belief in God or a higher power, more than 60% expressed either disbelief or agnosticism and more than 30% expressed belief. More specifically, nearly 34% answered “I do not believe in God” and about 30% answered “I do not know if there is a God and there is no way to find out.”[151] In the same study, 28% said they believed in God and 8% believed in a higher power that was not God.[152] Ecklund stated that scientists were often able to consider themselves spiritual without religion or belief in god.[153] Ecklund and Scheitle concluded, from their study, that the individuals from non-religious backgrounds disproportionately had self-selected into scientific professions and that the assumption that becoming a scientist necessarily leads to loss of religion is untenable since the study did not strongly support the idea that scientists had dropped religious identities due to their scientific training.[154] Instead, factors such as upbringing, age, and family size were significant influences on religious identification since those who had religious upbringing were more likely to be religious and those who had a non-religious upbringing were more likely to not be religious.[151][154] The authors also found little difference in religiosity between social and natural scientists.[155]

In terms of perceptions, most social and natural scientists from 21 American elite universities did not perceive conflict between science and religion, while 36.6% did. However, in the study, scientists who had experienced limited exposure to religion tended to perceive conflict.[156] In the same study they found that nearly one in five atheist scientists who are parents (17%) are part of religious congregations and have attended a religious service more than once in the past year. Some of the reasons for doing so are their scientific identity (wishing to expose their children to all sources of knowledge so they can make up their own minds), spousal influence, and desire for community.[157]

A study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) were “much less religious than the general public,” with 51% believing in some form of deity or higher power. Specifically, 33% of those polled believe in God, 18% believe in a universal spirit or higher power, and 41% did not believe in either God or a higher power.[158] 48% say they have a religious affiliation, equal to the number who say they are not affiliated with any religious tradition. 17% were atheists, 11% were agnostics, 20% were nothing in particular, 8% were Jewish, 10% were Catholic, 16% were Protestant, 4% were Evangelical, 10% were other religion. The survey also found younger scientists to be “substantially more likely than their older counterparts to say they believe in God”. Among the surveyed fields, chemists were the most likely to say they believe in God.[149]

Religious beliefs of US professors were recently examined using a nationally representative sample of more than 1,400 professors. They found that in the social sciences: 23.4% did not believe in God, 16% did not know if God existed, 42.5% believed God existed, and 16% believed in a higher power. Out of the natural sciences: 19.5% did not believe in God, 32.9% did not know if God existed, 43.9% believed God existed, and 3.7% believed in a higher power.[159]

Farr Curlin, a University of Chicago Instructor in Medicine and a member of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, noted in a study that doctors tend to be science-minded religious people. He helped author a study that “found that 76 percent of doctors believe in God and 59 percent believe in some sort of afterlife.” and “90 percent of doctors in the United States attend religious services at least occasionally, compared to 81 percent of all adults.” He reasoned, “The responsibility to care for those who are suffering and the rewards of helping those in need resonate throughout most religious traditions.”[160]

Physicians in the United States, by contrast, are much more religious than scientists, with 76% stating a belief in God.[160]

Public Perceptions of Science

According to a 2007 poll by the Pew Forum, “while large majorities of Americans respect science and scientists, they are not always willing to accept scientific findings that squarely contradict their religious beliefs.”[161] The Pew Forum states that specific factual disagreements are “not common today”, though 40% to 50% of Americans do not accept the evolution of humans and other living things, with the “strongest opposition” coming from evangelical Christians at 65% saying life did not evolve.[161] 51% of the population believes humans and other living things evolved: 26% through natural selection only, 21% somehow guided, 4% don’t know.[161] In the U.S., biological evolution is the only concrete example of conflict where a significant portion of the American public denies scientific consensus for religious reasons.[161][162] In terms of advanced industrialized nations, the United States is the most religious.[161]

Creationism is not an exclusively American phenomenon. A poll on adult Europeans revealed that 40% believed in naturalistic evolution, 21% in theistic evolution, 20% in special creation, and 19% are undecided; with the highest concentrations of young earth creationists in Switzerland (21%), Austria (20.4%), Germany (18.1%).[163] Other countries such as Netherlands, Britain, and Australia have experienced growth in such views as well.[163]

Research on perceptions of science among the American public conclude that most religious groups see no general epistemological conflict with science and they have no differences with nonreligious groups in the propensity of seeking out scientific knowledge, although there may be subtle epistemic or moral conflicts when scientists make counterclaims to religious tenets.[164][165] Findings from the Pew Center note similar findings and also note that the majority of Americans (80-90%) show strong support for scientific research, agree that science makes society and individual’s lives better, and 8 in 10 Americans would be happy if their children were to become scientists.[166] Even strict creationists tend to have very favorable views on science.[162] A study on a national sample of US college students examined whether these students viewed the science / religion relationship as reflecting primarily conflict, collaboration, or independence. The study concluded that the majority of undergraduates in both the natural and social sciences do not see conflict between science and religion. Another finding in the study was that it is more likely for students to move away from a conflict perspective to an independence or collaboration perspective than towards a conflict view.[167]

In the US, people who had no religious affiliation were no more likely than the religious population to have New Age beliefs and practices.[168][relevant?discuss]

A study conducted on adolescents from Christian schools in Northern Ireland, noted a positive relationship between attitudes towards Christianity and science once attitudes towards scientism and creationism were accounted for.[169]

Cross-national studies, which have pooled data on religion and science from 1981-2001, have noted that countries with high religiosity also have stronger faith in science, while less religious countries have more skepticism of the impact of science and technology.[170] The United States is noted there as distinctive because of greater faith in both God and scientific progress. Other research cites the National Science Foundation‘s finding that America has more favorable public attitudes towards science than Europe, Russia, and Japan despite differences in levels of religiosity in these cultures.[162]

*****

For notes and references see Wikipedia link below.

Wikipedia Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_thinkers_in_science

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Religious Freedom Under Stress

Archdiocese of MiamiReligious Freedom Under Stress

Archbishop Thomas Wenski – The Archdiocese of Miami

 For several years now, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have observed what is called a Fortnight for Religious Freedom. It takes place from June 21 to Independence Day, July 4, 2015. During those days our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. Thomas More, a lawyer, and St. John Fisher, a bishop, but also St. John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome. The theme of this year’s Fortnight will focus on the “freedom to bear witness” to the truth of the Gospel.

Today, no one can doubt that religious freedom is under stress throughout the world. In today’s first reading we learn that among the first Christians was an Ethiopian and 21 centuries later Ethiopian Christians are being beheaded for their Christian faith on the beaches of Libya.

During the 20th Century, some 45 million Christians died because of their faith. And the trend continues, in 2011 the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 70 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with high restrictions on religious beliefs and practices. And nearly a third of the world’s population live in countries where either government restrictions on religion or social hostilities involving religion rose substantially in the first decade of the 21st Century. All you have to do is read the newspaper to confirm the Pew study.

And while atrocities are committed against peoples and institutions of all the world’s religions, the International Society for Human Rights estimates that 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians and that some 150,000 Christians are killed for the faith every year. So the Age of Martyrs did not conclude with the Peace of Constantine; it is still with us.

Even in our Western liberal democracies, discrimination against religion in general and Catholic Christianity in particular is growing – albeit in perhaps more sophisticated and less violent ways. Political analysts and human rights advocates do include religion on their agenda. But, most emphasize “tolerance” as if religion were only a source of conflict. Or, they speak about religion in terms of “individual choices” as if religion were merely the concern of an individual’s conviction and were devoid of any social consequences. And so in our country as in other Western countries, we see a tendency to relegate religion to the private sphere. And, in these countries, we see the courts chipping away at the original understanding of religious freedom. In order to fit new political agendas, religious freedom is being reinterpreted narrowly to mean merely “freedom to worship” but excluding the freedom to serve and/or the freedom to witness. The Catholic Church in this country is currently battling in legislatures and in courts against this tendency. And it is not clear that we will prevail. Education, family law, healthcare are just some of the areas in which narrow readings of religious freedom are paving the way for antireligious policies.

Yet, just as freedom of speech depends not only on one’s right to say what’s on one’s mind but also on the existence of institutions like newspapers, universities, libraries, political parties and other associations that make up what we call “civil society” so too freedom of religion must also encompass protecting those institutions that nourish the individual’s free exercise of religion.

Of course, today, given the profound changes that have occurred in the world due to globalization and in many societies because of a growing secularism which often also includes extreme forms of individualism, the question is how to find common values that promote social cohesion and allow for peace coexistence in society and at the same time respect religious freedom. Some are tempted to limit religious freedom in an effort to find pragmatic solutions to this question. But, attempts by the State to restrict fundamental values, like the right to life, or to oblige a person to go against his or her conscience, can never be justified – such attempts violate a person’s human dignity and will prove ultimately detrimental to society itself. As persons we live in relationships – and therefore, as I have already said, freedom of religion includes a communitarian and institutional aspect, as well as inter alia the right of each religion to establish its own rules, to exercise the power of self-organization and to disseminate its doctrine. The State cannot intrude on this process and can limit the exercise of institutional religious freedom only if there is a compelling interest and only by using least restrictive means.

In this country, at least up till now, thanks to the Religious freedom guaranteed by the first amendment, religious communities have been able to play an active role in society and to express their own vision of the human person and of the policies that rule society. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s was a religiously inspired movement; it was led by pastors, and those who marched gathered first in their churches. Some today resent the public advocacy of religious people and communities. They accuse us of trying to impose our views on others. Yet, as St. John Paul II explained, the Church does not impose, she proposes. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his movement for racial justice could not impose their views on the American people. They understood this – and, for this reason, they opted for non-violence. But they made a proposition that touched the conscience of a nation.

Professing religious faith should not make a person a second class citizen. While religion is personal, it is never private. The right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person. Religious freedom is the human right that guarantees all other rights – peace and creative living together will only be possible if freedom of religion is fully respected. Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman who wrote approvingly about our American experiment in democracy in the early 19th century, said: “Despotism may be able to do without faith but freedom cannot.”

But even as de Tocqueville pointed out almost 200 years ago, despotism comes in both soft and hard forms. Your patron, St. Thomas More, beheaded for refusing to consent to King Henry VIII’s takeover of the Church, fell victim to a hard despotism. This type of hard despotism is decimating the Christian populations of the Middle East. But, in this country and other liberal democracies, people of faith are being increasingly subject to a soft despotism in which ridicule, ostracism, and denial of employment opportunities of advancement are being used to marginalize us. We see this when butchers, and bakers and candlestick makers are being put into the legal dock for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs. A new religious intolerance has established itself in our country – and it is being propagated by those who claimed to have been victims of previous instances of intolerance. Christian pastors are stalked and threatened for being “Christian” pastors; social scientists are expelled from universities for having turned up “politically incorrect” facts; charitable organizations and confessional schools are harassed if they take seriously their faith’s moral precepts and required their employees to support their missions.

Today’s first reading tells us of the conversion of an African Ethiopian – he was certainly a man of some status and wealth. St. Luke, the author of Acts, tells us that he was a court official if not an official of the court. We are also told that he was a eunuch – so perhaps his status and wealth came at a great cost. And, I am sure among your peers – and certainly among your clients, you see how the pursuit of status and wealth can exact a frightening cost on one’s health, one’s integrity, and one’s family. Today, many in the pursuit of status and wealth have made themselves spiritual and moral eunuchs.

In an environment increasingly hostile to faith, you as Catholic professionals will also increasingly experience the soft despotism of this new intolerance. May the integrity and courage of St. Thomas More inspire you – and may his prayers strengthen you so that you will not consent to neuter yourselves just for worldly status and wealth.

Fortunately for him, that Ethiopian eunuch of today’s first reading, even as he rode on his chariot away from Jerusalem and back to his homeland, was not beyond the reach of God’s grace. Newly baptized by the deacon Philip, he returned home “rejoicing”. He who had paid a great price for wealth and status discovered a greater treasure in the joy of the gospel which came to him – as it comes to each one of us – as a free gift of God’s mercy thanks to Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.

Today, at this annual Red Mass, you come together as members of the legal profession but also as members of a faith community to invoke the assistance of the Holy Spirit. You seek a renewed outpouring of his seven fold gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

We pray seeking the Divine Assistance – and we pray with some confidence. For if that Ethiopian who, for those first evangelizers, represented someone who was from “really far away” was nevertheless not beyond the reach of God’s grace and mercy, then, despite all those lawyer jokes, neither you, nor any of your colleagues, are beyond the reach of God’s grace and mercy.

*****

 Article from: http://www.miamiarch.org/CatholicDiocese.php?op=Article_142981588628570

 

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Radical Hindus to Christians: Convert ‘Or Get Ready to Die’

Radical Hindus to India’s Christians: Convert ‘Or Get Ready to Die’

By Patrick Goodenoughhindu antichristian RSS Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh group 2015

Volunteers from the radical Hindu group RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) march during a camp in Ahmadabad, India on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File)

(CNSNews.com) – Radical Hindu nationalists closely aligned to the Indian government warned Christians in Punjab state late last year to prepare to convert to Hinduism “or get ready to die,” according to a complaint before a U.S. federal court.narendra modi india

A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York calls on the U.S. government to designate as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) a radical Hindu organization with close ties to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling party.

Late last week attorneys filed an amended complaint in a case brought by an advocacy group called Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) against Secretary of State John Kerry.

The amended document adds three additional plaintiffs, two Christians and a Muslim, who claim to be victims of a forced conversion campaign carried out by the Hindu group RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or National Volunteer Corps).

The three say that threats by RSS radicals determined to forcibly convert minorities to Hinduism have increased since Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won India’s general election last year.

Modi, a generally highly-regarded leader whose high-profile visit to Washington last fall was reciprocated when President Obama traveled to India in January, was once a full-time RSS activist, and the RSS is viewed as the BJP’s parent organization.

The complaint claims that Kerry ignored an SFJ appeal sent last December urging him to designate RSS as an FTO under U.S. law.

It wants the court to issue a judgment declaring RSS to be an FTO, for “practicing a fascist ideology and for running a passionate, vicious and violent campaign to turn India into a ‘Hindu’ nation with a homogeneous religious and ethnic identity.”

The complaint cites a recently-released report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent statutory watchdog, which criticized India for violations and recommended it be placed on a second-tier watch list of countries which the U.S. should closely monitor and encourage to reform.

“Based on the evidence and recent report of USCIRF, [the] Obama administration is bound under law to declare organizations like RSS as terror groups,” SFJ attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said in a statement after filing the amended complaint.

‘Forgo the foreign religion of Christianity’

India, which has the world’s second-biggest population of 1.2 billion, is predominantly Hindu, with a large Muslim minority. Christians account for just over two percent of the population, and Sikhs for about two percent.

According to court documents plaintiff Micheal Masih is a Christian who fled India because of RSS threats against him and his family “to abandon the Christian faith and convert to Hinduism.”

It says RSS activists invaded his home in Punjab state last November, saying they had received orders from RSS headquarters to warn all Christians in the area to prepare to convert to Hinduism “or get ready to die.”

Another plaintiff, Hasim Ali – a Muslim – reports that the RSS late last year began a campaign of forced “reconversion ceremonies,” and that under threat his family had gone into hiding.

“Prominent leaders of RSS have stated the party’s policy, goal and aim as there won’t be a single Muslim or Christian left in India,” the complaint says.

Plaintiff Kulwinder Singh is described as a Sikh who together with his family converted to Christianity of “their own free will,” but then started coming under RSS attack.

After Modi’s election victory, the complaint says, RSS members visited Singh’s home and said they had received orders from the RSS leadership “to warn all the Christians to forgo the foreign religion of Christianity and convert to ‘Hinduism.’”

Lawyers for Kerry say SFJ has no standing to bring the claim and that, even if it did, the complaint should still be dismissed because of the “political question doctrine” – a rule that removes the judiciary from controversies revolving around policy choices and questions which under the Constitution other branches of government are empowered to address.

“[N]either SFJ nor this Court possesses authority to compel the Secretary to designate an entity as a foreign terrorist organization – a discretionary action that implicates important foreign affairs and national security considerations, and which is entrusted to the political branches,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara argued in an earlier submission.

He said U.S. law authorizes the secretary of state to designate FTOs after considering factors including U.S. national security interests. Allowing a third party like SFJ to submit a letter, then seek legal remedy when that letter is not heeded in a way that it views as acceptable, would impede rather than enhance the process of FTO designation.

In its annual report published a month ago, the USCIRF referred to plans by Hindu national groups late last year to “reconvert” thousands of Christian and Muslim families to Hinduism under a program dubbed “homecoming.”

It said that “religious minority communities voice concern that high-ranking BJP members protect or provide support to these [radical Hindu] groups.”

The report did note favorably a public statement by Modi last February, to the effect his government “will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence.”

New Delhi reacted coolly [1] to the USCIRF assessment, which a foreign ministry spokesman said was “based on limited understanding of India, its constitution and its society.”

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke on Thursday described the agenda being pursued by the Obama and Modi administrations as “extremely broad and ambitious.”

*****

Article originally published on CNS News (http://www.cnsnews.com)

 

 

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Behind the Curtain of Political Rhetoric

hope and changeBehind the Curtain

Gov’t Records Reveal a Different Story

To many, this may seem to be a small and insignificant matter. But sometimes small things reveal the true nature and essence of a larger narrative. And when lives are at stake, those things are certainly not small and insignificant to the families and friends of the deceased. And, as we shall see, sometimes small matters left unchecked can turn into big problems with huge ramifications for the future.Barry and Hillary photo

We have recently learned and now know through the partial release of Department of Defense (DOD) documents that the Obama administration and (former) Secretary Hillary Clinton knew almost from the outset that the attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, was coordinated and pre-planned. Further, the DOD documents also provide confirmation that the Obama administration was well aware that weapons were being shipped from the Port of Benghazi to rebel troops in Syria.

During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the Qaddafi regime in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The Syrian ports were chosen due to the small amount of cargo traffic transiting these two ports. The ships used to transport the weapons were medium-sized and able to hold 10 or less shipping containers of cargo. The level of detail presented in the documents suggests that the Obama administration, (in the least) was in a position to stop any of these military weapon transfers.

Through more than 100 pages of previously classified “Secret” documents from the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of State, reveal that the DOD almost immediately reported the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was committed by the al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood-linked “Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman” (BCOAR), and had been planned at least 10 days in advance.

These DOD documents were not released voluntarily, but forced out of the secretive Obama administration, thanks to a court order that followed a May 15, 2014 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against both DOD and State asking for communications between the two agencies and congressional leaders “on matters related to the activities of any agency or department of the U.S. government at the Special Mission Compound and/or classified annex in Benghazi.” These documents show that the Benghazi cover-up has been in motion for years and is only now beginning to unravel. However, the State Department has so far (as of May 2015), only released some of Hillary Clinton’s secretly held emails concerning this matter.

The documents provide us with the first official confirmation that the U.S. government was aware of arms shipments from Benghazi to Syria. The documents also include an August 2012 analysis warning of the rise of ISIS and the predicted failure of the Obama policy of regime change in Syria. It is not clear however, from the first partial release, if the information was ever shared with Congress.

A Defense Department document from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), dated September 12, 2012, the day after the Benghazi attack, details that the attack on the compound had been carefully planned by the BOCAR terrorist group “to kill as many Americans as possible.” This document was sent to Hillary Clinton, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Obama White House National Security Council. The “report” says that the attack on the Benghazi facility “was planned and executed by The Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman (BCOAR).” The group subscribes to “AQ [al Qaeda] ideologies:” The Defense Department reported that the group maintained written documents that contain information on all of the “al Qaeda” activity in Libya.”

The attack was planned ten or more days prior on approximately September 1, 2012. The intention was to not only to attack the consulate [and]; (1) kill as many Americans as possible, but to (2) seek revenge for U.S. killing of Aboyahiye (ALALIBY)) in Pakistan and (3) as a memorial to the September, 11 2001 attacks on the American World Trade Center buildings.

“A violent radical,” the DIA report says, and “the leader of BCOAR is Abdul Baset ((AZUZ)), AZUZ was sent by ZAWARI to set up Al Qaeda (AQ) bases in Libya.” The group’s headquarters was set up with the approval of a “member of the Muslim Brotherhood.” “They have large caches of weapons and some of these caches are disguised by feeding troughs for livestock. They have SA-7 and SA-23/4 MANPADS…they train almost every day focusing on religious lessons and scriptures including three lessons a day of jihadist ideology.” It should also be noted that Azuz is blamed for the Benghazi attack in an October 2012 DIA document.

So, what’s the big deal, why should the weapons transfer from Bengazi to Syria be such an important issue? Because, the whole “Libya fiasco” was allowing weapons to move into a jihadist madhouse in the Syria-Iraq region! And that, as we have seen has had huge consequences in Iraq.

In another DIA report, written in August 2012 (the same time period the U.S. was monitoring weapons flows from Libya to Syria), it said that the opposition in Syria was driven by al Qaeda and other extremist Muslim groups: “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and al Qaeda Iraq are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” The growing sectarian direction of the war was predicted to have dire consequences for Iraq, which included the “grave danger” of the rise of ISIS: The deterioration of the situation has dire consequences on the Iraqi situation and are as follows: This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI [al Qaeda Iraq] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi, and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters. ISIS could also declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory. So, President Obama was forewarned about the dire consequences of the situation and made the decision to allow it to proceed.

Some of the “dire consequences” are blacked-out in the report, but the DIA presciently warned one such consequence would be the “renewing facilitation of terrorist elements from all over the Arab world entering into Iraqi Arena.” As it turned out, the DIA warnings were right on the nose as Isis terrorists are now on the march in Iraq. And now the murderous Islamic radicals, with volunteers courtesy of Obama’s Libya creation, have embarrassed America and taken many American military assets that we gave to the Iraqi military! Obama has essentially handed Iraq over to “radical Islamic extremists” and thrown away its previous liberation! This is a big “FU” to the American soldiers who fought to free Iraq, to the once liberated Iraqi people, and to the former President George Bush administration.

Presently — for corrupt and incompetent politicians like President Obama and Hillary Clinton, process is in their favor. Acquiring the necessary records and sludging through the judicial process is slow-going at best. (Not to mention the politically inspired stalling tactics of the Obama Administration in conjunction with Hillary Clinton). This slow-going process essentially provides cover for their cover-up. The strategy and hope for them is that the public will forget or dismiss what really happened in Bengazi, Libya. But, as we are clearly finding out; they lied, they mocked, and they covered-up (more than was suspected). And, remember what Hillary Clinton said at the time; “what difference at this point does it make.” Hillary’s words attempted to minimize the importance of her neglect, incompetence and suppression of evidence. In other words, yesterday’s lies don’t matter, (because) I’m compassionate, my intentions are good, and besides, I need to get to work for the American people; blah, blah, blah. But, as government records are revealing, the “difference” at this point has been devastating for the war on worldwide terrorism.

So, a note to “the people:” pay no attention to the words of the man or woman ‘behind the (media) curtain.’ Pay attention to what they actually do and how transparent they are.

*****

Note: This article is basically a brief report from Judicial Watch which I edited and added some of my own snarky comments. – P.C. Coker

 

 

 

 

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The Rise of Christian Capitalism

EmilyCarr-Indian-Church-1929The Rise of Christian Capitalism

By Edward Coleson

 Nearly two centuries ago a caricature of humanity was born, a strange creature called the “economic man.” He was supposed to be utterly amoral and interested in only one thing—making money. He allegedly pursued the coin of the realm with unflagging zeal and unswerving devotion. He was said to have no cultural interests, no sense of community, and no humanitarian concerns. He was actually an automated money-making machine. It is this “straw man” that is the target in the present heavy attack against capitalism by a lot of evangelical Christians. Those who have taken the trouble to do at least a little of their homework know about the economics of Spencer and Sumner, so familiar as “Social Darwinism.”AAA

One can concede that these men and their theories were unchristian, but certainly not more so than Marx or Keynes and their ideas. What these evangelical critics do not know or refuse to consider is that there was a Christian economics in the early part of the last century, the basis of Victorian prosperity and progress. This is no figment of my imagination: it can be abundantly documented from history.

It would no doubt be an overstatement to claim that Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, is a textbook in Christian capitalism. But it is also quite unfair to say, as did a prominent evangelical recently, that “Adam Smith, optimistically holding to fixed natural economic laws, did not realize that sin would promote greed….” He simply has not read the Wealth of Nations. On the contrary, Smith said, “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public….”

Nor was he a partisan of big business, as is commonly supposed. “The government of an exclusive company of merchants is,” he wrote, “perhaps, the worst of all governments….” Since he did not trust merchants and manufacturers because of their “mean rapacity,” he hoped to deny them political power. Yet he was no anarchist in spite of his misgivings about our political leaders: “The violence and injustice of the rulers of mankind is an ancient evil, for which, I am afraid, the nature of human affairs can scarce admit of a remedy.”

Whatever the inadequacies of Smith’s theology, he seemed to have gotten the doctrine of natural depravity straight. Of contemporary interest is his assertion that governments are “the greatest spend thrifts” and that:

When national debts have been accumulated to a certain degree … the liberation of the public revenue … has always been brought about by a bankruptcy; … though frequently by a pretended payment.

He then expounds on the iniquity of that “juggling trick” called inflation, which he regards as worse than “a fair, open and avowed bankruptcy.” It should be interesting to see if we handle our enormous public debts any better than our rude forefathers.

It is necessary to emphasize Adam Smith’s attitude toward government because a multitude of our contemporaries are sure that a laissez faire capitalist is necessarily an anarchist—there can be no other logical position. There are many right-wing anarchists in our midst today, but this is not a necessary alternative to the welfare state, socialism, communism, or some other form of statism. William Blackstone, the great legal authority of that age, stated in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in 1765, that the laws have no validity, if contrary to the higher law, “dictated by God Himself.”

John Wesley, the popular preacher of that day, said the same thing: “Notwithstanding ten thousand laws, right is right and wrong is wrong still.” Adam Smith’s economic system was based on this foundation: “Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way….”

If the “laws of justice,” the higher law “dictated by God Himself,” is the standard, then a farmer may grow any amount of any legitimate crop he chooses and dispose of it in any honest way, to take one of many possible examples.

It would seem that the Bible is so full of references to the centrality of God’s law, that it should be unnecessary to speak in support of the doctrine. However, there have been so many, from St. Paul’s antinomians, who were “not under law, but under grace,” to Joseph Fletcher’s “New Moralists,” that perhaps a word of explanation might be in order. Strictly speaking, the natural moral law of two centuries ago was an Enlightenment doctrine and was, to trace its ancestry, of heathen derivation—the Greek Stoics and the Roman Cicero were early advocates thereof—but this only proves that even pagans felt the need of God and His law. As Voltaire said, “If there were no God, we would have to invent one,” and one might add that if there were no higher law, we would have to invent its equivalent. Whatever the philosophical and theological problems with the concept of natural law, it was a basic tenet of our fathers two centuries ago, and the Hitlers and Stalins of our day have dramatically demonstrated that we can ill afford to be without something of the sort.

Another key concept of two centuries ago was the natural order, an idea quite foreign to modern thought. Needless to say, a multitude of people today would be horrified at the prospect of letting everyone across the earth produce all he could and then let the abundance flow across the earth like water. When Adam Smith was writing the Wealth of Nations two hundred years ago, many were equally frightened with full production and open markets. In fact, for centuries the nations of Europe had worked overtime, trying to restrict their meager production still more in spite of the poverty and hunger of so many of their people. The result was a bewilderingly complicated system, a patchwork of conflicting interests—a sort of economic crazy quilt—known to us as mercantilism.

The French, for instance, long before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, had a restrictive textile “code” which ran to more than three thousand pages. The French Physiocrats urged that there was a natural order into which the textile industry and everyone else would gravitate, which would guide them far more wisely than the government had or could. Adam Smith believed that the economy would run by itself, too. He insisted that behind the scenes was the “invisible hand,” which would guide our productive efforts in response to the enlightened self-interest of each individual as producer and consumer. He was certain that if the many political schemes for rigging the market in favor of selfish interests were “completely taken away, the obvious and simple system of natural liberty establishes itself of its own accord.”

If the appeal was to “Nature and to Nature’s God,” as Thomas Jefferson phrased it in the Declaration of Independence, they still recognized God, if in a detached and deistic way. To them these natural forces, which would run the economy so well, were like the law of gravity, and I guess we regard gravity in a rather impersonal fashion, too, whatever our theology may be.

If the founders of our political economy were hardly fervent evangelicals, the men who finally put it into practice were. We should remember that there was a long time lag between the publication of the Wealth of Nations in 1776 and the application of the theory contained therein, the “Repeal of the Corn Laws,” which was finally accomplished in 1846. During those long years, the Wesleyan revival was a powerful force, even decades after Wesley’s death. It was much more than revival, in the narrow sense, too. In 1772 the first of the great evangelical reforms was accomplished, the freeing of the slaves in England. The King’s Bench, the English Supreme Court, freed them because slavery was contrary to God’s law.

Years later a young aristocrat, William Wilberforce, M.P. (Member of Parliament), was converted and, after much soul searching, decided to devote his political talents to abolition and reform. He became the nucleus of a small group of influential evangelicals who lived in a London suburb, Clapham Common, and promoted all the worthy causes. Wilberforce was called “the authorized interpreter of the national conscience,” and he and his devout neighbors were dubbed the “Saints” or the “Clapham Sect” by their political opponents. According to Earle E. Cairns,  the Clapham Sect accomplished more of a constructive nature than any reform movement in history. It was out of this context of revival and reform that Victorian free enterprise and free trade were born.

The Clapham Sect make an interesting study, particularly when contrasted with today’s “Evangelicals of the Left,” if I may coin a term, too. It is beyond the comprehension of many contemporary Christians how any Bible-believing Christian can be a laissez-faire capitalist. Richard Pierard even wrote an eloquent book, The Unequal Yoke, dedicated to the proposition that such a position “violates the basic ethical principles of Christianity.”

Since he mentions me at least three times in the book, the volume is quite interesting. One may concede that many present day conservatives—“radicals of the right,” to use his language—are all mixed up, but are they more so than today’s left-wing evangelicals? It is true that the grandchildren of these same Claphamites formed another exclusive and influential clique, the Bloomsbury Circle—not laissez-faire capitalists like their fathers before them, but Fabian Socialists. This may suggest that the free-enterprise philosophy is untenable, but it is interesting to note that the Bloomsbury Circle was an immoral bunch and militantly anti-Christian. This “century-long migration of English … intellectuals from Clapham to Bloomsbury,” as a recent writer calls it, makes an interesting study. It is precisely the same transition that many evangelicals have been making in the last generation. It will be interesting to see if they can keep their Christian faith in the process.

The informed reader may wonder why I mentioned the Clapham Sect and the reform movement growing out of the Wesleyan revival at all. Was not British free trade the work of the Anti-Corn Law League and the consequence of “Manchester economics,” not the activities of the Clapham Sect? This is true. It is also true that the members of the league made it very clear from the beginning that their free trade program was based “on the same righteous principles” as the recent and very successful abolition movement. This, of course, could have been a gimmick; they were skillful propagandists, as indeed the abolitionists had been. However, this is unfair, as should be evident as we pursue the story. It is also unfair to claim (the famous Williams-Coup-land controversy) that the abolition of slavery can best be explained on economic grounds, that it simply faded away (with a little push from Wilberforce) when it ceased to be profitable. But as J. C. Furnas has pointed out, ships were still smuggling slaves into our South until the Civil War, with captains and crews receiving wages highly eloquent of how extremely well slave smuggling paid.

During the long years of debate over slavery (the English slave trade was abolished in 1807 and plantation slavery in the colonies in 1834), the economic argument did come up, but Wilberforce and his associates insisted that “a Christian country should be glad to give up profits which are made out of human shame and misery.”

This is Christian economics: the profit motive is legitimate, but there can be more important considerations. It should be added that they believed that what is morally right is the more expedient policy in the long run, that sound economics is simply Christian ethics. Adam Smith had said long before that slavery was uneconomic (free men were more productive) but the ancient evil continued.

Wilberforce did not wait for slavery to fade away spontaneously. This is an important point because conservatives today allegedly have a “do-nothing” social policy. Perhaps so, but the Clapham Sect and the Anti-Corn Law League were laissez-faire economists, evangelicals, and active reformers. It has been done. Furthermore, back in this “Age of Reform,” it appears that many people, like Alexander, were looking for other worlds to conquer. One successful venture lead to another.

Perhaps a few words of explanation are necessary in discussing the English Corn-Law problem. Firstly, “corn” to them is grain, probably wheat in this case. Secondly, the Corn Laws were the British “farm program,” an ancient attempt to keep the farmers happy, although some thought had been given to the consumers too. More recently, it seemed that the landed aristocrats who were running England were mostly concerned with their own interests and were indifferent to the suffering of the poor. Just providing bread, the meagerest sort of a diet, for the family has always been a major problem for ordinary people in any preindustrial society and still is in the so-called underdeveloped countries today—as some of us know, who have been out where people are hungry. Two centuries ago in England it cost a common laborer five day’s pay for a bushel of wheat. A generation later, with the Napoleonic Wars and bad harvests, the price eventually rose to about two week’s pay.

At this time of great crisis, Parliament decided to increase the tariff on imported grain and in effect, make bread even more scarce and expensive. Needless to say, this was too much for many people. As the reader knows, there have been loud protests in America recently that the price of food is getting out of hand; we who can buy a bushel of wheat, if we want one, for an hour’s pay, more or less, will find it hard to comprehend the depths of their poverty, but perhaps we can understand their feeling of outrage. This set the stage for about thirty years of chronic discontent, although in the short run most people felt there wasn’t much they could do about it. After all, the landlords ran the country and they were not disposed to let in cheap grain from abroad to relieve the situation. Finally, with the Reform Bill of 1832, the power of the landed gentry was curtailed, if not broken, and the way was cleared to do something about Corn Laws and high food prices, although nothing happened immediately. It is interesting to note that the new Parliament attended to a moral problem which was geographically quite remote: they abolished slavery in the colonies and voted twenty million pounds out of domestic taxation to compensate the slave owners. The more immediate problem of bread they attended to a little later. In all fairness, no doubt politics explains the delay, however, not a selfless Christian charity.

With the founding of the Anti-Corn Law League in 1838, organized opposition to the British “farm program” began to gather force. Started in Manchester by seven men meeting “behind a dingy red curtain in a room above the hotel stables,” the League quickly became a political power. While their objectives were clearly practical, the repeal of duties on imported grain and tariffs in general, the campaign:

was conceived in humanitarian and religious as well as economic terms. The very language of men like Cobden and even more later on of John Bright was dominated by Biblical metaphors and images. Texts sprang to their lips as easily as statistics….”

 The campaign became “the politics of the Gospel,” and they sought to make Manchester the center for the propagation of this new “Christian Economics” (to borrow a phrase from Dr. Kershner), “just as Jerusalem was the center of our faith.” A great conference for the clergy was held at Manchester in 1841, and soon ministers were denouncing the iniquities of the “bread tax” and preaching the blessings of free trade. In the early Victorian era when many people took their Bibles very seriously indeed, this proved to be a very effective propaganda approach. Certainly with John Bright, the devout Quaker, this was no act; while he, as a businessman, expected to gain by free trade, he could be equally adamant about ethical issues when he knew he would lose, such as when he opposed the Crimean War a few years later, and lost his seat in Parliament. Bright’s political policy was based on “an omnipotent and eternal moral law,” and he was not prepared to adjust his views to suit anybody, not even the folks he represented. If his fellow Victorians were not as consistent as he over the long run, still their moral earnestness gave the famous “Battle of the League” the quality of a holy crusade, a campaign for cheaper bread for the hungry multitudes.

Men like Bright and Cobden were businessmen and politicians, not theoreticians, but the philosopher soon appeared to supply the “Christian Economics.” Economics had had a respectable and moral beginning with Adam Smith, but had fallen on evil days with the pessimism of “Parson Malthus” and his famous population essay of 1798. This starvation brand of social theory had earned economics the somber nickname of that “dismal science.” As a recent writer has pointed out:

The British free-traders were much embarrassed …by the dismal parts of the “dismal science,” and avidly seized upon the purified version of economics presented by the Frenchman, Frederic Bastiat. In a sense, he is the “classical” Manchester theorist. A brilliant writer, he achieved world fame with his parable of the candle-makers….

In reading him, it is not hard to discover why Bright and Cobden “avidly seized upon” his “version” of economics. As Bastiat says in his Harmonies of Political Economy:

There is a leading idea which runs through the whole of this work, which pervades and animates every page and every line of it; and that idea is embodied in the opening words of the Christian Creed, I believe in God.

 One is reminded of Winston Smith, the hero of Orwell’s 1984, who took his beginning, the basis for straightening out the world, from the proposition that if “two plus two make four, all else follows.” For Bastiat, the existence and goodness of God formed the foundation for his philosophical system. For him as with Saint Paul, “All things work together for good to them” who are in harmony with the Creator and His divine plan (Rom. 8:28). From this he deduced the basis for his economic system: “All men’s impulses, when motivated by legitimate self-interest, fall into a harmonious social pattern.”

Therefore, there is no necessary conflict between nations or individuals, between capital and labor, between ruler and subjects, between parents and children. One is reminded of St. James’s question: “From whence come wars and fightings among you?” (James 4:1). Bastiat also believed that they came of “our lusts,” and represented an unnecessary and disastrous conflict where ultimately nobody wins and everybody loses. He was not alone in this belief. According to John Stuart Mill, “every true reformer” should pray that the Lord would:

“enlighten … our enemies, … sharpen their wits, give acuteness to their perceptions…. We are in danger from their folly, not from their wisdom….”

 Bastiat rejected “the frightful blasphemy” that life on this earth is inevitably a struggle, “red in tooth and claw,” as Tennyson expressed it—God simply could not have made the world like that. To understand why Bastiat’s “purified version of economics,” based on the natural harmony of legitimate interests, had such great appeal to the League and others, it is well to remember that William Paley’s doctrine of Design still dominated English thought. Scholars were producing ponderous volumes showing the wonders of the Creator’s handiwork in a universe where all things work together in harmony. Bastiat’s harmonious economics was just part of the larger plan. He also arrived just in the nick of time to supply the League with convincing economic arguments for what they believed and wanted to do anyway. While the details of the “Battle of the League,” as it has been called, would exceed our present limited space, the broad pattern is not that complicated. The Anti-Corn Law League was an organization of eager and committed individuals who produced propaganda by the ton (no figure of speech—as many as three and a half tons of free-trade tracts were shipped from Manchester in a single week). They organized meetings, large and small, and spoke to any who would listen. When crops were poor and bread was high, people did tend to listen to them, too, but, when grain was more abundant and cheap, they found less interest. Sweeping reductions in tariffs by Robert Peel’s government placated the lukewarm and middle-of-the-road supporters of the cause. In fact, there seemed little hope of success when “Nature” suddenly intervened. The fall rains of 1845, “the wettest autumn in the memory of man,” finally turned the tide in favor of the League. “It was the rain that rained away the Corn Laws,” said the biographer of Richard Cobden.

With Ireland starving (a half million or perhaps two million did starve, depending on whose guess you want to believe) and with England only a little better off, something drastic had to be done, and the Anti-Corn Law League made the most of their opportunity. In a dramatic switch, Prime Minister Peel deserted his party and protectionism. In June of 1846 the repeal of the Corn Laws was accomplished. Some of the exultation of that moment of triumph may be sensed from this little poem, dedicated to R. Cobden :

God said, “Let there be light;” and to,

Light sprang forth at His word.

God said, “Let there be bread;” but no,

Man heeded not the Lord.

But Cobden rose like wisdom’s star

From knowledge’s bright sea,

And Knaves were hush’d and tyrants crush’d

And labour’s bread was free.

 More correctly, it was less expensive because the new flood of cheap grain from America could come in unrestrained—a great boon to our Western farmers, if not to English agriculture. It is interesting to note that Lord Ashley, that great evangelical reformer, voted for free trade in grain, although he was a landed aristocrat. He voted for it because it was right. It was this conviction that their cause was righteous which carried the day for the League.

With this first great hurdle cleared, England soon went on to abolish most of the remaining tariffs and emerged as the great free-trade nation. Soon the Western European nations were following the British example. Unfortunately, the United States did not follow the fashion. It is interesting to note that the high tariff policy which the North insisted upon nearly lead to war with the South a generation before the Civil War came—about the time, in fact, that English reformers were freeing their own slaves in the colonies, which they accomplished without war. Cobbett had rejoiced when he came over here in 1818 that America had “No Wilberforces. Think of that! No Wilberforces.”

We had no Cobden and Bright, either. We did have a disastrous Civil War, however, over the unresolved problem of slavery and tariffs. If we had no William Wilberforce, we did have John Brown of Harper’s Ferry. Our failure on slavery still haunts us, and our unresolved economic problems threaten daily to overwhelm us. In this hour of national crisis, can we learn from these Christian statesmen of long ago?

Perhaps one of the highest tributes to Victorian economic policy ever written was penned by an Austrian socialist, Karl Polanyi. He entitles the first chapter of his book, The Great Transformation, with the attractive title, “The Hundred Years’ Peace.” He then points out that nineteenth-century civilization rested on four institutions: the balance of power, the gold standard, the market economy (free enterprise and free trade), and limited government. After commending the system for producing this long period of relative peace in Europe (1815 to 1914–Waterloo to the “Guns of August”), and providing “an unheard-of material welfare,” he then complains that their good luck could not have continued—“a self-adjusting market implied a stark utopia.” As is evident from reading the rest of the book, he regards capitalism as laissez-faire anarchism, as “survival of the fittest,” or, more correctly, the most cunning and ruthless. He does not see the possibility of freedom under law—God’s law—something we who call ourselves Christian have well nigh forgotten, too.

Like the author of the book of Hebrews, “What shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell …” of the many other accomplishments of those Christian statesmen of long ago: of the liquidation of a welfare system that even Polanyi with his socialist bias allows was “ghastly” in its social consequences; of a reduction of income taxes under William E. Gladstone from five to two percent; of a great increase of “law and order” in England; of a global investment program that spread prosperity and economic development across the earth much more effectively than our foreign aid attempts have—and much more. Little wonder that a recent writer has lamented, “In our own unpleasant century we are mostly displaced persons and many feel tempted to take flight into the nineteenth as into a promised land….”

Yet there is little use in trying to flee to the past. It would make much more sense courageously to face our present problems and the future. Whatever success they may have had long ago was by no secret formula: their Faith can be our Faith and their God our God, for:

Like the author of the book of Hebrews, “What shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell …” of the many other accomplishments of those Christian statesmen of long ago: of the liquidation of a welfare system that even Polanyi with his socialist bias allows was “ghastly” in its social consequences; of a reduction of income taxes under William E. Gladstone from five to two percent; of a great increase of “law and order” in England; of a global investment program that spread prosperity and economic development across the earth much more effectively than our foreign aid attempts have—and much more. Little wonder that a recent writer has lamented, “In our own unpleasant century we are mostly displaced persons and many feel tempted to take flight into the nineteenth as into a promised land….”

Yet there is little use in trying to flee to the past. It would make much more sense courageously to face our present problems and the future. Whatever success they may have had long ago was by no secret formula: their Faith can be our Faith and their God our God, for—

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chron. 7:14)

*****

Article from Chalcedon.edu; The Journal of Christian Reconstruction Vol. 2, Number 1; Symposium on Christian Economics. 1975.

Sources

  1. Richard Hofstadter, Social Darwinism in American Thought (Boston: Beacon Press, 1955), 31–66.
  2. Earle E. Cairns, Saints and Society (Chicago: Moody Press, 1960), 21.
  3. Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Modern Library ed. (New York: Random House, 1937), 128.
  4. Ibid., 537.
  5. Ibid., 460.
  6. Ibid., 329.
  7. Ibid., 882
  8. William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, vol. I, Lewis ed. (Philadelphia: Rees Welsh and Co., 1902), 31.
  9. John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley, vol. XI (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, reprinted from the edition of the Wesleyan Conference Office in London, 1872), 70.
  10. Smith, Wealth of Nations, 651.
  11. John M. Ferguson, Landmarks of Economic Thought (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1938), 50.
  12. Smith, Wealth of Nations, 423.
  13. Ibid., 651.
  14. Cairns, Saints and Society, 43.
  15. Richard V. Pierard, The Unequal Yoke (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippencott, 1970), 73.
  16. Robert Langbaum, The Victorian Age (Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications, Inc., 1967), 9.
  17. George Barnett Smith, The Life and Speeches of the Right Hon. John Bright, M.P., vol. I (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1881), 133.
  18. Reginald Coupland, The British Anti-Slavery Movement, 2nd ed. (London: Frank Cass and Co., 1964), xvii-xxi; discussion of controversy by J. D. Fage, who wrote the preface to the second edition.
  19. J. C. Furnas, The Road to Harper’s Ferry (New York: William Sloane Associates, 1959), 162.
  20. W. E. F. Ward, The Royal Navy and the Slavers (London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1969), 19.
  21. Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, 365.
  22. Robert L. Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers, 4th ed. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972), 79.
  23. Asa Briggs, The Making of England, 1783–1867: The Age of Improvement (New York: Harper and Row, Harper Torchbook, 1965), 315.
  24. Eduard Heimann, History of Economic Doctrines (New York: Oxford University Press, Galaxy Books, 1964), 123–124.
  25. Frederic Bastiat, Social Fallacies (Santa Ana, CA: Register Publishing Co., 1944),1.
  26. Frederic Bastiat, Economic Harmonies (Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand Co., 1964), xxi.
  27. Langbaum, Victorian Age., 121.
  28. Frederic Bastiat, Economic Sophisms (Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand, 1964), 88.
  29. A. Cressy Morrison, Man Does Not Stand Alone (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1944), 7, 8.
  30. Dean Russell, Frederic Bastiat: Ideas and Influence (Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: Foundation for Economic Education, 1965), 75.
  31. Cairns, Saints and Society, 118.
  32. Brooks Atkinson, ed., The Complete Essays and Other Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Modern Library ed. (New York: Random House), 831–857.
  33. Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (New York: Capricorn Books, 1966), 155.
  34. Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (Boston: Beacon Press, 1957), 80.
  35. Asa Briggs, Victorian People (New York: Harper and Row, Colophon Books, 1955), 7.
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The Injustice of Just Price, Just Wages, Just Compensation, and Value Theory

Labor and Unequal ExchangeMises Institute

By Timothy D. Terrell

 [Recently] I attended a conference on Christianity and economics at Baylor University. I presented a paper of my own, on the necessity of the price system to environmental stewardship, but mostly I just listened. The conference was good for me, in many ways. I intentionally went to sessions that I expected would include papers that would challenge my usual way of thinking about economics. There was no shortage of these.times square

Some of the presentations I heard were restatements of arguments for the “just price.” Most related this in some way to labor markets, so the relevant version of the just price argument was the one advocating just wages or just compensation. The case for just wages has a lengthy history, but some fatal flaws. Problems with value theory are at the core.

busyOne presenter stated, early in his presentation, that in a just exchange, one receives as much value as one gives. He seemed to believe that this was indisputable. Yet, as a little consideration shows, this implies that no exchange can be just. If one receives as much value as one gives, what would be the reason for trade? Why would someone incur even the slightest cost in searching out, negotiating, and concluding a transaction, if he receives nothing more valuable to him than what he gives in exchange?wall street

The reason anyone engages in trade is that there is the expectation of being better off as a result. Both parties to the transaction have the same intention. And both are able to succeed in improving their situations — each receiving more value than he gives — because subjective valuations of the same objects are different from one individual to the next. If I have an apple and you have a banana, and I want a banana while you want an apple, we can set up a mutually beneficial exchange. If the banana is more valuable to me than an apple, I benefit. If the apple is more valuable to you than the banana, then you benefit as well. The same idea of mutually exchange applies to the labor market. The employer and the employee can both benefit from the exchange of dollars for labor services. Exchange is not zero-sum.

Both parties can therefore benefit in any exchange, though sometimes the expected benefits do not pan out. I might buy a car only to find out that it is a lemon, but before the exchange I expected to benefit. Without perfect foresight, this problem will exist even where there is no fraud.

The idea of subjective value indicates that only the participants in the transaction can assess their gains from the trade. No outside observer can measure the gains to the buyer or the gains to the seller. (Actually, the distinction between buyer and seller, or between employer and employee, is not as clear as it may appear on the surface — e.g., an employer is selling dollars.) Therefore, no outside observer can claim that the exchange was unjust if both parties made the exchange voluntarily and without misrepresentation of what is being sold.

I approached the presenter after the session was over and asked a few questions. Though various distractions prevented the discussion from proceeding very far, my aim was to convince him that a low wage is not a prima facie sign of injustice. Some Christians who are persuaded by just compensation arguments liken low-wage laborers to slaves. “Slaving away” for a boss is not merely a figure of speech, in their view. Biblical admonitions to free slaves (e.g. Leviticus 25:39-41) are read as arguments for minimum wages or other interventions into labor agreements.

Perhaps the wage is not high enough to allow the employee to escape from poverty, but that is not evidence of injustice. Scripture does not give the employee a right to an amount of wealth sufficient to maintain a certain standard of living, just as it does not give the entrepreneur a right to success in business. Yet voluntary labor agreements make both parties better off. If a free laborer voluntarily works for 50 cents an hour, the only reason he would do so is because he perceives the wage as better than any other known alternative. As long as the laborer is able to seek alternative forms of employment (i.e., is not a slave), competition in the labor market will tend to push wages to the point where the employee is receiving a little more than his next best option, and the employer is receiving a little more in products generated by the employee than the cost of paying the employee. Both parties benefit.

The employee could not receive more without incurring search costs that he is not willing to bear, or acquiring training or skills that would increase his value to the employer. A second employer who would make 60 cents an hour from having that worker on his payroll would have an incentive to hire that person away from the first employer, and pay somewhere between 50 and 60 cents per hour to the worker (say 55 cents). Both the employee and the employer would benefit. A third employer who expects to make $1.00 an hour from having that worker on the payroll would hire the worker away from the second employer at somewhere between 55 cents and $1.

Trying to eliminate the competitiveness of this market by claiming that the worker has no choice but to work for one employer (“monopsony,” in economics lingo) is unrealistic. People move between jobs to get higher pay all the time. They also move in and out of the labor force, indicating that there is at least something productive they can do with their time without being employed. In any case, monopsony has a limited effect on wages: it can never force the laborer to work for a wage that is less than what he could make if self-employed.

The kind of value theory that is behind “just wage” theories was debunked long ago. Yet the misunderstandings persist, and destructive policies like minimum wages and mandatory benefits follow. What is worse, these ideas foster a cynicism and suspicion of business. The Bible, in contrast, lends support to freedom in labor agreements. The terms of employment are to be determined by mutual agreement between the employer and the worker, with only a few restrictions — the fourth commandment (Ex. 20:8), laws concerning bondservants (e.g., Deut. 15:12-18), and the requirement that agreed-upon wages not be delayed (Deut. 24:14). Instead of imposing human ideas of justice on each other, let us not call unjust what God has not called unjust.

*****

Timothy Terrell teaches economics at a small college in South Carolina. He is also director of the Center for Biblical Law and Economics, at http://www.christ-college.edu/html/cble/. Dr. Terrell can be contacted at terrelltd@marketswork.com.

Article from http://www.chalcedon.edu

 

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Discrimination, Rights, and Equal Protection

Ryan Bomberger 1The Inequality of “Equality”

By Ryan Bomberger

Words have meaning. Well, until we decide to strip that meaning from them by expanding their definition to suit our ideology. “Equality” is a concept that is thrown about all the time. Ensuring it has become a religion with the devout willing to do anything to force it upon everyone.

gay paradeRecently, gay “rights” groups continued their attacks on TLC’s Duggar family for supporting our First Amendment freedoms by encouraging the repeal of an intrusive and unconstitutional Chapter 119 city ordinance. Just one provision tells you how far LGBT activists will go to muddle reality:

“Discriminate, Discrimination or Discriminatory means any act, policy or practice that has the effect of subjecting any person to differential treatment as a result of that person’s real or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, age (if 18 years of age or older), gender, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, socioeconomic background, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or veteran status.”

Ok, wait. So if someone is black, it could just be a perception thing? Ones veteran status could be real or perceived? The rhetorical acrobatics one has to go through to justify LGBT activism is mind-bending.

In addition to establishing the unscientific assertion that gender is simply a fluid personal choice and that homosexuality is equivalent to innate characteristics like pigmentation and age, the ordinance also declared that transgendered people (with no proof that they are actually “transsexual”) can use the public bathroom of their choice.

The Duggars, churches, business owners and the majority of Fayetteville, Arkansas residents (52 percent) passionately disagreed with the Chapter 119 Ordinance and voted to repeal it.

Homosexual activists are always invoking the Fourteenth Amendment (while conveniently ignoring the First Amendment) and demanding “equal protection.” Well, what about equal protection for women and girls? So, an infinitesimal percentage of the population’s emotional discomfort should overshadow the privacy and safety of females?

Before an LGBT activist spits pink, I’m not saying that every transgender person is violent, but it creates an understandable atmosphere of concern. Most parents understand this.

Laverne Cox, transgender male, who stars in Netflix’ sexually explicit and violent TV series, Orange is the New Black, made a public stand for a fellow transgendered male—a convicted rapist and murderer. Laverne was featured in a video for the Silvia Rivera Law Project supporting Synthia China Blast. The transsexual male’s internal brokenness led him to commit the heinous 1993 rape and murder of 13 year old Ebony Nicole Williams, a young black runaway from Harlem. Her mutilated and molested corpse could only be identified by dental records.

But like most identity politics the person who aligns with your ideology can do no wrong. Once news reports criticized his support of a convicted rapist and murderer, Laverne Cox apparently went into public relations mode and requested that his support video be removed. You would think Laverne would’ve Googled the prisoner’s name to find out why he was actually convicted before he publicly defended Luis Morales (aka Synthia China Blast).

Too bad Ebony Nicole Williams didn’t get equal treatment from Laverne Cox or the Sylvia Rivera Project, which demands humanity for convicted transgender prisoners but ignores the grotesque inhumanity shown toward their victims.

Our hashtag-driven society rarely looks beyond the buzz words to the content that gives context to LGBT issues. The inequality of “equality” is spreading like wildfire across the country, and many of these efforts are led by HRC (Human Rights Campaign), a leading gay “rights” group. I find it interesting how multi-million-dollar LGBT activist groups, who decry “discrimination” against homosexuals, are some of the leading voices in the support of the ultimate violent discrimination—abortion. HRC is even directly funded by Planned Parenthood, according to the abortion chain’s most recent tax filings (2013 and 2012).

Incidentally, the pro-abortion founder of HRC, Terrance Patrick Bean, was recently convicted by a grand jury for allegedly raping a 15-year old boy. Of course, the group he founded is also behind criminalizing any therapy or counseling for minors with unwanted same-sex attraction that is the result of sexual molestation. How convenient.

Mainstream media works overtime to present homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism in the most positive light possible. Anyone who dares to challenge the whitewashed narrative is branded a “hater”. Well, the only thing I hate is a lie. I love people and know how powerfully love can illuminate the human condition. Doesn’t everyone deserve the truth? No one is free when our words are policed, our faith is legislatively dictated, and facts are forced into the closet.

*****

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