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The death of Christian privilege Mankind killed God and ushered in an age of persecution

Penitents of the Cofradia del Silencio during a Holy Week (Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Penitents of the Cofradia del Silencio during a Holy Week (Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)


April 10, 2023   7 mins

In a cemetery near the fishing village of Mousehole, in Cornwall, stands a memorial stone to Dolly Pentreath. Erected in 1860, it commemorates her death in 1777: already, by then, the last known native speaker of the Cornish language.

What would it be like to watch your language die over your lifetime? A language encodes a way of looking at the world, as much as of interacting with others. The many Inuit words for “snow” may or may not be apocryphal, but the legend captures something true: a language goes into great detail on subjects its speakers believe important. What would it be like to be the only one left for whom these words, those sentences, felt natural and obvious?

In a similar way, a religious faith is a moral language. A faith goes into great detail on themes its speakers believe important. Moral languages can also die, or evolve into something new, as (for whatever reason) its adherents stop passing on its grammar and priorities.

These gloomy thoughts percolated last Sunday as I sat, with my daughter on my lap, gazing around the 800-year-old nave of a little Norman church near our home, as we listened to the Palm Sunday reading of the Passion of Christ. This story is the heart of the Christian faith: it describes an incarnate God, acclaimed in his own capital city as Messiah — and betrayed in the moment of worldly triumph. It tells of that deity swarmed by a mocking crowd, and abandoned by even the disciples who swore never to do so. It recounts his death on the cross, as a criminal flanked by criminals, crying out at the last moment of agony about having been forsaken by the God in whom he trusted.

Today, we view the cross through a 2,000-year prism of Christian meanings. In the pre-Christian tradition absorbed into that symbolism, though, it was often held to symbolise the four material elements of earth, air, fire, and water. And from this perspective, we might read the Crucifixion as in part the story of a God that doesn’t just willingly take on flesh, but also the profound suffering that comes with embodied life: limitation, pain, and — finally — agonising death, in the certainty of having been forsaken by the divine.

And in this sense, the two-millennia trajectory of the Christian Church also echoes the Passion narrative. A faith born among the poor, rising to immense worldly reach and power; even in that little church, one of thousands throughout England, gravestones and memorials mark more than 800 years of the great and the good whose lives pepper this story. Then, the same institution, crippled from within at the moment of peak political reach, and now spiralling toward irrelevance.

The Passion, and the Holy Week in which it’s celebrated, is the central festival in the Christian liturgical calendar. Not so long ago, whole communities would have turned out to celebrate it. Last weekend, though, nearly all of the thin congregation was over 60. What will happen to that unbroken fabric of cultural continuity when people stop showing up? Will my daughter, like Dolly Pentreath, see her native moral grammar and way of looking at the world fade and disappear?

But it makes sense that we should have arrived here. For the history of the Christian Church is also the long history of its slow death on the cross of matter. We can’t separate the history of Christianity from that of scientific modernity — which is to say, from our trajectory away from enchantment, and into the material world. It was movable type and the proliferation of Bibles, then the spread of literacy and thereafter the break with papal authority, that opened space for the first stirrings of modern natural science. With that science came the steady withdrawal of God from His creation, first (per Descartes) into mechanistic principles, and finally (per Nietzsche) from widespread observance altogether: killed by our own hand. In the space left by our murder of God, Nietzsche claims, we may now attempt to create our own values and, if we can, to live by them.

These shifts have consequences that reach far wider than individual ruminations, or small provincial churches. For as God has given way to (or been sacrificed for) science, so money and congregants have drained away, and moral authority has departed with them. Today, opponents howl about “Christian privilege”, but the reality is that the inverse operates. Where the Christian moral grammar once formed the common structure within which other religious outlooks were more or less tolerated, Christians are now a minority within a framework that has adopted some of its ideas, but is overtly hostile to many of the beliefs.

At the heart of this is a thoroughly Christian battle: one that could only happen from within a faith that speaks of how “the Word became flesh”. Christianity describes a God who took on mortal, embodied life; an extraordinary image that triggered a 2,000-year effort to square the sometimes-competing claims of matter and spirit. Accordingly, schisms often also turn on disagreements over that relation, and have often carried real-world consequences.

The relative import of spirit and matter was at the heart of wranglings between Catholic and Protestant factions after the English Civil War, for example. Do good deeds in this world affect our prospect of Heaven in the next? Does the Eucharist become literally the Body and Blood of Christ? These may seem abstruse arguments to a modern-day reader, but 17th-century England considered them so important that the Test Act of 1673 forced anyone entering public office to renounce the doctrine of works, and of literal transubstantiation.

And today, something akin to the Test Acts is once again emerging. Once again, too, the dispute is over the relation between Word and Flesh — but this time the domain is not the world, or the Eucharist, but our bodies themselves. Are we created in God’s image, and what does that mean if so? Are we obliged to remain the sex we’re born as? Is it permissible to end a pregnancy? Are any desires forbidden, and why? Who gets to marry? What is marriage even for?

On all these points, the long-held Christian moral grammar departs from now-prevailing norms. And on all these points, Christians are permitted to exist in public life to the extent that they’re willing to forswear doctrine, or at the very least to keep quiet about their beliefs. A recent case in point is SNP politician Kate Forbes, whose candidacy as Scotland’s First Minister was effectively halted by views on abortion, marriage and gender ideology that remain standard Christian teaching across many denominations, but are now widely viewed as irrationally “faith-based”, troubling, outdated and rendering those who profess them unfit for public office.

Last Sunday, gazing at the cobwebbed relics of that Church at the peak of its power, I listened to the superannuated congregation read the description of Christ’s death on Calvary: three hours of darkness, in the middle of the day, at the end of which the incarnate God cried out: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”. And it struck me that, inasmuch as the Passion holds, too, for the Christian church, that worldly story is also now well into the hours of darkness.

Perhaps we’re already forsaken. Far more eminent thinkers than I have already declared God’s disappearance — and not just enemies of the Christian faith, such as Nietzsche. Others whose work is intricately bound up in Christian tradition, such as the philosopher Alasdair Macintyre, critique the extent to which modernity has produced a string of hollow efforts to ground a workable morality, on principles from which the divine telos (aim) has been excised.

In these institutional hours of darkness, too, we’re left only with the four elements of matter: the domain of the rational, the tangible, and the measurable. Meanwhile, the new Test Acts — the doctrinal vows that Kate Forbes refused to take, even at the cost of her SNP leadership bid — affirm that where human bodies are concerned, it’s not just frowned-upon to treat matter as having any relationship with divinity.

Now, it’s outright heresy. There is no such thing as a divine plan, or a telos for the human organism. Instead, what makes us “human” is our freedom to self-create, in any form we like, and our bodies have moral valence only inasmuch we choose to sanctify them. To put it another way: Christianity’s successor-faith — a faith now hard at work suppressing its progenitor — treats as sacrosanct the moment God left His son alone, on the cross of matter.

To suggest that anyone might be called to any purpose other than the one they themselves have chosen is to be guilty of a kind of moral violence. And the new Test Act obliges us to accept that the price of political power is professing to renounce such moral violence, and to believe that Word and Flesh are utterly separate, and there is no Word save the one we ourselves choose.

Those who still adhere to the old grammar have responded to the new Test Acts in a number of ways. One is simply to accept the new moral regime. Another is to rage against the crumbling of the old order, or to call for a renewed, more muscular political Christianity capable of fighting back. Elsewhere, again, others propose in various ways returning to the catacombs: the “Benedict Option”, as Rod Dreher called it, or, in Paul Kingsnorth’s formulation, fleeing to the wilderness for a contemplative approach to re-enchanting the world. In all these proposals, one bleak common theme recurs: despair. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

During Holy Week, even so, many Christians still show up, whether in church or in their thoughts, to meditate on the Passion and on the three days that followed it, during which the tomb remained sealed and guarded. And perhaps we need to extend that meditation as well to the bigger story of the Christian Church. For Nietzsche was right: we have indeed killed God. But what he left out, in his gleeful embrace of nihilism, is the rest of the story of God’s death.

The Word may have journeyed into Flesh, and thence into mortification, despair, and finally death, in the certainty of God’s abandonment. We may have joined Nietzsche in effecting this death and abandonment, before collectively bemoaning the slow death of the institutions that embodied the Christian God on Earth. In their place, and over their backs, we live under a newly-ascendant post-Christian moral regime, that sanctifies God’s abandonment of His creation and bans those who dissent from political office.

But let Nietzsche have his victory. I don’t know how long these three metaphorical days of mourning will last; but the other message of the Passion is that this, of all times, is the moment for faith. This story has long been retold not just as history, but also as prophecy. And seen thus, the Passion’s deepest mystery is yet to come.

For on the third day, the disciples found the stone rolled away. And from behind it, Word and Flesh returned: once again living, and once again united.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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B Krey
BK
B Krey
1 year ago

As a Christian, it is always a pleasure to read a frankly Christian commentary in the public space. The essay is an elegy, but beautifully written and quite moving. And I appreciate the final comment about faith – if ever we needed that virtue it is now.

Last edited 1 year ago by B Krey
Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  B Krey

Be assured that nobody can kill God and Jesus is still the way to the Father as well as being the truth and the life. It is true that the country has fallen back as a whole and no longer believes in God but that doesn’t change the truth none. We all have a choice. Our sin has separated us from God but we can be forgiven through Jesus death on the cross when we believe and act on it by changing our minds. He that believes on the Son has everlasting life and shall not pass into condemnation (where our sin takes us) but has passed from death to life. Christians have no problem with science as they are simply the laws that God has made which we can discover.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  B Krey

Be assured that nobody can kill God and Jesus is still the way to the Father as well as being the truth and the life. It is true that the country has fallen back as a whole and no longer believes in God but that doesn’t change the truth none. We all have a choice. Our sin has separated us from God but we can be forgiven through Jesus death on the cross when we believe and act on it by changing our minds. He that believes on the Son has everlasting life and shall not pass into condemnation (where our sin takes us) but has passed from death to life. Christians have no problem with science as they are simply the laws that God has made which we can discover.

B Krey
BK
B Krey
1 year ago

As a Christian, it is always a pleasure to read a frankly Christian commentary in the public space. The essay is an elegy, but beautifully written and quite moving. And I appreciate the final comment about faith – if ever we needed that virtue it is now.

Last edited 1 year ago by B Krey
J Bryant
JB
J Bryant
1 year ago

With that science came the steady withdrawal of God from His creation…
No doubt that assertion is correct overall, but as someone who spent the first part of his career as a chemist/biochemist I never found any contradiction between science and faith. The longer I studied the working of biological systems (even such “simple” systems as a single cell) the less I understood how they worked. Each successive wave of technology (PCR, gene chips, chromatography-mass spectrometry) revealed a greater layer of complexity until even a single cell became an improbable Rube Goldberg machine, too complicated to function–but somehow it did function. I can readily believe there is a unifying force underlying life that will never be explained by science and can better be explained by religious faith.
I am no longer an observant Christian, but deep down I retain a certain form of faith. I’m pleased that the Unherd comments section, although an unlikely forum, is a place where I can say “Happy Easter” and many people will not be offended by that remark.

Kerie Receveur
AM
Kerie Receveur
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

A blessed Easter to you and all.

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

It’s always interesting to hear from someone with a deep study of biology/biochemistry.

Might i enquire whether, should biogenesis be found elsewhere as we expand our ability to explore beyond our own planet, your view might change? If organic compounds developing into cellular life is found to be common, perhaps with many different and strange biochemical bases, would you consider that Faith still plays a part, especially if no other examples other than human religious faith became apparent?

All hypothetical, i know, but i’d still be curious about whether it’s something you’ve considered.

Ian Smith
IS
Ian Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

What many scientists with christian faith, including myself as a biology graduate, would conclude after some new scientific discovery is “oh, so that’s how God did it!”. Our faith is not based on gaps in scientific understanding, but on what we plainly see with our eyes, what we read in the scriptures, and what we experience in our spirits.

D Glover
DG
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Smith

If you respond to every scientific discovery by saying ‘Oh, that’s how God did it’ you make religion literally unfalsifiable.
What result could disprove religion if you choose to interpret every result that way?

Paul Hendricks
PH
Paul Hendricks
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Religion, being comprised of theology, liturgy and morality, is not to be “proven” or “disproven”.

Faith in God, could it be “proven” or “disproven”, would not be faith.

This is not to say there is no “evidence” of God’s existence–the Bible, for example.

Just because “interpreting” the results of experiments in the physical world as evidence of God’s Divine Plan fails to “disprove religion” as you say, is no reason to discard this “interpretation”.

D Glover
DG
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Hendricks

Saying that the Bible provides evidence involves circular logic.
For example, it says in Joshua that the sun stood still in the sky. Do we have any other evidence to corroborate this claim? No. So what weight do we give to the Bible saying that it happened? You may give it a lot if you choose, but it’s not really evidence.

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

It’s a curious thing is it not that the opening lines of the Bible describe the big bang quite accurately, allowing for language etc. To get it as right as it did, given a million other possible myths, is truly remarkable is it not? Carl Sagan thought so (Dragons of Eden)..

Michael Cavanaugh
MC
Michael Cavanaugh
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

“Quite accurately?” Well, ex nihilo in general, but . . . Wouldn’t it be more impressive if G-d said to Moses: “Hey here’s something better: those upcoming Nature Philosophers will be barking up the right tree with elements and atoms but you guys need to be more precise: not just ordinary sense objects like water and air nor the teeniest bits they can chop. I reveal: the Periodic Table!   Your chemistry has numbers, because it is rooted in real atomic structure. In turn it will clue you in to all the biodiversity. And it works anywhere at all in the universe, where by the way you will see billions and billions of stars and planets . . .”?

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

I don’t see that in the creation narrative in Genesis.

Michael Cavanaugh
MC
Michael Cavanaugh
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

“Quite accurately?” Well, ex nihilo in general, but . . . Wouldn’t it be more impressive if G-d said to Moses: “Hey here’s something better: those upcoming Nature Philosophers will be barking up the right tree with elements and atoms but you guys need to be more precise: not just ordinary sense objects like water and air nor the teeniest bits they can chop. I reveal: the Periodic Table!   Your chemistry has numbers, because it is rooted in real atomic structure. In turn it will clue you in to all the biodiversity. And it works anywhere at all in the universe, where by the way you will see billions and billions of stars and planets . . .”?

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

I don’t see that in the creation narrative in Genesis.

laurence scaduto
LS
laurence scaduto
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Your point is interesting but your timing leaves something to be desired. It’s Good Friday.

Alison Wren
AW
Alison Wren
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

My Christians in Science group had a fascinating lecture about just that and other unusual events reported in the Old Testament! All to do with eclipses and translations of early texts. As a biology graduate in the 1960s I have watched the march of knowledge in this field. We now know so much about cellular activity but we cannot give that divine spark to inanimate chemicals. So that’s where my faith goes. I’m so sad that the subject I love has become the vehicle for such profound evils as surrogacy, “gender affirmation surgeries” and the like.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

And the killing of 9.5 million babies.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

And the killing of 9.5 million babies.

Frank Leahy
FL
Frank Leahy
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Similar events have happened much more recently, for example in Portugal in 1917, where the sun seemed to “dance”, witnessed by tens of thousands of people (google “the miracle of the sun”). Some people believe there was a natural explanation for the phenomenon of course, and perhaps there was, but the event was predicted well in advance by three children, which is why the crowds were there.

D Glover
DG
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Leahy

I thought that even the Vatican had conceded that Copernicus and Galileo were correct. The earth revolves on its axis, which makes the sun appear to be moving across the sky. The earth can’t stop revolving because of the law of conservation of angular momentum.
I’d trust the laws of physics before the accounts of religious Portuguese people in 1917.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

The physics was right but God made physics. Religion can be the enemy of God at times.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

The physics was right but God made physics. Religion can be the enemy of God at times.

D Glover
DG
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Leahy

.

Last edited 1 year ago by D Glover
Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Leahy

Not everything supernatural is from God. Evil has supernatural it appears but Jesus had authority over it and we can have too. Don’t be deceived.

D Glover
DG
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Leahy

I thought that even the Vatican had conceded that Copernicus and Galileo were correct. The earth revolves on its axis, which makes the sun appear to be moving across the sky. The earth can’t stop revolving because of the law of conservation of angular momentum.
I’d trust the laws of physics before the accounts of religious Portuguese people in 1917.

D Glover
DG
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Leahy

.

Last edited 1 year ago by D Glover
Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Leahy

Not everything supernatural is from God. Evil has supernatural it appears but Jesus had authority over it and we can have too. Don’t be deceived.

Jane Hewland
JH
Jane Hewland
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

I think you may be misunderstanding the point of the Bible. It is a library of books of wisdom not of history. Therefore it is not to be proved factually correct or incorrect. Belief is not literal. Scientific method and faith are not alternatives. They are different ways of apprehending the same thing.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Hewland

We must trust the science. Unfortunately a lot of the so called science now has not been proved but is an enforced opinion that one is not allowed to question in certain quarters. A kind of science if repeated enough cause people to believe it’s true when it isn’t.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Hewland

We must trust the science. Unfortunately a lot of the so called science now has not been proved but is an enforced opinion that one is not allowed to question in certain quarters. A kind of science if repeated enough cause people to believe it’s true when it isn’t.

Kat L
KL
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Seems like i remember a story about how they were able to say that the North Star did shine ultra brightly around the time of his birth.

Emily Riedel
ER
Emily Riedel
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

For those who follow Christ and his teachings, it’s not for us to falsify or unfalsify, as though He were a science experiment. Scientific discovery keeps us constantly in awe of God, as it should be.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Emily Riedel

It’s harder for me to believe that the order of science was just there on it’s own.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Emily Riedel

It’s harder for me to believe that the order of science was just there on it’s own.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

I read that it was proved by science when they were working out time and what happened in Joshua was the missing piece. Nevertheless even if it wasn’t proven I still believe it because God gives me the faith to believe it. It’s not logical I know but God is truer than all the arguments raised against Him. One day all will know. Without faith it is impossible to please God.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tony Conrad
Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

It’s a curious thing is it not that the opening lines of the Bible describe the big bang quite accurately, allowing for language etc. To get it as right as it did, given a million other possible myths, is truly remarkable is it not? Carl Sagan thought so (Dragons of Eden)..

laurence scaduto
LS
laurence scaduto
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Your point is interesting but your timing leaves something to be desired. It’s Good Friday.

Alison Wren
AW
Alison Wren
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

My Christians in Science group had a fascinating lecture about just that and other unusual events reported in the Old Testament! All to do with eclipses and translations of early texts. As a biology graduate in the 1960s I have watched the march of knowledge in this field. We now know so much about cellular activity but we cannot give that divine spark to inanimate chemicals. So that’s where my faith goes. I’m so sad that the subject I love has become the vehicle for such profound evils as surrogacy, “gender affirmation surgeries” and the like.

Frank Leahy
FL
Frank Leahy
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Similar events have happened much more recently, for example in Portugal in 1917, where the sun seemed to “dance”, witnessed by tens of thousands of people (google “the miracle of the sun”). Some people believe there was a natural explanation for the phenomenon of course, and perhaps there was, but the event was predicted well in advance by three children, which is why the crowds were there.

Jane Hewland
JH
Jane Hewland
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

I think you may be misunderstanding the point of the Bible. It is a library of books of wisdom not of history. Therefore it is not to be proved factually correct or incorrect. Belief is not literal. Scientific method and faith are not alternatives. They are different ways of apprehending the same thing.

Kat L
KL
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Seems like i remember a story about how they were able to say that the North Star did shine ultra brightly around the time of his birth.

Emily Riedel
ER
Emily Riedel
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

For those who follow Christ and his teachings, it’s not for us to falsify or unfalsify, as though He were a science experiment. Scientific discovery keeps us constantly in awe of God, as it should be.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

I read that it was proved by science when they were working out time and what happened in Joshua was the missing piece. Nevertheless even if it wasn’t proven I still believe it because God gives me the faith to believe it. It’s not logical I know but God is truer than all the arguments raised against Him. One day all will know. Without faith it is impossible to please God.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tony Conrad
D Glover
DG
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Hendricks

Saying that the Bible provides evidence involves circular logic.
For example, it says in Joshua that the sun stood still in the sky. Do we have any other evidence to corroborate this claim? No. So what weight do we give to the Bible saying that it happened? You may give it a lot if you choose, but it’s not really evidence.

Simon Tavanyar
ST
Simon Tavanyar
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Your point is accepted, but the reverse is more pertinent. When evolution is unable to explain a phenomenon, you are left with a Creator, or at least, a super-intelligent being/alien race who seeded earth with life. The current explanations of origins based on Darwinian (random) evolution require billions of years, trillions of failures and even multiverses to make the math work. This explanation is ultimately unsatisfying. The deeper we dig into molecular biology the more we realize that the design is far cleverer, by orders of magnitude, than all the software that humans have yet produced. And yet we believe it just grew that way?

D Glover
DG
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

I think that’s a mischaracterisation of evolution. The first principle, mutation, is random and directionless. The second bit, selection, is non-random.
Only mutations that confer better survival get passed on, so after three billion years of life the product can be very sophisticated indeed. It will look designed, even if it was fashioned by repeated iterations of trial and error.
No-one seriously thinks life evolved just by random errors; it had an organising principle, just not a supernatural one.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Exactly! Thank you.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

I would say a created one.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Exactly! Thank you.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

I would say a created one.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

If all the organs needed to produce just one birth after millions of years the species would have died out long ago.

D Glover
DG
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

I think that’s a mischaracterisation of evolution. The first principle, mutation, is random and directionless. The second bit, selection, is non-random.
Only mutations that confer better survival get passed on, so after three billion years of life the product can be very sophisticated indeed. It will look designed, even if it was fashioned by repeated iterations of trial and error.
No-one seriously thinks life evolved just by random errors; it had an organising principle, just not a supernatural one.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Tavanyar

If all the organs needed to produce just one birth after millions of years the species would have died out long ago.

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Since science is unable to grapple with Why (only How) your question cannot fly.. Science, like football is a set of rules.. As wonderful as they both are, neither explains everything

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Exactly!! Thank you. Well said, D Glover. I could not have said it more succinctly myself.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

You said that already. I thought this was a discussion not a fight.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

You said that already. I thought this was a discussion not a fight.

Michael Cavanaugh
MC
Michael Cavanaugh
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Here we get a multi-edged sword. “Science tells us how G-d worked” keeps the peace; dissenters need not be persecuted, science and religion celebrate a division of labor. (This is what Gould called “NOMA,” what in the Middle Ages was called “Averroism.”) By the same token theology accepts general intellectual impotence. Some religious folk find this acceptable, but others do not. To embrace Averroism means thinking it pointless to falsify theology; but this also makes it pointless to assert theology as truth — and not all religious believers will agree to give up such assertion. (At least some creationists would agree that theology should not be made “literally unfalsifiable” — but only so that they can assert their theological claims as True.)

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

Theology can be personal and maybe wrong. The bible is the only source of true theology but it also shows that there is a Spirit of truth that backs it up.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

Theology can be personal and maybe wrong. The bible is the only source of true theology but it also shows that there is a Spirit of truth that backs it up.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

It’s not religion it’s faith. Faith is the evidence of things not seen (based on the word of God) the substance of things hoped for. If one believes in God why should one go out of his way to try and prove that God didn’t create it.That doesn’t make sense

Paul Hendricks
PH
Paul Hendricks
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Religion, being comprised of theology, liturgy and morality, is not to be “proven” or “disproven”.

Faith in God, could it be “proven” or “disproven”, would not be faith.

This is not to say there is no “evidence” of God’s existence–the Bible, for example.

Just because “interpreting” the results of experiments in the physical world as evidence of God’s Divine Plan fails to “disprove religion” as you say, is no reason to discard this “interpretation”.

Simon Tavanyar
ST
Simon Tavanyar
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Your point is accepted, but the reverse is more pertinent. When evolution is unable to explain a phenomenon, you are left with a Creator, or at least, a super-intelligent being/alien race who seeded earth with life. The current explanations of origins based on Darwinian (random) evolution require billions of years, trillions of failures and even multiverses to make the math work. This explanation is ultimately unsatisfying. The deeper we dig into molecular biology the more we realize that the design is far cleverer, by orders of magnitude, than all the software that humans have yet produced. And yet we believe it just grew that way?

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Since science is unable to grapple with Why (only How) your question cannot fly.. Science, like football is a set of rules.. As wonderful as they both are, neither explains everything

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Exactly!! Thank you. Well said, D Glover. I could not have said it more succinctly myself.

Michael Cavanaugh
MC
Michael Cavanaugh
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Here we get a multi-edged sword. “Science tells us how G-d worked” keeps the peace; dissenters need not be persecuted, science and religion celebrate a division of labor. (This is what Gould called “NOMA,” what in the Middle Ages was called “Averroism.”) By the same token theology accepts general intellectual impotence. Some religious folk find this acceptable, but others do not. To embrace Averroism means thinking it pointless to falsify theology; but this also makes it pointless to assert theology as truth — and not all religious believers will agree to give up such assertion. (At least some creationists would agree that theology should not be made “literally unfalsifiable” — but only so that they can assert their theological claims as True.)

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

It’s not religion it’s faith. Faith is the evidence of things not seen (based on the word of God) the substance of things hoped for. If one believes in God why should one go out of his way to try and prove that God didn’t create it.That doesn’t make sense

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Smith

Good on ye! Shout it from the rooftops!

Richard Parker
RP
Richard Parker
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Smith

Agreed – indeed, faith and “rational inquiry” might be seen as separate domains.

“Science” (perhaps more correctly, natural philosophy) is concerned with whether a model, paradigm or proposition can be falsified. Faith cannot be falsified, since it’s really not amenable to objective scrutiny. Hence, there need not be any conflict between the spiritual and natural philosophy.

Stephen Jay Gould referred to these two independent spheres as “non-overlapping magisteria”, which always appealed to me as a sensible descriptive.

Michael Cavanaugh
MC
Michael Cavanaugh
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

“Faith cannot be falsified . . . ” But sometimes it can. Glover’s example (above) of the sun stopping for Joshua; Elijah calling down fire from YHWH in heaven when Baal could not do the same; Gideon using the oracle of the fleece; Noah building a boat to save two of each kind of animal; Jonah being swallowed by the big fish; Shadrach Meshach & Abednego surviving the fiery furnace, and Daniel the lions’ den — these examples from TaNaK are depicted as empirical events. Cameras from Eye’M Witless news would have shown the sun stopping, the fire coming down, and so forth. Now, one may say, but faith understands such reports in non-literal ways. Some faith does, but some does not. Thus it is that Gould’s NOMA is more a performative utterance, a formula for keeping civil peace perhaps, than it is a universal characterization of religion and rationality.

Michael Cavanaugh
MC
Michael Cavanaugh
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

“Faith cannot be falsified . . . ” But sometimes it can. Glover’s example (above) of the sun stopping for Joshua; Elijah calling down fire from YHWH in heaven when Baal could not do the same; Gideon using the oracle of the fleece; Noah building a boat to save two of each kind of animal; Jonah being swallowed by the big fish; Shadrach Meshach & Abednego surviving the fiery furnace, and Daniel the lions’ den — these examples from TaNaK are depicted as empirical events. Cameras from Eye’M Witless news would have shown the sun stopping, the fire coming down, and so forth. Now, one may say, but faith understands such reports in non-literal ways. Some faith does, but some does not. Thus it is that Gould’s NOMA is more a performative utterance, a formula for keeping civil peace perhaps, than it is a universal characterization of religion and rationality.

D Glover
DG
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Smith

If you respond to every scientific discovery by saying ‘Oh, that’s how God did it’ you make religion literally unfalsifiable.
What result could disprove religion if you choose to interpret every result that way?

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Smith

Good on ye! Shout it from the rooftops!

Richard Parker
RP
Richard Parker
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Smith

Agreed – indeed, faith and “rational inquiry” might be seen as separate domains.

“Science” (perhaps more correctly, natural philosophy) is concerned with whether a model, paradigm or proposition can be falsified. Faith cannot be falsified, since it’s really not amenable to objective scrutiny. Hence, there need not be any conflict between the spiritual and natural philosophy.

Stephen Jay Gould referred to these two independent spheres as “non-overlapping magisteria”, which always appealed to me as a sensible descriptive.

Warren Trees
WT
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The question will always remain, however. Where did the material or celestial matter for life first come from and how did it get here? Without a plausible scientific explanation, the Creator option is on par with any attempt then, no?

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

The question may not always remain. We haven’t yet been able to establish precisely how matter (including dark matter) came into being, but it’s not beyond the realms of scientific discovery that an explanation will emerge whereby invoking a deity becomes redundant.

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

..nor vice versa, except of course that won’t be scientific will it. Notwithstanding, nuclear physics is getting close is it not?? While Higgs may have hat3d the term God Particle it didn’t arise purely by accident did it?

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Exactly, Steve. And wouldn’t that discovery open a can of worms for the believers!

Mo Brown
MB
Mo Brown
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

“the believers”? Believers in God? Are they wrong?

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Mo Brown

Yes. It’s a belief not a fact. Beliefs are subjective.

Andrew D
AD
Andrew D
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Is that a fact?

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

We know it is true. Why would christians die for that belief? Do they know something you don’t know or are not willing to know?

Andrew D
AD
Andrew D
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Is that a fact?

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

We know it is true. Why would christians die for that belief? Do they know something you don’t know or are not willing to know?

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Mo Brown

Eternity will show that, but faith is something God gives when our hearts are right.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Mo Brown

Yes. It’s a belief not a fact. Beliefs are subjective.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Mo Brown

Eternity will show that, but faith is something God gives when our hearts are right.

Mo Brown
MB
Mo Brown
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

“the believers”? Believers in God? Are they wrong?

Andrew McDonald
AM
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Oh I think we’ve got that already with Ed Witten’s vacuum fluctuation plus inflation-just remains to be seen whether it’s once and for ever or infinite bounceback. Covariant quantum fields rule.

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

..nor vice versa, except of course that won’t be scientific will it. Notwithstanding, nuclear physics is getting close is it not?? While Higgs may have hat3d the term God Particle it didn’t arise purely by accident did it?

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Exactly, Steve. And wouldn’t that discovery open a can of worms for the believers!

Andrew McDonald
AM
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Oh I think we’ve got that already with Ed Witten’s vacuum fluctuation plus inflation-just remains to be seen whether it’s once and for ever or infinite bounceback. Covariant quantum fields rule.

Mary Belgrave
MB
Mary Belgrave
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Well put!

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

It’s as good a hypothesis as any but of course doesn’t lend itself the the scientific methods and so is dismissed. Check out Steven Meyer on Darwin’s Doubt et al..

Jeff Cunningham
JC
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

But that just kicks the can down the road. Where did the Creator come from? If you say he was always there you can’t defend against others saying the universe has always been there. You’ve just introduced a middleman. If you say there was another creator of the creator, it’s turtles all the way down. The deism of Spinoza and those who followed him into the Enlightenment has always intrigued me in this regard. It seems to be a laudable attempt to grapple with this issue, though poorly understood today.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

The things that are not revealed belong only unto God. The things that are revealed belong unto us to do them and follow them. God has not revealed everything but He has and is revealing Himself while the world is here.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

The things that are not revealed belong only unto God. The things that are revealed belong unto us to do them and follow them. God has not revealed everything but He has and is revealing Himself while the world is here.

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

The question may not always remain. We haven’t yet been able to establish precisely how matter (including dark matter) came into being, but it’s not beyond the realms of scientific discovery that an explanation will emerge whereby invoking a deity becomes redundant.

Mary Belgrave
MB
Mary Belgrave
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Well put!

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

It’s as good a hypothesis as any but of course doesn’t lend itself the the scientific methods and so is dismissed. Check out Steven Meyer on Darwin’s Doubt et al..

Jeff Cunningham
JC
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

But that just kicks the can down the road. Where did the Creator come from? If you say he was always there you can’t defend against others saying the universe has always been there. You’ve just introduced a middleman. If you say there was another creator of the creator, it’s turtles all the way down. The deism of Spinoza and those who followed him into the Enlightenment has always intrigued me in this regard. It seems to be a laudable attempt to grapple with this issue, though poorly understood today.

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“Religious faith” is a misnomer. Christianity is a faith, not a religion. A religion is a man-made rip-off institution designed through fear and observance to enslave people.. Buddhism by contrast always eschewed religiosity and so survived much better. It too is a Way, not a religion and indeed there is a huge overlap with Christianity.. why wouldn’t there be? There us only one truth, ie only one Way while there are a myriad of religions.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

I can agree with much of that, even though i’m neither a Christian or Buddhist. It’s religion as such, followed blindly by multitudes – some of whom are prepared to kill in the name of their god – that i abhor.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Exactly.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Religion can be the enemy of God.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Exactly.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Religion can be the enemy of God.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Buddism seems more like a philosophy except for the reincarnation bit.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

“Religious faith” is redundant.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

If you can call it faith. Faith in Christ and through Him also the Father is something else.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago

If you can call it faith. Faith in Christ and through Him also the Father is something else.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

I can agree with much of that, even though i’m neither a Christian or Buddhist. It’s religion as such, followed blindly by multitudes – some of whom are prepared to kill in the name of their god – that i abhor.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

Buddism seems more like a philosophy except for the reincarnation bit.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

“Religious faith” is redundant.

Douglas Proudfoot
DP
Douglas Proudfoot
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I don’t see much conflict anymore between intelligent design and natural selection.  Now that we are sequencing DNA we know that the genetic possibilities are not infinite and they are not random.  Applying a field of mathematics called combinatorics to DNA sequences, gives us a very, very large but finite number of genetic combinations that are mathematically possible. Of those, there are likely a lot smaller but still very large number of combinations that are biologically viable. At this point, if you want to consider the biologically viable genetic combinations intelligently designed I don’t think the science is changed at all.  The natural selection of Darwin chooses which of the biologically viable designs survive and which don’t. There’s no scientific conflict between intelligent design and survival of the fittest, but there is also no evolution driven by random events. The laws of genetics were all baked in the cake before the natural selection began with the original set of biologically viable designs.

The open questions have to do with the exploration of which of the mathematical genetic combinations are biologically viable. At the moment, we are in the early stages of genetics and can only glimpse that these questions will exist once we get further information. However, I would expect that eventually we will have models that will be able to explore the biologically viable combinations for clues as to hidden aspects of extinct lifeforms. If you want to dwell in the past conflicts of pre-genetic Darwinism versus creationism, enjoy yourself.

The creationists believe G_d designed man. The Darwinists believed man evolved through natural selection. At this point, our knowledge of genetics is leading us towards the position that both are right. So from a scientific point of view, we can stop arguing and get on with more interesting questions.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The faith is that God made the universe the stars and everything. I believe that and have never seen any contradiction. The scriptures show us that the things that are seen were made by the things unseen. that is good enough for me.

Ian Smith
Ian Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

What many scientists with christian faith, including myself as a biology graduate, would conclude after some new scientific discovery is “oh, so that’s how God did it!”. Our faith is not based on gaps in scientific understanding, but on what we plainly see with our eyes, what we read in the scriptures, and what we experience in our spirits.

Warren Trees
WT
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The question will always remain, however. Where did the material or celestial matter for life first come from and how did it get here? Without a plausible scientific explanation, the Creator option is on par with any attempt then, no?

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“Religious faith” is a misnomer. Christianity is a faith, not a religion. A religion is a man-made rip-off institution designed through fear and observance to enslave people.. Buddhism by contrast always eschewed religiosity and so survived much better. It too is a Way, not a religion and indeed there is a huge overlap with Christianity.. why wouldn’t there be? There us only one truth, ie only one Way while there are a myriad of religions.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I don’t see much conflict anymore between intelligent design and natural selection.  Now that we are sequencing DNA we know that the genetic possibilities are not infinite and they are not random.  Applying a field of mathematics called combinatorics to DNA sequences, gives us a very, very large but finite number of genetic combinations that are mathematically possible. Of those, there are likely a lot smaller but still very large number of combinations that are biologically viable. At this point, if you want to consider the biologically viable genetic combinations intelligently designed I don’t think the science is changed at all.  The natural selection of Darwin chooses which of the biologically viable designs survive and which don’t. There’s no scientific conflict between intelligent design and survival of the fittest, but there is also no evolution driven by random events. The laws of genetics were all baked in the cake before the natural selection began with the original set of biologically viable designs.

The open questions have to do with the exploration of which of the mathematical genetic combinations are biologically viable. At the moment, we are in the early stages of genetics and can only glimpse that these questions will exist once we get further information. However, I would expect that eventually we will have models that will be able to explore the biologically viable combinations for clues as to hidden aspects of extinct lifeforms. If you want to dwell in the past conflicts of pre-genetic Darwinism versus creationism, enjoy yourself.

The creationists believe G_d designed man. The Darwinists believed man evolved through natural selection. At this point, our knowledge of genetics is leading us towards the position that both are right. So from a scientific point of view, we can stop arguing and get on with more interesting questions.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The faith is that God made the universe the stars and everything. I believe that and have never seen any contradiction. The scriptures show us that the things that are seen were made by the things unseen. that is good enough for me.

Chris Emmett
Chris Emmett
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Happy Easter to you too. I know it’s Good Friday, but as is quoted above “Sunday is coming!”

Konstantinos Stavropoulos
Konstantinos Stavropoulos
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Happy blessed Easter to you and everyone..!

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
1 year ago

I wish you a blessed and happy Easter, too! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!

Konstantinos Stavropoulos
KS
Konstantinos Stavropoulos
1 year ago

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ..!
HE IS RISEN INDEED..!

Konstantinos Stavropoulos
Konstantinos Stavropoulos
1 year ago

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ..!
HE IS RISEN INDEED..!

Janice Mermikli
JM
Janice Mermikli
1 year ago

I wish you a blessed and happy Easter, too! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

It sounds to me like you ARE an observant Christian but have eschewed the man-made controlling religiosity that was never truly Christian. Christianity is a Way, not a religion. Check out Dawkins’ predecessor Anthony Flew.. like you he saw the light, but unlike you (and like Dawkins) he was a devout atheist for most of his life. To be fair he said when the proof came he would change his mind.. it did and he did.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

What proof was that?
In my case it’s not about changing one’s mind in the event of “proof”. If such were to emerge, i’d simply shrug and get on with my life. I’ve said before, any god that required to be worshipped wouldn’t be worthy of the name, and since we didn’t ask to be created, worship becomes redundant.
That’s not to say i don’t appreciate spirituality, nature and the universe – quite the reverse. If a god emerged, it’d spoil it for me.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“That’s not to say I don’t appreciate spirituality”. Could you explain what you mean by ‘spirituality’? I’m always puzzled by this sort of remark by atheists.

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

Connecting with nature is one form of spirituality. Religion another. Cosmic vs. divine. Rejecting man-made (“man”-made, of course…) religions does not make one an atheist. This from a former catholic who loves Easter for the chocolate and traditional “gigot d’agneau”!

Last edited 1 year ago by Danielle Treille
Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
1 year ago

What’s spiritual about nature, surely by it’s nature it’s purely material, I mean that’s what nature is, how matter works. Does connecting with it mean you like a nice view of the Downs or something or does it means you appreciate the savagery of most of life on earth?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Helen Nevitt

It’s not really spiritual in itself but it does for me give an appreciation of God’s creation.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Helen Nevitt

It’s not really spiritual in itself but it does for me give an appreciation of God’s creation.

Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
1 year ago

What’s spiritual about nature, surely by it’s nature it’s purely material, I mean that’s what nature is, how matter works. Does connecting with it mean you like a nice view of the Downs or something or does it means you appreciate the savagery of most of life on earth?

Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

That one foxes me too. When I ask it seems to come down to I like nice music and pretty things.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Helen Nevitt

A bit vague really.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Helen Nevitt

A bit vague really.

Danielle Treille
DT
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

Connecting with nature is one form of spirituality. Religion another. Cosmic vs. divine. Rejecting man-made (“man”-made, of course…) religions does not make one an atheist. This from a former catholic who loves Easter for the chocolate and traditional “gigot d’agneau”!

Last edited 1 year ago by Danielle Treille
Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Tonkyn

That one foxes me too. When I ask it seems to come down to I like nice music and pretty things.

Tony Conrad
TC
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Oh dear.

Alan Tonkyn
AT
Alan Tonkyn
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“That’s not to say I don’t appreciate spirituality”. Could you explain what you mean by ‘spirituality’? I’m always puzzled by this sort of remark by atheists.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Oh dear.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

What proof was that?
In my case it’s not about changing one’s mind in the event of “proof”. If such were to emerge, i’d simply shrug and get on with my life. I’ve said before, any god that required to be worshipped wouldn’t be worthy of the name, and since we didn’t ask to be created, worship becomes redundant.
That’s not to say i don’t appreciate spirituality, nature and the universe – quite the reverse. If a god emerged, it’d spoil it for me.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Richard Parker
RP
Richard Parker
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I find myself in a similar position to yourself, attitudinally, spiritually and, it would appear, professionally. I’d also wholeheartedly second (in particular) the last sentence of your comment.
So, a very happy Eastertide to you and yours – and to all of us here gathered – from me and mine.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Indeed, the complexity of the living (and one could even extend this to how the whole of the earth keeps some degree of balance (yest it changes as well)) is beyond our capability to explain/understand fully through simple physics, chemistry and biology.
Our faith nowadays is in linear science. We like to explain things in linear science and trust that this also applies to the living. This is of course an illusion (the religion of the western world?!) as living things are systems part of ever larger systems only behaving in none-linear ways.
And what do we get: the spectacular failure of medicine for chronic illness, a lack of realistic relationship with our surroundings: social and environmental.

Michel Wharton
Michel Wharton
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

A simple protein of 250 amino acids has 20 power 250 different possible combinaisons. The protein depends on precise folding and polarity. “Only” 10 power 40 organisms have lived on earth. The complexity of the cell requires proteins to appear without natural selection. Evolution does not work….it takes a lot of faith to not believe in a God of Creation.

Possum Magic
Possum Magic
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Ditto – a scientist who is no longer a Christian, and now an avid reader of history, I feel a loss of the moral societal framework that Christianity has provided over the millennia, albeit not always for the best. I still practice my life according to the same essential framework, and watch my eldest (23, born a girl, but now part of the trans mass movement that has taken over her very being) struggle with life after Christianity.

Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

A blessed Easter to you and all.

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

It’s always interesting to hear from someone with a deep study of biology/biochemistry.

Might i enquire whether, should biogenesis be found elsewhere as we expand our ability to explore beyond our own planet, your view might change? If organic compounds developing into cellular life is found to be common, perhaps with many different and strange biochemical bases, would you consider that Faith still plays a part, especially if no other examples other than human religious faith became apparent?

All hypothetical, i know, but i’d still be curious about whether it’s something you’ve considered.

Chris Emmett
Chris Emmett
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Happy Easter to you too. I know it’s Good Friday, but as is quoted above “Sunday is coming!”

Konstantinos Stavropoulos
Konstantinos Stavropoulos
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Happy blessed Easter to you and everyone..!

Liam O'Mahony
LO
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

It sounds to me like you ARE an observant Christian but have eschewed the man-made controlling religiosity that was never truly Christian. Christianity is a Way, not a religion. Check out Dawkins’ predecessor Anthony Flew.. like you he saw the light, but unlike you (and like Dawkins) he was a devout atheist for most of his life. To be fair he said when the proof came he would change his mind.. it did and he did.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I find myself in a similar position to yourself, attitudinally, spiritually and, it would appear, professionally. I’d also wholeheartedly second (in particular) the last sentence of your comment.
So, a very happy Eastertide to you and yours – and to all of us here gathered – from me and mine.

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Indeed, the complexity of the living (and one could even extend this to how the whole of the earth keeps some degree of balance (yest it changes as well)) is beyond our capability to explain/understand fully through simple physics, chemistry and biology.
Our faith nowadays is in linear science. We like to explain things in linear science and trust that this also applies to the living. This is of course an illusion (the religion of the western world?!) as living things are systems part of ever larger systems only behaving in none-linear ways.
And what do we get: the spectacular failure of medicine for chronic illness, a lack of realistic relationship with our surroundings: social and environmental.

Michel Wharton
Michel Wharton
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

A simple protein of 250 amino acids has 20 power 250 different possible combinaisons. The protein depends on precise folding and polarity. “Only” 10 power 40 organisms have lived on earth. The complexity of the cell requires proteins to appear without natural selection. Evolution does not work….it takes a lot of faith to not believe in a God of Creation.

Possum Magic
Possum Magic
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Ditto – a scientist who is no longer a Christian, and now an avid reader of history, I feel a loss of the moral societal framework that Christianity has provided over the millennia, albeit not always for the best. I still practice my life according to the same essential framework, and watch my eldest (23, born a girl, but now part of the trans mass movement that has taken over her very being) struggle with life after Christianity.

J Bryant
JB
J Bryant
1 year ago

With that science came the steady withdrawal of God from His creation…
No doubt that assertion is correct overall, but as someone who spent the first part of his career as a chemist/biochemist I never found any contradiction between science and faith. The longer I studied the working of biological systems (even such “simple” systems as a single cell) the less I understood how they worked. Each successive wave of technology (PCR, gene chips, chromatography-mass spectrometry) revealed a greater layer of complexity until even a single cell became an improbable Rube Goldberg machine, too complicated to function–but somehow it did function. I can readily believe there is a unifying force underlying life that will never be explained by science and can better be explained by religious faith.
I am no longer an observant Christian, but deep down I retain a certain form of faith. I’m pleased that the Unherd comments section, although an unlikely forum, is a place where I can say “Happy Easter” and many people will not be offended by that remark.

lancelotlamar1
L
lancelotlamar1
1 year ago

Beautiful.
The whole Christian story is that God brings Resurrection out of Crucifixion, Easter out of Good Friday, life out of death.
As the old Black preacher said,
“It’s Friday–but Sunday’s coming!”

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  lancelotlamar1

Easter was a pagan ritual, nature based on the solstice co-opted by Christianity. It was the spring solstice when animals gave birth – a renewal of life. Christmas was the winter solstice with soulful carols like “the holly and the Ivy’ and “in the deep mid winter”. I can relate to that.

Helen E
HE
Helen E
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

In the deep midwinter … in Jerusalem and the Mediterranean communities in which Christianity was born and took root for hundreds of years?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Helen E

My point is that the pagan, nature based rituals that were around before Christianity co-opted them, had lovely winter solstice carols like “In the deep midwinter, frosty winds made moan” rather than “hark the herald angels sing”. A belief in the supernatural is not required to be spiritual rather than Christian, and that’s my preference.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Helen E

My point is that the pagan, nature based rituals that were around before Christianity co-opted them, had lovely winter solstice carols like “In the deep midwinter, frosty winds made moan” rather than “hark the herald angels sing”. A belief in the supernatural is not required to be spiritual rather than Christian, and that’s my preference.

Helen E
Helen E
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

In the deep midwinter … in Jerusalem and the Mediterranean communities in which Christianity was born and took root for hundreds of years?

Danielle Treille
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  lancelotlamar1

I also believe there are unicorns and elephants are pink…

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Exactly, Danielle. And the thing about having a belief is that one is constantly having to defend it against fact.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Exactly, Danielle. And the thing about having a belief is that one is constantly having to defend it against fact.

Janice Mermikli
JM
Janice Mermikli
1 year ago
Reply to  lancelotlamar1

Excellent and heart-felt post. May you have a blessed Easter!

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  lancelotlamar1

Easter was a pagan ritual, nature based on the solstice co-opted by Christianity. It was the spring solstice when animals gave birth – a renewal of life. Christmas was the winter solstice with soulful carols like “the holly and the Ivy’ and “in the deep mid winter”. I can relate to that.

Danielle Treille
DT
Danielle Treille
1 year ago
Reply to  lancelotlamar1

I also believe there are unicorns and elephants are pink…

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
1 year ago
Reply to  lancelotlamar1

Excellent and heart-felt post. May you have a blessed Easter!

lancelotlamar1
lancelotlamar1
1 year ago

Beautiful.
The whole Christian story is that God brings Resurrection out of Crucifixion, Easter out of Good Friday, life out of death.
As the old Black preacher said,
“It’s Friday–but Sunday’s coming!”

Andrew McDonald
AM
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago

Have a look at the Guardian cartoon today – a caricature figure of the present King squirming before the figure of Christ on the cross (well, his feet anyway), and a moronic caption aimed at equating the pair of them as ‘nepo children’.

The editorial decision to knock this one up for publication on Good Friday seems rather unpleasant; and of course immediately makes one wonder if we Guardianisti would be chortling quite so comfortably if the joke had been aimed at an Islamic target. Or even the poor bloody Druids.

It’s a marker perhaps of how low on the public scale the few remaining Christians whose offendability is guaranteed are now placed.

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 year ago

So brave. I look forward to a similarly insulting image of Mo to mark the occasion of Eid. The editor of the Guardian is married to Adrian Chiles, who I believe is a practising Catholic. Might he have a word with her?

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew D
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew D

I look forward to the depiction of MLK as a sex offender

Jeff Cunningham
JC
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

Why, were any of his affairs with underage or unwilling partners?

Jeff Cunningham
JC
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

Why, were any of his affairs with underage or unwilling partners?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew D

I look forward to the depiction of MLK as a sex offender

Hugh Bryant
HB
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Surprised to read that you’re a Guardianista. You seem to lack the necessary superciliousness.

Andrew McDonald
AM
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I must try harder. Ten minutes with the Guardian online each morning is my personal attempt to achieve a balanced outlook – the occasional reward of a laugh-out-loud moment – eg a comment today on a couple of hours’ travel chaos at St Pancras last Friday as ‘like the last train out of Saigon’ – is an incidental bonus.

Andrew McDonald
AM
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I must try harder. Ten minutes with the Guardian online each morning is my personal attempt to achieve a balanced outlook – the occasional reward of a laugh-out-loud moment – eg a comment today on a couple of hours’ travel chaos at St Pancras last Friday as ‘like the last train out of Saigon’ – is an incidental bonus.

Jeff Cunningham
JC
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

They’d never mawk Mohammad that way out of fear of getting shot up. Christians have become soft targets – part of Mary’s point, I think.

Janice Mermikli
JM
Janice Mermikli
1 year ago

The Guardian is a disgusting rag. I wouldn’t dignify it with the title of “newspaper”!

Andrew D
AD
Andrew D
1 year ago

So brave. I look forward to a similarly insulting image of Mo to mark the occasion of Eid. The editor of the Guardian is married to Adrian Chiles, who I believe is a practising Catholic. Might he have a word with her?

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew D
Hugh Bryant
HB
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Surprised to read that you’re a Guardianista. You seem to lack the necessary superciliousness.

Jeff Cunningham
JC
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

They’d never mawk Mohammad that way out of fear of getting shot up. Christians have become soft targets – part of Mary’s point, I think.

Janice Mermikli
JM
Janice Mermikli
1 year ago

The Guardian is a disgusting rag. I wouldn’t dignify it with the title of “newspaper”!

Andrew McDonald
AM
Andrew McDonald
1 year ago

Have a look at the Guardian cartoon today – a caricature figure of the present King squirming before the figure of Christ on the cross (well, his feet anyway), and a moronic caption aimed at equating the pair of them as ‘nepo children’.

The editorial decision to knock this one up for publication on Good Friday seems rather unpleasant; and of course immediately makes one wonder if we Guardianisti would be chortling quite so comfortably if the joke had been aimed at an Islamic target. Or even the poor bloody Druids.

It’s a marker perhaps of how low on the public scale the few remaining Christians whose offendability is guaranteed are now placed.

Janet G
Janet G
1 year ago

“we live under a newly-ascendant post-Christian moral regime, that sanctifies God’s abandonment of His creation and bans those who dissent from political office.”
Thank you for this thoughtful article, Mary Harrington. I have long felt that I live in a souless land, that is an Australia whose mainstream life ignores the fact that for millennia human life on this continent has depended on respect for and co-operation with spiritual reality. Sad that much of the rest of the human world has become similarly adrift.

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Janet G

I’m sure the Aboriginal peoples would agree with you. However, they were displaced from their homelands, where they’d existed for millennia with geocentric belief systems, by “god-fearing” folk

Philip May
PM
Philip May
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Hello Steve:
I am not sure I understand your point. Can you please clarify?

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip May

The aboriginal.peoples were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands in Australia, where their religious beliefs were embedded in the earth and nature around them. Their art, expressed on local rock faces which reflects those beliefs, is among the oldest ever found.

The displacement took place by European settlers whose primary religion was Christianity. Similarly, the native indian tribes of North America.

david lee ballard
DB
david lee ballard
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Bless your heart, Steve! This is sort of PKD (Performative Knowledge Display) is straight out of the Leftist Fundamentalist 101 playbook.
Look for a heartfelt post or comment.
Bring up something historical that implies the poster is at least ignorant, at worst a hypocrite.

You know who lives on land that was “stolen” from some previous inhabitant? Literally everyone, Steve – including you. This is not to say it was fair by modern standards, it just is and is done, and there’s no going back.

Try to engage with the actual subject matter rather than just doing passive-aggressive drive-by. Or don’t comment.
Please.

Hardee Hodges
HH
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago

“Performative Knowledge Display” – Lovely! Tribes have been shoving other tribes aside from the beginning of tribes. The effort to force us back into warring tribes is the basis of PKD.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

Nevertheless it’s true.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

Nevertheless it’s true.

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Rubbish. I’m most clearly not of the left, as anyone who reads my {frequent) comments would attest.
Bless my heart? The level of trite condescension in those words is beyond measure.
If you were able to refute what i posted, i’d have some respect for you. As it is, your lack of insight and understanding does the human brain and soul an injustice.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I’m with you Steve, and what’s wrong with being “left”? Perhaps it means you’re compassionate.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I’m with you Steve, and what’s wrong with being “left”? Perhaps it means you’re compassionate.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Screw you, David. Have you no better defense except the old “what about?”

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

We can comment as we choose. Diversity is interesting.

Cathy Carron
CC
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Homogeneity is interesting as well

Cathy Carron
CC
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Homogeneity is interesting as well

Hardee Hodges
HH
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago

“Performative Knowledge Display” – Lovely! Tribes have been shoving other tribes aside from the beginning of tribes. The effort to force us back into warring tribes is the basis of PKD.

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
1 year ago

Rubbish. I’m most clearly not of the left, as anyone who reads my {frequent) comments would attest.
Bless my heart? The level of trite condescension in those words is beyond measure.
If you were able to refute what i posted, i’d have some respect for you. As it is, your lack of insight and understanding does the human brain and soul an injustice.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Screw you, David. Have you no better defense except the old “what about?”

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago

We can comment as we choose. Diversity is interesting.

Konstantinos Stavropoulos
Konstantinos Stavropoulos
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Is it their faith that drove them or possibly an eager for profit and welth no matter the cost on others..?

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Or perhaps they used their faith to justify their greed, it seems to work that way alot, just look at the Catholic church in Rome and many other churches in America. So many sins done in the name of god.

Last edited 1 year ago by Clare Knight
Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago

Or perhaps they used their faith to justify their greed, it seems to work that way alot, just look at the Catholic church in Rome and many other churches in America. So many sins done in the name of god.

Last edited 1 year ago by Clare Knight
Warren Trees
WT
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

There is nothing in Christian doctrine or belief systems that advocates the removal of people from their homeland. Humans of all stripes are hypocrites, including Christians. Please stop trying to pin all of the world’s ills on Christianity. It is extremely offensive.

Janet G
Janet G
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

The Doctrine of Discovery . . .

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

It’s not just Christiianity. Where there is “god”, which is a believe in the supernatural, it lends itself to abuse. The old “fear of god” thing.What the hell is “god” anyway!! If you know something for a fact you don’t need to believe.

Last edited 1 year ago by Clare Knight
Janet G
JG
Janet G
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

The Doctrine of Discovery . . .

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

It’s not just Christiianity. Where there is “god”, which is a believe in the supernatural, it lends itself to abuse. The old “fear of god” thing.What the hell is “god” anyway!! If you know something for a fact you don’t need to believe.

Last edited 1 year ago by Clare Knight
Jim M
Jim M
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Stone age cultures do not deserve, nor can they keep a continent to themselves. Westerners cannot keep invaders, illegal immigrants or now, migrants, out of their countries and so will be replaced by more fecund and less demoralized cultures. If the Chinese wanted Australia and there were only aborigines there, then China would take it over and use the aborigines for target practice.

Clare Knight
CK
Clare Knight
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim M

What’s your point? Man’s inhumanity to man?

Last edited 1 year ago by Clare Knight