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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Faith Of Idiots

A certain preacher was in the news of late - I was about to say, "former preacher", but he merely switched camps, rather than quitting, as he claimed.

At the age of forty, he realized that he'd lost his faith. Starting as a fire-eating Pentecostal, he realized that he had "a problem" believing that a good and loving God would summarily consign the majority of His children to eternal damnation.

Accordingly, our preacher embraced Universalism, which holds that everyone is saved, at least in the long run. Certainly, it's a huge step away from the Pentecostal banner, but it's pretty much what most people in the world believe - including most Christians.

But Universalism didn't satisfy him, and he went one step further - seeing Universalism as being internal to our brains. In other words, God is our own internal dialogue. This is apparently a position held by some prominent neuroscientists, so our preacher claimed.

Now he's appearing at rallies organized by atheist organizations, under the "freedom From Religion" marquee. He's even shared billing with Richard Dawkins...yes, he of the "human life was planted by space aliens" hypothesis.

If you think I sound a bit mocking, and more than a little condescending, you're right (well the title may have given a hint).

For me the red flag was the prominent mention of neuroscientists. It's "oh, WOW" term that's supposed to generate unquestioning awe and acceptance. I mean, a neuroscientist...let me get my autograph book.

I'm a former academic, and my brother was a neuroscientist. They don't walk on water, people. Sometimes they can't walk across a room without bumping into things, and they have their share of stupid ideas, even within their own profession. In the 80s, my brother spent years trying to do his very prominent sponsor's bidding by placing electrodes into rat brains to study the effect of morphine on the limbic system (the primitive, "reptilian" part of the brain). Hundreds of thousands of tax dollars, and thousands of rat lives later, they decided that the technology wouldn't allow for accurate enough placement of the tip of the electrode. Something any lab tech could have told them, but these were two professors who didn't listen to lab techs.

Our preacher's real problem is one of pride, rather than faith. Everyone - including Mother Teresa - goes through a faith crisis. Jesus did at Calvary. But most of us are smart enough to slog on, and wait out the night.

This guy wanted quick action, and he wanted immunity from doubt. Thereby the jump from Pentecostal doctrine to Universalism, and then further to something that had the air of "scientific authority".  Which he could then use to take his place of a stage, to the applause of literally dozens of adoring fans.

Oh, and the kicker? He bemoaned the fact that he lost his job and his family was alienated. Sorry, bud, but if you don't believe in your employer's business, what cause do you have to take his shilling?

And if you decide to make your family feel stupid by not joining you in your "freedom from religion", you can't really expect support. It was your choice to take the stage, dude.

1 comment:

  1. Yet another awesome post.
    One thing my husband LOATHES is an academic with delusions of being correct about everything.
    You and I both know that he knows what he's talking about. As we all know, only one person graduates first in his or her class, which means everyone else is closer to the bottom.

    I remember once, when he came home from a fishing trip, he had a headache. He'd been sleeping on the bench ,with his head under the steering wheel. The truck was parked on an incline, and he'd whacked his head all night on the wheel and the door. I looked at Mr Tree DNA and said "why didn't you just sleep the other direction?"
    "Ohhhhh. Right. I never thought of that."
    "All night? You never thought to move ALL NIGHT?"
    "And they hired you for your brain, huh?"

    Freedom from accountability is usually fatal. No one is immune to being an idiot.