Friday, December 02, 2005

Moral cripples, part deux

If you haven’t read it yet, please go read Spotty’s earlier post Moral Cripples; Spot will wait.

Done? Ok.

The moral crippling by religious fundamentalism – of any stripe, whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or whatever – deprives the adherent of the ability to take advantage of the teachings of history and philosophy and scientific advances since whatever religious tract that is being adhered to was written. There was a time when just writing that would have gotten Spotty burned as a heretic. The fundies want to bring back those thrilling days of yesteryear.

As others have observed, fundamentalism is essentially (Spot was going to say fundamentally!) a psychological phenomenon, not a theological one. It is driven by anxiety, which creates a need for certainty and an intolerance of ambiguity and the views of others. Fundamentalism has a hierarchical world view [bug-eyed control freakism, ed.] and is distrustful of human judgment. Fundamentalists have a high need for an identity rooted in identification with a group that gives them self-esteem.

In other words, fundamentalism is not very grown up. Sound like anybody we know?

The funny thing is that the book that Katie & Co. want to put so much stock in is a political document, one with human fingerprints all over it. The Bible was hammered out in a process that probably began with the convening of the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. This happened at the urging of the Roman Emperor Constantine. The older among Spot’s readers will recall that Constantine conquered Rome in the name of Christianity in, as Spot remembers, 313 CE.

The biggest fish to fry, so to speak, at the Council was a theologian named Arius. Aruis questioned whether Jesus could really be the same as God, and he had some followers. At the time, there were competing religious texts about the nature of Jesus and his divinity, such as the Gnostic gospels. Spot thinks it is so nice to see that it took a whole twelve years after Rome was Christianized for a giant schism to arise!

Well anyway, the whole affair became known as the Heresy of Arius, so it is pretty obvious to even the casual observer who won. Ultimately, Arius was forgiven, but he died in a grim spectacle that you can read about if you follow the above link and scroll down.

It was St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, who in 367 CE who listed the 27 books of the New Testament canon, and these books became widely recognized as the New Testament thereafter. It was not until the Council of Trent in 1546 that the Catholic Church actually adopted the canon.

The Old Testament and the Hebrew Bible, of course, took even longer. Jewish scholars wrangle about meaning endlessly.

Spot’s no theologian but, boys and girls, it should be pretty obvious that the Bible was not dictated by God overnight to a bunch of stenographers. And it is also obvious that differences of opinion have always existed about the meaning of the Bible. But Katie & Co. are entirely oblivious to these things, because they need to be psychologically.

Spot heard somebody say once that when God starts disliking the same people you do, chances are that you are making God in your own image, rather than the other way around. That sounds about right to Spot. Are you listening Katie? Senator Bachmann?


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