In “Humble Apologetics”, John Stackhouse highlights some curious inconsistencies with how Christianity is viewed in popular consciousness:
Another sort of widespread belief regarding other religions is particularly ironic in the light of the supposed opposition of science and Christianity. Those of our neighbours who are in fact disaffected with science, technology and modern life in general – and their numbers are growing – often include Christianity in that contemptible package. Western civilization, so the story goes … has brought us sexism, racism, environmental degradation, imperialism, and a huge gap between the rich and the poor. Christianity has enabled these disasters with its domineering God, its licence to exploit nature, its privileging of males, its motifs of God’s chosen people rising above all other nations. Because Christianity has been part of this destructive complex, it should be set aside in favour of religions that have kinder gods, or none; religions that cooperate with nature, or at least ignore it; religions that make no gender distinction, or perhaps even privilege women; and religions that no longer elevate one nation over another. Thus Christianity is not condemned as the enemy of “good” modernity but is implicated as a conspirator in “bad” modernity.
I am indebted to Stackhouse for pointing this out, because in the past I had this happen to me on a number of occasions without realising what was going on. The typical scenario: person with grip against Christianity starts castigating it for its Dark Age mentality and opposition towards science … but by the end of the conversation is castigating it as responsible for all the evils of science. The shift is sometimes hard to pick when you’re in the middle of such conversations, but lay it out like this and self contradiction becomes absurdly apparent. Ever experienced this yourself?
2 thoughts on “Christianity and Science: Damned Either Way?”
I once tried to make a long list of these sort of opposites. Can’t remember much of it now…
– Vague and wishy-washy… and yet dogmatic and intolerant.
– Impractical and otherwordly (head in the clouds)… and yet ruthlessly political.
– A bunch of do-gooders… and yet the enemies of peace/truth/happiness/etc.
And so on. Usually it’s different parts of society critiquing different parts of Christianity, and there’s no contradiction.
Then again, plenty of Christians do ingeniously manage to combine errors that should, in principle, be polar opposites. Say, being socially disconnected in some areas, highly political in others, as it suits them. And politically motivated critics to contrive an amalgamated Christianity of inconsistent parts and then demolish that.
In both those cases I expect the problem is mostly ignorance. You or I would have been first on the fire in the Inquisition, yet we’re expected to be mentally complicit at the very least, and somehow itching for the “good old days” of persecuting heretics. It’s a bit like pinging modern atheists for the crimes of the French Revolution, or every Marxist dictatorship — you have to stand back a long way and squint before they start to look the same.
A testament to our diversity – everyone can be offended if they look hard enough!