Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Maine, United States

Friday, September 30, 2005

Christian Environmentalism

In light of the evidence and the conflict raised here since my Whimsical Creationist post earlier this week, I think this site might be worth reading:
http://www.grist.org/news/maindish/2004/10/27/scherer-christian/
This site gives reader feedback:
http://www.grist.org/etc/letters/2005/01/21/letters-godly/
While the main article articulates my own concerns about biblical literalists, big "A" is well represented in the feedback. Clearly, there are two schools of thought within American Christianity regarding the environment. Unfortunately, the school now in control of our government seems not to represent either big "A" or myself. While the conservative political right in America does not enjoy my support, however, it does seem to receive the support of the majority of Christians. The only thing I can point to for an explanation is the thoroughly recognized complacency that Christians have toward the environment. They are not complacent about abortion or homosexuality or the fear of terrorist attack, but they are about global warming, pollution, fossil fuel consumption, protection of the forests, etc. So they vote right-wing based on their fears and sit idly by while they allow powerful corporations to rape the environment. But along come big "A" types who claim that indeed Christians do care about the environment, "prove otherwise."
Go figure...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Science or Not Science

Again I write in reference to the ongoing debate here between myself and anonymous Christian big "A" regarding the topic of "Intelligent Design." Today I was driving to Orono to attend a presentation about peak oil - feeling guilty that I was driving there at all burning way too much gasoline in my old pickup. Halfway through my trip, I tuned the radio to the local hate radio station, WVOM, 103.9. I listened to this station most of the rest of my trip down and back and you know, it's just like drinking poison straight from the bottle. I can't imagine listening to this on a daily basis and not being sick to the core from it.
But I digress...
It just so happened that just after I tuned in, the talk show host (whose name escapes me but he's a regular and this was not Rush Limbaugh's show) introduced the topic of Intelligent Design. He ranted on about it for nearly an hour, tearing to shreds anybody who dared to call in and criticize his points. One thing, however, came through loud and clear. Intelligent Design is the new scientific theory to replace Darwinian evolution. I kid you not. And I am not misquoting. This conservative radio talk show host made the claim repeatedly that this is a scientific theory more modern than and truer than Darwinian evolution.
For anybody to claim, and this pertains directly to you, big "A," that Intelligent Design is not being promoted as science is a total in-your-face lie. That might explain why the White House is trying to say it isn't science:
http://www.space.com/searchforlife/seti_bush_id_050818.html
But the fact is that even in the Harrisburg court case, it is in the biology classroom where intelligent design is intended to find its home. Claims to the contrary are best understood if you simply see them for what they are, very obvious lies.
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1111626,00.html

Dr. Ray Bohlin

Again, I bring the topic of Intelligent Design back up to the surface from the comments areas of my recent posts starting with my "Whimsical Creationist" post. My anonymous Christian reader whom I refer to as big "A" gave these two links in response to my request for "a thesis written by a prominent evangelical Bible literalist explaining the responsibility of all Christians to maintain sustainable life on earth":
http://www.forerunner.com/ccbc/X0004_Christian_View_of_th.html
http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/ecology.html
Both of these links are to articles written by Dr. Ray Bohlin who, according to the following link, is Administrator of Probe Ministries:
http://www.probe.org/content/view/1008/41/
Two statements in this Probe site seem to indicate that Dr. Bohlin is not a biblical literalist. In the section subtitled "POSITION STATEMENT ON CREATION/EVOLUTION" the site claims:

5. The plain language of Genesis 1 seems to teach a recent literal six-day creation. There is much data from science, however, that indicates the universe and earth are billions of years old. I do not believe that certainty regarding the age of the earth is either necessary or possible at this time. Tension in areas of conflict between science and biblical interpretation should not necessarily be viewed as either questioning the inerrancy of scripture or a lack of faith. This issue should not be the focus of the creation/evolution debate at this time.
6. The plain language of Genesis 6-8 teaches a violent universal flood which would be expected to leave discernible scars on the earth. However, it is difficult to assimilate all geological formations into a model of a single worldwide flood only 5,000 years ago. There is also a significant amount of geological data that is not easily explained by uniformitarian principles. Research of a water canopy/universal flood model should be vigorously pursued, but belief in such should not be made a litmus test of true Christian belief.

If this suspension of judgment characterizes dogmatic biblical literalists, then there's some duplicity going on here because that is not the stand taken by any 6-day Creationists that I am aware of. But conveniently enough, big "A" has alerted me to a Christian leader who actually supports some of the claims I have been making about right-wing literalist Christians. Let me explain, but first let me point out that the two references above which big "A" gave me share some paragraphs in common. They seem to be two versions of the same thesis and I will use them as one thesis.
Dr. Bohlin states:

It is not hard to notice that the environmental issue receives very little attention in Christian circles. There are so many other significant issues that occupy our attention that we seem to think of the environment as somebody else's issue. Many Christians are openly skeptical of the reality of any environmental crisis. It is viewed as a liberal issue, or New Age propaganda, or just plain unimportant since this earth will be destroyed after the millennium. What we fail to realize is that Christians have a sacred responsibility to the earth and the creatures within it. The earth is being affected by humans in an unprecedented manner, and we do not know what the short or long term effects will be.

Big "A" commented, "You suggestion that Christians don't care about the environment is wrong and you have provided no facts to back up your crazy assertion other than your own crazy hair brained theory." Yet, within the first paragraph of Dr. Bohlin's thesis, he points to Christian complacency, citing the very same claims that I have cited, and like me, giving no references for those claims. Well, big "A" I cite Dr. Bohlin.
Dr. Bohlin's thesis is a warning message aimed not at atheists, but at complacent Christians, pointing out that believers are instructed in the Bible to take care of God's creation. His introductory paragraph makes it clear that Christians don't live this way, aren't concerned about the environment, and even are complacent because they think environmental concern is "unimportant since this earth will be destroyed after the millennium."
Why is it, big "A," that if I say it, it is, as you so eloquently put it, "your own crazy hair brained theory" while when Dr. Bohlin says essentially the same thing, it is proof that Christians care? My experience over the years and even now with Christians is that they essentially don't care about the environment as long as they can continue living a prosperous life. The people who do care, the people who are actually putting Dr. Bohlin's recommendations into practice, are not Christian, in large part because they find their life choices condemned by complacent Christians who brand their lifestyle (in Dr. Bohlin's words) "liberal" and "New Age propaganda," in both cases meant by Christians as slander.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Reply to big "A"

This is a reply to the comment on yesterday's post titled "Whimsical Creationist."
First, if the theory of "Intelligent Design" and the belief in Creationism are not the same thing, then do creationists believe in intelligent evolutionary design? Are creationists supporting the teaching of intelligent design in schools or are they opposed to it because it involves evolution? Intelligent design as a theory is a foot in the door for Creationism. You and I both know it.
Second, in Genesis 9:11 and 9:15 the Bible states that God promised not to destroy the earth or "all flesh" by flood. II Peter 3:10 says, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."
The thing is, big "A," Christians don't have a clue what is to become of the earth, but there is a tendency for Christians to think that the end is near, that the "rapture" and everything following it is near, and that things like conservation and sustainable living don't make a lot of sense considering all the destruction that is soon to come. That was my point. The concepts of survival, conservation, and sustainable living are foreign - almost to the point of being atheistic and/or demonic - to religious people who hold dear the belief that the rapture of the believers and the end of the world is near.
I read Genesis 1:28 and I don't find in it the concept of maintaining anything or of living a sustainable lifestyle or of conservation or even of survival. If the Bible supports those concepts - something I have never heard preached from a pulpit - it must be someplace else. It clearly isn't in Genesis 1:28.
While Biblical literalists long for the Rapture where they make their escape from the terror to come and begin their eternity in paradise, many evolutionists long for a peaceful future, a sustainable world, and sanity. Those who believe the end is near see no need of passing a sustainable world on to future generations, but those of us who do see the need for survival realize that for mankind to survive, the earth must survive, the environment must survive, and all of life on which our own survival depends must survive. Even those who subscribe to Darwinian "survival of the fittest" know that the key word in that term is "survival." While the religious have their mystical heaven and thus don't need this earth, realists know that without the earth, at least for the time being, mankind is lost.
I sense a certain confusing duality in big "A"'s arguments. If big "A" is Christian, which does appear to be the case, then he or she knows that "intelligent design" implies a creator and a creator implies God and God in a Christian nation implies Biblical creationism. Yet, big "A" denies this fact. II Peter tells us that the earth and the heavens will be destroyed by fire, yet big "A" denies that God will destroy the earth based on a false interpretation of Genesis 9. In general, Biblical literalists live as though there is no tomorrow because in their view there aren't many tomorrows left before the rapture, yet big "A" falsely cites a verse in Genesis 1 claiming it commands Christians to "maintain" the earth. What are we to make of these contradictions? Are we to take big "A" at his or her word, or are we to realize that these right-wing "pro-life" Christians have no problem at all with sending other people's sons and daughters off to war, no problem at all with killing thousands or even millions of innocent people in war, no problem at all with building and sustaining nuclear arsenals capable of destroying life on earth, no problem at all with driving gas-hogging SUVs miles from home to church or miles from home to work or miles from home to take their kids to school or miles from home to WalMart or the nearest NASCAR race while innocent people are dying in the U.S. effort to secure the world's oil supply for American corporations.
And big "A" has the nerve to call us hypocritical and Godless. Go figure, huh?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Whimsical Creationist

While I'm on the subject of religion, I'm beginning to realize that there are a lot of religious people in today's world, or at least here in the US, who actually see God as some sort of whimsical creationist. This "Intelligent Design" debate is a smokescreen for creationism which asserts that the whole universe was assembled by God in six days and it all took place around 6,000 years ago. In other words, in both geological and human terms, all of the universe is recent and was relatively easy for God to create. After creating the entire universe, Creationists assert that God only needed one day to rest.
Translating this into human terms of value, creation isn't worth much. What God created in only six days, God can and will destroy and it won't be much of a loss to Him. He can do it again any time he wants in the mere span of six days. For those people holding such beliefs, humanity has no responsibility at all for the survival of life on earth. God created it on a whim in only six days and can do it again any time He wants.
This doesn't set well with evolutionists who believe that the universe, the earth, and life here on earth are billions of years old. Evolutionists realize that if life here on earth is destroyed, it will never return, and if life is dealt a significant blow, if it ever does recover, it could take millions or billions of years to overcome the damage. From the perspective of people with this belief, humanity has a deep responsibility to the survival of life here on earth.
From the perspective of "Intelligent Design," isn't it ironic that the people with little or no respect for God's creation are the religious people while it is the evolutionists who have a deep and abiding respect for life? If there is a Satan, which perspective do you think would better serve his agenda?

A Religious Dilemma

It's been a long time since I last wrote something on religion, but I just started a book titled The Sophists by W. K. C. Guthrie, Cambridge University Press, 1971, which had me looking online for a brief explanation of the Sophists, and I came across a couple of concepts describing something that has been on my mind for the past five years. What started it all five years ago was when I was assigned to read Plato's Euthyphro.
The two concepts that I came across today are:
The Independence Problem
http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/independence.html
and:
The Euthyphro Dilemma
http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/euthyphrodilemma.html
Until now, I had no idea these concepts existed, but from reading Euthyphro I knew there was a serious issue at stake. Socrates posed, seemingly indirectly, a serious challenge regarding the very definition of God in this argument with the pious Euthyphro. The question regarded that which pleases the gods. Basically Socrates asked if there is something which precedes or overrides the gods or if everything good comes from the decrees of the gods. Is it one or is it the other?
The problem is that neither case works. Both are false. Socrates and Euthyphro go full circle with both propositions and find both of them flawed. While an atheist might find this rewarding, I found it challenging and in fact, it became the basis for my conclusion that God must not actually be a being. If God were a being, then either there are things above Him like morality and truth and beauty or else things like morality and truth and beauty are nothing more than the whims of a dictator. Neither one satisfies the call to worship God unless you're into worshipping dictatorships, which I'm not.
So while the atheist would say this proves there is no God, I say that this proves that if there is a God, then God must be these things, these ideals of morality and truth and beauty. God is not their author because they have no author. Instead, God is the existence of these things. God is the fact that these things exist, that morality exists, that goodness exists, that truth exists, that beauty exists, and yes, even that even evil exists. God isn't the all-seeing being who contemplates these higher things and God isn't the all-powerful author who commands these things into existence. God is the concept of all these things, a concept which exists with or without the existence of any thinking beings. God is not a thinking being. He simply can't be.
So it was rewarding to discover that these dilemma concepts exist. Someone else saw in Euthyphro that which caught my eye the most.

Deputy Attorney General

Again, it was pointed out recently that I have an anger problem and should seek professional help. Another daily blog which I read had an interesting post this morning concerning the conservative sources of some of the money floating around that people like Tom DeLay use to influence politics. Warning, this article involves Karl Rove:
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2005_09_25.php#006629
Again, do I have an anger problem? Yes indeed I do. How can I sit idly by when people who claim to be acting in the Will of God go about politics this way? What would a professional tell me to do, bury my head in the sand the way you people have done? What would God have me do? Just ignore it?

Support the Troops

I have been accused here of having an anger problem. Someone recently even suggested that I seek professional help. This morning, one of the daily blogs that I read had a post which might, no guarantees, but might help explain a little bit about why I might seem a bit angry. You see, I wasn't born after the Vietnam War. I was a young adult during that war. What you will see if you follow this link is a reflection of the callous indifference to life that is represented by war. Nothing you might see, if you choose to look at this link or at the sites subsequently linked in this post, is new to someone who had his or her eyes open back in the late 60s and early 70s. Conservatives call John Kerry a liar for reminding us of the horrors of the Vietnam War. But here are some of the horrors of today's wars. If this doesn't trigger your anger, then it is you, not I, who needs professional help:
http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/09/us-soldiers-allegedly-trading-pictures.html
Am I angry? Yes indeed I am. Am I sick? Yes indeed I am. But ask yourself this. Why am I angry and why does this make me sick when it doesn't bother you? Just who really is the sick one here?