Friday, January 12, 2007

Theocracy: Part 3

In parts one and two, we have introduced and begun reviewing the BCSE's claims that the true motives of those questionning Darwinism in the UK is to bring in a theocracy.

In the meantime, though, we turned up something relevant. Dr. Brian Jordan, one of the BCSE's managing committee and author of the BCSE's "Theocracy" page has not managed to turn up any evidence that those he opposes have any theocratic political activity at all. However, Dr. Jordan is himself petitioning the government to make religious education illegal for under 16s. Ho hum! Just who is it who has coercive political-religious aims, again? (See here).

"Theocracy" Review, Continued

Still, let us press on. Maybe we will discover some evidence for the creationists theocratic plans further down the page. Let's look at the next quote. Here it is (emphasis Dr. Jordan's):

"The public realm is not religiously neutral. All states in their public affairs worship some god or gods. All schools are religious schools. We are called to the re-discovery and re-establishment of Christian community and culture - i.e., to a real Christian distinctiveness in a pagan world. But that is a hard task - a life and wallet commitment. When we pray for revival, we must remember what it will entail!"

Here, the individual quoted (Dr. Arthur Jones, a member of the Institute of Biology and holds a PhD from Birmingham University for research on the diversification of cichlid fish - a fact I mention merely for comparison with the BCSE leadership's lack of such qualifications), states as a fact that all of life is religious - religious neutrality does not exist.

And as with the previous quote, it's one that I'd be happy to affirm in its entirety. But do I want a theocracy? Absolutely not, as I've already explained.

What, then, do I mean? Simply, this:
  • Because God is the creator and ruler of everything, he deserves to be honoured in everything.

  • That includes our thoughts, our plans and intentions, our words, and our deeds.

  • And in fact, the Bible teaches us: "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment." (Mark 12:30)

  • Our duty in every part of life is to work out what that commandment will mean - and do it. Or as the sublime first answer to the Westminster Shorter Catechsim of 1647 puts it: "The chief end (purpose) of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever".
As such, true Christianity is a system of "total truth". It is a world-view, a way of thinking. It is not just something for Sunday - an unreal bit of fluff before we get back to reality the other six days of the week. If Jesus Christ died for my sins, then I belong to him and want to please him - every day.

Exactly what this glorifying of God will mean in any one part of life will vary. It certainly does not mean that every human activity must be ended and turned into one long Sunday service. No - God made work, made recreation, made everything else - and the right way to glorify him in them is not to turn them into church services, but to do them honestly, diligently, unselfishly, and so on.

Now you might completely disagree with that. Am I going to kill you or make your views illegal? No... I'm going to try to persuade you, if you'll let me.

In the public sphere of life administered by the state, glorifying God will mean that public morality is upheld and public wickedness is punished. The justice system should seek to restrain evil in society, and to promote what is good. The state must not treat morality as a matter of personal opinion, and become lazy in its task, or neglect its task in favour of the personal projects of the rulers.

The fact is that the way a state goes about its business implies a lot about the country's view of religious truth. When the government decides that marriage is whatever it pleases parliament to say marriage is, the government is denying certain religious claims and affirming others. When the government encourages gambling as a worthwhile industry, it is again making certain implicit claims about what is good and what is evil. When the government starts to view judicial sentences as only being about helping the offender, and no longer to do with the administration of righteousness in punishment, it again is implying distinctly religious theories about man and his place in the universe.

And it is clear that this is what Dr. Jones is saying. Dr. Jones says that all states do worship some or other gods (secular or otherwise). Obviously, in the sense of a theocratic setup where it mandates certain religious rituals or requiring its subjects to agree with its religious opinions, this would be false - in the UK people can (rightly) freely choose their own - and so clearly Dr. Jones does not mean it in that sense. Dr. Jones is talking about the underlying assumptions.

The laws of the UK were historically, as a matter of fact, based in Christian thinking in which God had revealed the main principles of morality in the Ten Commandments. Today, as a matter of fact, they are more and more based upon the thinking of secular humanism in which man is a law unto himself.

The problem, though, is that in fact Dr. Jordan has a problem with the underlying assumptions of Christianity. It's not that Christians are planning to set up a theocracy - it's that Christians are planning to live out and attempt to persuade others of Christianity. That's what Dr. Jordan doesn't like. Beneath the surface protestations that the BCSE is "religiously neutral", lies the reality that its opposition to the Christian worldview runs very deep.


And if Dr. Jordan read the quote a little more carefully, it would be obvious to him that Dr. Jones did not have in mind the kind of campaign Jordan alleges to get rid of democratic rule. How so?

  1. Dr. Jones is talking to Christians. He says, "We are called to the re-discovery and re-establishment of Christian community and culture - i.e., to a real Christian distinctiveness in a pagan world." Dr. Jones didn't say "unbelievers must be forced to rediscover...", he said "we must re-discover". Dr. Jones didn't say "we must make paganism illegal" - he said, "we must live as Christians in the midst of it".

    The fact that the quote comes from a Christian magazine for a Christian readership ought to have flagged this up.

  2. Notice too the means which Dr. Jones proposes using - prayer. Not politics; not the long arm of the law (as Dr. Jordan would like to see used against Christianity) - prayer. Those who don't accept Christian claims are to be persuaded. And if they remain unpersuaded, then we shall just continue as we are. The laws of the country shall only be changed to ones that better reflect a Christian morality when the country is persuaded that it wants to.

    If that's Dr. Jordan's definition of a theocracy... then in his head democracy and theocracy must presumably be the same thing.
Scraping The Barrel

It is only because Jordan has no quotations in which any Christian proposes a political theocracy that he has to produce ones such as this instead.

Either Dr. Jordan is too ignorant of Christianity to be able to interpret the quote properly, or he is attempting a deliberate deception, hoping that his readers will be. Choose your poison. Either way, Dr. Jordan ought not to be representing himself to the public as any kind of credible authority on the things he writes about.

Just why are we having this discussion anyway? If the BCSE are, as they claim, a religiously neutral organisation, then it's pretty odd that their website is so full of this kind of material. If they are, as they claim a "Centre for Science Education", then it's more than a little curious that it devotes so much energy to opposing Christianity and so little to talking about science.

So, dear reader - just what do you think the BCSE are really about?

David Anderson

Non-anonymous factual corrections welcomed by e-mail. Comments are moderated - please read my comments policy.

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