Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Theocracy: Part 4

In this series, we have been reviewing the BCSE's "Theocracy" page. That page was put up in response to my highlighting of the BCSE's allegations on the subject and my challenge to them to prove it. We've been plodding through, as researchers are meant to do!

Previous parts are here and should be read for background: one, two, three. In summary, we've seen that the BCSE have an extremely poor understanding of Christian theology, and a proneness to read their own prejudices even into statements which point in the opposite direction.

We've seen too that somewhat hypocritically, the author of the BCSE's "Theocracy" page (Dr. Brian Jordan), has been doing some political lobbying of his own. Dr. Jordan has been petitioning the Prime Minister - to make it illegal for children to have anything other than a secularist upbringing:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to [m]ake it illegal to indoctrinate or define children by religion before the age of 16.

In order to encourage free thinking, children should not be subjected to any regular religious teaching ... based on the views of their parents or guardians.

Current signatories:

Ian Lowe
Brian Jordan


Since Dr. Jordan apparently does know what an attempt to force your own views upon others using the arm of the state looks like, his failure (so far) to document any such activity by those named on the BCSE website is all the more blameworthy.

Let's continue down the "Theocracy" article. As we've made a lot of our basic points in the previous installments, we'll pick up the pace. Let's see just how good Dr. Jordan's evidence is that those wicked non-Darwinists are plotting to replace our democracy.

Quote #4

"Though our own land is not so riddled with atheism, we need to wake up to the deep crisis that threatens Western cultures — the cancer of postmodernism, a materialism with no values. We must resist the scourge of unbelief, and repent of the sin that so often rejects God’s clear testimony concerning creation. The Lord told the churches in Revelation that he would remove their lamps if they did not repent." - Andy McIntosh, Evangelical Times 2004

A few obvious points by way of critique:
  • There's no suggestion of political action in this quote.

  • Rather, the suggestion is that Christians ("the churches") should "repent".

  • The alternative posited is that churches will lose divine blessing.

  • The entity opposed in this quote is not democracy, but postmodernism.

We scratch our heads, trying to wonder just how Dr. Jordan considers this quote as some kind of evidence that Christians want to abolish democracy. Huh?

Quote #5

"Secularism claims to provide the political and educational settings in which all are free to choose their own life, where no view is imposed, and where the state and school are neutral between competing worldviews. In reality, secularism is one more totalitarian option for private and public life which is an enemy of the Gospel of Christ. Only the continuing faith in science hides its nakedness. And again it is worth remembering that all the main political parties play to this secularist tune." - Arthur Jones, writing in "New Directions".

It is hard to evaluate this quote without the context. The wording of the first sentence implies that Dr. Jones believes that the brand of secularism he is critiquing is making a deceptive claim - claiming to provide a kind of neutrality when in fact its true agenda is to do something else (presumably, to go far beyond neutrality and into denying the truth value of any and all religious claims). It is not clear to me whether Dr. Jones believes that there is an alternative approach which would provide such a neutral setting.

My guess is that Dr. Jones is saying that there is a secularist agenda to remove all mentions of religion from public life, under the pretence of a kind of religious neutrality. Such an agenda is not neutrality at all - it represents the imposition of atheism by decree. True religious freedom is not found by the silencing of all religions. And with that point I can heartily agree.

But the main point for our investigation is that again, there is nothing here about any plans or schemes for replacing democracy in the UK. That only exists when Dr. Jordan reads in between the lines.

I find it telling that the only evidence for theocratic plans that is being provided by the BCSE comes from such reading in between the lines. Given the wealth of material available from those prominent in criticising Darwinism (books, articles, recordings, etc.), it ought to be possible to produce something more than this. Given that it apparently isn't possible, I'd say that here we have a case where the silence is significant. On-topic, to-the-point quotes in which Darwin-questionning Christians advocate political revolution aren't forthcoming.... because they don't exist.

Quote #6 - "Education Is Religion"
"So is Christianity & the Bible true - historically, scientifically and objectively or is atheistic, humanistic, materialism true? One's allegiance to either requires a certain leap of faith." - Stephen Layfield

I am really struggling to work out two things here: Firstly what the connection between the heading ("Education is Religion") and the quote is, and secondly what the connection between the quote and the subject of a theocracy is.

I agree with Layfield - materialistic atheism must make some quite spectacular leaps of faith. For example, the atheist must believe that the universe has no ultimate cause. Matter, space, time - they all came out of literally nothing, by themselves. Life began spontaneously out of non-life; and not just any old "life", but life with the capability to self-reproduce and to evolve into all the variety now visible in the world. All this must be believed, without it being possible to demonstrate that it is true. Frankly, if that's not a leap of faith, I don't know what is.

So as I say, I agree with Layfield - both being a Christian and being an atheist requires a certain amount of faith in things which cannot be observed. But what has this to do with theocracies?

My take on this is that it is again the BCSE showing their true colours. To the BCSE, atheism is the default, privileged position - anything else comes under their censure. Again, we see the BCSE arguing not scientifically, but philosophically. It is not theocracy which they are opposing - it is Christianity.

Quote #7

"In a similar way to the Christian Institute, we wish to present a clear alternative to the atheistic humanism rampant through most of our schools today." - Andy McIntosh

Does Dr. Jordan have the intelligence to be able to tell the difference between presenting an intellectual argument, and trying to replace democracy? Being able to make a case in an atmosphere free of illegal ideas and forbidden thoughts is part of the essence of democracy.

Presumably Dr. Jordan has quoted this quote because he disagrees with it. Or in other words, because he desires atheistic humanism to be given free reign, unchallenged. But that would contradict the BCSE's "we're religiously neutral" stance... so just what does Dr. Jordan want?

Quote #8

"Organise a Creation/Evolution debate in the sixth form. Such an event, when properly and fairly planned, represents a good opportunity for interested third parties (together with those who may have been previously disinterested and/or unconcerned) to gauge how well the available data fits the respective world views of the Creationist/Evolutionist. It is the conviction (and happy experience) of this writer that much prejudice and ignorance can be undermined by conducting oneself with both charity and rigour and by making full use of such an opportunity. (We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. [2 Corinthians 10:5])" - Stephen Layfield

Stephen Layfield suggests a debate in which both sides can present their evidence and allow it to be weighed up. Why would Dr. Jordan object to that? If the evidence for evolution is so strong, what's the problem? Layfield seems rather confident (and indeed appeals to his experience) that when such debates happen and people are presented with both sides of the argument, then many have change their minds. Is that why Dr. Jordan doesn't want such debates to happen?

If free and fair debates are the essence of theocracy, then I think that the word has lost all its meaning. Again, I can only infer that Dr. Jordan doesn't have a real agenda to promote the kind of discussion and toleration of dissent which is essential to true scientific inquiry - he has an agenda to oppose anything that doesn't fit in with his own atheistic worldview.

Summing Up

At this point I think it is probably unnecessary to continue examining the rest of the quotes on the page one by one - that would be over-kill. We've seen the gist.

The gist is that Dr. Brian Jordan has very little sympathy for non-atheistic views of the world. Any discussion or toleration of them, in his mind, amounts to support for a theocracy. Dr. Jordan though doesn't seem to realise how "theocratic" his own ideas seem to those who aren't atheists - or rather, "atheocratic".

The BCSE ought to look into a mirror... it's not the BCSE's opponents who are opposing free or open debate. It is not the BCSE's opponents who are petitioning the Prime Minister to have all approaches to child-rearing other than their own made illegal. It is not the BCSE's opponents who are suggesting that their world-view should be imposed on others who don't share their beliefs. It is the BCSE themselves.

And that's the same old story once again.

David Anderson

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

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