Re: [asa] Re: (religious memes?) [christians_in_science] Brilliant article by Dawkins

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Tue Sep 01 2009 - 19:21:33 EDT

Another problem with literary "evolutionary" approaches to the Bible
is that their concept of evolution is rather more like Marx's than
modern biological evolution. That is, there are preconceived notions
of when and how certain ideas ought to have come about, in a
particular sequence. E.g., asserting there couldn't be kings in Edom
if the populace was still largely nomadic, or that concepts of
sinning-punishment-repentance-restoration could not have been held by
Hebrews before the exile, even though it's highly obvious and widely
held in surrounding cultures far earlier.

On the other hand, it is true that the Bible gradually works up to a
number of points. Several of the popularly invoked "bad" laws (e.g.,
regarding slavery) are in fact marked improvements over contemporary
surrounding cultures. One might legitimately describe the progressive
nature of revelation as evolutionary in some fashion, though I would
agree with Gregory that this is somewhat stretching the definition of

> Take the ancient pagan idea of killing someone to appease the gods to end a drought.  1. Is that of God? 2. Of Satan?  3. Of human imagination?  Any other ideas?<

It could be a seriously distorted take on God's original directions to
humanity. Regardless of the exact envisioned mode by which we became
spiritual and received direction from God, the Bible portrays us as
having some inherent awareness of our need for reconciliation with God
as well as an inherent tendency to turn away from God. Thus pagan
sacrifices could be distorted versions of instructions to Adam or Noah
or whoever, or misguided attempts to address a felt need for
reconciliation. It's easy to envision how the idea of sacrifices to
keep the gods happy could escalate into the need to sacrifice
something particularly important in urgent cases, to human sacrifice.

The fact that there are similar motifs in Christianity and in many
other religions is no problem; it simply suggests that Christianity is
addressing widely-perceived needs. Human sacrifice is, however, a
good answer to those who consider all religions to be alike.

The atheism meme seems to overlap with a lot of human sacrifice, too,
though in the form of guillotines, genocide, gulags, etc. rather than
on a physical altar.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Tue Sep 1 19:22:28 2009

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