Thursday, March 01, 2012

Is Jesus The Enemy of Enlightenment?

There is a high amount of bitterness about the level of scientific advancement achieved thus far, namely due to Christianity.
The so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive...but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition. The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five hundred years before Christian religion was born.
- Mark Twain
This tragedy has left scientific minds questioning where we could have been by now if God hadn't held us back.

It's a fair question that deserves recognition. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I do believe God's desire is for us to advance in science. Unfortunately, the Dark Ages was a magnificent example of  manipulation of scripture to oppress the illiterate (fair summary?).

But today, Christians could be guilty on another level.

By correlating Darwinian Evolution Acceptance with the Percentage of Educated Religious People, we can see that the more educated people there are within a group, the more they tended to accept evolution as the best explanation of our origin. The three highest scoring were Buddhists, Jews, and Hindus. Besides being inclined to pursue higher education, they happen to be the oldest religions.
At the bottom of the spectrum, we have Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, and Evangelicals. It's also interesting to note which religions have less than 20% educated. This bunch is fully contributing to the bell curve.

Does Jesus have anything to do with this? Does Jesus prey on the uneducated? Or could this graph just prove the effects of the education system?

Let's take a look at what Creationism teaches.

    noun /krēˈāSHəˌnizəm/ 

    1. The belief that the universe and living organisms originate from specific acts of divine creation, as in the biblical account, rather than by natural processes such as evolution

This is the common belief for most people who cannot accept evolution as fact.

Jewish views on evolution includes a continuum of views about evolution, creationism, and the origin of life. Today, many Jews accept the science of evolutionary theory and do not see it as incompatible with traditional Judaism, thus endorsing theistic evolution.
The vast majority of classical Rabbis hold that God created the world close to 6,000 years ago, and created Adam and Eve from clay. Modern Rabbis who came out of this view based their conclusions on verses in the Talmud or in the midrash. For example:
  • Talmud Chaggiga 13b-14a states that there were 974 generations before God created Adam.
  • The Midrash says: God created many worlds but was not satisfied, and left the world he was satisfied with.
  • Rabbi Moshe Ben Nacman (1194–1270) writes: In the first day God created the energy (כח) "matter" (חומר) of all things, and then he was finished with the main creation. After that God created all other things from that energy.
  • Some midrashim state that the "first week" of Creation lasted for extremely long periods of time. See Anafim on Rabbenu Bachya's Sefer Ikkarim 2:18; Midrash Bereshit Rabbah 9.
  • In Psalms it says "A thousand years is like a day in Your sight" (Psalm 90:4)
- Wikipedia

My question is, if Jews find no qualm with evolution because it simply doesn't offer any problems for them morally, what are the obstacles for Christians? Is it problematic for Jesus? Why are we only interested in what Christians have to offer science? Is a God who created the universe in 6 days bigger than a God who took more time?
What you don't see with your eyes, don't invent with your mouth.
- Jewish Proverb

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