Saturday, March 22, 2008



A thought:

There is a sense of insecurity abroad in the world paralleling if not exceeding that which drove the first wave of American fundamentalism in the early twentieth century. People feel their whole world is crumbling around them, despite or even because of the rapid pace of technological progress. In these circumstances people need the kind of reassurance that can be given only by total commitment to a belief system which promises salvation and clearly identifies the supernatural source of that salvation. This level of commitment requires adherence to a worldview defined by a single text, and the chosen text then acquires a degree of authority that prompts a literalist reading even where such a reading defies the body of expert opinion. In an age facing overwhelming political and environmental challenges, many are seeking this level of reassurance. But as opponents such as Dawkins and Dennett are keen to point out, this kind of religious belief can all too easily lead to dogmatism, intransigence, and intolerance. If what I believe is absolutely true, then rival beliefs offered by others must be false and their influence should be curtailed.

- Peter J. Bowler, Monkey Trials and Gorilla Sermons, 2007


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