Neo-Theo, Branding Dominionists & Reconstructionists

christian_nation_ARichard Russell posits Neo-theo as a means of describing creationist, dominionist, and fundamentalist religious participants. The push back against religious tolerance has created a new class of religious conservatives. In some ways they’ve been around and already rebranded themselves as intelligent design, religious liberty, christian reconstructionists, and founding father advocates but the category is hardening on all levels and going beyond equal-time debaters in school evolution discussions, where teaching the controversy still excludes the Native American origin that the Earth was on the back of a turtle and stars are holes pecked in the sky by celestial birds.

Neo-theos are dominionists

They believe the country was founded and exists for the purpose of exalting the god of the testaments. A kingdom on earth must precede the return of the celestial king who will once again rule on Earth. Dominionists are dour, serious, bearing even a Calvinesque kind of torpor that is impossible to make happy. They live for the future kingdom and their morality is of the strictest and most extensive sort.

Dominionists are the most radical of the theocrats. The most sincere of them see TV, music, art, theatre, and dance as the devil’s influence. Modesty of dress, antipathy of equality, care against blasphemy, and adoration of patriarchal authority are best seen here.

Dominionists credit the constitution and the American republic as being god granted, of direct divine origin. It is only by god’s grace the US came to be. The purpose of the US is the adoration of god’s message.

Neo-theos are antitolerance

They do not believe in democracy or egalitarianism except within the group and even then within a paternal hierarchy. Even when choosing complementarity with family roles they assume male dominance. The pay heed to the sacred as normative. All of the profane is to be shunned and excluded for fear of contamination. While demanding that tolerance allows them to practice religion openly they do not allow others to practice their religion openly until it has been subsumed.

Neo-theos claim exclusive religious liberty

Religious liberty means the exercise of their practices in all spaces public or private. It does not extend to nonChristian and often nonJudaic practices nor do they recognize Catholic practices. Religious liberty means their freedom to do however they please as they see fit in the public spehere. It prioritizes religious law, codes, and practices above all others. If what they presented had a cogent core structure it couldn’t be called Christian anarchy but since the practices are sectarian and impossible to coalesce the only means of creating a coherent public practice is to revert to religious tribalism with theological honor systems where religious honor as an abstraction is the only common ground. It is not anarcaic because it doesn’t believe in the permanent suspension of governance but rather prefers to engage in active social and political warfare to make particular sects supreme.

Freedom from religion is the cry against freedom of religion. They do not believe that freedom of religions mean the days can be divided into prayer and expression moments of all religions.

Neo-theos claim academic freedom to proselytize

Any teacher at any time should have the right to invoke god’s grace, intent, goodwill, and practice as cause for any intellectual endeavor. Invoking god as blessing, or to be thanked, much like the Islamic “Peace be unto him” is normative. Everything comes from god and so is always a good answer. The banana, as developed in agronomy, is praised as god’s creation his technical expression in human achievement. All inventions are credited to god.Teachers on all levels can counter rubric, scopes, parameters, standardized tests, curricula, or any constraint with credit and positive remarks to the bible or god. Indeed, they should and would if religious liberty were allowed.

Neo-theos believe in intelligent design as created

Creationism is expressed through the more accessible intelligent design. Intelligence is always that of god. The term design or purpose is also used with the assumption that it is god’s design. Whether evolution is itself god’s will or there is no evolution or god has faked evidence into convincing us the earth is old when young, all designs are nevertheless godly.

If extraterrestrials were found to have visited they would be a misinterpretation of angels or others of god’s creations. Life found on other planets will be proof that god exists and is powerful enough to fulfill skeptics’ concerns  of cosmological abilities. In this same sense the Big Bang and other origin myths involving modern physics are proof that god is self generating and created the universe from nothing.

Neo-theos believe humans are god’s purpose

Humans are the beginning and end of god’s design. Neo-theos believe humans are here for god’s will. There are no other reasons for the existence of humans. All subsequent life and material are subservient to man.

Neo-theos believe a person is a perfect body of god’s expression

God is a person in the same sense that a fetus is a person. God as the unity of the trinity supports that differences, a group of cells, can be irrevocably bound together in personhood. The creation of children mimics the creation of the earth and universe. Procreation is a sacred and never trivialized for pleasure.

Personhood can extend to groups. A righteous company has the rights of a person such that a religious company can be offended as an extension of the common disavowal of offense within. Just as a family unit is united in their commonality of obsequeance and fielty. A family is a single unit and is the most profound unity after the trinity. As the triune god may speak as one, as the family members speak as one, as corporation members speak as one, they all are single-bodied in respect to god. The perfect scalability of all social bodies extend from the farther to the father, whether of celestial, familial, communal, or national dimension.

There you have it. It all makes sense now. Their entire push is not irrational but rational to a different calibration. Knowing how they do this will help us return to better epistemologies. You can’t win if you go after the argument, you have to go for the source. The basis of faith. The truth of revelation.

Jim Newman, bright and well

www.frontiersofreason.com

No Creationism in Texas Textbooks

CreationismTextbookIt was a rare weekend of hearing music from Texas.

Citizens who serve on the Texas review panels are charged with making suggestions about proposed classroom texts that are being considered for the state’s list of “approved” schoolbooks. While most reviewers on this year’s biology panel made routine, noncontroversial suggestions, some took issue with the fact that the proposed books did not include information about creationism while focusing on evolution.

However, information that publishers submitted to the Texas Education Agency show they are not incorporating the suggestions about “creation science” and plan to print books free of references to the theory of intelligent design.

So a big thanks you to all of those who have spent countless hours of effort to fight incorporating creationism in text books. Now if only my local middle school would  put evolution in their science book. The West Virginia way seems to be to avoid the entire issue as the text doesn’t mention either evolution or creationism.

Since Texas drives publishing in spite of the growing ability to publish customized texts on demand this is great news. Odd that something I assumed to be true, would remain true decades ago, is now something to celebrate.

One of my favorite sayings from David Brower a founder of Friends of the Earth, thrice  nominated for Nobel Peace Prize  is that environmental battles are never won but merely postponed. I took that to mean rising pressure on environmental resources made ongoing preservation of wildness, wilderness, and uncultured space very difficult and nothing even National Parks were/are immune to industrialization.

Now I see this to be true of many freedoms and civilized attributes including civil rights (the new Jim Crow and Jane Crow) socialized retirement savings (the push to defund social security) and secularism (the current Great Awakening). It makes history difficult and cyclical if you have to add all of the past to each generation to prevent degeneration to previous states.

In any case be thrilled that children in Texas will have at least some small freedom from religious tyranny.

Jim Newman, bright and well

www.frontiersofreason.com 

Bill Nye AntiCreationist Guy

bill-nye-300Bill Nye has been going after creationism recently for good reason. With Texas wanting to put creationism in the classroom and moderate believers wanting to allow the inclusion of evolution as a system driven or initiated by god the pressure is on.

A more recent tactic has been to differentiate observational science versus historical science. Anything historical that wasn’t seen by a human is suspect. They assert the bible is true because it is the revelation of god, seen by eyewitness accounts. Scientists are wrong because they have no eyewitness accounts.

“Bill Nye still doesn’t understand the difference between historical science and observational science — so he may be known as ‘Bill Nye the science guy’ — but he doesn’t understand science correctly,” Ken Ham wrote on Facebook. “[Bill Maher and Nye] don’t want the truth — they continue to ‘suppress the truth’ as the Bible states in Romans 1 about such people in rebellion against God.”

Wait…wait…wait… Ok, now that you have gotten off the floor from laughing your ass off you have to get they believe this stuff. Yup, Ken and about 20% of our voting population truly do not believe in evolution whatsoever and another 20% or so believe that god started the ball rolling. Whenever I state this or show the statistics to my “believe in belief” or religiously laissez faire family they groan and simply do not accept the statistics. No one can really believe in creationism but a few crackpots! Hmm. But they do! Go away Jim. Don’t you have some work to do? Yes, I have to go write about denial and dislike of confrontation blindness.

Hamm reminds me of a story Fred Hagen told. There were three philosophers having a small party. The one kept opening the refrigerator and looking inside. After this happened a few times. Fred asked “what’s going on” while Ken was checking the fridge. “Oh, Ken, put his vodka in the fridge and isn’t sure his vodka is really in there unless he is seeing it.” “He can’t be sure something happens unless it is observed and does it disappear when you’re not observing it.” “You know. The old tree falling in the forest thing (if no one experiences it how do you know it fell).” Fred, being gracious, says “Oh, yes, right, of course, radical empiricism where observation of phenomenon ensures existence and causation of reality.” Well, they continue drinking and chatting as Ken every now and then runs back and forth to the fridge to check on his vodka. As the night gets late the two are no longer quite as amused by Ken’s constant peregrinations. John decides to go with Ken to the fridge. “Yes, yes, it’s still there.” Fred shouts out “John, lock the bastard in the fridge. That way he’ll always be sure of his vodka.”

It seems silly but some rationalists including Leibniz required a prime observer to cause reality to exist. In Ken Hamm’s case the point is ridiculous since the argument is circular without rational support. God says someone saw him to prove he exists. At least Leibniz had a sophisticated rationality underneath his monadology requiring a grand orchestrator.

It’s an old school trick. Most of us hate history class and the way we could fight back, stalemate the point, was to say “Did anyone see it. How do you know if no one saw it?” Most of us gave this up sometime in Jr High School if not younger but Hamm and others are frozen in a perpetual state of adolescence.

It’s also why science relies on rationality as well as observation.  As well as parsimonious evidence. Why would god create a world that to all extents and purposes took millions of years to create but was really 10,000? What on Earth could be the benefit? Aaaah, it’s  mystery, or I don’t know but it it’s true, god said it right here in this book with eyewitnesses.

The article does state that evolution can be proven in the lab. However, Hamm and others don’t have a problem with micro evolution it’s that one species to another thing as well as the over riding need to show the bible is right cuz god says it is.

On maybe a lighter note, Bill Nye was on Dancing With the Stars and of course lost. At first hopeful, I wanted to change this scenario–look at the funny geek trying to dance but I guess it’s good to get them out in public. What we need is a Mila Kunis (Cara Santa Maria) or a Brad Pitt (Neil deGrasse Tyson) out there talking about needing evolution in classrooms while smashing the competition. We got Bill talking about sexual tension, ya think? Down boy. Though that along with the beaker-flask thing was a perfect geek response.  Buzzfeed has a more positive take on it.

Jim Newman, bright and well

www.frontiersofreason.com

Controversial Christian Academy Goes Broke

flintstones42HP, by tip from Patheos, posts Blue Ridge Christian Academy closed down in spite of donations garnered after their idiotic “creationist quiz” went viral. Their financial idiocy was having 40 scholarships for 139 students before they had raised the money. They needed $200,000 and got $15,000 when the video showing the quiz went viral and donations appeared.

The quiz shows the usual evangochristian crap about man living with dinosaurs, dinosaurs being created on the sixth day, and which dinosaur is described in Job 40. The only thing they get right anywhere is that kids like dinosaurs. I guess they think the Flintstones were the original anime, reality TV show.

They thought god would save the school cuz he’s good.

“We’re trying to make private Christian education readily available to students who normally couldn’t afford that,” Buchanan told HuffPost several months ago. “[God] is going to meet all our needs, what that will look like we don’t know, but he is good.”

were you thereWhy would I care? Even if I were an educational libertarian I expect children raised anywhere in the US by any method to meet certain standards of education. That there is no national academic canon in spite of loser school mantras like “no kid left behind”, “race to the top”, and now “common core” does not mean all children don’t need and deserve a basic education that allows them to succeed. Now, more so than ever.

creation quizIt used to be a man and a mule could go out west, settle some land, shoot some grub and mail order a bride. Then it was a man could learn a skill, get a job, marry a secretary, show up for 40 years, and retire. Now men and women need to negotiate several careers, multiple jobs, keep up with technology, and be ready to move anywhere on the planet.

People used to look to Paris for fashion and fancy French. Now, it may be Beijing, Istanbul, or Dubia and they’re looking for work and global expertise.

Before public education the mobility between classes was nill. Industrialization demanded workers show up on time, not be drunk, get the work done, and do what they are told. While we tend to think of schools as places for knowledge they are also places for work ethic. It’s still true.

Public schools now are infamous for crowd control, tight schedules, routine, and huge class sizes. Translate that to regulated networking, drop-dead deadlines, arcane specialization, and large work groups and you have modern work needs. There is a reason MOOCs and competency-based, online education is going to rule for many.

So while the wild, open-school, syndico-anarchist in me cries for allowing many different educational methods reality forces me to support poor education as better than really bad education or worse none at all. I don’t know the full curriculum of Blue Ridge but I would guess their education did not serve their children well. Good riddance.

Perhaps it won’t matter in global work culture. Perhaps capitalism will meet its goal of pushing labor requirements to minimal cost and knowledge levels where robotics or poorly educated service people need only apply and creativity and intelligence will be cloistered in a class of industrialized intellectuals, analyticals, and artists. Perhaps those on top of that middle-class will ensure a decent minimum wage since it will be expected that most people will only achieve a minimal job whether they want it or not

With a secular, science-based education there is at least a chance of crashing through these walls without having to have the personality of a Steve Jobs or Madonna. All kids deserve this.

Jim Newman, bright and well

www.frontiersofreason.com

Balanced Education of Evolution and Creationism in Louisiana?

Buzzfeed published three pages from a 5th grade “Christ centered” text book used in some Louisiana schools. With the insistence that schools teach the debate, one wonders, how the following is fair and balanced. The way this starts should upset any rational person: Scientists don’t believe in one great flood so they look for other ways to explain fossil formation.

They ought to use these pages for analysis to develop critical thinking. They make the biggest mistakes possible. Scientists don’t start with a conclusion, theologians do. Scientists didn’t care whether there was one flood or 100, what does the evidence show? Scientists don’t need a flood to explain fossils either, nor did they ever consider a flood to cause the formation of fossils; however if that was what the evidence showed, then fine, that would be it. Fossils are formed by minerals replacing organic compounds for example which has nothing to do with flooding much less one or two of them. But if it did, scientists would be the first to say so.

The crap continues, simple fossils should be in the lowest level of rock. So, I guess seismic activity, erosion, and wind blowing aren’t part of the creationist landscape. It would have helped their credibility if they had at least allowed morphological changes to the landscape but here again they had to support an unproven premise, that there was a great flood and that it caused the entire fossil record.

The second page reinforces how a belief system defines knowledge. This is absurd. Science is about observation and not a belief system of specifics. The process of scientific inquiry is quite different than saying science must agree with a biblical account and where it doesn’t the science must be wrong. Yet, there is no discussion whatsoever about supporting the veracity of the bible–it’s assumed true, all true.

It’s no wonder with this kind of contradictory thinking, Creationist-based education creates a learned helplessness where students are so confused they have to follow authority blindly, unable to think for themselves. Every time they try to think for themselves they get it wrong because it is wrong, on every rational or intuitive level. The dissonance of having to accept obvious bullshit creates a suspension of ability to reason. If you are taught to suspend reasoning for science then why not for any other perception? Why truest yourself at all? Instead submit to the authority of the sacred text!  Yikes.

Jim Newman, bright and well

www.frontiersofreason.com