Secular Saviors: Science Steps Up


So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.1

It is a tale at least as old as the New Testament within the Christian faiths -- the restoral of speech to those who could no longer talk, the return of sight to those who had gone blind, the repair of limbs for those who have been maimed, the recovery of mobility for the lame, the healing of disease for the afflicted, the casting out of demons for the possessed and insane, and ultimately the resurrection of the dead.

All accomplished with but a simple touch, a gesture, a sign or a spoken word.

That is the essence of the miraculous within the realm of legends, lore, philosophy, religion and mythology. Tomes as diverse as the Bible2 and tales from folklore and fantasy dealing with stories of creation, magic, the battle between good and evil and the end of the world abound, but the boundaries dividing the worlds of reality and fantasy, myth and legend, faith and fact are blurring now.

Once the sole provenance of magick and fantasy, the pursuit of miracles and our meager attempts to understand life, the universe and everything has jumped the rails: it is no longer constrained to a world where myth and fantasy play a significant role. Such answers are no longer found only in folklore and religion. Now, the search of these answers is also the baileywick of science.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

            -- Arthur C. Clarke, "Profiles of The Future", 1961
                (Clarke's Third Law)
                English physicist & science fiction author (1917 - )

The long, ragged road of civilization is often caught up in the interplay between religion and science, with the dust-ups often impacting the formation and politics of countries. Without the advent of science, however, civilization and society could not have advanced to the point it has on Planet Earth.3

Does this mean that civilization cannot progress in the face of religion? No. It does, however, seem to suggest that there must be a balance between the two -- perhaps a clear-cut distinction where the two are kept separate for the purpose of establishing a society where multiple, diverse people and cultures can co-exist peacefully without religious differences muddying the waters.

I think such a division could be conceivably termed as a form of wall or separation...perhaps we could refer to it as the separation between church and state and somehow incorporate it into our core principles and philosophy...?

Such a philosophy would advocate secular law over religious; it would seek to provide a common ground based on

...the assertion that certain practices or institutions should exist separately from religion or religious belief.

[...snip...]

In one sense, secularism may assert the freedom of religion, and freedom from the government imposition of religion upon the people, within a state that is neutral on matters of belief, and gives no state privileges or subsidies to religions. (See also Separation of church and state and Laïcité.) In another sense, it refers to a belief that human activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be based on evidence and fact rather than religious influence.[1] (See also Public Reason.)

While some conservatives -- particular those claiming adamant fundamentalist beliefs -- refer to "secularism" as a religion itself in attempts to combat it, they often leave out items which could effectively bolster their argument, namely the rapid advancements of science that have begun to mimic, replicate and understand some of the events that were once relegated solely to the dominion of a higher power.

Science, at this juncture in our history, can restore speech to the mute, help the lame walk and cure the ravages of diseases like cancer. It is not long before science will be able to heal the brain and resurrect the dead. (Well, the freshly dead.)

Science has also brought us to the level of near god-like achievement in the science of destruction. Remember tales of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and ever hear the alt spin that the cities were destroyed by nuclear explosions? Or how about perhaps you've seen wide-eyed CT theorists speculating about ancient civilizations and talking about legends of the Mahabharata and the tale of an ancient nuclear exchange? Well, never fear -- science has given us The Bomb, and we've even instituted our own version of the Biblical destruction of two cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In spite of the apparent blaise way in which certain cretins4 approach the concept of war, we should bear this in mind: one nuclear bomb can still ruin your whole day.

Can we do without modern science, if the avid, ardent and blindly militant faithful get their way? Well, the ancient Greeks did ok, but I strongly suspect that those rabid revisionists would find a way to "adjust" their favored texts to incorporate a justification of just the right kinds of scientific advancement -- namely, those which result in their capacity for arrogance, power and destruction.

The lure of such scientific conquests of phenomenal power presents a dilemma for those who boldly insist on their moral superiority while insisting on the effectiveness of "conservatism" as a political and economic philosophy. It's difficult to wholly discredit something that is invaluable yet stands to expose the inherent hypocrisy of their claims, and yet they can hardly resist: they are compelled by their stunted evolutionary development. Indeed, science itself has shown that aggression is sexy, and such considerations are historically unresistable to them.

Presented with such a dilemma, what options do the fervent, fevered faithful have?

Controlling information, for one.

While groups like SourceWatch and MediaMatters, along with the rise of the blogosphere and citizen journalism, all work to expose and contain such efforts, it's still up to the individual to pay heed to the events of the day, and to discern the wheat from the chaff.

Remaining alert, recognizing efforts to repress scientific endeavors and calling for an immediate halt to all efforts to introduce religion into the halls of Congress depends upon each and every one of us working together.

Namaste.

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Footnotes
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  1. Biblical Quote, taken from Matthew 15:31 (New King James Version), via BibleGateway.com.
  2. There are many versions of the Bible to consider, too. Here's a short list:
    King James Version (KJV)
    The New King James Version (NKJV)
    Modern King James Version [Green's Translation] (MKJV)
    Literal Translation Version [Green] (LITV)
    International Standard Version (ISV)
    The New International Version (NIV)
    English Standard Version (ESV)
    New English Bible (NEB)
    American Standard Version (ASV)
    New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    Revised Standard Version (RSV)
    New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
    Contemporary English Version (CEV)
    Today's English Version (TEV)
    The Living Bible (LB)
    New Century Version (NC)
    New Life Version (NLV)
    New Living Translation (NLT)
    Young's Literal Translation (YLT)
    Revised Young's Literal Translation (RYLT)
    John Darby's New Translation
    Weymouth New Testament Translation
    Rotherham's

    Even more can be found here and are searchable online with multiple language versions. Availability isn't much of a problem -- clarity and consistency are. Even among the faithful, there are disputes as to which versions are "right" and which tell a more "true" tale; worse, ardent followers and believers are even attempting to rewrite history (of the United States and other nations, peoples and events) in order to "make" their version ring truer than others. Unfortunately, many of those ardent followers are using Bibles with known inaccuracies. Why?

    Many Christians -- particularly from the conservative wing of the religion, believe that God inspired the authors of the Bible to write text that was inerrant -- free of error. However, that belief extends only to the original hand-written text -- not necessarily to later copies.

    Unfortunately, errors have crept in during subsequent copying of Bible texts. In various locations in the Bible:

    • Text was inserted that better reflected the evolving beliefs of the Christian movement.

    • Margin notes that someone had added to a copy of the Bible were incorporated into the text of subsequent copies.
    • Short passages were simply deleted because they were an embarrassment to the church.

    As earlier manuscripts are discovered, some of these forgeries are being uncovered, and modern Bible translations corrected. However, some established versions of the Bible, like the King James Version, remain uncorrected.

    Note how the King James Version is one of the big-name items that remains uncorrected. This is important when considering the efforts of religious groups and organizations to carefully explore the "which is best" question, such as this one. The competing and mixed messages of the various religious texts can present a major stumbling block when attempting to seriously explore and define what "the Bible" (and which Bible) says about topics like homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Caveat emptor -- "let the buyer beware."

  3. And that's not always a good thing. The level of advancement we have achieved in some areas hold much promise with its ability to work in transformitive, positive ways, but without the corresponding wisdom, empathy, compassion and humanity that should accompany a truly advanced and culturally rich civilization, we run the risk of "advancing" ourselves out of existence.
  4. From marinecorptimes:
    If the U.S. were to face a new conventional threat, its military could not respond effectively without turning to air power, officials and analysts say.

    That is the ultimate upshot of the war in Iraq: a response elsewhere would consist largely of U.S. fighters and bombers — even, perhaps, some degree of nuclear strike — because so many ground troops are tied up in Operation Iraqi Freedom.


    Notably, the piece was not promoting the concept of a nuclear strike -- instead, it stressed the fervent hope that no other calamity would befall us while we are engaged in the quagmire of Iraq. The Marines, the Army -- indeed, all the armed forces -- know the idiocy of even a limited nuclear strike. The problem is, the current senior leadership out of the WH is apparently blind to it.

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has become more and more difficult. This seems to be the biggest challenge these days.

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