Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"The Age of American Unreason" - Atheist vs Atheists and Christian Counterpoints by Judy Joyce

"The Age of American Unreason" author, atheist, and independent scholar Susan Jacoby contends in an interview with C-Span Book TV's, Nick Gillespie, that American society is suffering from a combination of Anti-intellectualism and Anti-rationalism by addiction to mass media, ineffective educational systems, and religious fundamentalism. The author said that her book is intended to take a serious look at America’s intellectual life and the ability to. reason.

Anti-Intellectualism per se

Ms. Jacoby defines Anti-Intellectualism as "a (traditional) suspicion of too much learning" Of course, the founding fathers were a group of intellectuals. So, it is inaccurate to believe that suspicions were always of learning per se but learning was to be tied to a practical end, Ms Jacoby explained. These man of the Enlightenment did not see a distinction between learning and doing. Today, an expert is suspect as too narrow. .

More modernly, she believes that there is this odd idea of there being an opposition between thinkers and problem solvers..An example given in the interview was that of the post-modern development of academia that students of education decide whether to be "instructors" or "researchers". Current systems of education set up paths of learning and doing as mutually exclusive. She stated that in the last thirty years: Anti-intellectualism and Anti-rationalism have become sort of fused in a way that is more dangerous.

This, one can conclude has turned us into a nation of acquiring mere information as opposed to a system of knowledge.


According to Ms. Jacoby, Anti-rationalism is a contempt for evidence. In other words, I know what I believe, I know what I think. You can’t show me any of this modern science
evidence that will show me differently.Historically, the author states that in America there has always been the anti-rational element of religious fundamentalism where people believe every word in the Bible is true as in the example of a seven day creation despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

Jacoby does not believe that denominations, other than fundamentalists, are anti-rational or that religion is an anti-rational belief system incompatible with science. Earlier in the interview, Jacoby had pointed out that there are a lot of anti-rational intellectuals. as well.

Atheist vs Atheists

When asked specifically about the contention of atheist’s books promoting the notion that religion is anti-science and at the root of cultural problems in many ways, Susan Jacoby stated with great emphasis that she is an atheist who disagrees with Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins on these points. She named several Christian denominations from Catholics through Protestants whose belief systems are compatible with science and secularists.

Christian Counterpoints

Atheist Jacoby demonstrated a reasoned understanding of Christian denominations and the compatibility of their beliefs with science. In disavowing the anti-rational statements of other atheists, Dawkins and Harris, she further validates her definition of anti-rationalism, She uses these writers as examples in that they ignore a plethora of evidence contrary to their thesis about religion, religious beliefs, and the science that underpins much of it.

Scientific Theory Antithetical to Atheistic Understanding

Perhaps the most widely ridiculed belief of the Christian faith is the divine nature of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Birth. If Christ were not the subject of religious belief, the theory of this possibility is not only compelling as a point of scientific inquiry but compatible with already well-accepted scientific evidence. From the ruminations of Dawkins and Harris, they fall well within Ms. Jacoby’s assertion that there are anti-rational intellectuals. They are unwilling to take a look at current reproductive scientific reality and data that gives rise to an interesting look at the virgin birth claim of Christians..

While there are a cadre of intellectuals who revere science as the exclusive reference by which to have authentic knowledge, it is possible to contend that science can only provide information. The application of that information or data within a context of system of compiled understanding that is broader than science is what many consider necessary to acquire knowledge. For the second group of thinkers, they assert that we can know reality without scientific evidence to substantiate it.

In the example of the divine nature of Jesus Christ and in the context of the virgin birth, it is not difficult to accept the scientific proofs that there are, in fact, other dimensions - "Science and the Search for Other Dimensions" - NPR Mar.31,2009. The notion of heaven is compatible with that scientific inquiry. The use of in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination is so common place that virgin birth is not only possible but practiced modernly

Science, Divine Nature, and DNA

For Jesus Christ to come from another dimension and assume a human nature, the science of DNA construction for each human individual requires a chromosomal combination of both mother and father. DNA necessary to produce a divine-human identity would be scientifically incompatible with the claim of divinity were Christ the simple chromosomal replica of a human man and human woman.

It stands to reason that were early Christians trying to attract followers for ulterior motives or for purposes of public consumption and approval, they would have better served their purposes to contend that Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus, was actually his biological father.

At the time of the virgin birth, those who came to be disciples of Jesus would have lived in a culture that found distain for unwed pregnant mothers. Mary's circumstances of claiming virgin birth would not have been conducive to attracking followers. The followers were Jews and found that the promise of God to send a Messiah made this possible. Yet modern science would conclude that this is not as far fetched as in earlier times would conclude.

Under the more complex Christian construct held over centuries that Christ was born God-man , there is no incompatibility of that construct with current reproductive science developed in the medical fertility field more recently. The DNA combination of both God and woman necessary for scientific authenticity of both a human and divine nature, is substantiated by the belief in the virgin birth..

Considering more recent scientific fertility developments, it would seem that open-minded individuals critiquing religious belief systems might acknowledge this. It would seem to raise at least a curiousity about this belief, and remove any vestiges of ridicule.

Christianity is the only belief system where the claims of it’s founder, Jesus Christ, are now found to be compatible with scientific understanding of what a human and divine nature would require to be authentic. While followers of other faiths might elevate their leaders to status of God, Christ is the only founder of any traditional religion who claimed to be God. This is another worthy notation.

While religion presents many mysteries that involve the transcendental,, the more that science examines the claims of Christianity and takes those claims seriously, the more the Anti-rational intellectual positions of atheists will be exposed by atheist Susan Jacoby in her book "The Age of American Unreason".

No comments: