Sharon mentioned a recent article by philosophy professor John G. Messerly in a science update she produced for SkyWatchTV. In his column, Messerly argues that religion is “the enemy of the future.”
Ironically, his worldview isn’t new; it’s as old as human history.
Setting his ignorance (or denial) of history aside, as the list of Christian thinkers in the sciences over the last two millennia — and record of atrocities committed by atheistic governments — is far more extensive than he admits, Dr. Messerly doubles down on his position by declaring religion dead:
History is littered with dead gods. The Greek and Roman gods, and thousands of others have perished. Yet Allah, Yahweh, Krishna and a few more survive. But will belief in the gods endure? It will not. Our descendents will be too advanced to share such primitive beliefs.
If we survive and science progresses, we will manipulate the genome, rearrange the atom, and augment the mind. And if science defeats suffering and death, religion as we know it will die.
His logic is muddy at best. Dr. Messerly accuses Christianity, which he singles out because of its prominence in Western culture since the 4th century, of leading to “some of the worst [living] conditions known in human history.” Assertions such as this reveal more about the author than about the actual impact of religion on society. Like Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto, Messerly sees the symptoms but is clueless as to the nature of the disease. The problems of human society — poverty, for example — are properly and uniquely identified and addressed by a Christian worldview.
Was the medieval Roman church complicit in political intrigues that resulted in oppression of the masses? Yes, no doubt. Not unique to Christian kingdoms. I’ll see your popes and raise you Stalin and Mao.
Hunger and homelessness are not the result of a breakdown in the distribution of resources, but the basic human tendency to seek one’s self-interest to the exclusion of others — what we Christians call “sin”.
An atheist who is truly honest cannot define any behavior as objectively wrong, because atheist morality is defined by consensus, not by external authority. Such morality has no enduring plumbline and shifts from generation to generation. What Dr. Messerly calls “moral” today may be overturned within a decade.
Example: To many Germans of the 1930s, exterminating Jews, gays, Gypsys, and the cognitively impaired was not only right and good, but a moral imperative necessary to strengthen the race (an objective they shared with eugenicists of the early 20th century in Britain and the U.S.).
This imperative, not coincidentally, sounds an awful lot like calls from transhumanists to “restrict human breeding”:
Clearly, untold numbers of children…are born to unfit parents.
Those applicants who are deemed unworthy — perhaps because they are homeless, or have drug problems, or are violent criminals, or have no resources to raise a child properly and keep it from going hungry — would not be allowed until they could demonstrate they were suitable parents.
After all, we don’t allow people to drive cars on crack cocaine. Why would we allow them to procreate if they want while on it?
The devil, to borrow a phrase, is in the details. Who defines “suitability”? Yesterday, it was Hitler.
Self-directed evolution, which Dr. Messerly clearly supports, was the vision of the pre-World War II eugenicists. The movement only lost steam because Hitler made it politically incorrect. But obviously the spirit behind it is alive and well.
Dr. Messerly either doesn’t recognize his self-contradictory position or he’s intentionally framing it to conceal his evangelization efforts from those who are sold out to the false gospel of Scientism. He doesn’t actually foresee a future without religion. In fact, he is not without religion himself, and he recognizes that life has no meanin without faith:
Nature gave birth to consciousness, and consciousness comes to know nature. Through this interaction of the universe and the minds that emerge from it, reality comes to know itself. Surely this story is profound enough to satisfy our metaphysical longings. And it has an added benefit over mythological accounts—it’s based on science.
What is our role in this story? We are the protagonists of the evolutionary epic; determining its course is our destiny. We should willingly embrace our role as agents of evolutionary change, helping evolution to realize new possibilities. We are not an end, but a beginning. We are as links in a chain leading upward to higher forms of being and consciousness. This is our hope, this gives our lives meaning.
Dr. Messerly is firmly grounded on the wrong side of history. He’s merely repackaging the oldest lie in the Book: Ye shall be as gods.