Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Witch hunts, and their secular counterparts

I see John Loftus is using witch hunts as the basis for attacking Christianity. So, there won't be witch hunts if we just give up Christianity.

No, but there have been secular equivalents, including this one.  But since it was in Soviet Russia, it doesn't count.


Crude said...

No, but there have been secular equivalents, including this one. But since it was in Soviet Russia, it doesn't count.

Why wouldn't there be witch hunts if we give up Christianity? Christianity is compatible with a near wholesale denial of the existence of witches, and you don't need to believe in Christ to believe witches exist, clearly.

And yes, there have been plenty of secular equivalents and moral panics. Good ol' secular racism and lynchings too.

Papalinton said...

And not one witch mentioned in dispatches throughout the whole article.

Unknown said...

In Soviet Russia, witch hunts you.

Victor Reppert said...

I said secular equivalents.

Papalinton said...

"I said secular equivalents."

Yes, indeed you did.
Then permit me to posit another equivalence that at least has some merit worthy of discussion and one that continues to interest researchers today, particularly the role of religion within contemporary communist states within Asia. SEE HERE. Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Goettingen, Germany, hosted a number of international conferences on the study of the relationship between Communism and Religion. In part this conference noted in part:

"There is a growing body of anthropological literature devoted to religious revival and religious conversion in both former and currently communist countries. Many of these studies make broader arguments about the relationship between religious practice and communist ideology, or communist forms of governance. But despite recent calls to re-examine the Cold War as a global phenomenon, studies of religion under and after communism have remained within traditionally defined area studies boundaries. This workshop seeks to cross these boundaries by asking: Is there a relationship between religion and communism writ large? What does the comparison between different forms of communism tell us about the relationship between communism, as an ideology and form of governance, and religious practice after 1989?"

You might wish to apprise yourself of this interesting stuff, Victor.

There is little doubt in informed circles Christianity was perceived a competing worldview to Communism and Christian ideology anathema to communist ideology during the Soviet heyday. It explains the return of Christianity on the collapse of communism and it goes a long way in explaining the subterranean activities of religion in competition within today's communist states in Asia. In essence they [communism and religion. and Christianity in our case] are diametric worldviews.

The now departed renowned British psychologist, Margaret Knight, once astutely observed:

"The fundamental opposition is between dogma and the scientific outlook. On the one side, Christianity and Communism, the two great rival dogmatic systems; on the other Scientific Humanism."

I think we see that being played out in churches all over the country today. After all, the objective of the Templeton Foundation and the guiding mission statement of the Biologos Foundation is pretty much about inveigling supernatural superstition into the conversation by attaching it to the coat-tails of science. For centuries science, or natural philosophy as it was called, was a subset of religion until the Enlightenment. "The dramatic success of the new science in explaining the natural world, in accounting for a wide variety of phenomena by appeal to a relatively small number of elegant mathematical formulae, promotes philosophy (in the broad sense of the time, which includes natural science) from a handmaiden of theology, constrained by its purposes and methods, to an independent force with the power and authority ....." {Stanford. Today, beginning in the late 20thC, we observe concerted attempts to wind back the clock to an earlier period when religion dominated the public square.

This rear-guard response is I sense best explained in a comment from Mary Jean Irion, American theologist, poet and retired professor from University of Connecticut:

Christianity ... has been over for a hundred years now .... When something even so small as a lightbulb goes out, the eyes for a moment still see it; and a sound after it is made will have, in the right places, an echo. So it is not at all strange that when something so large as a world religion goes out, there remains for a century or more in certain places some notion that it is still there."

Papalinton said...

"I think we see that being played out in churches all over the country today." i.e. religious dogma and science. "Sophisticated' Catholics will say otherwise, but what they say isn't reflected among the average pew warmers.

IlĂ­on said...

"So, there won't be witch hunts if we just give up Christianity."

Hell! The pagan Greeks and Romans had witch hunts.

*All* cultures have had witch hunts, for both the regular and metaphorical senses of 'witch' -- Christendom is the one civilization in all of history which suppressed witch hunts and had the fewest.