I want to point out two pieces by website comrades that appeared today; both are worth reading.
Over at EvolutionBlog, Jason continues his survey of scriptural morality in a nice post called “Is the Bible a reliable guide to morality?” He’s discussing an essay by David Lose on PuffHo in which Lose, while acknowledging that the Bible didn’t get it right on matters of morality (Jason’s example in his great post last Thursday was homosexuality), it nevertheless can be a “profound guide to life”. Jason responds:
But let’s grant that the Bible sometimes gets it right and sometimes gets it wrong on moral questions. My question is: What part of that suggests that the Bible’s primary function is as a guide to living? When we see a few decent moral teachings mixed in with a lot of primitive tribal BS, why not simply conclude that the Biblical texts represent the thinking of primitive people laboring without the benefit of divine guidance?
Lose goes on to show how one can “resolve” issues like the scriptural proscription of homosexuality by looking to other sections of the Bible involving “communal responsibility, mutual and loving commitment, and the intricate nature of our human relationships”—sections than support our notion of gay rights. Jason finds this laughable, for it is, as we can clearly see, simply a way to use the Bible to buttress our secular morality. For that’s what this kind of moral exegesis clearly shows: Christians pick and choose those parts of the Bible that support their own extra-religious morality. Morality clearly doesn’t come from God. Jason concludes:
The Bible has some historical and literary value, but it contains almost nothing of relevance to modern moral concerns. Clear thinking about morality cannot begin until it is placed harmlessly back on the shelf where it belongs. There are countless literary works of demonstrably human origin that are far greater repositories of moral insight than is the Bible.
And over at Choice in Dying, Eric MacDonald discusses “Elaine Ecklund’s militant campaign,” which of course is to persuade us that American scientists are far less atheistic than we really are. He nicely summarizes the many distortions that pervade the conclusions of Ecklund’s Templeton-funded study. Eric also includes a new video in which Ecklund perpetuates these distortions—against a visual background of praying hands, Stars of David, crosses, Bibles, and Muslims at prayer. Listen at the end when Ecklund says that “these atheist scientists actually wanted to expose their children to a variety of [religious] choices. . . it shows that religion and family life are very deeply intertwined in the U.S.”
Well, that may be true as a general statement, but it’s hogwash among the group that Ecklund studied. Her survey of atheist scientists showed that only 17% of them—about one in six—took their children to church at least twice a year. And most of those did so because of pressure from a religious spouse! And that is supposed to show a deep intertwining of religion and family life??? The woman is a spin-doctor from the get-go, but it’s especially striking to see her distort her data as she appears on camera. Is any sociologist going to criticize Ecklund’s conclusions, or is that left to people with websites like Jason, Eric, and me? Where is peer review in that field?