From the humanist view, common “buts”, so frequently heard from liberal religious factions, are taken into account. Such “buts” are placed by liberals, in reaction to various accusations brought to debate by secular Humanists. Some of the classic “buts“ voiced by Christian liberals refer to the ignoring of the three following issues:
They are the dark side of church history, the fact that religion too is subject to change and the rise of Christian fundamentalism.
- The dark side of church history is commonly countered with a “but“ that refers to the saints, the monastic tradition or individual christians who made some worthwhile impact and changed the course of history.
- Religion as subject to change is countered with a “but“ that refers to Jesus, who supposedly remains the same yesterday, today and forever.
- Fundamentalism is countered with a “but“ with which one is corrected not to take the Bible literally.
It is ignoring the latter one that should be of growing concern. In many parts of the USA and Africa fundamentalism is considered representing mainline Christianity. But Christian fundamentalism, seriously defended by educated people, is a relative young phenomena. It occurred in the 19th century as a Christian (puritan) reaction against being ridiculed of believing in myth and legends. Even so, taking the Bible literally was nothing new; not only the Bible, but many of the stories known today as fairy-tales were taken for bare truth by illiterate common folk, throughout the Middle-Ages and early Modern Times. Recent and present atrocities, caused by islamist based terrorism and christian-fundamentalist politicians, have made us to painful witnesses of the danger, when literal belief in Koran and Bible is combined with the use of advanced technology. Reinforcing this concern, I like to add a plea, expressed by the German philosopher Michael Schmidt-Salomon in his Humanist Manifest:
Manifesto of Evolutionary Humanism
We are living in a time of asynchrony: While technologically we arefirmly in the 21st century, our world views are still characterized by ancient legends which are thousands of years old. This combination of high-level technical ability and highly naïve child-like beliefs could have disastrous consequences in the long run. We are behaving like five-year-olds who have been given responsibility for a jumbo jet.
One of the most depressing problems of our time lies in religious fundamentalists of all stripes casually making use of the fruits of the Enlightenment (freedom of expression, constitutionality, science, technology) in order to prevent its principles being applied to the domain of their own belief. For example, to further their beliefs, the 9/11 terrorists used airplanes constructed on basis of scientific principles; principles to which their beliefs could never stand up. In return, the “fundamentalist by other means”, George W. Bush, led the world into a devastating “crusade” against “terror” and the “axis of evil” making use of a technology which could never have been developed if scientists had contented themselves with the American president’s child-like faith that the Bible’s creation account is true.
In the face of the dangers arising from the renaissance of unenlightened thinking in a technologically highly developed era, it is a matter of intellectual integrity to speak out clearly – especially where religion is concerned. Anyone who is capable of splitting the atom and communicating via satellites must possess intellectual and emotional maturity. That certain people or groups avoid exposure to criticism by establishing “holy” (i.e. untouchable) rules and uphold their fallacies as mandatory for all time, may and can no longer be accepted practice in a modern society.