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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pagans and intelligent design:

In one of yesterday's posts, I commented on Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno claiming that six-day creationism was a form of "paganism," which is clearly erroneous. It is a form of fundamentalism (literal interpretation of the Bible), which originated with Christianity and other "religions of the Book" and has no pagan roots whatever. Nor could it have such roots.

The pagans' only book is nature itself (the "book of creation," as it was formerly called). However, once an actual book is accepted as a divine revelation (Torah, Bible, Koran), it can be quoted with authority. But such books only came into existence with monotheistic religions.

The fact that Consolmagno can get away with such misrepresentations shows how eager many in the science community are to hastily shelve the discussion of intelligent design, citing any old nonsense that sounds pleasant to digest.

For anyone who wants to know facts in this area, there are actually "pagans" (sometimes called "heathens") in North America. To my knowledge, they are not particularly friendly to creationism (young earth or ancient earth) or to any type of intelligent design. (Scroll down or search on the term "intelligent design.")

My sense, incidentally, is that they are ignorant of the nature of the issues; they clearly do not understand that materialism is as much their enemy as it is the enemy of the monotheistic religions. They want to be traditional Greek or African-type pagans, but they risk being exploited by modern materialists, flogging up materialism as if it were paganism/heathenism.

Basically, as I see it, the pagans are trapped. They cannot go home again to Diana or Thor or Babalu Aia. The last deities of the great pantheons of old were creatures like Psyche (soul) and Baldur (a Christ figure), who foreshadowed the end of the pagan way of thinking altogether. That way had its achievements, yes, in great literature, art, architecture, and seminal learning - but it has long passsed its best before date, and the arrow of time flies on and on.

The modern pagan (heathen) movement, incidentally, dates back to the 1950s , not to mediaeval or prehistoric times, as the pagans would like to imagine. Thus, modern paganism took root at the same approximate time as young earth (six-day) creationism, but through an entirely different path, among different people, with different sources of credibility.

At the very same time, among the highbrows, people like Aldous Huxley and Sir John Eccles were speaking out against materialism, in favor of perennial philosophy , but more on that later. There is a whole history of early revolts against materialism that begs to be told.
(Note: I have added this material to the post on Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno's attack on six-day creationists as "pagans.")
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove ?

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being denied tenure at Baylor.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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