Writer’s Note: What follows is my response to Dr. Arthur Reber’s comments posted at his website on Monday, April 29th. To read Dr. Reber’s commentary in full, please click here: “We Can’t Forget Evolution”
Dr. Arthur Reber is correct. We can’t forget evolution. And we won’t.
Yet for all the wit and persuasiveness of Reber’s argument which he terms “a different framework for viewing religion,” he leaps to what I surmize are erroneous conclusions, many of which leave me both unsatisfied and unconvinced.
In his essay, Reber cites compelling (his supporters might insist — irrefutable) evidence from the field of cultural anthropology which suggests all societies — from ancient to contemporary and those in between — have embraced one form of religion or another. He insists by the shear volume of these numbers and the “universality” of religious belief, we “have to acknowledge the powerful role is plays in people’s lives.”
Let’s begin by taking several quotes (hopefully none out of context) from Reber’s thoughtful essay, which I believe warrant additional comment and clarification from quite a different perspective:
1. “….horrible acts can be carried out without a God. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot slaughtered millions under secular banners.”
First. let’s begin with the easiest distortion to refute. Frankly, I’m surprised Reber would allude to gross historical oversimplifications to support his hypothesis on the sometimes vital role religion plays in totalitarianism. Many of the 20th Century’s most evil regimes would never have come to power nor thrived were it not for religion — aided by cooperation with religious authorities as well as the nationalistic and ideological fervor of citizens of faith. Whether it be Mussolini’s outright creation of The Vatican (state) via the Lateran Treaty of 1929 or Hitler signing his infamous Concordat with the Catholic Church in 1937, two of Europe’s most detestable societies weren’t simply enabled by church passivity. In fact, they were bolstered by those who believed in fighting a “Christian cause,” particularly in the struggle against Bolshevism.Read More