American Christians are Silent: Silence in the Face of Evil is Itself Evil

ImageI ran across this quote on Facebook, and I wanted to share it here. I happen to agree with his assessment about the silence of American Christians in the face of the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not aware of such organizations like the Voice of the Martyrs that does keep up with such things. But for the large part there is silence is there not?

If I can hear and see opposition to A&E’s debacle with Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty then there’s no excuse why the same level of outrage isn’t being expressed over this:

Christians in Iran are murdered, American Christians are silent.
Christians in Iraq are murdered, American Christians are silent.
Christians in India are murdered, American Christians are silent.
Christians in Syria are murdered, American Christians are silent.
Christians in Libya are murdered, American Christians are silent.
Christians in Egypt are murdered, American Christians are silent.
Christians in China are murdered, American Christians are silent.
Christians in Sudan are murdered, American Christians are silent.
Christians in Turkey are murdered, American Christians are silent.
Christians in Nigeria are murdered, American Christians are silent.
Christians in Ethiopia are murdered, American Christians are silent.
Christians in Pakistan are murdered, American Christians are silent.
Christians in Saudi Arabia are murdered, American Christians are silent.

Phil Robertson is suspended by A&E for voicing his opinion on gays, [and] American Christians go ape until he is reinstated!

American Christians have no sense, whatsoever, of priorities. Christians murdered, no problem. Churches burned, no problem. Nuns and priests kidnapped, no problem. I won’t defend their lives or their property or their rights. But by God, you mess with my entertainment, and that is crossing the line!!! Now I am worried about constitutional rights.”-Theophilus Riley Floyd

I know there have been some Christians in the U.S. who have been outspoken, mainly Catholics and Orthodox because that is in large who is being persecuted in the Middle East right now. For those who have spoken out then ignore this. Continue to speak. For those ignorant of what our government is doing to help this persecution then please research it and start writing your Senators and Reps! There are a few things you can do:

  1. You can start with your vote! The men running this country, men like Obama and John McCain, have blood on their hands. Innocent blood!
  2. Write your Senators and Representatives.
  3. Talk to your friends, teachers, families!
  4. Speak with your pastor, youth minister, or preacher to have this mentioned, taught on, and preached about!
  5. Use social media: blog, Facebook, Twitter, whatever you got or can use! It was in part responsible for overthrowing regimes in the Arab Spring. It is useful here! If you got to post over and over on Facebook then do it!
  6. Command attention!
  7. Be their voice!
  8. Pray! Pray! Pray!

May the Lord God remember those persecuted in His Kingdom!

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Why is Our Culture so Sensitive to Even Disagreement?

Agree-to-disagree1My new friend Joel, who blogs over at The Christian Watershed, has made the most sense to me in regards to the whole Duck Dynasty issue going on with Papa Phil right now. It’s thoughts about civil discourse are worthy of sharing. You’ll see on my pages of this blog “The Rule of Mouw“. This rule is what is needed right now in regards to civil discourse in this country, especially in regards to sexual ethics.

“A lot of people today who have strong convictions are not very civil and a lot of people who are civil don’t have very strong convictions. What we really need is convicted civility,” writes Richard Mouw. He has also said, ”Too often in life we proceed with a hermeneutic of self-assuredness and criticism of those for whom we disagree rather than a hermeneutic of self-criticism and grace for others.” I feel this is the attitude and orientation of mind and heart we need to discuss with one another. My friend’s comments get to the heart of this. Forgive me for taking an attitude that isn’t in line with what I say. I’m a product of the same culture, but I’m working on that. Come work on it with me. Hope you can gain something from my friend’s insights:

Do they have the right to fire someone based on a disagreement if that disagreement is founded in religious ideology? If I bring Pepsi to a company party and a Mormon colleague complains, does he deserve to be fired if he points out that caffeine is a drug and immoral (which is an implicit condemnation of all his non-Mormon co-workers)?

I think the entire issue of A&E and some really stupid show points to a bigger issue; we tend to think of homosexuality as an identity rather than an action. But it’s an action and a disposition. Certainly most homosexuals are biologically predisposed to their feelings, but sexual feelings don’t make us who we are. Thus, if someone says, ‘Hey, I disagree with your actions,’ who cares?

The bigger issue here isn’t even if A&E is within their rights (they’re probably not), but why is our culture so sensitive to even disagreement? We can’t even disagree without the threat of boycotts and firings to arise; we want so desperately to feel like we’re fighting for a worthy cause, so desperately to be moral crusaders, if for no other reason than to justify the mundane existence of reality television and celebrity gossip we’ve created for ourselves. A guy disagrees with how some people act and we acted like he was threatening to light the world on fire.

What you’ll see is that I’m pro-gay marriage (with the caveat that the government has no business being involved in marriage to begin with), but I also like common sense. If someone disagrees with me, fine, who cares? There’s a word for being able to handle a disagreement without calling for a person’s head; mature.” Joel Borofsky on the A&E story about Phil Robertson

“[Bigotry is] an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition.” -G.K. Chesterton

Questions and Issues with the Homosexual Marriage Debate

downloadI recently befriended the fellow young man who wrote this piece on Facebook where he shared this link with me. I really enjoyed reading his piece over at The Christian Watershed, so I attained his permission to post the blog here on my own blog. Definitely go give the site a look! Some great thoughts there! Hope you find these stimulating to your own thinking and convictions on the issue no matter if you agree or not.

Questions and Issues with the Homosexual Marriage Debate

By Joel Borofsky

The issue of homosexual marriage is one of the more polarizing issues in our modern society, that almost goes without saying. Yet, it seems that whenever a state decides to take it upon themselves to define marriage as between “one man and one woman,” an overwhelming majority of people support such restrictions.

To me, however, the issue boils down to “What is the role of the government?” Let us simply accept that most laws are enacting some form of morality, especially major laws concerning marriage. Thus, the whole, “The government can’t legislate morality” argument doesn’t hold up; while they can’t make people act a certain way, they can declare that moral x and moral y will be codified, thus to act out against x and y comes with consequences. That being said, what is the role of the government in this morality?

I would contend that the role of the government is to prevent our freedoms from coming into conflict with each other, that is, to prevent us from harming each other. Thus, we have laws against murder because such an act harms an individual (or individuals). We have laws against rape for the same reason, against pedophilia, and monopolies, and the list goes on. Laws created that have nothing to do with protecting us from one another – such as seatbelt laws – tend to be viewed as arbitrary and almost tyrannical. Even some laws that prevent us from harming one another can sometimes be tyrannical if taken too far (simply look at TSA procedures).

The purpose of the government, then, isn’t to enact a theocratic form of government where the government follows God’s laws. Rather, the purpose of the government is to keep us from harming each other and to prevent outside forces from harming us. It eradicates exploitation (e.g. slavery, insurance companies taking advantage of the poor, etc), but doesn’t become a tyranny.

If I am correct on the purpose of the government, then there are a few questions concerning homosexual marriage:

  1. Why is the government involved in marriage in the first place? While I can understand civil unions for tax purposes and other legal rights, if we are trying to protect the “sanctity of marriage” then it seems absurd to bring the government into the mix. Few Christians would argue that the government is sanctified or holy, so how can the government protect what is ultimately a holy institution?
  2. We should respect religious liberty, meaning that if a state does allow for homosexual marriage a priest/pastor should not be forced to perform the ceremony. Likewise, religious institutions should be allowed to not hire people due to sexual preference (this even includes people who are living together in a heterosexual relationship). At the same time, if we respect religious liberty, what if a church wants to wed two men or two women? While some would argue that such a church has abandoned their Christian principles, it’s not up to the government to decide when that has occurred. By banning homosexual marriage, aren’t we also banning the right of some churches to practice what they believe? Again, this is why the government should probably move towards purely civil unions rather than marriage licenses.
  3. Is homosexuality inherently abusive or bad, that is, is it any worse than people engaged in open relationships or Hollywood marriages? While people try to bring up statistics showing the homosexual lifestyle is destructive, such statistics typically aren’t good arguments against homosexual marriage, even if one is arguing the morality of the issue. For instance, even if 95% of homosexual males had 50 partners or more (I’m making up a statistic to show a point), this wouldn’t show that homosexual actions are inherently destructive; it could simply be explained that by an action being taboo, the risk involvement increases. Besides, their heterosexual counterparts are catching up quite quickly. Furthermore, while it was true in the 80s and even 90s that homosexual activity tended to come with a higher risk, anymore when it has been normalized it’s almost no different than heterosexual couples. Many homosexuals are able to find stable relationships. Now, I must stress that this has nothing to do with the morality of the issue, but everything to do with the legality of the issue. Unless it can be shown that homosexual behavior is inherently destructive (and this can be disproven by finding multiple stable homosexual relationships, which has been done already…), one is left without an easy argument against banning homosexual unions.
  4. Even if we did show that homosexual behavior is inherently destructive, this still would provide great difficulty in “outlawing” it.The main reason is because of something I alluded to above; what do we do with open heterosexual relationships? In an open relationship, there is a tendency for one partner to get hurt. In addition, do we outlaw adultery? Do we outlaw divorce? What punishments do we place on those caught in such abusive situations? Do we really want to live in a nation where the government is in charge of instilling values into our families? Perhaps we should ban all marriages in Hollywood, or among celebrities. Since the divorce rate is higher for celebrity couples, why haven’t we passed a constitutional ban on Hollywood marriages, which are seemingly inherently destructive? There is just a lot of inconsistency here.
  5. Shall we ban fornication (sex before marriage) as well? If we’re following Biblical morality and want to protect the “sanctity of marriage” via legislation, then shouldn’t we also ban fornication? This situation is far more analogous to homosexual marriage than even adultery or divorce (where someone is harmed). The statistics behind sex before marriage are also staggering, showing that when both partners have engaged in premarital sex, especially with other people, the chances for divorce or adultery increase dramatically. In other words, the argument that by allowing homosexual marriage we will somehow destroy the fabric of our society may be true, but it’s no more true than the argument that fornication among heterosexual couples does the exact same thing. Thus, if we outlaw one, why aren’t we outlawing the others?
  6.  Perhaps one could argue that while homosexual activity isn’t harmful to others, it is harmful to the participants and therefore the government must stop it, but even this argument is full of inconsistencies and problems. For one, why not ban all homosexual activity, not just marriage if this is the case? But more importantly, how is this any more dangerous than couples who engage in open relationships, any more dangerous than adultery, any more dangerous than heterosexual promiscuity? I ask again, shall we enact laws against all of those actions as well? Should we pass a law saying that you can only get married once (as multiple marriages can ruin the institution of marriage)?

Ultimately, I’ve yet to discover a good argument from Natural Law on why homosexual marriage should be forbidden, other than “It’s not the job of the government to issue marriage licenses.” On this point I agree and think the government should only be involved in civil unions. But even if we reduce the government to civil unions, I’ve yet to see a reason to prevent homosexuals from engaging in those unions that isn’t simply arbitrary or inconsistent.

I understand that Christians want to protect the sanctity of marriage. But it’s not up to the government to protect what is holy; in fact, using the government to protect what is holy ultimately makes something unholy (as history has shown us). It makes sense to use the government to stop abortion as abortion creates a victim. It makes sense for the government to prevent certain types of drug use as the drug use is so harmful to the individual and the community that it simply can’t be regulated for positive use. But it doesn’t make sense for the government to try to protect the institution of marriage.

I would argue that traditional marriage is the foundation of a society and that as a society loses that traditional marriage, the society begins to collapse. At the same time, this stands far more true for divorce rates, abuse within marriages, and adultery than it does for homosexual unions. What is more important, however, is that since the traditional family stands as the foundation for a society, the government, by its very nature, can’t protect it; the walls can’t protect the foundation of a building. Only individuals through grassroots movement can protect the family.

Now, I must stress that I’ve made absolutely no comment on the morality of the issue. I would argue that while all legislation is the act of legislating morality, the two must still function on different codes. What is moral is dependent upon what aligns with our telos, or our function with God. God created us for a certain end and to go against that end is to be immoral. The law, however, must function on the code of preventing us from harming each other. The old maxim, “So long as it doesn’t harm you, what do you care” doesn’t work for determining what is moral, but it does work when attempting to legislate morality. For instance, it is immoral to blaspheme God because He has created us to love Him; but very few Christians would want to outlaw blasphemy against God. Likewise, even if homosexual actions are immoral, it makes little sense to outlaw them (or marriage).

In fact, since I’ve basically alienated myself from my conservative Christian friends, let me further my alienation from my liberal Christian friends by stating that I do believe homosexual actions to be a sin. God created humans for a certain economy (or telos) and when we violate this telos, we are committing a sin. Homosexual activity simply doesn’t fit within God’s design for humanity. The whole argument of, “Well I’m born this way” doesn’t fly in a world full of sin; while I accept and argue that homosexual attraction is, for many, an at-birth disposition, I don’t think this justified homosexual activity anymore than an at-birth disposition towards alcoholism justifies drinking.

However, I don’t view the sin of homosexuality (the actions, not the attraction; being attracted to the same-sex is no more a sin than a married man finding a woman other than his wife attractive) as any worse than other “sexual sins.” All sexual sins – with exclusion to ones where a victim is created, such as in rape or pedophilia – fall in the same category as going against humanity’s telos, specifically for sex. Thus, if we are willing to accept that one engaged in premarital sex can be a Christian, we should be able to accept homosexuals as Christians. That is to say, how we react towards those in sexual sin (such as pornography) should paint how we act towards homosexuals; we shouldn’t alienate homosexuals, but instead should love those in that sin as Christ loves us in our sins. If we can befriend someone engaged in some type of sexual sin, then certainly we can befriend homosexuals. If we can say a guy who is addicted to pornography is a Christian and will go to Heaven, certainly we can say the same thing of those engaged in homosexual activity.

All of the above considered, it should be understood that I’m simply asking questions and pointing out problems with the arguments I’ve seen against homosexual marriage. I would say that one negative repercussion I see coming with homosexual marriage is that it could inhibit religious liberty. Just as I argued for religious liberty in questioning the outlawing of homosexual marriage, I too will argue for religious liberty should homosexual marriage be allowed. This means that private charities, adoption centers, churches, or religious organizations should be allowed to practice their beliefs regardless of whether a government recognizes a marriage or not. If a Christian adoption agency doesn’t want to adopt out to homosexual couples (or even non-Catholic, or non-Christian, or non-Religious couples) then it should be their right not to do that.

In other words, the issue of homosexual marriage is far more complicated than, “God said it’s wrong.” There are a myriad of issues that must be tackled, specifically concerning the sanctity of marriage. It just seems to me that if we’re going to protect the sanctity of marriage via legislation, we must first (1) eradicate the First Amendment and (2) outlaw all other instances that challenge the sanctity of marriage (should we allow atheists to marry since nothing is sanctified to them?). To say that homosexual activity is “just different” from adultery, fornication, pornography, or the like just seems arbitrary.

In the end, perhaps there is an argument against homosexual marriage that isn’t tied into heterosexual activity. Perhaps there is an answer to my questions/issues. But thus far, the arguments I’ve seen against homosexual marriage have simply been problematic. Thus, for those that oppose homosexual marriage, one must find better arguments or realize that even if such an activity is impalpable to you, there isn’t a reason to outlaw it.

Vending Machine “Christianity”: The Church Created in Our Own Image (Mini-Blog #6)

vendingFr. Benedict Simpson, a Facebook friend, posted this deeply thought-provoking, but yet sharply critical status about Americans and how they “church hop”. One thing I have learned in my journey into Orthodoxy is that my preferences do not matter, the preferences of those in the early Church and throughout the ages did not matter, and neither does yours. This is where the Orthodox sharply disagree with some about spirituality, ecclesiology, and above all worship. Christianity isn’t  a vending machine where you get to pick and choose things. Nor is it a menu where you pick what is in line with your tastes. This is deeply out of line with both the New Testament and the Fathers.

I’m a drummer, and I’ve played in worship teams before. Of course, I wouldn’t mind some instruments in worship, but that isn’t how the Church has approached it and still approaches it (note, there are some African churches that bring deeply held customs of their culture into the Church, but it is not a general acceptance). But I’ve learned that there is so much beauty and watchfulness in the approach to worship we Orthodox take. We sing/chant the entire service without the aid of some silly stage, loud instrument, or egotistical worship leader. I’ve deeply criticized this approach and the entertainment-driven, feeling based approaches before, so I appreciated Father’s challenge and wisdom. This is just one insistence of preference, but think about your own preferences, your own theology, and how you may try to find a church that fits into them instead of a Church where you drop yours and receive what was given to the Saints.

We Americans and others shop for churches like we shop for coats. Does the coat suit me? Does it make me look good? Does it ‘feel’ good? Is it agreeable to my own sensibilities?

If we ask ourselves those same questions and simply substitute the word ‘church’, We will find the crux of the issue. Does this church suit me? Does this church make me look good? Does it make me feel good? Does this church agree with my own sensibilities?

Dear ones… with such an outlook, we are looking for the church created in our own image and not the Church that is the Body of Christ. Think upon this. To become part of Christ’s Holy Church one must sacrifice his own image in order to take upon himself the image and likeness of Christ; for indeed we are called to become imitations of Christ in all that we do. Even unto the Cross.”

Something to ponder on. God’s blessings to you in your ponderings.

A Word for Pro-Life Folks

ImageI love pro-lifers, but God help em their zeal is often misplaced. One has to be a fundamentalist Liberal to deny that life starts at conception. Anyone with half a brain knows this is medically and biologically true. Anyone arguing otherwise, is either innocently ignorant of this or is a zealot for Liberal and Progressive values, which makes them no better off than the misguided pro-lifer.

The abortion debate doesn’t really center around “when does life start”? It is medically and biological fact it begins at conception. A honest Liberal will realize that. Biology and medical experts testify to this. It is common sense.

The abortion debate must move from pro-life to pro-personhood! That is where the debate really is! Progressives and Liberals don’t argue about life; they argue about personhood. Notice terms like “fetus”, “it”, “clump of cells”, and “clump of tissue” are thrown around. This is an attempt to dehumanize the human baby living inside the mother. It is their belief that this baby has no rights because in their mind rights don’t begin until one is outside the womb. If one ever conceded that the baby had rights it would boil down to the mother’s rights being more important.

The debate is about personhood and if the baby is a legal person. However, that doesn’t go far enough. The baby is legally a person with legal rights protected by the Constitution, but this is a moral and ethical question not merely a judicial one. So pro-lifers take the debate and that zeal, in a healthy way, to where it needs to be: personhood!

How the Pseudoscience of Social Darwinism Nearly Destroyed Humanity

How the Pseudoscience of Social Darwinism Nearly Destroyed Humanity 

By GEORGE DVORSKY

Following the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1860, many political theorists and opportunistic politicians applied his findings to human society. In the 20th century, these ideas were put into practice — and it nearly destroyed us. Here’s why Social Darwinism was one of the worst ideas ever.

Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection was unlike any that had preceded it, the shockwaves of which are still being felt today. Even Copernicus’s terribly upsetting notion — that the Earth revolves around the Sun — only mildly perturbed our sense of the universe and our place within it. The same could be said about Newton’s clockwork physics and Einstein’s relativistic interpretation of the cosmos. These axiomatic shifts certainly changed the way Western society looked at itself, but not to the degree that Darwinian natural selection did.

God is Dead

Indeed, Darwin’s dangerous idea penetrated deeply into a hypersensitive realm that had stubbornly languished beyond human understanding: The origin of life.

How the pseudoscience of Social Darwinism nearly destroyed humanity

Darwin’s theory served not merely as an explainer for life on Earth — it was also a veritable God killer. What’s more, it “reduced” humanity to the level of animals, forever disrupting the Judeo-Christian notion that humanity existed in an exalted place between God and the natural world. Humanity, it was suddenly realized, was not privy to the whims of God, but rather to the laws of nature. Moreover, the human species wasn’t static.

For the 19th Century intelligentsia, this further reinforced burgeoning notions of materialism, the sense of social change and progress, and the inexorable struggle for survival. Feeding off earlier notions posited by the likes of Thomas Hobbes (who argued that the original state of nature is nasty, brutish, and short), Thomas Malthus (whose theories on human population growth served as a kind of proto-sociobiology) Auguste Comte (a positivist), and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (who presented an earlier, but inaccurate, theory of evolution), many thinkers began to apply Darwinian notions to human individuals, society, and races. In the absence of God, went the argument, humanity needed to act to ensure its fitness and ongoing survival. Darwin’s thesis seemed to provide a blueprint on how this could be done.

And thus began the transference of Darwinian theories from animal species to social groups and races — a development that would lead to catastrophic results.

The Right Idea At The Wrong Time

As a term, “Social Darwinism” was used sparingly in the 19th Century; it was only popularized in the United States in 1944 by historian Richard Hofstadter. And indeed, it’s a term that casts a wide net, encompassing several different areas as it pertains to the extension of Darwinism to the social realm.

Indeed, its wide interpretation led thinkers to a number of different conclusions, including the reinforcement of individualism and minimalist government, theories about racial and societal “hygiene” and eugenics, notions of racial superiority and the justified use of force, and the idea that the human species could be moulded by the state.

Part of the problem is that Darwin’s theory arrived at a dangerous time — a time when Western cultural and scientific sensibilities were not entirely ready for it; it was an idea ahead of its time, and by consequence, was misappropriated to realms into which it didn’t belong. The acceptance of Social Darwinism was not only a symptom of an emerging and overly enthusiastic scientism, but also the result of poorly developed conceptions surrounding race, ethnicity, and biological diversity. It appeared during a time of deeply embedded and unquestioned racism, where the conditions of under-developed nations and poverty-stricken visible minorities were attributed to racial inferiority.

It was also driven by a fallacy that exists to this very day, namely the Naturalistic Fallacy. Social Darwinism was often justified on account of evolution being a “natural” process — a very dangerous proposition, to be sure.

During the latter half of the 19th century, Darwin’s biological ideas began to influence not just political theorists, but politicians as well. His theory — which described the process of variation and selection, the struggle for existence, and the need for adaptation and improvement — were applied to human society, primarily to reinforce and rationalize aspects of competition and struggle. It was also used to justify political control by a minority (e.g. imperialism and colonialism) and the capitalistic system itself. What’s more, because Darwinism was (and still is) often misunderstood to imply an evolutionary trajectory, evolution was also equated with social progress.

An Individualist Order

The chief advocates of Social Darwinism during the 19th century included Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner. Interestingly, Spencer’s highly influential work, Progress: Its Law and Cause, was released three years before the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, while his First Principles was printed in 1860. So while Spencer was not immediately influenced by Charles Darwin, the subsequent popularization and legitimization of his ideas were most certainly a direct consequence.

Both Spencer and Sumner asserted the value of the struggle for life which resulted in improvement, a natural consequence of the “survival of the fittest” doctrine. This early form of Social Darwinism had a distinctive laissez-faire character to it, whose supporters advocated for an individualist order of society.

Herbert Spencer in particular was an ardent individualist. He firmly believed that the functions of the state should be limited to protection, and that no restrictions should be placed on commerce, and no provision made for social welfare or education. This individualism was a clear consequence of his application of evolutionary biology to social relationships.

All existence, Spencer argued, grew through a series of transformations from the simple to the complex by successive variations. He saw civilization as an ongoing process in which humans adjusted to an increasingly complex world. This evolutionary process, in the absence of interference, led inevitably to social improvement — an idea that now resonates with modern libertarians.

He also saw the poor as being biologically “unfit.” Public efforts to help them, be it through legislation, charity, and social reconstruction, were undesirable because it might allow them to mature and pass on their weakness. He suggested that the whole thrust of nature was to get rid of the inefficient in order to make room for the superior. The way he looked at it, if they weren’t fit enough to live, they would die — and it was probably for the better.

Spencer wrote:

Other evils, no less serious, are entailed by legislative actions and by actions of individuals, single and combined, which overlook or disregard a kindred biological truth. Beside an habitual neglect of the fact that the quality of a society is physically lowered by the artificial preservation of its feeblest members, there is an habitual neglect of the fact that the quality of a society is lowered morally and intellectually, by the artificial preservation of those who are least able to take care of themselves.”

Similarly, Cesare Lombroso, an Italian physician, argued in 1876 that born criminals were essentially proto-humans — a throw-back in evolution. Similar sentiments were also used to justify slavery in the United States.

These ideas would go on to influence the eugenics movement, an early 20th century initiative designed to prevent those deemed too unworthy to pass their deleterious genes to the next generation, lest the overall health of human society be compromised.

Additionally, the burgeoning Social Darwinism of the time would go on to influence such politicians as Otto von Bismarck, Joseph Chamberlain, and Theodore Roosevelt. It was often used in the political arena to justify eugenic or racial differences, imperialist expansion, colonialism, and war. These politicians, whether they did so opportunistically or sincerely, used these sentiments to stress competitive relationships and struggles between nations and groups in order to ensure the survival of the physically and mentally worthiest people.

And to further the cause of their nation.

The Totalitarian Tragedies

Without question, the most infamous application of Social Darwinism was in Nazi Germany. By the early 20th century, the pseudoscientific generalities of Social Darwinism remained popular in Europe — and it spoke to those advocating for racial purity.

Indeed, Social Darwinism served to heighten race consciousness to a greater degree; anti-semitism during this time was justified on biological grounds.

Historian Alan Cassels writes:

Above above all, German Volkish cultists excoriated Jews as “a pestilence and a cholera” which threatened to pollute the race. To accomplish this corruption, Jewish males were supposed to lust perpetually after Aryan women. A logical recommendation to be drawn from this view was the destruction of German Jewry in order to preserve the purity of the German race — a proposal made by some fanatics before 1914 and ultimately implemented by the Nazis.

Using such thinking, Jews could then be persecuted not for their actions or beliefs, but simply for who they were.

Adolf Hitler further articulated these beliefs in the first volume of Mein Kampf. He essentially saw the world as one gigantic struggle among the races — a struggle that would ultimately be won by the strongest.

And therein lay one of the most nefarious ideas to take root in modern politics — the notion that force could always be justified in this context, with no room for ethics, law, or humanitarian scruples. The acceptance of Social Darwinism by the Nazis goes a long way in explaining the intense brutality meted out during the Second World War. It not only motivated them to unite the Teutonic peoples, but to decimate races altogether, and to claim other lands as the conquerors of more primitive races — including the Slavs who Hitler described as being subhuman, a race suitable for both colonization and, eventually, annihilation (Hitler’s Hunger Plan, which was never put into practice on account of stubborn Soviet resistance, called for the deliberate starvation of tens of millions of Slavs in preparation for the colonization of Ukraine and parts of Russia).

So severe, was Naziism, that its political opponents deemed it an existential risk. It had to be wiped out lest its tentacles spread to all corners of the Earth, spawning a culture-crushing and science-stifling Dark Age. The resulting war — the first to feature apocalyptic weapons — was the greatest human-instigated disaster to befall our civilization.

But fascists weren’t the only totalitarians to be influenced by Darwin. The misapplication of biology to politics was also committed by the communists. Karl Marx read On the Origin of Species and absolutely loved it. Not only did it speak to his materialist sensibilities, it also affirmed his theory of class struggle — an agenda that was put into full force by Joseph Stalin during the Great Terror period, a time when millions of people were murdered by the Soviet apparatus as a means of self-colonization.

Marx wrote:

Darwin’s work is most important and suits my purpose in that it provides a basis in natural science for the historical class struggle…Despite all shortcomings, it is here that, for the first time, ‘teleology’ in natural science is not only dealt a mortal blow but its rational meaning is empirically explained.

Sadly, Darwin never intended for this to happen. For the most part, he limited the theory to the biological realm (though he did delve into speculative sociology in his later work, The Descent of Man).

But like so many things in life, it takes only a few people to ruin it for everybody else. To this day, Darwinism has its detractors, including Creationists who wrongly blame Darwin and his theory for the travesties committed last century. Quite obviously, equating natural selection — a remarkably potent theory that’s accepted wholeheartedly by any serious biologist — with the ills of Social Darwinism is a tragic mistake. The science is still science, while Social Darwinism, with its gratuitous generalizations and misreadings of how natural selection works (e.g. it completely fails to account for group selection theories and the rise of such characteristics as empathy) will forever remain in the realm of pseudoscience.

What’s more, the application of Darwinian processes to human morality is about as facile an exercise as it gets. As a moral maxim, “survival of the fittest” is as unenlightened as it gets. If anything, the general tendency of human society is remove itself as far away from possible to this process. If anything, Social Darwinism is anathema to civilized society.

And the fact that it nearly destroyed us should serve as a potent lesson.

[Other sources: Alan Cassels: Fascism; Michael Curtis: The Great Political Theories]

Watch Out, Pastors: Millennials Are Fact-Checking Your Sermons

hipsterAs a Millennial, I can attest that this is very true of our generation.

Watch Out, Pastors: Millennials Are Fact-Checking Your Sermons

Survey studies how young churchgoers are using technology.

By Jeremy Weber

Young churchgoers may be turning to YouVersion rather than their pew Bible during the Sunday sermon. Or they may be skeptically Googling what their pastor just said.

Earlier this week, Barna Group released the results of “what happens when the unique spiritual characteristics and technological trends among Millennials collide?”

Their top four findings:

1) Read Scripture on a cell phone or online: 70 percent of practicing Christian millennials, vs. 34 percent of all millennials.

2) Search for spiritual content online: 59 percent of practicing Christian millennials, vs. 30 percent of all millennials. (If you are Orthodox like myself then read Patriarch Kirill on why this one is very important!)

3) Watch online videos about faith or spirituality: 54 percent of practicing Christian millennials, vs. 31 percent of all millennials.

4) Research a church, temple, or synagogue online: 56 percent of practicing Christian millennials, vs. 34 percent of all millennials.

But the most interesting finding: Nearly 4 out of 10 practicing Christian millennials are fact-checking their pastor’s sermons. Notes Barna:

The one-way communication from pulpit to pew is not how Millennials experience faith. By nature of digital connectedness, Millennial life is interactive. For many of them, faith is interactive as well—whether their churches are ready for it or not. It’s an ongoing conversation, and it’s all happening on their computers, tablets and smart phones. What’s more, many of them bring their devices with them to church. Now with the ability to fact-check at their fingertips, Millennials aren’t taking the teaching of faith leaders for granted. In fact, 14% of Millennials say they search to verify something a faith leader has said. A striking 38% of practicing Christian Millennials say the same.

CT regularly covers millennials and surveys.