Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Jesus H. Christ, Ed.D.

We got your Christian calculus right here!

The indefatigable D. James Kennedy never ceases to provide a platform at this annual Reclaiming America for Christ conference to exponents of the Bible-blinkered worldview. On Monday, August 7, 2006, Kennedy's Truths that Transform radio program featured the first part of Dr. Paul Jehle's talk titled “Evaluating your Philosophy of Education.” Jehle is the senior pastor of a church in Plymouth, Massachusetts, as well as the principal of a Christian school and education director of the Plymouth Rock Foundation.

Jehle is also a master of the mock debate and a skilled user of false dichotomy: “There are only two philosophies of life.” Can you guess what they might be? Yes, it's Christianity versus non-Christianity, the latter of which is also known as humanism. (This is going to be a very big surprise to lots of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc., etc.) That quote, however, just makes Jehle look like a doofus and one might be concerned that it was taken out of context. Let's allow him to pay out a little more rope, in some extended excerpts in his own words:
You cannot candy-coat paganism and swallow it as godly. And because of that we need to clearly distinguish that which is Christian from that which is not Christian. If we do not, and if we fail to do that, we will often swallow something we think is Christian that will be bitter later on.

That's why there is such a thing as theistic evolution, for instance. For it's the buying of a lie. It's trying to Christianize a pagan religion. In the late 1800s almost every scientist who was a Christian attempted to do that. After Darwin's book came out in 1859, everyone was trying to Christianize paganism.

We have that today in almost every field. You think that's only limited to science? No way! We have christianized pagan jungle music that goes by the terminology of Christian. It's determined to be Christian because the words were Christian or the person singing it is Christian. But the issue is you cannot combine something by its nature which is pagan and built on humanistic principles and make it Christian by a magic wand.
So Jehle is putting on notice all of us paganistic, humanistic, jungle-music-loving, evolutionists—even the theistic ones.

I'm not strongly motivated to spring to the defense of theistic evolutionists, who tend to waste a lot of time wringing their hands over how their religious beliefs do not contradict their dedication to the scientific method. (Get over it, guys! Your religious practice and your scientific research are independent of each other. So stipulated!) To me, theistic evolutionists are not much of an issue. Jehle, however, feels obligated to beat up on them because they smear too much gray on his black-and-white world. Perhaps they even listen to jungle music, too. Shocking.

We can, I supposed, give Jehle some points for consistency: He insists on shoving everything through his Christian worldview meat-grinder:
I was taking calculus. I was a mathematics major and I was at a Christian college that was called Christian, but was not Christian....

I asked a question to my calculus professor: “What makes this course distinctly Christian?” He stopped. He said no one has ever asked that question before...

He said, “Okay, I'm a Christian; you're a Christian.”

I said, “That's not what I asked! What makes this calculus course distinctly Christian? What makes this different from the local secular university? Are we using the same text? Yes. Are you teaching it the same way? Yes. Well, then why is this called a Christian college and that one a non-Christian college?”
You can imagine my disappointment when Jehle abandoned this topic and never returned to it. Perhaps it was my fault for not listening to the second part of his talk, but my endurance can be tested only so far. If he indeed deigned to reveal the nature of Christian calculus, I didn't get to hear about it. I would imagine that something needs to be done about the godless limit process, wherein x is routinely permitted to go to infinity without asking God's permission. Too bad that Newton and Leibniz were never referred to the Inquisition.

Jehle did wrap up the first part of his talk with a wonderfully stage-managed mock debate, in which he helpfully portrayed both sides—the holy, God-fearing side with truth, right, justice, and Christ on its side, and the evil, godless, humanistic side with its fetters of evolution and that never-to-be-forgotten jungle music. Fortunately for Jehle, the side he favors managed to win when he was in charge of all aspects of the debate:
The answer is not whether religion influences law but which religion should influence law that produces the best liberty.

If I was on a debate show, and a man said to me, “You people would shove Christianity down the throats of every person in the United States of America because you're a fundamentalist right-wing—you know, I mean—out there in the ozone layer Christian.”

And I said, “Thank you for the introduction. I'm really glad that you understand how powerful Christianity is since you shake so much in its power.” I said, “Listen, the answer is not whether Christianity or any religion does that, but then which religion, sir, would you like to introduce as the base of law that would give the greatest of liberty and I'd like you to give me at least five civilizations in history that have proved to be liberty and protecting rights as the result of that religion.”

He's silent as it is now.

“Do you like the New Age movement?”


“Okay, It's built on Hinduism. Let's look at all the Islamic countries over in Europe. Tell me which one would you like to live in?

I said, “I'm glad you're not answering because you're living in the United States, and the very Christianity you criticize gives you the liberty to debate me on radio. And that's why! I said, do you understand that we wouldn't have this freedom if we lived in the country where your religion reigns?”
The audience went wild with applause as Jehle expertly eviscerated his imaginary debate foe. I love the way his hypothetical narrative quickly became indistinguishable from an account of an actual event (“I said” instead of “I would have said”). A real opponent might have had just a little more success. Perhaps along these lines:
It seems unfair that you ask for five examples. Would you be happy with one really good one? The United States of America was founded by men who were at pains to avoid the European example of religion-influenced government, which is why the U.S. Constitution never mentions God and cites religion only in the Bill of Rights, where it declares that the people have religious freedom. That is the reason that our country is free—because it is not officially Christian, although an aggregate of Christian sects comprise a majority of the population.

While the New Age movement is full of nonsensical ideas, some of them borrowed from Eastern religions, it is foolish to identify it with Hinduism. It is even more foolish—or perhaps simply careless or ignorant—to identify Hinduism with Islam. If you bother to check, you will find many Muslims living in Europe, but precious few Islamic states. It would therefore be difficult for me to pick one.

Finally, the freedom to speak comes not from Christianity, as history clearly attests through the examples of Queen Mary's England, the Inquisition's Spain, and Calvin's Geneva, but from the neutralization of religion through universal religious freedom. Be glad of that, for otherwise you would be a prime candidate to be silenced for your sedition against the liberty of the citizenry.


Dr.T said...

I love the reference to "jungle music." No racists here, no, none at all!

Anonymous said...

Jungle music doesn't mean what you think it means. Unless I misunderstand you.

Read here and here

Anonymous said...

Hmmm….I do not even know what ‘jungle music’ is :-) At any rate - keep in mind that just because someone says he/she is a Christian, does not mean that he/she IS a Christian (Christ-like), and just because someone is in a position of power (such as senior pastor or principal) does not make him/her a “greater Christian” – or more knowledgeable……in fact…I suggest looking at the non-assuming individual that is content each day in living as Christ instructed (Loving God and loving his/her neighbor as him/herself)… telling about a peace that is beyond comprehension… (It’s wonderful!).

Zeno said...

I think Dr. T has a point and doubt that Jehle was referring to "jungle music" as a genre. Perhaps he can tell us the difference between what musicians call "jungle music" and its successor "dnb" (for "drums and bass"). It seems more likely, however, that he intended it as a simple pejorative. The music world uses the term without rancor to describe music with cultural roots in Africa. From the time of my childhood, however, in the era of Elvis, I heard plenty of white people denounce rock and roll as devil-inspired "jungle music" (assuming they were polite enough not to use the "n word").

I'm guessing here, but I suspect Jehle speaks as a descendant of that group rather than as a music connoisseur.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my apologies, Dr. T! That's where skimming gets you, with your foot in your mouth. I missed Jehle's first reference in the quotes. And thought you were aiming your comments at the blogger.

Alex Elliott said...

I find it weird that Jehle thinks that the science guy would "like the New Age movement", since most scientists I know have very little time for New Agey pseudoscientific stuff.

When I was a grad student, my one-sentence description of my research (in theoretical solid state physics) for non-scientists was, "I simulate the properties of crystals on the computer." If the response was, "Ooooo - I *love* crystals!" then I knew that I was in for an excruciating conversation.

Ed Darrell said...

Esprit d'escalier

He's silent as it is now.

“Do you like the New Age movement?”


“Okay, It's built on Hinduism. Let's look at all the Islamic countries over in Europe. Tell me which one would you like to live in?”

I said, “I'm glad you're not answering because you're living in the United States, and the very Christianity you criticize gives you the liberty to debate me on radio. And that's why! I said, do you understand that we wouldn't have this freedom if we lived in the country where your religion reigned?”

I would have answered, "No, I'm being quiet because what you say is so stunningly stupid, I'm debating whether to let your mouth keep flapping and show you a fool, and calling the authorities because I fear you're a danger to others.

"New Age stuff built on Hinduism? No, not so much as it was built on the the mellow guitar sounds of Windham Hill Records, which was the first place that the phrase "New Age" really got traction. George Winston doesn't use a Hindu piano -- and his going barefoot on stage is distinctly California, but nothing really Hindu.

"Islamic nations in Europe? Are you really so stunningly handicapped in geography that you don't understand there are no Islamic nations in Europe, or are you so deluded that you think the mere presence of a few followers of Islam colors the entire culture which has a solid millennium of Christianity backing it up?

"And that, by the way, is a clear answer to your desire for a 'Christian nation.' Europe has them, officially -- and either it's failed so spectacularly that Islam now rules, or it disagrees with your stomach so much you deny it -- by your analysis."

And so on.

It's almost amusing how often these bozos mistake stunned silence at the stupidity of what they say as their having won the argument. By such standards, the more stupid the things they say, the more arguments they win.

Is there any other explanation?

Thanks for mentioning this post at PZ's place. I needed to see it.