Lucifer Jones

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Holy Ghost vs Holy Spirit

As an Episcopalian, we don't do faith healing, speaking in tongues or do anything having to do with the Holy Ghost as it's understood in various denominations of African American Christendom. I want to get deep into this question from a black cultural perspective starting with the following provocative statement.

The Holy Ghost is Voodoo.

I think that I am on pretty solid ground when I suggest that the tradition of speaking in tongues evolved from the early black Christian church as a way of communicating around slaveowners. I don't know exactly where I picked up that bit of knowledge, but I've heard it enough times to believe that it is credible. I am more certain, however, that the idea of spiritual possession, is definitely rooted in West African traditions.

When I was a kid, and after the birth of my youngest brother, my mother started shuffling us off to the 'born again' Christian Church - specifically the Pentacostal Evangelical Foursquare Church - I was fascinated and a bit repulsed by the practice of men and women in the congregation jumping up and down and falling down convulsing on the floor as filled with the Holy Ghost. I understood it, and on occasion when the music was just right and the minister hit his rhythm, I could feel it. But it never overwhelmed me so that I put my hand up like a spiritual antenna and got struck by the lightning of the Holy Ghost. Not that kids were permitted to do so.

As well, I witnessed my mother speaking in tongues and recognized which tongues she was speaking. I also understood, although could never confirm, that this was something that was agreed on in some way with the pastor. The ritual was basically at some part of the service, spontaneously to be sure, someone would start speaking in tongues and then somebody else would translate it into English.

We could get into all that, but the essential question has to do with the variability of practices. What is Christian, and how is that changing? I expect a religion to get dogmatic and ritualistic about such things as the definition of the Holy Spirit. I mean, it's at least as important as God and Jesus if we believe in the Trinity. So how can this be considered worship if on church allows people to go into conniptions if another's priest would go into conniptions if some congregant had a fit?

So what's up with that?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Godless Evolution

How does one believe in God and Science?

They seem to be divergent but they are not. For me they are reconciled. So I find it disturbing that some are following a line of reasoning that will take them into battle with the scientific community of which I am a part. Over at Palos Verdes Blog I found the following:

Among the intellectual elites in the National Academy of Sciences, 95% of biologists are materialists and therefore atheists. Those at the top of the profession have a profound influence on what is taught in the schools.

Is there any doubt that these “proponents of evolutionary biology go well beyond science to claim that evolution both manifests and requires a materialistic philosophy that leaves no room for God, the soul or the presence of divine grace in human life.” No wonder many parents are legitimately concerned about what their children are learning.

To many religious conservatives, Darwinists are “hell-bent on cramming atheistic materialism down the throats of impressionable children, in the guise of science, thereby robbing their children of the faith that has saved Western civilization from the fate of godless nations.”

To answer the second paragraph, I have doubts, and these doubts are born of (what I hope to be) a sophisticated understanding of human nature and the aims of religion and science. Nobody quite put it so simply as the Dalai Lama in his 'Ethics for the New Millenium', but he didn't put it so briefly that I'd like to retype it here. I'm simply say that I believe that people inherit attitudes about Science and Religion and then gradually learn some corner of their offerings.

For one thing, I don't believe that scientists can design away or argue away the soul. Whatever the soul is, it is inevitable. Simply because one might have an extra-relgious explanation doesn't change the materiality or nature of it. When people's souls are satisfied, that's the ticket. And people will continue to satisfy that hunger. There's another scientific explanation for not acknowledging or explaining away the soul, denial.

Secondly, I believe for scientific and religious reasons, that we are inherently moral. My understaning of one theory of evolutionary biology, as well as hearsay from my brother Doc, the cop, is that after you beat somebody unconscious it takes a very deliberate effort to move from aggrevated assault to murder. We are instinctually averse to killing. As I have said before, I believe that we are endowed by God (in his image) and as a consequence of the fall of Adam, the very same moral capacity as God - the ability to distinguish good from evil. This corresponds to God's own sense of good and evil exactly in the same way everybody sees red as red, otherwise free will makes no sense at all. It is because of this identical correspondance that we understand religion as good beyond the personal reclamation of the soul.

Think about it from another way. If all we were required to do is 'steal into heaven', that is to say do the very minimum that Jesus required, we all might as well be the theif on the second cross. But we understand that the Good News is useful in the affairs of mankind while we are here on Earth. That's why weighing in against atheists is considered a good thing in the first place.

Evolution is what it is. That Christians fight it is pure silliness.