Posted by: Jim | April 10, 2012

Evolution and Religion

Rick Warren has a special place in my heart. He is the flag bearer of the dying church. He chips away at the foundations of his own faith, builds bridges to contradictory faiths, and burns bridges that lead to reason. He’s commercializing and politicizing his movement. Whether it’s a conscious effort or not, Warren is trying to get Religion to adapt and survive.

It sounds like a conspiracy, but this is a perfectly natural progression. The same principles that apply to evolution also apply to complex systems like religions, villages, and even nations. Those that survive are those that adapt to changing circumstances, and the survivors pass on their new, stronger traits to their offspring. It would serve deconverted people well to understand this concept, because it explains how so many people get caught up in crazy belief systems. The answer: the belief system was custom-designed just for them. Think of it this way. A few hundred years after the death of Christ, there were a myriad of Christian sects that varied far and wide from each other. Some of them practices complete celibacy and are no longer around. Some of them came up with the idea of hell, and found greater success because they were more easily able to control their believers. The salvation through grace concept was also a winner because it spoke to deep human needs. Eventually, the more successful religions gobbled up their competitors, and adopted the more “catchy” concepts, and complex doctrines were born. Having a complex doctrine is another winning idea, because it makes a religion seem like something you should immerse yourself in to understand. Those who come to realize that one must accept contradiction and irrational ideas are the ones who succeed. There are too many “evolved” concepts to list that have made Christianity the winner it was … for centuries.

One of the ways religions adapt and change is to maintain a certain flexibility in its tenets. Christianity, for as much as it seems to have a rock solid foundation of beliefs, is actually amazingly amorphous. What Christians believe today is drastically different from what Christians believed only 70 years ago. This happens because the more progressive arms of Christianity tend to move into the information bubble of the majority. For example, one hundred years ago Christian churches with white congregations in the American South tended to complement the concept of segregation. By appealing to the confirmation bias of the followers, the followers gained a subconscious need to invite the entire religion into their information bubble because they could rely on that religion to confirm their belief in segregation. When those churches began to inch away from racist ideals, it was only because their congregations were. Churches have always used the Bible to confirm what their congregations needed to have confirmed. Thus the benefit to having a vast, incongruous, incomprehensible mess of text to call your divine scripture. You can use it to confirm the biases of just about anything.

Warren is simply continuing the trend. He wants to take the elements of Christianity that contradict the right-leaning sensibilities of the majority of believers, and skew those elements to become more appealing. In this interview, Rick Warren morphs Christ’s teachings into Republican talking points. He’s saying that feeding the poor robs them of their dignity. He elevates the burdens of a follower of Christ to the level of macro-economics. It’s not about feeding the poor, it’s about jobs. It’s not about promoting charity, it’s about promoting fairness.

This might explain why his is one of the biggest churches in the nation.


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