A Letter to Swillpit (All Things Examined)
Despite some intensive personal coaching from a seasoned Tempter, Swillpit, it seems, has been having trouble with his earthly charge.
This has brought about an occasion for a “teaching moment” from his Mephistophelian Mentor...
My Fondest Swillpit,
Your latest letter left me speechless! Can you believe it, me, speechless? Well, you can be sure, that was short-lived. After regaining use of my tongue, both forks, and hurling howls of oaths throughout our profane halls, it finally occurred to me why your man has been giving you, us, fits: He believes, still believes, in creation!
Swillpit, how can this be? This was so thoroughly covered in Tempter’s Fundamentals 101 through 104, it is unfathomable that a field Agent, even an apprentice like you, could have missed the point: What these creatures accept about the origin of life and the universe will shape what they believe about everything else, including the meaning and value they attach to things.
Easily enough we can draw them into a continuous string of peccadilloes—gossip, sloth, intemperance, and the like—but until we uproot their nagging notion of creation, our gains will be shallow and, quite likely, unsustained.
Creation, with its teleological implications and human exceptionalism, explains why your host has been so slow to embrace abortion and embryonic stem cell research, despite my excellent—I’m sure you agree!—coaching to help you bring him around.
Your negligence puts us in the unenviable position of building a foundation for a house we already inhabit. Granted, you’ve given him some titillating images to hang on his walls, but without attacking his presuppositions on these matters, he is as likely as not to exchange them for ones that do not disturb his inborn sense of things. How much easier our task would have been with the proper groundwork in place from the get go.
You can thank me now that I deign to invest my time for your remedial training, but be forewarned: If you fail your commission, my good graces will not deliver you from the serving platter at the Stygian banquet!
Swillpit, you will recall that although naturalistic ideas about origins were floated by thinkers as far back as the ancient Greeks, belief in a Creator was, until very recently, the default assumption. While the existence of suffering, sickness, and savagery—much to our ends and amusement—convinced many worldlings that our Foe was distant and detached, contra-theistic speculations lacked the explanatory power to change their default setting.
But, as old Glutbore schooled you back in the novitiate, that began to change 150 years ago with the publication of that sublime text, On the Origin of Species. From then on, there was a thoroughgoing naturalistic theory for the diversification and complexification of life—a theory that had the explanatory heft to spark confidence in full-blown naturalism. No other single device of Hell has been as effective in dislodging the Creator from his creation, and demoting him from God to god in the minds of His, now our, creatures. Modification through natural selection from common descent—EVOLUTION, our “bulwark never failing”!
Glutbore was also fond point out that in all our devilish schemes, "science is not on our side." I, myself, have reminded you of that more than once in your present field assignment. But, as with all dictums, there are exceptions; and this is one.
Science, not real science, mind you, which endeavors to discover the true nature of things, following the evidence wherever it leads without metaphysical or ideological blinders; but science, as it has been narrowed and limited to physical, unintelligent processes, is very much on our side.
Methodological naturalism, or “scientism,” as it is pejoratively referred to by execrable “God” believers—admitting, as it does, only natural causes and explanations has won us countless souls. Why, just this morning, one of our Associates sent in a dispatch about another life-long believer whose faith crumbled after being exposed to evolutionary theory.
This has become so commonplace that occurrences are no longer reported individually, but rolled into our weekly tracking summaries. So far, the total for this week is, let me see...yes, here it is, 24. And that’s just for my district in the American mainland.
Thanks to two centuries of patient field work by our best Conditioners, science has become skewed in our favor! The hellish joy in this is that science is popularly thought to be an unfettered, objective enterprise; so, it never occurs to the layman, or even experts, that many investigative results are pre-determined from the outset—from the philosophical underpinnings of science itself. As one of their mandarins leaked: “We select among alternative sets of research conclusions in accordance with our biases and preconceptions.” Obviously, we need to keep candid admissions like these, few as they are, under wraps!
I presume the exquisite irony here has not escaped you: The legions of cynics we have created in this age of distrust are cynical about all truth claims, except those that come from a tweed-jacketed researcher airing his latest findings on CNN. As the old institutions—State, Church, and family – have lost their cultural hold and influence, Science has become the sole authority for all the little “sovereigns” we have cultivated, convinced in the primacy of the imperial Self.
It’s the natural result of the ruse foisted on that first couple: Knowledge and prosperity through personal autonomy and unaided reason. Oh, what a run we’ve had with that!
But back to the point. A minor annoyance, for the present time, is that not all scientists fully buy into evolutionary theory. I say minor, because for the untrained layman, it is the scientific consensus that matters; and, here, the consensus is overwhelmingly in our favor. Yet, as the present case painfully shows, a moment of complacence about this can undo years of hard-fought gains.
Just when his faith was on a collision course with the shoals, you allowed the man to stumble upon an “intelligent design” website. After having your way with him for so long, you figured he wouldn’t fail to raise a cultured eyebrow at the feckless attempt to smuggle creation into serious public discourse with a scientific patina. This, I think you realize now, was gross miscalculation on your part.
To be sure, that little blunder risks unraveling beliefs we have worked decades to implant. In the short space of an afternoon, the little witling was exposed, for the first time since his college professor liberated him from the stranglehold of biblical literalism, to real life-science. Because of your laxity, he learned that the biological cell is not a bag of protoplasm, as thought by that Origin author, but a fully automated microcosm of encyclopedic information, governing all the processes of life.
After reading about the informational structure of the cell, and the irreducible complexity of life from the smallest cellular component to whole organs and organisms, it occurred to him, as if blazing down from a lightning bolt, that 1) empirically, scientifically, the only known source of information is intelligence, and 2) given the integrated complexity of biological life, there has been neither sufficient time nor space for this to develop from non-intentional causes. Those are, I’m sure you agree, dangerous ideas for any mortal to stumble upon!
Until this epiphany, he had long-dismissed the biblical account as an invention of man rather than a revelation of our Adversary. Now, much to your discredit, he is piqued to re-examine those musty, childish notions.
Most alarming is your note that “he has since been poring over the insidious document.” This is a most grave situation. Anytime that book is opened, the exposure of our baleful deceptions is never more vulnerable. If you are not quick to re-direct him, you risk drawing the untoward attentions of the Master. I think I already mentioned the Stygian banquet, no?
In view of the gravity of this setback, not only for our cause, but for your, uh, development, I trust you will waste no time steering this bumbler back to those faith-wrecking shores. I eagerly await news of your progress in this matter.
Regis Nicoll is a freelance writer and a BreakPoint Centurion. His "All Things Examined" column appears on BreakPoint every other Friday. Serving as a men’s ministry leader and worldview teacher in his community, Regis publishes a free weekly commentary to stimulate thought on current issues from a Christian perspective. To be placed on this free e-mail distribution list, e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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