A response to Judith Levy’s comment about a “religion versus science” post I wrote

Last week, I wrote about an image I saw in Facebook, which sought to disparage religion by showing that religion tears people down, while science builds them up:

Facebook poster saying religion demeans people

My response was to mock up an alternative poster that the little girl could have held up, one that shows that religion elevates the individual while pure science has no regard for the individual:
Religion versus Science
Somehow that post came across the radar of Judith Levy, who blogs at Ricochet. Judith believes that I used the wrong tactics in the battle against anti-religious bias:

The incredibly depressing photograph to the right has been flying all over the interwebs recently. As you can see, a cute little girl is being used as a prop to bash religion and tout science (which, of course, are assumed to be mutually exclusive).

I was struck by the response to this photo on a blog called Bookwormroom.com, the subhead of which claims that “conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions”.

At this point, Levy offers a few quotations from my poster, the one that has religion acknowledging life’s creation from the moment of conception, versus the scientific view that we are a bag of chemicals. She then wraps up by concluding that I offered the argument to defend religion:

Now, I understand the anguish of religious Christians when they see offensive tripe like the above photo disseminated, especially with the big steaming side of self-righteousness that always accompanies it. (One yearns to give the people zipping it out to all their Facebook friends a good patsch to wipe away the smirk.) Still, responding by announcing that religion = pro-life seems counterproductive: it reduces the issue down to pro-life vs. pro-choice and shuts the conversation down immediately. (It also discounts the reality of religious believers who are also pro-choice, but that’s a secondary issue here.)

What has always amazed me about the God vs. Science line of thinking on the left is how unimaginative it is. Why not attack on that line instead? Why not force a leftist to explain why the math behind the movement of the spheres disproves the existence of a creator? Put them on the defensive, don’t go into your own defensive crouch. A person who puts a sign like this in his own daughter’s hands is not going to hear a word you say if you open with a pro-life argument. That’s for later, no?

Aside from finding it amusing that Levy thinks that I, a vaguely theistic Jew, am a “religious Christian,” I think it’s worth clarifying what I was setting out to do.  Levy apparently believes that I somehow abandoned my commitment to facts by engaging in pro-Life propaganda, and others may also have misunderstood what I set out to do.

Contrary to Levy’s assumption about my goal in writing that post, I was not attempting to prove religion. Why not?  Because I don’t see disproving religion as the central point of the original photograph.  Look carefully at the poster.  It can be summed up as follows:  “According to religion I am [all sorts of negative things]” versus “according to science I am all sorts of [wonderful].”  The point that child’s parent is trying to make isn’t that God is dead, but that religious practices and people devalue humans beings, while pure science, especially as practiced on the Left, elevates them.

You don’t have to take my word for it.  Go back and read the poster carefully.  It doesn’t challenge religion at all. There is not a single word in there that can be interpreted to mean “There is no God.” Instead, it says only that those who believe in God do not value human life, while those who believe in science do. That was the central canard I was attacking.

Within the context of the poster’s implicit argument, every statement I made was a factually true challenge to the poster.  I wasn’t arguing religious doctrine or ultimate scientific fact.  Instead, I took on the poster writer’s world, in which religious people think humans are worthless, evil and valueless, and demonstrated that, in the real world — and the world of those facts I cherish — America’s religious Christians (as opposed to those Leftist’s who, like the Devil, can quote scripture) have a fanatic belief in each individual’s value. To that end, I focus closely on the way in which America’s religious class practices its religion.

On the flip side, I wasn’t challenging whether science is right or wrong. (Although I will say here that, to the extent science is based on data and conclusions that can be drawn from that data, it’s rather silly to think that hard, real science deals in value-laden terms as “beautiful,” “full of wonder” and “smart.”)  Instead, I pointed out, entirely accurately, that it’s the nature of science to reduce life to the lowest common denominator — a collection of chemicals.  Moreover, it’s the “scientific” Left that has taken this definition and concluded, in true Orwellian fashion, that not all lives are equally valuable.

In sum, Levy seems to believe that I failed to counter the original photo because I didn’t engage in a theological argument about God’s existence.  And she’s right, I didn’t and nor would I do it differently if I could re-write the post.  To the extent I believe that the original photo intended to say that religion and God place different values on human lives, I cut through the conclusory language in the original photo and replaced those value-laden terms with hard facts about the way in which religious people differ in their approach from those who elevate science to a religion when it comes to determining each individual’s true worth.

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  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    Well done, BW.
    I have no idea what Judith Levy’s theology entails, and unlike her, I’m not going to make any assumptions about it.  However, the way she responded to your post makes it appear that she’s got a hobby horse she rides, and at anything that looks remotely like a trigger, she’s off and riding.
    You have explained clearly what you were doing in the initial post, but those of us who read it carefully when you posted it didn’t need the explanation – it was abundantly clear the first time around.  If Judith Levy’s readers go back and check out what you wrote back on March 4, they’re going to have a dim view of her reading comprehension.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    The time to convince your friendly neighborhood park rangers putting the rod on the peasants of the Left, ended early last century. The time to use facts ended about the same time.
    A war isn’t about proving once’s existence. It’s about ending and devaluing the other person’s existence, nation, and force.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    <B>behind the movement of the spheres disproves the existence of a creator? Put them on the defensive, don’t go into your own defensive crouch. A person who puts a sign like this in his own daughter’s hands is not going to hear a word you say if you open with a pro-life argument.</b>
    Granted, the Left isn’t listening, mostly because zombies want one thing and it’s probably not to shake your hand. However, what exactly does debate and science offer for disproving the existence of a creator? It cannot be done.
    The Left’s problem is not that they disbelieve even if there is proof or faith. The Left’s problem is that their proof revolves around their Deus Ex Machina. They don’t believe in Christian gods because the LEFT HAS THEIR OWN GOD. It’s a religious war, not a “skeptic’s debate”. Thus it doesn’t matter if you prove it or not, it doesn’t matter if they prove it or not. They know what they believe and that’s fundamentally a faith based issue. They hate Christians because they hate competition, like most aristocrat slave owners.

  • jj

    While indeed a Christian – allegedly – I don’t do ‘anguished’ any better than I do ‘horrified.’  What the hell is wrong with all these people so easily tipped into such extreme states?  Or, alternatively, what’s wrong with me that I don’t?

  • expat

    I’d like the idiot who made this photo to show me the scientific experients proving the little girl is beautiful. There must be dozens of papers on this in Nature and Science. What has happened to our education system that people no longer understand the basic premises of theology or science?  And why do such ignoramuses feel such a desperate need to put down others?

    • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

      In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. Thus those in ignorance must cast their darkness against others, in order to rule over the masses.

  • Charles Martel

    Expat, I have an atheist friend who has told me several times over the years that he has faith that science will answer the questions that only theology for now seems willing to grapple with. I have responded every time—and it has gone over his head just as many times—that faith is a religious concept, and that his faith in things unseen (science’s eventual explanation of Everything) is simply a manifestation of his innate human desire to worship something.
    What this silly photo reveals is not only an abysmally ignorant and immature understanding of Christianity, but a desire to turn science into a kind of Christianity Lite, without the irritating moral and spiritual demands of the real thing. It’s called scientism, and since it involves no logic, skepticism, or external divinity, it perfectly suits people whose instincts for worship tend toward the navel. 

    • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

      Destroy the Left’s faith in their god, and their authority will shatter since most of their members are weaklings and cowards. They don’t even deserve to be called “unpatriotic” since that suggests you were once an American or a human.
      Animals and insects can also be weaklings and cowards. The lower life forms cannot be called patriots or unpatriotic however.
      The Left thinks that by shattering the status quo beliefs, they will be allowed to take over and supplant orthodox religion with their death orgy Deus Ex Machina worshipping cult.
      Death, however, is equal. They are not as immune as they think.