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Entry 647, on 2007-11-26 at 19:35:40 (Rating 3, Religion)
It is odd that yesterday I blogged about how "heresy" in science can lead to progress, because today I listened to a podcast where Lloyd Geering was interviewed. Geering is a genuine religious heretic. Well he almost was, at least. In the only event of its kind in New Zealand history, Geering was accused of heresy in 1967 (40 years ago). Actually, the accusation from the church didn't specify heresy although the charges implied it.
The charges were "doctrinal error" and "disturbing the peace of the church" and they were thrown out fairly quickly. The claims Geering made were that humans have no soul and that the resurrection didn't happen. For a leading Christian teacher these would seem to be fairly extreme, but he says that those sorts of questions were being asked for years before he was involved with the controversy.
The Presbyterian and Catholic churches both established groups where liberalism of this sort was accepted, but the Catholics shut it down fairly quickly and excommunicated its members (another example of "we've made up our minds please don't confuse us with the facts"). As a counter to these progressive ideas the fundamentalist churches appeared and so we have the extremes of belief we have today.
Religion is becoming less relevant in the western world and its easy to say why when the church refuses to adapt to with what its members want. But church is still important to many people so what is the appeal of religion today? Geering says that we live in very uncertain times. Politics, science, and other institutions can't give us definite answers but religion can. Go to church and you'll be told that God loves you and will take your eternal soul into heaven.
But science will tell you there is a 90% chance global warming is caused by human activity, and the temperature will rise from 2.6 to 5.2 degrees in the next 50 years (or something similar to that, at least). Which would you rather hear? The fact that religion has no element of truth is irrelevant to many people because its just too hard to figure out what the truth really is.
Science is realising its mistake now and universities and other organisations are setting up departments to deal with the popular perception of science. Science should be able to operate without dumbing down its findings and making them attractive to the masses but that's not realistic so we are stuck with simplifying the truth somewhat to make it palatable.
So it seems that heretics are important in every area of life. Its unfortunate that they don't have as much influence in religion as they do in science or the world might be a far better place than it is today.
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