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Fun With Christianists: Things You Can Learn in a Christian 'World History & Cultures' Textbook (Part 2)
Welcome back to our exciting Sunday series of visits to the apocalyptic fever-dream that is Christianist America, as revealed through what kids learn in Christian-oriented textbooks. This week, we continue to loot and pillage World History and Cultures In Christian Perspective, 2nd Ed. , a 10th-grade history (we do not say "social studies!") text published in 1997. (As we noted last time, an updated edition was published in 2010; we are looking on ebay, because why would we give money to the publisher?).
If the World Isn't 6000 Years Old, We Can't Believe Anything
The best way to counter public schools' subtle secular indoctrination, the Christian education movement reasons, is to douse Christian boys and girls with a bucket of unsubtle religious indoctrination. So it really should be no surprise that the second page of a world history book would include a screed on the dangers of science:
Man has rebelled against God in many ways throughout the ages, but perhaps no more defiantly than in his denial of God’s role as the Creator. In an attempt to escape their accountability to God, some people credit evolution, a fabled process of progressive change dependent on chance and time, with the origin of life on earth.
Evolutionists claim that man "evolved" from the animals; they downplay man’s special characteristics of speech, reason, morality, and free will and portray him as just a "highly evolved" animal. They promote their false philosophy under the guise of science, but evolution is no science; it is a faith, a feeble alternative to faith in God...
The consequences of evolutionary thinking testify to the destructiveness of this false philosophy; in modern times, the broad acceptance of evolution has led to such evils as abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. In his rebellion against God, man has succeeded only in hurting himself (p. 4).
The broad acceptance of evolution has led more directly, of course, to such other evils as antibiotics, gene therapy, and a basic understanding of biology, but why quibble? As Great Thinker Ben Stein said, "Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people."
The need to find support for the literal truth of Genesis occasionally leads Creationists to make claims that sound like a college sophomore earnestly trying to prove that Pink Floyd lyrics actually mean something. For instance, here's an explication of the Top Sekrit Bible Truth Hidden in Chinese language:
A painstaking analysis of the traditional characters and their components by a Chinese missionary, Dr. C. H. Kang, has revealed that the earliest Chinese worshiped only one supreme God, whom they called Shang Ti, the "Heavenly Emperor." The ancient Chinese apparently also knew about the Creation, the Fall, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel at least five centuries before the birth of Moses. The classical Chinese character for "to create" consists of the radicals fordustormud,amouthorperson, movementorlife,andable to walk;this "hidden truth" remarkably reflects the Biblical record: "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed (with His mouth ) into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (not a baby but an adult, able to walk )" When the Chinese later turned to idols and embraced such false religions as Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Communism, their own written language testified against them, and God, as always, "left not Himself without witness" (Acts 14: 17) (p. 50).
Yes, they are completely serious about that. Their proof for ancient Chinese knowledge of Noah's Flood? The character for "boat" is made up of particles meaning "vessel," "eight," and "mouth." Needless to say, these claims have been mocked, both snarkily and in far more detail than you want to bother with (but there's the link anyway).
Satan is Everywhere!
An obsession with Scriptural Correctness is one major theme of World History; another is that all of human history reflects a literal battle between God and Satan. So in this book, the persecution of the early Christian church wasn't merely a matter of Roman colonial politics. Rather,
The fires of fierce persecution now descended upon the church as Satan hurled his venom against the Christians in a vain attempt to squelch their witness for Jesus Christ (p. 144).
There's a LOT of fun details about martyrdom! And as Christianity spread through Europe, it didn't merely incorporate the folk beliefs of local populations into church paractices. That sort of explanation may fly with today's evolution-crazed "anthropologists," but here's the real skinny:
worship services became more and more complicated with ceremonies and rituals, and the churches began to accept false doctrines as well. What Satan could not achieve from without though persecution, he achieved from within through infiltration. By the dawn of the Middle Ages, the church had lost its original simplicity and had strayed from its Biblical foundations (p. 163).
And yes, that's the cue to bring on the Big Bad for the chapters covering Medieval Europe through the Reformation and beyond. These guys are serious about proving that, as long-time Wonketteer Chet Kincaid puts it, the Church of Rome "violated the terms of the licensing agreement" that came with God's software. (And it's always "Church of Rome" or "Roman church" -- The term "Roman Catholic Church" appears maybe twice in the entire text. This may be similar to the way some conservatives say 'Democrat Party.") You can feel the centuries of anti-papal butthurt behind this description of the 13th-Century Inquisition:
Those classified as heretics were any baptized members of the Roman church who disagreed with any papal pronouncement of church dogma. of course, many people condemned by the Inquisition were Bible-believing Christians...and were not guilty of heresy in the sense of rejecting a basic Bible doctrine. Many others, including Protestants, Jews, Anabaptists, and other dissenters from Romanism also faced persecution by the Inquisitors. [lengthy paragraph on the Inquisition's methods of trial and torture snipped]... Most of those condemned to death were burned at the stake, but some were beaten to death or drowned. All this was done in the name of Christ (pp.180-181).
Oddly, despite this scorn toward the hypocrisy of the Inquisitors, and the textbook's clear disgust at the Crusades, the lesson is not that excessize zeal can lead to horrors, but rather that the Roman Church's deviations from self-evident Biblical Truth did all that. Protestants just don't do that sort of thing. In fact, the outcome of the Crusades, the editors suggest, was pretty wicked 4th-dimensional chess on God's part:
Islam utterly rejected Christ, and medieval Christendom distorted His gospel...If Islam had won all its holy wars, Christianity might have disappeared altogether. If Christendom had succeeded with its crusades, distorted Christianity might have been imposed upon all mankind. Fortunately, each checked and balanced the aspirations of the other (192).
So it all worked out, you see! The bloodthirstiness of the Inquisition and the Crusades was a Romish perversion of Christianity, so please do not blame those horrors on Christianity, OK? By the time we get to the section on the colonization on Africa, those worries about committing atrorities in the name of Christ are gone, and we simply learn that some Europeans (the bad ones) saw Africans as "nothing more than a source of cheap labor" while others (the good ones) "saw Africa as a land needing the light of the gospel and the civilizing influence of Western culture" (p. 371). Mistah Irony, he dead.
Knowledge is Good (As long as it's Good Knowledge)
There is a whole lot of history and theology between the Middle Ages and the Reformation, but none of it is funny, so the hell with it. Once Luther freed Europe from Romish bondage, though, everything got better, and so we get amazing observations like this:
Occasionally, ancient and medieval people made interesting scientific discoveries and accomplished magnificent feats of engineering and invention. But most people never understood the forces and laws of nature established by God... Only God's direct revelation through His Word could show man the true nature of the universe and give him the foundational truths necessary for science... Scientists began to search for the laws that God had established so they could understand nature and control it for the good of man, as God commanded in Genesis 1: 28 (p. 283)
Apparently, among these foundational truths are that the Earth is flat, that bats are a kind of bird, that rabbits are ruminants, that the Earth existed before the Sun did, and that the Earth is covered with a firmament in which God set floodgates to let out rain and snow, and when necessary to drown the world.
However pariseworthy exploring God's natural laws might be, World History gives special credit to Sir Isaac Newton for recognizing that science doesn't need to go poking its big empirical nose in some places:
Newton, who spent much of his life studying the Bible, realized that there are profound facts about God's creation and governance of the world that will forever escape the efforts of scientists to explain with their discoveries of laws. "Gravity may put the planets into motion," Newton wrote, "but without the divine power, it could never put them into such a circulating motion as they have about the sun; and therefore...I am compelled to ascribe the frame of this system to an intelligent Agent." No scientist will succeed in explaining how "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1: 1). But if God had not established general laws for the physical universe He created, man's science would be vain and foolish (p.286).
And yet, foolish scientists actually went and came up with explanations for how the universe came to be! Didn't they respect Newton at all?
Next Week: The Modern World; or, Finally Some Interesting Stuff Happens