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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Michael Baigent: A Case-in-Point Against Neutrality

I caught Michael Baigent being interviewed on the Today Show this morning as I was rushing out of the house for work. Given the Christian community's response to Dan Brown's fictional Da Vinci Code--which covers so much of the same material, Baigent is suing Brown--there's little reason for me to spend any energy refuting this idea that Christ was not crucified and resurrected, that he married Mary Magdalene, etc., etc.

What deserves comment is how utterly unconvincing Baigent is in arguing his case. I studied with a deconstructionist at Yale. I stood toe-to-toe with PhDs at the Harvard Philosophy Group in New York City arguing the merits of Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, and Kant. I know what it feels like to have my beliefs challenged to their very foundations.

Baigent is a joke. That the media are giving him any air time at all has got to be part of some marketing campaign. He did not offer anything other than warmed-over speculations that have been around--and adequately answered by Christian apologists--for hundreds...no, thousands of years.

My favorite part of the interview was when Lester Holt asked Baigent what his sources were for his theory. Baigent responded, "The Gospels themselves...if you look at them from a different perspective." The Catholic priest the Today Show invited to rebut Baigent was succinct and deadly accurate. He responded that these threadbare, worn-out speculations all begin with the incorrigible belief that the supernatural is impossible.

In other words, it's not a contest between reason and faith. It's a religious battle between faith and faith. It's all a matter of the doctrine with which you begin. It is not more reasonable to assume the supernatural is impossible until it can be proven against some other belief you adopted without rational justification. We all depend on a certain starting point in our thinking, which we take for granted. Whether or not you call your starting point "religious faith" depends on your speaking habits, but it all amounts to the same thing.

This is why a few of the writers on this blog often say "there is no neutrality". All judgments are logically associated with the starting point in your thinking, so even where there is formal agreement in general statements, God and the Devil get sorted out in the details. We may all say we're pursuing peace and freedom, but these terms don't mean the same thing between a Darwinist, a Muslim, a Hindu, and a Christian because each starting point defines "peace" and "freedom" within its own context.

The deception of our secular society is that there is some all-encompassing view from nowhere (imagine no religion) that can define the terms for everybody. I don't expect secularists to turn away from this propaganda, but it is disappointing to me how many Christians still buy into it. It's as if we're letting the enemy of our enemy define the terms for us so we won't be called "theocrats" for speaking and reasoning publicly from our particular perspective.

There is no need for this abasement. The bloom is off the Enlightenment rose. Secularity has run its course. It's advocates are all reduced essentially to Baigent's pathetic plea: just look at it from a different perspective. My response: no thanks. My perspective was given to me on good authority.

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