Among other things, a meme is a little bit of a verbal virus that gets passed around in a culture, like the common cold. After it gets passed around enough, people start to think it is the received wisdom. That said, here are seven memes that are common in our culture, and which have been used mightily to keep Christians in their place. Or, to return to the virus metaphor, to hamper the ethos of Christians in public debate by ensuring that they always have the sniffles and red noses.
After each meme, I have included the briefest of replies to each, all while expressing the desire that somebody would write a book on all these.
1. The Crusades were totally uncalled for.
The Crusades were actually a long overdue defensive reaction to many years of Muslim belligerence, militarism, agressiveness, and provocation. If a “crusade” is an unprovoked military attack on religious grounds, then we need to start speaking of the Muslim Crusades. One could, however, criticize Christian Europe for being so slow to respond.
2. The battle between Galileo and the Church was a battle between science and faith.
The actual lesson of the Galileo debacle is that when the Church uncritically accepts the “best science of the day,” as they did with Aristotelian philosophy, and as many are doing today with evolutionary thought, the results are disastrous. That battle was not between faith and science, but rather between the old science and the new science, with many adherents of the old science doing their best to illustrate Max Planck’s dictum — “science advances funeral by funeral.”
3. The Salem Witch Trials were an example of typical Puritan intolerance.
Aktcherly, what went down was this. The charter for Massachusetts expired, and so they had no legal government. The colony sent somebody back to England to get the charter renewed. While he was gone away, the witch hysteria broke out in Salem, and the rest of the colony had no legal means to suppress it. When the emissary returned and legal government was restored, the colony acted, with the support of the Puritan ministers throughout the colony. But by then, the damage was done and Puritans everywhere were tagged with a guilt that they had conscientiously opposed.
4. The rise of the secular Enlightenment saved us all from endless religious bloodletting.
Since secularism took over from the bad old religious bigots who used to kill scores and scores of people, we have since that time had a long millennium of sunshine and glittery rainbows, in which only scores of millions of people have been slaughtered. We celebrate this deliverance and bow our heads in gratitude.
5. Darwinian evolution is the Truth.
Darwinian evolution is actually the funniest thing I ever heard of. It is so dumb that the average Christian needs at least three years of graduate study from white-haired profs to get adjusted to it.
6. Biblical faith stifles and deadens the aesthetic soul.
I will not say much here, except to note that I do not believe that the builders of Salisbury Cathedral, the composer of the Brandenburg concertos, the painter of The Night Watch, or the writer of Paradise Lost, have anything to apologize for in the thin shade of Kanye West, John Cage, Jackson Pollock, Walter Gropius, or Barry Manilow.
7. America was a secular nation in its founding.
Our Constitution was established in the year of our Lord, 1789. We were one of the last nations of the first Christendom to be founded, and we have had our share of scamps and hypocrites (which is actually a prerequisite for even being a nation of Christendom), but at the same time, we were truly founded as a Christian republic. We are in the grip of apostasy fever now, but we weren’t then. To go along with a lie about our founding is to capitulate to a lie about our current apostastic monkeyshines. And we should all resolve to learn more about what those are.