There is nothing new in this merciless formulation except the explicitness of its symbols and the candor of its hatred. Its emotional tone is as familiar to me as my own skin; it is but another way of saying that sinners shall be bound in Hell a thousand years. That sinners have always, for American Negroes, been white is a truth we needn’t labor, and every American Negro, therefore, risks having the gates of paranoia close on him. In a society that is entirely hostile, and, by its nature, seems determined to cut you down—that has cut down so many in the past and cuts down so many every day—it begins to be almost impossible to distinguish a real from a fancied injury. One can very quickly cease to attempt this distinction, and, what is worse, one usually ceases to attempt it without realizing that one has done so. All doormen, for example, and all policemen have by now, for me, become exactly the same, and my style with them is designed simply to intimidate them before they can intimidate me. No doubt I am guilty of some injustice here, but it is irreducible, since I cannot risk assuming that the humanity of these people is more real to them than their uniforms. Most Negroes cannot risk assuming that the humanity of white people is more real to them than their color. And this leads, imperceptibly but inevitably, to a state of mind in which, having long ago learned to expect the worst, one finds it very easy to believe the worst. The brutality with which Negroes are treated in this country simply cannot be overstated, however unwilling white men may be to hear it. In the beginning—and neither can this be overstated—a Negro just cannot believe that white people are treating him as they do; he does not know what he has done to merit it. And when he realizes that the treatment accorded him has nothing to do with anything he has done, that the attempt of white people to destroy him—for that is what it is—is utterly gratuitous, it is not hard for him to think of white people as devils. For the horrors of the American Negro’s life there has been almost no language. The privacy of his experience, which is only beginning to be recognized in language, and which is denied or ignored in official and popular speech—hence the Negro idiom—lends credibility to any system that pretends to clarify it. And, in fact, the truth about the black man, as a historical entity and as a human being, has been hidden from him, deliberately and cruelly; the power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions. So every attempt is made to cut that black man down—not only was made yesterday but is made today. Who, then, is to say with authority where the root of so much anguish and evil lies? Why, then, is it not possible that an things began with the black man and that he was perfect—especially since this is precisely the claim that white people have put forward for themselves all these years? Furthermore, it is now absolutely clear that white people are a minority in the world—so severe a minority that they now look rather more like an invention—and that they cannot possibly hope to rule it any longer. If this is so, why is it not also possible that they achieved their original dominance by stealth and cunning and bloodshed and in opposition to the will of Heaven, and not, as they claim, by Heaven’s will? And if this is so, then the sword they have used so long against others can now, without mercy, be used against them. Heavenly witnesses are a tricky lot, to be used by whoever is closest to Heaven at the time. And legend and theology, which are designed to sanctify our fears, crimes, and aspirations, also reveal them for what they are.
And it is because men have been content to be religious by rote, to make piety to consist in giving verbal assent to articles of faith, and in giving bodily obedience to forms of worship, that theology has been so false, and that goodness has been so low.
A. We give up the Literal Day theory, unless one accepts the Appearance of Age variation on that theory. Although the Literal Day theory is understandably popular in fundamentalist circles, I have shown elsewhere in this essay by references to Scripture that it is not the only viable theory. The Literal Day theory is one interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis. I am committed to the Bible, but not to a single interpretation of it. We do not give up the authority of the Bible!
My dictionary defines a compromise as "a settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions". There is the additional implication that these concessions are bad because we don't want to give up part of the Bible. Certainly we do not! So let's look at what we give up in the alleged "compromise" of theistic evolution.
For at this festival some men whose bodies had been trained sought to win the glorious distinction of a crown, others were attracted by the prospect of making gains by buying or selling, whilst there was on the other hand a certain class, and that quite the best class of free-born men, who looked neither for applause no gain, but came for the sake of the spectacle and closely watched what was done and how it was done: So also we, as though we had come from some city to a kind of crowded festival, leaving in like fashion another life and nature of being, entered upon this life, and some were slaves of ambition, some of money; there were a special few who, counting all else as nothing, ardently contemplated the nature of things.
the supposed conflict between science and religion."
Gould argued that if indeed the polling data was correct ~ and that 80 to 90% of Americans believe in a supreme being, and such a belief is misunderstood to be at odds with evolution ~ then "we have to keep stressing that religion is a different matter, and science is not in any sense opposed to it," otherwise "we're not going to get very far."
He did not, however, consider this proposed diplomatic approach to the resolution to "the supposed conflict between science and religion" to be paramount, writing in 1997: "NOMA represents a principled position on moral and intellectual grounds, not a mere diplomatic stance."
We live in a Physical World which can be meaningfully investigated, and transformed, by physicists, mathematicians, chemists, biologists and engineers but we also live in a Human World which is perhaps open to being "broadly appreciated" by theologians, economists, historians, poets, philosophers and metaphysicians.
An acceptance that there are Non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA), that science and religion each have "a legitimate magisterium, or domain of teaching authority" "where one form of teaching holds the appropriate tools for meaningful discourse and resolution" is a view advocated by the prominent popular scientist Stephen Jay Gould.
According to Gould's NOMA principle "the magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory).
The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value."
Gould saw the NOMA principle as offering "a blessedly simple and entirely conventional resolution to .
Since I am a Christian and Charles Darwin was an agnostic, the most exalted object I can conceive of is Jesus Christ risen from the dead and glorified at the right hand of the Father. Nevertheless, Darwin evokes a theme here that is Biblical: God can produce good things out of what mankind considers bad. Joseph states this theme in Genesis 50:20 "As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil, for He brought me to this high position I have today so that I could save the lives of many people." St. Peter repeats it in Acts 2: 22-24 "O men of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus of Nazareth by doing tremendous miracles through Him, as you well know. But God, following His prearranged plan, let you use the Roman government to nail Him to the cross and murder Him. Then God released Him from the horrors of death and brought Him back to life again, for death could not keep this man within its grip."
What would a world without Sin look like today? People would cooperate, share, and worship together. There would be no war or murder, hatred or violence. Lions would still hunt and kill zebras, but neither would be shot by poachers or poisoned by industrial waste. There would be some natural disasters such as storms, volcanoes, and earthquakes. Probably a few people would be hurt or would die in these calamities. But the numbers of victims would be much lower than they are now, because people would be free to live in safer places, they would warn others, they would take heed of the warnings and get out of the way, and they would care for displaced people as Jesus Himself would. God would be glorified as all people gave selflessly to help others in His name. Mankind would not fear the sting of physical death (1 Corinthians 15:54-56). Physical death would be viewed by all as a transition into eternal life with God (Acts 7:55-56). That world would not be heaven. But I would be willing to call that world without Sin "very good", because I believe God Himself did so in Genesis 1.
I believe that the phrase "very good" in Genesis 1:31 means "without Sin." Any other judgment beyond that needs Scripture to back it up. Without the clear word of Scripture, any judgment of what is "very good" and what is not is just human opinion.
I am not saying that I like natural selection. I watched a cheetah chase and kill a baby gazelle in the Serengeti and I was horrified - until I saw a baby cheetah come trotting up and happily enjoy a meal with its mother. I am saying that without the clear indication of Scripture, we humans are poor judges of what God considers to be very good.