Basset Hound Christianity is a series of sometimes random, sometimes coherent personal views of mine on Christianity.
“No one is without Christianity, if we agree on what we mean by that word. It is every individual’s individual code of behavior by means of which he makes himself a better human being than his nature wants to be, if he followed his nature only. Whatever its symbol – cross or crescent or whatever – that symbol is man’s reminder of his duty inside the human race.” -William Faulkner, Paris Review (1956).
I’ve been playing Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth. In this game, you lead a civilization to a new planet after Earth has been greatly damaged by an unknown catastrophe called “The Great Mistake.” The game’s opening trailer hints that religion is still around on Earth as a Russian Orthodox priest blesses a spaceship, but it is largely absent when you first land on the planet and lead humanity to a new dawn.
In the game, you can choose three philosophies called “Affinities.” These include “Harmony,” “Purity,” and “Supremacy.”
Harmony – You decide that humanity needs to embrace the new planet. This means being friends with the aliens and morphing yourselves mentally, socially, and biologically to your new environment. Basically, you are super space hippies wanting to be the adopted children of “Mother Planet.”
Purity – You decide that humanity needs to embrace the old ways of living on Earth. You want the new planet to become a Second Earth and that requires terraforming and changing the planet to suite humanity. Aliens are to be killed and made into hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and BBQ sauce.
Supremacy – You decide that humanity needs to embrace technology as a means to evolve beyond humanity’s current existence. Transhumanism, by becoming cyborgs or downloading your civilization’s populations’ brains to quantum computers via the digital cloud, will lead humanity to a higher plane. Think of the Borg from Star Trek.
Not long after you settle on the planet, other civilizations land and, at first, are usually friendly towards you. There are other factors determining your diplomatic stance with them, but civilizations are most affected by the Affinity you choose to follow. As the game progresses, you choose your dominant Affinity and others will either be friendly or angry with you for your choice. Given that each civilization believes his/her Affinity to be the best hope for humanity, they are highly likely to retaliate against “heretics” by economic, diplomatic, or military means.
What does this have to with Christianity? I notice, particularly with the hard-core evangelical Christians, the concept of the “World” come up in theological arguments. I was never a Deep Thought Christian, but the theological definition of the “World” basically means the secular, material, non-Christian world. It’s difficult to explain to those who never had at least a foot in the Christian worldview. Christians want to engage in thoughts and behaviors that are biblically acceptable and will lead them towards the Kingdom of God, i.e. that that is not “of the World.”
I will likely anger many theologians and cause my former college religion professors to have heart attacks, but I see parallels between the Beyond Earth Affinities and the Progressive and Traditionalist Christians. Progressive Christians have the Harmony Affinity while Traditional Christians have the Purity Affinity. Think of the “World” as the new planet chosen by a given civilization. Progressives acknowledge that we leave in the “World” and thus we must embrace it harmoniously, while Traditional Christians want to stay pure with their biblical worldview and regret the “World.” Very few, I would concede, are 100% Harmony/Progressive Christian or Purity/Traditional Christian, but I do see a comparison. On every argument on Internet, such as gay marriage, I see these two camps going at each other, sometimes civilly, but usually confrontationally. William Faulkner once said “The last sound on the worthless earth will be two human beings trying to launch a homemade spaceship and already quarreling about where they are going next.” I think he was right.
From the arguments I have seen, I have never come across a Christian theological equivalent to the Supremacy Affinity. Since Supremacy is basically Transhumanism, I Googled “transhumanism christianity.” What I saw made me start singing this. Oh, boy… what madness is out there! Christian Transhumanism!? Hyper-Evolution!? I think of myself as a far-far-far left Progressive Christian of the Harmony Affinity, but… I don’t know about this, Davey. This is scarier than Time Cube, Davey. I… I think we need to gather all the religion bloggers on Patheos and figure out if this is a good thing or not, Davey. I don’t think it is good at all, Davey!