Of course there is some continuity, as I already granted. But you keep missing the forest for the trees. Your examples show that you think that my distinction between pre-modern and modern is one focused exclusively or primarily on differences in Biblical exegesis and theology. But as I keep trying to tell you (and the examples of Lewis, More, Swift, etc. should have been sufficient to make the point), I have a bigger picture in mind. I’m looking at the bigger picture of Western thought, one which includes not only changes in Christianity over time but also changes in philosophy, art, and other facets of culture.
When I talk about the differences between modern and pre-modern thought, my thought is shaped by the analyses of acute historians of ideas, historians of philosophy, etc. You will find such analyses in the writings of Karl Lowith, Jacob Klein, Allan Bloom, Eric Voegelin, Alasdair MacIntyre, Peter Berger, Theodore Roszak, and others. In the bigger picture of things, the characteristic “modernness” of just about everybody who lives in the modern age – including fundamentalists – looms relatively larger, and the differences (that fundamentalists believe in global floods and special creation) seem relatively smaller.
The typical American fundamentalist thinks of himself as inhabiting the flat, mechanical universe sketched out by Hobbes etc. (created by God to be sure, but devoid of numinous significance), and his notion of religious truth, of how to read religious texts, etc. is just as flat, mechanical, and spiritless. His almost liturgy-free worship (quite often reduced to “three hymns and a sermon” in a boxy building virtually stripped of anything like beauty in its interior furnishings) is all of a piece with this. His stiff and defensive reading of Genesis is light years away from the daring, imaginative readings one can find in, say, the medieval Jewish midrashic literature. The fundamentalist is perfectly suited to live in a drab, commercial, technological society characterized by universal literacy (not very sophisticated literacy, but universal) – he is comfortable in the basically secular atmosphere of modernity, as long as the secular state and society around him leaves him free to worship as he pleases and believe and say what he pleases about God, salvation, the Bible, etc. He doesn’t long for the return of the older, pre-modern organic society with all its cultural subtleties.
The fundamentalist (there are always exceptions, but I’m speaking of the majority) is not of a visionary, mystical, or metaphysical temperament. His life is prosaic, not poetic. He is uncomfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty, and prefers life on every level to be structured around “right” vs. “wrong” answers. (Hence, more fundamentalists are attracted to engineering than to cosmology, and few of them are professors of poetry or drama or ancient philosophy or comparative religion or comparative literature, because in all these areas, straightforward right and wrong answers are hard to come by;
and when they study the Bible, they are more focused on “proving” that an event was historical, because then they can deal with tractable things like empirical data, and much less interested in the literary or philosophical implications of what they are reading, since it is impossible to deal fruitfully with those questions without adopting a different mindset.) None of this is surprising in a world shaped in all kinds of subtle ways by Bacon, Hobbes, Locke, Descartes, and Kant.
Now compare modern Christians who are heavily influenced by pre-modern rather than modern thought. Compare Edward Feser, the Thomist-Aristotelian, with Ken Ham. Does Feser sound even remotely like Ham? Compare Dean Inge, the Christian Platonist, with Henry Morris. Does he sound at all like Morris? Lewis writes novels about planetary spirits ruling Mars etc., Merlin being resurrected to fight a plot between scientists and demons to conquer the world, etc. Can one imagine Duane Gish doing so? These Christians (Lewis etc.) live in the modern world, but are not of the modern world. They think in many ways like pre-moderns; they are misfits within modernity.
But Ham etc. fit right in. The whole “evidence that demands a verdict” school of apologetics, which many fundamentalists are so fond of, reeks of the spirit of modernity. (Can one imagine a medieval mystic, or a Russian Orthodox novelist or poet, or Simone Weil, or Charles Williams, writing about the truth of Christianity in such a way?)
Sure, the fundamentalists reject some modern scientific conclusions, but the way they get at life is mechanical, analytical, and non-visionary – just like the way Dawkins, Coyne, Dennett, etc. get at life. There are differences in theology, sure, but the psychology (there must be simple right and wrong answers) is much the same. But a Platonist or Aristotelian thinks entirely differently. And I’m a Platonist, and as such, about equally repelled by Dawkins and by fundamentalism. I reject many of the modern assumptions they share in common.
I think it’s clear to everyone on this site from this, and from other things that I’ve written against Ham etc., that I’m in no way a fundamentalist. If you insist on continuing to call me one, you are simply refusing to pay attention to my own explicit statements.