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God's Darwin or Chance's Drawin'?
August 11, 2005 2:13 PM   Subscribe

Did the discovery of evolution lead to Darwin's agnosticism, as claimed? Carl Zimmer wonders. More importantly, can evolution be reconciled with Christianity?
posted by daksya (90 comments total)

 
So, really, the question is whether reality can be reconciled with Christianity? Gosh, I hope so.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 2:25 PM on August 11, 2005


Yes.
posted by caddis at 2:25 PM on August 11, 2005


But can it be reconciled with Christians? This would appear to be where the difficulty lies.
posted by uosuaq at 2:30 PM on August 11, 2005


I'm Christian (though Christians who aren't also Mormon sometimes take issue with that'un), and evolution doesn't bother me one bit... what can't God use the laws of nature to his own ends? Nope. No problems here.
posted by silusGROK at 2:40 PM on August 11, 2005


No.
The purpose of religion has always been to explain away the inexplicable and unknown, particularly death, birth and life. Once these things are better scientifically understood, they inevitably clash with the myths of religion. Science reconciling with myth... next you’re going to tell us that a higher intelligence designed the systems that lead to evolution.
posted by Phantast at 2:42 PM on August 11, 2005


Don't know, and yes.

Only absolutist extremists in either camp have a 'reconciliation' problem. Many find it easy to imagine God having created or set in motion what we call evolution, why not.

These science / religion args always come down to (after a sufficient quantity of posts, maybe a couple hundred) which view contains the other. Did God create the physical universe we are pleased to study and use to either prove or dis-prove his existence, or or did certain physical qualities of the universe result in us randomly coming into being and we created God?
posted by scheptech at 2:43 PM on August 11, 2005


Just as Christians had to reconcile a heliocentric universe with their biblical verse, they will have to do the same with evolution.

This has been discussed previously here, but the short of it is that belief in evolution does not preclude belief in the Christian religion. Belief in changing of species (what evolution is) won't affect anyone's Christian's beliefs (unless you are a Creationist). What is hard to reconcile is the monkey-human relationship. And even this could be resolved in Intelligent Design theory (see provided link). In fact, that's what ID is - an attempt to reconcile the two beliefs. How successful that is, only time will tell, but there is most definitely a push to combine both religious beliefs and questions brought about by the idea of evolution.
posted by Moral Animal at 2:47 PM on August 11, 2005


The most interesting thing is that IDer's may have a more profound affect on Creationists using it as a wedge issue than on the curricula...
posted by silusGROK at 2:50 PM on August 11, 2005


Also, something that seemed pretty obvious from the FPP link was that Darwin didn't have a problem with religion while devising his theory on evolution. It was only after he experienced hardships (deaths in the family) that he started to doubt the existence of God.
posted by Moral Animal at 2:51 PM on August 11, 2005


I consider myself a strong agnostic.

I don't believe "Christianity" (being the belief that Jesus Christ was the son of God came down and did a bunch of miracles before he decided to die for our sins) can be reconciled with any theory other that it's own creation myths...

Now I do believe that the theory of natural selection can be reconciled with theism in general. It is possible that some divine creator or architect upon creating life, the universe and everything also created the rules and constants by which it all functions as well.

I don't think any divine being has been mucking about in the universe's affairs since it's creation but I'm sure that if it did either it would:

a) Leave some huge post it note somewhere that we'd find and figure out or more likely

b) Change the rules of the game and the reality of the universe so that we'd never ever know.
posted by aaronscool at 2:52 PM on August 11, 2005




Oh, c'mon, if I hadn't done it, someone else would've.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:53 PM on August 11, 2005


Evolution may not clash with the concept of a metaphysical God. However, religions describe God, to some extent, and also describe the human condition, including identity and teleology. Evolution would suggest a deistic God rather than a theistic one. And human morality, which is the primary sociological product of religion, can be reinterpreted as an enduring evolved set of rules, rather than an absolute or divinely-delivered dictates. The point is that Christianity has to be reinterpreted to be reconciled with evolution. Of course, one of the features of metaphysical doctrines is that reconfiguration is always possible.
posted by Gyan at 2:54 PM on August 11, 2005


bwahaahaaa
posted by Saddo at 2:59 PM on August 11, 2005


After reconciling religion with revolution, can somebody please implement time travel? thanks. Oh, and world peace.
posted by Saddo at 3:00 PM on August 11, 2005


revolution?freudian slip? drunk?
posted by Saddo at 3:01 PM on August 11, 2005


I'm definitely an atheist (or I guess a Bertrand Russell agnostic, whatever), but I disagree with the belief that we should be able to see some evidence of God in the universe.

After all, we would only "see" God if there was something about the universe that was completely impossible without divine intervention, which would only occur if the universe had some inherent flaw. Which would mean God fucked up and isn't really all-knowing and all-powerful.

On the other hand, I can see no evidence that anything about the universe would be different if God didn't exist, therefore I'm inclined not to buy into the whole idea.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 3:04 PM on August 11, 2005


The author of the last link is a tool.
Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.
This is the piece of faulty reasoning that drives me up the wall. There is evidence of complexity and order in the world. A system displaying complexity and order does not imply that that system was consciously designed. Darwin offers an alternative explanation for a complex, ordered world, and so far, it's worked out. There's nothing that unambiguously cannot be explained by evolution.

When Creationists and ID proponents talk about design in nature as being self evident they're assuming the thing they're trying to prove in order to cast science in the role of setting out to attack their idea of God. It's a cheap rhetorical trick; it's an insult to everyone who'se ever studied biology; it's an attempt to turn curiosity about the world into sectarian axe-grinding.
Scientific theories that try to explain away the appearance of design as the result of "chance and necessity" are not scientific at all, but, as John Paul put it, an abdication of human intelligence
This just made my blood boil. He has the nerve to loudly declaim that evolution isn't a scientific theory? He has the unmitigated gall to suggest that somehow monks staring at plants trying to discern God's hand in the shape of their leaves are somehow using human intelligence more properly than the people who study evolution?
posted by Grimgrin at 3:12 PM on August 11, 2005


Historically, religion does three things:
1) Expain how we got here
2) Explain how we should live
3) Explain what happens when we die

Evolution (and Physics, to an extent) rips number 1 away from Christianity. Some Christians I've met believe that if the Bible is wrong on that, then it might be wrong on something else. This is anathema and not to be tolerated.

Sadly, they don't see that if they could focus on the more important numbers 2 and 3, the world might be a better place.
posted by stevis at 3:12 PM on August 11, 2005


Science tells us how the physical world works, religion and philosophy tell us how humans should behave. There is no reason for the two to overlap.

In my opinion, the current insistence on merging religion with science is mostly to achieve a political outcome. There is a segment of the political spectrum that wants everyone to think and act alike, and for them religion is just a means to an end. They are using ID theory as a wedge to force religious instruction back into schools not because of any deep seated religious beliefs, but to achieve conformity.
posted by Jatayu das at 3:18 PM on August 11, 2005


Jatayu das "Science tells us how the physical world works, religion and philosophy tell us how humans should behave. There is no reason for the two to overlap."

Except that science tells us that humans are physical creatures and defined by physical laws. Religion doesn't just prescribe rules, but also describes the reason for those laws and also describes the identity and behaviour of humans.
posted by Gyan at 3:27 PM on August 11, 2005


Since free will, in the global sense (not personal revelation), is apparently important in the Christian belief system, I believe it is consistent to believe that secular materialism would appear to be a viable alternative, for if secular materialism were not viable, then the universe, world, and man would have an apparent creator, which chucks free will out the window. This is a pretty subtle argument I guess.

As for the NTY column, this assertion caught my eye:

Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not.

This gets right back to what is a scientific "fact". I see no objection to "random variation" producing more successful lifeforms over time, we can simulate this in the lab (eg with software) quite easily, so I fail to see what the beef is wrt the proposition that mutation+selection=population change over time.

Interestingly, it does take a bit of "faith" in the law of large numbers, understanding of the power of parallel trials, and a deep apprecation of the timescales involved here. A million years is a very long time, I think failure to grok the power of mutation+selection is just a mental limitation usually suffered by god-botherers looking for a place to plug in their deity.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:31 PM on August 11, 2005


When young, I was taught that the Toolth Fairy was, well, odd and sneakyu. that Santa Claus was fat, bearded, and very fondof his antelope; and that God looked like Walt Whitman. If one or more of these is not true, then I can no longer believe in any of it. Thanks Dad. Thanks Mom
posted by Postroad at 3:32 PM on August 11, 2005


This jesuit paleontologist figured they could be reconciled.
posted by notyou at 3:35 PM on August 11, 2005


"Science tells us how the physical world works, religion and philosophy tell us how humans should behave. There is no reason for the two to overlap."

Except it's a very handy shortcut for religions to make claims about the physical world (pray to God and he might perform a miracle for you!!), at which point it runs into the problem that science quite often proves these assertions wrong.

Also, Postroad, even if there was a Santa Claus at one time, he's been dead for hundreds of years, rotting in the cold earth.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 3:40 PM on August 11, 2005


Heywood Mogroot : "Since free will, in the global sense (not personal revelation), is apparently important in the Christian belief system, I believe it is consistent to believe that secular materialism would appear to be a viable alternative, for if secular materialism were not viable, then the universe, world, and man would have an apparent creator, which chucks free will out the window. This is a pretty subtle argument I guess."

How does a creator result in abandonment of 'free will' and how does materialism maintain it?
posted by Gyan at 3:44 PM on August 11, 2005


can't God use the laws of nature to his own ends? Nope. No problems here.

Only if you are a "weak" Darwinian. "Strong" Darwinism precludes the notion of there being a "purpose" or "end". Very few people are truly strong Darwinians, as it's really difficult to abandon any notion of "progress" or "direction" in evolution.

Not saying one's better; I tend to be on the "weak" side when I'm honest with myself. But I think it's important to acknowledge that people aren't stupid for seeing a conflict: there's a lot about strong Darwinism that's very uncomfortable to most people, not just Christians. This means Christians who have a problem with it aren't as whacko as you may like to think.
posted by freebird at 3:51 PM on August 11, 2005


How does a creator result in abandonment of 'free will' and how does materialism maintain it?

My argument is that if it were manifest that our existence was an act of special creation (eg a geocentric universe, no clear evidence of evolution in the fossil record, DNA not showing the tracks of common ancestry) then mankind would be literally driven mad looking for who the fuck created us.

The way the universe appears to us -- billions of years old, immensely immense, a plausible series of inferences indicating we could have arisen from pondscum, restores the "faith" required in believing.

A God that gives a totally rational case for his existence, ie a proof, isn't much on the whole free will thing.

How this is reconciled with personal revelation I leave as an exercise to the theists.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:09 PM on August 11, 2005


iron chef morimoto: “After all, we would only ”see“ God if there was something about the universe that was completely impossible without divine intervention,which would only occur if the universe had some inherent flaw.
But, if we found some flaw, couldn’t it just be a glitch, an error in the underlying program? Or a timing-channel attack?
posted by signal at 4:14 PM on August 11, 2005


Except it's a very handy shortcut for religions to make claims about the physical world (pray to God and he might perform a miracle for you!!), at which point it runs into the problem that science quite often proves these assertions wrong.

Uh, how exactly can science prove wrong that God may ‘perform a miracle?’ That’s just like saying that science can prove that God does not exist (or conversely that God does exist). Science can tell us things about how things happen. Science can give us a basis for thinking that something that happened many times before will happen again (we can reasonably expect gravity to work the same way tomorrow as it did today). It cannot however tell us whether or not there is something beyond the physical world. I am both a scientist (if engineering and medicine are scientific) and a Christian and I see no conflict there.
posted by madokachan at 4:14 PM on August 11, 2005


Why would evolution want to be reconciled with Christianity? It treated it so badly before that to go back now would be to invite for abuse. But evolution's gonna do what evolution's gonna do.
posted by fenriq at 4:16 PM on August 11, 2005


.....would be to invite more abuse.

Dang, spell check couldn't catch that one.
posted by fenriq at 4:17 PM on August 11, 2005


Heywood Mogroot: "My argument is that if it were manifest that our existence was an act of special creation (eg a geocentric universe, no clear evidence of evolution in the fossil record, DNA not showing the tracks of common ancestry) then mankind would be literally driven mad looking for who the fuck created us."

Except for that revelation thing.

Heywood Mogroot : "The way the universe appears to us -- billions of years old, immensely immense, a plausible series of inferences indicating we could have arisen from pondscum, restores the 'faith' required in believing."

Or maybe a geocentric universe would be taken for granted with no special place accorded to the anthropocentrism. Your stance presupposes that we don't live in such a universe.

Heywood Mogroot : "A God that gives a totally rational case for his existence, ie a proof, isn't much on the whole free will thing."

Or God could leave it to us to accept that proof. Rationality is not a fixed system. There are multiple logics, with the dialethic ones allowing contradictions.
posted by Gyan at 4:20 PM on August 11, 2005


Evolution (and Physics, to an extent) rips number 1 [Expain how we got here] away from Christianity.

Arrghh... head... exploding. IANAEB (I am not an evolutionary biologist), but evolution does not explain the origin of life. It explains the origin of species. Yes, it can be used to show that the bible isn't literally true, but so can a zillion other things. If you think the bible is literally true, then I won't bother arguing with you.

But even Stephen Hawking accepts that the fundamental question -- Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing -- has not been answered by any branch of science. But more importantly, it is not a question that is even addressed by evolution or biology.

Therefore, if you a religious person with even a modicum of ability to accept that a lot of the stuff in the bible is metaphorical, or illustrative, then I don't see why you should have any problem with evolution.

Clearly, though, people do. I don't understand it, but then I have a total lack of understanding of organized religion in any case, sadly proving that my ability to undestand something does not affect that thing's ability to exist.
posted by jlub at 4:32 PM on August 11, 2005


jlub: "But even Stephen Hawking accepts that the fundamental question — Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing — has not been answered by any branch of science.
It hasn’t been answered by any religion, either.
posted by signal at 4:35 PM on August 11, 2005


There is no god. No old guy with a beard, no magical forever-land in the clouds.

Suck it up and take the news like an adult...
posted by chasing at 4:37 PM on August 11, 2005


jlub: But even Stephen Hawking accepts that the fundamental question -- Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing -- has not been answered by any branch of science. But more importantly, it is not a question that is even addressed by evolution or biology.

But perhaps more important even than that, science is a lot more fond of questions than answers. So I think the biggest rift is between those who say, "I don't know, but I'd really like to find out," and those who say, "I don't know, so god probably did it."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:40 PM on August 11, 2005


There's also no tooth-fairy.
posted by chasing at 4:45 PM on August 11, 2005


chasing, I also don't think God is an old guy with a beard who lives in a magical forever-land in the clouds. I'm glad we got this straight.
posted by madokachan at 4:57 PM on August 11, 2005


Except for that revelation thing.

well, that's just (potentially) attributable to voices in one's head, I guess.

Or maybe a geocentric universe would be taken for granted with no special place accorded to the anthropocentrism. Your stance presupposes that we don't live in such a universe.

Circling a 3rd generation star on an outer arm of a nondescript spiral galaxy in a local cluster in an immense known universe sorta shoots down the proposition that the condition of our existence could be (mis)taken for a anthropocentric universe. At least the mooted special creation, at this point in time at least, seems a bit... excessive.

Or God could leave it to us to accept that proof. Rationality is not a fixed system. There are multiple logics, with the dialethic ones allowing contradictions.

Disagree. My thinking is that a Creator creating man and our universe in an anthropocentric manner would leave a ham-handed "Made By (smudgemark)" tag attached to us and his creation, and would be a direct assault on our free will, ie the ability to form a faith in the existence of one's creator without having the manifest facts of this special creation shoved down one's throat.

I guess I'm just restating myself here but just because some philosophical wankery exists wrt contradiction doesn't lessen the fact that the faith proposition is strengthened by viable, believable materialistic alternatives, not mystery.

People dismissing this materialism as conficting with their beliefs are the ones of weak faith IMV, faith so brittle as to limit what their creator can do and insist on believing in small mysteries that have rational explanations.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:59 PM on August 11, 2005


but evolution does not explain the origin of life. It explains the origin of species.

depends on your definition of "life". Are replicating protein molecules floating in gunk life? If so, evolution (natural selection in particular) has something to say about that.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:02 PM on August 11, 2005


Now it is such a bizarrely improbably coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
The argument goes something like this: “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
“But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”
“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.


--Douglas Adams
posted by designbot at 5:25 PM on August 11, 2005


"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.
posted by designbot at 5:26 PM on August 11, 2005


If I was God, I'd be a lot prouder of myself for putting evolution into play than just snapping my fingers and poofing the universe into existence. Nobody seems to actually read Darwin anymore, which is a shame--it's pretty brilliant stuff.
posted by bardic at 5:27 PM on August 11, 2005


Heh, well this is moving along predictably: in circles.

The second question was can evolution be reconciled with Christianity. Since some (many, most?) people who self-identify as Christians seem quite happy to accomodate both to some extent or other, one must logically conclude the answer is yes.

In that light, is it at all fair to ask how self-identified non-Christians feel qualified to answer the question? Christians are saying they're ok with both and non-Christians are telling them they can't do that? Heh.
posted by scheptech at 5:46 PM on August 11, 2005


scheptech: Well, for me the reason why an old-Earth helped to trigger a loss of faith, was that there are some parts of the Bible that it's really difficult to treat as just poetic metaphor. The process of saying, "well, Genesis is loaded with pretty metaphors, but Luke really happened" just seemed a bit odd to me.

How other Christians deal with it is their business. My response was that without having faith, there was no reason to continue pretending to be a Christian.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:53 PM on August 11, 2005


It is apparent that Darwin lost his faith in the years 1836-39, much of it clearly prior to the reading of Malthus. In order not to hurt the feelings of his friends and of his wife, Darwin often used deistic language in his publications, but much in his Notebooks indicates that by this time he had become a ‘materialist’ (more or less = atheist). ~ Ernst Mayr

I have lately read Morley's Life of Voltaire and he insists strongly that direct attacks on Christianity (even when written with the wonderful force and vigor of Voltaire) produce little permanent effect: real good seems only to follow the slow and silent side attacks. ~ Charles Darwin

It was obvious that both the general theory of evolution and its extension to man in particular must meet from the first with the most determined resistance on the part of the Churches. Both were in flagrant contradiction to the Mosaic story of creation, and other Biblical dogmas that were involved in it, and are still taught in our elementary schools. It is creditable to the shrewdness of the theologians and their associates, the metaphysicians, that they at once rejected Darwinism, and made a particularly energetic resistance in their writings to its chief consequence, the descent of man from ape. ~ Ernst Haeckel

What theistic evolutionists have failed above all to comprehend is that the conflict is not over “facts” but over ways of thinking... The specific answers they derive may or may not be reconcilable with theism, but the manner of thinking is profoundly atheistic. To accept the answers as indubitably true is inevitably to accept the thinking that generated those answers. That is why I think the appropriate term for the accommodationist position is not “theistic evolution,” but rather theistic naturalism. Under either name, it is a disastrous error. ~ Phillip Johnson
posted by bevets at 6:00 PM on August 11, 2005


Hey, it worked!
posted by mr_roboto at 6:13 PM on August 11, 2005


Heywood Mogroot : "well, that's just (potentially) attributable to voices in one's head, I guess."

All your reality can be attributable to going-ons in one's head.

Heywood Mogroot : "Circling a 3rd generation star on an outer arm of a nondescript spiral galaxy in a local cluster in an immense known universe sorta shoots down the proposition that the condition of our existence could be (mis)taken for a anthropocentric universe. At least the mooted special creation, at this point in time at least, seems a bit... excessive."

Depends on what parameters you're measuring. You've picked spatial location and applied the satisfaction of symmetry as the test. Maybe radial or bilateral symmetry aren't important.

Heywood Mogroot : "My thinking is that a Creator creating man and our universe in an anthropocentric manner would leave a ham-handed 'Made By (smudgemark)' tag attached to us and his creation

Then that's a (potential) problem with your conception of God.

Heywood Mogroot : "fact that the faith proposition is strengthened by viable, believable materialistic alternatives, not mystery. "

Except that materialism hasn't provided an answer to universe creation, and No, quantum fluctuations don't count.

faith so brittle as to limit what their creator can do

Like I suggested earlier, metaphysics is infinitely reconfigurable. True faith is not predicated on anything, but most faith isn't true. It is shaped by experience & environment. If our minds could not conjure up existential mysteries, would we even be thinking of metaphysics and consequently God, faith..etc? So, does the full logical import of evolution undermine the basis of the forces that give rise to, and shape faith? I can't see how it doesn't.

The 'Bible as metaphor' paradigm misses the point. All language is essentially metaphor. The sentence The red book is on the table requires the reader to assign the referents and relations in order to derive meaning. The fact that terms can be overloaded is of no surprise, given that diverse contexts exist and chain of family-resemblances leads to overloading. The problem is that if faith is true, there is no need for reconciliation. Hence, to invoke the 'Bible as metaphor' paradigm shows that there is this need to achieve some semblance of consistency between faith and reason.
posted by Gyan at 6:17 PM on August 11, 2005


Gyan: Except that materialism hasn't provided an answer to universe creation, and No, quantum fluctuations don't count.

Does it really need to? The fact of the matter is that "god did it" is only one of dozens of possible scenarios. Given the profound absence of evidence for any one of those myths, why should we favor "god did it" over any other?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:42 PM on August 11, 2005


Uh, how exactly can science prove wrong that God may ‘perform a miracle?

"Miracle," as I understand it, means an event has no natural explanation, and can only be termed divine intervention. So science doesn't (and can't) disprove that God could perform a miracle, but it is often used to disprove the notion that God performed a miracle, when describing a specific event.

It cannot however tell us whether or not there is something beyond the physical world.

I accept that as a given. Science measures the things... that are measurable. But the claim that science and religion have no overlap is specious, because religions make claims about the natural world all the time, and scientific findings can have religious implications.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 6:44 PM on August 11, 2005


Heywood Mogroot : "well, that's just (potentially) attributable to voices in one's head, I guess."

All your reality can be attributable to going-ons in one's head.


It looks like the argument is shifting away from the proposition in question. The argument as I see it is whether personal revelation is inconsistent with the requirements of "free will". As I said, I prefer to leave this to the theists to hash out, since my argument is talking about the general global effects of materialism, and this can be safely considered orthogonal to the revelation question, since revelation is non transferable while empirical evidence for special creation is.

Maybe radial or bilateral symmetry aren't important.

It is. We only have weak anthropocentrism, the tautology that we observe a universe more or less hospitable to us observers.

Then that's a (potential) problem with your conception of God. No, I see it as a flaw in other's theologies. The God qua God in question doesn't really have anything to do with it since he has remained remarkably silent on the matter. The Fundamentalist's God, being of the Judeo Christian tradition, desires Free Will, his creation to come to knowledge voluntarily, yet the Fundamentalist also demands that this Creation and Man's place in it be "special" and dismiss the mountains of evidence that "Creation" and Man himself is not particularly "special".

Except that materialism hasn't provided an answer to universe creation, and No, quantum fluctuations don't count.

The question, and point, in my mind is the boundary of the mystery. YEC creationists wish to keep the mystery close to them. OEC are more flexible, IDers more flexible still. Science is a human enterprise and works on a human timeframe and scale, so cannot necessarily provide any universal truths, or even a reduction to the mysteries (eg physics could become one hell of a rabbit hole with the proper observational tools).

What science's secular materialism can, and does, provide, though, is an alternate narrative. Those of brittle punk faith are threatened by this real-world narrative of "darwinian" struggle, death, randomless, and purposelessness.

So, does the full logical import of evolution undermine the basis of the forces that give rise to, and shape faith? I can't see how it doesn't.

And I can't see how it does. Unless your faith is driven by small-minded ignorance and mystery, looking for the God of the Gaps.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 6:48 PM on August 11, 2005


In my opinion, the current insistence on merging religion with science is mostly to achieve a political outcome. There is a segment of the political spectrum that wants everyone to think and act alike, and for them religion is just a means to an end. They are using ID theory as a wedge to force religious instruction back into schools not because of any deep seated religious beliefs, but to achieve conformity.

This is the nub of the whole political issue. There is an ignorant subset who seek to find black and white answers from the Bible. However, most Christians easily see the inherent contradictions among the various teachings in the Bible. Most are willing to believe at least some of the science, for instance the Earth is older than 6,000 years. ID is a just a disingenuous way to get God back into the schools. I think many of these people see the manner in which evolution has been pushed as a direct attack upon Christianity, when in fact it is mostly just a push for science. Some atheists have used it to ridicule Christianity, so the perception of some of these Christians is not entirely wrong. To the extent that this is how they view the world, the more ridicule they perceive, the harder they will fight back, even if the fight is disingenuous.
posted by caddis at 6:59 PM on August 11, 2005


Well, The Roman Catholic Church supports the theory of evolution.

I was taught it in 6th grade science class at a parochial school and in parochial HS the Sci Teacher (who was a brother) made fun of the silly ID people.
posted by Mick at 7:02 PM on August 11, 2005


KirkJobSluder : "Does it really need to? The fact of the matter is that 'god did it' is only one of dozens of possible scenarios. "

Name 3 others.

Heywood Mogroot : "It is."

Why does radial symmetry have to be important?

Heywood Mogroot : "The God qua God in question doesn't really have anything to do with it since he has remained remarkably silent on the matter."

Unless he has spoken. Again, it comes down to one's conceptions.

Heywood Mogroot : "What science's secular materialism can, and does, provide, though, is an alternate narrative. Those of brittle punk faith are threatened by this real-world narrative of 'darwinian' struggle, death, randomless, and purposelessness."

But materialism does not provide this narrative. It does not tackle the source of genesis, nor the logic behind the laws of physics, but materialists do suggest that it does. And those suggestions parallel yours.

Heywood Mogroot : "Unless your faith is driven by small-minded ignorance and mystery, looking for the God of the Gaps."

This is evading the question. Faith is driven by mystery. If you knew, it wouldn't be faith.

Anyway, this is getting far afield.

In short, evolution suggests that we occupy no special place in the lineage of life. There were millions of species before us, and presumably millions after. The nihilism you invoked as part of the parcel of materialistic narrative is where evolution clashes with religion. For someone of absolute faith, that suggestion should make no difference, since absolute faith is not dependent. But most religious faith isn't absolute & the opposite of absolute faith isn't "brittle punk faith". Once you step down from absolute to predicated faith, evolution presents a thorn, where the beast of consistency demands the allegorical approach to revelation.
posted by Gyan at 7:39 PM on August 11, 2005


Heywood Mogroot

The Fundamentalist's God, being of the Judeo Christian tradition, desires Free Will, his creation to come to knowledge voluntarily, yet the Fundamentalist also demands that this Creation and Man's place in it be "special" and dismiss the mountains of evidence that "Creation" and Man himself is not particularly "special".

Every time I see an evolutionist toss out 'mountains fo evidence' I think' Baloney: 99% processed assumptions wrapped in a skin of bravado.'


caddis

This is the nub of the whole political issue. There is an ignorant subset who never doubt evolutionism. However, most evolutionists easily see the inherent contradictions among the various doctrines of evolutionism. Most are willing to believe at least some of the science, for instance the implausibilty of abiogenesis. Darwinism is just a disingenuous way to get God out of the schools. I think many of these people see the manner in which evolution has been pushed as merely science, when in fact it is mostly an attack on Christianity. Atheists have used it to ridicule Christianity, so the perception of some of these Christians is not entirely wrong.
posted by bevets at 8:08 PM on August 11, 2005


Gyan: Name 3 others.

1: The universe started as a white hole.
2: The universe is created by the collision of two multi-dimensional n-branes in a multiverse.
3: The universe started from quantum foam.

But materialism does not provide this narrative. It does not tackle the source of genesis, nor the logic behind the laws of physics, but materialists do suggest that it does. And those suggestions parallel yours.

Actually, it many cases it does. For example, 150 years ago, the logic behind the connection between magnetism and electricity was a mystery. Then Maxwell discovered that electromagnetism was just one phenomena experienced in different ways. Then we had the electromagnetic and weak force unification. And then the electroweak + strong.

Hawking points out a trend in physics where what had previously seemed to be arbitrary, almost always turns out to be necessary. It is quite possible that we may never have both the experimental evidence and the insight to understand what makes space flat, or what really is matter. But at least with materialism, we don't have a reason to throw up our hands and say, "that's it, god did it." We can continue to propose and test hypotheses that are just beyond the reach of our technology.

But of course, this has nada to do with evolution.

Faith is driven by mystery.

Well, so is science. The big difference is that I relish saying, "I don't know." No matter what is around that next corner, I'll be thrilled to find it, even if it is another mystery.

In short, evolution suggests that we occupy no special place in the lineage of life. There were millions of species before us, and presumably millions after. The nihilism you invoked as part of the parcel of materialistic narrative is where evolution clashes with religion.

Well, that's what you suggest. I have a radically different view of evolution.

On preview: And why am I not surprised that bevets still has not figured out that abiogenesis has nada to do with evolution.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:12 PM on August 11, 2005


It is important to realize politically where ID comes from. It differs from creationism. It is about creating doubt, just as has been done with global warming. Virtually all real scientists believe that the greenhouse gasses man releases contribute significantly to global warming. A few dissidents, mostly industry tools, spread just enough doubt to keep the debate alive, especially with politicians in power who have no motivation to change the status quo. The quest with ID is to inject just enough doubt to blunt the argument that the science of evolution is immutable.

Paul Krugman had a great piece on this the other day.
posted by caddis at 8:18 PM on August 11, 2005


Bevets, you are wrong about the evolutionists. Some of them are atheists and think you are a silly fool for believing in a magic book, the majority are religious and struggle to reconcile what they learn from science the same way Christianity struggled to reconcile the Earth revolving around the Sun. However, almost all of them are pretty comfortable with the science. [I am trying to address what I think you said, because you did not express yourself very clearly.]
posted by caddis at 8:27 PM on August 11, 2005


caddis: pssst. He already played the "no true Christian" fallacy.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:31 PM on August 11, 2005


I don't much care if some Christians cannot reconcile religion with their beliefs. They can choose to work toward reconcilliation, or they can choose to ignore science.

My only complaint is when they take this battle into the public sphere. I mean, gosh — just because all y'all must make a choice between modernity and Medievalism doesn't mean the rest of us need to be dragged into the mess with you. Start your own damn schools and get back to arguing about Arian Heresies and angels and the heads of pins and whatever the hell used to occupy your time before the unpleasantness of the scientific method came about. But leave me out of it.
posted by maxsparber at 8:52 PM on August 11, 2005


KirkJobSluder : "1: The universe started as a white hole.
...
..."


These don't tackle genesis, only the transformation from an earlier state of being to a later one.

Maxwell discovered that electromagnetism was just one phenomena experienced in different ways.

You are referring to the logic between laws, I'm referring to the logic behind them.

The big difference is that I relish saying, "I don't know." No matter what is around that next corner, I'll be thrilled to find it, even if it is another mystery.

At some point, you would want this to stop. Going around in a circle is fun if a)if your purpose is going around in circles and/or b)you have resigned yourself to going around in one.

KirkJobSluder : "I have a radically different view of evolution."

Which is?
posted by Gyan at 8:52 PM on August 11, 2005


Every time I see an evolutionist toss out 'mountains fo evidence' I think' Baloney: 99% processed assumptions wrapped in a skin of bravado.'

This is because you are an idiot.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:00 PM on August 11, 2005


For the record, Darwin didn't discover evolution (it was already pretty much accepted fact), but speciation.
posted by signal at 9:01 PM on August 11, 2005


Monkey See, Monkey Do
Offering 'Intelligent Design' as an alternative to evolution is a cruel joke. It walks and talks like science but in the lab performs worse than medieval alchemy. [Newsweek | August 15, 2005]
posted by ericb at 9:04 PM on August 11, 2005


caddis: There's no such thing as an "evolutionist". What an abortion of the world. The proponents of evolution are generally called "scientists." Evolution isn't an ideology, it is a rigorous, well-defined scientific theory.

And Gyan, that's a cheap trick that doesn't work any more. There are no limits to materialism in the strictest sense of the word. The reason materialism doesn't 'tackle' the "logic behind the laws of physics" is because, in all likelihood, there is no logic there. The same with the 'source of genesis.' (What would this even mean? Something existed before everything existed?) You can play "God of gaps" all day long and continue to insist on a "mystery" hidden in those questions but, try as hard as you might, it won't get you to a God in any meaningful sense of the word. Further, the notion that faith derives from "mystery" is hogwash. People who believe in God because the 'universe is a really big, complex, scary place' are hypocrites. When you introduce God and the supporting cast into the equation the universe gets radically simplified and thus is no longer complex. Haven't you ever wondered why priests tend to have all the answers? 'God did it' isn't just a non-answer, it's a gross answer. More likely, faith is derived from a potent combination of fear and a tyrannical will to believe.

So this is also the answer to the FPP: evolution will be "reconciled" with religion when people are no longer afraid and are ready to honestly deal with the consequences of the theory. The same applies to stem cells, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and the environment.
posted by nixerman at 9:04 PM on August 11, 2005


signal, Darwin didn't discover anything. Natural selection, in various forms, had been floating around for quite some time. Darwin made it rigorous. This is of course still quite an achievement.
posted by nixerman at 9:06 PM on August 11, 2005


nixerman: not to quibble on words, but Darwin did discover, or was the first to observe and describe, the mechanism by which new species evolved, no?
posted by signal at 9:14 PM on August 11, 2005


caddis: There's no such thing as an "evolutionist".

and these terms matter to you?
posted by caddis at 9:18 PM on August 11, 2005


nixerman : "The reason materialism doesn't 'tackle' the "logic behind the laws of physics" is because, in all likelihood, there is no logic there."

Rather it's because materialism can't answer if there is a logic there.

nixerman : "When you introduce God and the supporting cast into the equation the universe gets radically simplified and thus is no longer complex. Haven't you ever wondered why priests tend to have all the answers? 'God did it' isn't just a non-answer, it's a gross answer. More likely, faith is derived from a potent combination of fear and a tyrannical will to believe. "

You're conflating human manipulation + the psychological potency of God with why the notion of God should ever come up. Spirituality has come up in all kind of communities. The curiosity is innate, even if it is reconciled haphazardly and arbitrarily.
posted by Gyan at 9:18 PM on August 11, 2005


It's an interesting part of the American (i.e.: US) paradox that the (arguably) most technologically and scientifically advanced country in the world is also where something like 50% of the population thinks that evolution is "controversial", whereas the countries mocked as "backwards" or "superstitious" wouldn't dream of making an issue out of this ancient debate.
posted by signal at 9:20 PM on August 11, 2005


Gyan: These don't tackle genesis, only the transformation from an earlier state of being to a later one.

For that matter, neither does genesis, with its two creation stories, and the big question, "from where did god come from?" For that matter, most religious creation myths involve the transformation from an earlier state of being.

You are referring to the logic between laws, I'm referring to the logic behind them.

Well, to me this just sounds like a nonsense semantic hat trick. Before Maxwell, nobody knew that what was behind the action of magnets was the same as what was behind the action of light. Maxwell's theory was the discovery of the logic behind light, magnetism, and electricity.

At some point, you would want this to stop. Going around in a circle is fun if a)if your purpose is going around in circles and/or b)you have resigned yourself to going around in one.

Why? The posibility of a mystery behind every corner is like having an infinity of birthdays. I can't think of anything more pleasing than having another problem to solve.

The fact that our history in the universe is very small, and very rare, makes it extremely important to make the most of it.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:20 PM on August 11, 2005


Ok, how's this. Our logical minds tell us if we step in front of a car we die. Our hearts tell us why that matters one way or the other. We need both to survive. We have both. That's us, it's how we're made (created or evolved), don't discount either aspect of human nature or either way of understanding our condition.

The greek word which is translated as 'heart' in the Bible dosn't mean just the emotions but is really much more interesting, having evaluative connotations.

You know where I'm going with this, bit of a simplification (ok maybe a lot) but... evolution, a product of using our minds, tells us (in detail) what we are physically: really complicated meat. And religion, a product of listening to our hearts tells us who we are and why any of it matters in the least.

The absolutists of either camp who insist these two understandings are mutually exclusive both argue an extreme position from a single aspect of their own nature while submerging the other, my opinion.

Can evolution be accomodated by Christianity? A more up to date line of enquiry might be: Is evolution on it's way to becoming a straw man argument against Christianity? Is it already for all practical purposes? Have some of the more progressive elements of our society quietly figured out how to get along on this one? How awful for us...
posted by scheptech at 9:32 PM on August 11, 2005


Odd thread. Couple three things:
First off, can religion and evolution be reconciled? Yeah, but only because people are able to believe mutally contradictory things at the same time.
Second off, Heywood, you might not want to argue on a "free will is opposed to faith" tip, but rather that faith and knowledge are inherently opposed. If you haven't, give Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling a read, noting what he says about Abraham as a paragon ("knight") of faith. What creates faith is the lack of certainty in God, which is what I think you were arguing, but free will is kinda irrelevant. You can be a materialistic determinist just as much as a theistic one.
Third, the comment about nihilism was amusing, claiming that materialism is nihilistic. Materialism kinda presupposes an ephemeral nature in life, thus urging a devotion to making this life the best that's possible, as opposed to a religion with an afterlife. There are few things as nihilistic as Augustine's City of God, if you think about it.
Fourth, if my choice is between an ideology that says "We really don't know for sure every detail yet, but we think that we can prove things happened like this and you're welcome to test us," and one that says "We know what happened because somebody told us, and said great things would happen if we believed him, and so we believe everything he said, so don't poke around at the edges because it makes us nervous..." Well, I think I'm gonna go with the folks who encourage testing of their theories and the asking of more questions over the folks who are content to settle for what somebody 2,000 years ago thought sounded pretty good at the time, but might be wildly wrong. Kind of an inversion of Pascal's wager.
But then again, maybe I'm just touchy because my uncle just died and managed to find religion between when his heart stopped and his funeral service. Explain that, science!
posted by klangklangston at 9:55 PM on August 11, 2005


Why does radial symmetry have to be important?

Just a data point that there's nothing particularly special about the Earth, or Man's particular place in the Cosmos.

Heywood Mogroot : "The God qua God in question doesn't really have anything to do with it since he has remained remarkably silent on the matter."

Unless he has spoken. Again, it comes down to one's conceptions.


I am looking at the theology not the underlying God(s) per se.
It seems to be an accepted part of the Christian canon/dogma that faith is important, and (to repeat myself) a faith based on empiricism isn't much of a faith at all.

Heywood Mogroot : "What science's secular materialism can, and does, provide, though, is an alternate narrative. Those of brittle punk faith are threatened by this real-world narrative of 'darwinian' struggle, death, randomless, and purposelessness."

But materialism does not provide this narrative.


Not entirely, no.

It does not tackle the source of genesis

It does indirectly and partially. Right now I have no big problems clearing the inductive hurdle that chemisty begat organic chemistry begat biochemistry billions of years ago. There is no evidence for this, so it is a weak belief, but from what I've seen there's nothing inconsistent with holding this belief as a provisional thing. And of course materialism does have something to say about the origin and history of development of life, including our ancestors, on this planet.

nor the logic behind the laws of physics, but materialists do suggest that it does. And those suggestions parallel yours.

Logic behind the laws of physics?

Heywood Mogroot : "Unless your faith is driven by small-minded ignorance and mystery, looking for the God of the Gaps."

This is evading the question. Faith is driven by mystery. If you knew, it wouldn't be faith.


Not evading, positing. All I'm saying is a viable scientific materialism strengthens the value of faith, at least according to my understanding of Christian dogma. If your actual faith is weakened by contradictory evidence, it was quite a sucky faith to have fallen into to begin with.

In short, evolution suggests that we occupy no special place in the lineage of life. There were millions of species before us, and presumably millions after. The nihilism you invoked as part of the parcel of materialistic narrative is where evolution clashes with religion.

Religions that have put their received narratives of mysteries a bit too close to where human science can uncover alternate facts perhaps. At least evolution goes well with Theravada Buddhism...

For someone of absolute faith, that suggestion should make no difference, since absolute faith is not dependent. But most religious faith isn't absolute & the opposite of absolute faith isn't "brittle punk faith". Once you step down from absolute to predicated faith, evolution presents a thorn, where the beast of consistency demands the allegorical approach to revelation.

Just don't see that. I'm calling what you term "predicated faith" brittle for the "predicates" involved. While Scientology and Mormonism show that people can believe just about anything I guess, religion, and Christianity in particular, need not, and generally has not, "predicated" itself on things inconsistent with natural philosophy aka scientific materialism. It is the Protestant newlines that have drove themselves into this particular dogmatic ditch (along with the autocratic medieval Catholic Church of course).

In a consistent Christian world, the Creator need not be responsible for the secular humanism constructed upon scientific materialism, but, again, to repeat myself, the scientific materialism aka non-mystical theory of origins is a critical element of humanity's free will by preserving the capacity to question the existence of a creator.

Though the question of distance is interesting; scientific materialism does presently collapse when ultimate origins are posited, so there is still a mystery here.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:56 PM on August 11, 2005


KirkJobSluder : "For that matter, neither does genesis, with its two creation stories"

I wasn't referring to Genesis.

KirkJobSluder : "Maxwell's theory was the discovery of the logic behind light, magnetism, and electricity."

Maxwell provided a framework that subsumed earlier frameworks.

KirkJobSluder : "The posibility of a mystery behind every corner is like having an infinity of birthdays."

I am wondering why there was a birth at all.
posted by Gyan at 10:01 PM on August 11, 2005


Heywood Mogroot : "Just a data point that there's nothing particularly special about the Earth"

If Earth is special, do all possible metrics have to reflect that quality?

Heywood Mogroot : "a faith based on empiricism isn't much of a faith at all."

Correct. I'm arguing that most people do indeed have this kind of faith.

"Logic behind the laws of physics?"

Why the laws are as they are?

Heywood Mogroot : "If your actual faith is weakened by contradictory evidence, it was quite a sucky faith to have fallen into to begin with."

Correct. So why all this 'Bible as allegory' and evolution reconciliation?
posted by Gyan at 10:10 PM on August 11, 2005


Gyan: I wasn't referring to Genesis.

Ahh, then you know that most varieties of theism really do not solve that problem either. What created god?

Maxwell provided a framework that subsumed earlier frameworks.

And in what ways was this not peeking behind the earlier laws?

I am wondering why there was a birth at all.

Why is god a better answer to this question than the alternatives?

Why the laws are as they are?

Well, as Hawking points out, what seems to be arbitrary usually turns out to be necessary. I suppose one can pull a weak anthropic principle and say that the laws are the way they are because otherwise there would be no universe. That does not necessarily mean a designer law-giver god of the Christian mythology though, and perhaps not even an Einstein-Spinoza presence in the universe.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:39 PM on August 11, 2005


42
posted by blue_beetle at 10:43 PM on August 11, 2005


KirkJobSluder : "What created god?"

I won't answer that since I'm not a theist. However, God is a dogmatic answer, in that God is the be-all and end-all, whereas white holes are logical extrapolations that are presumbly still open to analysis. A further point is that by genesis, I'm referring to all Being, whereas materialistic theories seem to refer to the putative spacetime horizon.

KirkJobSluder : "And in what ways was this not peeking behind the earlier laws?"

I look at it as an refinement. Replacing a bunch of mathematical models with an unified one. It's more of the same.

KirkJobSluder : "Why is god a better answer to this question than the alternatives?"

It isn't.

KirkJobSluder : "I suppose one can pull a weak anthropic principle and say that the laws are the way they are because otherwise there would be no universe"

How would this be tested?
posted by Gyan at 11:33 PM on August 11, 2005


Kirkjob, Gyan: Boo. The explanation for the laws of the universe is tautological: The laws are what they are because they represent the observed occurances of the universe. E=mc^2 not because God made it so, but because that equation best represents observed data. The argument deadends: Why does that represent the observed data? Because we have defined the concepts inside of it to match the observed data. If at some point laws of the universe are found not to function in certain situations (micro, macro), then the models that we use to represent the universe will be changed in order to bring us more in line with the data that we have observed.
posted by klangklangston at 12:24 AM on August 12, 2005


I am wondering why there was a birth [of the cosmos] at all.

In an odd related twist, today was the last day of Philo 101, Summer Term, at the Jesuit university in Detroit, and I had a nice chat after class with a first-year student about the principle of sufficient reason as it applies to "everything, taken as a whole," as she put it.

"It sorta bugs me," she confided, "that people think there has to be a *reason* why something exists rather nothing, but I didn't want to sound stupid and bring it up at the start of the class (i.e., after discussing Aristotle's metaphysics in the first week)." I assured her it wasn't "stupid" and we chatted a bit and that was that.

I've been thinking about her comment all night.

And now, reading the exchange between Gyan and KirkJobSluder (didn't this devolve into a history of 20th century pragmatism last time around? I kid!), and Gyan's insistence that a scientific materialism doesn't account for the logic behind the laws of science, I'm left wondering whether it doesn't ultimately boil down to an issue of temperment.

Some folks will insist that the principle of sufficient reason, goshdurnit, just *has* to apply to the world, "taken as a whole," while others will view that as question-begging or sorta silly/pointless speculatin', etc.

All of which suggests that, yes, evolution and Christianity are compatible, but only because "Christianity" is such a big tent (and flexible concept - historically it's covered everything from the proto-communist first disciples to the current reactionary fundies behind the ID movement) that you're bound to find some who self-identify as Christian who don't object to evolutionary theory.

I thought the observations, above (from caddis, I think?), that ID is largely an expedient tool in a broader cultural/political fight is spot on. Which, of course, is why its inclusion in public science courses needs to be fought. Assuming you're on the side of pluralism, democracy and all them's good stuffs, of course.

Phew, bedtime.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:57 AM on August 12, 2005


klangklangston: Actually, that's not quite true. E=mc^2 really had no observed data to support it. Just Maxwell's equations, the failed attempt to find a frame for the speed of light, and a childhood thought experiment. It's revolutionary because it is one of the first cases in which theoretical analysis jumped ahead of the experimental results, and also because it laid the groundwork for modern cosmology. That is, relativity is more than just a best-fit line. Instead, it appears to be something central to how the universe really works.

So it's not entirely a tautology.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:01 AM on August 12, 2005


If Earth is special, do all possible metrics have to reflect that quality?

Well, the history of natural philosophy has been one of continuous backpedalling in this area.

Heywood Mogroot : "a faith based on empiricism isn't much of a faith at all."

Correct. I'm arguing that most people do indeed have this kind of faith.


While this is grossly true in the US (Gallup says 30-50% of Christians believe in literalism (it varies depending on the question asked)) I question how firmly entrenched this position is. My sister and mom are fundies so I have some personal experience with this. Whether "most" people really have this... issue... is somewhat debatable, since the US is something of an outlier wrt biblical literalism. Tho the islamic fundies have the same problem will secular materialism as our flavor of fundies do, probably to the same degree too.

"Logic behind the laws of physics?"

Why the laws are as they are?


Weak anthropic principle helps some here. 'course, the deeper questions can make your head hurt if you ponder them rigorously enough.

Heywood Mogroot : "If your actual faith is weakened by contradictory evidence, it was quite a sucky faith to have fallen into to begin with."

Correct. So why all this 'Bible as allegory' and evolution reconciliation?


Backpedalling on the dogma I guess. Religion, being a human enterprise, evolves cruft over time as doctrine and dogma accumulate. People want their questions answered ('do dead babies go to heaven?' 'what is our place in the cosmos?') and an 'We don't know' answer doesn't really go over well wrt religionists.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:02 AM on August 12, 2005


Look, enough of this vacuous arse talk ... this sums it up OK (RM file)
posted by strawberryviagra at 5:14 AM on August 12, 2005


Gyan writes: "You are referring to the logic between laws, I'm referring to the logic behind them."

I do wish we could come in at this point and stop wasting time. Here Gyan nails the position of many Christians.

They accept - when pushed - that the laws of science explain much about the world. But they arbitrarily insist these same laws are useless to address the Big Question.

And over and over, they pull a poor version of the old Peter Falk-Columbo trick "uh, just one other thing, sir? What was the origin of the universe again?"

It gets us nowhere.

BTW, Darwin's faith; since it's not what we remember him for, how does it affect the quality of his reasoning?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:38 AM on August 12, 2005


If slavery was at one time reconciled with Christianity, I'm sure that evolution can be.
posted by shawnj at 7:58 AM on August 12, 2005


Jody Tresidder : "But they arbitrarily insist these same laws are useless to address the Big Question."

They are. KJS mentioned that there were dozens of origin theories in science like quantum foam..etc. Now those are just logical extrapolations that lead to earlier states of being. The Big Question still remains unanswered. Note that I'm not claiming that Christianity answers this satisfactorily.
posted by Gyan at 10:07 AM on August 12, 2005


KJS: Point taken, but cosmological evidence does confirm E=mc^2. If observation had contradicted it, it wouldn't be a law of the universe, it would be a discarded theory. Though I suppose I should have instead put in the equation for gravity between bodies...
posted by klangklangston at 10:51 AM on August 12, 2005


Yup, going in circles, interesting ones but still. Here's just one:

If Christianity could accomodate evolution, this would prove that Christianity is false, inconsistent, intellectually dishonest etc.

If Christianity could not accomodate evolution, this would also prove the same thing.

...?
posted by scheptech at 11:00 AM on August 12, 2005



posted by norm at 12:12 PM on August 12, 2005


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