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Science Minister Equates Evolution and Religion

With a title like “Minister of State for Science and Technology”, it’s no wonder that Gary Goodyear thinks acceptance of evolution should be a matter of religious conviction. When asked about evolution, Gary had this to say:

“I’m not going to answer that question. I am a Christian, and I don’t think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate,”

Mr Goodyear eventually clarified his position, when he realized how many people this upset:

“We are evolving every year, every decade. That’s a fact, whether it is to the intensity of the sun, whether it is to, as a chiropractor, walking on cement versus anything else, whether it is running shoes or high heels, of course we are evolving to our environment. But that’s not relevant and that is why I refused to answer the question. The interview was about our science and tech strategy, which is strong.”

Notice he never acknowledges macroevolution, only microevolution. Clever…a lot of people will miss that. If I were able to ask Mr. Goodyear one question, it would be this: “Is clinical acupuncture based on science or religion?”.

As a chiropractor who specialized in acupuncture, my guess is that he would say “Science”, even though the field is still heavily dependent on traditional Chinese metaphysics. While I’d be the first to accept that traditional methods of finding truth and value are important, I’d be the first challenge a statement that these sorts of things are scientific. By definition, they are not.

acupuncture

It’s not that controversial to label accupuncture a pseudoscience, though it has well demonstrated effects on pain. In its current formulation it’s pretty much based on Qi, (pronounced chee) “flows of energy” that are around and in all living things. While I’m not going to debate whether or not something like this exists (I think it does), these flows are not quantifiable, we haven’t observed them, and we can’t make any predictions based on them.

While acupuncture seems to work, we can’t claim to know HOW it works. Qi is undoubtedly philosophy, and as far as accupuncture relies on Qi it is simply eastern philosophy and pseudoscience.

But is EVOLUTION pseudoscience? There is consensus on this in the scientific community; and that is “No, evolution is NOT pseudoscience. And stop calling it ‘Darwinism’!'” They would know, and they can back it up. It’s science!

gn02_18

Like Gary, I was taught that belief in Darwinism was a matter of religious or philosophical conviction. And I accepted that at first, until I really started researching the matter. What I found stunned me; evolution was undoubtably scientific. It’s observable right now as well as forensically, it’s quantifiable (expressed algorithmically), and it makes predictions about the world that can be verified. And those predictions HAVE been verified, over and over again, to the point where it’s a contender for one of the “superb” scientific theories, right below general relativity and the standard model of quantum mechanics.

“Into the SUPERB category must go all those I have been discussing in the paragraphs preceding this one [that is, relativity – both varieties – and quantum mechanics]. To qualify as SUPERB, I do not deem it necessary that the theory should apply without refutation to the phenomena of the world, but I do require that the range and accuracy with which it applies should, in some appropriate sense, be _phenomenal_. The way that I am using the term `superb’, it is an extraordinary remarkable fact that there are any theories in this category at all! I am not aware of any basic theory in any other science which could properly enter this category. Perhaps the theory of natural selection, as proposed by Darwin and Wallace, comes closest, but it is still some way off.” Penrose in “Emperor’s New Mind” (Highly recommended!)

Even as general relatively and quantum mechanics do, evolution has problems. There are BIG, glaring holes in it, as there is in EVERY SINGLE scientific theory. But that’s not why Mr. Goodyear doubts macroevolution. Mr Goodyear has inadvertently made it plain he doubts evolution because of his religious beliefs. IE; he believes that Genesis is literally true, to one degree or another. He’s probably a creationist. And not the Roman Catholic kind; the Protestant kind.

gn03_01

I can find no reasonable response for this, as creationism is not subject to reason. But as Canada’s minister of science, Mr. Goodyear does not have the right to misrepresent science because of his personal religious views. Biology and genetics are INCREDIBLY important fields of study right now, and he does his country a great disservice to ignore the advances evolutionary theory has brought to these fields. If he must take this on faith, so be it; but his actions are important.

Furthermore, by making scientific claims based on religious values, he weakens his ability to make MORAL claims about science, which is where personal morality, ethics, and spirituality/religion are unquestionably important! To be more clear, one shouldn’t say they don’t believe in atomic fission because of their nonscientific convictions. That’s useless, it’s just burying your head in the sand. Instead, say that you don’t believe in atomic BOMBS because of moral, ethical and/or religious conviction!

Or DO believe in bombs, but you get my point, the decision what to do with technology and the meaning of life are more propoer fields for metaphysics and theology than the existence or nonexistence of specific scientific phenomenon.

Who Would Jesus Bomb?

Who Would Jesus Bomb?

To apply this to the theory of evolution. One should accept that natural selection is a fact, if the word “fact” is to mean anything. Besides, unless they are an evolutionary biologist, their opinion doesn’t mean squat anyway! We can certainly say religious conviction has NOTHING to do with the factual truth of scientific theories.

Instead, Goodyear could affirm science, while affirming God as the Primary Mover and the ultimate source of meaning. Instead he culd say, “Regardless of scientific facts, I believe God created us and loves us.” Or he could leave the religion part out completely, as he wanted to do in his first intervie!

Your call, Mr. Goodyear, but don’t misrepresent science. There’s enough of that as it is.

gn07_18

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AiG VII – What about Intelligent Design is Religious?

On the message boards, I have been discussing the merits of Intelligent Design with advocates of various stripes.  I am amazed at how many supporters ID has, and how they will debate even the most basic of facts.  Fact numero uno being the religious nature of Intelligent Design theory.  I have yet to find an ID advocate out there that admits to the religious content of Intelligent Design.  Here’s what I say:

1) ID is Exclusively Supported by Religious Institutions. 

Where is the money?  While we cannot judge the scientific merits of Intelligent Design based on the quality of those who support it, it’s a perfectly human thing to do, and it still directly applies to the intelligent design MOVEMENT, if not the theory.

The earliest example of the modern Intelligent Design movement came after the case Edwards v. Aguillard, which rules that Creationism could not be required in public schools because it advances a particular religion.  So the term “Creationism” was out, and they needed a new term.  

The group Foundation for Thought and Ethics had a creationist book all prepped for the public schools.  In between versions of this book, “creationism” and “creationist” were changed to refer to “intelligent design” instead, leading to this amusing cut and paste error:

The basic metabolic pathways (reaction chains) of nearly all organisms are the same. Is this because of descent from a common ancestor, or because only these pathways (and their variations) can sustain life? Evolutionists think the former is correct, cdesign proponentsists accept the latter view.

This proved to be rather damaging in a later court case,  Kitzmiller Vs Dover, whose judge clearly and eloquently categorized intelligent design as creationism.  

The Discovery Institute is the other major think-tank devoted to spreading intelligent design.  Like the FTE, the Discovery Institute likes to keep its religious foundation on the down-low, but their leaked manifesto made it very clear what their agenda is:

“To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies”

“To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God”

If you dig, this is where you end up.  Every ID supporter I have talked to or read feels that it is wrong to disallow non-materialistic (IE: “supernatural”) scientific explanations.   They all believe we were created by God.  They feel this as a direct result of their religious convictions, or might even say this conviction LED them to religion in the first place.   Religion is the very foundation of the Intelligent Design movement, which would not exist without it.

2) ID is the teleological argument.

The actual philosophy of intelligent design can be reduced to the teleological argument for the existence of a Creator.  The philosophy of intelligent design is religious in nature, because the teleological argument is religious in nature; it makes specific claims about God.  The intelligent design form is subtly different than the standard formulation, though:

  1. Complexity implies a designer.
  2. The universe is highly complex.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a designer

“So one elephant having a trunk was odd; but all elephants having trunks looked like a plot.” 

G. K. Chesterton

I’m no philosophy major, but even I can see that this formulation has some serious problems, even more problems than the original argument!  It’s because of this:

  1. Complexity implies a designer.
  2. The designer is highly complex.
  3. Therefore, the designer has a designer.

The fault lies with the implication that complexity requires design, design, of course.  IE: the assumption is; something complex requires something even more complex to create it.  For this reason, “complexity implies a designer”.  Conversely, if it is assumed that complex systems can come from SIMPLER systems, then complexity no longer implies a designer…there would be other possibilities. 

So it’s inescapable; the designer must be more complex than the designed in order for complexity to imply a designer.  But the problem is, this means the existence of a designer implies that the DESIGNER has a DESIGNER, which needs a DESIGNER, which doesn’t actually answer the fundamental question…where did the complexity of life come from?  

PS: evolution doesn’t answer the origin of life issue either, so ID shouldn’t feel to bad.  Stuart Kauffman’s into something, though…and it’s DEEP.  Engravings on the Stone Table deep.  

3) Obfuscation of language.

One of the traits of any movement is the modification of language that happens among it’s followers.  Religious movements are no exception to this rule, and neither is Intelligent Design.  But in order to see the stamp of religion on ID, it’s important to look at how two words are being redefined:

Creationism: 1) the doctrine that matter and all things were created, substantially as they now exist, by an omnipotent Creator, and not gradually evolved or developed. 2) (sometimes initial capital letterthe doctrine that the true story of the creation of the universe is as it is recounted in the Bible, esp. in the first chapter of Genesis.

Go onto any Intelligent Design website and search for the word “Creationism“.  You will find tons of comments about how ID is NOT creationism.  It’s important to realize, though; what they mean is that ID is not Young Earth Creationism.  Nevertheless, ID IS A FORM OF CREATIONISM.  It very specifically states that the creator designed life MUCH AS IT IS NOW, that the present day universe did not come about randomly.  

So while they pedantically argue that they’ve updated their science to avoid such embarassments as talking animals, a literal flood and a viable genetic population of two, it’s important to realize that the general definition of creationism certainly applies to intelligent design. 

Darwinism: “the Darwinian theory that species originate by descent, with variation, from parent forms, through the natural selection of those individuals best adapted for the reproductive success of their kind.”

Your average ID proponent will NEVER use the term “the modern synthesis”.  They will OCCASIONALLY call it “evolutionism” (NOT “evolution”), but will virtually always refer to the modern synthesis as “Darwinism”.  Furthermore, they will vigorously attack fundamentals of darwin’s theory like descent with modification and natural selection.  

However, they will pretty much ignore the advances in evolution since the time of Darwin.  This serves a very important purpose; to make evolution an “ism” instead of a science.  Into a personality cult, if you will.

This completely ignores that evolution is THE foundational cornerstone of modern genetics and biology.  It it is easy to compare Darwin to Newton and Einstein; his theory was revolutionary and helped create entire fields of science.  Make no mistake; evolution IS science, NOT “The cult of Darwinism”.  It is so widely accepted because it explains so much.

Here’s what is being done with the language: Creation theory is scientific, Darwinism is a personality cult that doesn’t deserve the title of science.  But if you look under the hood at both intelligent design and evolution you’ll find the exact opposite of this.  The advocates of intelligent design ARE Creationists.  Evolutionary theory IS science, just as much as physics, geology, and astronomy are science!  

The very nature of the vocabulary points back to the religious aspects of Intelligent Design.  The only explanation for the world is that an intelligent designer made complex life MUCH AS IT NOW IS.  OR…the best explanation is that simpler processes developed into more complex processes through descent with modification and survival of the more optimal genes.   Decide what you wish, but do no buy into the obfuscation, the former option is basically rebranded creationism and the later option is a wonderfully fecund scientific theory.

Dobson on Obama

The AP has an article out on what Dr. Dobson is saying about Obama. This might seem surprising, but Dr. Dobson is is VERY influential with the religious right voting bloc, and his endorsement would bring a lot of voters with it.

Of course, we know Dobson would never support Obama because of one issue…Abortion. The love child of Franky and Francis Schaeffer, abortion has become the number one political issue among evangelicals. Starving kids in Africa and dead babies in the rubble of Iraq don’t quite overcome this issue.

This is hard for me to understand; as someone who is pro-life in principle but votes pro-choice more often than not. This is because I feel that there are more important issues, frankly, ones that affect millions of children worldwide and in the US. The divisiveness and ideological purity of the anti-choice and pro-death movements have done this country a big disservice, in my opinion.

Anyway, instead I’ll ignore the elephant in the room, and focus on two comments Obama made about the Bible that Dobson took offense with.

The first is actually from the Hebrew Torah; the irony of which all parties appear to be oblivious of. Leviticus is a rather difficult book to read, but not for the reasons you might think. Leviticus contains the laws for the Priests, and the laws of Holiness (In a deeper irony still, Judaism doesn’t expect non-Jews to keep these types of laws).. These are very ornate, elaborate rules involving all aspects of life. Most Christians do not follow about 99% of Leviticus, as they think Jesus came to do away, err, I mean, “fulfill” Jewish Law.

One of the parts they do not follow is this:

Leviticus 19:19 “…Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with another sort; thou shalt not sow thy field with seed of two sorts; and a garment woven of two materials shall not come upon thee.”

Oops, I meant this one, more pertinent to Obama’s statement:

Leviticus 19:20 “And if a man lie with a woman for copulation, and she is a bondwoman betrothed to a husband, but not at all ransomed, nor hath freedom been given to her, there shall be a chastisement: they shall not be put to death, for she was not free.”

to answer your question, yes, this is about the proper chastisement for having sex with your BETROTHED slave (he needs to give a ram to the priests to sacrifice, btw. Duh!). There is no mention of the proper chastisement of a non-betrothed slave, which is actually a very important point of ancient tribal law related to women as property; one I can’t cover here.

Actually, Obama was probably talking about this doozy:

Leviticus 25:44 ” And as for thy bondman and thy handmaid whom thou shalt have — of the nations that are round about you, of them shall ye buy bondmen and handmaids.”

As a BLACK man in a WHITE culture that used to BUY and OWN BLACK “BONDSMAN”, I could see this passage troubling Obama. While Jewish slaves were set free after 7 years or so, non-Jewish slaves were slaves for life, and their children were slaves too, and their children, and their children. And the Bible only makes an exception for Jews. not cool.

Secondly, Obama talked about Jesus’ sermon on the mount; which actually IS Christian scripture, unlike the previous verses:

Matthew 5:5 “Blessed the meek, for *they* shall inherit the earth”

Matthew 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Until the heaven and the earth pass away, one iota or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all come to pass.”

Wait a minute, if Jesus said that heaven and earth would disappear before the laws of Moses would be changed, does this include the laws about owning only foreign slaves? One gets the idea that Jesus had other things in mind:

Jesus then says this: “But *I* say unto you, that every one that is lightly angry with his brother shall be subject to the judgment; but whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be subject to [be called before] the sanhedrim; but whosoever shall say, Fool, shall be subject to the penalty of the hell of fire.”

To be angry with your brother is enough to warrant death and eternal judgment. One can argue about this all night, but I actually think Jesus was using the tactic of making a law so terribly strict that it can never be practiced against anyone without causing injury to oneself. The author of John seems to think so:

“But when they continued asking him, he lifted himself up and said to them, Let him that is without sin among you first cast the stone at her.” (John 8:7)

Actually, Obama probably meant this:

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed the peace-makers, for *they* shall be called sons of God.”

I do not see how Dr. Dobson could be angry at using these scriptures in the context that they were supposed to be used in. Christianity was a very peaceful religion, at least up to the time it merged with Rome. Even today there are many anti-war Christian sects, like the Quakers. The message of peace and brotherly love is undeniably a part of Jesus’ message. More from the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:38-44

“Ye have heard that it has been said, Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But *I* say unto you, not to resist evil; but whoever shall strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other; and to him that would go to law with thee and take thy body coat, leave him thy cloak also. And whoever will compel thee to go one mile, go with him two. To him that asks of thee give, and from him that desires to borrow of thee turn not away. Ye have heard that it has been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy. But *I* say unto you, Love your enemies, [bless those who curse you,] do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who [insult you and] persecute you,”

Some would claim that it is ridiculous way for a nation to act; that Jesus only expected this within reason, or only for individuals, or only in heaven, not in the dramatic immediate way he presents it here. I remind these people that, if you believe the bible is infallible and perfect, that you are the ones denying the actual words of G-d through Moses and Jesus, not me or Obama. Dramatic hyperbole or not, Jesus meant to transform society. And Obama is right; this is not a goal our “defense” department is currently supporting at all.

I agree that we cannot always act like this, but I it is a good goal to have; one that makes us better even though we cannot attain it.

Impeach Bush. Please

I’m happy to say that my senator has voted “Yeah!”, to refer the Kucinich’s articles of impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee. There is will most likely die, alas!

But maybe not; we brought impeachment charges against Clinton for having sex outside of marriage and LYING about it. Gasp! Lying about cheating on your wife; a heinous crime to be sure, but let us compare it to the charges that could be brought against GWB.
full text here:

Please do not turn off your mind while reading this brutal list. At least some of it is most certainly true, and have been commented on in this blog and in many other places. And if even some of this is true, it is certainly grounds for impeachment, if not criminal proceedings.

Article I
Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq.

Article II
Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression.

Article III
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War.

Article IV
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States.

Article V
Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression.

Article VI
Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of H. J. Res114.

Article VII
Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration of War.

Article VIII
Invading Iraq, A Sovereign Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter.

Article IX
Failing to Provide Troops With Body Armor and Vehicle Armor.

Article X
Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes.

Article XI
Establishment of Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq.

Article XII
Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation’s Natural Resources.

Article XIIII
Creating a Secret Task Force to Develop Energy and Military Policies With Respect to Iraq and Other Countries.

Article XIV
Misprision of a Felony, Misuse and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Article XV
Providing Immunity from Prosecution for Criminal Contractors in Iraq.

Article XVI
Reckless Misspending and Waste of U.S. Tax Dollars in Connection With Iraq and US Contractors.

Article XVII
Illegal Detention: Detaining Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and Foreign Captives.

Article XVIII
Torture: Secretly Authorizing, and Encouraging the Use of Torture Against Captives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Other Places, as a Matter of Official Policy.

Article XIX
Rendition: Kidnapping People and Taking Them Against Their Will to “Black Sites” Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice Torture.

Article XX
Imprisoning Children.

Article XXI
Misleading Congress and the American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the Iranian Government.

Article XXII
Creating Secret Laws.

Article XXIII
Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.

Article XXIV
Spying on American Citizens, Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the Law and the Fourth Amendment.

Article XXV
Directing Telecommunications Companies to Create an Illegal and Unconstitutional Database of the Private Telephone Numbers and Emails of American Citizens.

Article XXVI
Announcing the Intent to Violate Laws with Signing Statements.

Article XXVII
Failing to Comply with Congressional Subpoenas and Instructing Former Employees Not to Comply.

Article XXVIII
Tampering with Free and Fair Elections, Corruption of the Administration of Justice.

Article XXIX
Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Article XXX
Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare.

Article XXXI
Katrina: Failure to Plan for the Predicted Disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Failure to Respond to a Civil Emergency.

Article XXXII
Misleading Congress and the American People, Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address Global Climate Change.

Article XXXIII
Repeatedly Ignored and Failed to Respond to High Level Intelligence Warnings of Planned Terrorist Attacks in the US, Prior to 911.

Article XXXIV
Obstruction of the Investigation into the Attacks of September 11, 2001.

Article XXXV
Endangering the Health of 911 First Responders.

Five Things Religions Shouldn’t Do

I’ve been participating on the religious bulletins at amazon.com. There are some very intelligent people who hang out in the that forum, which I guess is not to surprising, as it is amazon. There are also some very dumb people. It’s quite fun!

All the discussions over there inspired me to write this amazing authoritative ideological masterpiece about what religions should not do. I know, I know, you can give me the Nobel Peace Prize later.

1) Holy War

Please, as a world, can we finally just decide that killing each other over religion is a really bad idea? These meme should not be difficult it spread, especially if the religious “Moral Majority” vocally denounce those in their group who advocate any type of religious violence.

2) Government

A good modern day example of why theocracies are a bad idea is Saudi Arabia. Christianity joined up with Rome within a few hundred years of its birth. Islam was a religion with political goals right from the start. Outside of that dynasties ruled as gods, going back to the earliest agricultural city-states. So the idea that religion should not be running governments is relatively new. There is a very good reason for this, though, and that leads to the next thing religions shouldn’t do.

3) Persecute

No religious group should ever persecute another religious group, ever, for any reason. Due to the traditionally hybrid nature of church and state, persecution of other religions became an excuse for invasion and war. See the genocide in Joshua for a pertinent example, but there are many others. But there is more to persecution than War. Ostracizing people, considering them second class citizens, telling them they are going to hell. You shouldn’t treat other people bad simply because they don’t believe your religion, or believe something weird. Persecution should not be allowed, including persecutions for religious reasons.

4) Science

Let’s face it, Science and Religion are always going too have an uneasy relationship. Myself, I’m a firm believer in NOMA. But it’s important to remember that the Catholic Church still has egg on its face for prosecuting Galileo. If fact, religion as a whole was discredited for that move, so they should be very careful when making claims that can be checked by Science. If you need an approximation of objective truth, use the scientific method. If you’re looking for meaning and purpose, philosophy and/or religion are your best bet.

5) Control Adherents:

I’ve been following the Anon vs. Scientology protests, and I’ve really been thinking about how much control people give to their religions. Many of them are so intertwined that it completely consumes their life, even coming before family and friends! In the “religious practices” meaning of the word, these behaviors mark the members of “cults”, where religious behavior is reflected in every single thing the adherent does, to reflect their complete devotion. This sort of control is NOT HEALTHY, and religions should not venerate this behavior, or require it. Other inputs are necessary to have a full and well-balanced view of the world.

We’d all be a lot better of if religions didn’t do these things. Anything else?

Arius and Athanasius: Early Christian Disputes

Original Posted Date: June 5, 2006 – Monday – 11:02 AM

It was about 300 years after the death of Christ, and things were going pretty well for the Christian church. In the West, persecution by Rome had ceased due to Constantine’s Edict of Milan, which ended all religious persecution across the empire and restored the wealth that had been stolen in previous years.

As is human nature, now that they weren’t under direct threat Christians started arguing with each other. The Bible had not been canonized yet, so there were many different “flavors” of Christianity, not yet one catholic (Greek for “universal”) faith.

It was a theologian named Arius started all the trouble. His question appeared harmless at first glance, “How could Jesus Christ have been God in the same way as God the Father”.

Arius was actually very moderate for the time; he did not deny the divinity of Christ, but considered him a “lesser god”. And he was able to use accepted scriptures of the time to back himself up. Being a musician, he set this to song and the debate spread across the land.

Arius’ bishop had an assistant named Athanasius, who strongly disagreed with Arius. Jesus Christ was fully and completely God, and also fully and completely Man. He was equal with the Creator, as was the Holy Spirit. Thus the concept of the “Trinity” was made concrete. Athanasius also believed that to deny the full divinity of Christ was to earn eternal damnation.

A theological war broke out, with both sides supported at some points and banished at others. Athanasius himself was banished at least 5 times, although not all banishments were due to theology. This controversy went on for quite some time, and for some believers it continues to this day.

Near the end of his life, Arius gained a chance to sway things his way, with Constantine calling him back from exile and commanding Athanasius to reconcile Arius with the Church. Athanasius refused to do this; and Arius gained entrace with the Emporor. After he presented his Creed, Constantine declared his works orthodox and ordered Alexander (Arius’ and Athanasius’ old bishop) to give Arius communion. But quite suddenly Arius died under unusual and embarrasing circumstances, most likely due to poisoning.

So in the newly forming Universal Church, Athanasius view of God prevailed; and he went on to be a very influential theologian; even to being the first to identify the New Testament Canon, and today he is considered “The Father of Orthodoxy”.
Whether or not he murdered Arius, Athanasius has been criticized for using physical force, bribery, and excommunication to enforce “Gods” will. His defense was that he was saving future Christian souls from Hell; a justification repeated many times throughout history. Father of Orthodoxy indeed.

Answers in Genesis: Part VI – Religion and Intelligent Design

<–Intelligent Design Landing Page

In spite of what you might get from some of my posts, I am not against Religion. Sure, I’ve read Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and even some Daniel Dennett (although I’m more of a Douglas Hoffstadter fan). I’ve read Camus, Marx, Ayn Rand, Arthur C. Clarke, RH, blah blah,…godless atheists all.

But I’ve also read the Bible, virtually all of it, much of it more than once. And I’ve studied it, and studied heurmeneutics. And I’ve read C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Donald Miller, Oswald Chambers, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Francis AND Frank Schaeffer, blah blah Christians all, mostly Protestants.

And I’ve studied Christian history extensively, higher criticism, historical-grammatical interpretations, Arius and Athanasius for everyone, blah blah.  OK, I’m done bragging, but I have a decent reason for it.

One of the things I’ve learned in all this is that there is nothing simple about Christianity, or any other religion. And there is nothing simple about secular humanism and skepticism. I read a lot of atheists and agnostic saying really foolish things about religion, and that irritates me. Conversely I go home at Christmas and hear a lot of foolish things about “liberals”.

Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [i.e. biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.

Crouch: That’s right.

You should not be required to give up your intellectual freedom to join a religion. Not that you get to do anything you want, every religion prohibits certain activity. But censoring or “spinning” information is a bad sign, and a religion that demands conformity in everything should make you run away. A good example of this is the Scientologist who work for the church and have their internet access strongly censored if they try to do research on Scientology. Hmmmm….

You should not be required to give up you intellectual freedom to be a scientist. This should go without saying, but there is a lot of talk out there about “Fundamentalist Darwinism”. The sad thing is that there is some truth there; many “popular science” textbooks on evolution make it seem like there is only one proper way to think about this stuff, and that it’s all figured out! The fact is, revolutions are difficult, evolution is difficult, even in science. Rigor is definitely important, but we should be more accepting of new hypothesis, even when they seem rather silly. not that the actual PRACTICE of science needs to change much; what we really need is better PR, like the religious folks have. I mean, not very many people have full time jobs to preach about science.

Religion and Science are not INHERENTLY in conflict. Morality and Science are not in conflict. Neither is Philosophy and Science, or Art and Science; they speak about different, though related, things! I like S.J. Gould’s concept of NOMA:

“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. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty).”

I like this a lot, but I disagree as to how much science and religion overlap. Things are not as clear cut as they might seem, science and religion are going to have to play nice. Some scientific claims do have religious consequences, and some religious claims have scientific consequences.

Due to science, religions need to be very careful about the factually verifiable statements it makes. As covered in earlier blogs on Young Earth Creationism, a literal interpretation of Genesis (undeniably a religious belief) had significant predictive ability. For example, nothing in the universe would be older than 6,000 years, and life, the universe, stars, earth, that everything came into existence at the same time. Our very genes would be a testimony to our two common ancestors, Adam and Eve.

Crouch: What can people of faith do? What do you hope comes from this film?

Stein: Well, we hope that people who have children in schools will tell their children that if the teacher says Darwinism created everything and that there is no explanation for anything in the scientific world except Darwinism, that the student will say, well, Ms. Smith — or whatever the teacher’s name is — how did life begin? What keeps the planets in their orbits? Is there any proof of a separate species ever being seen to evolve?

Of course, if you LITERALLY read Genesis 1 and 2, you see that YHWH created plants, then animals, then man last; and at the same time created man first. then the plants, and animals last. So you have to understand it at least a little metaphorically; otherwise you believe that God created everything twice, in different ways both times (NOTE: Some people believe this very thing, that God created man once, then had to create him again after a pre-diluvian mass disaster, but I digress).

So to the question is “how much allegory should we allow while interpreting the Bible”. I say, “as much as possible”. For example, believing that Genesis is allegory could still supports the redemption theology of original sin, and it still supports the idea that we are special creations. Religions must frankly admit that they got some things wrong, in order to defend those things they got right. Not as unquestioning dogma, but as a living community.

On the side of Science, it’s important to respect the metaphorical and ethical domain of religion. While survival of the fittest genes is a demonstrable evolutionary fact, turning this into the ultimate philosophy to live by is a big leap of FAITH. If atheists like this exist, they are rare polemicists, and are at least evenly matched by religious counterparts.

But even when accepting a very fuzzy line between religion and science, Intelligent Design clearly falls on the Religion side! Science will tell us more about our origins than religion ever has. But this should not negate the value of mythic origin stories; as they have value as archetypes and moral tales if nothing else.

Stein: …Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

Crouch: Good word, good word.