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Scientific American

Darwin on the Right

published October 2006 | comments (38)
Why Christians and conservatives should accept evolution
magazine cover

According to a 2005 Pew Research Center poll, 70 percent of evangelical Christians believe that living beings have always existed in their present form, compared with 32 percent of Protestants and 31 percent of Catholics. Politically, 60 percent of Republicans are creationists, whereas only 11 percent accept evolution, compared with 29 percent of Democrats who are creationists and 44 percent who accept evolution. A 2005 Harris Poll found that 63 percent of liberals but only 37 percent of conservatives believe that humans and apes have a common ancestry. What these figures confirm for us is that there are religious and political reasons for rejecting evolution. Can one be a conservative Christian and a Darwinian? Yes. Here’s how.

  1. Evolution fits well with good theology. Christians believe in an omniscient and omnipotent God. What difference does it make when God created the universe — 10,000 years ago or 10,000,000,000 years ago? The glory of the creation commands reverence regardless of how many zeroes in the date. And what difference does it make how God created life — spoken word or natural forces? The grandeur of life’s complexity elicits awe regardless of what creative processes were employed. Christians (indeed, all faiths) should embrace modern science for what it has done to reveal the magnificence of the divine in a depth and detail unmatched by ancient texts.
  2. Creationism is bad theology. The watchmaker God of intelligent-design creationism is delimited to being a garage tinkerer piecing together life out of available parts. This God is just a genetic engineer slightly more advanced than we are. An omniscient and omnipotent God must be above such humanlike constraints. As Protestant theologian Langdon Gilkey wrote, “The Christian idea, far from merely representing a primitive anthropomorphic projection of human art upon the cosmos, systematically repudiates all direct analogy from human art.” Calling God a watchmaker is belittling.
  3. Evolution explains original sin and the Christian model of human nature. As a social primate, we evolved within-group amity and between-group enmity. By nature, then, we are cooperative and competitive, altruistic and selfish, greedy and generous, peaceful and bellicose; in short, good and evil. Moral codes and a society based on the rule of law are necessary to accentuate the positive and attenuate the negative sides of our evolved nature.
  4. Evolution explains family values. The following characteristics are the foundation of families and societies and are shared by humans and other social mammals: attachment and bonding, cooperation and reciprocity, sympathy and empathy, conflict resolution, community concern and reputation anxiety, and response to group social norms. As a social primate species, we evolved morality to enhance the survival of both family and community. Subsequently, religions designed moral codes based on our evolved moral natures.
  5. Evolution accounts for specific Christian moral precepts. Much of Christian morality has to do with human relationships, most notably truth telling and marital fidelity, because the violation of these principles causes a severe breakdown in trust, which is the foundation of family and community. Evolution describes how we developed into pair-bonded primates and how adultery violates trust. Likewise, truth telling is vital for trust in our society, so lying is a sin.
  6. Evolution explains conservative free-market economics. Charles Darwin’s “natural selection” is precisely parallel to Adam Smith’s “invisible hand.” Darwin showed how complex design and ecological balance were unintended consequences of competition among individual organisms. Smith showed how national wealth and social harmony were unintended consequences of competition among individual people. Nature’s economy mirrors society’s economy. Both are designed from the bottom up, not the top down.

Because the theory of evolution provides a scientific foundation for the core values shared by most Christians and conservatives, it should be embraced. The senseless conflict between science and religion must end now, or else, as the Book of Proverbs (11:29) warned: “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.”

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38 Comments to “Darwin on the Right”

  1. BillyG Says:

    I’m afraid you are preaching to the converted. The people you want reach are morons and beyond hope.

  2. Richard Lyons Says:

    I’m afraid they are not all morons, BillyG. What they do share is the (acquired) skill to switch off their critical faculties whenever a conflict might occur with the balderdash they have chosen to accept in place of reality.

  3. frank Says:

    just wanted to comment on point 2 and i suspect that this will have spin-offs to all the other points directly or indirectly.
    I suggest that your concept of “god” is too restrictive. as i understand it, not only did god organise the manifestation of the “parts”, but fine tuned and sustains the fundamental laws of physics on which our space-time portion of reality depends.

    with respect,
    frank

  4. Anvil Springstien Says:

    the problem with appealing to religions to recognise the god of Spinoza – a god of Nature – which is what I read in Shermers proposition, is that when we hold out a hand to religions (even an invisible one) they will soon have it off! Give them an inch and they will wrap you around their little theological finger. A point on the statistics; we have for years watched with horrer from this side of the Atlantic, the growth of religious literalism in the US whilst behind our backs the Blair theocracy smuggled religion into our schools where our children are now taught such nonsense as intelligent design and flood geology! A country – the UK – that had paid lip service to religion whilst pursuing a secular form of separation of church and state had been sucker-punched by its own unwritten constitution which would leave Catholicism a major force in British politics with cabinet ministers and MP’s taking their lead not from their constituents or indeed the liberal traditions of the oldest parliamentary democracy in the world, but from priests, bishops, the pope, and from an imaginary Guy in the Sky. The reaction from religionists who now feel powerful has been swift; they intervene heavily in the debate on abortion; on stem cell research; on Civil Partnership – just recently a Registrar refused to marry Gay couples, was taken to court and won “a victory for religious freedom”. We gave them an inch… America, you have a constitution, please use it – you are our only hope!

  5. Anvil Springstien Says:

    please excuse me; ‘horror’…

  6. Alain Kradolfer Says:

    America cannot be anyone’s hope. Its people are by large extremely ignorant. Less than 10% of American households own a corkscrew, the device used to open a bottle of decent wine and this is an example of how this once wonderful nation has become simultaneously barbarian and decadent, a first in World history, I believe. Do not laugh at this silly example. It’s one illustration of a country rife with crime and riddled by trailer parks and mindless drug addicts – and religious zealots – because ignorance is the ideal breeding ground for religion and intolerance. Meanwhile, those few who are educated are too busy stuffing their pockets by any whatever means legal or not to care about anything else.
    May I suggest that you look a bit further North, to Canada, for a land of liberty and enlightenment – even though, hélas, we now have a federal government with Western roots and US-type conservatism. Still, Canada is the only light in America. Check us out! This is the coun try where creationism and such fallacies are met with disdainful scorn.

  7. Anvil Springstien Says:

    Yes Alain, I agree. I was being flippant. That said, there are many americans who see and understand what is going onand rail against it with all their might. America was a wonderful experiment born of the enlightenment and its founding fathers are amongst my greatest heroes. Let us not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Paine and Franklin et al are up there with Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Wallace, Mendel, Einstein and the rest – and the Constitution and The Bill of Rights stand amongst the greatest documents of all humanity. Canada may be a beacon of enlightenment but we can not give up on America and I for one am prepared to send over the odd corkscrew as and when I can.

  8. John Farrell Says:

    May I suggest that you look a bit further North, to Canada, for a land of liberty and enlightenment…

    Tell that to Mark Steyn.

  9. Eire_rich Says:

    I understand that it may be useful to use baby steps to slowly ween the people of faith off their addiction…but I get the feeling that this article is only helping people justify their faith.

    In my opinion, faith is not helpful and it removes the motivation to know. Faith has nothing to do with the truth. In fact, it is all about avoiding the truth or wishing for one’s preferred ‘truth’. Although I recognize that this article was intended to inject reason into faith, my feeling is that religious faith and reason are incompatible. There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘I don’t know’ about the origin of the universe or the appearance of man…and there is nothing wrong with suggesting that there may not be a divine reason (or a reason at all) for our presence at this time. In fact, I think that removing the supernatural from the equation only adds to the mystery and magnificence of the Universe and drives me to know more…(perhaps that is what the religious fear: the quest to know more)

    As for Canada being a beacon of hope…I tend to agree that we are less at risk than our American friends…but we are by no means out of the woods. I know a person who works for Immigration Canada (no less) that told me that there wasn’t a shred of evidence that supports Evolution, and then he went on to extoll the virtues of the movie ‘Expelled’. Needless to say, I smiled and slowly backed away….wish I had my bear spray! Let it be known that the Canadian Public Service has been infiltrated!

  10. Ken Hughes Says:

    In mid-2003, after a decade spent in Fort Lauderdale, home of the incredible James Randi and the equally incredible and wonderful JREF, my missus and I moved to Decatur, Texas behind the fundamentalist baptist curtain. I considered the JREF to be my “Escape from the darkness” only to move into the source of darkness in Texas. I learned why so many mega-churches and televangelist operations are to be found in Texas.

    I have come to the inescapable conclusion that given the incredible depth of church-sponsored and force-fed ignorance from the Texas State House down to the average person in the Texas street, there is very little hope of a new enlightenment coming to America before it self-destructs because of the people’s willful ignorance of everyday reality. The Texas Supreme Court just gave a nod to exorcism in which people are abused and very badly treated by “deciding’ it’s protected by the First Amendment. Such idiots as we have here are immediately hostile to anything but their own version of creationism and any form of evolution is “spawn of Satan.”

  11. sidfaiwu Says:

    Have you spent much time in America, Alain? If so, what parts? I’m afraid you have an unbalanced image of my country. Sure, amongst industrialized nations, our culture is the most violent, religious, and undereducated, but by truly national standards, we are not ‘barbarous’ by a long shot.

    Despite your characterization, trailer parks and drug addicts are exceptions and not the rule, as are (to an unfortunate lesser extent) religious zealots. I take particular exception to claim that the ‘few’ who are educated are unscrupulous and greedy. There are many of us working to improve the culture: Michael Shermer, P.Z. Myers, Sam Harris, John Brockman, Lori Lipman Brown, even the recently-naturalized Christopher Hitchens and our shared Steven Pinker are just a few the better-known ones.

    Canada is a great country. I have a lot of admiration for their much more reasonable laws (aside from their limitations of free speech) and more sensible culture (hockey and better beer!). Your country definitely serves as a beacon of reason for this continent. But don’t give up on the U.S. just yet. We will change this culture for the better.

    P.S. I’ve have never wanted for a cork screw in any American home I’ve ever been in. Seriously, did you form your opinions based on a visit to Montana or something?

  12. Eire_rich Says:

    Good for you Sidfaiwu…keep up the good work and unscrewing corks! To be fair, Canada has it’s back-country rednecks too…See my previous post…and I still have enormous hope for the U.S. (if we can discourage people from watching FOX news and Jerry Falwell)

    I am not certain about your remark regarding free-speech though. I personally have never felt any political pressure to hush up or toe the line…Could you provide an example?

  13. Ron Walker Says:

    I think the problem is more emotional than intellectual. The folks who reject evolution often do so because they have been taught by people they love and respect that to accept it will loose their place in heaven, their hope of eternal significance, their favor and love in God’s eyes, and their respect and esteem from their friends, family, entire culture. This is a LOT to loose. I grew up in this, and it has been very, very hard.

    I think Shermer’s work is good, especially since he never becomes personallly insulting or berating towards others, despite how they treat him (e.g. he does a better job of turning the other cheek than the “Christians” do). However, this takes time. I think the non-adversarial, open dialogue approach of Shermer’s, where he just keeps presenting the facts in a non-confrontational style, will eventually bear fruit. But, it does take time.

    Remember, we are a lot further down the right road than we were 50 years ago.

  14. Rob Sherwood Says:

    1 http://citizensforscience.org/conservatives_against_intelligent_design_caid. Original site unfortunately down.

    2. Be careful what you wish for:
    http://www.johnderbyshire.com/Opinions/HumanSciences/darwin.html

    3. Discussions like this miss the point of science and religion. Scientific theories like evolution do not sustain hope for normal people. Darwin rightly said “there is a kind of grandeur in this view of life…”, but it’s not the kind of grandeur that resonates with most people. People like me, non-scientists who follow science closely, are oddballs, like stamp collectors. We’re harmless, but our obsession isn’t a virtue, just a hobby. Religion offers the benefit of a culturally rooted narrative which presents a positive spin on how we arrived at our current location, and where we and our offspring are headed. Darwin, by contrast, informs us that we’re here by accident, and it’s very likely that we’ll disappear before too long, regardless of our virtues or vices. If you and I weren’t obsessed with facts, which would we choose? Remeber, there’s no penalty for disbelieving evolution unless you’re a researcher in some biological specialty.

    4. Please don’t suggest that darwinian theory supports your views on abortion, stem cell research, or Civil Partnership. It is completely silent on all of those issues. Do you really believe you could compose a darwinian endorsement of abortion or gay marriage? The theory is all about differential rates of reproduction between individuals for goodness sake. From that perspective, how would Darwin’s theory endorse any of those things? Your perspective of social virtues is your own, not Darwin’s.

    5. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go home and destroy my corkscrews.

  15. Mark Hausam Says:

    Shermer’s condescending tone in this piece does not help his case. Shermer is an atheist and does not believe in “the divine,” so why does he talk about how evolution brings more glory to the divine? He is trying to talk like his imagined impression of a “Christian fundamentalist,” hoping that if he acts like one of them while rooting for his own belief in evolution, he will be able to rally them behind him. His attempt is ridiculously belittling to Christian fundamentalists and reveals that he thinks of many of them as remarkably stupid. I much prefer the honesty and straightforwardness of Dawkins to Shermer’s condescending attitude. At least Dawkins wants to have an honest conversation with his opponents, whereas Shermer’s approach is to treat them like children who must be psychologically manipulated into believing what he wants them to believe.

  16. Eire_rich Says:

    Mark Hausam:

    You forget that Michael Shermer was raised amongst funadmentalist evangelicals. He is therefore in a very good position to understand their point of view.

  17. sidfaiwu Says:

    Hello Eire_rich,

    If I were in Canada, I would likely never feel the restrictions on free-speech either. Mostly I’m thinking of laws against hate-speech.

    http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/proactive_initiatives/hoi_hsi/page10-en.asp?highlight=1

    I’m not comfortable with a government deciding what is and what is not ‘hate’ speech. The link above indicates that blog comments and posts are included in considering what is potentially prosecutable speech. There are many who consider even mild criticism of religion as ‘hateful’. I’ve even heard some in the U.S. claim that enforcing equality for homosexuals is hateful because it discriminates against their religious beliefs.

    I am by no means knowledgeable about the level of enforcement of these laws, so I may be overly concerned about nothing. But it’s laws like these (on the books in most democracies) that give me pause.

  18. Anvil Springstien Says:

    I tend to agree with Eire_rich that this article helps people justify ‘faith’. It says “look, your faith can fit in with this knowledge” – but faith is the enemy of knowledge; Don’t ask questions – just believe. Don’t seek the truth – just believe. Don’t think for yourself – just believe. I think it is a bad strategy to try to co-opt faith into science. It lends it a respect it doesn’t deserve. Faith is against evidence and against reason and should merit the opposite of respect.

    As regards the ‘non-confrontational style eventually bearing fruit’, I’m not so sure? We are living in a resurgence of religiosity; Recently the British Liberal Democratic Party elected a new leader. At his first press conference a hack asked “Do you believe in God?” his reply; “No. Next question…” Great, you might think – except that 15 years ago no one would have dreamt of asking the question in the first place!

    Anyway, what’s the address in Montana that I need to send the corkscrews to? I’ve also got a spare Salmon Baster but I’m not too sure what that would imply?

  19. Anvil Springstien Says:

    Rob Sherwood Says:
    July 30th, 2008 at 6:51 am

    4. “Please don’t suggest that darwinian theory supports your views on abortion, stem cell research, or Civil Partnership. It is completely silent on all of those issues. Do you really believe you could compose a darwinian endorsement of abortion or gay marriage? The theory is all about differential rates of reproduction between individuals for goodness sake. From that perspective, how would Darwin’s theory endorse any of those things? Your perspective of social virtues is your own, not Darwin’s.”

    I won’t. It is. I don’t. It is. It doesn’t. It is.

    But then, that’s not what I said, is it.

  20. Rob Sherwood Says:

    Anvil:

    You didn’t. I misread. I retract.

  21. Eire_rich Says:

    sidfaiwu:

    I see your meaning. The application of such legislation is subject to much legal interpretation and application probably varies according to who is in power at the time.

    That being said…I know of no single case where anyone was prosecuted for debating ideas. The only cases I know of where Hate Speech was invoked was when the message was explicitly discriminating against specific people or groups…as in Ernst Zundel. I know of no cases where people have been accused of producing hate material for criticizing the validity of an idea, regardless of how vehement the criticsm was. Perhjps there are some, but I am simply unaware.

    This is not to say that we have nothing to worry about…but if Ann Coulter’s books can be bought and sold in Canada, I think that the threshold for what is considered to be hate speech must be pretty high before the Authorities take action.

  22. Thomas Wamm Says:

    Any religion is a mixture of zillions of ideas, such that no two people can share the exact same religion because each will have at least a few slightly different ideas about one thing or another. For this reason, just as biological species evolve based on gene frequencies within gene pools, religions also evolve over time as their various component ideas gain or lose prominence.

    Methinks that Shermer seeks to influence the long term evolution of religions by trying to make the idea of evolution more acceptable to religious people. And methinks that is a good strategy, though it should not be the only strategy.

    So I shall take Shermer’s lead, and whenever an opportunity arises I shall try to inject his arguments into whatever science vs. religion debate I find myself.

  23. Thomas Wamm Says:

    A related argument with which I have experimented is the notion (not originated by me) that religion is a product of evolution (more specifically: memetic evolution). Evolution explains the existence and diversity of religions, even while traditional religions typically are ignorant of the concept of evolution.

    While it might be interesting to try to invent a new religion that embraces evolution while satisfying human spiritual needs, Shermer’s strategy of injecting evolution into existing religions might be more successful sooner.

    Traditional religions, however, tend to be hostile to new outside ideas not supported by old scriptures. A concurrent strategy, besides injecting new ideas like evolution, is to raise and cultivate doubts that traditional religions are totally correct and complete. Believers need to be encouraged to improve their religions, or at least seek verification of correctness. After all, how can they be sure they have the complete uncorrupted word of God? There are so many humans involved in spreading religious messages, how can anyone reliably distinguish the word of God from the words of fallible men? Would it not be wise perhaps to consult the evidence of nature?

  24. Eire_rich Says:

    Thomas Wamm: Good points

    I agree that it should not be the only strategy though…it’s like pest management or disease control…better to use an integrated approach that employs multiple strategies or you’re likely to end up with a resistant super-bug.

  25. Jesse Says:

    “Creationists (and Dawkins) are confused the universe does not resemble a designed thing, designed things resemble the universe. The only designed things there are are designed by man. Man designs things by looking at nature, copying and extrapolating. It is not surprising therefore that the things that man designs have the characteristics of the world that he inhabits”- HerbieP-(BIGTHINK.COM)

    again we are back to the same old question and its unsatisying answers for both sides- the believer and the assupmtion that he should accept things because “they just happen to be that way” or the naturalist and the assusption that ” my magical sky God did it”

    Very unsatisfying answers for both sides, and neither side is going to budge from their position… it doesnt appear that matiralism is going to fulfill the needs of man, nor is Dogma and Absolute Authority of a Church….

    Ultimatley, and correct me if I m wrong, the fundmental difference is that believers of any sort don’t believe in coincidence, while unbelievers do…? I know science is the search for causes, but it seems to have presupposed that things are just this way, naturally, because they just happen to be, while believers assign “spiritual” significance, skeptics think our spiritual side is just a evolutionary adapation of a being intelligent enough to know of our own demise, while believers see that desire to go on in any sort of “afterlife” as just as real as hunger is to the stomache, sex is to the sexual organs, and sleep is to the mind, so we are left with no conclusive evidence, just assumptions, but they’re usally not touted as “assumptions” but as Truth, so what we are really left with is dispositions, dispositions toward life, the universe, etc. Mike Ramsden puts it perfectly-

    “Is it really true that there is such thing as truth? Or is it false? And if there’ no such thing as true or false, then why do so many people spend time arguing?

    Just some of the confusion created by the postmodern mindset”

    jesseakers (BIGTHINK.COM)

  26. Brenda Nelson Says:

    I was brought up Christian fundamentalist (Conservative Baptist), and I know for a fact you’ll never win over creationists. The reason is that, in order for their “recipe” for salvation to work, *every* word in the Bible *must* be absolutely factual. If Adam and Eve were not created by a special act of a god, and thereafter “fell,” if that was just a metaphor or parable, then they can’t count on Jesus’ sacrifice as being literal and all the promises of everlasting life to be dependable. If the Bible not literally true, then *maybe* they won’t get to live on everlastingly after they die, and that’s the heart of the whole problem: these people are scared shitless of dying. (Their pastors make it a point to reinforce this fear at every possible opportunity.)

    As long as they have this overweening fear of death, they’re going to resist evolution with everything they’ve got. No amount of logic or data is going to change their minds.

  27. Nick Says:

    The 5 points brought up in this article can also be found in even more detail in “Why Darwin Matters,” Shermer’s end-all tell-all account of evolution. I’ve noticed several things from growing up in a very conservative environment, some of which will be obvious.

    Converting Creationists

    First, the only way to get ‘em is when they’re young. Creationists in their teens are the most easy to get, while the older you get the more diehard they are. A possible counter to this is the lukewarm creationist, someone who went along with it but never accepted it completely internally. You’ll find this type from all walks of life.

    Second, the latter type I described, the lukewarm creationist, can be afraid to “come out” of the creationist closet. A good way to counter this is to pair them with a friend or someone with equal interests. Now, have this similar person gently talk to them about it. If the creationist wants to discuss it, or even debate it, proceed to step three.

    Lastly, always know how best to debate the person in question. Have a strategy based on the fundamentalist’s temperament. If the person is worried about going to heaven, tell them evolution has nothing to do with going to heaven, it’s simply the way most people (including 99.9% of scientists). Plenty of catholics and protestants share the acceptance of evolution. If the person tries to argue using the “creationist logic” (an oxymoron) refute all of the claims in a decisive manner (you need to know your stuff).

    Such a conversion does not take place immediately. In fact, it may take multiple discussions before the person is in effect converted. Refer them to websites such as ncse.org and talkorigins.org.

    Good Luck!

  28. aqk Says:

    Corkscrews!
    Is this some agnostic code word, like “Flying Spaghetti Monster”?
    And only 10% of Americans own ‘em.
    May we draw some kind of parallel here? I am now
    mulling over penning a treatise:
    “Why Corkscrews Matter”
    Unless of course, Dawkins, Hitchens or Shermer has already beaten me to it. I shall study the tea leaves (Jon Stewart, Colbert et al (this would be Franken) ) carefully in the coming weeks, hoping to divine which way the American wind will blow. (sorry for the mixed metaphors)

    But living on the 45th parallel here, I’ve never noticed much difference between Americans and us Canadians, though I don’t often rummage through hosts’ kitchen drawers.
    Nevertheless, the Americans may be on to something- corks are gradually being whittled out of the wine-bottling industry, being replaced with the more efficient screw top.
    Not quite as romantic, but then neither is skepticism or agnosticm which, alas, I have all too much of.

    …Sorry for the salamander on the above website- It should posthaste be replaced with a blind one, to more support poor besieged Mr. Hitchens’ position. ;-)

  29. Linda Rosa Says:

    Any god consistent with evolution would be impossible for fundamentalists to accept. Their religion is primarily about a highly personal god, one that intervenes in their daily lives, listens to their prayers, judges good and evil, and watches over every hair on their heads. There’s no hint of any such influence in human history, let alone evolutionary science. Evolution argues against such an intervening power. I have seen no evidence that fundamentalists ever warmed to Gould’s embarrassing NOMA proposal.

  30. Anvil Springstien Says:

    I searched and searched and searched and found the corkscrew… I am now as drunk as everybody else seems to be – hic!

  31. aqk Says:

    Well, Mr. Anvil- Congrats!
    Now that you’ve found the corkscrew, I suggest that you destroy that (possibly) abused salmon baster. Or at least mail it to the Montanans- they will puzzle over it. But I am sure it is not needed by the women in Montana anyhow.

    And- The women in YOUR life (if any) may just have an epiphany! (nudge-nudge)

    Godspeed, lad! Go forth and procreate!
    (if this isn’t a discussion of Darwinism, then what is?)

    -Tony (aqk) http://www.tonyking.tk

  32. Paul Bredderman Says:

    I understand your intentions, but this is just ex post facto rationalization for an axiomatically postulated, unnecessary pre-existing sentient diety to explain a self organizing system — bottom-up, hierarchically organized complexity — as a natural outcome, starting with the slightly uneven distribution at the most basic.
    level of the hierarchy. Moreover, when all the heavy lifting is done in the basic axiom (God), one explains nothing. That which is contained in the basic axiom has to be assumed (taken on faith), as anyone familiar with Euclid knows.

  33. frank Says:

    feeling kinda left out (though withoout hte aid of a corkscrew – merely a twist-top stubbie – i am comfortably mellowed….)
    i do not find me characterised in this discussion. i do not see me as an ignorant dupe of religion.
    i was normal once (ie non religious, nuts and bolts materialistic etc)
    then i witnessed people walking on hot coals (are there any other sort?)
    and another time i had a kinda spooky seance vision thing.
    my denial of the supernatural was shook (wouldn’t yours be?)
    i then checked out christianity and it checked out good enough for me (but i can live with atheists who can’t dig it )

    on another tack:-
    i find abundant good evidence for natural selection.
    i have no problem with that part of darwinian ism.

    im not convinced about the various theories about how the stuff arose to get selected from ….

    it would seem that intellectual honesty would require acceptance of that (if i was web savvy i could drop names and examples here) – folks, surely you know wot i wot of?

    kindly,

    frank

  34. Blair C. Says:

    Many thoughtful and interesting posts here. God knows I enjoyed them. Oops.

  35. chucklet Says:

    Look out, even cork screws have ‘evolved’
    http://www.amazon.com/Wine-Cork-Remover-Vacuum-Sealer/dp/B000VYEFH4

  36. MagdaDH Says:

    I was born in 1970, and a grew up in a country that was highly Catholic (with over 95% people declaring that they are “believers”) as well as officially Marxists (thus with materialistic natural science being thought to everybody), but Christan culture and values were very pervasive all around.

    And I have to say that despite the fact that it has been going on for at least 20 years now, I find the onslaught against theory of evolution astonishing: I still don’t understand how it happened, that a theory that seemed to me to be universally accepted by pretty much anybody with a smidgen of education (even if they didn’t understand more than the very basic ideas) came to become one of the most controversial ideas in social (if not scientific) discourse.

    I actually, until few years ago recently, didn’t realise that there were, genuinely, in the so-called “civilised” world, large groups of people who not only reject the idea of evolution, but also think that the world is 10,000 years old (or something like that). I am still amazed by that fact.

    But in this whole discussion one thing seems to be quite obvious: that in the minds of the creationists, there seems to be an allmost ideal correspondence between supporting the theory of evolution and atheism or anti-theism.

    But of course it isn’t true: even such an organisation as Catholic Church accepts evolution (admittedly, theistic evolution with a god included somewhere as a power behind the scenes and a soul-creator). The previous pope, quite famously, claimed that “new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis” while Ratzinger (before election) accepts Big Bang, universe that’s 15 billion years old and emergence of life 4bn years ago: “Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution.”

    I also found the Catheism’s page on evolution (http://www.catholic.com/library/Adam_Eve_and_Evolution.asp) quite illuminating: full of rather Jesuit sophistry, but generally rather rational (as much as it’s possible while advocating a theistic worldview, of course).

    The last section on science and religion is particularly wonderful. I can’t think of anything better to show to those creationist Christians then:

    “no real disagreement can exist between the theologian and the scientist provided each keeps within his own limits. . . . If nevertheless there is a disagreement . . . *it should be remembered that the sacred writers, or more truly ‘the Spirit of God who spoke through them, did not wish to teach men such truths (as the inner structure of visible objects) which do not help anyone to salvation’*; and that, for this reason, rather than trying to provide a scientific exposition of nature, they sometimes describe and treat these matters either in a somewhat figurative language or as the common manner of speech those times required, and indeed still requires nowadays in everyday life, even amongst most learned people”. Leo XIII, d. 1903.

    Although I am not certain whether being a Pope is much of a credential amongst the creationists. It might be possible worse than being a Shermer.

    I hasten to say that I am neither a Catholic, a Christian or a theist of any description, but for once I find the pronouncements of the Holy See somehow refreshing. Wouldn’t it be ironic if evolution was more populary accepted in strongly Catholic countries like Poland, Italy or Ireland than in this bedrock of modernity, freedom of thought and the most technologically advanced democracy on Earth that is the US?

    Hold on, here we are:

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/bigphotos/images/060810-evolution_big.jpg

  37. frank Says:

    hey chucklet – looks like a pretty and innovative and intelligent design! (oops?)

  38. Maurice le difficile Says:

    Alain Kradolfer Says: Bla Bla

    This type of juvenile generalization hardly supports your “tolerance” reference. Although crime rates are very high in large cities and despite what we know of the statistis pertaining to very silly, primitive beliefs, I find that outside of government and media, a large number (majority?) of Americans happens to be smart, open minded, receptive to criticism and much more tolerant than the tone of your post makes you appear yourself. As a Canadian myself I agree that we should be proud of having better statistics in many of the areas you mention, but I refuse to use such generalizations myself in characterizing an entire nation of millions. I must say that I would prefer the United States’ population in general to beome more like us, than the other way around, but seriously, relax! (Also, I know several fine individuals who are very well adjusted and are a joy to frequent, know and love, and who don’t own a corkscrew). Ramen.

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