Date: 2009-11-25 12:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That isn't much of a surprise, on reflection.

Now I have always robustly held the view that it isn't possible for religious faith and scientific fact to be truly in conflict, and if they are, then you've misunderstood one or other of them. As a Christian I certainly believe that God created the universe and everything in it, but I also believe that he did so by first setting up scientific laws and processes, including, of course, evolution.

Galileo is an interesting comparison. The Church of the time was frightened by his discoveries only because it had mistakenly decided that the central position of the earth in the universe was essential to faith. It's not too hard to see why they did this, and it's also, of course, with the benefit of several centuries of hindsight, very easy to see why they were in a blind alley of their own making. Similarly, Darwin's theory is a threat to someone's Christian faith only if they believe not only that creation necessarily has to take place by miracle, but that any other way of doing it somehow makes God "less".

That's an attitude that I'd be prepared to engage in debate with. Simple innumeracy, as the article points out, is a great deal more difficult.

Date: 2009-11-25 12:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, indeed! The previous article in the series (linked from that one) says:
The Bible teaching that is really important in this context is the deliberate creation of man by God. You can't reconcile that with the slow emergence of humanity from non-human ancestors. One or the other is the historical truth.

Clearly, he's not a historian. "Historical truth" is a bit more complicated than yes-or-no, after all. It's fuzzy and complicated and doesn't involve hard binaries.

Also, he's not an engineer. Setting up self-optimizing systems is a very good way to design something complicated.

Date: 2009-11-25 12:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm no historian either, but even my very minor forays into the world of history (such as my recent investigation into the characters of Alexander Balus) have told me that much.

Last sentence: oh yes. Absolutely! (And, incidentally, how much of Douglas Hofstadter have you read? I think you would love him.)

Date: 2009-11-25 12:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've read GEB, and I do indeed love his work.

Date: 2009-11-25 12:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
With your interest in languages, I suggest you may like to buy, borrow, or otherwise obtain a copy of Le ton beau de Marot. That book changed my life. It was what induced me to go off and learn Italian, primarily for the purpose of poetry translation.

If you have any difficulty in finding it, I'm willing to lend you my copy - am going to Mole's on 5 December, so I could leave it with him for you.

Date: 2009-11-25 12:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'll have a look for a copy, and we shall see - thank you for the recommendation!

Date: 2009-11-25 01:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Self-organising systems are certainly a good way to solve some complex design problems, but when such evolution involves the protracted and painful deaths of countless billions of lifeforms (many of them sentient or nearly so), one might reasonably question the morality of a designer who chose that method in spite of being capable of simply doing it right the first time. (This seems, if anything, a slightly stronger form of the Argument From Evil, given that, whatever its effects might be upon humans, it's hard to imagine that all that suffering taught any of the lizards, lions or rabbits involved very much by way of important moral lessons. ;)

Evolution by natural selection is very elegant in the abstract, but it's certainly not nice. And, indeed, due to its inherent constraints, it doesn't lead to anything approaching what one might consider optimal design. I'm sure lots of animals would find life much easier if they had wheels, but if there's no monotonically-improving path to get them, they're SOL.

Date: 2009-11-25 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This doesn't seem to really tally with the most recent census, where 37.3 million people gave their religion as 'Christian' and only 7.7 million people said they had 'no religion'.

Date: 2009-11-25 01:24 pm (UTC)
ext_78940: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I don't think there's much doubt, though, that lots and lots of people think of 'Christian' as the default and give that as their religion even if they don't practice at all beyond getting their babies splashed. That, to me, is culture rather than religion.

Date: 2009-11-25 02:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh yes, absolutely - I know lots of people who would describe themselves as 'culturally Christian' even if they don't really believe in any of it. But this article seems to be inplying that you have to be some sort of religious extremist to be a creationist, when in fact I've met plenty of people who aren't even churchgoers but who don't understand evolution and reject it out of hand.

I'm going with 'poorly-worded survey' here, to be honest.
Edited Date: 2009-11-25 02:18 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-11-25 04:08 pm (UTC)
ext_78940: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I agree with the 'poorly worded'!

Date: 2009-11-25 02:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
When people are admitted to hospital, the majority say "C of E" and then admit to never going to church. So definition of Christian might be a very flexible thing.

Date: 2009-11-25 02:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
IRRC, a not insignificant number of people gave their religion as 'Jedi'. I wonder where they'd fall on the question of Evolution?

Date: 2009-11-25 01:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Where by "not religious" he means "not a member of two extreme religious groups". Hmm.

Date: 2009-11-25 01:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
He says "Muslim or evangelical" - evangelicals vary in extremity, but Muslims, as a whole, are about as extreme as Christians are. Shia are a lot less Odd about science than (say) Deobandi Muslims.

Most non-evangelical flavours of Christianity are (if anything) more likely to be sensible about evolution than the man in the street rather than less - I remember seeing some extremely good points made by prominent Jesuits and C of E bishops.

Date: 2009-11-25 02:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You're right. I apologise. Replace "extreme" with "particular".

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