The Naked Darwinist

I’ve written about this issue before. Now I’m going to, as I hear the politicians say on C-SPAN, revise and extend my remarks.

What inspired me to write this time around was a discussion on facebook about a new page dedicated to finding 1 million people who don’t believe in evolution. Of course, the discussion was taking place among people who obviously accept the theory of evolution. I’m not sure what the politics of each involved are, but I can say the following: they are mostly young, they are mostly in college. That means their politics probably lean left, if they don’t topple over to the left. Some might even lean right, and secular conservatives are not unheard of.

They may disagree on fiscal issues and even in some cases, “social” issues – but there is almost a unanimous consensus among educated people that not only is the theory of evolution true; anyone who doesn’t accept it as true without hesitation or reservation is a backwards fool, someone who should keep out of science, keep out of politics, and in one case I saw in this particular discussion, should not be allowed to breed.

Read the rest here (and comment there, if you don’t mind)

4 Responses to The Naked Darwinist

  1. lynnvinc says:

    I’ve always been in that “loser” group. Well, I didn’t know I was loser until just now, I considered myself an “outsider,” and my mom was great; she taught to stand firm against the popular tide and be a “nonconformist.” I can say it was a terrible, hurtful childhood, & it’s been an uneasy life until I hit rock bottom in the late 80s in my 40s when from the deepest pit I could only turn upward toward God and beseech His help; I gave my entired life to God, and became a 3rd order Carmelite. If I’m still an outsider & nonconformist, it doesn’t even matter now, it doesn’t hurt, and I don’t care. All is for God now, nothing for me.

    Having said that, I’ve always believed in evolution since age 8 or 9 — we learned it in Presbyterian Sunday school. I suppose they figured we’d be learning it in school, so they wanted to make it religious. My understanding of God is entwined with my understanding of evolution — His most amazing method of creation, which no human could have ever imaged; we could only discover it. My God is an awesome God, way beyond a David Copperfield with magic wand and white beard. Just bec we were created in His image, doesn’t mean He is to be created in our image…..

    I was so fascinated with evolution and science that I eagerly read books and books on these during high school (since I was an outsider, without friends, and had plenty of time — no dates, no sports games, no proms, etc). The more science I learned, the more my awe of God grew.

    Earlier, at age 11, meditating on the omnipresent quality of God, I held a blade of grass to the sun, hoping to see through it and see God. Well, the blade was black instead, but as I squinted and meditated, after some time, I was filled with a God awareness — not only was He in that blade of grass but in the Sun, everywhere, as they say “omnipresent.” My German friend, now a retired biology prof, a good Catholic, when we talked about how we taught evolution (I teach it, since I’m an anthropologist), she said, God didn’t have time for all that, so he set it up so that evolution would accomplish his goals of creation. I said, no no, God is in evolution, intimately involved, that is His way of accomplishing it. And it is marvellous. From the smallest smallest nothing that we cannot imagine to a tiny particle to the entire universe. From a tiny string of atoms, to a tiny cell, to elephants and whales, to us (as an “outsider” and lover of animals, I’ve never been ashamed to be related to animals, nor to have stardust cruising my veins and thus be related to the entire universe). From a tiny babe in an “outsider” manger… God is truly great beyond anything thing we could possibly imagine. As St. John of the Cross says (I paraphrase), “Whatever you imagine God to be, you’re wrong.”

    I used to tell my anthro students, “I know some of you may not believe in evolution due to your religion. You don’t have to believe in it, you only have to memorize it for the test.”

    Now, having spent some six months in 2008 trying to persuade the YouTube Eucharist desecrator to cease and desist, and engaging the militant atheists (Dawkins is their spiritual leader, and I’ve been against his selfish gene idea since the 1970s, on scientific grounds), I’m rethinking my stance on evolution.

    I now think it is a sin not to believe in it, sort of akin to lying. God is Truth, and scientific truths (facts), though provisional and based on the best evidence and theory to date, and thus changeable, deserve our respect. We should not be giving fuel to the militant atheists’ fire. We religious folks need to clean up our act and become more righteous and good. There are many many religiously-reared people who on coming to accept evolution, throw out God with the bathwater of falsehoods. So I would appeal to those fundamentalists to reconsider evolution, and not be afraid that God will cease to exist if one starts believing in it.

    Now as for global warming, failure to accept the science on that and respond morally by striving to mitigate it — I think that is a very serious sin that could land a person in a place a lot hotter than a globally warmed world, and for eternity no less. We are killing & harming people and destroying God’s creation, and failure to face up to that is a grave flaw indeed, esp when mitigation saves us money (and resources) and increases our political freedoms (as in getting off the grid and off the frankencorp treadmill). The only thing it hurts is our pride in being a goody goody 2-shoes. But there is redemption in the blood of Christ. I just wish people could be made aware of that great opportunity.

  2. R.C. says:

    “Now as for global warming, failure to accept the science on that and respond morally by striving to mitigate it — I think that is a very serious sin that could land a person in a place a lot hotter than a globally warmed world, and for eternity no less.”

    If compulsory mitigation of the type floated by politicians is what you have in mind, then I declare that statement to be unscientific — and thus, ungodly — poppycock.

    The science is exactly what should cause a person to realize that compulsory mitigation strategies of the type being proffered by governments and alarmists are exactly what we should not do.

    There is the issue of solvency: The known mitigation strategies do not, when applied, mitigate to any substantive degree.

    There is the issue of unintended consequences: Not that of global warming, but of the mitigation strategies. The more catastrophic the projected scenario for warming, the more draconian the mitigation efforts must be to have any effect. The more draconian the mitigation efforts are, the more poverty-inducing they prove to be. The more poverty-inducing they prove to be, the greater the increase in mortality due to poverty alone.

    And that’s the problem: Whatever level of human misery would be caused by that kind of extreme scenario is likely to be mirrored by the human misery caused by the economic damage of preventing it. Factor into that the certainty of the economic damage versus the speculative nature, not of warming, but of a sufficiently catastrophic degree of warming, and the debate ends. We should all of us be conservation minded: We should none of us support the political objectives of radical greens.

    But this is the kind of message that usually falls on deaf ears, just like protestations to Muslims that Mohammed’s favorite wife was a mite young to be married at six and deflowered at nine, and that all the archeological and textual evidence shows the Christian understanding of Jesus to be that of those who knew him, and the Muslim adumbration to be an ahistorical reinterpretation founded without any evidence on a conspiracy theory.

    In short, it falls on deaf ears because when people are invested in a religious belief, and so are all the persons around them whose company they most value, you can’t simply point out how obviously incorrect it is.

    You have to lead them to ask the right questions gradually, and then lead them to discover the answers for themselves. You can’t directly say: no, carbon credits are a bad idea; they’re a cure which doesn’t cure and is worse than the disease, the environmental equivalent of medicinal bloodletting. You can’t say that, because that’s just gainsaying someone’s sacrament or soteriology when they aren’t yet ready to listen to reason.

    Most of the time, when extreme greens become Christians, their need for a religion is thereafter filled by something with a more profound eschatology than environmental apocalypsism, a more holistic moral code than composting and recycling (which Christians should usually, but not always, do), a more joyous evangelism than “think globally act locally,” better feasts than Earth Day, and a better liturgy than weekly screenings of “An Inconvenient Truth.” There are exceptions, and emerging from such benighted creeds is a process and a journey — ask a former Jehovah’s Witness or a former Scientologist. But immunity to the sophistry of carbon credit enthusiasts does eventually develop, producing a more balanced and rational view.

  3. I wrote a comment on the other sight but I can’t copy-and-paste it here for some reason. (This laptop is quirky!) The gist of it is this:

    Evolution is a philosophy. You have to *believe* in Evolution. You don’t have to believe in science: drop an object from any height and -16ft/sec2 is fact, not subjective belief.

    Just like “Creationism”, Evolution is a creation philosophy. Only with Evolution it was the Big Bang that created the universe.

    For some reason Catholics have tried to blend Evolution with the Faith but it doesn’t make sense. All through the Bible God is shown as being very hands-on with His creation. And yet I’m to somehow believe that God sat back, folded His arms, and created the world by some round-about Big Bang… and then stood there and watched as we randomly mutated from premoridal ooze? I’m to believe that I came about by past random accidents of mutation?? That God just stood there and waited to see what would happen?

    I cannot, and never will be able to, understand how a Catholic can reconcile Evolution with the Faith. We are told that God knew us before we were knitted in the womb. How can an accident of *nature* be known ahead of time? And what… after we accidentially mutated out of “stuff” that was created from nothing… God just plugs a soul into our mutated ape-bodies? No wonder people believe they can kill unborn children! “They’re not really human. They are, like us, accidentally evolved animals.”

    No, it just doesn’t square. And the fact that Evolution isn’t science, but is just one of many competing *creation philosophies*, makes it something that does not belong in the science classrooms – or the scientific community for that matter. Or in our Church.

    We have been created in the image and likeness of God. Unless God Himself is an evolved ape … then how in the universe can we be evolved apes, the result of random accidents of nature, set in motion by the godless Big Bang that somehow, by itself, created everything out of nothing??

  4. c matt says:

    Accidents of nature (if by accident, you mean a random occurence – and by random, you mean one occurence with the equal probability of occurring as every other occurrence in the set) are not seen ahead of time by God per se, but rather outside of time. Being outside of time, God can see and know you before you are knit in the womb (from God’s perspective) because past, present and future are all present to Him. From our perspective, because we are inside time, we can’t see or know ourselves (or others) that way. We only see the past (to a limited degree) and the present. The closest analogy I can think of is the perspective of an author of a book and the characters of a book – the author is outside the book, and having written the book, knows what happened, is happening (at any particular point) and what will happen in the book. The characters in the book don’t have that perspective.

    Therefore, I don’t really see our bodily form taking eons to evolve as inconsistant with God knowing us from before time.

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