Monday, February 13, 2006

500 Miles and 400 Churches

Snow, snow, too much snow!

While I was away:

My beloved Pittsburgh Steelers won the Daytona 500 of football. And next Sunday is the Daytona 500. Our youth group has its annual snow camp this coming weekend, so I'll miss the Saturday races and the start of the 500. Among the leaders, several of us (the intellectuals) are devoted NASCAR fans. When our snow camp was planned, back in early fall, we lobbied hard for a different weekend, but our Supreme Leader, a cruel Scottish taskmaster of the warlike Campbell clan, insisted on this particular date.


I was amazed but not surprised by the hypocrisy of the Panda's Thumb. They were overjoyed to trumpet the four hundred churches that devoted a Sunday sermon on Evolution Sunday (February 12) to the compatibility between evolution and religion. Yet if you go on Panda’s Thumb, as I and others have, and claim the bible is compatible with science, you’ll be excoriated. They might, as they did in my case, even devote a forum topic to discussing how stupid you are.

Their message is clear: we will tolerate you (barely) and exploit you (shamelessly) if you make vague statements about the compatibility of evolution with religion. If you claim, however, that the bible is accurate even when it (in rare instances) makes scientific claims, we will ridicule you (unmercifully).

Did anyone else comment on the irony of the four hundred number? That is roughly (when I last checked) how many scientists had signed the Discovery Institute’s sensible dissent, wherein the signatories (myself included) affirm this statement:
We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.
Panda’s Thumb has milked and mocked the number of signatories, repeatedly comparing four hundred to the total number of scientists. I did not see any comment on their site comparing the four hundred participating “churches” to the total number thereof.

Yes, those are sneer quotes around "churches." If you question the legitimacy of someone who claims to be Christian and support fully naturalistic evolution, then the PT crowd will claim you are guilty of the "True Scotsman" fallacy. (They, of course, are free to imply that the scientists on the DI list are not "true" scientists. ) Not knowing what churches are among the four hundred extolling evolution, and not really interested in investigating, I will nevertheless claim:

A true Christian Church, or indeed any theistic church, cannot accept fully naturalistic evolution, for it both eliminates the need for God and, even worse, repudiates God's sovereignty, which means he is not God at all.

A Christian Church, in my opinion, might hold the view that God used genetic engineering in such a way that one could view and study the diversity of life as if evolution was both purely natural and the cause of the diversity. But a true theistic church (such as the Catholic Church) would affirm that man, being the central creation of God as revealed in scripture, was inevitable.

Furthermore, they (a true church) would not rule out the possibility of a discontinuity, of which "irreducible complexity" is an example, that is ultimately inexplicable by evolution. They might disagree as to whether such a discontinuity has been discovered, but any theist must affirm that God has the power to decree such an event, and that the origin of life is probably in that category.

Any church on the list of four hundred that affirms that our species was an accident is not a church at all, at least if "church" means a body of believers of some sort of theism.

(By the way, some evolutionists will argue that they do not claim that man was an accident, and that there is nothing random about evolution. This is false. What they mean is that there is a fitness function driving the process and providing a bias. But there is randomness in the system, a great deal of it in the form of mutations, and nobody knows how biologically diverse the landscape of local minima really is. A random solar flare on a critical day might have caused the mutation that ultimately resulted in man.)

At any rate, the churches, unwittingly or not, will serve indefinitely as useful idiots for the Panda's Thumb fundamentalists. Now Elsberry et. al. don't have to present their most prized marionette, Brown Professor Kenneth Miller, alone. Now they can back him up with a virtual choir of robed partisans singing the praises of Charles Darwin. Of course, they'll be sure to lock them in the attic, out of sight out of mind, like a lunatic aunt, when the singing is done.

No comments:

Post a Comment