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Mike

It's not just the media. My housecleaner, describing her fiance to me:

"He's a really nice guy. (smiles) He's a Christian."

"You're a Christian too. (she shakes her head) Aren't you a Catholic? (She's Latino. She nods.) Catholics are Christians, I thought."

"Oh, yes. I guess that's right."

Sideways

Are you so sure Creationism is a minority viewpoint? A few seconds of googling indicates that around 55% of Americans believe that humans did not evolve but were directly created by God and another 25% believe that human evolution was guided by God. (I'd add links but I can't remember the HTML tags). Mr. Abraham does in fact 'represent the majority of [American] Christians'.

And if it's not a minority viewpoint, does that mean it's no longer wrong?

Words like 'unorthodox', 'heretical', and 'blasphemous' are entirely subjective. And the idea of 'discrediting' a religious viewpoint... well good luck with that.

The Barefoot Bum

Of course all Christians aren't creationists. But all Christians, indeed all religious people, undermine the best argument against creationists by endorsing supernaturalism.

The creationists — on the Christian view — are mistaken not because their views contradict natural science, but because they have chosen the wrong arbitrary unfalsifiable superstitions. This is not much of an argument, and the creationists are correct to find it unpersuasive.

janinsanfran

This Episcopalian appreciates your insisting on some distinctions here. These wackjobs don't have a sole proprietorship over Christianity. But sadly, the vast majority of folks in this country are nearly as ignorant of the core teachings of Christianity as they are of science. That's really scary -- has historically led to burning people at the stake.

janinsanfran

This Episcopalian appreciates your insisting on some distinctions here. These wackjobs don't have a sole proprietorship over Christianity. But sadly, the vast majority of folks in this country are nearly as ignorant of the core teachings of Christianity as they are of science. That's really scary -- has historically led to burning people at the stake.

Ken Muldrew

Joshua ben-Joseph?

SV

"Creationism is therefore a minority and unorthodox, even heretical and possibly blasphemous, and definitely discredited belief."

And, I would add, completely idolatrous.

Even if you believe, as I do, that the teaching of the Bible was inspired by God, the actual books were written by humans and the decision on which books to include was made by humans in the early centuries.

So what else do you call it when you take something made by Man and raise it to the status of God?

Apostate

So what else do you call it when you take something made by Man and raise it to the status of God?

Religion?

SV

"Religion"?

No, that's worse. When people claim that any one religion is equal to God, they're not elevating a man-made thing, they're diminishing the Divine. They claim belief in God, and then procede to build these petty little self-serving boxes and try to confine God inside.

I don't know whether technically that's sacrilege or blasphemy, but either way it's pretty damn arrogant.


(*And BTW, I'm criticizing religious fanatics here, not atheists. If you don't believe in God, you can't insult God by pulling Him (or Her) down to your own pathetic level.)

The Barefoot Bum

My wife says my comment is too abstract, so let me put it in more concrete terms.

Any religion such as Christianity which entails belief in the resurrection of the dead, virgin births, heaven and hell cannot be said to be any more respectful of natural science than outright literal six-day creationism.

Apostate

SV, I don't think you know what you're talking about. "God" outside the context that religion provides is an incoherent concept -- "he" can be anything or nothing. Apparently, according to you, he's somehow "above" being defined anyway. So why even bring him up and so valiantly defend him, and in so doing call me pathetic?

Nice manners you've got, using someone else's blog as a platform for your snottiness. Instead of lowering yourself to my level, why don't you go talk to God? I'm sure it's a much more elevating use of your time to hold one-sided conversations with imaginary but highly exalted beings.

South Dakota Pete

This is nothing more than an academic witch hunt against Christians. The Washington Post has the balls to ask whether any biologist who doesn't believe in evolution can do their job. HELLO! The Theory of Evolution is just that, a theory. Any scientist worth his salt should question it.

Rana

I've always found the creationist/Intelligent Design position to be conceptually incoherent.

The way I see it, one of the central qualities of faith is that you believe despite the physical evidence, despite what other people believe, despite people calling your beliefs wrong, ignorant, etc.

Science, on the other hand, is not about faith at all, nor about belief. It's about posing questions, looking at evidence as objectively as possible, and remaining open to the possibility (perhaps even probability) that one's position is wrong and needs to be changed.

I believe it is possible to be both a person of faith and a person who practices science, but that's only true when the two fields do not come into conflict. A person can simultaneously see a lava flow as the work of some divine omnipresent being, and as the result of a natural process involving convection, pressure, and molten rock.

Ignoring the material reality of physics in order to posit that lava is the literal embodied vomit of a giant angry deity living beneath the soil, on the other hand, isn't going to work. Creationism/ID, essentially, tries to do just that.

The other thing that is incoherent about creationism/ID is that it attempts to use the language and rhetoric of science to defend faith. In so doing, its adherents have, in effect, ceded the battle. If religious faith is the greatest authority, why even bother trying to pull scientific authority into it? It's as if, in a policy debate between an adult expert and an infant, you try to make the expert's points using babytalk.

So creationist/IDers efforts to speak faith using scientific language represent their unspoken acknowledgement that scientific authority is greater than faith, that the only way to defend faith is through the language of science.

That's a pretty weak, pitiful form of faith, I must say.

Rana

The Theory of Evolution is just that, a theory.

That you can say that, in all seriousness, shows that you understand nothing about science and how it works.

slavdude

Joshua ben-Joseph?

Posted by: Ken Muldrew | Tuesday, December 11, 2007 at 07:23 PM

Jesus.

Jesus is a Greek form of Yeshua or Joshua. Ben-Joseph means "son of Joseph."

SV

I know I'm late, but this really needs answering:

"SV, I don't think you know what you're talking about. "God" outside the context that religion provides is an incoherent concept -- "he" can be anything or nothing. Apparently, according to you, he's somehow "above" being defined anyway. So why even bring him up and so valiantly defend him, and in so doing call me pathetic?

Nice manners you've got, using someone else's blog as a platform for your snottiness. Instead of lowering yourself to my level, why don't you go talk to God? I'm sure it's a much more elevating use of your time to hold one-sided conversations with imaginary but highly exalted beings.

Please know that under no circumstances did I mean to call you, Apostate, pathetic. I deeply apologize that I seem to have done exactly that, and my only excuse is that I was too tired to proofread appropriately to see that I was writing the opposite of what I meant.

When I wrote "your own pathetic level" I was refering to a general person, not you in particular. In fact, the level I meant was the constricted, denialist world of the bigot. I'm deeply embarrassed that my clumsy writing made me sound like exactly who I thought I was criticizing.

Anyway, I wasn't trying to take God out of religion, I was trying to to say that God is religion plus a whole lot more. I wanted to criticize the illogical assertion on the part of anyone who thinks that any one human religion can capture everything there is to know about a Being who is by definition supposedly Infinite.

Hope I didn't make it worse by responding this second time. And sorry, Lance, for messing up the place.

Ken Muldrew

Slavdude, my biblical scholarship is pretty weak, but I do know that the gospels say that Joseph was Jesus' father (stepfather, really, I suppose, and good for him for stepping up). I just wasn't sure if Lance had made a typo or whether there was some deeper meaning that I was missing through my ignorance. As you can see from the strike-outs in the post, it was a typo.

As for the post itself, scientists are largely judged by simply counting the number of papers they have published in the last few years (with a handicapping system based on the prestige of the journals that publish the papers, itself largely based on how many papers that particular journal rejects, on average). So it would be simplicity itself for a creationist to be a molecular biologist: just buy kits and run gels all day and publish the data; the easiest fake in the world. As long as you don't proselitize your belief that you're faking it, then you should have no trouble maintaining this meager existence. But then, the only reason you would actually do it, because all things considered, it's not the easiest way to earn a dollar, would be to claim a credibility with the scientific establishment to bolster your proselitizing against that establishment.

lou

HELLO! The Theory of Evolution is just that, a theory. Any scientist worth his salt should question it.

So a physicist worth his salt just just disbelieve the Theory of Relativity since it is, after all, just a theory.

And any engineer can happily disregard the Theory of Gravity since it is just a theory.

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