Victim of the Wedge?

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The New York Times has a full story today on Cardinal Schönborn’s op-ed: Leading Cardinal Redefines Church’s View on Evolution. According to the story the op-ed was written with the urging of the Discovery Institute’s Mark Ryland but was not approved by the Vatican.

In a telephone interview from a monastery in Austria, where he was on retreat, the cardinal said that his essay had not been approved by the Vatican, but that two or three weeks before Pope Benedict XVI’s election in April, he spoke with the pope, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, about the church’s position on evolution. “I said I would like to have a more explicit statement about that, and he encouraged me to go on,” said Cardinal Schönborn.

He said that he had been “angry” for years about writers and theologians, many Catholics, who he said had “misrepresented” the church’s position as endorsing the idea of evolution as a random process.

The involvement of Mark Ryland explains why many of the Discovery Institution’s talking points appeared in the Cardinal op-ed.

I still doubt that the Cardinal’s op-ed offers a change to the Catholic Church’s teaching of evolution or our understanding of their official position on it. It is clear that the Catholic Church doesn’t see evolution as a godless process divorced from Providence. But I don’t think that this was ever in doubt, despite what Cardinal Schönborn says.

According to the NY Times,

Both Mr. Ryland and Cardinal Schönborn said that an essay in May in The Times about the compatibility of religion and evolutionary theory by Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, suggested to them that it was time to clarify the church’s position on evolution.

So how did the Cardinal clarify the Catholic Church’s position? He said that the Church does not support “neo-Darwinism”, which was defined by him as “an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection”. But did Krauss argue that the Church supported “neo-Darwinism” sensu Ryland and Schönborn? I can’t find it in his commentary: School Boards Want to ‘Teach the Controversy.’ What Controversy?. Dr. Krauss does say the following:

Popes from Pius XII to John Paul II have reaffirmed that the process of evolution in no way violates the teachings of the church. Pope Benedict XVI, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, presided over the church’s International Theological Commission, which stated that “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.” …

It is certainly true that one can reflect on the existence of the Big Bang to validate the notion of creation, and with that the notion of God. But such a metaphysical speculation lies outside of the theory itself.

This is why the Catholic Church can confidently believe that God created humans, and at the same time accept the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of common evolutionary ancestry of life on earth.

One can choose to view chance selection as obvious evidence … that God chooses to work through natural means. In the latter case, the overwhelming evidence that natural selection has determined the evolution of life on earth would simply imply that God is “the cause of causes,” as Cardinal Ratzinger’s document describes it.

Dr. Krauss didn’t say anything about selection being unguided or unplanned and doesn’t use the term “Darwinism” at all. It seems to me that Cardinal Schönborn is responding to a straw-man of Dr. Krauss’s statements, perhaps having been influenced by the Discovery Institute’s spin machine, i.e. biology = “Darwinism” = Atheism.

As far as I can tell, Dr. Krauss’s statements about Catholic Theology are no different than Cardinal Schönborn direct response and clarification of them.

Furthermore, it appears to me that Cardinal Schönborn’s op-ed directly opposes “intelligent design” creationism and its Discovery Institute proponents:

The Catholic Church, while leaving to science many details about the history of life on earth, proclaims that by the light of reason the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things.

“Intelligent design” creationists do not make the distinction between science and the discerning of “design.” (They consider such distinctions “confused”.) Instead they argue that science can discern that the universe is designed; in fact that is the central tenant of “intelligent design” creationism and what distinguishes it from theistic views of evolution:

The scientific theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause. …

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I hold that we will not see an effort by the Catholic Church to step away from its previous statements supporting evolution to embrace the anti-evolution politics and theology of the “intelligent design” creationists, their fantasies notwithstanding.

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The much-discussed op-ed by Cardinal Schönborn, in which he basically throws away the Catholic Church's support for science, evoked some strange feelings in me. I was rather sad about it, but not for the reasons creationists might ass... Read More

Via La Lecturess (herself via Inside Higher Ed) or via The Panda's Thumb: Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, a theologian who is close to Pop Benedict XVI, is redefining the Church's position on evolutionary theory in the New York Times' Op-Ed pages. Read More

266 Comments

This whole “debate” is unfounded because the two sides would have to be using the word “random” in different senses. We would have the men of the cloth using it in the colloquial sense of “non-deterministic” and the biologists using it in the technical mathematical sense, as in : A random variable in maths is “a variable whose value is determined by a process that we cannot predict.” (http://thesaurus.maths.org/mmkb/ent[…]&id=2256) This allows maths to deal with processes such as dice throwing, games of roulette, without making statements about whether the underlying processes are deterministic or not.

The clerics are talking about determinism not mathematical randomness. When this is understood, we save ourselves the excretion of a lot of hot air .

The clerics (and followers) aren’t intelligent or well-educated enough (on the whole) to understand this though. If they weren’t so damned by their deity to remain ignorant (and be proud of it), there wouldn’t have been so many of these problems historically either. When they turn to other religiously retarded people for advice, instead of to intelligent and well-educated ones, they just compound the problem.

I propose a new system of deology in which deities are classified into kinds by whether or not they genuinely survived various historical events and scientific discoveries. I’m sure a reasonable evolutionary lineage could be built up - with quite a few effective extinctions (despite possibly retaining followers).

With the “Catholic Church” as with other “religious” sects it is always about power, control, authority, and/or money as crass as that may seem to anyone. As the fundies grow in power so too must the CC respond in the currency (?) that seems to be working, i.e. appeals to fear, ignorance, and/or superstition. How terribly, terribly sad! It is a continuing attack on the Enlightenment that offered a threat to the Church’s power, control, etc. Just can’t have people thinking for themselves, can we?

Reed A. Cartrwright Wrote:

Dr. Krauss didn’t say anything about selection being unguided or unplanned and doesn’t use the term “Darwinism” at all. It seems to me that Cardinal Schönborn is responding to a straw-man of Dr. Krauss’s statements, perhaps having been influenced by the Discovery Institute’s spin machine, i.e. biology = “Darwinism” = Atheism.

Without “Darwinism,” the snake oil salesmen who misrepresent evolution would have nothing at all - and they know it. If that isn’t a wake-up call for defenders of science to stop using that word so carelessly, I don’t know what is.

PaulP Wrote:

This whole “debate” is unfounded because the two sides would have to be using the word “random” in different senses.

Actually it’s the defenders of science and “victims” like the Cardinal using it in 2 different senses, and the snake oil salesmen (professional anti-evoluionists) deliberately baiting and switching the 2 senses.

Expect matters to get worse. The young clerics coming out of Catholic seminaries theses days are hardcore ultramontanists. In Pope Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) they have a leader ready to take them back to the good old days of rigid hierarchical control. Ratzinger himself is the ideal pope in the minds of Catholicism’s most vigorous activists, such as the folks at EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), Ave Maria University (in Naples, Florida, where a pro-life scholarship has just been established in memory of Terry Schiavo), and Catholic Radio (where “liberal” is a dirty word). Catholic Radio carries programs like their Open Line call-in show where creationism is routinely espoused and evolution is “only a theory”, despite the teaching promulgated by John Paul II that evolution is a viable scientific theory. And despite what SEF said above, many of these Catholic clerics and religious activists are very intelligent and educated people who use their skills in advancement of their religiosity. We may marvel that smart people can believe superstitious nonsense, but they can. To think otherwise is to underestimate the opposition and delude ourselves into thinking we’re just smarter than them. We may be less enthralled by magical thinking than they are, but there are smart people working hard to turn the Roman Catholic Church into a bastion of creationism and antimodernism.

TonyB Wrote:

We may marvel that smart people can believe superstitious nonsense, but they can.

Except that we never really know that they believe that nonsense, only that they want others to do so.

I didn’t think, brainless me, to go back and check Krauss’s piece myself - thank you for digging it up! It’s very interesting - Krauss’s comments are neutral and completely unobjectionable towards the Church … but they do oppose, very politely, the inclusion of intelligent design.

Does anybody know anything about all those “ writers and theologians, many Catholics, who he said had “misrepresented” the church’s position as endorsing the idea of evolution as a random process” that Cardinal Schonborn is so angry about? I’ve never seen one, and certainly never dreamed that the Church might be endorsing anything beyond a throughly theistic evolutionary process.

If I was a Catholic, I imagine I would be somewhat embarrassed at this … it sounds like the Church is getting played …

Good point Tony B. on the youngins comin’ out of the Catholic seminaries.

As for whether or not this Cardinal speaks for the rest of the Catholic Church (or more specifically, for the new Pope), a blogger over at www.americablog.blogspot.com (run by John Aravosis) has just confirmed with the NYTimes something a bit disturbing:

The NYT confirms that the Op-Ed we linked to yesterday attacking science and reason was no fluke or misunderstanding: the cardinal who penned it spoke to Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) and got the go-ahead to “correct” the decades-long stance of the Church which was to stay out of science since it had made a fool of itself in that area for so long that it undercut the Church’s authority on moral issues.

link

So I don’t think we can merely dismiss the idea that the Catholic Church itself isn’t behind this. I fully expect their stance to change with Ratzinger in charge. I don’t know how successful it would be to call the NYTimes for personal confirmation or not (I don’t know if they speak to folks outside of the press and non-political blogs), but perhaps a phonecall yourself wouldn’t hurt?

Edit: I apologize if I could not directly link this story. For some reason this website would not allow me to link it due to the content in the website link? Oh well, it should still be around on the main page of Americablog for the next couple of days.

Good point Tony B. on the youngins comin’ out of the Catholic seminaries.

As for whether or not this Cardinal speaks for the rest of the Catholic Church (or more specifically, for the new Pope), a blogger over at www.americablog.blogspot.com (run by John Aravosis) has just confirmed with the NYTimes something a bit disturbing:

The NYT confirms that the Op-Ed we linked to yesterday attacking science and reason was no fluke or misunderstanding: the cardinal who penned it spoke to Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) and got the go-ahead to “correct” the decades-long stance of the Church which was to stay out of science since it had made a fool of itself in that area for so long that it undercut the Church’s authority on moral issues.

link

So I don’t think we can merely dismiss the idea that the Catholic Church itself isn’t behind this. I fully expect their stance to change with Ratzinger in charge. I don’t know how successful it would be to call the NYTimes for personal confirmation or not (I don’t know if they speak to folks outside of the press and non-political blogs), but perhaps a phonecall yourself wouldn’t hurt?

Edit: I apologize if I could not directly link this story. For some reason this website would not allow me to link it due to the content in the website link? Oh well, it should still be around on the main page of Americablog for the next couple of days.

MisterOpus:

The Catholic Church does not disseminate official doctrine via Times editorials. What we’re whitnessing here is an internal debate among the Curia, which has been taken to public media, as often happens. As I posted elsewhere, the Vatican does not have an office of public communications to make sure all Cardinals stay on message. They will often go out and publicly advocate views that do not necessarily agree with the Pope. This is especially true for things about which the Pope and Curia have not made up their minds.

Apparently, several important curial cardinals have fallen for Discovery Institute claptrap. They want to influence the pope and their colleagues. One way to do it is to write an Op-ed piece in a major paper. That makes their view more widespread, puts the arguments for it into the public domain, and makes it more likely to be seen as “mainstream.” That, in turn, may make it more likely for other Curial members sitting on the fence to adopt it.

Seeing as how confused the Vienna Cardinal’s piece was, and the ignorance of science that it revealed, I doubt it will have much impact, though. In fact, I predict it will backfire. At least that is what I hope.

–Adam

MisterOpus1 Wrote:

Edit: I apologize if I could not directly link this story.

Go to http://tinyurl.com

Plug in the “offending” URL.

Copy the “TinyURL” output.

Come back here and paste the “TinyURL” into your comment.

And you’re done.

Paul wrote:

“This whole “debate” is unfounded because the two sides would have to be using the word “random” in different senses. We would have the men of the cloth using it in the colloquial sense of “non-deterministic” and the biologists using it in the technical mathematical sense”

Absolutely right! I agree 100%.

I’ve formulated it slighly differently. Let me know what you think. When statisticians say an even is random, they mean human beings can’t predict it with certainty given all information available before it occurs. God however, can predict it, because he sits outside time and knows all things. Thus what is random for man is not random for God.

Hey, cool tool Dr. Elsberry, thanx! Unfortunately it appears that in order to edit my comment I need a password - which I don’t recall ever giving here to post (but I could be wrong - I rarely post in the first place). So here’s the direct link that the Tiny URL site gave:

http://tinyurl.com/ce6ln

Adam,

Understood, and I agree with you. Indeed, there is a likely clash going on in the Catholic church, and I’m fully aware that the gullible press are but useful tools to IDers and their ilk. However, what is a bit disturbing to me is the source from Americablog stating that a go-ahead to “correct” the Catholic stance came directly from Ratzinger himself. If this is true, I think we should simply cannot dismiss this as a mere tiff within the Church itself. At the very least, we should keep a close eye on the Church and the Pope itself for future hints and outright statements.

In the article, Cornelia Dean and Laurie Goodstein write: “Many Catholic schools teach Darwinian evolution, in which accidental mutation and natural selection of the fittest organisms drive the history of life, as part of their science curriculum.”

I don’t think they should have used the phrase “Darwinian evolution” that way. It leaves out two kinds of events that have played huge roles in causing organisms to exist and be the way they are, namely genetic recombination and sexual reproduction. “Genetic recombination” is the phrase scientists often use to refer to the series of events that results in the existence of sex cells. In humans, it results in sex cells (gametes) that have 23 chromosomes in them rather than the 46 chromosomes that are in most human cells. Also, the nucleotides that make up the chromosomes of sex cells (gametes) are in significantly different orders than they are in regular cells.

After a sex cell exists, it may fertilize the sex cell of the other parent. This puts the two groups of chromosomes next to each other. None of the chromosomes supplied by the sex cells ever comes into contact with any of the others. They all are they own separate universes. Sexual reproduction results in significant differences from one organism to the next. For instance, I’m quite different than my parents. Had my mother chosen to reproduce with someone other than my father, their offspring would be significantly different than I. Vast numbers of reproductive events have resulted in the existence of organisms that are very significantly different that their descendents, for instance, Chihuahuas and Saint Bernards. Vast number of organisms sexually reproducing is the main cause – or one of the main causes – of humans being as different from gorillas as we are. There is a huge correlation between sexual reproduction existing on earth and differences among organisms. Sexual reproduction first evolved on earth maybe 650 million years ago. Organisms have, in general, been producing many offspring through sexual reproduction ever since. Finally, all sexually reproducing organisms share common ancestors. For instance, we are descendents of sponges.

Here is what Ernst May wrote about genetic recombination and sexual reproduction:

“It took more than 100 years of study to achieve a full understanding of the meaning and process of sexual reproduction. Darwin searched unsuccessfully all his life for the source of genetic variation. It required knowledge of the process of gamete formation and the difference between genotype and phenotype and their roles in natural selection, as well as an understanding of population variation.

“August Weismann and a group of cytologists found the answer. They showed that in sexual reproduction, gamete formation is preceded by two special cell divisions. During the first division, homologous maternal and paternal chromosomes attach themselves tightly to each other and then may break at one or several places. The broken chromosomes exchange parts with each other so that they now consist of a mixture of paternal and maternal chromosome pieces. This process is called crossing over. Each new chromosome is an entirely new combination of maternal and paternal genes. In the second cell division preceding the formation of the gametes, the chromosomes do not divide, but one of each pair of homologous chromosomes goes randomly to one daughter cell and the other chromosome to the other daughter cell. As a result of this ‘reduction division’ the ‘haploid’ number of chromosomes in each gamete is half that of the ‘diploid’ chromosome number of the zygote produced by the fertilized egg. This sequence of two cell divisions preceding gamete formation is called meiosis.

“Two processes during meiosis achieve a drastic recombination of the parental geotypes: (1) crossing-over during the first division and (2) the random movement of homologous chromosomes to different daughter cells (gametes) during the reduction division. The result is the production of completely new combinations of the parental genes, all of them uniquely different genotypes. These, in turn, produce unique phenotypes, providing unlimited new material for the process of natural selection” (What Evolution Is, p. 103-4).

TonyB Wrote:

many of these Catholic clerics and religious activists are very intelligent and educated people

No, most people are not very intelligent or well educated. There is no reason to suspect religious people of being more so. Some of the clerics and religious extremists will be relatively intelligent. Even fewer (a miniscule minority) will be relevantly educated, ie in sciences. The ones in that intersection will be the unequivocably dishonest ones while the others will have the “excuse” of incompetence.

This is what I said on my blog concerning this:

The New York Times reported today that a leading theologian of the Roman Catholic Church is concerned that the view of the Church with respect to evolution is being misrepresented.

The cardinal, Christoph Schoenborn, archbishop of Vienna, a theologian who is close to Pope Benedict XVI, staked out his position in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on Thursday, writing, “Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not.”

He said that he had been “angry” for years about writers and theologians, many Catholics, who he said had “misrepresented” the church’s position as endorsing the idea of evolution as a random process. [emphasis mine]

Evangelical and Catholic scientists expressed dismay with the Cardinal’s statements.

Dr. Francis Collins, who headed the official American effort to decipher the human genome, and who describes himself as a Christian, though not a Catholic, said Cardinal Schönborn’s essay looked like “a step in the wrong direction” and said he feared that it “may represent some backpedaling from what scientifically is a very compelling conclusion, especially now that we have the ability to study DNA.”

“There is a deep and growing chasm between the scientific and the spiritual world views,” he went on. “To the extent that the cardinal’s essay makes believing scientists less and less comfortable inhabiting the middle ground, it is unfortunate. It makes me uneasy.”

“Unguided,” “unplanned,” “random” and “natural” are all adjectives that biologists might apply to the process of evolution, said Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, a professor of biology at Brown and a Catholic. But even so, he said, evolution “can fall within God’s providential plan.” He added: “Science cannot rule it out. Science cannot speak on this.”

So have evolutionists misrepresented the Catholic Church’s doctrine or is it the other way around? The following is a description of it at the National Center for Science Education web site:

Evolutionary Creationism (EC). Despite its name, evolutionary creationism is actually a type of evolution. Here, God the Creator uses evolution to bring about the universe according to his plan. From a scientific point of view, evolutionary creationism is hardly distinguishable from Theistic evolution, which follows it on the continuum. The differences between EC and Theistic evolution lie not in science, but in theology, with EC being held by more conservative (evangelical) Christians (D. Lamoreaux, p.c). I will therefore move on to theistic evolution.

Theistic Evolution (TE). Theistic Evolution is a theological view in which God creates through the laws of nature. Not just the physical laws, either: it is acceptable to TEs that one species can give rise to another; they accept descent with modification. TEs vary in whether and how much God is allowed to intervene – some slide pretty close to Deists. Other TEs see God as intervening at critical intervals during the history of life (especially in the origin of humans), and they in turn slide closer to PCs. In one form or another, TE is the view of creation taught at the majority of mainline Protestant seminaries, and it is the official position of the Catholic church. In 1996, Pope John Paul II reiterated the Catholic TE position, in which God created, evolution happened, humans may indeed be descended from more primitive forms, but the Hand of God was required for the production of the human soul. (John Paul II, 1996).

I included the description of evolutionary creationism (my position) because I find that the description was a fair description of what I believe. The description of the Catholic view in no way described it as endorsing “an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection”. I share Drs. Collins’ and Miller’s concerns in that the statement could drive Evangelical and Catholic scientists away from their respective faiths by removing the middle ground.

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John Landon Wrote:

Challenging Darwin in public is dangerous for public orgs in their PR mode, and the Dalai Lama and even most New Age gurus (with important exceptiosn) wouldn’t dare mention the issue, lest their market share plummet.

Golly, John, you are wrong yet again.

Longhorn -

Good point about the importance of recombination in sexual reproducers. In diploid or polyploid, sexually reproducing, multicellular organisms, this is a critical source of phentoypic variability between parents and offspring. But don’t forget, most of the earth’s biomass consists of unicellular, haploid life that reproduces asexually by necessity (albeit with exchange of genetic material between individuals, by a wide variety of mechanisms). Wherever there is biological reproduction there is evolution, with or without sex.

Everyone -

The cardinal’s action smells, to my cynical nose, strongly of politics.

Logically, there is no serious connection between the theory of evolution and politics. Science cannot answer questions about how we “should” live. Some branches of science can make predictions about what will happen if we behave in certain ways, but that is not at all the same thing as telling us what we “should” do.

In practice, “opponents of evolution” have made this into a political battle. What follows may sound critical to some. I emphasize that I am NOT endorsing or condemning any US political party. My only political stance on this board is that I oppose any politician, of any party, who weakens US science education and research, at any level. I am simply explaining the motive behind the current pope’s action (disguised behind the name of an underling and unclear language).

One major US political party has been courting religious support for years. This is likely related to the fact that during the Civil Rights Era in the US, opponents of segregation were able to point out (entirely correctly) that segregation, or indeed racism in general, is strongly at odds with the teachings of Jesus. Since then, the party that found itself on what was widely perceived as the “wrong” moral side of that issue has been trumpeting sexual issues in an effort to promote itself as “moral”. This strategy also serves as a defense against those who argue, with considerable justification, that Jesus would want us to have great concern for the poor, refrain from violence, executions and torture, and so on.

Creationists, including ID creationists, have adopted the role of supporting the US political party I describe above, and this support has been reciprocated. Virtually all politicians, at every level from US senator to county school board member, who promote “anti-evolution” policies, belong to one particular party. This is true in New York, Georgia, Kansas, Ohio, Utah, Tulsa, and anywhere else you look. The existence of one eccentric in Toronto, Denyse O’Leary, whose politics are unclear, hardly changes this fact. One need not be the “Isaac Newton of information theory” to see that this is vanishingly unlikely to be a coincidence. Does anyone seriously believe that the OTHER political party is popular around the offices of the DI, let alone AIG, or even that someone who supported the wrong party would be tolerated there for long?

My perception is that support for economic and social policies comes first, and adoption of a justifying “religious” stance comes second, and in evidence, I offer the bad behavior of “religious” politicians and their creationist cheerleaders, even by the sex-only religious standards they often claim to observe. Others argue that religious faith, misguided and authoritarian but sincere, drives them into politics. It doesn’t really matter. They are there now, for whatever reason.

The current pope, who was active before the physical death of John Paul II, has made his stance blatantly clear. He overwhelmingly favors one US political party, to the extent that he deliberately downplays John Paul II’s very clear teachings on war, execution, the poor, and so on, when they prove inconvenient to that party, and even endorsed the denial of communion to the Catholic candidate for the other party. Whether the pope is motivated by a sincere horror of stem cell research, early term abortions, and homosexual monogomy, to the extent that he believes in compromise on everything else, or whether he merely likes the style of one party better and says whatever he thinks will help them, is hard to say.

In recent months, the DI has been in trouble. Their Byzantine logical stance has frustrated their Protestant would-be supporters in Pennsylvania and Utah. “Sometimes it’s God, but sometimes we can’t admit it’s God, we just have to wink and snicker” has proved a tricky tight rope, and strain is showing.

So here comes Pope Ratzinger, to the attempted rescue of his political bedfellows. The results will be mixed. By claiming that ID is Catholic dogma, the pope may have hurt it in court, in the short term. The more important goal - intimidating Catholics into supporting one particular political party, even if they don’t like many of its policies - is likely to be well-served.

There are many, many, many Republicans and Catholics who advocate strong science education and research in the US. If you are among these, I would recommend that you strive to get your party, and your church, out of the fraudulent creationism business.

I like to quote St. Augustine, because he was an unltra-conservative saint who understood the dangers of the waters into which the Church is headed. St Augustine wrote: “If it happens that the authority of Sacred Scripture is set in opposition to clear and certain reasoning, this must mean that the person who interprets Scripture does not understand it correctly. It is not the meaning of Scripture which is opposed to the truth but the meaning which he has wanted to give to it. That which is opposed to Scripture is not what is in Scripture but what he has placed there himself, believing that this is what Scripture meant”. For what it’s worth, I think the Times article was a PR move to run the idea up the flag pole and see who salutes. The Church has been wrong so many times about the real world, you might think they would tire of getting their fingers burned.

Rich Wrote:

I included the description of evolutionary creationism (my position) because I find that the description was a fair description of what I believe.

IIRC, that’s from Eugenie Scott’s “The Creation/Evolution Continuum.” Although I thought that it was a very informative article, Scott could have said more than just a hint that there is a big gap between EC and ID. ID is where deliberate misrepresentation begins. Granted, there are honest believers in YEC and OEC who take it on “revelation” and realize that their belief cannot seriously challenge science. But with the leaders, particularly those who have adopted the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ID approach, it’s all strategy.

If one charts the leaders of the movements, rather than the “believers,” the continuum is quite different, with ID and EC/TE at opposite ends rather than adjacent. ID is more determined than any of the classic creationisms at misrepresenting science. By avoiding testable claims it is even less scientific that flat-earthism. Meanwhile, EC/TE has all the scientific objections to ID/creationism as athestic evolution does, plus theological objections.

Harold worte:

“Since then, the party that found itself on what was widely perceived as the ‘wrong’ moral side of that issue has been trumpeting sexual issues in an effort to promote itself as ‘moral’.”

What load of crap! And you claim yourself to be non-partisan?

The first civil rights law of the 20th century was signed by a Republican president (Eisenhower, the 1957 voting rights acts). A larger majority of Republicans than Democrats in the Congress voted for the ground-breaking civil rights act of 1964. The only significnat oppostition came not from Republicans, but Southern Democrats.

The civil rights movement was a bi-partisan coalition of Republicans and northern Democrats.

Of course, there were notable exceptions. Lyndon Johnson, the man who signed the 1964 act into law, was a Southern Democrat. And yes, Republican Barry Goldwater opposed the 1964 act, but he was in the minority among his party.

But even Goldwater was a supporter of Civil Rights by other means. He helped found the Arizona NAACP and instigated the campaign to desegregate the Arizona National Guard, for instance. The only reason he opposed the 1964 Act was beacuse he did not believe the Constituion gave Congress the authority to tell employers whom they could and could not hire.

I’m sick am tired of this bullshit the the Republican party was somehow against civil rights.

MisterOpus:

I looked at the blog, and from what I could gleen, it seems that all the Holy Father did was give the Cardinal the go-ahead to write an article seeking to “clarify” the Catholic position. I seriously doubt the Holy Father anything more than a vague idea of what the Cardinal was going to write. Nor do I think the Holy Father is certain himself on how the Church’s position on evolution is to be clarified. If he did have an idea on how it should be done, and he thought the Cardinal’s approach was right, he would have commissioned him to write an encyclical. That he merely encouraged the Cardinal to write an editoral in an unofficial capacity, I think proves that at the very most, the Holy Father is sympatheic to but unconvinced of the Cardinal’s opinion.

You can sure the Holy Father is carefully watching to see how the editorial is received. In fact, that is probably one reason he was interested in seeing the Cardinal publish it in a secular outlet. The worse reception it gets, and the more holes get punched in it by faithful Catholic scientists, the more likely it is to get dismissed.

I am very glad to see that people like Ken Miller are coming out against it early and forefully. They will have an effect.

Oh, and Harold:

I’ve got one thing to say to you. In the US Congress today, there is one (and only one) man who was once a member of the Klu Klux Klan. Do you happen to know what party he belongs to?

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Adam is right. The republican party historically was on the “right” side of civil rights. After all, it is the party that first reached the presidency under Abraham Lincoln. And for more than a century the most virulent white racists in the country were to be found among folks describing themselves as southern democrats.

That was then. Where do you suppose all those southern democrats are now? [Hint: think Strom Thurmond].

Here’s an interesting little statistical exercise: Go back to the comment by Harold, and the comment in which Adam takes exception to it. Tally the ratio of present-tense/past-tense verbs in each. What do you suppose is the significance of that?

Is the Holy Father the same thing as the Pope? As a non-Catholic, I find this confusing. I thought everyone in the Church down to the level of priest was a “father”, and of course every last one of them is holy. Are some of them more fatherly, or holier, or both, than others?

I read harold saying that the Democrats have been depicted as being sexually amoral, which is something quite distinct from promoting equal rights. But I can see that when we’re dealing with issues like abortion and gay marriage, the Republicans tend far more to position these as issues of absolute morality, and the Democrats as issues of equal rights for all citizens.

What’s a “load of crap” here is to be explicitly told we’re talking about SEXUAL ISSUES in so many words, and to completely ignore the words in order to rant about segregated schools, access to the voting booth, etc. Also a “load of crap” is to cherry-pick individuals from the last 50 years who stand out by virtue of being counterexamples of the general trend, and trying to pretend these exceptions reflect the pattern. There is no shortage of polls showing that those identifying themselves as Republicans tend FAR more than those identifying themselves as Democrats to oppose affirmative action programs, transfer payment programs to the poor, gay marriage, abortion, blue laws, laws against a multitude of sexual practices, and the like. Even though it is always possible to find a single Republican or Democrat who crosses these general lines on one issue or another.

I do agree (unsurprisingly) with all of the posters here who have inadvertently seconded my speculation that this editorial was written at least partially to see which way the wind is blowing, and was written in a muddy and ambiguous way so that once the wind direction stabilizes, it can be “clarified” in whatever direction is expedient.

There are two types of evolution theologists. In the first type, which might be the position of the Catholic Church, evolution happens but it is guided along the way by Big Daddy. This would seem to be the view of most IDers as well. In the second type, exemplified by Ken Miller and Howard Van Till, Big Daddy lets chance play the role suggested by Darwinism.

What is interesting about the latter position is that they are willing to accept that humanity is an accident. Big Daddy set up the whole thing, but allowed for many pathways to achieve his goals.

“Religion” does not mean “an organized, coherent set of moral values and personal preferences.” Most religions include an organized, though not necessarily coherent, set of moral values, but that isn’t what religion is. The fundamental component of almost all religions that your “definition” completely evades is their claims of truth about the world and about human beings, their origin, their fate, their purpose, and so on.

And since virtually everybody, including atheists and non-believers, can be said to have an “organized, coherent set of moral values and personal preferences,” your use of the word “religion” to refer to that is just worthless, not to mention deceptive.

Indeed. There’s a pattern.

If you walk away right now, the outcome will be the same as if you address another thousand posts to you-know-who.

Previous comments from the same poster:

But you won’t get any more replies.

Not directly, heh heh.

I have a hypothesis. Predicting human behavior is a “soft” science, of course, but I think I’ll give it a whirl. I predict at least one savagely insulting yet painfully irrelevant reply to this. I further predict that you’ll “follow” me around the site and make a lot of pointless insulting replies to any posts I make, for the next few days. You’ll do it even though I’m predicting it right here.

Heh heh.

harold:

Sure, that’s all part of it, sort of.

So you “sort of” hold your religious beliefs, in part, because you were taught to believe them and because you just randomly selected them. And you think those are valid reasons, do you? Why is random choice likely to lead you to the truth? Why is believing something because you were taught to believe it likely to lead you to the truth?

I also believe that the current state of the human brain has allowed certain realizations to emerge. There is more to reality than what we can measure with our yardsticks. That sure as spit doesn’t mean we should stop measuring, of course. To some of us, however, the more we measure, the more we see that measuring alone isn’t all there is. The more you actually learn about science, as a whole, without burying yourself in one narrow problem, the more you understand that science’s power and its limitations are the same thing.

You said this before, that “science’s power and its limitations are the same thing” but you haven’t explained what it’s supposed to mean. What is this power of science that is the same thing as its limitation? And whatever you answer is, how does it lend support to your religious beliefs? I agree that “There is more to reality than what we can measure with our yardsticks” but I don’t understand why you think that helps your religious beliefs.

Then why are you posting at this site?

I usually don’t. I started posting in this discussion because I strongly dispute the claim that the Christianity of “theistic evolutionists” like Kenneth Miller is consistent with the evidence of science and reason, while the Christianity of fundamentalists and literalists is not. Neither version of Christianity is consistent with the evidence.

If we decide to use “religion” in the sense of specific doctrines of organized Christian churches, then I agree with you, these are in decline. But values cannot possibly be “in decline”, they can only change to different values over time.

If values cannot be in decline, then how can one say that specific doctrines can be in decline? Intellectual dishonesty, perhaps? Presumably the decline refers to the number of people who hold these values or subscribe to these doctrines. But let’s see what Don actually wrote …

Virtually all indicators of religious belief and practise in the U.S. and the rest of the developed world are in decline.

How did “indicators” translate into “values”? Intellectual dishonesty, perhaps?

55,000 words in this section. Is that a PT record?

Flint:

Depends on what you mean by a “truth claim.”

I mean both words in their common, ordinary, accepted senses. “God exists” is a claim of truth. “The moon is made of cheese” is another claim of truth. “Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven” is yet another claim of truth. Religions make all sorts of claims of truth.

You didn’t answer my questions that you quoted. Here they are again: Given two mutually contradictory truth claims that their proponents justify through an appeal to faith, how may we decide between them? Why is one more likely to be correct than the other? Why have faith in one of them rather than the other? Why have faith at all?

Why, for example, believe through faith that there is one God, rather than two, or many, or none? Why believe, through faith, that God is good rather than evil or indifferent? Why believe, through faith, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for our sins rather than that he is not? And so on, and so forth. The question may be applied to any belief for which faith is asserted as a justification.

I started posting in this discussion because I strongly dispute the claim that the Christianity of “theistic evolutionists” like Kenneth Miller is consistent with the evidence of science and reason, while the Christianity of fundamentalists and literalists is not. Neither version of Christianity is consistent with the evidence.

Or, if consistency with evidence is unnecessary or “boring”, then both are equally justified. We are told that Kenneth Miller “sees” management and no one can tell him he’s wrong, but somehow it’s ok to tell those who see intelligent design that they are wrong. Fortunately, there are many evolutionary biologists who act to the contrary and spend quite a bit of time showing why the ID claims are wrong – not deductive-proof-wise wrong, but wrong in the ordinary empirical sense of being unsupported by evidence, in the same way that the claim that humans have been abducted by aliens who performed experiments on them is wrong.

For the umpteenth time, the evidence shows no sign of benevolence

For the umpteenth time, please demonstrate this using the scientific method. I’m not interested in your opinion on the matter. It’s no better than anyone ELSE’s opinion on the matter – such as, say, the opinions of those who DO see signs of benevolence and whatever.

Why, other than your say-so, is your assumption any more authoritative or valid than theirs?

. The evidence shows no sign of omnipotence. The evidence shows no sign of purpose.

Says you. Others, say otherwise. (shrug)

Until you can demonstrate this using the scientific method, your opinions is … well … just your opinion.

It is possible that the world was created by an omnipotent, benevolent, purposeful God despite the lack of evidence that it was.

It is equally possible that the world was created by a limited, indifferent, purposeless God who doesn’t give a flying fig about its creation. So what?

But the belief that the world was so created is an assumption.

As is the belief that it was not. That, after all, is what makes it a “belief”.

Unless, of course, you can demonstrate this using the scientific method . … . Can you?

Why are you justified in making that assumption? Answer the question.

Um, I don’t make any such assumption. I don’t assert the existence of any supernatural god or gods. Pay attention.

Why are YOU justified in making YOUR assumption? Answer the question.

Can you demonstrate, using the sicentific method, that there is no god? If not, then all you have is your assumption/opinion/philosophical preference/whatever you want to call it. And yours is no more authoritative than anyone else’s. And it’s certainly not “science”.

As with the IDers, you simply push your subjective opinions onto others and lie to them by claiming they are “science”. They are not. Unitl and unless you can validate them using the scientific method.

Can you?

What seems to be the problem?

The problem is that “the scientific method cannot tell us whether murder is wrong” does not imply the falsity of “everything around us is amenable to the scientific method”, you clown.

Glad to hear it.

Please, then, go ahead and use the scientific method to determine whether or not murder is wrong. What’s taking you so long?

Or do you think discussions about whether murder is wrong, do not happen around us? If so, where do you propose they DO happen?

The position that there is no God is not a “pure value judgment”, it’s a value judgment based on evaluating *evidence*.

No, it’s not, since the “evidence* can show no such thing. At best, the *evidence* can show that there is no current need to postulate the existence of any god or gods in order to explain any phenomenon that cna be studied using the scientific method. That is NOT the same as “there is no god”.

Similarly, there is currently no need to postulate the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life to explain any phenomenon that can be studied using the scientific method (UFO nuts nothwithstanding). That does NOT, however, mean there there definitely are no extratrrestrial intelligent life forms. Absence of evidence, is not necessarily evidence of absence.

It is perfectly valid for science, as science, to say “we have no need to invoke any supernatural entities in order to explain these experimental results”. It is NOT perfectly valid for science, as science, to then go on to say “therefore supernatural entities cannot exist”. Any more than science, as science, can validly conclude “we have no current evidence for any extraterrestrial life, therefore extraterrestrial life does n ot exist”.

One is a conclusion from the evidence. One is not.

See the difference?

Hmmm, neither do the IDers.

Funny, isn’t it.

Or do you think discussions about whether murder is wrong, do not happen around us? If so, where do you propose they DO happen?

Study of discussions about that or anything else, as instances of human behavior, are amenable to the scientific method. That is independent of whether the scientific method can provide answers to normative questions.

Clown.

“The position that there is no God is not a “pure value judgment”, it’s a value judgment based on evaluating *evidence*.”

No, it’s not, since the “evidence* can show no such thing. At best, the *evidence* can show that there is no current need to postulate the existence of any god or gods in order to explain any phenomenon that cna be studied using the scientific method. That is NOT the same as “there is no god”.

The quoted statement does not assert that there is no god.

Clown.

That does NOT, however, mean there there definitely are no extratrrestrial intelligent life forms.

A clownish strawman, since no one makes “definite” empirical claims to that effect. It is well understood that all empirical claims are tentative.

Absence of evidence, is not necessarily evidence of absence.

A popular claim, but a false one. Absence of proof is not proof of absence, but “there is evidence for P” is a very weak form of epistemological support.

It is NOT perfectly valid for science, as science, to then go on to say “therefore supernatural entities cannot exist”. Any more than science, as science, can validly conclude “we have no current evidence for any extraterrestrial life, therefore extraterrestrial life does n ot exist”.

Clownish strawmen. Quoting Richard Dawkins yet again:

A friend, an intelligent lapsed Jew who observes the Sabbath for reasons of cultural solidarity, describes himself as a Tooth Fairy Agnostic. He will not call himself an atheist because it is in principle impossible to prove a negative. But “agnostic” on its own might suggest that he though God’s existence or non-existence equally likely. In fact, though strictly agnostic about god, he considers God’s existence no more probable than the Tooth Fairy’s. Bertrand Russell used a hypothetical teapot in orbit about Mars for the same didactic purpose. You have to be agnostic about the teapot, but that doesn’t mean you treat the likelihood of its existence as being on all fours with its non-existence. The list of things about which we strictly have to be agnostic doesn’t stop at tooth fairies and celestial teapots. It is infinite. If you want to believe in a particular one of them – teapots, unicorns, or tooth fairies, Thor or Yahweh – the onus is on you to say why you believe in it. The onus is not on the rest of us to say why we do not. We who are atheists are also a-fairyists, a-teapotists, and a-unicornists, but we don’t’ have to bother saying so.

Then you believe something that you yourself admit you are not justified in believing.

But my dear Don, ALL of us hold subjective beliefs that we are not justified in believing. I believe brunettes are cuter than blondes. Is that justified? I believe that I deserve a raise at work, but that my co-worker doesn’t. Is THAT justified? After all, my co-worker believes exactly the opposite. Is that belief justified? How can we tell?

That’s the problem with subjective things, Don – they are … well … subjective. And no matter how much you might wave your arms and declare YOUR subjective belief to be “more justified” than mine, the fact remains that your subjective opinions are no more authoritative or valid than mine or my next door neighbor’s, except for your own say-so.

You believe there is a “lack of purpose, benevolence, blah blah blah”. I believe otherwise. Which of us is justified in his beliefs? And how can we tell? Other than just taking your word or mine for it?

Science has a method for deciding matters that it can study. Conveniently enough, we call it “the scientific method”. Things that can’t be answered using the scientific method, aren’t science and aren’t scientific.

Which is precisely why we can’t use the scientific method to decide which religious opinions, yours or mine, are correct. They are, after all, nothing but opinions.

If you disagree, please please pretty please by all means feel entirely free to go ahead and demonstrate for us the validity of your religious opinions using the scientific method.

So why do you believe it? Random choice? Because it comforts you? Because you were raised to believe it? Or what?

Why do I like chocolate ice cream better than vanilla? Random choice? Because it comforts me? Because I was raised to believe it?

Why do I like brunettes better than blondes?

Why do I like blue better than green?

Why do I see purpose and benevolence in the world, and you don’t?

Alas, science can answer none of those questions. You can wave your arms and blither all about how objective and scientific *your opinions* are, but they nevertheless still remain just that – your opinions. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. No more authoritative than anyone *else’s* opinions.

Just like the IDers.

the view that religious beliefs are justified if they are emotionally appealing. Is that it? Is that your defense of religion? Or what?

I’m curious — do you have a wife or girlfriend or partner? If so, what is your justification for this relationship? Because it’s scientific and rational and logical? Or because it’s emotionally satisfying … ? Is that it?

Do you, uh, have some sort of problem with people being emotionally satisfied? Would you prefer them to be perfectly scientific, rational, logical and live in a state of emotionless Kholinar?

Is your middle name “Spock”, by any chance?

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 3, column 140, byte 190 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

Quoting Richard Dawkins yet again:

May I ask when Dawkins became infallible … ?

Add another item to the long list of similarities between the ideologue atheists and the IDers — both are madly in love with the quoted argument from authority.

So “the position that there is no god” doesn’t really mean that … well … “there is no god”.

Indeed “the position that there is no god” is not equivalent to “there is no god” – they’re in totally different categories.

Clown.

May I ask when Dawkins became infallible … ?

No one claimed he’s infallible; you’re welcome to refute his statement.

Clown.

Add another item to the long list of similarities between the ideologue atheists and the IDers — both are madly in love with the quoted argument from authority

It takes a clown to equate argument *from* authority, which simply asserts that something is true because some authority says so, with an argument *by* an authority – which might be fallacious or not; it of course must be judged on its merits. But clowns don’t do that.

But my dear Don, ALL of us hold subjective beliefs that we are not justified in believing.

Indeed; some of us aren’t very bright, and hold a lot of unjustified beliefs.

I believe brunettes are cuter than blondes. Is that justified?

This is clownish playing with words. You may *find* brunettes to be cuter than blondes, but that’s not a belief. Beliefs are universals, and only a very confused person would hold that “Brunettes are cuter than blondes” is universally true, rather than being an expression of a personal preference.

I believe that I deserve a raise at work, but that my co-worker doesn’t. Is THAT justified?

Surely you can offer justification for the claim that you deserve a raise to your boss. And surely your boss can offer justifications for giving you and/or your co-worker a raise. If your boss makes such decisions without justification, s/he’s incompetent.

After all, my co-worker believes exactly the opposite. Is that belief justified?

Well, the belief that a raise for you is mutually exclusive with a raise for your co-workgiving you and your co-worker is unjustified, i.e., it’s irrational. And the belief that your co-worker necessarily thinks you don’t deserve a raise is likewise irrational (unless s/he has indicated that). But perhaps you’re simply confusing desires with beliefs.

How can we tell?

It takes intelligence.

There’s a lot of heavy emotional stuff going on there.

Indeed. For people who claim to be all about “science” and “reason” and “logic”, they certainly do get awfully emotional about their religious opinions. Just like IDers and other fundies.

But this discussion *has* done much to undermine IDers (which is, I suspect, why none of them have piped up anywhere in it). The reaction from the “evolutionists” here to our resident atheist ideologues makes it pretty clear that the IDers are just talking out their butts whenever they claim that either “science is atheistic” or “religion and science are incompatible”. None of the “evolutionists” here agree with them, except the hardcore atheists (who are just like them and in many ways indistinguishable from them). So much for all the IDer’s “evolution is an atheist plot” bullshit.

Don P. -

“I usually don’t. I started posting in this discussion because I strongly dispute the claim that the Christianity of “theistic evolutionists” like Kenneth Miller is consistent with the evidence of science and reason, while the Christianity of fundamentalists and literalists is not. Neither version of Christianity is consistent with the evidence.”

If you claim that someone else’ religion is inconsistent with science, simply propose a scientific experiment to prove their religious claims wrong. Not another 55,000 words of other stuff. Not “the evidence could be consistent with other religious views as well”. That isn’t what you said.

In the case of literalists, this has been done. It wasn’t done to them on purpose. It’s just the way it worked out. Science isn’t consistent with a “literal interpretation of Genesis”.

ID is even more out of whack with science than literalism. It isn’t science at all, nor religion either. It’s just a petulant insistence that science back off of certain scientific issues, apparently decided at random by its vendors, and declare that magic occurred. All the rest of ID is repetition of the same superficial arguments, often well-blended with pointless insults and declarations of superior “reason” and “intelligence”. And they’ve produced a lot more than 55,000 words.

Kenneth Miller follows a religion that isn’t inconsistent with science. If you don’t like his religion, that’s your business. If you treat him abusively or unfairly because his religion is different than yours, that makes you a bigot. It’s your business if you want to be a bigot too.

If you claim his or anyone else’s religion isn’t consistent with science, propose a experiment to support that claim.

If you claim that someone else’s religion is inconsistent with science, simply propose a scientific experiment to provide evidence that their religious claims are wrong. That’s what would make their religion inconsistent with science.

You’re an atheist, and you claim that this is consistent with science, too. You claim that Miller, me, or Lenny Flank can’t use “reason” to convert you to our position, a point no-one would dispute. No-one is trying to “justify” their religion to you - why should they? But now you’ve made a scientific claim. And this is a science site.

If you claim that someone else’s religion is inconsistent with science, simply propose a scientific experiment to prove their religious claims wrong. That’s what would make their religion inconsistent with science. Either suggest a scientific approach to the problem, or find a non-science site to argue on.

This post has too many comments. Please wrap it up people. It will get locked in a few hours.

harold:

If you claim that someone else’s religion is inconsistent with science, simply propose a scientific experiment to prove their religious claims wrong. That’s what would make their religion inconsistent with science.

On your account, no religious claim is inconsistent with science, because you can simply add another religious assumption and claim consistency. For example, when confronted with evidence that the earth is very old, a young-earth creationist may simply make the assumption that God created the earth with the fossils already buried in the ground and the light from distant stars already on its way. Likewise, when confronted with evidence that human life arose by accident and that the world is indifferent to suffering, you may simply make the assumption, that these apparent features of the world are part of some purposeful and benevolent divine plan that we cannot understand. You and the creationists are both playing the same game. When the evidence suggests your religious belief is wrong, rather than revise your beliefs in light of that discovery, you simply pile on another assumption to try and rescue your belief.

Harold, I see what ts and Don P are doing as very intolerant for reasons that I don’t have time to go into right now. However, I don’t accept the proposition that science and religion can coexist peacefully. For what little time Dr. Cartwright will grant us can you answer a question? Is it possible to separate the claims of a religion from the religion itself? And if so, how? I would expect that a religion is only the sum of its claims and if you discredit them then you discredit the religion. The Christian Bible (the basis of your religion) make very specific claims about physical reality. How can it be taken seriously if those claims are demolished? Adam, please comment too, if you are lurking. Flint and Lenny as well, but ts and Don P stay out. Sincerely, Paul

On the issue of the “Southern Strategy”, I found this quote from Jay Nordlinger in National Review:

All of my life (this is my theme), I have heard Democrats sneer at and condemn the Republicans’ “southern strategy.” This was the strategy whereby, in 1968, the GOP peeled off white southerners, who had belonged, for generations, to the Democrats. Whenever a Republican hears the phrase “southern strategy,” he’s supposed to hang his head in shame. Well, really, what the Democrats are saying, in part, is: “Damn you. You stole OUR racists. Those racists belong to US. And you ruined it!”

You might say, the Democrats had a “southern strategy” for a hundred years.

While it’s not good for either party to pander to racism, it’s a little ridiculous for the Democrats to criticize the Republicans for being racist, when the whole reason the Democrats controlled the South for 100 years was because of the Civil War! The typical knee-jerk description of the Southern strategy also ignores various subtleties to it, such as other cultural and political factors besides racism that went into it. For example, the South tends to be more hawkish, so as Republicans became more hawkish, and Democrats more dovish, it makes sense that Southern voters would start switching parties.

Jim Harrison Wrote:

If you aren’t a believer, after all, the story sounds pretty peculiar.

This is a good point. As a believer, sometimes I think too many Christians forget just how radical Christianity is. I think it was C.S. Lewis who once said something along the lines of, “Christianity is just strange enough to make it seem true”, the idea being that we tend not to believe stories that are too neat and tidy, since life itself is rarely like that. But a lot of what fundamentalists are about is making Christianity neat and tidy (more for themselves than anyone else, but of course it spills over.)

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on July 9, 2005 3:03 AM.

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