Evolution Weekend

| 59 Comments
EvWeekendLogo.jpg

The Clergy Letter Project has announced the ninth annual Evolution Weekend, February 7-9, 2014. Their theme this year is Different Ways of Knowing/Asking Different Questions, and they say,

Evolution Weekend is an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science. An ongoing goal has been to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic, and to show that religion and science are not adversaries. Rather, they look at the natural world from quite different perspectives and ask, and answer, different questions.

They go on to note that many religious people recognize evolution as “sound science” and furthermore that “mischaracteriz[ing] evolution for partisan gain” has real (and I would add, uniformly negative) “consequences for society.” Read their statement for yourself, and by all means bug your clergyperson to address evolution from the pulpit or to develop some special program for that weekend – even if you have to prepare that program yourself! I certainly intend to bug my rabbi, who last year very graciously helped me put together a program on the trolley problem, and see what we can do this year.

59 Comments

Wonder if the Atheists will weigh in ?

Matt:

Note that the PDF link given in the “Trolley Problem” page 22 fails. Clicking on the link in page 37 also results in failure with IE 10 but testing shows that the line wrap results in the “.com” getting lost. In other words, if you cut and past the full link it works fine, but clicking on it fails.

Thanks! The link on p. 22 must have been taken down; it is a Natural History article by Strassman and Queller in September, 2007. I’ll see whether I can find a new link to that article. I will try to fix the link on p. 37 over the weekend.

The Strassmann and Queller article is “Altruism among the Amoebas,” and the only place I could immediately find it was here. I imagine it costs a pretty penny, but presumably you can also get it through interlibrary loan. There are also a lot of more-technical articles listed in Google Scholar.

StrassmanN is correct. (It is a miracle that I can type at all.)

“It is a miracle that I can type at all.”

Your typing is fine; the problem is which keys you are actually pushing with your fingers (or toes, whatever the case may be).

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

One clarification: the phrase should have read ”…compatibility with Christianity, Judaism, etc.”

Ian Derthal said:

Wonder if the Atheists will weigh in ?

There may be an assumption here that all atheists are hostile to all religion.

I’m told I’m an atheist. I don’t “deny the possibility of a god” but I don’t believe in gods or any other supernatural beings. Years ago this was called being an “agnostic”. However, in the internet era, I’ve seen self-defined atheists worked up to an inappropriate rage, using the most hostile possible language against anyone who defines atheism as “denying even the possibility of god”. Simply not believing in gods seems to define one as an atheist by most accepted current usage.

The current working definition of atheist in common English seems to be someone who just doesn’t believe in gods, and by that definition I’m an atheist. (Note to any troll who is about to jump in raging that I am not a “true” or “pure” atheist - I just said that I make no such claim but that the current working definition of atheist, as I see the word used, seems to apply to me.)

I don’t know why so many humans are “religious”, but it is an extremely common trait. Even in Northwestern Europe large minorities of people still define themselves as religious.

I have nothing against “religion” per se, which I perceive as a neutral trait. Some people do good things and say they are inspired by their religion - e.g. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Others do bad things and make a similar claim.

I’m even something of a Christian atheist.

I’m no expert on Judaism, but I’ve been told by friends that a similar position is common in the Jewish tradition and has its defenders.

Obviously I’m not convinced by any of the religious arguments of members of the Clergy Project - or I’d have converted to the denomination the one who convinced me is clergy of, of course.

However, there is no reason for them or anyone else to misunderstand or misrepresent evolution, and deliberate lying about any topic for superficial personal gain is at unequivocally at odds with Christian ethics. We can debate whether or not the Bible “really” commands society to stone disobedient children, but we CAN’T reasonably debate whether it condones deception for personal gain, because on that topic it is pretty consistent.

So if members of the Clergy Project wish to understand evolution correctly and work against misrepresentations, more power to them.

harold said:

However, there is no reason for them or anyone else to misunderstand or misrepresent evolution, and deliberate lying about any topic for superficial personal gain is at unequivocally at odds with Christian ethics. We can debate whether or not the Bible “really” commands society to stone disobedient children, but we CAN’T reasonably debate whether it condones deception for personal gain, because on that topic it is pretty consistent.

Umm, I’m not so sure about that: to wit, Jacob’s ‘theft’ of Esau’s birthright by deceiving their father. No punishment or even disapproval seems apparent in the Bible. On the contrary, Jacob seems to have been greatly rewarded by being blessed with many sons and becoming literally Israel, and the father of the people of Israel.

But then OT ethics may or may not correspond to ‘Christian’ ethics. To folks like FL, some parts of the OT, when it’s convenient to them or their current political philosophy, are indissoluble from Christianity. Other parts they pretend don’t exist, or don’t mean what any fool can see that they mean.

A serious question for those more familiar with the NT than I am: Is there any passage in the NT which can reasonably be construed as approving of deception for personal gain? The SECRET meetings of early Christians would seem to be such a case, but I don’t know if such is recommended or approved anywhere in the NT.

Just Bob said:

harold said:

However, there is no reason for them or anyone else to misunderstand or misrepresent evolution, and deliberate lying about any topic for superficial personal gain is at unequivocally at odds with Christian ethics. We can debate whether or not the Bible “really” commands society to stone disobedient children, but we CAN’T reasonably debate whether it condones deception for personal gain, because on that topic it is pretty consistent.

Umm, I’m not so sure about that: to wit, Jacob’s ‘theft’ of Esau’s birthright by deceiving their father. No punishment or even disapproval seems apparent in the Bible. On the contrary, Jacob seems to have been greatly rewarded by being blessed with many sons and becoming literally Israel, and the father of the people of Israel.

But then OT ethics may or may not correspond to ‘Christian’ ethics. To folks like FL, some parts of the OT, when it’s convenient to them or their current political philosophy, are indissoluble from Christianity. Other parts they pretend don’t exist, or don’t mean what any fool can see that they mean.

A serious question for those more familiar with the NT than I am: Is there any passage in the NT which can reasonably be construed as approving of deception for personal gain? The SECRET meetings of early Christians would seem to be such a case, but I don’t know if such is recommended or approved anywhere in the NT.

I don’t have time to engage in a lengthy discussion of this, but did want to make a couple of quick points.

In Exodus 20:16, I don’t think “bearing false witness” should be understood as synonymous with “lying.” The Complete Jewish Bible translates Exodus 20:16 as

Do not give false evidence against your neighbor.

It’s not necessarily a prohibition about being deceptive, it’s a prohibition against perjury and false accusations – a particularly important point when so many offenses could result in execution. If I remember, I’ll check my JPS translation of the Tanakh when I get home from work.

As to the issue of New Testament teaching about deception, a Christian might evaluate an act of deception based on Jesus’s teaching in Matthew 22:36-40:

“Rabbi, which of the mitzvot in the Torah is the most important?” He told him, “‘You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This is the greatest and most important mitzvah. And a second is similar to it, ‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot.”

Just Bob said:

harold said:

However, there is no reason for them or anyone else to misunderstand or misrepresent evolution, and deliberate lying about any topic for superficial personal gain is at unequivocally at odds with Christian ethics. We can debate whether or not the Bible “really” commands society to stone disobedient children, but we CAN’T reasonably debate whether it condones deception for personal gain, because on that topic it is pretty consistent.

Umm, I’m not so sure about that: to wit, Jacob’s ‘theft’ of Esau’s birthright by deceiving their father. No punishment or even disapproval seems apparent in the Bible. On the contrary, Jacob seems to have been greatly rewarded by being blessed with many sons and becoming literally Israel, and the father of the people of Israel.

But then OT ethics may or may not correspond to ‘Christian’ ethics. To folks like FL, some parts of the OT, when it’s convenient to them or their current political philosophy, are indissoluble from Christianity. Other parts they pretend don’t exist, or don’t mean what any fool can see that they mean.

A serious question for those more familiar with the NT than I am: Is there any passage in the NT which can reasonably be construed as approving of deception for personal gain? The SECRET meetings of early Christians would seem to be such a case, but I don’t know if such is recommended or approved anywhere in the NT.

I’m neither religious nor a theologian, but I can give you the standard answer that religious ethical Christians of my childhood would have given.

1) There are numerous examples in the OT, especially the early OT, of people violating commandments and receiving God’s favor, and others being victimized by God’s favorites despite not having done anything obviously wrong.

That doesn’t change the commandments. It’s God’s business what He wants to do about it if you break them, but you can only control whether you break them. The default is to follow them, rather than to assume that God will favor you as he favored Jacob or some of the other less savory yet favored OT characters.

2) There are other condemnations of deceptive and/or hypocritical behavior, especially in the four gospels and various prophet books, but as for what “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness” means…If you assume it means don’t lie, then you’ll never commit perjury if you follow it. If you assume it means only perjury, and assume carte blanche to lie, then you might find out some day that your interpretation was too liberal. Follow the more general interpretation. (I’m talking about transparently self-serving lies, or course, not the “lying to help a dissident escape the Soviet Union” type of problem.)

This is mildly but not entirely off topic. Some current school of atheist thought hold that there can be no such thing as a Christian hypocrite, because Christianity has been used to justify anything. I partly disagree. There is a level of unethical behavior which is commonly understood to be incompatible with ostentatious claims to be a religious Christian. I stand by the assertion that some self-proclaimed Christians are hypocrites.

SWT said:

It’s not necessarily a prohibition about being deceptive, it’s a prohibition against perjury and false accusations – a particularly important point when so many offenses could result in execution. If I remember, I’ll check my JPS translation of the Tanakh when I get home from work.

Many of the fundamentalist churches in the US spend a great deal of time demonizing “Darwinists,” “Evilutionists,” “secularists,” “secular humanists,” liberals, and others in our society. They do it from their pulpits, on the religion channels on television, and on the radio shows – such as Red Eye Radio. It is very easy to find this stuff; in fact, just look at the denizens over at UD.

This certainly looks like bearing false witness; and it is certainly outright lying.

Mike Elzinga said:

Many of the fundamentalist churches in the US spend a great deal of time demonizing “Darwinists,” “Evilutionists,” “secularists,” “secular humanists,” liberals, and others in our society. They do it from their pulpits, on the religion channels on television, and on the radio shows – such as Red Eye Radio. … This certainly looks like bearing false witness; and it is certainly outright lying.

And they do it right here on The Panda’s Thumb.

Just Bob said:

harold said:

However, there is no reason for them or anyone else to misunderstand or misrepresent evolution, and deliberate lying about any topic for superficial personal gain is at unequivocally at odds with Christian ethics. We can debate whether or not the Bible “really” commands society to stone disobedient children, but we CAN’T reasonably debate whether it condones deception for personal gain, because on that topic it is pretty consistent.

Umm, I’m not so sure about that: to wit, Jacob’s ‘theft’ of Esau’s birthright by deceiving their father. No punishment or even disapproval seems apparent in the Bible. On the contrary, Jacob seems to have been greatly rewarded by being blessed with many sons and becoming literally Israel, and the father of the people of Israel.

But then OT ethics may or may not correspond to ‘Christian’ ethics. To folks like FL, some parts of the OT, when it’s convenient to them or their current political philosophy, are indissoluble from Christianity. Other parts they pretend don’t exist, or don’t mean what any fool can see that they mean.

A serious question for those more familiar with the NT than I am: Is there any passage in the NT which can reasonably be construed as approving of deception for personal gain? The SECRET meetings of early Christians would seem to be such a case, but I don’t know if such is recommended or approved anywhere in the NT.

A reply to this seems to have been sucked into cyberspace. I’ll see if it emerges. If not, I’ll probably just forget about it. I don’t think the reply was in any way controversial.

harold said:

Just Bob said:

harold said:

However, there is no reason for them or anyone else to misunderstand or misrepresent evolution, and deliberate lying about any topic for superficial personal gain is at unequivocally at odds with Christian ethics. We can debate whether or not the Bible “really” commands society to stone disobedient children, but we CAN’T reasonably debate whether it condones deception for personal gain, because on that topic it is pretty consistent.

Umm, I’m not so sure about that: to wit, Jacob’s ‘theft’ of Esau’s birthright by deceiving their father. No punishment or even disapproval seems apparent in the Bible. On the contrary, Jacob seems to have been greatly rewarded by being blessed with many sons and becoming literally Israel, and the father of the people of Israel.

But then OT ethics may or may not correspond to ‘Christian’ ethics. To folks like FL, some parts of the OT, when it’s convenient to them or their current political philosophy, are indissoluble from Christianity. Other parts they pretend don’t exist, or don’t mean what any fool can see that they mean.

A serious question for those more familiar with the NT than I am: Is there any passage in the NT which can reasonably be construed as approving of deception for personal gain? The SECRET meetings of early Christians would seem to be such a case, but I don’t know if such is recommended or approved anywhere in the NT.

I’m neither religious nor a theologian, but I can give you the standard answer that religious ethical Christians of my childhood would have given.

1) There are numerous examples in the OT, especially the early OT, of people violating commandments and receiving God’s favor, and others being victimized by God’s favorites despite not having done anything obviously wrong.

That doesn’t change the commandments. It’s God’s business what He wants to do about it if you break them, but you can only control whether you break them. The default is to follow them, rather than to assume that God will favor you as he favored Jacob or some of the other less savory yet favored OT characters.

2) There are other condemnations of deceptive and/or hypocritical behavior, especially in the four gospels and various prophet books, but as for what “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness” means…If you assume it means don’t lie, then you’ll never commit perjury if you follow it. If you assume it means only perjury, and assume carte blanche to lie, then you might find out some day that your interpretation was too liberal. Follow the more general interpretation. (I’m talking about transparently self-serving lies, or course, not the “lying to help a dissident escape the Soviet Union” type of problem.)

This is mildly but not entirely off topic. Some current school of atheist thought hold that there can be no such thing as a Christian hypocrite, because Christianity has been used to justify anything. I partly disagree. There is a level of unethical behavior which is commonly understood to be incompatible with ostentatious claims to be a religious Christian. I stand by the assertion that some self-proclaimed Christians are hypocrites.

harold, is this the reply you were thinking of?

SWT said:

harold said:

Just Bob said:

harold said:

However, there is no reason for them or anyone else to misunderstand or misrepresent evolution, and deliberate lying about any topic for superficial personal gain is at unequivocally at odds with Christian ethics. We can debate whether or not the Bible “really” commands society to stone disobedient children, but we CAN’T reasonably debate whether it condones deception for personal gain, because on that topic it is pretty consistent.

Umm, I’m not so sure about that: to wit, Jacob’s ‘theft’ of Esau’s birthright by deceiving their father. No punishment or even disapproval seems apparent in the Bible. On the contrary, Jacob seems to have been greatly rewarded by being blessed with many sons and becoming literally Israel, and the father of the people of Israel.

But then OT ethics may or may not correspond to ‘Christian’ ethics. To folks like FL, some parts of the OT, when it’s convenient to them or their current political philosophy, are indissoluble from Christianity. Other parts they pretend don’t exist, or don’t mean what any fool can see that they mean.

A serious question for those more familiar with the NT than I am: Is there any passage in the NT which can reasonably be construed as approving of deception for personal gain? The SECRET meetings of early Christians would seem to be such a case, but I don’t know if such is recommended or approved anywhere in the NT.

I’m neither religious nor a theologian, but I can give you the standard answer that religious ethical Christians of my childhood would have given.

1) There are numerous examples in the OT, especially the early OT, of people violating commandments and receiving God’s favor, and others being victimized by God’s favorites despite not having done anything obviously wrong.

That doesn’t change the commandments. It’s God’s business what He wants to do about it if you break them, but you can only control whether you break them. The default is to follow them, rather than to assume that God will favor you as he favored Jacob or some of the other less savory yet favored OT characters.

2) There are other condemnations of deceptive and/or hypocritical behavior, especially in the four gospels and various prophet books, but as for what “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness” means…If you assume it means don’t lie, then you’ll never commit perjury if you follow it. If you assume it means only perjury, and assume carte blanche to lie, then you might find out some day that your interpretation was too liberal. Follow the more general interpretation. (I’m talking about transparently self-serving lies, or course, not the “lying to help a dissident escape the Soviet Union” type of problem.)

This is mildly but not entirely off topic. Some current school of atheist thought hold that there can be no such thing as a Christian hypocrite, because Christianity has been used to justify anything. I partly disagree. There is a level of unethical behavior which is commonly understood to be incompatible with ostentatious claims to be a religious Christian. I stand by the assertion that some self-proclaimed Christians are hypocrites.

Yes. I guess it appeared a few minutes later.

harold, is this the reply you were thinking of?

SWT said:

harold said:

Just Bob said:

harold said:

However, there is no reason for them or anyone else to misunderstand or misrepresent evolution, and deliberate lying about any topic for superficial personal gain is at unequivocally at odds with Christian ethics. We can debate whether or not the Bible “really” commands society to stone disobedient children, but we CAN’T reasonably debate whether it condones deception for personal gain, because on that topic it is pretty consistent.

Umm, I’m not so sure about that: to wit, Jacob’s ‘theft’ of Esau’s birthright by deceiving their father. No punishment or even disapproval seems apparent in the Bible. On the contrary, Jacob seems to have been greatly rewarded by being blessed with many sons and becoming literally Israel, and the father of the people of Israel.

But then OT ethics may or may not correspond to ‘Christian’ ethics. To folks like FL, some parts of the OT, when it’s convenient to them or their current political philosophy, are indissoluble from Christianity. Other parts they pretend don’t exist, or don’t mean what any fool can see that they mean.

A serious question for those more familiar with the NT than I am: Is there any passage in the NT which can reasonably be construed as approving of deception for personal gain? The SECRET meetings of early Christians would seem to be such a case, but I don’t know if such is recommended or approved anywhere in the NT.

I’m neither religious nor a theologian, but I can give you the standard answer that religious ethical Christians of my childhood would have given.

1) There are numerous examples in the OT, especially the early OT, of people violating commandments and receiving God’s favor, and others being victimized by God’s favorites despite not having done anything obviously wrong.

That doesn’t change the commandments. It’s God’s business what He wants to do about it if you break them, but you can only control whether you break them. The default is to follow them, rather than to assume that God will favor you as he favored Jacob or some of the other less savory yet favored OT characters.

2) There are other condemnations of deceptive and/or hypocritical behavior, especially in the four gospels and various prophet books, but as for what “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness” means…If you assume it means don’t lie, then you’ll never commit perjury if you follow it. If you assume it means only perjury, and assume carte blanche to lie, then you might find out some day that your interpretation was too liberal. Follow the more general interpretation. (I’m talking about transparently self-serving lies, or course, not the “lying to help a dissident escape the Soviet Union” type of problem.)

This is mildly but not entirely off topic. Some current school of atheist thought hold that there can be no such thing as a Christian hypocrite, because Christianity has been used to justify anything. I partly disagree. There is a level of unethical behavior which is commonly understood to be incompatible with ostentatious claims to be a religious Christian. I stand by the assertion that some self-proclaimed Christians are hypocrites.

harold, is this the reply you were thinking of?

Whoops. Yes.

An ongoing goal has been to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic, and to show that religion and science are not adversaries.

Followers of science might have issues with working toward a designated conclusion, rather than working from the evidence.

Just Bob said:

A serious question for those more familiar with the NT than I am: Is there any passage in the NT which can reasonably be construed as approving of deception for personal gain? The SECRET meetings of early Christians would seem to be such a case, but I don’t know if such is recommended or approved anywhere in the NT.

Major parts of the book of Revelation are thought to be written in code, such as the Number of the Beast in Chapter 13:18:

This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

The Christian understanding is that St. John (the author) was practicing deception for his personal safety, and for the safety of anyone who might be caught with a copy of the letter. Revelation is part of the approved and inspired biblical canon, so this usage of code/deception is implicitly approved. If safety is part of “personal gain”, then it fits your question; but I don’t think lying to save Jews from the Holocaust will get you in trouble with any earthly Christian authority. Ask God when you get to heaven.

I’ll post about Ananias and Saphira, and the Parable of the Dishonest Steward, when I have another moment.

MaskedQuoll said:

An ongoing goal has been to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic, and to show that religion and science are not adversaries.

Followers of science might have issues with working toward a designated conclusion, rather than working from the evidence.

I’m not sure what a “follower” of science is.

I can’t see a scientific problem with the non-technical statement “religion and science are not adversaries”.

To have a scientific problem with it, I’d have to have a working scientific definition of religion, a working working scientific definition of “science” for that matter, and a working definition of “adversary”.

I can think of one way to approach this. I could study people who meet criteria for cognitively normal adulthood. I could use self-identification to decide whether or not they are religious; if they say they’re religious, they are. That’s the best method I can think of. I could design a questionnaire to determine whether they subscribe to certain popular science denial claims, or whether they wish to censor or defund scientific research. A “yes” to any of these could be designated to represent an adversarial attitude toward science.

Of course, such a study can be trivially predicted to show that at least some religious people are not adversarial in their stance toward organized science.

We all understand what these clergy mean when they say “religion and science are not adversaries”. They mean that they are religious people who are not adversarial toward science, and that as clergy, their spiritual advice to their flock is to take the same attitude. Sounds quite reasonable to me.

MaskedQuoll said:

An ongoing goal has been to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic, and to show that religion and science are not adversaries.

Followers of science might have issues with working toward a designated conclusion, rather than working from the evidence.

The idea is that the theological study was carefully done, and the “not adversaries” conclusion was reached by considering the biblical evidence. Now it’s time to communicate that result to the public. Kind of like climate change.

Carl Drews said:

Just Bob said:

A serious question for those more familiar with the NT than I am: Is there any passage in the NT which can reasonably be construed as approving of deception for personal gain? The SECRET meetings of early Christians would seem to be such a case, but I don’t know if such is recommended or approved anywhere in the NT.

Major parts of the book of Revelation are thought to be written in code, such as the Number of the Beast in Chapter 13:18:

This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

The Christian understanding is that St. John (the author) was practicing deception for his personal safety, and for the safety of anyone who might be caught with a copy of the letter. Revelation is part of the approved and inspired biblical canon, so this usage of code/deception is implicitly approved. If safety is part of “personal gain”, then it fits your question; but I don’t think lying to save Jews from the Holocaust will get you in trouble with any earthly Christian authority. Ask God when you get to heaven.

I’ll post about Ananias and Saphira, and the Parable of the Dishonest Steward, when I have another moment.

Although when you get right down to it the issue of deception to protect oneself or someone else from a greater evil is kind of trivial. Very few people would argue against that.

I think Just Bob was raising a more tricky issue. To paraphrase, I think fairly, “The Bible contains instances of characters favored by God acting in rather deceptive ways that are not easily justified, so therefore, how can we say that purely selfish, unjustified deceptiveness violates Christian ethics?”

It’s a somewhat moot point for me; it violates my ethics. However, I do stand by my belief that weaselly behavior is at odds with a reasonable understanding of what Christian ethics are. That may irritate people who perceive me as “saying something good about religion”, but I think it’s reasonable. I don’t think “never say anything ‘good’ about ‘religion’” is an intellectually sound position. Just because I’m not religious and condemn bad behavior committed in the name of religion, does not mean I have to obsessively exaggerate the malignancy of all possible religion.

harold: I could use self-identification to decide whether or not they are religious; if they say they’re religious, they are.

I notice that you are substituting religious people for religion.

An ongoing goal has been to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic, and to show that religion and science are not adversaries.

Carl Drews: The idea is that the theological study was carefully done,…

Your use of the past tense does not square with the term “ongoing.” And what theological study?

MaskedQuoll said:

An ongoing goal has been to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic, and to show that religion and science are not adversaries.

Carl Drews: The idea is that the theological study was carefully done,…

Your use of the past tense does not square with the term “ongoing.” And what theological study?

Theological studies:

“Finding Darwin’s God,” by Kenneth Miller.

“The Language of God”, by Francis Collins.

Books and essays by Karl Giberson.

“new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis.” by Pope John Paul II, 1996, Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

The Clergy Letter Project has a lot of resources.

MaskedQuoll said:

harold: I could use self-identification to decide whether or not they are religious; if they say they’re religious, they are.

I notice that you are substituting religious people for religion.

You noticed wrong.

(To clarify for third party readers, I actually noted the great difficulty of arriving at a scientific definition of “relgion”, but then offered one possible operational approach.)

It is exceptionally obvious that you wish to argue that “all religion is antagonistic to science”, and that Evolution Week and the Clergy Project are therefore useless or perverse, but are being coy about doing so, for some reason.

Why don’t you just come out and openly make your case?

Carl Drews said:

I’ll post about Ananias and Saphira, and the Parable of the Dishonest Steward, when I have another moment.

Ananias and Sapphira: Acts 5:1-11

Short story: Ananias and Sapphira lie about how much money they received from a real estate sale and their church offering. When confronted by Peter, they fall down dead. The text is not clear whether God struck them dead, or if they died from shock and shame.

Clearly this NT story states that lying for personal gain is bad.

Parable of the Dishonest Steweard: Luke 16:1-13

Short story: Manager gets fired for being dishonest. Instead of calling security, hustling him out the door, and changing all system passwords, his boss gives him two weeks to settle up. The dishonest manager reduces the debt of anyone who owes his boss money, thereby currying favor on the outside. The rich man finds out and commends him for making friends before his coming unemployment.

Jesus’s exact words are:

8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. [ESV]

Every sermon I have heard on this parable says: Jesus was not approving of dishonest dealings. Jesus was saying that good relationships with people are far more important than money, either ill- or well-gotten. And if even sinners know how to make friends, how much more should you (My disciples) know how to make friends.

So the answer to Just Bob’s original question is No, the New Testament does not approve of deception for personal gain or selfish motives.

There is also John 8:31-32:

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The context here is the Gospel truth, but I have always understood a larger meaning than that. Christians are supposed to be people of the Truth. That means not lying about transitional fossils, vaccines, climate research, personal finances, or anything else. A New Testament Jacob would say to Isaac: “Look Dad, we both know that Esau doesn’t value the sacred birthright. Yes, I want your blessing, but I also want it for the generations and generations that will follow me. So how about ignoring the first-born rule (it was only 10 minutes anyway), and place your most valuable blessing in the hands of the son who will cherish it most?”

My friend Dr. Allan Harvey (PhD Thermodynamics) says:

The second reason is the special responsibility to truth we have as people of God. There is no room for falsehood in God’s kingdom, even in the defense of the Gospel. We should be diligent in our efforts to avoid bearing false witness, whether the victim is our next-door neighbor or Ludwig Boltzmann. Worldly politicians or marketers may say “I don’t mind using a little falsehood as long as it helps persuade my audience,” but that is unacceptable for a Christian. We who serve the God of truth should make a special effort to cleanse our words of all falsehood.

Why don’t you just come out and openly make your case?

Because stating that particular case could get him sent to the Bathroom Wall, regardless of how respectfully and rationally he attempts to do so.

No sarcasm, just saying.

FL said:

Why don’t you just come out and openly make your case?

Because stating that particular case could get him sent to the Bathroom Wall, regardless of how respectfully and rationally he attempts to do so.

No sarcasm, just saying.

So what? The BW is a world apart from what we experience at UcD and other ID/creationism/religious blogs. Even when arguments are both relevant and rational …

harold said: It is exceptionally obvious that you wish to argue that “all religion is antagonistic to science”, and that Evolution Week and the Clergy Project are therefore useless or perverse, but are being coy about doing so, for some reason.

Why don’t you just come out and openly make your case?

It should be obvious that I am not making my own case, but pointing out obvious errors in someone else’s case. It’s a pity you cannot make that distinction.

Carl Drews said:

Theological studies:

“Finding Darwin’s God,” by Kenneth Miller.

“The Language of God”, by Francis Collins.

Books and essays by Karl Giberson.

“new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis.” by Pope John Paul II, 1996, Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

The Clergy Letter Project has a lot of resources.

Book != study.

MaskedQuoll said:

harold said: It is exceptionally obvious that you wish to argue that “all religion is antagonistic to science”, and that Evolution Week and the Clergy Project are therefore useless or perverse, but are being coy about doing so, for some reason.

Why don’t you just come out and openly make your case?

It should be obvious that I am not making my own case, but pointing out obvious errors in someone else’s case. It’s a pity you cannot make that distinction.

The first rule of being a condescending prick is, you have to be right.

In my opinion, it’s always bad to be a condescending prick, however, if you are doing so in the context of actually being right, at least you are a successful condescending prick.

If you are wrong, then you are merely a buffoonish jackass trying to be a condescending prick, which is even worse.

Unfortunately, many people adopt a prickish, condescending tone as a defense when they are wrong about something, leading to this double negative outcome.

Since the “errors” you claim to be “pointing out” have already been dismissed as nit-picking semantic games based on cherry-picked snippets, the case is basically closed.

However, you could prove me wrong about your motivation. I think that you want to argue that religion and science are adversaries, but for whatever reason are being coy, weaselly, and a condescending prick.

Let’s settle this once and for all. Just answer a straight question.

Are science and religion adversaries? (If you say “yes”, please elaborate with an explanation, although a mere naked straight answer of “yes” will also be appreciated).

harold said:

The first rule of being a condescending prick is, you have to be right.

In my opinion, it’s always bad to be a condescending prick, however, if you are doing so in the context of actually being right, at least you are a successful condescending prick.

If you are wrong, then you are merely a buffoonish jackass trying to be a condescending prick, which is even worse.

Unfortunately, many people adopt a prickish, condescending tone as a defense when they are wrong about something, leading to this double negative outcome.

Since the “errors” you claim to be “pointing out” have already been dismissed as nit-picking semantic games based on cherry-picked snippets, the case is basically closed.

However, you could prove me wrong about your motivation. I think that you want to argue that religion and science are adversaries, but for whatever reason are being coy, weaselly, and a condescending prick.

Let’s settle this once and for all. Just answer a straight question.

Are science and religion adversaries? (If you say “yes”, please elaborate with an explanation, although a mere naked straight answer of “yes” will also be appreciated).

What could be more inviting than to be called names? Well, not to be called names. And you sir, are a name caller. Good day.

When in the presence of Superior Intellect it is best to simply withdraw. And when everyone else has withdrawn, Superior Intellect will have the entire venue to itself. Discourse be damned.

prongs said:

When in the presence of Superior Intellect it is best to simply withdraw. And when everyone else has withdrawn, Superior Intellect will have the entire venue to itself. Discourse be damned.

That’s your choice.

Alternate choices include -

1) Present your arguments in an honest, respectful manner instead of using weaselly insinuating language.

2) Avoid making a wrong argument in insulting or condescending language. The reason people do this is because at some level they know their argument is wrong. They want to head off clear rebuttal by provoking an insulting reply. Then, when faced with the “horror” of a mildly insulting comment from a total stranger on a blog comment board, they declare victory on the grounds of having been “called a name”. However, if someone calls you a name, that doesn’t make your arguments correct. In fact being called names is a frequent complication of advancing obviously wrong arguments. Furthermore, those who use this technique typically dismiss valid and reasonable critique as “name calling”. Ultimately the “I win because you ‘called me a name’” scam, which is strongly employed by ID/creationists, is a technique employed by those who don’t have the intellectual or emotional maturity to handle valid critique of their ideas. They’re looking for an excuse to dodge honest discussion.

3) Answer obviously relevant direct questions in a forthright way, instead of evading them.

4) Defend your ideas to the best of your ability, in your own words rather than with memorized slogans.

5) When faced with valid critique that demonstrates a flaw in your position, accept it and adjust your position. This is never easy, but it’s possible.

That’s how honest discourse works, and only YOU can prevent yourself from using the methods of honest discourse.

prongs said:

When in the presence of Superior Intellect it is best to simply withdraw. And when everyone else has withdrawn, Superior Intellect will have the entire venue to itself. Discourse be damned.

So many words, when a lone “Yes” or even “No” would do?

harold said: Let’s settle this once and for all. Just answer a straight question.

Are science and religion adversaries? (If you say “yes”, please elaborate with an explanation, although a mere naked straight answer of “yes” will also be appreciated).

I’m not MaskedQuoll but I am interested in the question. It seems obvious the answer is ‘yes’. I don’t believe science and religion have to be adversaries but in fact they often are. Both are in the business of offering answers to questions - sometimes to the exact same questions - and their answers are almost always different.

This isn’t to say there aren’t intelligent people who are religious who find ways to reconcile their religion with science - there are. But this site wouldn’t be necessary if many religious folk didn’t find it impossible to accomodate scientific knowledge within their worldview. Harmless enough except when they influence education or influence policy. Then they have to be opposed.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

FL said:

Science and religion aren’t adversaries.

Evolution and Christianity ARE adversaries.

You keep repeating that, FL, but it’s unsupported assertion.

Why don’t you give an argument for that proposition?

Or is that beyond you?

Floyd and reality are adversaries.

DS said:

Floyd and reality are adversaries.

I think not. I doubt they’ve ever met.

Floyd’s only argument has always been that his beliefs are in conflict with reality, therefore we should all reject reality.

Please do not respond to the FL troll – do you really want to hear its arguments?

Matt Young said:

Please do not respond to the FL troll – do you really want to hear its arguments?

If you do not want responses to FL, then please send him to the BW. While you do not, he holds a privileged position: he may post, but no one is to contest him.

@Matt Young:

Thanks! The link on p. 22 must have been taken down; it is a Natural History article by Strassman and Queller in September, 2007. I’ll see whether I can find a new link to that article. I will try to fix the link on p. 37 over the weekend.

[…]

The Strassmann and Queller article is “Altruism among the Amoebas,” and the only place I could immediately find it was here. I imagine it costs a pretty penny, but presumably you can also get it through interlibrary loan. There are also a lot of more-technical articles listed in Google Scholar.

I see that Strassmann and Queller have moved from Rice University to Washington University in St Louis, and apparently the server at Rice has been shut down/changed/moved.

I tried retrieving a copy of the file from the Internet Archive,

   http://web.archive.org/web/20080704[…]Hist0907.pdf

but something is wrong – it looks like there should be 2.4MB, but I keep getting a weird message, and the file stops transferring after 130,758 bytes. The PDF is incomplete, and I can neither open it, nor fix it with the tool that I’ve used before.

Fortunately, it looks like the entire issue of Natural History is online:

   http://archive.org/details/naturalh[…]ry11607unse/

It isn’t that hard to extract the pages of the referenced article from the PDF available there. If you want, I can e-mail the PDF I just made with those pages. It’s about 500K.

RWard said:

harold said: Let’s settle this once and for all. Just answer a straight question.

Are science and religion adversaries? (If you say “yes”, please elaborate with an explanation, although a mere naked straight answer of “yes” will also be appreciated).

I’m not MaskedQuoll but I am interested in the question. It seems obvious the answer is ‘yes’. I don’t believe science and religion have to be adversaries but in fact they often are. Both are in the business of offering answers to questions - sometimes to the exact same questions - and their answers are almost always different.

This isn’t to say there aren’t intelligent people who are religious who find ways to reconcile their religion with science - there are. But this site wouldn’t be necessary if many religious folk didn’t find it impossible to accomodate scientific knowledge within their worldview. Harmless enough except when they influence education or influence policy. Then they have to be opposed.

I thought I replied to this, but anyway…I completely agree, of course, that some dogma of some religious sects is adversarial to science.

I believe that your opening line is contradicted by the rest of your comment.

I don’t agree that science is adversarial to religion - science goes where the scientific method leads; if evidence supported a global flood 4000 years ago, that would be the scientific consensus.

I strongly dispute that “religion” as a general concept is adversarial to science. That would exclude every possible religious perspective which does not directly dispute science from being “religion”. Overall, your comment seems to support this view. You agree that only some aspects of some religious sects are directly at odds with science.

The word “religion” is so broad and abstract, That excessive generalizations about “religion” are almost always certain to be wrong. This is especially true for people who are inflicted with Eurocentric bias, and who persistently use the term “religion” when they mean, for example, “a certain type of Protestant Fundamentalism most associated with the Anglosphere”. (Certain types of Islam also tend to be similar to this type of Protestantism, not necessarily by coincidence.) I’m not saying you have this bias, but it is shockingly pervasive in the era of the internet, and leads to endless overgeneralized statements about “religion”, which are incorrect, when using a more specific designation would make the statements correct.

Let me ask a more specific question -

A group of clergy who oppose creationist efforts to “influence education or influence policy” are having a meeting, that is the topic of this thread. Do you support or oppose such a meeting?

If you do not want responses to FL, then please send him to the BW. While you do not, he holds a privileged position: he may post, but no one is to contest him.

I do not monitor PT every minute of the day, but by the time you wrote that, I had sent his comment to the BW, though not the 4 replies. It is conceivable to me that a foolish comment may stand for a few hours without rebuttal.

For whatever it’s worth –

While I support the promotion of science education, I think that “religion and science are not adversaries. Rather, they look at the natural world from quite different perspectives and ask, and answer, different questions” is a bit disingenuous.

Religion and science are not “adversaries”, but only if you carefully avoid examining religious claims with scientific analysis and methodology. Compatibility can only be achieved at the price of mental compartmentalization.

The fundamental point of most religions is that it is postulated that there exists at least one invisible, intangible, super-wizard-person, which for handwaved reasons only performs super-wizardry (or indeed, any action at all) in conditions remote from careful scrutiny, let alone careful scientific scrutiny.

The first question that science should ask of religion is exactly why this invisible intangible superwizardperson is believed to exist in the first place.

Religion’s response has always been bad defenses of belief (apologetics), and bad reasons for avoiding the question (faith; free will; “it’s a mystery”), and deflection (“hey, we’re not adversaries! Stop asking adversarial questions!”), and very often, the ad baculum (“shut up, because bad consequences to you if you don’t”).

Harrold wrote’

“A group of clergy who oppose creationist efforts to “influence education or influence policy” are having a meeting, that is the topic of this thread. Do you support or oppose such a meeting?”

I strongly support this meeting. Anyone who opposes creationist efforts to teach their myths in public school science classrooms is a friend of mine.

Of course that doesn’t have much to do with your question to MaskedQuoll, “Are science and religion adversaries?” My answer remains, “most often the two world views are indeed adversarial.” Religion, by it’s very nature, is in opposition to other ways of understanding the world. That’s not to say that some religious people aren’t making a valiant effort to reconcile their religion’s teachings with what science tells them about the universe but these extradonary folk are rare.

And you’re right, I’m lumping the religious in one big bowl, mostly because I don’t see much difference among the mind-sets of a the religious. Regardless of whether they’re fundamentalist Christian or Hindo, they still indulge in magical thinking about their universe. And that indulgence in magic puts each and every religious person in opposition to science.

RWard said:

Harrold wrote’

“A group of clergy who oppose creationist efforts to “influence education or influence policy” are having a meeting, that is the topic of this thread. Do you support or oppose such a meeting?”

I strongly support this meeting. Anyone who opposes creationist efforts to teach their myths in public school science classrooms is a friend of mine.

Of course that doesn’t have much to do with your question to MaskedQuoll, “Are science and religion adversaries?” My answer remains, “most often the two world views are indeed adversarial.” Religion, by it’s very nature, is in opposition to other ways of understanding the world. That’s not to say that some religious people aren’t making a valiant effort to reconcile their religion’s teachings with what science tells them about the universe but these extradonary folk are rare.

And you’re right, I’m lumping the religious in one big bowl, mostly because I don’t see much difference among the mind-sets of a the religious. Regardless of whether they’re fundamentalist Christian or Hindo, they still indulge in magical thinking about their universe. And that indulgence in magic puts each and every religious person in opposition to science.

Isn’t acceptance of evolution part of the currently accepted Catholic doctrine? Episcopal doctrine? Many Methodists too? Buddhists as well? That doesn’t sound particularly “rare”. Perhaps it’s more a case that the Fundamentalists are simply more noisy about their faith and their opposition to science than those willing to accept or acquiesce to science. It’s what someone else said. Yes, every religion has their bits of magical thinking, some more than others.

For me, if a religious person wants to believe in the existence of miracles, gods, an after-life or reincarnation, and other things that no one has observed, but who is willing to accept the process and results of science, I don’t have a problem with them or their religion. It’s when religionists, and especially the politicians and judges they elect who actively denigrate and work against science and the teaching and funding of science, and who insist that government advance their particular religious dogma as fact, those are the people that I have a problem with.

Yes. The Pope and Francis Collins are good guys. They oppose teaching creationism in public school science classrooms. Wonderful, but.…

They believe evolution is how God created biodiversity. They have a magical explanation for life and the evolution of life. They’re welcome to that way of thinking but it is not science. They have a world-view that is opposed to science.

RWard said:

Yes. The Pope and Francis Collins are good guys. They oppose teaching creationism in public school science classrooms. Wonderful, but.…

They have a world-view that is opposed to science.

I don’t think ‘opposed to’ is the right description. They don’t oppose scientific research–instead they perform it or fund it. They don’t deny the truth of scientific findings or oppose its dissemination or teaching.

They do believe in a ‘prime mover’ or ‘invisible hand’ or ‘ultimate cause’, and probably a ‘divine purpose’, but none of that makes them oppose methodological materialism and looking first to natural causes.

RWard said: They believe evolution is how God created biodiversity.

I’m not sure but that you have in mind occasionalism, which is not, I believe, in much favor these days in orthodox theology. But, whatever: What scientific complaint is there about the idea that evolution accounts for the variety of life, and it is a description of the way that God chooses to act? It does not exclude, for example, undirected (“random”) variation or anything else we can observe or infer happening, or any naturalistic explanations (as long as we can keep in reserve our personal belief: “and that’s the way that God created it”). You may think it vacuous, and I am not going to argue for it, but I guess I’m of the attitude “no harm, no foul”.

TomS,

“What scientific complaint is there about the idea that evolution accounts for the variety of life, and it is a description of the way that God chooses to act?”

The scientific ‘complaint’ would be that the idea invokes magic - God’s actions - to explain a process - evolution.

Of course, in reality, science has no reason to complain about the idea of of a god or gods. The idea is totally outside the purview of science. However, when someone suggests ‘evolution is the means by which God created biodiversity’ they are indulging in the same pseudoscience as Michael Behe.

I welcome anyone who opposes teaching religious mythology in public schools. But that doesn’t mean that I must change the definition of science. If you believe God is the ‘ultimate cause’ you’re just as much a creationist as Dembski. The only difference is that you don’t insist your religious beliefs belong in the science classroom.

RWard said: Of course that doesn’t have much to do with your question to MaskedQuoll, “Are science and religion adversaries?” My answer remains, “most often the two world views are indeed adversarial.” Religion, by it’s very nature, is in opposition to other ways of understanding the world.

I think “in opposition to” implies some attempt to dominate or push out the other ways of understanding the world; it implies competition where one comes out on top. Now, some theocrats may think that way - they’d like to eliminate public support and funding for science, and put prayer back in school instead. But I don’t think that’s the position of most mainstream theists.

If I had to characterize the more mainstream theists, I’d say they see the religion-science relationship the same way they see the science-law relationship. The legal system has different rules of evidence. Different methods of reaching conclusions. Different rules about what you do if a conclusion isn’t clear or agreed-upon. Different rules about the proper role and activities of investigators (even different ideas about what counts as ethical behavior). IOW the the legal methodology for understanding the world is not consistent with the scientific one. But we use both in different contexts. Most people are fine with that. As long as everyone understands that legal methods are for courts and scientific methods are for labs, it works (and probably works better than replacing either one with the other). In the same way, I think most mainstream theists are happy to accept that scientific methods are for labs, and religious methods are for sunday morning rituals.

Regardless of whether they’re fundamentalist Christian or Hindo, they still indulge in magical thinking about their universe. And that indulgence in magic puts each and every religious person in opposition to science.

Does that mean gamblers are in opposition to science? The sports fan wearing lucky socks - is he in opposition to science? Stepping away from magic thinking and back to my legal example - is the judge who accepts that a hand vote of 12 people is the right way to conclude something about facts about the world in opposition to science?

I don’t think we want to lump everyone using a different system in a well-defined context or even everyone indulging in magic thinking for some specific decision-making context as “in opposition to” science. It leads to ridiculous results.

“As long as everyone understands that legal methods are for courts and scientific methods are for labs, it works (and probably works better than replacing either one with the other). In the same way, I think most mainstream theists are happy to accept that scientific methods are for labs, and religious methods are for sunday morning rituals.”

Agreed. The problem is those who do try to substitute court decisions for science in deciding what to teach in science class. They are the ones who insist on being adversarial to science.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Well, nobody could accuse Ray of being a sheep. He hasn’t got a flock to be a sheep in. Not even the YECs are loopy enough to go in for species immutability. But Ray knows that to be a true crackpot, you have to be unique.

You know, the crazies would be a real threat if it were not for the fact that crazy is actually the opposite of crazy.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on January 8, 2014 5:21 PM.

Science word clouds was the previous entry in this blog.

Robert Asher on Stephen Meyer’s “uniformitarianism” argument in Darwin’s Doubt is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter