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Several months back, I tried to bash the historical reality of a pervasive theological affirmation of evolutionary theory into the oversimplified narrative of religion against science.  I've seen little evidence that my efforts did much to change the discussion.  Today, I came across another example that reminded me that this history can't be repeated enough - and maybe it's not a bad idea to reflect just a tiny bit on WHY this constellation of historical data doesn't make into the overall picture of the science/religion dialogue as generally seen in 2012.

The journey continues past the sqiggle.

The piece I found today, while doing research for a different project, was a statement from the World Council of Churches about history.  This is where the consensus of the primary international body of Christian churches was at in 1967:

According to the now dominant theory of evolution, man is the product of age-long natural development, moved forward by the forces of heredity and selection.  Since the days of Darwin, there has been a latent temptation to use this theory as the basis of a materialistic and monistic ideology.  Science itself, in virtue of its nature and limits refuses to make this extrapolation, yet on account of its important role in modern society, cannot help creating for countless people an atmosphere which makes them feel like elements in a powerful and irresistible evolutionary process.  For some this feeling results in optimism, because they believe themselves driven towards a future of greater freedom and welfare.  Others, on the contrary, fear that this freedom, as expressed in the power of nuclear fission, of keeping alive the congenitally weak, etc. will in long run destroy the human race.
     The Christian Church shares in the bewilderment created by this new experience and understanding.  For centuries the Bible has been thought of as witnessing to a small geocentric and static world, governed by a wise and almighty God, whose main interest is to help man, the crown of his creation, to his eternal destiny.  Now, however, man looks insignificant indeed against against the background of the vast dimensions of time and space.  The question must arise whether the God of the Bible has any relation to the modern scientific world-view, or has anything to say to the feelings of either optimism or pessimism which it creates in the hearts of contemporary men.
    Christendom, embarrassed by these facts and questions, has often given evasive answers to this new challenge.  These answers have either denied the clear facts of science (fundamentalism) or the essentials of the Christian faith (modernism), or else have tried to separate the realms of faith and science, by limiting God's work to the inner life and to existential decision, and by denying his relations to the visible realities of nature and history (pietism, theological existentialism).  We may nevertheless acknowledge with gratitude that the Christian Church in its rich tradition has preserved many precious insights which can help us in this situation.  We feel the obligation to look for such answers, nad to seek a new and better mutual relationship between the Christian message and the modern view of life and of the world.  
- "God in Nature and History," in World Council of Churches, New Directions in Faith and Order, Bristol 1967 quoted in God, History, and Historians: An Anthology of Modern Christian Views of History
The blockquote is a prelude to a longer piece on the meaning of history, which the WCC located squarely in the evolutionary process.

A while back, I revisited H. Richard Niebuhr's 1941 text, The Meaning of Revelation, which also takes the Darwinian model of evolution as foundational for any contemporary theological statement.

Faith in the person who creates the self, with all its world, relieves the mind of the pagan necessity of maintaining human worth by means of imaginations which magnify the glory of man.  When the creator is revealed it is no longer necessary to defend man's place by a reading of history which establishes his superiority to all other creatures.  To be a man does not now mean to be a lord of the beasts but a child of God.  To know the person is to lose all sense of shame because of kinship with the clod and the ape.  The mind is freed to pursue its knowledge of the world disinterestedly not by the conviction that nothing matters, that everything is impersonal and valueless, but by the faith that nothing God has made is mean or unclean.  Hence any failure of Christians to develop a scientific knowledge of the world is not indication of their loyalty to the revealed God but of unbelief.
As with the WCC statement, the question of history is primary in Niebuhr's, but an evolutionary cosmos is completely taken for granted.

These statements surely sound strange to many people, who are used to hearing more from people like Pat Robertson or Rick Warren as the representative voices of Christianity.  For example, Sam Harris whisks past such a redoubtable mid-century theologian as Paul Tillich, dismissing him as a "parish of one." (End of Faith, 65).  But note that the World Council of Churches statement, again made in 1967, was the consensus of several churches working together across national boundaries.  If you've ever tried to get something through committee, you know how much compromise takes place.  The statement wasn't the voice of an individual, it was standard.  Tillich, who was one of the voices like the ones mentioned above, also made it to the cover of Time magazine in 1959.  When a best-selling book can ignore historical context to the point that a major and influential voice is dismissed as a loner, something is off.

It wasn't until the 1990s that mainstream liberal Protestantism went into decline, and the reasons for that are many - the historian David Hollinger has suggested that one of the reasons is that they were able to achieve their cultural mission of multicultural "brotherhood," making for a sense that the institutional structures are no longer necessary.

The ecumenical leaders achieved much more than they and their successors give them credit for. They led millions of American Protestants in directions demanded by the changing circumstances of the times and by their own theological tradition. These ecumenical leaders took a series of risks, asking their constituency to follow them in antiracist, anti-imperialist, feminist and multicultural directions that were understandably resisted by large segments of the white public, especially in the Protestant-intensive southern states.

It is true that the so-called mainstream lost numbers to churches that stood apart from or even opposed these initiatives, and ecumenical leaders simultaneously failed to persuade many of their own progeny that churches remained essential institutions in the advancement of these values.

But the fact remains that the public life of the United States moved farther in the directions advocated in 1960 by the Christian Century than in the directions then advocated by Christianity Today. It might be hyperbolic to say that ecumenists experienced a cultural victory and an organizational defeat, but there is something to that view.

 Another liberal theologian friend said in response, "I'll take winning the cultural battle and losing the institutional one."  But what strikes me as remarkable is how quickly recent history gets erased.  Fifty years ago is not that long ago.  The ascendance of conservative Christianity has not only eclipsed liberal religion, but made its basic assumptions and achievements seem completely anomalous.  

History does not move "forward."  It moves in cycles, in the reactions of one generation against the previous one, in fits and starts, in sudden revolutions met with backlash by reactionary forces.  Your beliefs are none of my business.  But a knowledge of the complexity of the historical record will help you develop your values, beliefs, and desires in a smarter way.

Originally posted to dirkster42 on Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 07:07 PM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks, Street Prophets , and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  [Key Noun Missing In Last Paragraph of Last (7+ / 0-)

    blockquote.]

    moved farther in the directions advocated in 1960 by the ?? than in the directions then advocated by Christianity Today.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 07:17:33 PM PDT

  •  Good overview (24+ / 0-)

    Thanks for this.  Liberal Protestantism was a big part of my upbringing, and I'm sad that it seems to have disappeared.  Of course, I bear some of the blame for drifting away from organized religion after I went off to college, like so many others.  We should have stayed and fought for the soul of the church rather than surrendering the label of "Christian" to fundamentalists whose social views are the antithesis of the Sermon on the Mount.

    •  I drifted away from the United Methodists (19+ / 0-)

      after seminary.  Went through a period of not knowing what I was doing, and have spent the last 9 years with Quakers.

      I attended a United Methodist service some months back, and remembered all the things I liked about Methodism.  Still didn't feel like home though.  I'm sure the gridlock on LGBT issues it's been in for the last two decades would still be bad for my mental health.

      But, I have many friends who grew up in liberal Christan churches and who just found they didn't need it in their lives.  And, I always wondered, why would you give that up, you get it all, community, wonder, tradition, and modern science.

      -9.38/-7.69 If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

      by dirkster42 on Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 07:30:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep. (5+ / 0-)

        I still consider myself a Methodist but only occasionally go to church, though obviously I still believe.  And I always believe evangelicals are speaking a foreign language when they talk about Christianity.  I've never heard a thing about homosexuality or abortion in my church.

        28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

        by TDDVandy on Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 07:50:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Liberal flight even from liberal churches. (5+ / 0-)

        It is a self fulfilling prophecy not unlike white flight from the cities in the 60s and 70s.

        Congregational involvement is not, of course, a requirement of faith.  It is a natural result of faith and, itself, a self fulfilling prophecy.  

        I think one reason liberal believers flee involvement in liberal or moderate congregations is the age old issue of not wanting anyone to be the boss of them.  To come and go as one pleases is attractive, to make up one's own theology (which always becomes a variation of "nothing really matters as long as you're nice") is attractive, to take the food court approach to faith (get your burger at this place and your curly fries at that place and your smoothie at that other place) feeds that customer mentality rather than the discipleship mentality.

        The result is a ghettoized church where conservatives show up disproportionately.

        Many, many people of faith prioritize their worldly freedom over submission to a lord other than themselves.  Not the stuff of discipleship.  It is the stuff of customers.

        "The opposite of faith is not doubt. It's certainty."

        by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 09:43:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think there is much confusion (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dirkster42

        among the non-believing community regarding how much "mainline" Christians worry over this stuff.  We hardly think about it at all.  What - we're going to lose sleep over how the universe  operates according to the "laws" of  God?   I find the deity of Christian right to be a comparatively puny "thing." They claim to understand this? Tillich, who didn't even believe in "God" much less "eternal life"  still stayed within his Judeo-Christian (& quite Pauline) frame of reference & insisted the entire cosmos had been redeemed.

        "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

        by DJ Rix on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 12:24:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Some of us were talking about this last night. (3+ / 0-)

      One point that was raised was the rampant increase in organized sports activities scheduled on Sunday.  

      It seems to have started back in the 1990s, as I remember many parents at my church complaining to no avail about these tournaments and practices.

      The reason they were given was that there was no other time available.  Those who felt that perhaps the number of activities should be reduced (or simply not increased) were ridiculed as not understanding the importance of team sports to children's development.

      Perhaps it's a chicken-and-egg thing.  We didn't reach a conclusion.

      "The fears of one class of men are not the measure of the rights of another." ~ George Bancroft (1800-1891)

      by JBL55 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 06:43:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It hasn't disappeared. The MSM have ignored it. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dirkster42, alain2112, Parthenia

      Liberal Protestantism hasn't disappeared.

      The reason you don't hear about it is that nobody outside the group writes about it.

      A "church" which pickets soldiers' funerals grabs headlines. That is one congregation of less than 100 members. Mainstream denominations don't generate that much news.

      But they have millions of people in church on the average Sunday.

    •  It hasn't disappeared, I think it's just invisible (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dirkster42

      to many people, and especially to the media. The Episcopalians who pay my salary every month are very much alive and very active.

  •  Thanks for posting this (9+ / 0-)

    and for linking to your longer and very impressive diary from July of last year.  I completely missed it when it came out.  My excuse is that I was in the Ecuadorean rainforest at the time.

    I was fascinated to discover that David Lack wrote a paper on evolution and Christianity - I know of him only as a prominent ornithologist in the mid 20th century.

    I'm not sure why liberal Christianity is so invisible to so many people.  My parents were definitely part of that tradition in the 1950s and early 60s but abandoned it for other forms of spirituality.  I wonder if that is a partial explanation - the interest in non-western religious traditions (and the creation of entirely new ones) would be more likely to find adherents among the most open-minded of Christians?

    "We are normal and we want our freedom" - Bonzos

    by matching mole on Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 07:36:26 PM PDT

    •  Yes, I think this is part of it... (4+ / 0-)
      I wonder if that is a partial explanation - the interest in non-western religious traditions (and the creation of entirely new ones) would be more likely to find adherents among the most open-minded of Christians?
      And thanks for reading down that far!!!  Lack's one I'll have to investigate further.  But I keep finding more.

      -9.38/-7.69 If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

      by dirkster42 on Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 07:43:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Those that are creationists... (13+ / 0-)

    do not budge.  As I learned from my experience with a prominent one who has his own Museum of Creatinoism that showed me his Ark-sized antibody facility in Mexico.  You can read about his story here.

    It's amazing that he has a cutting edge biological research operation, and still believes the earth is 6000 years old.

  •  History does move forward. (8+ / 0-)

    But it does so indirectly, in curving paths with occasional switchbacks.  From what I've seen (which is admittedly not concrete), the number and proportion of outright irreligious people appears to be higher than it's ever been, partly in response to the growing fanaticism and unreason of those who remain firmly embedded in religious ideology.  

    Even in the Islamic world, where religious oppression is most pronounced and freedom has never been a significant social factor (governments have been secular, but not liberal), there is plenty of evidence that liberal resistance is evolving and growing in effectiveness.  When the Libyan people rose up to seek vengeance against the Benghazi attackers, that was a hopeful sign.

    As for Christianity, the problem with liberal Christians is that the realization of their values is to rise above the arbitrary barriers and orthodoxy that distinguish them as actually being Christian rather than, say, Unitarian.  It's one of those conundrums of identity that hateful, bigoted people who use an identity as a weapon are the ones who end up playing an outsized role in defining it while those with a more wholesome view are less likely to obsess on it.    

    Voter suppression is treason.

    by Troubadour on Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 07:45:09 PM PDT

    •  It does seem as if it moves in waves. (4+ / 0-)
      It's one of those conundrums of identity that hateful, bigoted people who use an identity as a weapon are the ones who end up playing an outsized role in defining it while those with a more wholesome view are less likely to obsess on it.  
       

      Especially when the "leaders" of such identity politics can marshal the frustrations of the disenfranchised.

      "The fears of one class of men are not the measure of the rights of another." ~ George Bancroft (1800-1891)

      by JBL55 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 06:26:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I remember (6+ / 0-)

    During my confirmation into the Methodist Church (when I was, I think, 12 years old), the pastor was taking questions from the confirmands.  Somebody asked a question about how to reconcile evolution with the Bible, and I forget the answer, but it ended with, "hey, maybe Adam and Eve were apes."

    That was great.

    28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 07:51:42 PM PDT

  •  It's even simpler (6+ / 0-)

    Modern Church? Next: Water is wet.

    Rejection of evolution? Next: Handling Snakes and Speaking in Tongues.

    Considering that the Catholic Church is STILL getting over its persecution of Galileo, why would you think that Protestants who accepted evolution (Henry Ward Beecher was one of them) would be news?

    Very good diary, though.  I'm just in a mood.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent, and we are all Wisconsin.

    by Dave in Northridge on Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 08:25:03 PM PDT

  •  I've never understood why God wasn't smart enough (8+ / 0-)

    to invent Evolution exactly the way it happened -- whole thing, physics and all.

    Guess He still can.  Time & all that, y'know.

    It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

    by Murphoney on Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 08:28:21 PM PDT

  •  To the Lord, a Day is like a Thousand Years (19+ / 0-)

    and a Thousand Years is like a Day."

    After reading that passage as a kid, I never had a problem reconciling evolution with the Bible.  It surprises me that others still do.  Maybe they don't read their Bibles :-P

    Nothing is as evilly imaginative as the mind of a teenage gamer. -- Sychotic1

    by Sarea on Wed Oct 31, 2012 at 10:10:07 PM PDT

  •  Evolution (11+ / 0-)

    Evolution destroys man made religions. Period. It is that simple.

    Evolution means that there is no afterlife unless you assume that each bacteria has an afterlife, because we are all evolved from simpler forms, and ultimately from non living things. An afterlife is not an evolvable feature.

    Evolution means no personal god (i.e. one to pray to), because just where along the line would god have started interfering? Would a god intervene for one bacteria in its struggle  to survive? Really?

    We are past the point where 2000 year old books written well after events that may have happened can provide much of real use ... not much more than fairy tales can help children, if that much.

    We are at a crisis on this planet with man doing a lot of damage. We need to see that there is no one to help us. We need to take responsibility for our situation and work to correct it together. Unfortunately for now, religion, liberal or otherwise, is an obstacle.

    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. - JFK

    by taonow on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 04:25:48 AM PDT

    •  There is no such thing as one bacteria. (7+ / 0-)

      The singular noun is bacterium.

      Cogito, ergo Democrata.

      by Ahianne on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 04:48:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, I don't get Christians who blow in (7+ / 0-)

      the wind and abandon their beliefs all willy nilly.

      Hey, if they're going to start basing their beliefs on science, the logical extension is to reject the virgin birth of Jesus, the prohibition against mixing two types of fiber, etc.

      So what's the point of even having a nutcase religion to belong to in the first place?

    •  The existential question? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rosabw, Mr MadAsHell, jlb1972

      What / where / how is the soul?

      I don't see evolution as invalidating that line of questioning.

      These are questions about the higher mind.  What that is or means is open to discussion.

      There are no right answers.  Only what's right for you.


      The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. - Pangolin@kunstler.com

      by No one gets out alive on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 06:41:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Evolution (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kevskos

        Please provide an even remotely possible way that we can evolve a soul.

        Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. - JFK

        by taonow on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 07:36:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I make no claims as to what it is, or means (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rosabw, jlb1972

          I do find it interesting that people feel that there is something more than physical existence.

          Why that is, what that is, is interesting for me ( and, apparently, many others ) to ponder.

          Perhaps merely a psychological artifact.  Chemical reactions.

          Perhaps more?


          The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. - Pangolin@kunstler.com

          by No one gets out alive on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 07:55:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Respectfully, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dirkster42

      I disagree.

      "Evolution" is a theory (or system of theories) that applies not only to the development of organisms but also to the development of ideas. It does not of necessity destroy systems of religious thought, it can provide them with an appreciation and/or critical awareness of their roots.

      The concept of "afterlife" between communities of faith is much more complex than indicated by your assertion. I prefer "new creation". If this is seen as a process, one in which evolution plays a part, then perhaps bacteria, collectively, do have an "afterlife", which would not merely be an evolvable feature but might very well be THE feature of the process.

      A personal god is not the same as a micromanaging god, but even so, is it so hard to conceive that a god whose purpose is served by process might intervene occasionally to protect or limit one bacterium? Your argument is dependent upon a particular understanding of what prayer is. Prayer is not simply a request for intervention any more than a conversation with a personal friend is only ever about getting something. We become who we are in relationship, even as bacteria evolve in relationship to each other and their changing environment.

      Clearly we're not past the point where 2000 year old books can be useful. The concept of being accountable for the care of our environment (the planet itself is in no danger from us, WE (living organisms) are in danger from us) is not absent from so-called sacred texts (even the Christian Bible that you are clearly referring to).

      I think that it might be helpful to have folks believe that the situation as it is, is not the way it is meant to be (Evolution would say that this situation is either exactly as it should be, or that "should" is irrelevant). I think it might be helpful for folks to see possibility when things seem impossible, to hope for change. I think that it might be helpful for folks to understand their own personal and collective responsibility in this moment, to value relationships, and to hear a call to act, together, for the transformation of the world. These are the things that my understanding of faith and "religion" calls me to.

      If you see that as an obstacle, then I have to point out that the idea of human supremacy, domination, and exploitation of other organisms, relentless consumption, bloody competition and indeed, the likelihood of our eventual self-destruction are all compatible with evolutionary theory. Some practices have been encouraged by it. On the Origin of Species was not Darwin's only work, and if Christians are accountable for Psalm 137 (and other texts, yes) then proponents of evolution have to deal with The Descent of Man and the fruit it has borne. We are moving, in fits and starts it seems, on to perfection very slowly.

      Religion is a particular system of beliefs and actions that bind a community together. It is ALWAYS (hu)man-made. "Evolution" is no different. The difference is what you do with those beliefs, how those actions affect you, and the world around you, and to what extent you can tolerate disagreement.

      We are at a crisis on this planet, due to humans, particularly men and patriarchal worldviews, doing a lot of damage. We need to see that wherever we are, there is help, there is hope, that change is possible and called for (it might even be what we have been made or evolved for). We need to take responsibility for our situation and our participation in it without being overcome by guilt, or apathy, or fear. We need to work together to correct it, we need to participate together in the transformation of this world by transforming the way we interact with it and with each other. I don't see a spirit of religious faith as anathema to that.

      My "religion" is not destroyed by evolution, nor does it require me to destroy evolution as an idea. My religion has other concerns, concerns that I suspect it shares with yours.
      Is it possible that both my religion and yours can remain our own without becoming an obstacle to us working together to correct the damage that we're doing to our home?

      I believe they can, and we can. Thank you for your comment, and the stimulus it provided.
      Peace be with you.

      Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. ~ Romans 12:21

      by Mickquinas on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 10:23:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  not quite correct (5+ / 0-)
        "Evolution" is a theory (or system of theories) that applies not only to the development of organisms but also to the development of ideas.
        That's a bit controversial. Evolution, at least since the 1950s, gets its theoretical rigor and predictive power from the synthesis of natural selection, statistics, and population genetics. Biological evolution works because we have a very robust theory that describes exactly how genetic information is transmitted from generation to generation. Memetics has generally failed to provide an equally robust theory regarding the communication of ideas, and really hasn't been very useful in that area.
        I think that it might be helpful to have folks believe that the situation as it is, is not the way it is meant to be (Evolution would say that this situation is either exactly as it should be, or that "should" is irrelevant).
        Well no. Evolution has nothing to say on this at all because, to put it in the simplest possible terms, evolution only describes the frequencies of genes and their associated phenotypes across multiple generations.  
        On the Origin of Species was not Darwin's only work, and if Christians are accountable for Psalm 137 (and other texts, yes) then proponents of evolution have to deal with The Descent of Man and the fruit it has borne. We are moving, in fits and starts it seems, on to perfection very slowly.
        That argument from authority doesn't apply that much in the sciences. It's no conflict for me to say that Darwin's theory of natural selection (as refined by later research) is good because its been tested and generally found accurate, and his theory of human emotion is bad, because we've much better theories to work with.

        Science is filled with people who had brilliant ideas about one thing and stupid ideas about another. Einstein was no exception to this. Einstein's brilliance on the photoelectric effect, special relativity, and general relativity did not prevent him from being badly and stupidly wrong (for entirely selfish reasons) when it came to Lemaitre's first proposal for cosmic expansion.

        Now personally, I don't care whether or how you hold yourself accountable to Psalm 137.  I'm not a Christian, therefore, I'm not qualified to take sides in doctrinal debates about interpretation.

        •  Well said. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JDsg

          Although I think it's probably legitimate to debate how much influence the "argument from authority" has within the sciences these days, or the way that the scientific authority of the expert has replaced the religious authority of the priest (not that this is necessarily a bad thing).

          P.S.
          I wonder if you thought that was a typo when I said Christians were accountable "for" Psalm 137. It was not.
          If science can be filled with people who had brilliant ideas about one (or several) thing(s) and stupid ideas about another, why should religion get a pass, even in our sacred texts? I'm certain that you are qualified to debate it on ethical grounds, if not doctrinal.

          At any rate, "evolution" does not destroy religion, whether rigorously restricted to the physical processes of natural selection and genetic transmission or as a representative label for a worldview that uses those processes as a model to account for the world as it is. And in the latter sense, it is not so far from "religion" at all.

          In any case, I am advocating, in my own way, for (relatively) peaceful coexistence AND respectful engagement.
          Thank you for meeting me here.

          Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. ~ Romans 12:21

          by Mickquinas on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 08:12:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Bacteria with souls (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlb1972

      The claim that evolution destroys theology because the ancestor of anything with a soul must have a soul is an interesting claim.

      You have invented a new theology. I have never heard of one which claims that a souls is impossible unless the parents have souls. (I have read speculation as to when a soul is put inot a fetus.)

      So, you have a new theology of your very own invention which cannot be reconciled with evolution.

      That is supposed to disprove EVERY theology, because, of course, yours must be superior to any other.

      •  In fact... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dirkster42

        ... a fair bit of Buddhist metaphysics explicitly rejects the idea that humans are fundamentally different from other animals. Then, of course, there's panthesim in which we are all soul (and all god.)

      •  uhm (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wildweasels, Kevskos

        Evolution does not claim that the ancestor of anything with a soul must have a soul. Mutations often give rise to features the ancestors did not have. But note that evolution provides a mechanism for these kinds of changes to occur.

        You seem to posit that a soul can miraculously appear in the biological record with no mechanism other than the intervention of some supposed god, for which no evidence is provided.

        I have no theology. I keep an open mind and look at evidence. I am perfectly happy with the uncertainty of not knowing. It is far preferable to believing something for which there is no evidence that stands the test of examination.  

        Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. - JFK

        by taonow on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 11:39:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was not replying to evolution. (0+ / 0-)

          I was replying to you.

          Humans cannot have an afterlifeunless bacteria do.

          That is your invention. That is your theology. Your claim that you have noe is simply silly. Your claim that your refutation to your theology refutes all others is totally egotistical.

    •  The entire Hebrew Bible (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alain2112, Jeff G

      is spectacularly uninterested in an afterlife.  The covenants God made with Abraham say NOTHING about that.  If the basis for saying evolution discredits religion is that it discredits an afterlife, ancient Israelite religion is untouched.  Most Jewish positions I am familiar with are also fairly unconcerned with life after death.  The vast majority of feminist theologians - Christian and post-Christian - blatantly condemn concerns with afterlife as a case of overwrought egoism.

      As for contemporary liberal religions being an obstacle to environmental ethics, I suggest you do the research before you make the claim.  There are plenty of religious folk out there making religious cases for environmental ethics, and faith communities who are putting it into action.

      One example.  There's more.

      -9.38/-7.69 If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

      by dirkster42 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 10:44:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The soul question is at best an unknown (0+ / 0-)

      to my mind evolution is orthogonal to the question of whether there is a soul and the possibility of an afterlife. I see no necessary reason why we couldn't have evolved from bacteria and then had a soul implanted by some miracle of God or manifested by some undiscovered feature of subatomic particle physics. If there is such a thing as a soul, it would follow that our current understanding of the physical world is incomplete.

      And while the burden of proof for there being a soul is on the one who makes the claim, it's a pretty bold statement to say definitively that there is or can be no such thing. This is my fundamental disagreement with atheism in general. It's logical to say that you have no need to respect a God that you find no evidence for, another to say that you are certain there is none. A person wandering around Europe in 1491 would have been quite sane to resist stepping onto a ship sailing west, but had no business claiming with certainty that there were no continents besides those she knew.

      •  A technical point. (0+ / 0-)

        Technically, atheism is just the lack of theism.  That doesn't necessarily mean you reject the idea of a soul.

      •  fine (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kevskos, JosephK74
        I see no necessary reason why we couldn't have evolved from bacteria and then had a soul implanted by some miracle of God or manifested by some undiscovered feature of subatomic particle physics. If there is such a thing as a soul, it would follow that our current understanding of the physical world is incomplete.
        I keep an open mind on this, so I see NO reason to believe we may have a soul because of some miracle intervention by some unknown entity may have happened. I start with the assumption that there is nothing and will stay there until I see some evidence to the contrary ... which so far is totally absent. It is like thinking there is a tooth fairy. There may be one (I have heard about it and even had some kids tell me there is one) but I am waiting for some verifiable evidence before I give its existence any credence.

        Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. - JFK

        by taonow on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 11:49:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The neutral position is no assumptions. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          taonow, Kevskos

          The assumption that there is nothing is not really a good one.  Skepticism doesn't require that exact thing, but it can look very similar sometimes.  One doesn't assert there are no unicorns.  One asks for proof of them, and statements that they exist are treated with skepticism as claims that have not met a burden of proof.  Asserting that there are none is a different position.

          One can't know what you're rejecting until it's defined, so it's usually a good idea to start by defining your terms before talking about something.

          As for the specific claim of a soul, that's out.  I've never heard a definition for one that would be able to do anything meaningful, yet is still scientifically valid.  There's no such thing as a soul according to any definition for the term I've heard.  Maybe I've not heard all of them yet, though I really doubt it.

          Plus there's the problem that if you change the idea so much it doesn't resemble the historical usage of the word anymore, it's not really right to use the same word.  Plenty of people do this with god to define it as something nebulous, vague and powerless.

          •  definition of a soul: (0+ / 0-)

            the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal. (online dictionary)

            I suggest that "soul" might be considered as: the whole of my personality and person that exists and changes dependent on my physical existence, but persists beyond it.

            It is the persistence that is generally problematic for folks and difficult (if not impossible) to measure scientifically. This is not evidence of non-existence.

            There seems to be a fair amount of anecdotal evidence/testimony that suggests persistence of personality.

            If you believe it.
            Is it possible to design an ethical experimental model to test it?

            Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. ~ Romans 12:21

            by Mickquinas on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 08:28:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That seems to be the common definition. (0+ / 0-)

              Personality traits and memories are stored in the brain, damaging the brain can change those, thus change my identity.  This is a problematic notion for the idea that my being can persist beyond my death, as things that won't even cause my death can drastically alter my being.  Even if some part of my self persisted beyond death, what possible reason would I have to believe that it would be 'me' in any important sense of the word?

              Aside from that, you're proposing that something does last beyond physical existence, even if it does change.  What evidence do you have to support that idea?

              Just to be clear, I've heard anecdotal evidence of alien abduction and flying alien craft.  I don't consider those stories good evidence for associated claims.

    •  Evolution isn't much of a problem. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wildweasels

      There's also brain damage and mind-altering drugs to consider.  Memories are stored in the brain.  Same with personality traits.  Both can be destroyed by damage to the physical body.

      So the problem for people who want to believe in an afterlife is, when people suffer such things, what happens to their afterlife?  Does pre-damage person go there when the damage happens, or does post-damage person go there?

      Do both?

      Some religions don't have this problem, but it seems the most common ones do.

      The biggest problem is in understanding when it's justified to accept when a claim is true.  If a religion had a justified claim, science would accept it.  That's what science does.

      If one of the religions were true, science would conclude that it is true.  The fact that it never does is telling.  All evolution does is give an explanation for the origins of man, and the diversity of life that is different from the old stories.  That's not terribly problematic for a religion to accept.

      •  Whups.. (0+ / 0-)
        If one of the religions were true, science would conclude that it is true.  The fact that it never does is telling
        First, not "never", not yet.

        Second, "evolution" as you're using the word is not much different than religion.

        All evolution does is give an explanation for the origins of man, and the diversity of life that is different from the old stories.
        It cannot be proven (which is why it's a theory), although (a whole lot of) evidence can be offered (interpreted) to support it, and it has (or may have) predictive value in the scientific approach. Otherwise, what makes this new story so much more compelling than the old ones? Is it more valuable to daily human existence?  

        Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. ~ Romans 12:21

        by Mickquinas on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 08:39:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Science is not a religion. Evolution is science. (0+ / 0-)

          Evolution is not a religion.  It has evidence in its favor.  A surprising amount of overwhelming evidence.  Rejecting it requires a direct rejection of biology, genetics, botany, paleontology, biochemistry, and probably several others I can't recall at the moment.  There have been direct observations of speciation.

          Evolution is about as factual as science can get.  Saying evolution is just a theory is like saying that gravity is just a theory.  The very nature of science is built on uncertainty.  We don't know everything and we never will, but the degree to which evolution is asserted directly reflects the margin of evidence in its favor compared to every alternative idea out there.

          There is no scientific alternative to evolution, no competing theory.  The closest thing out there are religious assertions that propose their old stories as true.  Those are not theories, as they fail the scientific criteria of a theory.  Unless, of course, you propose to find Eden, with the flaming sword barring humans from entrance.

          As for compelling and valuable, yes.  True things happen to be more valuable to me.  I happen to care about what is true.

  •  Going to a liberal (7+ / 0-)

    Presbyterian church as a kid I learned that I did not need a church to be a good moral person.  IMO organized religion tends to make people less moral and more likely to let other make their ethical decisions.

    That good liberal Presbyterian church upbringing led me to atheism (as well as a BS in biology) after many years of wandering.  The meditation I learned thinking I might become a Buddhist is still useful.

    My early college studies in political science and my newer science education have led my harsh view of what religion really is.  I believe religion is a tool invented by humans to control other humans and like any tool it can be used for the good of humanity, for benign purposes or evil.  The main reason for its invention is for the rulers to control the actions of others.  It is much easier to control a person through training, fear (do this or you go to hell) and persuasion then by direct coercion.

  •  I've never seen why some fundamentalists object to (4+ / 0-)

    evolution (and insist on a literal few thousand years old earth). God could just have chosen evolution as a path to development, and given the relationship of the Bible to other stories of creation, etc. in Middle Eastern history (Gilgamesh and all that), it could be seen as illustrative of beliefs, not a literal rending.

    Btw, why would there be any problem(for anyone but a specific, literal reading of man as a physical manifestation of God "created in his image" but rather as representing ideotypes) with inaspectstellegent life on other planets. It would be a manifestation of a God's omnipotence and delight with creating various aspects of creations, like various forms of fauna and flora on earth.

    "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere ". C. S. Lewis

    by TofG on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 05:15:45 AM PDT

    •  Sorry about typing error "representing ideotypes) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage

      with inaspectstellegent life on other planets." Should be "with intelligent life on other planets." For some weeks DailyKos hasn't worked fully on this connection, can't correct errors, rec. comments, directly move down reading entrees, add diaries. No idea why.

      "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere ". C. S. Lewis

      by TofG on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 05:22:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Me neither. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage

      The god of fundamentalism is pretty small.

      Evolution is an amazing mechanism which makes adaptability an indispensible key ingredient in developing life on planets contending with all kinds of variables.

      It would be a manifestation of a God's omnipotence and delight with creating various aspects of creations, like various forms of fauna and flora on earth.
      That, too.  Nicely stated.  :-)  

      "The fears of one class of men are not the measure of the rights of another." ~ George Bancroft (1800-1891)

      by JBL55 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 06:09:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Reason (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, Mr MadAsHell, Fiona West, jlb1972

      If they admit to a non-literal reading of Genesis, they have to admit that parts of the Bible are meant to be read non-literally.  Then they have to answer the question with respect to every passage of the Bible.  It turns their spiritual ground into quicksand.

    •  I think I understand the reasoning. (0+ / 0-)

      Don't they need the fall of man in the garden of Eden in order to ensure that Jesus's sacrifice to cleanse the faithful of sin was required?  Isn't that kind of an important bit?

      If not, wouldn't we still be bound to the old rules requiring us to sacrifice animals, stone gays, burn witches, women silent in the churches, etc..?

      I've never read the bible other than a few lines here and there (and don't care to, it's dreadful), but from my understanding, this appears to be what is super-important among the faithful.  After all, we only exist in sin because of the fall.  Presumably if the fall didn't happen, we'd all get a ticket to heaven without trying.

      If an old Earth were true, then man couldn't have fallen in the garden, hence Jesus's sacrifice didn't need to happen.  Now, I get that if Jesus was symbolic (a-historical, in other words), then you don't need a garden for the fall to happen either.  But from my understanding, most christians believe that Jesus was a real person.  Certainly, fundies do.

  •  The Catholic Church (10+ / 0-)

    has no problem with evolution. I know the Church has often been on the forefront of efforts to suppress science, but nowadays the official position is that evolution is almost certainly correct. But then Catholics don't take the Adam and Eve story literally, either.

    Please visit: http://www.jkmediasource.org

    by Noisy Democrat on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 05:34:10 AM PDT

    •  My qualm with evolution (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBL55, linkage, Fiona West, dirkster42

      as a religion is the deification of "survival of the fittest".  One can see it seep into medicine.  It seems to make sense, until we decide who is worthy of life.  Very,very,very slippery slope.  Darwin was a vehement Racist (with a capital R)  See http://www.amazon.com/... A black woman wrote the book, and she has little nice to say about the father of eugenics, or his attitude of the worthlessness of blacks, who, based on his non-scientific notions, decided that they were most related to the gorilla.  

      I was raised Catholic. No body thought a thing about evolution. It was just accepted.  Maybe my school was more liberal than most.

      Have some peanut butter....Romney's toast.

      by rosabw on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 06:11:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I read Janet Browne's two volume (7+ / 0-)

        biography of Darwin and saw nothing that would support this charge of racism. See link below for details.

        http://scienceblogs.com/...

      •  Your lack of knowlege is noted (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage, Kevskos, dirkster42

        when you use the phrase "evolution as a religion".

        Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

        by milkbone on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 07:23:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Miss Brooks says, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          linkage, dirkster42
          "Darwin's evolutionary design included placing humans in categories based on skin color and other physical traits.  Darwin determined that Africans, especially those with the darkest skin color, were a sub-species of human, an intermediate man...an intermediate man.  The break, between a fully-evolved white man and the ape.  This led Darwin to assume that intelligence and moral capabilities were decided by race as well.  For that reason, he placed the white race at the "summit" of human intelligence and moral capacity and the bottom were darker skinned people, having the lowest intelligence and moral capability.  In the area of intelligence, Darwin assumed that blacks were incapable of reaching the same level of intelligence as whites.  And in the area of moral capacity, he decided that blacks were amoral and thus unable to tell the difference between right and wrong.   Furthermore, he said that blacks could neither understand nor reciprocate "complex emotions" such as love and compassion."
          A.P.Brooks is a friend of mine.  She became so when I read her book and was astounded at the wisdom she had.   She goes on to describe Darwin:
          In support of his racial science, Darwin compared the sloping skull, dark skin (face, feet, hands) and other features of black people with the gorilla.  By this comparison, Darwin concluded that  black people were closest to the gorilla and chimpanzee making them neither fully ape nor completely human.  This basically summed up his proof in support of his racial theories.
          You an ape man, milkbone?

          Maybe you should read Origin of the Species.

          Have some peanut butter....Romney's toast.

          by rosabw on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 07:51:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Again, the only people who claim (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dirkster42, Kevskos

            that anyone "worships" evolution are lying, ignorant creationists.

            Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

            by milkbone on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 08:26:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  techinically, milkbone IS an ape man (5+ / 0-)

            humans are primates, as are apes.

            Some of the things you're describing aren't in The Origin of Species, and the concept of "survival of the fittest" long predates Darwin by millenia. Also, your friend is wrong. Darwin rejected the idea that different "races" came from different ape-like animals and correctly deduced that we all (as a species) have a common ancestry (with each other and that of the Great Apes like Gorillas, Chimpanzees, et cetera), which we do.

            pseudoscience can kill

            by terrypinder on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 09:04:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yet even today.... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dirkster42

              to belittle a black man, the ignorant will characterize him as Darwin did.

              Do you deny that eugenics is based on Darwin's theories?  

              Have some peanut butter....Romney's toast.

              by rosabw on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 09:57:52 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well... (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dirkster42, Matthias, Kevskos, JosephK74

                ... the father of eugenics, Frances Galton, took evolution in some directions that have been widely discredited. A more modern view (since evolution has undergone at least a half-dozen revolutions since Darwin) would point out that genetic diversity across a population is a good thing because it's difficult to predict a priori which traits might be adaptive over hundreds of generations. A molecular biologist would point out that the classifications of race used by the U.S. Census have no genetic justification because the genetic analysis identifies three clades in modern Africa and only one for the rest of the world. The behaviorist contemporaries of Galton were no less influenced by Darwin, and pointed out that eugenics only works if you can establish that socio-economic status is a genetic trait rather than an environmental one.

                •  It had little to do with socio-economics (0+ / 0-)

                  and more to do with biological fitness.

                  Have some peanut butter....Romney's toast.

                  by rosabw on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 10:31:25 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Pardon? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Kevskos

                    Eugenics certainly had a lot to do with socioeconomic status since the whole thesis was that low socioeconomic status was a genetic problem and therefore should be fixed by limiting reproduction among the lower classes.

                    Other biologists took a look at the same theory and criticized the assumption that socioeconomic status was actually correlated to biological fitness.  

              •  There is a distinct racist (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                terrypinder, Kevskos

                history to evolutionary theory, which is a different thing than saying that evolutionary theory is inherently racist.

                In the nineteenth-century, you had people like Joseph LeConte, a nineteenth-century professor of biology at UC Berkeley, and Alexander Winchell, a proponent of Darwinism in the Methodist Church, using evolutionary theories to make and support explicitly racist arguments.  For the Nazi's evolutionary theory reinforced their ideas of racial superiority.  That is part of the historical record, and one that liberals need to grapple with as part of proclaiming ourselves "reality-based."

                On the other hand, you have one of the premier evolutionary scientists of the twentieth century, Stephen Jay Gould, making a case, again based on evolutionary theory, that really destroys any basis for racism, in The Mismeasure of Man.  Just because the theory of evolution was applied toward justifying slavery doesn't make it inherently racist.  Christianity was used to justify slavery - and to resist it.  Things in this world aren't that simple.

                Scientists don't take other scientists as authorities - they just work with the findings.  Darwin is significant because he synthesized the findings to a remarkable extent (though Alfred Wallace almost beat him to it), not because he had the last word on the topic.

                I'd have to do more research on this, but it would be interesting to see how many scientists were developing anti-racist arguments before the Civil Rights movement.

                -9.38/-7.69 If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

                by dirkster42 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 10:30:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  More interesting might be (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  dirkster42

                  determining who sees themselves as the pinnacle of creation (not to be taken literally...) today?

                  dirkster42, I've always been a proponent of the theory of evolution, found it beautiful and elegant, but never really saw the dark side, until I looked into the T-4 Aktion.  

                  Ms. Brooks book was simple in it's presentation, but profound in it's thought.  I think we have to be careful.  I think she presented ideas in a way to heal her people, to start a new conversation.  We are so ethnocentric, when most of us, being European, are hardly removed from the barbarians we came from just a few hundred years ago.  I loved it.  I want to buy it for every black kid I know and say look at your judges...you come from far more elegant stock.  She presented her ideas out of an innocence that just knocked me over.  There is no shame in being dark skinned.

                  For the Nazi's evolutionary theory reinforced their ideas of racial superiority.
                  If we refuse to see science or religion with clear eyes, we do ourselves a profound disservice.  The masses are easily manipulated either way.  I can see you are a thinker, not a reactor.

                  Have some peanut butter....Romney's toast.

                  by rosabw on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 10:46:23 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I try to think and not react. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    rosabw

                    Some days are better than others. :)

                    -9.38/-7.69 If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

                    by dirkster42 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 10:58:26 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I'm sorry, too (true confession time) (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      dirkster42

                      I took advantage of you...I just read this book, and you know how you just have to give a shout out to some people?  I just love the way this woman thinks, this woman writes.  She is basically a "nobody" and a "know-nothing" like me.  You've been very kind. I just saw the subject and it seemed like perfect timing.

                      Back to your earlier scheduled diary.  Thanks.

                      Have some peanut butter....Romney's toast.

                      by rosabw on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 11:10:14 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  no, but all life on this planet (0+ / 0-)

                is because of evolution and that's all there is to it. I'm glad Darwin put it together.

                pseudoscience can kill

                by terrypinder on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 11:18:46 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Lots of people were sexist back then too. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kevskos, JosephK74

            He reflected the cultural stupidity and racism that existed openly in the time he belonged.  It was culturally normal in that time.  Cultural thinking is difficult to change quickly.

            Anyway, the scientific community has moved on quite a bit from there (Guns, Germs and Steel is an amazing book that anyone who claims racism is scientific ought to read).

            Anyway, the racist claims in the scientific community have disappeared.  Give me one prominent biologist, historian or anthropologist who is a racist jackass and I'll show you 20 that aren't.  Evolutionary thinking has moved on.

            Anyway, the people who founded the United States had some pretty stupid thoughts about slavery.  I mean, that's kind of difficult to reconcile.  It doesn't mean the United States is an evil country.  It doesn't mean we have to defend that history as if we want it to come back.

        •  consider what religion is (0+ / 0-)

          and how evolution as an organizing principle is used, and reflect on the possibility that the phrase might be more accurate than you imply.

          Are the goals of its supporters that different?

          Your implicit ridicule is noted when you use the phrase "lack of knowledge".

          Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. ~ Romans 12:21

          by Mickquinas on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 10:33:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Too Narrow (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        linkage

        Please note that evolution is only ONE process created by God.  Evolution is consistent with the description of creation in the Bible, if one understands evolution as the process of that creation, but evolution is not the end of the story.  Admitting that evolution played a role, even a major role, in the creation of Genesis does not require that one adopt the view that evolution is God's ONLY process and/or capability with respect to mankind.

      •  Ought/Is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dirkster42, Kevskos

        Not many people consider evolution a moral or social law, and indeed, why should it? Nature gives us a multitude of reproductive strategies from communalism to parasitism. Evolution is no more a moral or social imperative than the theory of gravitational attraction, and yet, we still jump, dance, and make flying machines.

      •  I've read "On the Origin of Species" (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dirkster42, Matthias, Kevskos, JosephK74

        The only place he even implies a connection of his theory with human beings is in the last (or next-to-last) sentence in the book. Darwin was fully aware of how religious types were going to take that implication, and how it would distress the faithful. The book itself just doesn't support your argument.

        Of course, I'm not entirely certain just what your argument is. If you mean to say that because Darwin held racist views we ought reject his theory, then let me point out that in the 1860s a large majority of white people everywhere held those same, or similar, views. How is Darwin's racism supposed to invalidate his theory? It's pretty irrelevant to the science.

        As to the charge that evolution is attempting to fill the religion's ecological niche, it seems to do so only for some people. The catch-phrase "survival of the fittest" tends to used only by those who disapprove of the concept of evolution, but are ignorant of what the modern theories are. The phrase is also popular with certain social Darwinists, most of whom tend to vote Republican. But social Darwinism has absolutely nothing to do with the biological sciences, and can be dismissed as simple hand-waving used by social dominators to justify their prejudices. Real scientists are very, very leery of the phrase.

        Evolution is really only a threat to those who feel that they must take every single word in the Bible literally. If one is not a biblical literalist, then evolution offers a compelling explanation of how life on this planet changed over time.

        The whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature. - Arthur D. Hlavaty

        by Alice Venturi on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 10:08:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "Survival of the Fittest" (5+ / 0-)

        "Survival of the Fittest" is what people know about evolutionary theory when they know nothing else.

        That is sad, because it was not Darwin's formulation. I've seen it attributed to "Social Darwinism.

        What Darwin taught was natural selection. It might be called "survival of those who fit best." For example, as the skies in England turned smoky, one species of moth turned from white to grey. This is almost the only evolutionary change one can see over so short a period. Obviously, neither color was intrinsically superior. Each was more appropriate for a particular environment.

        But this suggests that the successful man just might be successful because he fits into a particular society. Which wrecks Social Darwinism, and shows how far that is from real Darwinism.

  •  Well written as always, dirkster... Thanks. n/t (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55, linkage, Alice Venturi, dirkster42

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 05:47:28 AM PDT

  •  It's like there is a stupid argument going on (8+ / 0-)

    between the atheists and the fundamentalists and no intelligent conversation can ever be squeezed in between the two.

    I reject miracles and the supernatural and demonstrably incorrect denials of observable fact.  Having granted that, there is still enormous remaining room there for useful discussion of man's relationship to the great overall cosmic woowoo.  

    •  lettuce prey. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, CanyonWren, Dumbo

      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

      by agnostic on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 06:56:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Interesting. It's because of miracles in my life (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dirkster42, Dumbo

      that I still believe, however alternatively from conservative dogma and mythological stories in the Old Testament, despite my God-awful Baptist upbringing. (pun intended).

      Republicans...What a nice club...of liars, cheaters, adulterers, exaggerators, hypocrites and ignoramuses. Der Spiegel -6.62, -6.92

      by CanyonWren on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 09:43:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What and why I believe... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dirkster42

        And my ideas are far from thought out.  What do you see when you look at this?

        I see dancing bears.  According to Wiki, most people see some type of bug.  

        Now, the simple natural world argument is that this is a picture of nothing: it's an ink blot on a piece of paper that was folded over once.  Well, it is that.  It's one of the original Rorschack test images.  There have been books written about this particular image.

        Now the naturalist view is a valid one, but it's not the only one, and that lack of unity in views is in a way like the inkblot itself, one of multiple ways of looking at it that are consistent but valid and really out of the context of what is provable or meaningful.

        My view is that this image is dancing bears.  It might not be dancing bears if I hadn't seen it.  If you see a butterfly or a bat -- or maybe you see dancing bears now, too, because I contaminated your mind on that -- that all those things are there too.  They might not have been the intent of the test maker, but they exist conceptually.

        I think, as humans, as living intelligence, we CREATE meaning.  And at the same time, that meaning has its own independent existence, the same way that numbers exist.  

        My argument for God, or whatever, and it might not be accurately be called God, is sometimes called The Argument from Beauty.  Does beauty exist, and what is it?  

        According to the simplistic (to me) view of people like Dawkins that are too rooted in the scientific view of the objective world to switch gears and process that, beauty is a neurological response involving brain chemicals interacting in response to stimuli.

        I say, fine, okay, it is.  But it still has an independent existence in the same sense that the number pi exists.  That might seem silly and irrelevant, but ah, what is silly and irrelevant is another and TOTALLY different discussion that it's difficult to get to.  I would argue that we, as humans, exist the same way that inkblots exist.  A viewpoint that reduces our existence to a discussion of chemical reactions is not a very useful one, and it's not the only possible one.

        •  Um what? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dirkster42

          All of the atheists I know are agog in love with the beauty of the universe. Perhaps you should share that with us before posting screeds like this?

          •  Oh, I know they are in love with (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dirkster42

            the beauty of the universe.  You can be in love with it, and yet not believe that there is anything of universal import in your personal reaction to this big thing out there called the universe.

            That's where I differ.  I can differ with that and think my opinion on this is more USEFUL without negating the viability of their opinion on this at all.

            You have to start by asking what is beauty.  It's a very deep and profound question that can be answered many ways.  I totally understand the reductionist, naturalist explanation, which science, by its nature, has to embrace, because the physical sciences are the analysis of the objective physical universe.

            However, even though the inkblot is an inkblot, I still see dancing bears, and I think that's more important than the chemical reactions that led me to that.

            •  No, you don't understand. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dirkster42
              I totally understand the reductionist, naturalist explanation, which science, by its nature, has to embrace, because the physical sciences are the analysis of the objective physical universe.
              Um, what? Just because we use science in one domain doesn't mean we apply it naively to all domains.

              You've not written a single thing that even touches on the truth of my life and my experiences. And since you're so certain of your prejudices, there's no hope of sharing beauty with you. Since your words have no meaning to describe my world, and you're deaf to any beauty I can clumsily express through text, it's best that we unspeak each other.

              •  Well, I don't mean to offend you. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dirkster42

                And I don't think we understand each other, if that's the case.

                There is no branch of science that objectively studies beauty, because beauty is not objective, and that which is not objective is not within the realm of objectively analyzable thing.  The CLOSEST that can come to that in the physical sciences is the realm of psychology that analyzes human reactions to beauty, categorizes those reactions, and finds cause for those reactions in human biology.  Anything else that analyzes beauty is outside the DOMAIN of what natural sciences studies and is, instead, in the domain of philosophy.  

                •  Modern athiesm... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Dumbo

                  Modern atheism including Dawkins (although I find him quite limited) covers almost the entire spectrum of philosophical thought, including aesthetics. Now personally, I don't need to abandon monism to see the beautiful spider in the ink-blot, nor would my exploration of that symbol be strictly limited to neurons and hormones. Just for one layer, the signifier, referent, the cultural connotations, ecological roles, and vast evolutionary history going back to deep time inter-are. The beauty on this layer comes from the view of the spider as a singular (therefore precious) instance in an uncountably vast universe.

                  It's a common mistake to say that because atheists consider science to be an epistemology useful for addressing some claims about god, that we use science everywhere including places where it's invalid.

                  •  I'm familiar with Dawkin's position on this. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    dirkster42

                    And I've talked about it before, and picked nits with him about his assertion that Beethoven was an atheist, which he wasn't, but he provides enough gray area that it's not really a historical argument.  I've written diaries about Beethoven's religious beliefs, (which I disagree with but which can be described as pantheist), and I've written diaries that ask the question that seems silly probably, but is important to me, does Beethoven's Ninth even really exist and what the hell does that kind of question even mean?

                    Dawkins' takes the reductionist point of view I described above.  I can't find a quote for him on it right now, so I'll quote rationalist wiki instead:

                    The biggest problem with the argument from beauty is that it ignores the fact that the perception of beauty is a psychological phenomenon that is easily described in terms of evolutionary principles and neurological models of sensory processing. Also it ignores all the non-beautiful and even down right disgusting things in the universe. Furthermore, there is no absolute standard of beauty and the idea of beauty is entirely subjective, although we may have evolved to share many of our ideas of beauty in common. In this argument a connection between divine providence and that which is perceived as beautiful, whether it be natural beauty or a work of art, is simply assumed to be self evident. No one ever attempts to present the logic behind this argument, and if they did, they would more than likely be laughed out of the room.
                    And there we go.  The rest of the discussion is interesting but it attacks a primitive version of this idea.  I completely and fully accept that our perception of beauty is based on chemical reactions and subjective interpretations based on past experiences, things they remind us of, etc., etc., etc.  However, that's not the point.  I tried to make that point clearer with my Rorschach analogy.

                    The physical sciences (which I love) are based on a certain epistemological and metaphysical model of the universe.  It has to be.  That model says that there is one objective universe and that experiences that are not objective are outside the domain of its study unless they are studied for their objective common features.  That's not wrong!  That's just the basic starting rule set of that game.

                    I say that it's possible to take the rule set of that game too seriously and thus ignore the possibility that a different rule set for determining what is real and important is possible.  I don't want that to sound too cosmic, although I guess any extended discussion of it risks going there.

                    My question about whether Beethoven's Ninth exists seems analogous to my asking whether you or I exist.  A primitive consideration of what you are and how you exist becomes difficult and unwieldy when objective scientific principles are applied to it.

                    I'm not terribly sure what the hell we are, but whatever I am, it's a lot closer to those dancing bears in that Rorschach test than to the chemical processes that keep my brain in motion.

                    One possible definition of what I am that I've toyed with is this:  We are made of narrative.  I'm not going to commit to that 100%, but that goes in the direction that I find interesting.

                    What do I mean by that, we are made of narrative?  We have a whole set of memories (all stored, very objectively and physically in our brain neurons, of course), and we have our idiosyncratic way of doing things, etc.  But they are KNIT TOGETHER SUBJECTIVELY just as the dancing bears is knit together out of the Rorschach image when I look at it.  The narrative that I create out of the experiences of my life is my life.  It's who I am.  There's a non-objective creative process involved here.  And this reality of who I am and what my life has meant, how it all fits together, is a creation.  

                    I go a little further than that.  I think without that self-narrative, we don't exist.  Oh, our objective visible meat machine exists, but without some personal knitting together of the rorschach test, there's nothing there.  

                    I studied AI in college and was paid to research certain aspects of it (modal logic).  Artificial consciousness is kind of a white whale of AI that's out of the scope of what I was involved with, but it has always interested me.  I think that an artificial consciousness that models human consciousness will have to have this feature of self-narrative creation as an essential feature.  It's a necessary part of being conscious, being more than just a calculator.  

                    So, if you follow where I'm going, I think that what you and I are is and has to be not objective but subjective, like our experience of beauty.  

                    •  Seriously - (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Dumbo

                      check out Niebuhr's Meaning of Revelation - he's very, very, very close to what you're getting at here.

                      -9.38/-7.69 If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

                      by dirkster42 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 07:55:01 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I'll have to someday. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        dirkster42

                        I plow through only one hard book at a time.  Working my way through Schoenberg's Theory of Harmony right now.

                        I have David Kellog Lewis's books on modal realism on my radar for future tough reading right now.  Probably On the Plurality of Worlds.  

                        I wrote a diary a few weeks ago for Books That Changed My Life about Philip K. Dick's Flow My Tears.  It's the usual book report, but about half the diary veers off into my own spacy take on modal logic, modal realism, multiple-world interpretation of quantum theory, and Tegmark's "Ensemble of Universes" theory of everything.  Here.

                    •  *sigh* (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      dirkster42, Dumbo
                      I say that it's possible to take the rule set of that game too seriously and thus ignore the possibility that a different rule set for determining what is real and important is possible.
                      It's my experience that most thoughtful atheists recognize this. Science as an epistemology cannot validate itself after all.

                      It's extremely frustrating to me as an atheist to come into the room with a bag full of rule sets for epistemology, ethics, metaethics, metaphysics, semiotics, and (most importantly to this discussion) aesthetics only to have them ignored in favor of ridiculous axe-grinding about the limits of science which we already know and acknowledge.

                      Science does one thing, and it does it very well. It constructs predictive inferences across multiple cases from multiple types of observations.

                      But if you want to talk about beauty and narrative, I'm going to want to talk about theme and variations, deconstruction, improvisation, fractal structures, sense-making, and symbols and their relations.  None of these can be addressed by science wrt Beethoven's 9th, because Beethoven's 9th is a singularity and science doesn't deal in singularities.

                      Opinions about atheists bother me much more than opinions about god. I can respectfully disagree with your argument from beauty. I can't respect that you've framed your argument against a reductionist and stereotypical view of atheism.  

    •  Oh, there's plenty of intelligent discussion. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo, Kevskos

      You just have to know where to look!

      -9.38/-7.69 If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

      by dirkster42 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 11:05:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Conservative 'Christianity' is the refuge of hate (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, CanyonWren, dirkster42

    I strongly believe Niebuhr and the WCC represent the best spirit of faith and belief.

    That which calls itself Conservative Christianity seems to me to be more a tool and refuge of evil.

    Prince of Lies indeed...


    The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. - Pangolin@kunstler.com

    by No one gets out alive on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 06:31:52 AM PDT

  •  The circular problem that liberal (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, Kevskos, CanyonWren

    Christians have when taking on fundamentalist rejection of science is that they still rever the founding texts of Christianity just as the fundamentalists do. Therefore, liberal Christians are tied at the hip to the fundamentalists and have one hand tied behind their backs when it comes to challenging the non-science view.

    This will not be resolved until people walk away from the idea that the bible, Koran, torah etc. are nothing more than historical mythologies.

    •  I Have No Problem With This (4+ / 0-)

      I am not limited in any way by my reverence for Christian scripture.  I understand evolution as (one of) God's creation process(es), and that does not in any way conflict with my belief in God or in the truth of the scriptures.  I am not a Deist, either.  I just understand that evolution and Original Creation do not have to be in conflict.

      •  That's fine that you have found a personal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kevskos

        solution, but it doesn't solve the problem. You have only done this by adjusting what was written to fit what you imagine about your god and what you wish those texts to mean in terms of "truth".  

        The scriptures back up the fundamentalists views too and they say that evolution is an idea "from the depths of hell" as one legislator recently offered.

        By calling those texts "sacred" you inadvertantly also give shelter to the fundamentalists' ideas, and the proliferation of these views is damaging to science and the well being and education of our citizens.

  •  No Adam and Eve = no original sin = problematic. (7+ / 0-)

    Christianity is founded on the need for salvation through Christ.  A salvation everyone requires, the Church teaches, because of Original Sin; the stain of sin that every human has inherited from Adam and Eve.  This is a big reason that Fundamentalists deny evolution - because it's much harder to justify the need for a Savior if there is no inherent need of Salvation.  

    •  Explore Eastern Orthodoxy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlb1972

      and other strains before painting all Christians with the current version of Augustine's brush (the doctrine of Original Sin).

      It would seem to me that the best argument for humanity's need for salvation (although not necessarily a Savior as described in the New Testament) is self-evident to anyone who interacts with or observes the world.

      The trick is what we mean by salvation.

      Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. ~ Romans 12:21

      by Mickquinas on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 10:40:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If I understand the argument, (5+ / 0-)

    god fearing scientists, liberal protestants by any other name, were so good at coming to terms with biblical creation (or creator), AND  for continued growth in scientific knowledge and research, that the organized religious movement became less necessary, as people became more enlightened. Their knowledge (love?)  of science and god coexist because of their liberal view.

    Cute.

    There is an alternative.

    Formerly irrational, god-fearing people, faced with substantive answers to ancient, fear-causing events (earthquakes, meteors, eclipses, blood transfusion deaths, disease, and basic chemistry) recognized that there was more coherence and predictability in a scientific description and answer, compared to the religious based clap trap that it replaced.

    Over time, the smarter, more educated folks moved from conservative cults, to liberal protestant churches, to finally, leaving the church completely, given its sole purpose of control and fear mongering. I suspect that the growing numbers of self-described atheists and agnostics around the world are a direct proof of this alternative.  So is the tacit fear displayed by mega church and major religious leaders about falling memberships and empty pews.

    Another side effect is also predictable. As more people become liberal thinkers, and toss away the chains of religious education and brain washing, the ones who are left become ever more strident and fear-based. They use fear to maintain whatever numbers they still have, they use fear to control the topics, the education, and the behavior of their sheeple, and they attract an ever more sick, and mentally disturbed following. Their voices grow ever louder and more strident, their demands that ours is a christian nation become a hysterical scream, not a proposed view of history. Fear is not only a tool for them, it drives their own behaviors.

    In the '50s and '70s (I cannot imagine such a study being funded today, not with the Wests,  Issas, Kings, or Bachmanns in office) there were studies done comparing the strength of one's self-reported religious belief and the incidence of mental illness. The correlations were amazing. The stronger the self reporting, the greater the incidence.

    Now, there are several possibilities. Do the mentally ill try to self-medicate, either through alcohol, drugs, or even a strong-armed religious organization? Are the mentally ill far more susceptible to brainwashing and control that religions offer? Or does the underlying mental illness lead to and express itself in a controlling, demanding religious cult, forcing others to follow the lead of some sick puppy? (handling of snakes, faith healing, etc are the best examples of that)

    Interesting post. But I suspect that there is more to the underlying issue - not simply a liberal religious answer, but a liberal A-religious answer, as well.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 06:54:30 AM PDT

  •  I just had this conversation with my uncle. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, CanyonWren, dirkster42

    He's southern born and raised, deeply religious. I started the conversation by saying "I don't understand why theories of creation and evolution can't co-exisit. There really is no conflict." Surprisingly, he agreed.

    Now, this is a 75-year-old man - and a true bible believer. He said that it is impossible to look at geology and hold fast to the belief that the world is only 8,000 years old. (There's that pesky reality.) He said that he believes Adam and Eve began when they got a soul. As to the rest of it, if you consider that what we call a day may have been a million or 10 million years long, there you have it. He also believes that God may have created other planets where life exists. (I think his church would throw him out if they knew he believes that way.)

    Interestingly, this uncle is also a very hard core Democrat. He said he could tell you right now who is going to vote for in 2016 and the election after that, too. Said he doesn't need to know who is running. The Democrat has his vote right now.

    •  Your Uncle grew up in they heyday... (0+ / 0-)

      of liberal Christianity and reflects those views. Interestingly, younger generations didn't have a "pre-existing condition" of faith that they needed to rationalize with the huge body of evidence supporting scientific reason. So instead of compromise, we tend to choose a side. Those that go for religion, go all in.

      I think most of them know in a corner of their head that they are probably wrong. But they know they won't burn in hell for being wrong about science- but if they're wrong about God... So they learn the language of anti-reason and denial and build up defenses to block out anything that doesn't fit their allowed interpretations. But, IMO, they really do know.

    •  huh (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos
      "I don't understand why theories of creation and evolution can't co-exisit. There really is no conflict."
      Interesting. The theory of evolution has a pile of evidence supporting it that is a massive, the theory of creation .... NOTHING. From a scientific perspective there is no theory of creation ... at least as in the way science defines a theory.

      Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. - JFK

      by taonow on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 12:09:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you so much for this diary. (4+ / 0-)

    I have been struggling for many years to find a liberal Christian church home. I have run the gamut from Unitarian Universalist, to Unity, to Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, etc.

    I am sad to have lost such a significant part of my life, and miss the worship and community. I have found some solace in online blogs (The Christian Left), but still long for a liberal Christian experience.

    I agree that we should have stayed and fought for our church, but it is exhausting. Fighting the political and social battles have sapped the energy and passion from my soul.

    Unfortunately, conservative Christianity has driven many liberals to atheism, pure secularism, or indifference.

    I recently lost my 42-year-old daughter to breast cancer and longed for the Christian compassion I once knew. Instead I feared the most conservative responses that I knew would bring only anger and more grief.

    It's good to know there are others like me who do not want to dismiss science while embracing our liberal Christian faith.

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

    by Philly526 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 07:53:06 AM PDT

    •  I wonder about the word "driven" (0+ / 0-)

      From one perspective, if a sect, church, parish, grouping, finds its leadership and growing numbers of its members to be Flat Earth, 7000 yr old, Evolution is a socialist lie, America was founded as a christian nation, assholes,
      then, yes, they are being driven from the church. I am sure that their sanity requires it.

      But, I don't think that is the demographic at play here.

      Some of the most conservative, anti-science, irrational christian cults are relatively new critters, as their wildest members find pastures more to their liking. New  megachurches served that role for a while, but recently megachurch construction has flatlined. Some have declared bankruptcy. Others stopped expansion programs. And still others are caught lying about membership numbers lest the truth poke out, and show that ours was not, is not, and will not be a "Christian Nation."

      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

      by agnostic on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 09:46:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Great point. (0+ / 0-)

        When I use the word "driven" I guess I'm thinking about it in the sense that even before the "flat earthers" became so vocal, there seemed to be no room for different points of view. Especially in the fundamentalist denominations, there could be no questions, no conversations on subjects of importance to individuals and families.

        While there might have been a bit more leeway in the more moderate, intellectual denominations, there was still a line that could not be crossed. This is the line that 'drove' me away. The lack of ability to question, debate.

        The worst part of the whole thing, is that I was given the impression my love for God; my love of worship was somehow less genuine because of my disagreement with points of dogma.

        Thank you again for such a thoughtful response.

        "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

        by Philly526 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 01:26:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  what you hunger for, what many seek (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Philly526

          is acceptance, understanding, and companionship.

          Your daughter, the gleam in your eye, the pride of your life, the one you were sure would out live you, left this world early.

          That is a hole that cannot be filled, not with prayer, church, drugs, alcohol, or tears.

          That is a hole that only time can start to heal.

          Humans are such strange creatures. Social, in need of society, often irrational and just as often, refusing to work towards either a common goal, or an obvious self-interest. (this explains the current GOP in a nutshell) I suspect that religion's last dregs prevent us from absolute acceptance and companionship, that the shadow of their rules and regs, their fear-mongering, their lies, still prevent us from providing clean and unadulterated acceptance, understanding and companionship.

          The sooner we sweep away that jetsam and flotsam, that mental detritus that pollutes so many, including me, the better and the sooner we can reach out, fill mutual holes of loss and lost loves, and ease pains that all of us are always going to suffer.

          It took me a number of years, countless beatings on my left hand for being a natural lefty (the penguins still raise my BP if they walk past in uniform), and a longstanding distaste for organized religion to formulate a personal view of the world. We are mainly good. We can be misled, deluded, sick, mean, spiteful, and worse. But the innate essence of humanity is its own reward. And that, above all, should be cherished and rewarded.

          That means that those in dire straits, in endless pain, should and must be able to end their own lives.

          That means that every woman must be allowed to control her own body. Period. (and control of periods seems far more easy today than even 5 yrs ago)

          That means that the death penalty must be extremely limited, but never banned. Because we are a social creature, and a deadly cancer among us is no different than a metastasized cell in a smoker's lung. But, that is so fatal and total an end, that we have to be 100% sure that our decision is correct. That takes time, $$$, effort, and an enlightened justice and social system.

          That means we do what our four, five, or eight fathers intended in our preamble. We aim for the general welfare, something that TeaBuggerers simply do not and cannot understand.

          It means a lot more, too.

          What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

          by agnostic on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 02:32:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Born-Again Literalists in my part of the world (8+ / 0-)

    have a take on the Bible vs. Science that isn't mentioned in this article. To wit: "If science is gonna tell us that humans evolved in Africa, then Science is crazy, because I'm not African. Those so-called educated folks never know anything, anyway."

    This is almost an exact quote from a leading (and very wealthy) member of our community, active in his congregation, whose daughter I happen to teach. I've never had the nerve to ask exactly where he goes to church, but I know he's a Baptist.

    •  I have heard similar things before. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos

      From my understanding, there's an idea in some circles that the fall of man corrupted the world enough to the point that skeptical, scientific inquiry can lead one to erroneous conclusions.

      Thus, any scientist that isn't a believer is definitely going to make false conclusions, because they don't filter information with the religious doctrine as a start.

      It seems to me there's a lot of people on the religious side who do think that they're fighting science.  This viewpoint does seem quite common.

  •  Thank You - N/T (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CanyonWren, dirkster42

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 08:19:11 AM PDT

  •  I have a theory (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CanyonWren, Kevskos, agnostic, dirkster42

    ...from personal experience.

    Liberal Christianity didn't come out of Darwinian enlightenment. It came out of the atomic age and the embracing of science and the scientific process within the public psyche early in the 20th century, climaxing in the decades after WW2. Our scientific prowess made us "great" and was part of our identity- so many found ways to rationalize this feat of mankind with their religious faith. These were religious people who embraced reason. But do reasonable people embrace religion?

    In 1965, I was born into a world where this technology was taken for granted. My family was Lutheran and I was taught to separate science & religion. But as my generation came of age, I believe many of us saw inherent conflict in this message. Either the bible was right, or it wasn't. We saw liberalization as an unnecessary compromise. My initial response was to rebel against my parent's "phony" liberal religion by joining the fundamentalists in my late teens. But for many others, it simply gave them a license to eschew organized religion. Eventually, I could no longer resist the tug of reason and have steered away from practicing my faith. I haven't become atheist, or even agnostic. Just non-practicing and a bit cynical.

    What is left behind are those who have decided to reject the tug of reason and embrace fundamentalism. They may say that liberalizing religion is a slippery slope to godlessness. Perhaps they are right. IMO.

    •  When I first figured out that three of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, taonow, dirkster42

      my grandfolks were atheist or unitarians, at best, and that my parental units only took me to church for their own social reasons, I realized just how carefully they raised me on the issue of faith. They deliberately and with malice aforethought, what many in churches felt is unthinkable, let me think.

      I still recall when we moved away to the burbs, taking me out of a christian grade school where the penguins beat me for trying to write and draw with my evil left hand. The first day of my new school was amazing. I could think on my own, without fear of retribution.

      I never looked back.

      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

      by agnostic on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 09:50:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Your journey seems (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dirkster42

      some what like mine.  I did the fundy thing in my mid teens and I have made the full journey to atheism as I was finishing my BS, NAU Yuma 2007.  I am just a little older, born in 61 so we grew up in the same time frame.

    •  Your personal story (0+ / 0-)

      is actually one of the most helpful things I've read in a long time.  It's not new information, but the way you laid it out made a few pieces fall into place for me, so thanks.

      But, the historical record doesn't support this idea:

      Liberal Christianity didn't come out of Darwinian enlightenment. It came out of the atomic age and the embracing of science and the scientific process within the public psyche early in the 20th century, climaxing in the decades after WW2
      Liberal religion emerged hand in hand with the Enlightenment - sometimes even fueling the Enlightenment.  The acknowledged "father" of liberal Protestantism, Friedrich Schleiermacher, wrote On Religion in 1799.

      I'd recommend taking a gander through Gary Dorrien's three-volume The Making of American Liberal Theology, which goes back to the early universalists at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

      -9.38/-7.69 If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

      by dirkster42 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 10:53:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I believe in evolution...and I also Believe. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, jennybravo

    The two are not mutually exclusive.  I am a science-loving Christian.  Good diary, thanks.

    Republicans...What a nice club...of liars, cheaters, adulterers, exaggerators, hypocrites and ignoramuses. Der Spiegel -6.62, -6.92

    by CanyonWren on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 08:49:18 AM PDT

    •  Semantics, Semantics, Semantics (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      taonow

      Just as there are numerous definitions of "theory" which are conflated and misused by creationists, the word "believe" is really not explicit enough for all the ways it's used. I don't "believe" in evolution as an article of faith, nor does anyone else, I suspect. I accept it as being a generally proven "theory" in the scientific sense.

      "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything even remotely true." -- H. Simpson

      by midnight lurker on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 09:05:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Meh, whatevah. I don't need to explain my beliefs (0+ / 0-)

        to you or anyone.  Go taunt elsewhere.

        Republicans...What a nice club...of liars, cheaters, adulterers, exaggerators, hypocrites and ignoramuses. Der Spiegel -6.62, -6.92

        by CanyonWren on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 09:16:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You Missed My Point, I Fear (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          taonow

          I was trying to say that the word "believe" is loaded. It is perhaps a failing of our language.

          When you say you "believe" in evolution, surely that is not the same as saying you "believe" in Jesus as the Son of God. Once is acceptance on scientific evidence of a theory that has been changing over the years. The other is acceptance on faith.

          "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything even remotely true." -- H. Simpson

          by midnight lurker on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 11:29:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Note the distinction (0+ / 0-)

            between "believe" and "Believe" in the original subject line.

            One is just "I think it's true" the other is more loaded with larger connotations.

            -9.38/-7.69 If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

            by dirkster42 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 11:51:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Biblical literalism.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, Mickquinas

    is the basis for the rejection of evolution, "young earth" Creationism, etc.  

    Modern Christians differ on the authority of Scripture.  This is a massive oversimplification, but in general liberal Protestants believe that while the Bible is basically true, not everything in it must be accepted.  Catholics believe that the Bible is inerrant, but not literally true. That is, some parts are clearly intended as straight literal reporting, like the New Testament accounts of Jesus' life, while others are allegorically or metaphorically, but not literally, true.  Fundamentalists believe that the Bible is not only inerrant, but literally true.  So if Genesis says there were only X number of generations between Adam and Jesus, and that accounts for about 4,000 years, then that plus the 2,000 years since adds up to 6,000 years, and that's how old creation is.

    Biblical literalism has not been the "normal" or principal way of understanding Scripture, however, until relatively recent times.  The greatest Christian theologian between the fall of the Roman Empire and the high Middle Ages was Augustine of Hippo. In 415 he completed a book on the interpretation of Genesis, in which he said:

    Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.... Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by these who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.
    Augustine would have little use for young earth creationists. I think he'd think they were "talking nonsense."
  •  Evolution not a source of conflict for me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42

    Evolution isn't one of the dominant sources of the conflicts I repeatedly run into in conversations with people claiming a liberal religious perspective.

  •  I'd think that Theology as an academic discipline (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42

    is necessarily always more thoughtful, more complex, and more nuanced than would ever be found in popular religion.  About as far apart as sociology is from reality TV.  But yes, the prevalence of crudest possible popular versions in relation to more sophisticated versions, does seem to have shifted significantly.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 09:29:43 AM PDT

  •  I prefer to think that history rolls forward (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevskos
  •  Dualism isn't a reasonable viewpoint anymore. (0+ / 0-)

    Science doesn't promote monism?  I beg to differ.

    Since I do believe there's a conflict there and most religions promote dualism, I think there is a conflict.  A pretty big one.

    Also, I don't think I've ever met someone against the idea of evolution that didn't want to replace it with religious thought.  That's the basis for concluding that religion and science are in opposition.

  •  Thank you! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42

    T & R'd, hotlisted for reading when I have more time.

    The founding fathers knew of the mutually corrupting influences of Church and state, wisely sending them to opposite corners.

    by emidesu on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 11:58:33 AM PDT

  •  Tune in next week for "More prominent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Paul Rogers

    Christians COOL with the Round Earth theory". Why?

    Acceptance of random evidence based theories isn't really acceptance of science, which is an evidence based method of modelling reality. One cannot pick and choose.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 12:47:24 PM PDT

  •  Mark Twain (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42

    As a student of science and a Christian
    This quote spoke to me:
     

    Hence any failure of Christians to develop a scientific knowledge of the world is not indication of their loyalty to the revealed God but of unbelief.
    Because, as the gospel song says, we serve "an awesome God", unconstrained by the intellectual blinders of men. That some confine their faith to the inerrancy of a book written for man's understanding thousands of years ago does not mean there are not those of us who believe and accept science. Indeed, as Einstein did, we see God's work revealed in science.

    As to why more science affirming Christians do not come forward and argue with science deniers, I'll quote Mark Twain:
    Never argue with an idiot, they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    "I feel like I'm still waiting to meet my true self. I'm assuming it's gonna be in a dark alley and there's gonna be a fight." ---Rachel Maddow

    by never forget 2000 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 02:52:13 PM PDT

  •  If you care about good science in our schools, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42

    support the National Center for Science Education. They have been the pre-eminent group fighting creationism and supporting the teaching of evolution in public schools. Most notably, they played a pivotal role in lawsuits such as the Dover v. Kitzmiller case, but most of what they do is supporting teachers at the local level who are trying to teach good science.

    http://ncse.com/

    They've also just recently taken up the admirable cause of supporting climate change science in the classroom. This has caused some members to stop supporting the organization, so they need all the help they can get right now.

    "Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." -Ralph Waldo Emerson "YEAAAAAAARGH!" -Howard Dean

    by AtomikNY on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 07:35:09 PM PDT

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