September 08, 2005

Quick Poll

I'm curious. Who here believes in evolution? Which ones of you prefer Creationism, or intelligent design?

I'll be particularly interested in the good Reverend's comments on the matter.

Posted by Jennifer at September 8, 2005 11:40 AM | TrackBack


I'm most partial to evolution, it's logical, it's observeable. But I do like how ID marries the God-liness of Creationism with evolution. Creationism is probably my least likely candidate.

Posted by: shank at September 8, 2005 12:18 PM

I lean towards evolution when talking about fish to mammal to homosapien etc., but the initial creation of life, whether animal or vegetable, makes me think bigger thoughts, maybe things can't be minimalized down to quarks and subatomic particles etc.. The universe is pretty friggin complex though, and my mind is pretty small, so what do I know though right?

Posted by: Oorgo at September 8, 2005 01:36 PM

Probably a mixture of evolution & ID. Seems hard to believe that anything as complex as a human body is the result of random chance.

Posted by: Pete at September 8, 2005 01:37 PM

I like ID because it doesn't specify who the all mighty creator is. It could be me!

Posted by: Jim at September 8, 2005 02:54 PM

But on the more serious side...are you serious? Evolution, of course. Mythology does not equal science.

Posted by: Jim at September 8, 2005 02:56 PM

Evolution exists, obviously. But we may not be able to understand why or how this complex universe exists at all any more than my cat can understand calculus. We may always be left to wonder just what the dickins is really going on.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at September 8, 2005 07:59 PM

Give me science every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at September 8, 2005 08:26 PM

We know Jim is not the Designer because women only have two breasts.


Look, a monkey!

(Runs away.)

Posted by: Pixy Misa at September 8, 2005 10:15 PM

Evolution vs. Goldilocks and the Three Bears?

No question for me.

Posted by: Paul at September 9, 2005 06:38 AM

Sorry not to have answered yesterday ... I read the poll and was anxious to reply, but those doggone people I work for insist I do their silly crap instead of blogging at work. To be honest, for the most part, I've ignored the entire discussion. These things come and go in cycles, and on a certain level I find it curious that evangelical and fundamentalist Christians are so gung-ho about ID when to me it some of it sounds an awful lot like 17th century deism, i.e., God wound up the clock and is now letting it run out, but that may be my own ignorance of the details. I suppose the devil is in the details, eh?

Much of the debate is a throwback to the Scopes Trial. Prior to 1925, the Fundamentalists held the power in the Presbyterian church. (In fact, we pretty much developed the theology of Fundamentalism.) After the trial and the public reaction to it, the Fundamentalists saw a huge reversal of fortunes, basically losing power in the 1926 General Assembly, and they've never gotten over that.

But I digress. At its core, this is a debate about authority, philosophy (epistemology to be specific) and liberty.

It's about authority, but not only ecclesiastical authority -- that is a secondary issue. It's about the fundamental questions of existence, i.e., who am I, and why am I here? If I came randomly from nothing in the broad sense, then I go back to nothing when it's all over. One can argue, as many have, that there's no meaning in that. I came, I saw, I did my thing, and when it was all over, what was the point? Indeed, most of the ancient religions, particularly the fertility religions believed that it was all a big cycle, round and round we go, and what was before will be again, and what purpose did the individual have in that cycle? To serve their overlords, of course.

But what the Hebrews gave the world is the notion of linear time rather than cyclical time, and out of that notion arose the belief that if there was a beginning, there was a point, and if there was a beginning, there will be an end, and there will be a point to that as well. The concurrent belief that there was a Being behind the existence suggested that this Being had a purpose for all of existence as well. And if one believes that, then that Being's purpose has implications regarding how I respond and see my own purpose wiithin that larger purpose.

This, in my opinion, is the true source of the conflict, not whether "science" or "mythology" should be authoritative, and this speaks to epistemology, i.e., how do we know what we know? Ever since Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," most people on the post-modern side of the abyss will readily acknowledge that both science and religion utilize paradigmatic language. Religion is, in a sense, unfairly challenged by the fact that physical experiments tend not to yield much information about the metaphysical.

The debate is also about liberty. People prefer their own liberty to submission to authority, whether divine or human, sacred or secular. If we're unwilling to submit matters of our will to divine authority, we're darned sure not going to yield them to the jackleg next door or to the state. For many on either side, this is a question of individual rights -- do I or do I not have the right to teach my children to believe any damn fool thing I want? Whose children are they, mine or the state's?

Frankly, I have no real issue with either side of this argument. The Christian faith has traditionally set forth the doctrines of creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing) and creatio continua (God's continuing action to create). I see no particular conflict with creatio continua and the idea of evolution. It doesn't violate either the First or the Second Laws of Thermodynamics because both laws presuppose a closed system, and if there is an outside Being acting upon the system, then it isn't closed, is it?

There now ... aren't you glad you asked? :D

Posted by: Rev. Mike at September 9, 2005 12:54 PM

By the way, I went to the University of Tennessee when I wanted to learn how to be an engineer, and I went to Columbia Theological Seminary when I wanted to learn how to be a minister. Not the other way around. Likewise, the last thing I want to see is the secular state teaching religious doctrine and the church teaching science.

'Nuff said.

Posted by: Rev. Mike at September 9, 2005 12:58 PM


Posted by: Harvey at September 9, 2005 01:13 PM

Sorry, Rev. Mike, creatio continua violates the principle of metaphysical naturalism, which is the fundamental basis of all Science. The two are strictly incompatible.

Rev. Pixy

P.S. People on the post-modern side of the abyss are, bye and large, drooling idiots.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at September 12, 2005 01:18 AM


Posted by: Rev. Mike at September 12, 2005 07:37 AM

[Wiping drool off his chin. :) ]

Posted by: Rev. Mike at September 12, 2005 07:38 AM

Pixy, as I said above, this is not a discussion I keep up with. That having been said, I pulled out the cans of intellectual WD-40 and compressed air, one to loosen up the rust, the other to blow out the cobwebs. The cobwebs are gone, but the rust still needs some work. :)

I went back and reacquainted myself with "metaphysical naturalism," and I suppose your comment is valid if you want to park Western philosophy at 1920's logical positivism and go no further in defining the epistemology of science. I am at best a hack philosopher and not that much better of a theologian, but it seems to me that if you want to take as an a priori that certain things just don't happen, i.e., that which we cannot observe empirically does not occur, then you've pretty much ruled out anything that doesn't fit your paradigm. That's kind of my take on Thomas Kuhn, namely, that science progresses forward because one day someone has a paradigm shift that no one had before. Afterwards, we all have the blinding flash of the obvious and laugh at those who went before.

I'm OK with your statement as long as you're OK with acknowledging that it is as much a presuppositional faith statement as any dogma I could generate in a pastor's study. What I've gone back and read would suggest that you and I may be mixing epistemological or methodological naturalism with metaphysical or ontological naturalism, which believes that the world is comprised of, and only of, empirically knowable physical phenomena. If you're speaking of the latter, then unless you're making a faith statement, the ability to remove authoritiatively from consideration an entire realm of knowledge would suggest omniscience on your part. One might say that makes you God, and although you might like that conclusion, allow me to express my agnosticism. ;)

Posted by: Rev. Mike at September 12, 2005 10:49 AM

By the way, Jen, if this is not what you had in mind for this discussion, I've reposted my first comment on my own blog, and we can transfer the discussion over there if you prefer.

Posted by: Rev. Mike at September 12, 2005 10:50 AM

Rev--I asked because I'm curious. Nearly half of Americans don't believe in evolution, which is mind-boggling to me. A class I'm in gets protested because it teaches evolution. I find the conversation interesting.

Posted by: Jennifer at September 12, 2005 12:37 PM

Thanks. I usually find these conversations interesting as well, but sometimes they have emotional freight that just seems to make them troll magnets. I got a little carried away with my first response (OK, a lot), so I didn't want to overstay my welcome.

Your phrase, "believe in evolution" is interesting from a religious point of view because "belief" in a religious context is not the same as "belief" in other intellectual contexts. I think it's silly to be protesting outside of classrooms, especially at a state university, though. The last time I looked, a college education is not a legal requirement. (Maybe it should be?)

Posted by: Rev. Mike at September 12, 2005 02:51 PM