Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and that Evangelical Christianity

The front-runners to take on President Obama in 2012 are beginning to emerge. His Grace looked at Mitt Romney’s Mormonism a few months ago, concluding that – historicity aside – there is no real bar on a Mormon taking the White House. The focus now turns to Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, who both profess to be Evangelical Christians. His Grace knows nothing about either, and is (warily) drawing his information from Wikipedia, on the assumption that Wiki policy on the biographies of living persons has much improved over the years, and that candidates for the most powerful political position on the planet are moving swiftly to correct any errors and omissions in case misinformation and disinformation should damage their electoral chances.

Michele Bachmann is the US Representative for Minnesota's 6th congressional district. She says she was called by God to run for the seat, and that she and her husband fasted for three days to be sure. She is a supporter of the Tea Party movement and the founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, and received her degree (tax law) from Oral Roberts University, a ‘charismatic Christian’ establishment founded by Pentecostal televangelist Oral Roberts.

She opposes same-sex marriage and is strong on the importance of the traditional family unit. Married to Marcus Bachmann, they have raised five children (Lucas, Harrison, Elisa, Caroline, and Sophia), and have provided foster care for a further 23 others. Mr and Mrs Bachmann own a Christian counselling clinic in Stillwater, and joined the ‘Pro-Life’ movement after seeing Francis Schaeffer's 1976 Christian documentary film, ‘How Should We Then Live?’ It is reported that they ‘frequently prayed outside of clinics and served as sidewalk counsellors in an attempt to dissuade women from seeking abortions’. In 1993, Mrs Bachmann and other parents in Stillwater, Minnesota opened New Heights Charter School, which was accused of teaching Creationism and advocating that ‘something called “12 Christian principles” be taught, very much like the 10 Commandments’. She supports the teaching of intelligent design in public school science classes, saying: “There is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact or not... There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.”

During a debate televised by WCCO on October 28, 2006, news reporter Pat Kessler quoted a story that appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and asked Mrs Bachmann whether it was true that the church she belonged to taught that the Pope is the Anti-Christ. Bachmann stated that her church ‘does not believe that the Pope is the Anti-Christ, that's absolutely false... I'm very grateful that my pastor has come out and been very clear on this matter, and I think it's patently absurd and it's a false statement’. At the time, she was in membership of a church that is part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, whose doctrine teaches that the Papacy is the Antichrist identified in Scripture.

Rick Perry is the 47th and current Governor of Texas and, like his predecessor George W Bush, is of Methodist extraction (indeed, the very same church in Austin). He now attends Lake Hills Church in Austin, where his former deputy director of communications and principal speechwriter was pastor of ‘creative development’ (His Grace has been unable to find that office in Scripture).

In 2006, in what was described as a ‘God and country’ sermon at the Cornerstone church in San Antonio, the Rev John Hagee stated: "If you live your life and don't confess your sins to God Almighty through the authority of Christ and His blood, I'm going to say this very plainly, you're going straight to hell with a nonstop ticket." Mr Perry was asked if he agreed with those comments, and he replied: "It is my faith, and I'm a believer of that."

While visiting Israel in August 2009, Rick Perry gave an interview to the Jerusalem Post in which he affirmed his support for Israel from his religious background: "I'm a big believer that this country was given to the people of Israel a long time ago, by God, and that's ordained." After the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, Mr Perry joined a Baptist pastor who led a prayer in the name of Jesus Christ at a student assembly in a public middle school. He said he had no problem ignoring the Supreme Court’s 1962 ruling that barred organised prayer in public schools. In his first book, On My Honor, Mr Perry expressed his views on the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, saying: "Let's be clear: I don't believe government, which taxes people regardless of their faith, should espouse a specific faith. I also don't think we should allow a small minority of atheists to sanitise our civil dialogue on religious references."

Rick Perry supports teaching intelligent design alongside evolution in Texas schools. A spokeswoman for Perry called intelligent design a ‘valid scientific theory’. He opposes the legal recognition of same sex marriages. Like Michele Bachmann, Mr Perry is ‘Pro-Life’ and opposes government funding for elective abortions. In 2003, he signed the Prenatal Protection Act, which explicitly included foetuses in its definition of human life. He has supported legislation prohibiting abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy, and has also signed into law a bill that required abortion providers to offer informational brochures to women considering abortion.

But it’s funny, His Grace thinks, with all the suffering, trauma and mess in the world, that the suitability of the next GOP candidate for the Presidency of the United States appears to come down to whether or not he or she has faith in Charles Darwin. There is a perception of cultic orthodoxy; a faith test quite contrary to the US Constitution which affirms that ‘no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust’ (Article VI). It must be observed that Republican candidates are invariably asked at some point during their campaigns if they believe the Bible to be the inviolable Word of God, and none has ever quoted Article VI in response. It appears that one only gains the GOP nomination to become President of the United States by the adoption of the Bible-Belt Creed and with the majority assent of the Evangelical Church. And there is an unrelenting media focus (both here and in the US) to lampoon, discredit and ridicule such beliefs.

Soteriology and eschatology aside, how do the socio-religious beliefs of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry differ from those of Pope Benedict XVI?


Blogger whitespacebug said...

" . There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design"

I wonder if she can name them?

16 August 2011 at 10:23  
Blogger graham wood said...

"Soteriology and eschatology aside, how do the socio-religious beliefs of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry differ from those of Pope Benedict XVI?"

Cranmer. I think your own comment answers this question. Both are believers in an inerrant Bible which as we know rejects traditional Roman Catholic doctrine and the concept of a 'Pope' whether Benedict XV1 or any other.
Thus their biblically based faith which both of these candidates for POTUS affirm, is incompatible with the false faith of the RC church.

16 August 2011 at 10:42  
Blogger RubyWiz said...

Well here's one: John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University.


And Simon Conway Morris, Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology at Cambridge University also seems to feel that total Darwinist materialism is a form of intellectual cop-out given the extraordinary role that information plays in the running of the Universe as we know it, much to the disgust of the Grauniad columnist. He's a Christian, but not a Creationist.


It's important to bear in mind that Intelligent Design is NOT the same as creationism. ID suggests that science points to a rational mind behind the running of the universe, particularly the information without which it could not run. Creationists argue that the origins of the world are completely explained as one reads Genesis Chapters 1-3 in the light of other Biblical information.

There's a profound difference. ID begins with observation and evidence; for Lennox, Conway-Morris and thousands of others, their reason, observation and evidence suggests a mind outside the material world (and for atheists it doesn't).

But for Creationists, the status of the Biblical text is the starting point for their assertions about the origins of the universe.

16 August 2011 at 10:46  
Blogger RubyWiz said...

Sorry, wrong Conway Morris URL in the post above - critique was from Evolution is True website.

Grauniad URL


16 August 2011 at 10:49  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

A mind behind the universe can use evolution. There's no need to paint evolution as inherently atheistic.

16 August 2011 at 11:04  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

I wish we had candidates like Perry and Bachmann.

As soon as we clear these atheists out the less the risk of further riots.

16 August 2011 at 11:10  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

Either would suit me as far as their religion is concerned.
I'm just waiting for our Prime Minister to end a speech "God bless Great Britain", but somehow I don't think that I've got enough years left.

16 August 2011 at 11:14  
Blogger Arden Forester said...

Am I being too mean in thinking that the type of religion that Perry and Bachmann espouse is contrary to Dominical teaching. "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward."

16 August 2011 at 11:38  
Blogger Dodo said...

graham wood

I may have misunderstood the question, but doesn't putting "soteriology and eschatology aside" actually mean focusing on the social implications of the shared religious beliefs rather than doctrinal differences concerning how to read and understand the Bible?

So, from this perspective, does Pope Benedict and Roman Catholicism call for different social policies than Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry?

I quess we don't really know, now do we? The end aims may be shared but how one gets there is what matters in politics and ones religious beliefs colours this.

Do you achieve social change by preaching 'hell fire and brimestone' or by spreading the message of Christ alongside attempts to build social justice?

Plenty of 'hell fire and brimestone' from these candidates. However, as Republicans and protestants, they are wedded very much to a different social ethic than that of Pope Benedict.

16 August 2011 at 12:03  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

whitespacebug said...

A mind behind the universe can use evolution. There's no need to paint evolution as inherently atheistic.

The whole point of evolution is to explain existence in the absence of transcendent cause. You are postulating that God would intentionally hide His creative work behind a veil of randomness even as He says that creation declares his Glory and proclaims His necessity as Creator.


16 August 2011 at 13:07  
Blogger Span Ows said...

D. Singh said...

I wish we had candidates like Perry and Bachmann.

Indeed! yet the BBC is already painting them into the far right Christian loony faction. They are making sure they get their defence of Obama in early.

16 August 2011 at 13:17  
Blogger Dodo said...


The whole point of evolution is not to explain existance without a transcendant cause! For some, maybe, not for all. And who is saying God is intentionally hiding Himself?!

If it was all self-evident truth there would be no need for faith. Everyday we discover more about the wonder of creation, its complexities and potential chaos. The odds are we and planet earth shouldn't be here.

This causes people to choose between intelligent, predetermined design and sustainance or materialistic randomness.

God is not hiding Himself; just revealing Himself in ways modern science enables us to understand. His message of salvation was not, and still is not, self evident to Judaism although, as St Paul demonstated, it is revealed in the Old Testament.

16 August 2011 at 13:32  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Span Ows, we too once had God fearing politicians.

The former slave trader John Newton said to William Wilberforce (1759 –1833):

‘God has raised you up for the good of the church and the good of the nation, maintain your friendship with Pitt, continue in Parliament, who knows that but for such a time as this God has brought you into public life and has a purpose for you.’

16 August 2011 at 13:33  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

My, how quiet, orderly and civilised it is down here today. God bless you, one and all.

16 August 2011 at 13:38  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

Darwin certainly didn't think so.
I presume you dismiss quantum theory on the same basis?

16 August 2011 at 13:51  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Span Ows

A Ruth Gledhill did report in the Times (May 2008) that some MPs had published a report about trying to invite God back into our national life:

‘One impetus behind this project was our sense that there is a strong feeling of disaffection among the inhabitants of these islands. It seemed to us that our national sense of wellbeing is at a low ebb; people are wanting something more out of life.”

‘The problem is, our ideas tend to be limited: throwing money at the problems doesn’t work. Casting off our traditionally repressed, stiff-upper-lip attitude and talking about them doesn’t achieve anything unless coupled with action.’

Gary Streeter, a Conservative MP and a member of the working party, said: “I think many policymakers sense these things, but don’t know what to do about it.

16 August 2011 at 13:55  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr Carl Jacobs tells us that 'The whole point of evolution is to explain existence in the absence of transcendent cause.'

Really? I thought it was to provide a framework for understanding the mechanisms by which creatures arrived at their present states, irrespective of transcendent cause(s).

16 August 2011 at 14:00  
Blogger graham wood said...

Dodo. I was responding to Cranmer's point, but really I think it is irrelevant to consider either Perry or Bachman's religious views in the wider context of their POTUS candidacy.

I cannot comment on Perry as I have not seen or heard anything from him, but Bachman, to me, comes over as clear, rational, and with specific views and policies to meet the primary issue which for most Americans is that of the economy, debt ceiling, and jobs.
But social issues and background beliefs of the candidates will not feature much in the voters minds IMO, though of course their religious convictions will drive their world view and policies.
Also, on concentrating on their particular religious convictions the MSM purposes to cause maximum distraction away from the urgent issues which the USA needs to confront.
Bachmann is a very sound candidate who concentrates, rightly on biblical and moral principles - that is why the Left hates and villifies her as they do with Palin.
Actually, I believe the charge of their preaching "hell fire and brimstone" is completely unfounded. They simply respond to questions the MSM put to them, probably to paint them as 'extreme religionists' (i.e. Bible believing!)

16 August 2011 at 14:07  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Anabaptist

You are being unfair:

'by which creatures arrived at their present states'.

Causation is crucial - as you very well hint at.

16 August 2011 at 14:14  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

There is no doubt from a scientific point of view that evolution by purely natural causes is false and I mean false scientifically. The evidenc e is overwhelming. We are not talking here about evolution within a species – we know that pigeons can be bred to fly faster or cows to produce more milk but evolution from one species into another is scientifically not credible. This is a large subject because of the amount of evidence and I have included a lot of the evidence for this in my book “The End of Heresy”, published by Authorhouse.com. With regard to the presidential election I do not find it at all surprising that Darwin’s theory is part of the debate because the implications of Darwin’s theory lead to the evils of eugenics and a utilitarian view about the worth of human beings.

16 August 2011 at 14:25  
Blogger dmcl01 said...

What about Ron Paul?


16 August 2011 at 14:26  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

I do not doubt, Mr Singh, that causation is crucial. All I indicated was that evolutionary theory does not attempt to involve itself in matters of causation, merely in mechanisms.

I am not sure where you suppose my unfairness is.

I hope you will note that I was careful to use the word 'creatures'

16 August 2011 at 14:36  
Blogger MFH said...

"Soteriology and eschatology aside, how do the socio-religious beliefs of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry differ from those of Pope Benedict XVI?"

so they could apply for Rome if they fail for the white house???

16 August 2011 at 14:47  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Anabaptist

'[M]echanisms' must operate by the laws of causality.

Nature itself must have a cause:

Either an intelligent 'mind'created or Chance+Material+Time = Evolution.

And even if one accepts evolution then one must explain (or theorise) as to how material, time and space came into existence.

The question is: why is something here rather than nothing?

In principle, it is possible to accept that the 'divine' exists - that the laws of supernature exist.

Our instruments located in space and time (in the material universe) appear unable to predict these laws of supernature.

But then again, our scientists cannot predict at the sub-atomic level behaviour which would exceed the civil law standard of belief; i.e., more likely than not.

16 August 2011 at 14:51  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

D. Singh said...
"I wish we had candidates like Perry and Bachmann.
As soon as we clear these atheists out the less the risk of further riots."

How silly to think all the problems in USA are caused by atheists. Christians can be as blinkered as atheists.

Isn't the point, to quote graham wood, whether they have "clear, rational, and with specific views and policies to meet the primary issue(s) which for most Americans is that of the economy, debt ceiling, and jobs."

16 August 2011 at 14:59  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Man with No Name

I can assure that Christians are far more enlightened than atheists: we know, and operate in, two worlds: the natural and the supernatural.

16 August 2011 at 15:02  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr Singh: 'The question is: why is something here rather than nothing?'
Yes, I daresay that is the question; but it is not the question that evolutionary theory attempts to answer, and that is the only point I was making. I don't understand why you are trying to press this point on me, as if I didn't understand or accept it already. I simply tried to assert that evolution does not in itself touch on these matters. It merelt attempts to describe mechanisms, without touching on ultimate causes.

16 August 2011 at 15:15  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Anabaptist

Please, please stop that. The evolutionist Richard Dawkins has already told his followers how life on earth was caused:

BEN STEIN: What do you think is the possibility that Intelligent Design might turn out to be the answer to some issues in genetics or in evolution?

DAWKINS: Well, it could come about in the following way. It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means, probably to a very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now, um, now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it's possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer.

16 August 2011 at 15:26  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

Yawn. Not this again.

16 August 2011 at 15:30  
Blogger Dodo said...

graham wood said ...
“Both are believers in an inerrant Bible which as we know rejects traditional Roman Catholic doctrine and the concept of a 'Pope' whether Benedict XV1 or any other.
Thus their biblically based faith which both of these candidates for POTUS affirm, is incompatible with the false faith of the RC church.”

Leaving aside your provocative and, in the context of this thread, completely unnecessary and simplistic slur on Roman Catholicism, let’s return to the actual issue.

Christians, of whatever persuasion, can properly hold different views on both the causes and consequences of social and family dysfunction. They may share biblical teachings on the proper way to behave towards one another in the private, family and social sphere, although this is becoming less clear nowadays with the arrival of more liberal interpretations, but may disagree on how to foster these in society.

How best to promote and sustain the right conditions for moral development and social order will differ to some extent across Christian denominations depending on how our human propensity to sin and to bring disorder and chaos into the world is understood. THere will also be differences of opinion on how best to combat sin in its manifestations. There may also be differences on how to respond to human need and failure, and the proper role of the State.

I was suggesting that the ‘protestant ethic’, taken to extreme, with its emphasis on individualism, is different to a Roman Catholic social perspective which looks at solidarity, subsidiary and intervention to achieve social justice. Both are based on scripture and are the subject matter for valid debate. People can quite properly hold views between these positions, Catholic and non-Catholic, and make their own minds up come election-day.

Is President Obama any less Christian for being a Democrat?

And, before you answer, have you or anybody el

16 August 2011 at 15:31  
Blogger Jon said...

As his Grace observes, Article VI doesn't bar religious people from office, it merely prevents the establishment of a religious test prior to taking office (although swearing the inauguration oath on the Bible may somewhat undermine this principal!)

I don't think that the test of high office should be adherence to a religion, it should be intelligence, honesty and competence. The problem with Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin isn't their overt religiosity (though it is often distastefully Pharisaic) it is that they seem wilfully ignorant of much of the world around them and their country, and as such are ill-suited, in my view, to such a position of power.

16 August 2011 at 15:39  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Mr Singh, the evolutionist Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project and author of The Language of God has also told his 'followers' how life on earth was caused, namely by the creative power of God.

What do The Dork and Collins have in common? They are both evolutionists. The Dork is an atheist; Collins is a Christian. Similarly the evolutionist Polkinghorne.

What do you and The Dork have in common? You both believe that evolution does away with the need for anyhting other than material causality, ultimate or mediate. I'm with Collins and Polkinghorne.

Now please, please stop that.

16 August 2011 at 15:40  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Anabaptist

Not so!

This is what I believe:

'And God said...'

16 August 2011 at 15:46  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

What's 'not so'?

Is it 'not so' that Collins and Polkinghorne are evolutionists and Christians?

Is it 'not so' that evolution (except as interpreted by you and The Dork) merely attempts to describe mechanisms rather than causes?

What you say you believe is also what I believe.

I refrain from further elaboration because I don't want to give Cranny the heebie-jeebies.

16 August 2011 at 15:56  
Blogger Shaun Michael said...

The whole point of evolution is to explain existence in the absence of transcendent cause. You are postulating that God would intentionally hide His creative work behind a veil of randomness even as He says that creation declares his Glory and proclaims His necessity as Creator.

The last time I read "The Origin of the Species ..." I didn't see anything in Darwin's writing to suggest the rejection of Divine Creation. I saw plenty that said, in effect, after creation, this is what happened to get from where we were to wheere we are. As a scientist of some considerable seniority and a life-long High-Church Anglican, I see no inherent contradiction between Divine Creation and the method of evolution. I DO, however, see the work of a higher, defter, more subtle Hand in the mechanism of evolution, considering that it obeys well-defined principles which have been left to us to discover. In essence, evolution is a miracle before one's very eyes and we are, as Kipling puts it, "... too wonder-stale to wonder at each new miracle ...".

16 August 2011 at 15:59  
Blogger Caedmon's Cat said...

The purpose of Holy Writ is not to provide a textbook of scientific processes by which the fabric of the earth was assembled, but 'to make us wise unto salvation.'

As a conservative evangelical, I understand the position of the creationist lobby, and I certainly hold no candle for evolutionary theory. However, while having no problem with the idea of an omnipotent God creating all things within a limited span of time (even six days!), I feel that the topic is something of an unwelcome diversion; we simply don't know. That God created all things by His divine fiat is beyond dispute; the processes by which He achieved this are another matter..

I often remember the saying of a Methodist minister told us years ago: 'If you think you know the answers, then you haven't understood the question.'

16 August 2011 at 16:23  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

@Dodo,if it makes you feel any better Newt Gringrich and also a contender for the GOP POTUS nomination (Republican Speaker of the House 1995-1999) converted to Roman Catholicism. From his Wikepedia entry :

'A Southern Baptist since graduate school, Gingrich converted to Catholicism, Bisek's faith, on March 29, 2009.[128] He said "over the course of several years, I gradually became Catholic and then decided one day to accept the faith I had already come to embrace." The moment when he decided to officially become a Catholic was when he saw Pope Benedict XVI on his visit to the United States in 2008: "Catching a glimpse of Pope Benedict that day, I was struck by the happiness and peacefulness he exuded. The joyful and radiating presence of the Holy Father was a moment of confirmation about the many things I had been thinking and experiencing for several years."[129] Gingrich has stated that he has developed a greater appreciation for the role of faith in public life following his conversion, and believes that the United States has become too secular. At a 2011 appearance in Columbus, Ohio, he said, "In America, religious belief is being challenged by a cultural elite trying to create a secularized America, in which God is driven out of public life."[90]'

16 August 2011 at 17:13  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

whitespacebug said...
"Yawn. Not this again."

Missing the point folks.

It's not about evolution v's creation. A never ending and fruitless debate. It should be about whether there can be political differences between Christians about how to manage the country ... innit?

16 August 2011 at 17:16  
Blogger IanCad said...

Why no mention of Ron Paul? He was less than one percentage point behind Bachmann in the Iowa poll. The only true conservative ion the race.

16 August 2011 at 17:45  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Americans terrify me when they get all religious and stuff.

16 August 2011 at 18:12  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Nothing in an evolutionary mechanism demands a transcendant God. The entire framework remains coherent and intact when viewed in a materialist world view. The materialist says "Time and chance." The Theistic evolutionist says "Hidden guidance." In either system, only time and chance are observable. There is nothing in evolution that compels acknowledgement of the Creator. Yet that compulsion is exactly what Scripture demands.

In addition, theistic evolution makes death into a creative force. Where does death come from, and what is the relationship between sin and death? These are essential questions for Christian soteriology. Sin enters the world through Adam, and because of Adam all men die. Sin is atoned for by the second Adam who by His death destroys death and gives life to men. These connections are not possible in an evolutionary mechanism that makes Adam a symbol or metaphor.


16 August 2011 at 18:16  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"The materialist says "Time and chance.""

In the context of evolution ... at least the one by natural selection ... it's not chance at all.

16 August 2011 at 18:26  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Following on from Dodo and "The odds are we and planet earth shouldn't be here."...

...the big question for IG is how did our Creator seemingly get it all right first time. (viz Intelligent Design with planet development and resulting life through evolution) - Perhaps this isn't the first universe.

Could it be that there was at least one previous universe. The condensed remains of which burst forth into this universe after a divinely inspired Big Bang. A universe with different (fine tuned) laws of physics ? A universe created from experience...

16 August 2011 at 18:43  
Blogger Dodo said...

carl jacobs

I was hoping the debate had moved on, seemingly not.

As someone who sees no contradiction between Intelligent Design and God, I feel no less "compelled" to accept God as the creator and sustainer of the Universe.

And again, where's the contradiction in believing that at some point in "time" God created Adam and Eve in a state of innocence with intelligence, and they sinned and that sin and its consequences required the sacrifice of Christ? Adam is not necessarily a "symbol or metaphor" in this view.

As they say "it's a mystery" i.e. beyond human comprehension. Maybe we should just accept it as such.

Office of Inspector General

Maybe there are an infinite number of Universes beyond out time-space continuum. Maybe there have been endless Universes before our own. Who knows? As a Christian, I'm not too sure I'm all that bothered about something we can never know this side of eternity.

16 August 2011 at 19:42  
Blogger Dodo said...

Paul Twigg

Thanks for the news. Newt Gringrich is a bit of a heavy weight in USA terms but I'm not too sure, from the little I know, that I accept his politics or policies.

However, it is heartening to learn he feels spiritually at home in the Roman Catholic Church.

I count myself a 'moderate' Roman Catholic and tend to shy away from much of the ceremony of Catholicism, preferring quieter and more more contemplative worship.

I believe both Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict to be evident men of God who in their behaviour and manner represented Christ. I acknowledge too the same cannot be said of all Pontiffs.

16 August 2011 at 19:53  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Intelligent design.

In the begining was the thought and the thought was with God, the thought was Gods intelligent thought, with something to say, so the Word was born and did become flesh.

16 August 2011 at 20:02  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

The problem with evolution is the question of random chance. The atheists demand random chance because they don't want to recognize God and without an intelligence guiding the universe random chance is all they have. However, the evidence tells us that random chance is not an option. You can believe if you like that a monkey given enough time and a typewriter could write the works of Shakespear but if that is not blind faith I don't know what is.

16 August 2011 at 21:23  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

Shacklefree - in what way is "random chance" a problem? Things happen by "random chance" all the time.

16 August 2011 at 21:29  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

"Maybe there are an infinite number of Universes beyond out[Sic] time-space continuum".

I sense a Star Trek/Dr Who story coming on...

...mind you I've always liked the 'what if's' of history and they make for some good speculative writing, e.g. :

1. What if the Roman Empire had never fallen?
2. What if Franz Ferdinand hadn't been shot?
3. What if there had been no Russian Revolution?
4. What if the British had won the American war of Indepdence?
5. What if the South had won the American civil war?
6. What if Michael Dukakis has won against Bush senior in 1988?

16 August 2011 at 21:29  
Blogger non mouse said...

Your Grace, re your last sentence: I confess I finally looked up "evangelical" --- and still can't see how any Christian can be otherwise. Perhaps some merely use the term to distinguish RCs from Protestants: ever more of the 'divide and conquer' syndrome.

Yes, Shacklefree. I wonder if atheists, secularists, etc. are more inclined to gamble (and gambol) than Christians? -- Among whom the practice is discourged, of course.

16 August 2011 at 21:32  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

Your Grace,
It's quite funny that Darwin got on the back of a 10 pound note, given all the controversy of his views; perhaps we need to start an e-petition to get Cranmer onto the next series of notes that the Old Lady issues...

16 August 2011 at 21:47  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Paul Twigg

"What If" books by Robert Cowley. Eminent historians have contributed. Mainly military battles. Interesting 'could have beens'

16 August 2011 at 21:47  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

What if Adam had said "NO"?

16 August 2011 at 21:59  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

From my experience, it would have been more likely to be Eve

16 August 2011 at 22:03  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Whitespacebug says "Shacklefree - in what way is "random chance" a problem?"

OK. Evolution depends on inheritance from one generation to another. Without inheritance - no evolution. Inheritance depends on the DNA molecule which is the most complex molecule in the universe. Evolution requires that the mind boggling complexity of the DNA molecule gradually acquires greater and greater complexity over great aeons of time by small imperceptible changes. However Darwin said that changes which are not beneficial will die out. If evolution is true the gradual complexification of the DNA molecule must continue without any survival value until eveything is in place, plus it must all be contained in a cell which purely by chance has to be functioning and only at that stage can inheritance begin and therefore only at that stage can evolution begin. The odds against all this happenning by chance without intelligence guidance is so large that it is inconceivable. Yes things happen randomly but randomness producing such complexity in an unguided manner is untenable.

16 August 2011 at 22:07  
Blogger Paddy said...

If you think Pope Benedict believes in "intelligent design" you are both much less wise and informed than I had been led to believe. God made the world and all that is in it: the proponents of intelligent design belittle his power and link religion to a silly anti-science position.
The great advantage of being a Catholic is NOT having to take the Bible as a science book. I would remind you Joseph Ratzinger is one of Europe's most distinguished living philosophers, not some backwoods American tele-evangelist touting for votes.

Paddy Manning

16 August 2011 at 22:18  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

@Inspector General, I think I had one of thoese books, but had to sell it on Amazon. I've also read some of Harry Turtledove's series of books about the Confederacy winning the American Civil War and then a version of WWI and WWII.

16 August 2011 at 22:32  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

I'm not going back to Creationism (last there Aged 7). Earth in six days plus a talking snake. (Now, a talking dog, that would be different)

16 August 2011 at 22:34  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

But it is possible that one of these "backwoods American Tele-evangelists touting for votes" could become President of the United States, ergo Commander in Chief of the most technological sophisticated/powerful military machine on this planet or put it another way, the finger on the nuclear button, a vast navy, army, airforce and marine corps? Isn't that why his Grace is discussing their merits?

16 August 2011 at 22:43  
Blogger Dodo said...


Really now, you could have come up with a better ID ... lol!

Your understanding of the Catholic position is quaintly antiquated and not in line with current unofficial teaching.To date, with one or two caveats, there is no authoritative position.

Do try to keep up if you are going to 'inform' others about although, I note, you do actually claim to be a Roman Catholic.

He's an east to follow summary:

"Since the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species in 1859, the attitude of the Catholic Church on the theory of evolution has slowly been refined.

For about 100 years, there was no authoritative pronouncement on the subject. By 1950, Pope Pius XII agreed to the academic freedom to study the scientific implications of evolution, so long as Catholic dogma is not violated.

Today, the Church's unofficial position is an example of theistic evolution, also known as evolutionary creation, stating that faith and scientific findings regarding human evolution are not in conflict, though humans are regarded as a special creation, and that the existence of God is required to explain both monogenism and the spiritual component of human origins.

Moreover, the Church teaches that the process of evolution is a planned and purpose-driven natural process, actively guided by God."

The article in Wikipedia provides all the necessary references if you wish to study this matter further.

Slá go fóill!

16 August 2011 at 22:47  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

Office of Inspector General

That's never been my experience of Eve.

16 August 2011 at 22:53  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

Paul Twigg

A Tele-Evangelist (now as young as 4 years old!) elected President?

Why not? The USA, the guardian of the civilised world, elected GWB (Jnr) didn't they?

16 August 2011 at 22:58  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Man with No Name - You swine, I MARRIED Eve

16 August 2011 at 23:00  
Blogger Seamus said...


Bejaesus, I only asked if you Celtic would win at the weekend!
Be grand if you could read the sport in the Good Book, wouldn't it now? Ah well, if it pleases God, they will.

16 August 2011 at 23:18  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

My sympathies and apologies, Sir.

Cherish and love her and she will will repay you a hundredfold.

16 August 2011 at 23:24  
Blogger len said...

It is strange that rather than contest Evolution or to search the scriptures for revealed truth regarding Evolution there are those who merely assimilate Evolutionary Theories into their 'belief system'.I suppose this is to make their religion'user friendly'and to appeal to a wider audience.

Jesus treated Genesis as though it actually happened, so that settles it for me. I may not be able to master a lot of complex arguments against theistic evolution, but even a child can grasp this one. Among those who claim to be Christians, Jesus' own treatment of Genesis closes the question.

16 August 2011 at 23:35  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

Not sure of the passages where Jesus refers to Genesis - perhaps you can help me out - but how do you know he wasn't referring to Genesis metaphorically? No one imagines Jesus 's parables refer to actual events. Why this?

16 August 2011 at 23:45  
Blogger Dodo said...

I'd be interested in any definitative statements by Jesus about this too.

I know of no Biblical passage that explicitly rules out theistic evolution as a possibility, so long as established Catholic dogma is not violated. Catholics are free to make their own minds up within these parameters.

Tricky being a Catholic and having tomake up your own mind on scripture on this one! Six days or evolution? Science or religion?

17 August 2011 at 00:06  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


I was hoping the debate had moved on, seemingly not.

I live in the US which means I am six hours behind you. I cannot respond quickly during the weekday.


17 August 2011 at 00:36  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Man with No Name said...

Why not? The USA, the guardian of the civilised world, elected GWB (Jnr) didn't they?

And a good thing we did, too.


17 August 2011 at 00:38  
Blogger Dodo said...


You may think that, I cannot possibly comment.

17 August 2011 at 00:49  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Shacklefree: "The problem with evolution is the question of random chance. The atheists demand random chance because they don't want to recognize God and without an intelligence guiding the universe random chance is all they have."

It's not driven by random chance! If you haven't cottoned on to that then you haven't understood it at all.

17 August 2011 at 06:49  
Blogger Unknown said...

Don't know why my handle has appeared as "unknown" , it's not my doing !


17 August 2011 at 08:18  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Perry has advised Texans to pray for rain to end the current drought. Although the gentleman eschews Big Green vehemently (which I applaude), I wouldn't cast my vote for a politician who applies divine intervention as a coherent strategy. It's going to take a more Earthly and practical enterprise to secure the water supply in what is otherwise a very hot, arid and bedeserted southern state.

As far as I'm concerned, politics and religion should not be allowed to mix.

17 August 2011 at 09:48  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Danjo, I presume you mean that the chance is not random because once a change has occurred further changes add to that so a direction is created. However, once a change is made another change could be made to reverse the first change. In addition, assuming the first change and subsequent changes are not reversed that does not explain how the DNA molecule can self-assemble itself. For that to occur you need the self assembly mechanism, to maintain all the millions upon millions of previous changes and then add on the next ones for millions of years. The complexity of the DNA molecule is such that this is not feasible. In addition, you have to postulate that the self repairing mechanism of DNA also happens to be have evolved into place to coincide with the construction of the DNA molecule to correct any mistakes that occur. Then you have to postulate that the nucleus of the cell, self-assembles itself exactly right so the DNA molecule can work in conjunction with it. On top of this you have to postulate that the cell membrane and the innumerable mechanisms for repair and control within the cytoplasm of the cell are also in place and fully functioning in accordance with the DNA and the mechanisms within the nucleus. This all has to happen and work as a cohesive whole before an inheritance mechanism i.e. evolution can begin. The odds against this happening are astronomical. Add to this the fact that the strong nuclear force and many other factors have to be maintained within incredibly restricted parameters for life even to continue on Earth and it become clear that this could not happen by chance. You have to assume such a mind numbing series of coincidences continuing over millions of years which are maintained against all the natural changes of environment. That’s faith

17 August 2011 at 10:03  
Blogger Oswin said...

Your Grace @ 13:38

Enjoy; a fleeting pleasure only, I reckon.

17 August 2011 at 17:01  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Shacklefree: "Danjo, I presume you mean that the chance is not random because once a change has occurred further changes add to that so a direction is created."

No. I mean that evolution by natural selection is not all about random change. It's a theory about how complexity can arise from simple things. One of the key things is the selection process. That most definitely isn't a monkeys, type-writers, and lots of time thing at all.

17 August 2011 at 17:44  
Blogger Paddy said...

@dodo I neither hide behind an extinct animal nor argue ad hominem, but use my own name.Should you have something to say which is both informative and not trying to be insulting I will gladly engage with you.

17 August 2011 at 19:43  
Blogger Preacher said...

IMO, Theory is to strong a word to employ for Darwins ideas. It implies that it is scientifically a workable possibility.
A more accurate word would be hypothesis, as the hypothetical sci-fi of many atheistic folk trying to agree or explain it would seem to prove.
Whitespacebug said, truthfully that random things happen all the time. But these occurences rarely, if ever produce an intricate and intelligent design.
Genesis is IMO not dealing with the how? but the why!.

18 August 2011 at 11:38  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


Apologies if you are who you claim to be.

Tell me are you a Roman Catholic? You imply you are but have presented a position that is not the authorative teaching of the Catholic Church.

I provided you with a summary of the Church's present position. I would be happy to discuss this further with you if you wish.

18 August 2011 at 11:49  
Blogger Kilsally said...

English pensioner - You will have to look to the Northern Irish First Minister and the DUP MEP, MP`s, MLA`s and councillors for similar this side of the water. Rev William McCrea of the Free Presbyterian Church etc has close links to America evangelicals (Baptists etc) as a brief viewing of the sermonaudio,com website will attest.

18 August 2011 at 12:39  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

Shacklefree, as far as I can make out from your post, your understanding of evolution needs more work.

Preacher: no, random events do not produce design. Random mutation plus selection, inheritance, and awful lot of time produce the appearance of design. Those who claim evolution is atheistic have a duty to explain why many theists and devout Christians have also been evolutionary scientists.

18 August 2011 at 18:21  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Whitespacebug, You say that my understanding of evolution needs more work but I did give examples whereas you just gave a very vague phrase which did not demonstrate a better understanding. Your statement to Preacher that "Random mutation plus selection, inheritance, and awful lot of time produce the appearance of design" is an assumption and a more valid assumption may be to say that the appearance of design is more likley to suggest a designer. In addition, when the mathematicians are brought in to calculate the "awful lot of time" you mention, it appears that the timescales involved are vastly greater than the age of the universe.

With regard to devout Christians being evolutionists merely indicates that we have freedom of speech - it does not make them right. View the video "Unlocking the Mystery of life" to find out about scientists who have changed their view and rejected evolution by random chance.

18 August 2011 at 19:04  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

As soon as you say "evolution by random chance " you are giving your game away.

I didn't say it made them right. I asked you to account for devout christians buying into a supposed "atheistic" system.

Giving wrong examples doesn't make you right either.

18 August 2011 at 19:27  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

whitespacebug, I did answer your question about devout christians buying into evolution. I referred to the freedom of choice we have in this country. In additon those christians who do believe in evolution do not usually believe in evolution by random chance but evolution which is directed by a Creator which I have not argued against. If some do believe in a purely naturalistic system of evolution without divine intervention, that is their choice but I don't think there will be many chirstians who share that belief. I am not not giving the game away by mentioning random chance. That has been the very point I emphasised all through. Darwinian evolution proposes evolution by random chance and we have the famous claim that given enough time and thousands upon thousands of monkeys, each with a typewriter one would eventually type out the works of Shakespear. It is such vague unsubstantiated notions such as these, using huge time scales that has been employed to convince people that what is impossible is likely to occur. When we look at the scientific evidence we find it is all a series of assumptions.

19 August 2011 at 12:09  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Whitespacebug, Correct me if I am wrong but as far as I can see the justification for evolution is that dogs look like cats, tulips look like daffodils and humans look like chimps. We can see the same sort of similarity in cars on the road. Does this mean they were all made in the same factory? The fossil record does not have a single missing links and all the missing links we have had in the past turned out to be hoaxes. Can you quote any credible evidence for evolution which is not based on similarity?

19 August 2011 at 12:17  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

Here you not only display a profound ignorance of science, but a willingness to repeat untruths that completely discredits you. I won't be wasting any more time on you.

19 August 2011 at 18:25  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Ok, But so far you have given us only statements without any evidence. I have alweays found that evolutionists are very loath to give actual evidence but accuse the rest of us of having an underhand agenda. Our agenda is not underhand. It is quite open and honest i.e. the world was created by an intelligence.

19 August 2011 at 19:20  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

No one believes in evolution by random chance alone. Not even evolutionists. Geddit? Are you seriously trying to tell me that you think the theory of evolution that has lasted 150 odd years is based on only resemblance and nothing more, and that the maths is wrong but scientists haven't noticed? You are winding me up, I take it?

19 August 2011 at 21:05  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

OK, if evolution does not occur by random chance there must be something giving it direction. perhaps you could tell me what. I would direct your attention to the book Chemical Evolution which postulated that there was something in inert chemicals which directed evolution. The authors eventually rejected their own hypothesis. It's on the video "Unlocking the mystery of Life". You are also incorrect to say that evolution has lasted 150 years. Piltdown Man, Java Man and the other deliberate hoaxes proves that it never had any credibility. In the fossil record there is not a single missing link even after 150 years of looking. I'm not winding you up - I just want your evidence which is still not on the table and if evolution does not proceed by random chance presumably the other alternative is directed chance. If so what does that mean? Maybe this time you'll give an answer.

19 August 2011 at 22:05  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

I've already told you what the mechanism of evolution is. You evidently are not reading my posts, or indeed anything much else. Perhaps you could name some of "the other deliberate hoaxes"- Piltdown Man certainly was a hoax, exposed by scientists by the way, but Java Man certainly is not. I'm not wasting my time listing evidence, it's all in the public domain for people who genuinely want to look.

19 August 2011 at 22:34  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Java Man was a hoax. Here is a quote from my book "The End of Heresy:

"Java Man was discovered by Eugene Dubois in 1895. He displayed to an international congress in Europe a skull cap and a tooth of an ape and also a thigh bone that appeared to be human. The thigh bone was 50 feet distant from the skull and tooth. However Dubois did not reveal that he had also found two human skulls at the same site so there was no justification for claiming that the thigh bone and skull belonged to the same species. It was only in 1921 that Dubois revealed the truth.

Piltdown Man discovered in 1912 lasted until 1953 when it was discovered that the skull was not 500,000 years old but 500 and the jawbone was of an ape that had only recently died and had been stained to make it look ancient. The teeth had been filed to make them look human.

Peking Man is another hoax. The initial report stated that traces of fire were found in the area that Peking Man was found but in fact, there was actually an ash heap as long as a football field and the height of a two-story building."

I have included lots of other scientific evidence and I also include the philosophical implications of evolution which are disastrous for any society. Even Richard Dawkins in his book "Climbing Mount Improbable" admits that a society based on survival of the fittest should be a very nasty one indeed. He even invents a new word "designoid" to indicate organisms which according to him appear designed but are in fact "designoid". He is so filled with hatred of religion he cannot see his own dishonesty.

20 August 2011 at 00:30  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

"... the only danger in space is if we land on the terrible Planet of the Apes... wait a minute. Statue of Liberty... THAT WAS OUR PLANET! YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!"
(Homer Simpson)

20 August 2011 at 00:43  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

You're quoting your own book as evidence? Now that is funny. Hardly an unbiased source. Neither Java Man nor Peking man is a hoax, as a three minute perusal of scientific literature would confirm. Clearly you are living in a fantasy world.

20 August 2011 at 06:23  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Shacklefree: "I have included lots of other scientific evidence and I also include the philosophical implications of evolution which are disastrous for any society. Even Richard Dawkins in his book "Climbing Mount Improbable" admits that a society based on survival of the fittest should be a very nasty one indeed."

What does 'survival of the fitness' in the context of evolution by natural selection actually mean to you? The phrase doesn't mean the strongest, or the fastest, or the most blond and blue-eyed. It's about reproductive success in a particular and local enviroment. You know that, right?

It also doesn't necessarily mean we directly and deliberately compete with each other. It's not all about individuals, it's about groups. Furthermore, we're actually talking about genes underneath here rather than organisms. Genes appear to co-express. That is, genes which tend towards certain features in organisms may carry along other features in the presence of other genes.

There was an interesting experiment not that long ago where (from memory) someone selected fox cubs for tameness. The byproduct of that selection was that the offspring became more dog-like in appearance over time. That's not to say then were evolving into dogs, just that the co-expression may have been similar from the transition from wolves to dogs.

I may be misunderstanding your words here but when you talk about philosophical implications and the nastiness of survival of the fittest, I'm getting an image of highly complex organisms like homo sapiens remaining in a Hobbesian State of Nature. I don't think that is the necessary implication at all.

20 August 2011 at 07:26  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Danj0, first of all before evolution of life can even begin you have to have DNA already in place, inside a nucleus, inside the cytoplasm and all within the cell membrane. The complexity of DNA is such that the odds against it happening by chance are virtually non existant. Add to that the complexity and integration of all the processes in the nucleus and in the cytoplasm. Secondly even when you have DNA in a cell, it has mechanisms to repair itself so that would also need to be in place for the whole time while it is evolving and before inheritance from one generation can occur. At this stage before everything is in place inheritance cannot occur from one generation to another so we have to postulate the evolution of chemicals into the sort of complexity that is mind boggling and it seems to me that random chance is simply not credible. Any chemicals beginning this process are more than likley to be destoyed by external factors. Michael Behe coined the term irreducible complexity to explain how some things cannot operate below a certain level of complexity. For example, if the evolutionary process has to experiment with the blood clotting process over hundreds of thousands of years, then prior to the time when it all works in unison anyone who gets cut will either bleed to death or the blood inside the veins will clot too much and stop blood flow - not very conducive to evolution. It's like throwing all the elements of a car into a factory and asking them to self-assemble. My point is that the degree of integration necesary is at level we cannot even imagine.

With regard to the philosophical implications, Hitler based his philosophy on Darwin. The Eugenics movement was very pro-evolution. I used to believe in evolution but when I started lokking at the actual evidence I discovered it wasn't there apart from the fact that there is similarity of form between species and survival of the fittest appears to occur in the animal kingdom. No doubt the time scales involved may convince you that it is possible but even with long time scales we need a credible mechanism for providing direction and correcting mistakes as they occur. So far intelligent design is the only explanation for the direction of evolution.

20 August 2011 at 15:42  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"With regard to the philosophical implications, Hitler based his philosophy on Darwin. The Eugenics movement was very pro-evolution."

I'm afraid sarcasm must be employed here. You must be right because if Hitler was interested in social darwinism then it must therefore be wrong in all senses of the word. Luckily, he didn't believe in the earth orbiting our sun so we can still have seasons and stuff. Phew.

20 August 2011 at 16:44  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"No doubt the time scales involved may convince you that it is possible but even with long time scales we need a credible mechanism for providing direction and correcting mistakes as they occur."

When you look at the Inuit, or sub-Saharan Africans, or Scandanavians, can you think of any reasons why they appear to have different physical attributes in general, such as being tall and thin, or squat, or light-skinned, or dark-skinned? Curious, isn't it?

20 August 2011 at 16:53  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Two things - 1) evolution within a species is not as far as I am concerned a difficulty. 2) maybe we all have genes for different skin colours but maybe different ones are switched on in different races. As an analogy, switching on a spreasheet program on a computer doesn't mean the word processing function isn't there.

20 August 2011 at 17:20  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

Do you believe Wolves are related to dogs?

20 August 2011 at 17:30  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

Further, do you believe in the existence of genes?

20 August 2011 at 17:38  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Whitespacebug, Wolves certainly look similar to dogs and I have no problem with then idea that dogs and wolves may have a common ancestor. I don't know for sure if they are separate genetically or if they can interbreed but I am not averse to the idea of a common ancestor in this example and will certainly listen to arguments in favour. However, the arguments must be based on more than similarity. Yes I do believe in genes and for all I know it may be that dogs and wolves have the same genes with different aspects switched on and off. The similarity between them allows us to postulate that they may very well be closely related and that both may have developed from a common ancestor. It may possibly have happened by chance interacting with the environment so in that scenario, random chance may have had an effect. It doesn't of course prove that this is true in fact but I wouldn't argue against the hypothesis and I'd be willing to accept it with proof. At the present we have possibilities and I reserve judgement. However, you are starting here with things which are very similar to begin with. When you try and suggest random chance possibly with some interaction from the environment can result in the self-assembly of DNA we are not talking about the same thing at all. I simply cannot accept that difference that can occur within a species can be extrapolated to 'prove' that evolution from protozoa to humans can occur by chance. Perhaps the evolution of life did begin with simple organisms but if it did it must have been given a direction by an intelligence. To move from simple chemicals to human life is too huge a gap to be explained by chance even with the effect of environmental conditions. Lastly if you read Genesis you see an evolutionary scheme which is not exactly as we might think today but the overall picture is one of development from simple to complex under direction of the Creator.

21 August 2011 at 13:19  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

Your position is a confusing one. You claim to have investigated the evidence for evolution in sufficient enough detail to conclude that it is impossible, and yet you appear to be ignorant of the details of the relationship between dogs and wolves, surely one of the most obvious possible examples, and one which you now admit could be based on common ancestry. What sort of evidence other than physical AND genetic similarity would you accept? Given that the split between dogs and wolves is supposed to have happened c17000 years ago, what is it do you suppose that prevents evolution on a larger scale occurring over a timescale of three and a half billion years? If it isn't possible, what prevents it?

22 August 2011 at 08:44  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

I have already commented on the possibility of common ancestry of dogs and wolves and that in principle I do not have any problem with it. However I made the point that similarity may suggest ancestry but does not prove it and if as you claim this is the only evidence we should be looking for I disagree. My other point was that what may be possible between two very similar species cannot be extrapolated to all othe living organisms as a matter of fact. It remains an unproved theory. If you would admit that Evolution is a theory which has not yet been proved we could agree on that.

22 August 2011 at 10:29  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

You've admitted common descent is a possibility here on the basis of similarity. You've said similarity on it's own is not sufficient evidence: you must therefore have some notion of what would constitute acceptable evidence: so what is it? And again, what prevents larger scale evolution on longer timescales?

22 August 2011 at 12:14  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Shacklefree: "If you would admit that Evolution is a theory which has not yet been proved we could agree on that."

It's (almost) a scientific theory, not a mathematical one. That is, it waits to be disproved rather than proved. I say it's almost a scientific theory because of the potential testability issues given the geological timeframes.

The nature of a scientific theory is that it is based on induction. We look at the phenomena and seek an explanation for it which is then cross-referenced against other phenomena. It also predicts certain things which we can nominally check.

The theory as presented by Darwin has been modified in the intervening time but that's what happens to broad theories. The discovery of DNA is something which supports the theory after the fact. However, if (say) we found a fossil of homo sapiens in the layer of rock dated 3 billion years ago then the theory would collapse. The point about this sort of theory is that it is always falsifiable.

As far as I know, the theory has not been reliabily disproved. In fact, it's the opposite. The base of evidence supporting it falls across multiple disciples and is so broad and deep that one might be tempted to say that evolution by natural selection is essentially a scientific fact.

The theory that an intelligence created everything around us is a differently sort of theory. Yes, it might be true. However, it's a philosophical theory rather than a scientific one because it is an explanation without testable components. This is why some atheists get a bit sniffy and talk about orbiting teapots, unicorns, and other untestable and unverifiable things.

An intelligence which is directing or sustaining our reality in a way akin to the Matrix is an explanation which appears untestable. However, if the intelligence interacts with our reality internally then there may be things to look at. These are not proofs of course but they might bolster the theory a bit.

For instance, if a god is wrapped up in the consciousness of a subset of people then we might be able to test stuff there. If 'miracles' happen then we might like to 'pencil in' a place for god for those in the absence of scientific explanation. Amputees regrowing limbs spontaneously might be good evidence. We might also be able to test the effect religion has on social groups in (say) crime stats.

By the way, I'm not trying to hound you or brow-beat you here in concert with tony b and others. They're just comments.

22 August 2011 at 14:03  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

Danj0 - I certainly don't mean to browbeat: however when someone who presumably professes to be a Christian tells lies: e.g. Java Man is a hoax, that annoys me.

As with so many objections to evolution though, this one seems to be based on nothing more than hot air.

22 August 2011 at 18:21  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Danj0 - I certainly don't mean to browbeat"

Sorry, I wasn't implying that you were. I just didn't want to appear to be ganging up on one person.

22 August 2011 at 18:55  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

Despite this disagreement I'd like to read your book but cannot find it. Can you point me in the right direction?

24 August 2011 at 08:59  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Whitespacebug, with regard to Java Man what I have read, is that there was human skulls at the same site and that therefore there was no legitimate reason for Dubois to make the connection he did. I've done a brief check on Wikipedia and it says "Dubois' find was a very incomplete specimen, consisting of a skullcap, a femur, and a few teeth. There is some dissent as to whether all these bones represent the same species". I'm not suggesting Wikipedia as an unimpeachable source but my comments about Java Man were based on what I had read from other authors particularly Wallace Johnson. You are very welcome to read my book - it is essentially about faith and reason and while I accept that we cannot prove with 100% mathematical certainty whether Gods exists or not, we can apply our reason to the question and come up with an answer. The evidence convinces me one way but I absolutely respect your right to take the opposite point of view. My book is entitled "The End of Heresy" and you can obtain it from www.authorhouse.com

29 August 2011 at 01:36  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

Shacklefree - did you read the rest of that article? What is the scientific status of "Java Man", and how many examples have been found at that site and at others? The human skulls you mention were actually found 65 miles away from the original Java Man find.

The argument by the way wasn't about theism Vs atheism, it was about evolution and whether or not it was compatible with belief in God. As it happens I think there is a God, I just have trouble reconciling that God with the God of Christianity, and see no conflict between evolution and Christian belief.

29 August 2011 at 10:10  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

Oh, and thanks for the pointer to your book.

29 August 2011 at 10:10  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Whitespacebug, I'm not against evolution per se, just evolution by chance. The similarity between different animals and different plants makes us think that perhaps evolution from a common ancestor is possible and if we believe in God then we could envisage an evolutionary process but with input from a creator to cause the evolution. None of us were there at the time so we have to look at the evidence and consider where it points.

With regard to Christianity I am sure we would agree that its history has not been perfect. However, I think its history while flawed is no worse than others and substantially better than some particularly secular politics. For myself, I look at the teaching rather than the practice of the worse exponents and when we look at the example of Jesus he answers all the questions and in particular the question of suffering torture and death. Christianity teaches not merely about living a good life but also about atonement for wrongs.

29 August 2011 at 11:44  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

I'll give you the benefit and assume you missed the stuff about Java Man, rather than deliberately ignored it.
As it happens I do think Christianity makes a lot of sense, when viewed metaphorically rather than literally. I certainly admire it greatly while being repelled by some of its more extreme manifestations.

29 August 2011 at 20:04  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

Whitespacebug, Sorry for the delay about Java Man - I was trying to dig out my reference and when I compare it with your reference it seems that your argument is good and that the reference to the Wadjak skulls is not plausible because of the distance involved. I'm still not convinced that the finding of human and ape body parts in close proximity constitutes evidence of descent but my previous comments about Dubois appear to be wrong. Thank you for the clarification.

30 August 2011 at 00:15  
Blogger whitespacebug said...

I think you will find you have been similarly misled on quite a few things.

Best regards

30 August 2011 at 07:32  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

I'll look into it.

30 August 2011 at 09:44  

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