Sunday, November 26, 2006

texas and darwin

I spent this last week with my in-laws in Texas. The weather was great. I got to briefly see some old friends (Mark Jackson and Shane Raynor), and paid a short visit to the local church that meant so much to me when I was first coming to know Jesus. It was wonderful to spend time site-seeing with my kids and be with my in-laws (I know not everyone can say the same of time spent with in-laws).

I also read the short book Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds by Phillip Johnson.

I have to confess my utter ignorance of scientific things. I don't know enough to make an argument based on well-developed scientific reasoning for or against Darwinian evolution. I can say that throughout my Christian life I have been a young-earth creationist without feeling the need to think too hard about it.

Lately I've felt the need to dig a little deeper. This book was a simple primer on the debate. Here's what I've gleaned so far:

1) Darwin's theory of evolution was never intended to be reconciled to a belief in the existence of a Creator God. Darwin actually said that if there was a Creator God then natural selection was null and void. It would have to be thrown out.

2) Darwin's theory is based largely on the mechanism of natural selection. When we look at what spurred all of the variations in the created order, Darwin's answer is natural selection.

3) Natural selection is a mechanism that cannot coexist with God as a Guiding Force in Creation. Things could have evolved, but they could not have evolved through natural selection if God did the selecting. I think this is what is meant by Intelligent Design.

4) If we cannot have natural selection and God, we have to choose between the two. Can we keep evolution and throw out natural selection? We cannot keep Darwinian evolution. At least Darwin says we can't.

5) Evolution is based on the idea that matter is all that exists. This is called Scientific Materialism. If matter is all that exists, then we don't have souls, and we don't have free will.

6) If we don't have free will, then moral choices become very complicated. Human beings are not more important than apes, dogs, birds, trees, water, rocks, anything. Even heinous crimes become relativized.

(As I reread the above list, I noticed that 1-4 all basically said the same thing. But I'm writing this disclaimer rather than editing because I want to go to bed.)


Anonymous said...

Dear Jason,

I hold the view that God created all creation by a series of spoken Words, "let there be ... and it so and it was good".

In most cases, I share the credo, 'Unity in the essentials, liberty in the non-essentials and in all things charity'.

In theological terms, scientific creationism and intelligent design have as much revelance to me as the old school "how many angels fit on a head of a pin?" (In my humble oPINion -- bad pun!!!_

In terms of practical theology and the Gospel of Christ one area of this discussion which I hold strong views is that Social Darwnism has been co-opted by those who preach the Social Gospel and start holding views contrary to those of Jesus Christ. (This I feel is the conservative evangelical position, this position I will defend.)

Planned Parenthood is a organization founded on the principles of Social Darwinism.

This is one of their national spokespersons. He is a UMC elder and is the first national chaplain.

(This is probably not where you wanted to take this discussion. I do not want to cause you further grief.)

But the official United Methodist Church stance on this issue grieves the Body of Christ and his Church.

Planned Parenthood follows advice of founder....

"We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs." Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, in a 1939 letter.

Social Darwinism - Defined

Darwin's Deadly Legacy - D. James Kennedy

PBS- Social Darwnism, Eugenics, Designer Babies

Margret Sanger
Founder of Planned Parenthood
Marxist and radical feminist
Opened America's first birth-control clinic in 1916
Recommended euthanasia for those deemed irreparably unfit

Article on Margret Sanger

Exercise: Read the Planned Parenthood Vision Statement for 2025. Compare it to the United Methodist Social Principles. Then compare it all to scripture...

My point my brother Jason, doctrine based on scripture and the love of Christ matters.

Secular philosophies that try to redefine and reinterpret the message of the church replacing the Gospel of Christ with ideas glorifying self above God or without God are AntiChrist.
God bless you and your family,

John Flores
Frisco, Texas

JD said...

First off, the weather was wonderful down here this weekend, wasn't it. To be able to sit outside, and have a Thanksgiving Dinner in 75 degree weather is amazing!

I will comment more on this tomorrow. Got encouragement letters for FPU and deed restriction violation letters for HOA to write. (the good, the bad, and the ugly is it is already 12:30am and I have not started.)


Jason Woolever said...

Hi John,
I would add to that Hitler's design to exterminate the Jews as a lesser race.

From what I could tell if survival of the fittest is true, then its not hard to see how one would attempt to legitimize the extermination of a race that he perceived as weaker, if he believed that doing so would strengthen the gene pool of the human species.

The implications of Darwinism seem rather deadly from what I can tell. Add to this the idea that morals and laws only serve pragmatic purposes.

Jason Woolever said...

JD. thanksgiving in Tejas was nice! when I got back to Illinois I found out that it had been in the sixties here though. I wish Illinois had saved that nice mild week for a week that I was here!

Brian said...

Leaving the bigger questions of the evolution debate aside, there are a couple of things to say.

The concept of "survival of the fittest" has been popularized to mean "survival of the strongest." But from a scientific perspective, that's not what it means at all. The species most suited to survive a particular environment may not be the strongest. A great example is african elephants. Scientists studying them recently discovered that elephants that were predisposed to not grow ivory tusks were doing better than those that did. Why? Because poachers were killing off the elephants with tusks - so the genetic predisposition to be 'tuskless' is expressing itself more frequently.

Natural selection is an observable phenomenon. If I remember correctly from the one biology course I took in college, the scientific definition of evoluation is "the change gene frequency over time." That is also an observable phenomenon.

Now some people talk about 'micro' and 'macro' evolution, but I think that's a political distinction and not a scientific one.

I don't say this thinking it will settle the debate, but rather to point out that absent the political and religious arguments, there are some fairly straight-forward scientific concepts that we need to understand.

Natural selection happens - it is observable.

Evolution happens - certainly in terms of the scientific definition.

These are facts, not political or philosophical constructs. We can still argue about the bigger picture issues (e.g. is the scientific explanation of human evoluation correct?), but there are some fairly unassailable scientific concepts that we need to accept.

Jason Woolever said...

Brian, thanks for the factoids. I really wish I knew enough about this issue to say more than what I originally posted! The Johnson book that I read had a really good quote from Darwin which had him saying that natural selection wouldn't work if God exists. Unfortunately, I loaned the book to my father-in-law after I read it. So, I don't have much more to offer now other than a fading memory. (I wonder if I dreamed it?)

Larry B said...

I would echo heartily Brians post. There are ideas that support an evolutionary viewpoint that are specifically observable and testable. However the extrapolated premise that evolution is entirely responsible for all that we see around us is entirely untestable and at best educated speculation. What Dawkins is doing is reaching beyond that which is testable and observable which really leaves the realm of hard science and enters the realms where philosophy and religion have typically occupied.

He seems to coopt the term "science" to justify his claims in this more philosophical realm. Yet science as a pure discipline isn't meant to answer these questions because we cannot ultimately test and observe the beginnings or endings that we theorize.

Dawkins is a dominating and somewhat beligerent personality and will have sway. It isn't the first time this has happened in science and won't be the last. And more often than not the dominating and beligerent persons ideas are eventually augmented or even supplanted as wrong.