The candidates on evolution

The science journal NATURE sent both candidates a series of questions about their position on various scientific issues. Only Barack Obama replied, but the journal cobbled together statements that McCain has made on the subjects. Sample:

Do you believe that evolution by means of natural selection is a sufficient explanation for the variety and complexity of life on Earth? Should intelligent design, or some derivative thereof, be taught in science class in public schools?

Obama: I believe in evolution, and I support the strong consensus of the scientific community that evolution is scientifically validated. I do not believe it is helpful to our students to cloud discussions of science with non-scientific theories like intelligent design that are not subject to experimental scrutiny.

McCain said last year, in a Republican primary debate: “I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also.” In 2005, he told the Arizona Daily Star that he thought “all points of view” should be available to students studying the origins of humanity. But the next year a Colorado paper reported him saying that such viewpoints should not be taught in science class.

We have a bailout plan

Politicos worked out a financial bailout to be voted upon by Congress today. With a lot of details added, it is essentially the same one proposed last week, to spend $700 billion to buy up devalued mortgage securities. Bottom line: Should the Congress pass it or not?

State power reforming the church

Yesterday was the day when various pastors resolved to challenge I.R.S. restrictions by endorsing candidates from the pulpit. Did your preacher do that? Thirty-three did, organized by a conservative legal foundation, and the IRS has promised to “take action as appropriate.”

These preachers seem to all be conservatives and preached against voting for Barack Obama. But mainstream denominations, as I recall from experience, preach politics all the time, condemning conservative candidates in much the same terms. And African-American churches seem to turn their services into campaign rallies, with Democratic candidates doing the preaching! Let the IRS crack down on everyone or no one.

There are times when God uses the state to reform the church. The Reformation being the major example, when Luther called on the aid of the princes to curb ecclesiastical abuses,. But I think too of the priest pedophile scandal and the financial scams run by various TV preachers. Might IRS regulations be a legitimate Romans 13 means by which God ensures that churches focus on the Kingdom of Heaven rather than the kingdoms of this world?

Can you think of other cases when state power needs to come down upon the church? Or do you think, despite the example of the Reformation, that churches should be completely unconstrained by the state?

Enemy of the Baptized

I hope you had a happy St. Michael and All Angels day yesterday, a day to reflect on angels, including the fallen angels whom Michael battles. On this topic, our pastor preached an illuminating sermon. As he said, ” the war in heaven has now come down to earth.”

We also had a baptism. In the bulletin was printed Luther’s admonition to the baptismal party, which included this startling sentence: “Remember, therefore, that it is no joke to take sides against the devil and not only to drive him away from the little child, but to burden the child with such a mighty and lifelong enemy.”

Think of that. The Baptized have been delivered from the devil, but that makes them the devil’s special enemy, with Satan always trying to thwart God’s grace and win them back.

You have got to read the sermon linked above, which dives deeply into this. A sample (Logan is the name of the baby we baptized):

So given the danger that surrounds us everyday, how could we put little Logan into such a difficult and precarious situation? How could we give him such a mighty and lifelong enemy, and rejoice in doing so? Well, we do, and we can, because although the battle rages on, the war has been won. Because the gifts of God are greater than the schemes of the enemy. Because the great dragon that was thrown down to the earth, was defeated by a baby boy who at one time was the same age as Logan and nursed at His mother’s breast. A baby boy wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. A baby boy the news of whose birth the angels announced and celebrated. A baby boy who was not only a baby boy, like Logan, born in the natural way, but the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born without sin. A baby boy who is the King of angels, come to do what no angel could do. For while Michael and his angels tossed the old, evil foe down from heaven, it was a baby boy named Jesus who defeated him once and for all.

Sports happiness

After the dust settled, after three out of the top five college football teams were upset, my (class of ’73) Oklahoma Sooners are ranked number one! And the Milwaukee Brewers, after a nail-biting victory over the Cubs and a nail-biting Mets defeat from the Marlins, are in the playoffs as the NL wildcard team! (We will set aside how the Packers did.)

Reading tips

Thanks for the suggestions for books of light reading. Quite a few of them I have already read, but more of them were new. I will now go into Barnes & Noble with a shopping list!