Father Forgive Us … (the challenge of Adam 8) (RJS)

I am currently reading a book by David N. Livingstone, Adam’s Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins. David Livingstone is Professor of Geography and Intellectual History at Queen’s University, Belfast and this book reflects both of his interests.

The history of the discussion of Adam and pre-adamic man has several major streams – from skeptical undermining of the Christian narrative to Christian apologetic; monogenism, polygenism, and racial superiority. These threads are present in the environment giving rise to La Peyere and his thinking in the early 1600′s and are active yet in the first decades of the twenty-first century. The history of race, religion, and the story of Adam’s ancestors in US history is a particularly sobering one. Chapter 7 Bloodlines: Pre-Adamism and the politics of racial supremacy and  Chapter 8 Shadows: The continuing legacy of pre-Adamite discourse demonstrate something of the depths of the problems.

I will outline something of the discussion after the jump – but would like to start with a question to ponder.

How do we know when our reading of science or scripture is truth, or an honest search for truth, and when it is wish-fulfillment and rationalization?

And to make it more immediate:

Where today are we twisting scripture to support our errors?


Where today are we twisting science to justify ourselves?

The story of pre-Adamism in the US takes a particularly ugly turn from the mid 1800′s through the early 1900′s (and beyond). This chapter of Livingstone’s book is depressing as he relates the discussion.

The “American School” of polygenetic racial science was a determined effort to place the inferiority of non-Caucasian races on firm scientific grounds. According to this school we are not one species. But the data was read in a fashion that supported the hypothesis – the underlying view of the scholars.

The collective endeavors of the American School, however short-lived their scientific standing, brought a variety of additional rhetorical devices into the discussion. Statistical measurement, visual imagery, and the cultivation of what might be called moral cartography were all conspicuous features of the project. Consider first Mortonite numerology. His statistizing practices were scrutinized by Stephen Jay Gould, who uncovered something of how what he referred to as an unconscious “finagling” of the data delivered findings perfectly fitted to Morton’s racial tastes. By ignoring dependent variables such as age and sex, generalizing from atypical groups, and so on, Morton could supply a convenient hierarchy, with Caucasians comfortably located on top, Native Americans in the middle, and the Africans at the bottom. (p. 175)

Livingstone continues on to outline much of this discussion – most, but not all, with either goal or result, assigning a place to white European peoples as natural leaders and justifying slavery and exploitation.

Many within the church, especially within the South disagreed with the scientific polygenism. But achieved the same cultural result – white supremacy and the defense of slavery – on biblical grounds. As Livingstone puts it “scientific anthropology bestialized slavery; adamic theology sanctified it.” (p. 182) Southern Christians saw in the curse of Ham a justification for a paternalistic God ordained slavery.  To give one example, John Bachman refuted Morton’s scientific argument case by case believing that polygenism undermined both scripture and Christian civilization.

Yet none of this meant that advocates of the unity of the human race were committed to egalitarianism, still less abolition. The idea of black inferiority was just too ingrained for that. Bachman, for example, staunchly defended southern slavery and argued, on the basis of the biblical curse of Ham, that the black races were designed, and destined, for servitude. He considered the “Negro [to be] a striking and now permanent variety” who might improve through intermarriage with whites – a morally repugnant price to pay for racial enhancement. (p. 182)

Later Livingstone notes:

To all of them the Bible sanctioned slavery, and abolitionists and polygenists alike were undermining its supreme authority. Humane Christian slavery, they believed, was under attack from two radically different sources: an opportunistic abolitionism fueled by northern greed and economic self-interest; and a degenerate anthropology that would dehumanize whole races. (p. 183).

In the postwar era more turned to pre-adamism and polygenism. Reading of the nature of the fall took, for some, a decidedly racist turn. The sin of Eve was sexual in nature – sometimes enticed by a black pre-adamite, sometimes by a handsome Mongolian. The nature of Eve’s sin was mingling the blood of the the pure adamic line with non-adamic races. Livingstone concludes:

Why clergy turned to pre-adamism from the standard Hamitic narrative that, for southerners, had long been sufficient to provide an account of African origins and a justification for slavery lies, I think, in pre-adamism’s capacity to serve as a tool to combat interracial mixing in ways that the Hamitic account never could. By identifying distinct adamic and pre-adamic bloodlines, white supremacists could construct a bio-biblical dogma that allowed traditional loyalty to the Bible to draw on a melange of scientific specialties. (p. 200).

The discussion of the racial politics of pre-adamism in Adam’s Ancestors does not touch upon evolution other than in passing. Polygenists by and large were opposed to evolution as it would serve to unite the races. Of course, Darwinism and social Darwinism were used to achieve some of the same ends achieved by pre-adamism, polygenism, and the Hamitic narrative. Karl Giberson, in his book Saving Darwin has a chapter on Darwin’s dark companions. In this chapter Giberson writes:

Empire-building imperialists invoked social Darwinism to rationalize colonial subordination and even organized slaughter of conquered peoples. The enslavement of blacks, the destruction of Native Americans, and the genocidal treatment of aboriginal tribes in Australia were defended as part of a grand Darwinian project to advance humanity. Joseph Le Conte, a respected geologist and president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, addressed this issue in The Race Problem in the South, published In 1892. Le Conte argued that the docile character of Negroes made them appropriate for enslavement; for races like the “redskin,” however, who were more specialized and thus less flexible, “extermination is unavoidable.” (p. 77)

Rationalization and rhetoric. The underlying theme in all of the positions outlined above is not the authority of scripture or the authority of science. In all of these cases science and/or scripture were twisted to defend and rationalize a conclusion already deeply embedded in the consciousness and culture of the time. Sola scriptura doesn’t provide a firm foundation, surety against error – nor does tradition or reason. This is a lesson that should remain in our consciousness, front and center. I have little doubt that we as a whole will be judged as missing the mark in important ways. This brings us back to the questions posed above.

Where today are we twisting scripture to support our errors?

Where today are we twisting science to justify ourselves?

How do we, as Christians, know when our reading of science or scripture is truth, or an honest search for truth, and when it is wish-fulfillment and rationalization?

Where do we start?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net

  • Bob Porter

    RJS, Thank you for your tenacity in pursuing difficult dialog.
    When the scope of our discussion is Scot’s big tent evangelicalism, I am sure that there are many, many instances of twisting scripture to support or twisting science to justify.
    To me the key questions are:
    - how do we determine truth on either side
    - which instances of twisting do we need to confront
    On either question, the witness of the indwelling Spirit is our primary resource both individually and in a faith community.

  • http://www.crackedvirtue.com Brianmpei

    First year Anthropology 101. Our professor recounted the conversation he heard while on a dig in the southern U.S. He was eating breakfast at a diner and in the next booth he overhead two men discussing theology and race over their grits. Their conclusion was that the “Mark of Cain” was to turn a white man black. Since “blacks” were cursed by God we can treat them accordingly.
    There is a need to distinguish between “pop” theology and “pop” science and the real disciplines of theology and science. Generally in both culture and church (how did those two get separated???) we’re dealing with “pop” versions of both and “deep” discussions based on superficial understandings.
    On one side you’ve got most of the guys (and they do tend to be men) I read on line who are creationists. Someone sent me a link yesterday to a octogenarian creationists post who was quoting both bad science and bad theology. The you hear or read someone like Hitchens or Mahr and you get just as bad from them. And these are the sources from which most people are actually getting their knowledge.

  • RJS

    Bob,
    As I read these chapters I found them convicting to the core. I think we still suffer from the same problem as the thinkers and leaders of the day – and of the most of the cultural ethos of the day. The blatant racism we find offensive, certainly I find it deeply offensive.
    But we still twist science (of all sorts) and scripture to support the same basic value. We twist it in defense of our right to privilege and superiority at the expense of others. There is a deeply ingrained sense of us vs. them.
    This is why I gave the post the title I did – Father forgive us for the errors of our past – and for our blindness and errors of today.

  • DRT

    In generalizing your question and providing a solution I put forth that Christianity sort of has a mediocrity principle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediocrity_principle in the way we are all sinners, but would be better served to have that principle be clearly stated as it is in science, particularly astronomy and cosmology.
    We have hubris that causes the errors…..
    Dave

  • http://mysticallimpet.blogspot.com Travis Greene

    This is a hugely difficult question. Of course we would all like to think that we follow the truth wherever it leads, but we know too much about confirmation bias and other cognitive limitations for that to be true, even assuming our best intentions. And things are complicated by the fact that we could believe something because we want to, and it still be true, but not for the reasons we believe it.
    If we knew when we were twisting Scripture or science, we wouldn’t be doing it. I hope. One way to combat this is to read old books (or histories like this one) and see how our forbears deceived themselves, and beware.
    The other thing is to have a multiplicity of voices in community. We have to be careful here because obviously there are forms of community that are self-reinforcing echo chambers. These old dead racists were all firmly entrenched in scientific and church communities that told them what they wanted to hear, I’m sure. So I don’t mean community in the abstract, but the specific community of Jesus, dedicated to heterogeneity (political, ethnic, age/gender, etc) and reconciliation as central values, and united by table practices of welcome.
    We cannot avoid mistakes, but we can deliberately speak and live together, in love, with all manner of unlikely candidates, subaltern voices, and minority reporters. This applies to all of us; there can just as easily be liberal echo chamber congratulation-societies as conservative ones. At the least, we will be less likely to demonize those who disagree with us if they have just served us communion, or babysat our kids, or we have just been to their grandmother’s funeral, or whatever.

  • bahf

    I am happy to read of Christians seeking, Christians asking and knocking on the doors before us. We have been given patterns and ideas from those who have gone before us, but those ideas and patterns are not necessarily the Truth of Jesus Christ. He alone is the Way the Truth and the Life. So, as written by Bob, above, only the indwelling Spirit is trustworthy to give us the Truth. I see and hear Him working in these discussions, and am delighted to pray for His wisdom and more knowledge of HIM, for all of us. I would invite us all to pray without ceasing in our seeking, asking and knocking. I am called to abide in Him and in His Word, praying ever for Him to speak and teach me now. God loves us completely, and only in that love will we find our ground, our soil to grow in. Only what glorifies HIM will be truth. Christ in us, the hope of glory. God bless you all.

  • http://krusekronicle.typepad.com Michael W. Kruse

    I think one of the places we begin is with the our past efforts to deal with science and the Bible. Keeping in mind our failures in the past should give us pause about how we proceed in the future.
    It is without question that Christians have too often resisted scientific realities in futile efforts to hold to protect pre-scientific perspectives because of perceived theological threats. What I find interesting is that evolution has been used both by those who wanted to promote racial superiority and racial equality. And anti-evolution has been used in support of both causes as well. (BTW, I attended an eugenics exhibit at the regional National Archives branch here in Kansas City. If it comes to your area you really need to check it out. Very disturbing, although I think they under emphasize the role of American scientists in its development.)
    However, when science can be made to serve certain ideologies it gives scientists in those fields prestige and status. (Scientists are human too, and it affects what they study.) When science and populist ideologies dovetail too neatly I think warning flags need to pop up. It doesn’t mean the science is wrong, but much higher degrees of scrutiny and transparency are required. Our understanding of evolution has endured this type of scrutiny for more than 150 years and in my estimation has prevailed quite resoundingly.
    The fledgling field of climate science is a different story for me. The scrutiny and transparency has not been there and the theoretical projections dovetail too neatly with the promotion of powerful statist ideologies.

  • Sara Crewe

    I agree with bahf, that most every person has within them the ability to discern right from wrong via the Spirit. It seems to me that is the surest guide for when we are attempting to use science or scripture or anything else to justify un-Christlike behavior-trusting the voice inside your heart to guide you.
    From a woman’s perspective, I have always found the idea that Eve’s sin was of a sexual nature offensive, and the ideas and opinions which persists even now that she was in some way an evil temptress have resulted in the oppression of women for centuries. Frankly, I simply don’t believe that’s what her failing was-nor do I believe that as a result all of humanity is inherently evil (anyone who’s ever held an infant knows this).
    I think a clear understanding of the doctrine Christ actually taught while on the earth clarifies the way we ought to treat one another better than attempting to connect the fuzzy-at-best doctrinal dots of the fall.

  • JHM

    This is so incredibly difficult. On one hand you want to have convictions and a sense of “yeah, this is really the way it is” but yet on the other hand we know by reading histories like this that people can be quite sincerely wrong. About the only thing I can think of for myself is to be as honest as I can be with myself and pray that God would help me to be humble in what I’m unsure of, bold in what I am, and loving in all.
    One thing that keeps coming up to me is the idea of balance. God seems to like it. He balances judgement with mercy, justice with grace, His own sovereignty with the free choices of his creatures. It seems to me that when we find ourselves out in the fringes where everybody is wrong and I alone am right, a red flag should pop up. So too if I agree with everything everybody says and I don’t think anything counter to the world.
    As much as I loved growing up with ICR and Answers in Genesis, looking at the stuff coming out of there now, I can’t help but see at least a fair amount of science-twisting. It’s too bad as so many Christians look up to those organizations as shining examples of Christian scientists.
    As far as twisting scripture, one doesn’t have too look very far for that. The ability of Christians to build movements or take extreme action based on a particular reading of a particular part of a particular verse is just horrifying. One example might be the extremely unloving way that Westboro Baptist Church goes about its message.

  • Bob Arnet

    While attending college in Kentucky, I often visited a conservative Baptist church with my cousin and his wife. They praised Jesus plenty of times throughout their service. I remember thinking at the time that these folks profess to live their lives as Jesus would and yet their view of African-Americans was not at all in line with Jesus’ teachings. It blows my mind to think that there are still many down south that hold these feelings of blacks being an inferior race that don’t deserve equal treatment. Why don’t people stop and think about these things, rather than perpetuating the beliefs of their parents and grandparents.

  • DRT

    I think we have to be very careful in applying the rule that everyone can tell right from wrong through the spirit. I had a teacher in my church give me a lecture about how I don’t view scripture correctly therefore I should keep my mouth shut. I have no right to disagree because the teacher is closer to God than I am. Clearly one of us is not telling right from wrong ……
    Dave

  • pds

    Eugenics is the best example of twisting science I can think of. Catholics were leaders in opposing it. Many liberal Protestant leaders (Harry Emerson Fosdick) promoted it. It is a good lesson for the church.
    Michael Crichton has one of the best short essays I have read. I posted an excerpt here:
    http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/michael-crichton-on-politicized-science-and-the-eugenics-movement

    The Cold Springs Harbor Institute was built to carry out this research, but important work was also done at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and Johns Hopkins. Legislation to address the crisis was passed in states from New York to California.
    These efforts had the support of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, and the National Research Council. It was said that if Jesus were alive, he would have supported this effort.
    ….
    As Margaret Sanger said, “Fostering the good-for-nothing at the expense of the good is an extreme cruelty … there is not greater curse to posterity than that of bequeathing them an increasing population of imbeciles.” She spoke of the burden of caring for “this dead weight of human waste.”

    There was overt racism in this movement, exemplified by texts such as “The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy” by American author Lothrop Stoddard. ….
    Eugenics research was funded by the Carnegie Foundation, and later by the Rockefeller Foundation. The latter was so enthusiastic that even after the center of the eugenics effort moved to Germany, and involved the gassing of individuals from mental institutions, the Rockefeller Foundation continued to finance German researchers at a very high level. (The foundation was quiet about it, but they were still funding research in 1939, only months before the onset of World War II.)
    Since the 1920s, American eugenicists had been jealous because the Germans had taken leadership of the movement away from them. The Germans were admirably progressive. …
    After World War II, nobody was a eugenicist, and nobody had ever been a eugenicist. Biographers of the celebrated and the powerful did not dwell on the attractions of this philosophy to their subjects, and sometimes did not mention it at all. Eugenics ceased to be a subject for college classrooms, although some argue that its ideas continue to have currency in disguised form.

  • Scott W

    From some of the remarks here regarding Christians self understanding, knowledge, Spripture and Truth, there seems to be some incongruities or,at least, some real tensions. How can Christians who believe that the Fall had a negative effect on the human person and humanity, morally, spiritually and epistemologically, act as if this doesn’t affect Christians. In this sense Christian “certainty” can lead to a type of dangerous hubris, which, im my mind, may make Christians more succeptible to certain kinds of error because they thing that salvation in Christ and the Bible gives them a kind of spiritual infallibility which can applied to all kinds of knowledge.
    This is one reason why humility, as Christian monks would say, is the greatest virtue, and that we have to have serious communities of discource where we nuture diversity of thought as a Christian discipline.

  • RJS

    pds,
    Eugenics is a particularly good example of twisting science. I didn’t want to leave these elements of history out of the discussion – which was why I added the quote from Giberson to my discussion of Livingstone’s book.
    Where today do you (or anyone else) think we may be twisting scripture or science to support our own superiority and advantage? (While it may happen – I think twisting away from self interest is far less common.)

  • DRT

    RJS,
    I think reconciling with the animals is going to be the next reconciliation after women, slaves, gays, Muslims. This ties back into the souls discussion…..Genesis tells us that we are to care for the animals, not abuse them. As it happens, two members of my family are vegetarian strictly for “humanitarian” reasons. I am certain this sends me to the looney bin in many of your theologies, but after spending some time in Buddhism I can’t help but think that the delineation of sentient versus non-sentient is a much bigger deal than human vs. non-human. I have not gone vegetarian yet, but I am no longer wanting to eat animals who were treated poorly in our mechanized farms.
    Science is routinely twisted as representing atheism. That simply is untrue. Science is a method, not an ideology. Christians do this to show they are superior over scientists.
    Science is regularly twisted for changing its mind. That is the strength of science, not its weakness. Christians do this to show they are superior over scientists.
    In 1 John 2 I have heard people twist the scripture to say either you are in the light or not, meaning either you are a Christian (one of us) or not. Making some feel superior to others.
    More later.
    Dave

  • Duncan R

    I agree with Scott regarding an emphasis on humility and particularly how salvation and the Holy Spirit relate to this subject. I am always concerned when people seem to believe that by themselves they are able to exclusively rely on the the guidance of the spirit and the sincerity of their heart and that whatever conclusion is then come to is TRUTH. Clearly both history and personal experience should clearly demonstrate that there are many example of extreme and significant disagreement regarding a variety of issues by sincere Christians in possession of the Holy Spirit. Lack of humility in addressing this reality leads directly to the argument by DRT’s teacher (11): I am closer to God so I am right. What does it mean for the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth because history clearly indicates that on a personal level this cannot be as universally true as suggested by bahf(6) and Sara (8) and yet certainly there are Biblical and historical cases where an individual stands alone in faith and is later vindicated eg. Abraham, Daniel, Maximus the Confessor, Kierkegaard.
    Something that has comforted me is that orthodoxy has been almost exclusively declared in the face of heresy. Therefore in humility I may be bold in declaring my view trusting God to guide the ship. If my view is declared orthodox or heresy in either case it may be an important piece of the conversation and conclusion.
    RJS thank you for bringing up these incredibly important questions which far to many people ignore or deny their existence.

  • pds

    The Design Spectrum
    RJS,
    I think both sides of the evolution debate twist science to assert a greater degree of certainty than the data supports. I also think that this was part of the problem with the eugenics movement.
    Just like the church should not hitch its wagon to any political party, it should not hitch its wagon to scientific theories that are always tentative and have changed much over the years.

  • Darren King

    Great questions, RJS.
    My guess is that the way the church views sexuality and gender will likely come under real pressure from science (or more specifically, how society judges these issues based on the popular-level of science it interacts with) over the next decade or so. Of course, the church already is being pressured. But I mean enough pressure that we’ll see a real shift in perspective held within. We’re just beginning to see the signs of it emerge now. For instance, while Jennifer Knapp is being ridiculed and attacked by many Christians (and more gently called to account by others), the response is still much more muted than it would have been even five years ago – certainly 10 years ago.
    Now, onto another, related issue, let me say this, and you’ve probably heard me say it before: I’m still surprised by the degree to which modern people lean on the understanding of someone like Augustine to determine their view of the world. I’m surprised by this because CLEARLY Augustine had a deficit in understanding, just because of the time he lived in. And yet, I don’t see Christians accounting for this deficit when they read him. And this just makes ZERO sense to me. I think many people really underestimate how different our understanding of the world is, now from then. Its almost as if such people think that science and theology are mutually exclusive categories when – of course – they are not.

  • pds

    http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/
    Also relevant, Krauthammer on Obama’s science policy speech:

    Obama’s address was morally unserious in the extreme. It was populated, as his didactic discourses always are, with a forest of straw men. Such as his admonition that we must resist the “false choice between sound science and moral values.” Yet, exactly 2 minutes and 12 seconds later he went on to declare that he would never open the door to the “use of cloning for human reproduction.”
    Does he not think that a cloned human would be of extraordinary scientific interest? And yet he banned it.
    Is he so obtuse as not to see that he had just made a choice of ethics over science? Yet, unlike Bush, who painstakingly explained the balance of ethical and scientific goods he was trying to achieve, Obama did not even pretend to make the case why some practices are morally permissible and others not.

    Science has everything to say about what is possible. Science has nothing to say about what is permissible. Obama’s pretense that he will “restore science to its rightful place” and make science, not ideology, dispositive in moral debates is yet more rhetorical sleight of hand — this time to abdicate decision-making and color his own ideological preferences as authentically “scientific.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/12/AR2009031202764.html

  • Brad

    Bob Arnet #10
    “I remember thinking at the time that these folks profess to live their lives as Jesus would and yet their view of African-Americans was not at all in line with Jesus’ teachings. It blows my mind to think that there are still many down south that hold these feelings of blacks being an inferior race that don’t deserve equal treatment.”
    Newsflash…people outside the South have those same views. And probably make up a not so different proportion of the population as you might think. Sure there are racists down here. But the same is true north of the Mason-Dixon line as well. I know because I have met some. Maybe there are more in the North than in the South. Who knows? I’m sure you didn’t intend to single out Southerners as particularly or uniquely susceptible to that particular sin, but some of us down here are a bit sensitive about that subject…
    As to the main point of your post, I agree. It is sometimes hard to fathom how people can read the Bible and then act in ways that are so obviously contrary to its teachings. But aren’t we all subject to doing that? May the Holy Spirit make us all aware of those areas where we are ignoring God’s will.

  • RJS

    pds,
    In the context of this post I am not concerned about the “true” answer or the degree to which evolution – or ID, or even YEC are true. I am more concerned with the way a view is twisted to justify a behavior or position. I don’t think that the eugenics movement had anything to do with “assert[ing] a greater degree of certainty than the data supports,“.
    I think that that example, and all of the ones in my post, have a much deeper and more insidious root – in the inherent “falleness” of humans. Any “science” and even scripture could be twisted to support and provide self justification for personal superiority and advantage and for oppression and annihilation of others.
    Our knowledge and understanding has been growing and changing throughout the years – but I think any study of history will show how in each and every context throughout the last 2000 years (or more) the wisdom of the day can be twisted to serve self-interest. Human impulses and depravity have not really changed.
    So without regard to the truth of a position – how is it twisted? How do we know? In the context of the Church, as a Christian, how do we judge?
    I’ll put out a suggestion – perhaps one of our best signs is when a position violates the two greatest commandments – to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.
    Of course one needs a definition of neighbor, but perhaps we’ve been given that as well. At a key level every human on the face of the earth. After all if God so loved the world – and Jesus came to save the world, surely we are called to no less extensive a love of neighbor.

  • R Hampton

    PDS,
    Evolutionary theory is extremely well supported – even Behe and Meyer rely upon it to explain most of the changes in life throughout history. Comparing Evolutionary theory to Eugenics is about as accurate as comparing Scripture to the Southern Baptist Convention’s defense of Slavery, and afterwards, Segregation.

  • pds

    http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/
    RJS #21,
    Eugenicists relied on the golden rule to justify their position. From “The New Decalogue of Science”:

    Men have never been really righteous because
    they did not know how. They could not obey God’s
    will because they had no way of finding out what
    it was. The spirit of the old commandment to love
    thy neighbor as thyself was right, but how could a
    man love his neighbor intelligently when he did not
    know what was good for him? The Good Samaritan
    bound up his fellow traveler’s wounds, but doubt-
    less left them full of microbes and thus probably
    killed him. The Good Samaritan on the Road to
    Jericho and the Good Samaritan on Broadway live
    in two different moral worlds. “Give a cup of cold
    water to your neighbor” was a precious admonition,
    but modern science sternly asks, “Are there any
    colon bacilli in it?” “Multiply and replenish the
    earth” was a counsel of perfection when there were
    only eight people on the globe, but when there are
    two thousand millions it gives even the rhapsodist
    pause. Especially, the biologist would like to know
    what sort of stock the earth is to be replenished
    with. He has found that many who multiply the
    most have not sufficient intelligence to add.

  • pds

    http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/
    R Hampton #22,
    “Evolutionary theory is extremely well supported . . .”
    Aspects are well supported, other aspects are not. Your blanket over-generalization is what I am talking about.
    Eugenics was part of “evolutionary theory” at one point in time. Eugenics and evolution were taught together in Hunter’s Civic Biology, which is the textbook John Scopes used.

  • RJS

    A particularly sobering twist of both scripture and science …

  • pds

    Yes, one could say a “twisted” twist. But this book was well received at the time. Other versions of the logic were arguably less twisted. See the Sanger quotes above. Once you adopt a moral framework of “the greatest good for the greatest number,” you can rationalize a lot.

  • RJS

    pds,
    I don’t understand your point. Are you responding to my comment in #21 about how I think we should perhaps judge (which is not “greatest good”)? Or are you making some tangent point?

  • pds

    RJS,
    You said,
    “I’ll put out a suggestion – perhaps one of our best signs is when a position violates the two greatest commandments – to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.”
    I agree. But “love your neighbor as yourself” is general enough that some have argued that we should “love” future generations by sterilizing the unfit. I think that is wrong. I agree with your suggestion, but it is not enough.

  • R Hampton

    pds,
    With the passage of time, ID has been scoped down so narrwoly that it now only can explain 1) the origin of the cell, and 2) the origin of new body plans. Depending on how you define body plan, ID is such a rare event that it occurred only a dozen times in the 4 billion year history of life on Earth — everything else is Evolution.
    So yes, Evolution is well supported by empirical evidence, unlike Intelligent Design. The proposed hypothesis of irreducible complexity – some predictions of which have already proven false (bacterial flagellum), and “Specified Complexity” has no evidence and is beset by many fundamental scientific flaws highlighted in the peer review process.
    Until Meyer can either address the weaknesses of their hypothesis and/or offer empirical evidence that can be confirmed by independent research, ID is just an idea. Even more problematic for ID is a complete lack of a scientific explanation for the mechanism(s) used by the Designer. Indeed, some IDers claim that God (the Designer) used natural biological processes to “change” lifeforms, meaning that ID and Evolution would be indistinguishable from one another (aside from probability).

  • RJS

    pds,
    You’re right. Even this can be twisted, simple as it seems. But it is a start at least.

  • pds

    RHampton #29,
    You said,
    “The proposed hypothesis of irreducible complexity – some predictions of which have already proven false (bacterial flagellum)….”
    Where and by whom? I have repeatedly asked for back up and none has been given.

  • Dubliner

    @pds #31
    If you type the words “irreducible complexity” into google scholar you will find enough material to be going on with. More accessible is the site talkorigins.org. For books which are a beautiful read explaining how biological complexity comes about “The Blind Watchmaker” and “Climbing Mount Improbable” by evolutionary scientist Richard Dawkins should be readily available in your local library. His latest book “The Greatest Show on Earth” presents an overview of the evidence for evolution is a very accessible and fascinating way and is available in any bookshop. That evidence is vast and incontrovertible and has been for a very long time now. It hasn’t been a matter of controversy for many decades in any western country other than the US – not in my lifetime certainly and I’m middle aged.
    If you are very interested in the debunked “irreducible complexity” concept you could also take a look at the proceedings of the Dover trial in the PBS programmes.


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