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Monday, September 01, 2008

Archbishop of Canterbury slams Neo-Darwinism, Creationism


This great news is a few months old. I don't know how I missed it, but I did.

The Darwinists are fond of boasting that they have the support of the world's top religious leaders. Well, they sure as hell don't have the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. A 3/18/08 news article said,

Dr Rowan Williams, said "Neo Darwinism and Creationist science deserve each other. Creationism is a version of slightly questionable science pretending to be theology, and Neo Darwinism is a questionable theology pretending to be science."

The Archbishop hit out against the "two extremes" in the range of theories of how the world began in his Holy Week lecture on Faith and Science last night. He said "Science has more to do than is simply covered by these theories" . . . . . . .

. . . . . Dr Williams admitted that Neo Darwinism, a theory supported by Atheist Professor Richard Dawkins, is "most problematic" to theology, but he called it "a pseudo science" and "deeply vulnerable to intellectual challenge because it is trying to be a theology."

In a sideswipe at evolutionary scientists such as Professor Dawkins, Williams warned "Science can be seduced into making exaggerated claims." He added "Neo Darwinism of Dawkins' kind carries with it a rather subjective agenda...It is as vulnerable as Christianity". Both Neo Darwinism and Christianity are telling stories, the Archbishop continued, Christianity acknowledges that fact, Neo Darwinism doesn't.

LOL

In a section titled "Defuse the Religion Issue" in an article titled "Dealing with Antievolutionism", National Center for Science Education director Eugenie Scott brazenly, hypocritically and cynically urged teachers to use religion in a one-sided way to promote Darwinism in the public schools, in violation of the establishment clause. She wrote,
.
Teachers have told me they have had good results when they begin the year by asking students to brainstorm what they think the words "evolution" and "creationism" mean. As expected, some of the information will be accurate and some will be erroneous. Under "evolution," expect to hear "Man evolved from monkeys" or something similar. Don't be surprised to find some variant of, "You can't believe in God" or some similar statement of supposed incompatibility between religion and evolution. Under "creationism" expect to find more consistency: "God"; "Adam and Eve," "Genesis," etc. The next step in constructing student understanding of concepts is to guide them towards a more accurate view. One goal of this exercise is to help them see the diversity of religious attitudes towards evolution.

After one such initial brainstorming session, one teacher presented students with a short quiz wherein they were asked, "Which statement was made by the Pope?" or "which statement was made by an Episcopal Bishop?" and given an "a, b, c" multiple choice selection. All the statements from theologians, of course, stressed the compatibility of theology with the science of evolution. This generated discussion about what evolution was versus what students thought it was. By making the students aware of the diversity of opinion towards evolution extant in Christian theology, the teacher helped them understand that they didn't have to make a choice between evolution and religious faith.
(emphasis added)

Well, Eugenie, maybe we could quiz you about which statement was made by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
.

Labels:

30 Comments:

Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"Slams?"

This is the same pathetic bedwetter who can't bring himself to criticize creeping Shari'a law in the UK.

Three cheers for Pat Condell!

Monday, September 01, 2008 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"theories of how the world began"

It can be said that planet Earth "began", or the solar system "began". However, the sense in which I read "world" above is "universe".

The Universe did not "begin". It is infinitely old, infinitely vast, wonderful and mysterious almost beyond comprehension.

Monday, September 01, 2008 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

'Nonymous said...
>>>>>"Slams?" <<<<<<

Well, what other word would you prefer? Attacks? Bashes? Blasts? Denounces? Condemns?

>>>>> This is the same pathetic bedwetter who can't bring himself to criticize creeping Shari'a law in the UK. <<<<<<

The Archbishop of Canterbury's position on Sharia law is clarified in the following article on the Volokh Conspiracy blog:

The Archbishop of Canterbury and Sharia Law.

Volokh Conspiracy also has the following related articles:

Sharia Law Enforced in Texas!

Islamic Agreements in Civil Courts

Don't Specially Nanny-state Muslim Women

Anyway, my point is that the Archbishop of Canterbury's statements here make Darwinist boasts of having support from top Christian clergy look very foolish.

Monday, September 01, 2008 1:31:00 PM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"what other word would you prefer? Attacks? Bashes? Blasts? Denounces? Condemns?"

Why bother quoting a wuss like Rowan when you could be quoting someone like Pat Condell who has (A) courage and (B) something significant to say?

Monday, September 01, 2008 2:39:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> Why bother quoting a wuss like Rowan when you could be quoting someone like Pat Condell who has (A) courage and (B) something significant to say? <<<<<<<

There are some problems with that:

(1) I just have a dial-up connection, and big videos load very slowly, just 2 seconds at a time, and often I can't load the whole video but can only listen to the video in widely separated 2-second segments, which is a real hassle.

(2) Does the Pat Condell video say anything about Rowan's remarks about the evolution controversy, or is it just about Sharia law?

(3) Does the video contradict anything in Eugene Volokh's article about Rowan's views about Sharia law?

(4) What is (1) lacking on courage and (2) not significant about Rowan's remarks about the evolution controversy?

Monday, September 01, 2008 11:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

The Universe did not "begin". It is infinitely old, infinitely vast, wonderful and mysterious almost beyond comprehension."

Almost beyond your comprehension more like speaking another language to you, how did the Universe become ageless with evolution?

Monday, September 01, 2008 11:53:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

BTW, it is noteworthy that you Darwinists think that these church leaders are wise and brilliant if they support evolution but are stupid crackpots if they criticize it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 6:36:00 AM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"(2) Does the Pat Condell video say anything about Rowan's remarks about the evolution controversy, or is it just about Sharia law?"

It's about Shari'a as it relates to the UK. There is nothing there about evolution, which Condell would not recognize as a "controversy".

"(3) Does the video contradict anything in Eugene Volokh's article about Rowan's views about Sharia law?"

Not really. The Volokh article is more nuanced and doesn't make RW look quite as bad.

"(4) What is (1) lacking on courage and (2) not significant about Rowan's remarks about the evolution controversy?"

I was contrasting RW's attacks on relatively inoffensive targets with his lack of criticism of Islam. Sheesh, why do I have to spell out everything?

"BTW, it is noteworthy that you Darwinists think that these church leaders are wise and brilliant if they support evolution but are stupid crackpots if they criticize it."

So?

BTW, my referring to RW as "Rowan" was inadvertent -- I meant Williams.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 8:31:00 AM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"how did the Universe become ageless with evolution?"

They are two very different things. Evolution is a process taking place in the framework of the Universe. It can easily be older than evolution, just as the Earth is older than you or I.

BTW, the Universe is sui generis.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 8:36:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

'Nonymous said (Tuesday, September 02, 2008 8:31:00 AM) --
>>>>>> It's about Shari'a as it relates to the UK. There is nothing there about evolution, which Condell would not recognize as a "controversy". <<<<<<

So you think that RW's remarks about evolution are not controversial? And for people who think that evolution is not controversial, you Darwinists spend an awful lot of time arguing about it.

>>>>>> "(3) Does the video contradict anything in Eugene Volokh's article about Rowan's views about Sharia law?"

Not really. The Volokh article is more nuanced and doesn't make RW look quite as bad. <<<<<<

"Doesn't make RW look quite as bad"? How does Volokh's article make RW look bad at all? Here is Volokh's article in full:

The Archbishop of Canterbury and Sharia Law:
Samizdata and other sources point to this article. The article begins with, "The adoption of some aspects of Islamic Sharia law in Britain 'seems unavoidable', the Archbishop of Canterbury has said." Samizdata and others harshly condemn the Archbishop's position.

I read the Archbishop's speech (which I found by googling some key phrases). It's a long speech, with a good deal of theoretical discussion that's hard for me to precisely pin down, and some references to articles and books that I haven't read and can't opine on. But the heart of that part of the Archbishop's proposal that's quoted in the newspaper article seems clear; the Archbishop proposes

a scheme in which individuals retain the liberty to choose the jurisdiction under which they will seek to resolve certain carefully specified matters, so that 'power-holders are forced to compete for the loyalty of their shared constituents.' This may include aspects of marital law, the regulation of financial transactions and authorised structures of mediation and conflict resolution — the main areas that have been in question where supplementary jurisdictions have been tried, with native American communities in Canada as well as with religious groups like Islamic minority communities in certain contexts.


As best I can tell, the Archbishop is arguing for an analog to something quite familiar: arbitration agreements, including prenuptial agreements. If you and I enter into a contract (such as one related to "financial transactions") in the U.S., we could agree to having our disputes resolved by an arbitrator (usually secular, but nothing stops us from choosing a religious arbitrator).

We could also agree to have our disputes resolved under whatever legal rules we choose -- the law of North Dakota, the law of Switzerland, some legal rules that we ourselves draw up, or Jewish or Islamic law. The courts would then enforce the arbitrator's decision, unless one of us can point to some compelling and exceptional grounds for setting it aside. Likewise, people can enter into prenuptial agreements that set forth the substantive and procedural rules to be followed should they divorce.

Now of course these agreements aren't always completely enforceable -- there are various procedural requirements related to disclosure of certain things for the agreement to be treated as valid, and substantive constraints on supposedly unfair provisions of the agreement. And of course the agreements can call only for standard civil remedies; we can't enter into an agreement that provides for a beheading or a whipping in case of breach. Likewise, the agreements might not be enforceable to the extent they were entered into by minors (a possible issue for prenuptial agreements entered when a spouse is under 18) or to the extent they purport to limit the rights of third parties (a possible issue for prenuptial agreements that purport to decide child custody and child support as well as division of property between the contracting spouses).

But the Archbishop's proposal likewise calls for a variety of constraints on such agreements; he's not entirely clear about the magnitude of such constraints, but I think he might well envision more constraints than American law generally imposes, and more than most libertarians like me would impose on what are after all voluntarily entered-into contracts. No-one is talking about executing apostates, only about providing for an alternate way to resolve normal civil disputes related to financial transactions, divorce, and the like.

Thus, the Archbishop's proposal seems eminently defensible under the rubric of freedom to contract -- a freedom that I as a libertarian (squish that I am) believe to be quite important. It is the freedom of people to make their own rules for their own transactions, rather than having a one-size-fits-all rule set imposed on them by the government.

Such freedom of contract often provides important efficiencies, but it also helps protect professional communities (which may not want their internal disputes resolved by lay jurors or judges who know nothing about the relevant technical questions or the customs of the trade), helps protect personal choices, and helps protect cultural and religious communities that may want to settle their disputes using their own rules. So long as the decision binds only the contracting parties -- which the Archbishop seems to expressly contemplate -- civil courts should uphold it.

Now of course many people (usually not libertarians) do object to arbitration agreements on the grounds that they're "coercive" or "unfair" in that they "force" people into giving up rights that people's shouldn't have to give up, whether procedural rights such as a jury trial or substantive rights such as a right to get half the other spouse's marital income. And indeed sometimes there are social or economic pressures that lead people into such contracts, or for that matter any contracts.

Yet it seems to me that the general presumption should still be freedom of contract, and contract that the civil courts will enforce. Generally speaking, people are better off with this freedom. True, no choice is ever completely free, but it's generally better have the power to choose (in light of all the pressures under which we labor) and be able to commit to others that this choice will be binding. If there are to be constraints on this freedom (e.g., that one can't make certain irrevocable and highly damaging contracts, such as selling oneself into slavery), they should be narrow. Again, I think that's very much the libertarian approach.

But even those who aren't libertarians should be pleased that the Archbishop actually contemplates a good deal of constraint on the freedom of contract. He doesn't go into very great detail on this (it's a lecture, not a bill), but the discussion about the "inheritance of widows" problem suggests that he would indeed impose important substantive constraints on what can be contracted away. I'm sure the Archbishop is no libertarian, and endorses a great deal of paternalistic legislation. But his willingness to endorse this sort of liberty of contract, with plenty of constraints, strikes me as a valuable acceptance of people's choice to reject one-size-fits-all government solutions in favor of those that they and their partners choose.

Now I can't speak about the degree to which the English legal system is currently open to arbitration and prenuptial agreements (I have a vague sense that it's less open to prenuptial agreements than American states generally are, but I'm not positive). And if it isn't open to them already, I certainly wouldn't endorse preferential recognition of contracts to abide by Sharia and not by other procedural or substantive contractually provided regimes. But I would endorse a general openness to enforcing such contracts, whether they are secular, Islamic, Jewish, or whatever else.

And at the very least the harsh condemnation of the Archbishop -- who seems to be endorsing a system much like that which is already available as a matter of course to those Americans who choose it -- strikes me as excessive given the relative modesty and good sense of his proposal. And I say this as someone who has criticized the Archbishop on other matters in the past.


You lousy trolls are just wasting my time with your bullshit. You have nothing better to do with your time than harass me, but the crap that you post here distracts me from doing other things.

>>>>>>"(4) What is (1) lacking on courage and (2) not significant about Rowan's remarks about the evolution controversy?"

I was contrasting RW's attacks on relatively inoffensive targets with his lack of criticism of Islam. Sheesh, why do I have to spell out everything? <<<<<<<<

Who says that Darwinism is a "relatively inoffensive target"? And I think that it takes more courage to attack a relatively inoffensive target than it takes to attack an offensive one.

>>>>>>"BTW, it is noteworthy that you Darwinists think that these church leaders are wise and brilliant if they support evolution but are stupid crackpots if they criticize it."

So? <<<<<<<

If they agree with you, you attach great importance to their opinions, but if they disagree with you, you attach no importance to their opinions.

>>>>>> BTW, my referring to RW as "Rowan" was inadvertent -- I meant Williams. <<<<<<

Well, his first name is Rowan, so I knew who you were talking about.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 5:48:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Darwin, by the way, was buried in Westminster Abbey, evidently the "holiest sanctuary" in the Church of England. And yet Darwin was an agnostic who ranted against Christianity in his letters and in his (posthumously published) autobiography. Apparently it has taken a long time for Anglican Christians to begin to sense that Darwinism is the implacable foe of their religion. They were so eager to compromise with Darwin that they buried him in their sanctuary!

Notice the way the anonymous materialist speaks about the (supposedly material) universe: sui generis, infinitely old, vast, wonderful, mysterious etc., using very similar language to that used by theists in speaking of God. Yet it would never occur to him that he is himself a religious zealot, pitting his own faith against all other religions: which he apparently would love to destroy. Materialists may be the Western equivalent of the followers of Osama bin Laden, judging from the extreme language of Dawkins, PZ, etc., in attacking competing faiths.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 6:42:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

I probably shouldn't have compared the ranting apostles of the materialist faith, such as Dawkins, PZ, Steven Weinberg, Neil de Grasse Tyson, etc., to Osama bin Laden. But they lack tolerance for religions and religious views other than their own, and I'm rather sick of their whole fanatical tribe.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008 7:07:00 PM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"Notice the way the anonymous materialist speaks about the (supposedly material) universe: sui generis, infinitely old, vast, wonderful, mysterious etc., using very similar language to that used by theists in speaking of God."

"(supposedly material)" -- Depends on your perspective.

The contents of the Universe are "material". The Universe itself is not.

To clarify: the contents exist in their contextual relationships to each other. It is necessary to have yardsticks that inhabit the same milieu to detect them. Both the contents and the yardsticks are internal to the Universe.

To clarify another way: how would you know that a gravitational field existed, unless you could find a mass that was being affected by it? And what actually exists, besides that influence?

"other religions: which he apparently would love to destroy."

That depends on what people do with their religions, how they behave.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008 12:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim Sherwood wrote:

"But they lack tolerance for religions and religious views other than their own, and I'm rather sick of their whole fanatical tribe."

The words pot, kettle and black spring to mind. If there is one thing that religions have in common, it's a lack of tolerance of religions and views other than their own. It's no suprise that religious adherents tend to think of their own faith as the one true faith, and many would even condemn those who don't share their faith to pain and death in this life and eternal damnation in the next (something which, by the way, is impossible for atheists to do).

So spare us the hypocrisy.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008 4:05:00 AM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"supposedly material Universe"

Here's something else to ponder:

Why is it that electric charge is conserved? And more mysteriously, why is it impossible to have so much as one single electron (!) anywhere in the billions of light years of space that is not balanced by a proton or positron someplace?

Could it reflect a requirement that all of the charges combined must sum to ZERO?

And what does that imply for the nature of the Universe? What is the matter?

"Materialist" indeed. Humph!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"supposedly material Universe"

Here's something else to ponder:

Why is it that electric charge is conserved? And more mysteriously, why is it impossible to have so much as one single electron (!) anywhere in the billions of light years of space that is not balanced by a proton or positron someplace?

Could it reflect a requirement that all of the charges combined must sum to ZERO?

And what does that imply for the nature of the Universe? What is the matter?

"Materialist" indeed. Humph!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> Why is it that electric charge is conserved?

. . . . . Could it reflect a requirement that all of the charges combined must sum to ZERO?
<<<<<<<

Do we know those things to be facts? Has anyone proposed those things?

We know that isolated negative and positive charges exist, e.g., beta rays (electrons or positrons) and alpha rays (helium nuclei). In white dwarf stars, the atoms are ionized, resulting in enormous mass densities because the nuclei are pressed together.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008 1:46:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Religions are not in general characterized by "a lack of tolerance of religions and views other than their own." I'm personally most familiar with Zen Buddhism, which goes beyond tolerance and acceptance to non-dualistic inclusiveness of one and all. But I think that Christian love implies tolerance, and modern followers of Judaism have certainly been tolerant. I also think that intolerance of others by Muslims has been greatly exaggerated. Traditional religions have usually been a source of tolerant, helpful, cooperative and kindly attitudes.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008 6:52:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

All traditional religions have undoubtedly had their defects at times, and sometimes gross and vicious actions and persecutions have been justified or excused on supposedly religious grounds. But on the whole I think that all of them have had a constructive and benign influence.

Such materialistic doctrines as Marxism, on the other hand, have caused enormous amounts of suffering and death; the same was true for the Darwinist-influenced Nazi doctrine.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008 7:15:00 PM  
Blogger William Wallace said...

Thanks, good post.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008 10:08:00 PM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

You're welcome.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008 10:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But on the whole I think that all of them have had a constructive and benign influence."

Well, I don't.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 2:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the same was true for the Darwinist-influenced Nazi doctrine."

This would be the same Nazis whose military wore belt buckles with the phrase "Gott mit Uns" on, I suppose?

Thursday, September 04, 2008 2:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Traditional religions have usually been a source of tolerant, helpful, cooperative and kindly attitudes."

Oh, you think? Then pray tell me, what fate does the Christian religion have in store, in the afterlife, for those people who do not accept Christ as their saviour? And what is the fate of those who do not accept Mohammed?

Thursday, September 04, 2008 2:38:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

An anonymous Darwinist and materialist seems to be puzzled by what "materialism" can mean today.

Old-fashioned Epicurean materialism held that all things are produced by aggregates of tiny, solid, hard, indestructible, eternal particles. Not only is any similar view incompatible with quantum physics and with modern physics generally today, but it is hard to see what anything literally "material" underlying phenomena, could be?

But the word "materialism" is now used differently. Thus the Oxford English Dictionary Online gives one definition of materialism as: "the theory or belief that mental phenomena are nothing more than, or are wholly caused by, the operation of material or physical agencies."

"Physical agencies" would include any that are generally recognized in modern physics. Thus I think that the anonymous one is a materialist, in that sense.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 4:45:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

(Continued.) Materialism in the above Oxford English Dictionary sense would exclude the existence of God, or gods, or spirits, since they would have "mental phenomena" which aren't caused by any physical agencies. Hence the definition is consistent with the use of the word "materialism" by modern philosophical materialists, including Marxists.

In the Orient it's not so unusual to encounter "atheists" who aren't materialists. But in the West the two terms are virtually synonymous.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 5:01:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

Anonymous wonders, "What fate does the Christian religion have in store, in the afterlife.."

You should really ask a Christian. But there seem to be many different views among Christians.

Huston Smith is one Christian (and intelligent design proponent), who thinks that everyone on earth will be saved, and go to Heaven or something, eventually. The Pope apparently thinks that many go to Hell, which he defines as eternal separation from God, but not as literal punishment; or so I understand. I don't know what Pat Robertson thinks?

And as far as I know, Muslims think that devout Christians and Jews all will go to Heaven. I doubt, however, that they think highly of the fate of atheists.

I don't personally care for the views of those Christians who think that I am damned; but when I referred to religions as usually fostering kindly and helpful attitudes, I meant in human relationships, in this life.

Thursday, September 04, 2008 5:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"but when I referred to religions as usually fostering kindly and helpful attitudes, I meant in human relationships, in this life."

It's not helpful or kindly in this life to say to non-adherents that they will be eternally damned in the next life if they do not subscribe to a certain faith.

Friday, September 05, 2008 5:45:00 AM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

"And as far as I know, Muslims think that devout Christians and Jews all will go to Heaven."

That sounds highly unlikely to me (i.e., that they think that).

Which also raises another question -- will they take Jihad to Heaven with them?

Friday, September 05, 2008 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous 'Nonymous said...

""Physical agencies" would include any that are generally recognized in modern physics."

Well, considering that what passes these days for "modern physics" includes denial of causality, spooky action at a distance, etc., it's a wonder that they can do any kind of science at all with that sort of handicap.

Personally, I am agnostic on the question of whether there are unknown links between conscious beings (past, present, ...future???). But I'm pretty sure that the conscious beings part comes first -- hence, evolution (the source thereof).

Now, according to JS, I'm the materialist and he is not ...

Friday, September 05, 2008 10:19:00 AM  

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