Monday, May 07, 2007

Bad Religion, a copout, that is all that's left

How odd that fundamentalist religionists would deny science, like, say, evolution:

I mean, that can't have happened before, can it?

Oh, wait:

Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, and Chronicles 16:30 state that "the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved." Psalm 104:5 says, "[the LORD] set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved." Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that "the sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises."

Galileo defended heliocentrism, and claimed it was not contrary to those Scripture passages. He took Augustine's position on Scripture: not to take every passage literally, particularly when the scripture in question is a book of poetry and songs, not a book of instructions or history. The writers of the Scripture wrote from the perspective of the terrestrial world, and from that vantage point the sun does rise and set. In fact, it is the earth's rotation which gives the impression of the sun in motion across the sky.

. . . With the loss of many of his defenders in Rome because of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Galileo was ordered to stand trial on suspicion of heresy in 1633. The sentence of the Inquisition was in three essential parts:

  • Galileo was required to recant his heliocentric ideas; the idea that the Sun is stationary was condemned as "formally heretical." However, while there is no doubt that Pope Urban VIII and the vast majority of Church officials did not believe in heliocentrism, Catholic doctrine is defined by the pope when he speaks ex cathedra (from the Chair of Saint Peter) in matters of faith and morals. While Church officials did condemn Galileo, heliocentrism was never formally or officially condemned by the Catholic Church, except insofar as it held (for instance, in the formal condemnation of Galileo) that "The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures", and the converse as to the Sun's not revolving around the Earth.[14]
  • He was ordered imprisoned; the sentence was later commuted to house arrest.
  • His offending Dialogue was banned; and in an action not announced at the trial and not enforced, publication of any of his works was forbidden, including any he might write in the future.

Well, I mean, surely we're more advanced now than, say, the 17th Century?

No, no, wait:
The most famous confrontation took place at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Oxford. Professor John William Draper delivered a long lecture about Darwin and social progress, then Samuel Wilberforce, the Bishop of Oxford, argued against Darwin. In the ensuing debate Joseph Hooker argued strongly for Darwin and Thomas Huxley established himself as "Darwin's bulldog" – the fiercest defender of evolutionary theory on the Victorian stage. Both sides came away feeling victorious, but Huxley went on to make much of his claim that on being asked by Wilberforce whether he was descended from monkeys on his grandfather's side or his grandmother's side, Huxley muttered: "The Lord has delivered him into my hands" and replied that he "would rather be descended from an ape than from a cultivated man who used his gifts of culture and eloquence in the service of prejudice and falsehood".[89]

Well, it can't have happened again, I mean, Darwin was so 19th Century.

Aw, crap:
Scopes v. State, 152 Tenn. 424, 278 S.W. 57 (Tenn. 1925), often called the "Scopes Monkey Trial") was a watershed in the creation-evolution controversy that pitted lawyers William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow against each other (the latter representing teacher John Thomas Scopes) in an American legal case that tested a law passed on March 13, 1925, which forbade the teaching, in any state-funded educational establishment in Tennessee, of "any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals."

. . .It was not until the 1960s that the Scopes trial began to be mentioned in the history textbooks of American high schools and colleges, usually as an example of the conflict between fundamentalists and modernists, and often in sections that also talked about the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the South.

Indeed. Well, that was the early 20th Century. We surely have progressed farther than that, here in the early 21st Century? Can't the religious Right admit that the Bible might be metaphor, regardless of the validity of the sentiments?

Mostly no:
Young Earth creationism has failed to make an impact in more liberal circles of Christianity. Some Churches such as the Roman Catholic Church, accept the possibility of Theistic Evolution but the fact that some members within these churches support Young Earth creationism is not an uncommon occurrence. Some Bible scholars reject the fundamentalist approach to taking Genesis literally. Young Earth creationists disagree.

. . . Young Earth creationism is normally characterized as opposing evolution, though it also opposes many claims and theories in the fields of physics and chemistry (especially absolute dating methods), geology, astronomy, cosmology, molecular biology, genomics, linguistics, anthropology, archeology and any other fields of science that have developed theories or made claims incompatible with the Young Earth version of world history. YECs are fundamentally opposed to any explanation for the origins of anything which replaces God as the universal creator as reported in the Bible, whether it be the origins of biological diversity, the origins of life or the origins of the universe itself. This has led some YECs to criticize intelligent design, a proposal which some see as an alternative form of creationism, for not taking a stand on the age of the Earth, special creation, or even the identity of the designer. Some YECs see this as too compromising[7].

Young Earth creationists challenge philosophical naturalism and uniformitarianism as the dominant principles of the mainstream scientific community, and assert instead that the physical evidence today best supports original catastrophism and the Young Earth creationist viewpoint. See Creation-evolution controversy for a more complete discussion.

So, to the three Presidential candidates who professed disbelief in evolution, congratulations. And welcome to the 17th Century.