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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Catholic Church and evolution: Exquisite pleasure in skinning a cat?

A friend wants me to post this excerpt from G. K. Chesterton on why Christians cannot "affirm evolution". Essentially they cannot do so because - in the context, it usually means affirming atheism and denying the real existence of the soul.

And here is the passage to which he draws my attention:
Modern masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact. The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin-a fact as practical as potatoes. Whether or no man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing. But certain religious leaders in London, not mere materialists, have begun in our day not to deny the highly disputable water, but to deny the indisputable dirt. Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved. Some followers of the Reverend R.J.Campbell, in their almost too fastidious spirituality, admit divine sinlessness, which they cannot see even in their dreams. But they essentially deny human sin, which they can see in the street. The strongest saints and the strongest sceptics alike took positive evil as the starting-point of their argument. If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.

- G. K. Chesterton, "The Maniac" in Orthodoxy.
Of course, Chesterton, who died in 1936, did not live through the vast, modern attempts to deny the cat.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Darwinism and popular culture: Richard Dawkins to write "improving" children's literature

A friend points me to this item: "Harry Potter fails to cast spell over Professor Richard Dawkins" by Martin Beckford and Urmee Khan (Telegraph, 25 Oct 2008).
Where "Harry Potter has become the latest target for Professor Richard Dawkins who is planning to find out whether tales of witchdraft and wizardy have a negative effect on children." (Re spelling, sic)
Not if you go by my kids, decades ago. They regularly heard tales of talking, reasoning, elegant cats - and yet they lived with non-talking, non-reasoning, broad-beamed cats parked fatly under the radiator, stuffing heat into their bodies.

I cannot think of a single instance where any child confused the literary cat with the heat-hogging feline of everyday life.

Actually, the celebrated atheist and Darwinian spear carrier is becoming something of a legend in his own laundry room. In fact,
The prominent atheist is stepping down from his post at Oxford University to write a book aimed at youngsters in which he will warn them against believing in "anti-scientific" fairytales.
Yawn. Glad I'm not the hall monitor ...
Prof Dawkins is targeting children as the audience of his next project because he believes they are being "abused" by being taught about religion at school and labelled Christian, Jewish or Muslim from a young age.
Tell that to a kid celebrating First Communion/Bar Mitzvah/Bat Mitzvah ... .

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Catholic Church and evolution: Do we belittle God by calling him an intelligent designer?

Recently, I did a TV show (more later) on the Catholic Church and the intelligent design controversy.

My interviewer asked me about Fr. George Coyne, the Vatican astronomer who has said that intelligent design reduces and belittles God’s power and might. Specifically, the interviewer asked me what I understood Fr. Coyne to mean.

Well, I have no idea, actually. This 2006 pronouncement is the usual squid ink sprayed by people with a vested interest in preventing others from understanding what is at stake in the intelligent design controversy.

Neither Scripture nor tradition offers us a reason to think that God feels belittled by being called a designer. No surprise there - designer is one of the roles of a creator.

Meanwhile, a friend writes to say that (Not for chance) almost all orthodox traditions enclose the symbolism of the Great Designer (or equivalent), applied to God.

For example, in Hinduism they call Him "Vishwakarma", the Great Carpenter.

In Masonry they call Him the "The Great Architect Of The Universe".

In Judaism "Binah", the third of the Sephirots (Kabbalah principles), is the designing Supreme Intelligence.

In Islam, among the 99 names of Allah, there are at least four or five names related to the symbolism of the designer.

In Buddhism the "Enlightenment" or "Awakening” is a spiritual state where one sees himself and all things as designs of the Supreme Bodhi (all-pervading Intelligence).

Last but not least, in Christianity (isn’t the tradition of Fr. George Coyne?) Jesus was - both symbolically and effectively - the "Son of the Carpenter".
Well yes, but could the "tradition of Fr. George Coyne" be getting a makeover? Relevant Christian doctrines are kicked into the attic of unsubstantiated "faith," while all searches for evidence remain in the secure realm of materialist atheism?

Then we suddenly discover that no reasonable person can credit key Catholic doctrines ...

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Darwinism and popular culture: Op-ed writer in Canada's National Post doubts Darwin

In 'Darwin? That's just the party line' (National Post, October 31, 2008) , retired Saskatoon-based journalist Wayne Eyre expresses his doubt about the Darwin worship of the new atheist movement and his appreciation for intelligent design theorist Mike Behe
That these gentlemen go on like this in the wake of, for example, biochemist Michael Behe's masterful Darwin's Black Box, in which he sets out a devastating case for the "irreducible complexity" of human systems, truly makes one wonder about the confidence they have in their own convictions.
, mystery academic Mike Gene,
For example, to avoid repercussions for not toeing the line, one biologist (rumoured to be an Ivy League professor) has taken on a pseudonym -- Mike Gene -- even though his book, The Design Matrix: A Consilience of Clues, neither denies evolution and common ancestry, nor claims to offer proof of intelligent design. He's just one of a number of scholars who cite peer-reviewed research to contend that a wholly random explanation for all of creation is, at best, implausible
and "Darwin skeptic" mathematician David Berlinksi,
And now comes along another tour de force -- David Berlinski's The Devil's Delusion: Atheism And Its Scientific Pretensions -- which, in 225 pages, delivers a formidable blow to the agreed-upon fictions that Darwin's theory and a deity-less cosmos increasingly appear to be.

I first read about The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions in the National Review. Just before his recent death, William F. Buckley found the book to be "everything desirable; it is idiomatic, profound, brilliantly polemical, amusing and of course vastly learned"; and when George Gilder, co-founder of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, declared it "the definitive book of the millennium," I was hooked in to read it.
Wayne, what is the world coming to? Are Canadians actually allowed to doubt Darwin now? But then, come to think of it, the Calgary Herald printed my op-ed, "Albertans are right to reject Darwinian evolution (August 17, 2008), and that rag's in the same stable as the Post.

Perhaps it occurred to someone there that, so long as it is still safe and legal for Canadians to read thoughtful books, many of us know why Darwinism is a crock - and so much the worse for papers where no such arguments may be aired.

This isn't necessarily good news for me, you know. Here in Canada, I had this beat pretty much sewn up for years, and it's been good to me. Now I'll have competition from people who read, write, and think, rather than attacks from threatened ass hats letting off steam. On the other hand, I won't be lonely, so in the end I love it!

See also:

My review of Mike Behe's Edge of Evolution (which I think is even better than Darwin's Black Box).

My summary of George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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