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Christian Churches Celebrate Darwin's Birthday 1225

Posted by Zonk
from the we-love-you-unca-darwin dept.
kthejoker writes "Today is the 197th anniversary of the great biologist Charles Darwin's birth. In response, some 450 Christian churches are celebrating Darwin's birth, saying, 'Darwin`s theory of biological evolution is compatible with faith and that Christians have no need to choose between religion and science.' There's also an interesting perspective on Darwinism and Christianity in the San Jose Mercury News."
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Christian Churches Celebrate Darwin's Birthday

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  • by tyrione (134248) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:29PM (#14701867) Homepage

    Blind Faith standing over Skepticism and to save face as the outline of the body of Truth lies floating in the Bay the reponse can only be...

    "There's nothing to see here...nothing to see."
  • Doonesbury? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pi_0's don't shower (741216) <[ude.nretsewhtron.psi] [ta] [nahte]> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:31PM (#14701875) Homepage Journal
    This somehow reminds me of a man going to the Doctor's office:

    Doc: Well, I'm afraid you have tuberculosis. I need to know, are you a creationist?
    Patient: What does that have to do with anything?
    D: Well, I could give you the drugs that would cure Tuberculosis as it was discovered in 1937, or the modern drugs that treat the disease as it has evolved into today.
    P: What's so great about the modern drugs?
    D: They're intelligently designed...
  • by countach (534280) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:31PM (#14701877)
    • by copponex (13876) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:10PM (#14702078) Homepage
      Can a man live inside of a fish for three days? Was Eve fashioned out of Adam's rib?

      If you say something to yourself similar to, "Obviously that part was allegory," then you have no leg to stand on. Either every single thing in it is literal (and the earth has four corners) or everything must be interpreted. Once everything must be interpreted, you cannot claim any sort of non-relativism.

      Now, ask yourself these questions: Which bible do you read, and why? Do you think the Romans (who cannonized the Bible with their selected bishops in 313) were answering the call of God or politics? Why do you go to church on Sunday instead of the Sabbath, or Saturday? Why do most of the Christian holidays coincide exactly with pagan holidays that are centuries older?

      If you're a Trinitarian, are non-trinitarians going to hell? What if you aren't baptised? Why do you think there are so many sects of Christianity if the bible is so crystal clear?
      • by CyricZ (887944) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:21PM (#14702142)
        Can a man live inside of a fish for three days? Was Eve fashioned out of Adam's rib?

        Those sound like the kinds of questions that Adam and Jamie, the Mythbusters, need to be called in to answer!

      • by Christianfreak (100697) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @09:01PM (#14702343) Homepage Journal
        If you say something to yourself similar to, "Obviously that part was allegory," then you have no leg to stand on. Either every single thing in it is literal (and the earth has four corners) or everything must be interpreted. Once everything must be interpreted, you cannot claim any sort of non-relativism.

        That's ridiculous! The Bible comes from a large number authors all who were in different time periods and different cultural contexts. And often we don't have the full context available to us.

        For instance the story of Jonah is believed by biblical scholors to be a story that was told as an allegory. One of the reasons is because there's no other evidence that such a man even existed. The creation story is similar, there were no witnesses to the event, a primative culture with no modern scientific background drew upon existing stories to create their own. Notice that the creation stories of several civilizations at the time are very similar.

        The Bible is first and foremost a guide on how to have a relationship with God and those parts are pretty clear IMHO. That's where the absolutes lie.

        Which bible do you read, and why?

        Any Bible that was translated from the original Greek and Hebrew which, believe it or not (for the "the Bible's been redone dozens of times!" camp) is most translations.

        Do you think the Romans (who cannonized the Bible with their selected bishops in 313) were answering the call of God or politics?

        I'm sure it was probably both.

        Why do you go to church on Sunday instead of the Sabbath, or Saturday? Why do most of the Christian holidays coincide exactly with pagan holidays that are centuries older?

        Same answer for both, they were Pagan traditions originally and used by the Catholic church. I've never really understood why in this day and time it even matters.

        If you're a Trinitarian, are non-trinitarians going to hell? What if you aren't baptised?

        Well I've read the Bible several times and I've never seen where it says non-trinitarians or people who aren't baptised are going to hell.

        Why do you think there are so many sects of Christianity if the bible is so crystal clear?

        I think there are lots of reasons, the rebellion against corruption, the twisting of scripture to gain power, just the ability to nit-pick. Ultimately religions are made up of people and people are far from perfect.
        • Why do you go to church on Sunday instead of the Sabbath, or Saturday?
          Church services traditionally occur on Sunday mornings not because of the sabbath, but to celebrate Christ's resurrection which is the centre of Christian faith. In this way, every Sunday morning church service reminds us of Easter Sunday.
      • by labreuer (950633) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @10:24PM (#14702800) Homepage
        Why do most of the Christian holidays coincide exactly with pagan holidays that are centuries older?

        What better way to convert people than offer them alternative holidays so that instead of studying both the pagan version and the Christian version, they have to either merge them or choose one over the other? This page [about.com] offers some details. Be careful of criticizing something that you haven't researched (I found the site I just linked to by clicking on the first link of Google results with criteria "pagan christian holiday").

        If you say something to yourself similar to, "Obviously that part was allegory," then you have no leg to stand on. Either every single thing in it is literal (and the earth has four corners) or everything must be interpreted. Once everything must be interpreted, you cannot claim any sort of non-relativism.

        Have you ever heard of the literary device hyperbole? In any given literary work, not every word is to be taken "literally"; one must understand the word in context. Moreover, when reading interpreted works like the Bible, one must understand not only textual context, but cultural context. You make things out to be a lot simpler than they are, which leads me to believe that you're acting like stereotypical Creationists in spewing out the same thing over and over again.

        I'm not even sure what you mean by relativism; I would call it the search for truth and claim that absolute truth exists (you cannot deny that absolute truth exists for everyone, only that it does not exist for you given your worldview). If you speak of "what's true for me isn't necessarily true for you," then great, are you going to violate the law set down by your country because it isn't true for you? I would try questioning more important things, like whether Christ died or just swooned; here is where you get into theologically imporant material. However, do your homework before you start making ignorant comments about it.

  • by Sky Cry (872584) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:33PM (#14701881)

    One could always believe that evolution is just a tool in God's hands. That way it's possible to believe in intelligent design without denying facts, that Earth is older than a few thousands years, etc.

    Religion is about believing, science is about knowing. They are not mutually exclusive.

    • by plunge (27239)
      In fact, Kenneth Miller has advanced a very plausible religious view in his book "Finding Darwin's God" that reconciles the two. It's based on several ideas:

      1) If God knows all causality, then he could have brought about everything into being originally AND have it, from science's view BE random and undetermined. The two are not mutally exclusive when God is the best pool player of all time, setting up the most elaborate shot of all time.
      2) God could act via influencing things in ways that, due to quantum
      • by Scrameustache (459504) * on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:39PM (#14702221) Homepage Journal
        1) If God knows all causality, then he could have brought about everything into being originally AND have it, from science's view BE random and undetermined. The two are not mutally exclusive when God is the best pool player of all time, setting up the most elaborate shot of all time.

        God as a conman. Good one.

      • by SirBruce (679714) on Monday February 13, 2006 @01:09AM (#14703560) Homepage
        1) If God knows all causality, then he could have brought about everything into being originally AND have it, from science's view BE random and undetermined. The two are not mutally exclusive when God is the best pool player of all time, setting up the most elaborate shot of all time.

        Unfortuantely, this idea of a "hidden determinism" is simply logically impossible, given what we currently know about quantum mechanics. Hidden variables simply don't work. And if you believe God can do the logically impossible, then there's really no reason to debate further, since you can literally believe anything.

        But for those who believe that God, if he exists, must be constrained by logic, then hidden variable determinism is simply not possible.

        2) God could act via influencing things in ways that, due to quantum outcomes, would indeed be like magic to us, and undetectable or testable (hence we can still believe in a God that does miracles)

        Again, see above, but I suppose if one believes God's own actions are not deterministic, then he could influence everything via QM. But it's unclear how God could actually achieve any particular outcome; ultimately he'd be violating statistical properties that could be measured with enough sensitivity. But if we're talking about very small changes over eons, then it might be impossible to distinguish a God-influenced universe from simply a "luckier" one. See the Anthropic Principle for more thoughts along these lines. :)

        3) Evolution itself has plenty of room for a valid new theology based on the idea that God would WANT life to be free of God's direct design. This is known as "liberation theology" and though many Catholics disdain it, it's perfectly plausible.

        Actually, I don't think you meant "liberation" or "libertarian" theology, but simply so-called "liberal" theology, which is more of a fuzzy notion about God and theology where every viewpoint is potentially valid and all persons must engage in their own spiritual journey to find truths they and their community find seem to work for them within the context in which they live. In some ways, it's Protestantism to the extreme, although the irony is that modern Christian fundamentalism has Protestant roots, where the authority of the majority simply substitutes for that of the Pope when interpreting scripture. But I digress...

        To get back to the notion that God has a teleological purpose in mind for man, well, I'm sure you know that's well-explored territory in postmodern Christianity (a form of liberal theology itself). But I feel it necessary to point out the conflict between God's omnipotence, Free Will, and the Existance of Evil. Unless one believes in the Actual Choice conception of Free Will (which seems unpalatable, if not illogical), then one of the above three has to give, and we know it's not Evil. And given that Free Will is an essential element to Liberal theology, it would seem that God's omnipotence, even within the logical realm, must be discarded, and in that case one has to question just to what extent God can influence the universe teleologically.

        In retrospect, I got way more out of the Philosophy of Religion classes in college than I did from Calculus...

        Bruce

    • Religion is about believing, science is about knowing. They are not mutually exclusive.
      Science is based on consensus of opinion and may change over time. The two *are* mutually exclusive as religion implies faith over consensus of opinion. Religion requires total belief (faith) in the subject, which does not allow for debate. If science proves reigion to be wrong, there is no room for manoeuvre on behalf of the religious since religion purports to be truth.
  • Totally wrong (Score:3, Informative)

    by user9918277462 (834092) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:34PM (#14701888) Journal
    This claim by religious moderates that so-called "faith" and rational biological science are compatible is total nonsense. As neuroscientist and author Sam Harris [samharris.org] argues in his excellent book The End of Faith, this kind of claim can only be made when you selectively disregard large portions of biblical text while arbitrarily interpreting others in a "metaphorical" sense.

    Christian (and Islamic and Judaeic) dogma inevitably and logically results in fundamentalism and rejection of all secular (ie, rational) thought and belief. To think otherwise is to ignore the very scripture one claims to believe in.

    (Long Now [longnow.org] has a great talk given by Harris available for free download in Ogg Vorbis or MP3)

    • Re:Totally wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Moofie (22272)
      I DON'T claim to believe in Scripture. I claim to believe in God.

      I don't need you, or Sam Harris, or my pastor, or the Pope to approve of my relationship with God. Thanks for asking, though.
    • Re:Totally wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann DOT slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:46PM (#14702260) Homepage Journal
      Christian (and Islamic and Judaeic) dogma inevitably and logically results in fundamentalism and rejection of all secular (ie, rational) thought and belief. To think otherwise is to ignore the very scripture one claims to believe in.

      How funny, the papal Encyclica "Fides et Ratio" says otherwise.
      I think your friend Harris is misunderstanding at least one point of christianity.
    • Re:Totally wrong (Score:4, Informative)

      by Arker (91948) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @11:40PM (#14703155) Homepage
      Actually, Sam Harris' argument only makes sense if you first define most religion out of the picture.

      His argument, specifically, pretends that fundamentalist-literalist theology is the sum of all religion. In fact it's not, it's a minority.

      The interesting thing is, there are two groups that like to pretend that this fundamentalist-literalist theology is the only form of valid religion - the fundamentalists themselves, for obvious reasons, and the doctrinaire atheists - because that form of religion is so very easy to criticise. It's utter nonsense, and can be quickly and conclusively shown to be utter nonsense to anyone not already commited to it. But it's far from the only form of religion.

      It's perfectly possible for non-literalists to have faith in G_d without that contradicting scientific knowledge of evolution in any way.
  • 'Bout Time... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Vorondil28 (864578) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:35PM (#14701894) Journal
    I'm glad to see there's some people out there that don't think religion and science are mutually exclusive ways of looking at the world. To each his own, but IHMO, both religion and science have productive places in society.

    After all, a true person of faith would encourage science because it will only prove what he/she already believes to be true, right?
    • Re:'Bout Time... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FidelCatsro (861135) *
      My position on this is,
      G-d being outside time and Space , beyond the universe so to speak , is unknowable.
      So you separate Science which is of the knowable , with that which is wholly unknowable . The minute you try to mix the two you just get into a lot of problems that really need not be there.
  • by plunge (27239) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:36PM (#14701902)
    Many people don't really know anything about who he was or what he thought or how it applies to modern biology.

    The guy was:
    1) A careful and thoughtful scientist who spent countless hours studying tihngs most people would find incrediby boring. Darwin spent EIGHT YEARS studying BARNACLES.
    2) Fairly shy.
    3) A Christian for most of his life, and only an agnostic in later life (which had more to do historically with death in the family than with evolution, just ike Lincoln's rediscovering of Christianity)

    The guy is/was NOT:
    1) a guy who's ideas are a dogma. What Darwin thought is historically important in the development of evolution, but has no bearing on what and where that theory will lead.
    2) 100% right about a LOT of things. He not only got the patterns of heredity completely wrong (he thought it was analog: by trait blending, when it was really digital), but was embarassingly forced to admit it when people with better arguments pointed out that blending was in contradiction with the evidence.
    3) Someone that thought fossils had proved his case. To Darwin, fossils showed mainly the fact that past life was very different from present life: hence that most of species that existed in the past no longer existed in his day. This was one of the chief inspirations for his idea. The current creationist obsession with fossils overlooks the fact that Darwin put forward his theory, and was considered to be correct, long before we had anything like the fantastically rich fossil record of today. Darwin predicted that future fossils would all confirm his theory, but he NEVER expected that we'd find anywhere as many as we have, or that an entirely unimaginable field (genetics) would someday come to exist and provide an indepedent second check on the fossil record, allowing us to figure out actual lineages.

    Darwin also didn't propose that the origins of life were part of evolution. The most he ever said on the subject was that maybe life had started in some warm little pool somewhere... in a private letter. He didn't publish this idea as scientific work.

    There are so many misconceptions about the man that this otherwise fairly reserved guy is just buried under layers of legend. He was neither an exceptional genius and phropet, nor was he arrogant, careless about jumping to conclusions, or an atheist. He was a bright, studious man who worked hard, amassed tons of evidence, and hit upon a stunningly innovative realization about how evolution could have occured (one which was as much due to the new discoveries in geology and biology of his time as to his own thinking: as is obvious from the fact that no one in the history of earth had thought of it before... and then suddenly two guys did indepedently around the same time). He's worth remembering and learning about, not worshiping or demonizing.
  • by Quirk (36086) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:38PM (#14701910) Homepage Journal
    The Catholic Church will likely exercise the extend and embrace strategy it has in the past and canonize Darwin. St. Charles will have spoken the word of God and Darwin's works will find their way into the Bible.
  • As a christian... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SisyphusShrugged (728028) <me AT igerard DOT com> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:39PM (#14701921) Homepage
    I am a christian and a scientist, one who does not find the belief in a cunctipotent deity incompatible with understanding and accepting scientific discoveries, To tell the truth more I learn about cosmology (singularities, string theory, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal, and other crazy ideas) and evolution the more my belief in God is reinforced. To me the individuals who hinder scientific progress in the name of God are reserving a place for themselves in the afterlife (by which I mean, a not very nice one! or maybe they will come back as a worm in the next life!)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 12, 2006 @07:43PM (#14701950)
    "Christians have no need to choose between religion and science."

    I beg to differ. The premise of religion is to accept that certain things are mysterious and cannot be investigated, or that certain things are true whether there is evidence for them or not.

    The premise of science is that everything should be investigated, and that things are accepted as generally true only after evidence emerges for them, and that new evidence can change our perceptions of what is true.

    • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:47PM (#14702267)
      True enough, but it is obvious that science has limitations.

      1. Science can only be reasonably applied the things that can be observed.
      2. Science can only be meaningfully applied to things that can be measured and repeated.
      3. Science can only be absolutely applied to things that can be understood by humans.

      To presume that all knowledge and all truth must necessarily be confined by the above set of restrictions is ludicrous. And, of course, completely unprovable. If you honestly believe that science and humanity are capable of understanding and knowing everything, then you have trapped yourself by faith in science. That is, welcome to your pseudoreligion.

      Ultimately, science is all about answers. Religion is all about questions.
    • The premise of science is that everything should be investigated

      And therefore, we have the science called Theology [wikipedia.org], whose subject of study is God.
  • Finally, some sense! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aphrika (756248) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:00PM (#14702016)
    As a Christian, and someone who's interested in science, how things work, biology and the like, I've never really had a problem with evolution and religion conflicting with each other. Equally, almost all other Christians I've met - and a lot of them are scientists or engineers, people that deal with fact - have likeminded views. In a lot of cases, many of us are baffled as to how this viewpoint that evolution is just 'wrong' came about.

    It's nice to see people giving the issue some thought and prving that we're not all religious crackpots. I certainly don't believe the Bible to be 100% literal in its explanation of things to us. While my faith tells me that my God is a powerful force, I'm pretty sure that using the notion of 7 days of creation was a mechanism to get the idea across to people of that time. Do you really think people thousands of years ago would be able to grasp the notion of evolution? The book of Genesis would certainly be a few chapters longer...

    The important point here though is that evolution is not creation. Both can co-exist quite happily.
  • by LordLucless (582312) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:33PM (#14702195)
    When evolutionary theory was first published, it caused an immense reaction in religious circles. The reason for this was that evolution was the first explanation of a way life may have come about without resorting to a divine being. It gave all those people who didn't want to believe in God a logical alternative.

    Since then, people have come to say that evolution has "killed" God, or "disproved" Christianity. These comments fail to understand exactly why science tends not to like religion. One of the basic tenets of science is that for something to be scientific, it has to be falsifiable. Because religion's basic premise is the existence of an omnipotent force not governed by physical laws, it is by definition unfalsifiable. That does not mean it is scientifically false, or scientifically true, it means that science cannot be applied to religion. Religion cannot be scientifically proven or disproven. Every objection a scientist raises to religion could be countered by "But God could temporarily suspend that natural law, and act in violation of it".

    Creationism is logical, in that it is internally consistent. If you accept the basic premise of a divine being, then it follows on logically that that being could then create life. Evolution was radical, not because it contradicted this, but because it created a logical alternative that did not involve God. It's not a replacement for creationism, it's a scientific explanation, much as creationism is a religious explanation.

    Saying that, the very notion of evolution changes over time. Darwin originally didn't comment on abiogensis - his theory was about environmental conditions causing changes in organisms in such a way that diversity was created. His theory took as a premise the existance of life before the evolutionary process begins.

    Even now, there are various components to evolution that some people believe and some don't. Some believe in the "punctuated equilibrium" model. Some don't. Some believe in "macro" evolution, some don't. Some believe in abiogenesis. Some don't. Some theists argue for "directed" evolution. Some argue that animal diversity evolved from a few common ancestors, as per Darwin, but that man was created directly by God, outside of evolutionary forces.

    Saying "I believe in evolution" is almost as meaningless these days as saying "I believe in Christianity". There are so many different theories, sub-theories, movements, interpretations and denominations that just saying "evolution" doesn't actually describe much.
  • This is Idolatry (Score:4, Informative)

    by Eli Gottlieb (917758) <eligottlieb@COFF ... m minus caffeine> on Sunday February 12, 2006 @08:53PM (#14702295) Homepage Journal
    I would just like to remind those out there who still believe in an Abrahamic faith that having your church/synagogue/mosque celebrate the birthday of a human being not associated in any way with God is idolatry. Darwin is not a religious figure, he is a scientific one. You can believe in evolution and be religious, however.

    I would also like to remind the people who wrote my Biology textbook, a Miller and Levine of Prentice Hall, that their treatment of Darwin and evolution is rather idolotrous. Details of earlier theories (inheritance of learned traits, geological theories that led to "Earth is billions of years old" in the first place, Darwin's actual evidence) are left out, and the authors practically declare Undying Love for Charles Darwin. Declaring Undying Love for anything is unscientific.

    This has been a public service announcement because idolizing people causes problems, such as reading the National Enquirer, stupidity and electing the stupid "National Enquirer" readers you idolize to high political office.
  • by femto (459605) on Sunday February 12, 2006 @10:57PM (#14702959) Homepage
    People may be interested in the following opinion piece:

    How design supporters insult God's intelligence [smh.com.au]

    and the following documentary about some priests who are also hard core scientists:

    Galileo's Sons [bullfrogfilms.com]

    A few days ago the Pope came out and reinforced the Catholic Church's view that Science and religion are compatible. [msn.com] In other words even the Pope thinks evolution is valid. Here is the original speech in Italian. [vatican.va]

    All in all the proponents of intelligent design are looking more and more like the snake oil salesmen they are.

  • by tm2b (42473) on Monday February 13, 2006 @03:05AM (#14703989) Journal
    Nobody should be allowed to comment on religion and science without first reading and understanding the late Stephen Jay Gould's essay, Nonoverlapping Magisteria [stephenjaygould.org] (aka, NOMA).

    It's very clear that when religion goes head to head with science, religion loses - because science is defined by what works . NOMA articulates the boundaries that intelligent, thoughtful people can use, between the realms where science is valid and where religion is valid.

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