Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More Trouble in Northern Ireland

Sophie Deboick writes for the Guardian that the young earth creation groups in Ireland are creating controversy. In her editorial, Creationist Claims in Northern Ireland, she retells the tale of Nelson McCausland's letter to the National Museum asking them to restyle their exhibits to include creationism. It now seems he did not act alone:
However, shortly after the letter was made public, the Caleb Foundation, a group which "promotes the fundamentals of the historic evangelical Protestant faith", revealed that it had previously met the minister to discuss the presentation of evolution in the Ulster Museum's nature zone exhibits. They called this "wholly misleading propaganda" and claimed they were responsible for the content of the minister's letter.
The Caleb Foundation the went on the offensive:
In an attempt to intensify the controversy, the Caleb Foundation announced last week that they had met with tourism minister Arlene Foster to discuss the new visitor centre proposed for the Giant's Causeway. Mervyn Storey had already criticised the information boards at the Causeway, which state that the rock formation is 60m years old, conflicting with the creationist belief that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago, and the chairman of the foundation, Wallace Thompson, said "All we are asking for is that the views that we hold, which are based on the word of God, are at least respected and taken on board".
This is similar to the attempts made in the US to grant creationism and ID credence in the schools. Here it is the "academic freedom," "teach the controversy," or "learn the full range of scientific views" buzz words that people use to attract people to the cause. The point, as alluded to by Ms. Deboick is, why should we take these ideas on board? They have no merit scientifically and it would be inappropriate to place them in science museums. That one third of the population in Ireland believe that the earth was created six thousand years ago is beside the point. A whole bunch of people also think that Elvis is still alive. That doesn't make it so.

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  1. I am curious about how, as a proponent of Darwinian evolution, you would answer this blog post over at Psychology Today:



  2. Stewart-Williams writes: "But the whole edifice starts to crumble once we bring Darwin into the picture. With the corrective lens of evolutionary theory, the view that human life is infinitely valuable suddenly seems like a vast and unjustified over-valuation of human life. This is because Darwin's theory undermines the traditional reasons for thinking human life might have infinite value: the image-of-God thesis and the rationality thesis (see my last post)."

    This is either sleight-of-hand or simply a non-sequitur, I am not sure which. the "Corrective lens of evolutionary theory" is a lens that examines genetics, the fossil record, and the history of life on the planet. Darwin never once said that human life was not important or worth saving. Had he honestly believed this, his anguish over his own daughter's death would not have been so great. He cherished human life. Theologians have long believed that the "image of God" is one in which the soul is paramount. It is not the physical image, which obviously changed a good deal over time.

    The other sleight-of-hand that is going on is the subtle false dichotomy that one can believe in God or "Darwinism" but not both. This is an argument normally espoused by young-earth creationists or militant atheists, such as Richard Dawkins or P.Z. Myers. Properly understood, evolution has nothing to say about God.

    What this writer is putting forth is not new. It was first put forth by E.O. Wilson in the 1960s under the guise of socio-biology, an area of study now not held in high esteem.

    Stewart-Williams makes another curious statement: "The evolutionary process that gave us life involved the suffering of untold millions of people and other animals. Does this not oblige us to cherish our existence if we possibly can, to make the most of the life that our forebears unwittingly bequeathed us with their torments and agonies?"

    Why is it necessarily the case that these organisms suffered torments and agonies? They lived, much the way that we live. Some lived long, some didn't.Every generation provided a genetic blueprint from which the preceding generation was spawned, with "descent with modification occurring.

    When Christ grants us salvation, it is our souls that are saved, not our bodies.

  3. Thanks for your response.

    I agree that the author sets up a false choice. I think when people attempt to apply Darwinian evolutionary concepts to other fields of study (sociology, psychology, law, religion, politics, or whatever) they will necessarily end up on the wrong track.

    ~If~ evolution by natural selection is true for biology, it does not necessarily follow that evolution by natural selection applies to any other field of study.

    [I'm still wrestling with how to understand biological evolution by natural selection in the context of Holy Scripture. Your posts are very helpful in that regard.]

    Lastly, I'm not sure I fully agree with your final statement.

    Of course I agree that Christ saves our souls; what I'm still wrestling with is the whole concept of what it means to be human - the answer to that is not as easy as it sounds ;-) Are we bodies with souls (ala Descartes) or was Aquinas correct?

    (And, I'm still trying to figure out what Aquinas actually said - lol.)