Monday, April 30, 2007


A writer colleague of mine and I had an email discussion over my book concept - making peace between evolution and Christianity.

He wrote, "I survive through a concept of existentialism and a belief in God’s holy mystery" followed by a great explanation of existentialism... and then "Such as it is with my view of scientific explanations evolution, young earth creationists, the Gnostic Gospels, or the place of Mary Magdalene in the rank of the original apostles. My “existentialist belief” is that each subject is interesting, a worthwhile exercise of human intelligence, but ultimately irrelevant to the Holy Mystery of Creation and Its Creator — the Unknowable Concept existing outside of what we perceive as the universe."

He also blogged the whole discussion at in the 4/30/07 entry.

My response is that I mostly agree. I agree that evolution is not ultimately directly relevant to the Holy Mystery of Creation which will always be on some level unknowable in terms of the role God played - or didn't. But I believe that in current affairs, the issue of evolution is vastly more important, though, than the place of Mary Magdalene as an apostle or the Gnostic gospels, etc.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, from Nov 2005, (the panel includes several Nobel Laureates) states:

"Having reviewed trends in the United States and abroad, the committee is deeply concerned that the scientific and technical building blocks of our economic leadership are eroding at a time when many other nations are gathering strength. … We fear the abruptness with which a lead in science and technology can be lost- and the difficulty of recovering a lead once lost-if indeed if can be regained at all."

In many respects, science education is floundering in the U.S.. The latest polls show between 45-53% of the U.S. public reject evolution. Many studies show a lack of critical thinking skills among the public, including the college educated. I've met several teachers that shy away from teaching evolution for fear of being called "spawn of the devil" among other things.

Evolution is not just a hypothesis, or "just a theory," it is foundational to biology. There are dozens of university "departments of ecology and evolutionary biology," and hundreds of thousands of scientific peer-reviewed studies published over the past 200 years on various aspects of evolution. You don't have whole departments about "the Gnostic gospels" or "Mary Magdalene." So even if evolution's role in the Holy Mystery of Creation falls into this same general category of a Holy Mystery, I still believe that the situation with evolution elevates it to a higher level of importance in today's world, for practical purposes.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Noah's Ark Replica

This is actually pretty cool! This guy in the Netherlands built a replica of Noah's Ark. It's 2/3 the length of a football field and 3 stories high. There's a photo at the CNN site. And guess what? The real Ark would have been 5 times larger. Wow. This is really cool. "New Noah's Ark ready to sail"

I don't like how they define "creationist" as anyone who believes in the "literal truth of the Bible" because creationist specifically refers to beliefs around the Genesis creation account, not other aspects of Genesis like Noah's Ark and the flood. I believe in the absolute truth of the Bible, but I think getting a perfect "literal" interpretation of ancient words and meaning is impossible in today's world. I believe that the Noah story did happen, though I believe in a more local rather than worldwide flood, since the Hebrew word "erets" can mean both world and land. Literalist would be a more accurate term than creationist (though this guy may be a creationist, that is not clear by the story). But I guess that's not that correct either since one can believe Noah built the Ark and not be a fundamentalist or creationist.

That movie Evan Almighty about a modern day Noah looks like it's going to be a hoot!

Creationism goes global

The Economist has an article in their April 2007 issue, In the Beginning: The debate over creation and evolution, once most conspicuous in America, is fast going global. All the more reason to write my book, and quick-like. A new 770-page full-color illustrated "Atlas of Creation" quotes the Koran and claims to prove Darwin's theory wrong and links it to all kinds of horrors, such as fascism, communism and terrorism.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On critical thinking and faith

In his book Audacity of Hope, presidential candidate Barack Obama, once an atheist, writes about how he became a Christian, “It was because of these newfound understandings–that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world that I knew and loved–that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized.”

Monday, April 23, 2007

In the beginning...

I have been busy working on my book proposal, the book formerly known as "The Fish Wars: How Evolution and Christianity Can Make Peace" which I'm renaming "Losing My Religion: A Christian Gets Fed Up..." I need to come up with the second half of that sentence or just leave it as is. I am taking a much more first-person approach and will talk about how the anti-science fervor, the literalism and fundamentalism and Christian right mixing politics with religion is not just about as opposite as you can get from what Jesus was all about, it's causing a lot of people to laugh at and walk away from Christianity.

My book will also talk about how many people in the church were not there for me during and after my divorce while all my non-Christian friends were. What does this say about the faith? Or about theirs anyway? I have met person after person who have said the same thing, so this is not just a local phenomenon affecting me. I am not embarrased in any way to be a Christian. I love the Bible, I love Jesus, and I think it's a beautiful empowering faith. But I am increasingly embarrassed by the Christians... the judgmentalism and narrow-minded pursuit of a political agenda, making creationism, abortion, gay marriage the main topics in their repertoire. What about poverty? What about being there for people in your life, and not running away or judging people who are not perfect? What about forgiveness?

There are certainly many wonderful things Christians have done in the world and continue to do. But in America, where I'm from and what I know, it's a mixed bag. All I know is that many intelligent and compassionate people would not think of becoming a Christian because of it's rejection of science. It's actually quite harmful to our society, and quite scary how sheep-like people can be. People often blindly follow and don't think critically about their beliefs. I like to say, Jesus didn't call people sheep for no reason! :)