First Person Life


Why all the talk about evolution?

As you can see from my recent posts, it's obvious I am on a bit of a "kick" regarding evolution. You might be wondering whether or not this blog will only be all about this topic. Those who know me know that when something gets under my skin and bugs me, it must fully "run its course."

I will, probably, ...eventually, find something else to rant and jump up and down about. To allay the fears of Confessional Lutherans who may be reading this and worried that I may not care about "Lutheranism", yes, I am equally as upset with the manifest errors of historic Calvinism and many of the other things that are near and dear to you as I seem to be with the theory of evolution. However, like many of the things I have an opinion about, I don't think I can add anything useful to the debates at this time. Until I do, I ask you to check back regularly. Perhaps I'll say something that will tickle your interest.

Also, if you have a topic that you think I should be considering, or if you have an opinion you think I should consider, leave me a comment! One of my reasons for blogging is to have another avenue to interact with others. I don't like one-sided conversations (no matter which side I'm on), which is why you will often see me critically engaging something written by someone else rather than just "going off" on my own thoughts.

I pray for God's blessings to you and yours this Holy-day Season of Christmas!

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Intelligent Design Decision - Double Standard

That public schools have become a haven for social engineering and societal brainwashing is one of those things we'd like to ignore. We have moved far from the early days of school administration and teachers acting "in loco parentis" (in place of the parent) to being an overt arm of the government able to indoctrinate the children of our society with whatever compliments the aims of those in control. The debate for control of the science curriculum is an obvious case in point.

Witness the recent Federal District Court case Kitzmiller vs. Dover. This case is over a disclaimer pasted in school textbooks which indicates that there are multiple views regarding the origins of the universe and the Darwinian Evolution is the name of a scientific theory which attempts to explain those origins. It then goes on to indicate that other explainations exist including the explaination of "Intelligent Design."

In this case, the sticker was ruled unconstitutional. Part of the rationale was that parents "condition their trust [in the public schools] on the understanding that the classroom will not purposely be used to advance religious views that may conflict with the private beliefs of the student and his or her family." (p. 36)

My disagreement is not with the ruling of "Intelligent Design" as a religious explaination of origins. With this part of the ruling, I agree whole heartedly and I really wish the "scientific creationists" would just admit this fact.

My problem is that in the rationale for striking down this sticker, the court itself ignored the trust that parents place in the schools when it said: "Second, by directing students to their families to learn about the Origins of Life, ...[children are reminded that they]... 'can rightly maintain beliefs taught by their parents on the subject of the origin of life,' thereby stifling the critical thinking that the class's study of evolutionary theory might otherwise prompt..." (p. 44)

Logically speaking, isn't any message which would cause students to question the "beliefs taught by their parents" the advancement of "religious views that may conflict with the private beliefs of the student and his or her family?" And since it is done through official curriculum of the state, is it not then a "religious message that appear[s] to carry official imprimature" from which this very court declared that these "impressionable students" must be protected?

This whole debate has gotten patently rediculous. I admit "Intelligent Design" is a religious theory for the origins of the universe. I proudly declare that fact. But the fact is that "Evolution" is ultimately no less "religious" although it may be couched in better "scientific sounding language" (p. 21)

EDIT NOTE: Changed "Kitzmer" to "Kitzmiller" -- oops.

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Evolution - Religion in the classroom

I've been reading through the recent court decision in the Evolution/Intelligent Design debate. There are numerous things that I'm irritated about in the decision. Mind you, Intelligent Design lost because under the rules of the game, it should have lost. It IS a religious explaination.

I have a feeling I'll have LOTS to say about this in the next few days, but the first issue which I would like to consider concerns something that is actually missing from the decision -- and the entire debate.

I've done some preliminary research on how the courts have defined religion in American law. So far, I've found some evolving theories, but no clearly designed definition (pun intended).

In the "Religion vs. Science" debate, there has been no attempt to frame the discussion of what is "scientific" and what is "religious" in a mutually agreed upon manner. Something that claims to be "scientific" often gets a "pass" from a critical review of the presuppositions because it is touted by a "scientist." Furthermore, "scientists" can deride anything with which they disagree as "religious" by pointing out that it has a presupposition which is untestable. The practical result is that "science" is anything a "scientist" says it is.

In an effort to make headway in this debate, therefore, I would like to propose a couple of defnitions for use in the public square.

Religion: n. A system of beliefs, practices or explainations which presuppose a judgment regarding the voracity of one or more facts that cannot be directly experienced by an objective observer.

Science: n. A system consisting of one or more explainations, capable of being validated by independent testing, describing the relationship of facts all of which can be directly experienced by an objective observer.

Some may claim that the inferential nature of science gives it permission to establish "fact" from independently validated testing of proposed explanations. However, the scientific literature is replete with instances of things that were at one time considered "fact" (i.e. valid theories) that were later disproven. This usually occurred when the explaination (theory) failed to properly describe the relationship of one or more facts that weren't considered in the initial experiment.

Darwinian Evolution is itself based on judgments of the voracity of facts which are both untestable and unobservable and every ninth grade science student knows that to be a "scientific fact" it must be both.

The presentation of Darwinian Evolution as "fact" in textbooks purporting to be "science texts" is, therefore, the endorsement of a religion. Furthermore, this religious belief is being endorsed to the exclusion of others. Thus, by the logic this court applied in rejecting intelligent design, Darwinian Evolution violates the anti-establishment clause of the first amendment which is applied to the states through the fourteenth amendment and thus must be stricken from the curriculum of public schools.

It seems that the best defense may be a good offense. There is no way to get a declaration that Intelligent Design or Creationism is not religious in character. It may be better instead to focus on the real issue, that the philosophical underpinings of the scientific establishment and the explainations put forth by that establishment for the origins of life, the universe, and everythying are, in no uncertain terms, religious in character -- and therefore only fit to be taught in the context of "religion" class in the appropriate religious institution.

Update: 12/21/2005 9:30 AM
A Science Magazine article from March 2003 indicates that there are two facets to "evolution."

From the article:

    "There is professional evolutionary biology: mathematical, experimental, not laden with value statements. But, you are not going to find the answer to thw world's mysteries or to societal problems if you open the pages of Evolution or Animal Behaviour. Then, sometimes from the same person,you have evolution as a secular religion, generally working from an explicitly materialist background... Consider Edward O. Wilson, rightfully regarded as one of the most outstanding professional evolutionary biologists of our time, and the author of major works of straight science. In his On Human Nature, he calmly assures us that evolution is a myth that is now ready to take over Christianity. And if this is so, 'the final decisive edge enjoyed by scientific naturalism will come from its capacity to explain traditional religion, its chief competition, as a wholly material phenomenon. Theology is not likely to survive as an independent intellectual discipline.' "

Overall, the article does a good job at making the point that there is a distinction to be made between what is "scientific" and what goes beyond science -- and frankly, makes my point for me that we need clearer definitions when it comes to discussing "science" and "religion" in the public square.

Update: 12/21/2005 12:00 PM
And there it is... after I could finally stomach reading more, I found the definition I've been looking for: (pp. 65-66)

    As the National Academy of Sciences (hereinafter NAS ) was recognized by experts for both parties as the most prestigious scientific association in this country, we will accordingly cite to its opinion where appropriate. (1:94, 160-61(Miller); 14:72 (Alters); 37:31 (Minnich)). NAS is in agreement that science is limited to empirical, observable and ultimately testable data: Science is a particular way of knowing about the world. In science, explanations are restricted to those that can be inferred from the confirmable data the results obtained through observations and experiments that can be substantiated by other scientists. Anything that can be observed or measured is amenable to scientific investigation. Explanations that cannot be based upon empirical evidence are not part of science. (P-649 at 27).

So we have science defined as explainations:

  1. Restricted to those that can be inferred from the confirmable data.
  2. Confirmable data is results of observations/experiments that can be substantiated by other scientists.

Thus, with regard to (1), that which is inferred from confirmable data + inference is not "scientific". And with regard to (2), it is noted that in years of trying, no part of the Darwinian Evolution's thesis of "macro evolution" has been directly observed. Thus, Darwinian Evolution fails the definition of SCIENCE put forth by the National Academy of Sciences.

Question: Then what is it doing in a "Science" text book?

I also (smugly) note that the NAS definition closely matches my own (see above).

Update: 1/4/2006 2:45 PM
Just to prove I'm not "all wet"... here's some more info on atheism as religion.

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Reality and what is Real

The world is a scary place. Most of us are doing whatever we think is best at any given point in time. But each of us must live life for ourselves. Nobody can live our lives for us, and we cannot live someone else's life for them. Our own existence is real.

Vicarious living, either through television or through the control of the lives of others, simply doesn't work. Each of us occupy our own space in this world and must encounter the world for ourselves. Other people are real. Our encounters are real.

We live in communities at various levels (family, friends, co-workers, neighborhood, citizen, etc.). Some of these communities are voluntary memberships, others are obligatory by virtue of the fact that we exist at a certain place at a certain time. Our communities are real.

We each walk into every situation with our own "baggage" and have to recognize that others do the same. With each encounter our view of the world changes in some way, even if only we have another name on our list of "friends" or "enemies." That each of us has a different view of the world is real.

I am unable to see the world through your eyes, just as you are unable to see the world through mine. While I am unable to "feel your pain," I am able to hear your cry. While I am unable to "see the world your way", I am able to see how the world affects you. That the world has an effect on us is real.

Often we all feel like islands or solitary ships in the night. Often, we feel alone, frightened and neglected. Our feelings are real.

We wish that someone else could mitigate the effect of the world on us, that they could truly "feel our pain," and allow us to see a view of the world that transcends our "friends" and our "enemies" and all of the "baggage" that we have. We wish we could live in community with someone who could guide us to the right decisions and could make sense out of the scary place that is the world. Our desires are real.

While all of these things are real and all of these things are true they are not reality.

Reality is the world is not right. It no longer functions as it was created to function. Human beings, individually and corporately, war and rage against the created order of the universe. We seek to be our own master and seek to put ourselves, our wants and our feelings above everything else. We are selfish, arrogant, greedy and narcisistic. We hurt each other and hurt ourselves in an attempt to prove that we are in charge of our own life. We have no use for anything that does not serve our own real desires or feelings. In short, we are sinful human beings.

Reality is a baby -- born to a woman who had not "known a man."

Reality is that baby -- born in a stable because there was no room in the inn.

Reality is that baby -- wisked to a foreign land because the ruler of his own land was looking to kill him.

Reality is that child -- returning from a foreign land and growing in wisdom and stature.

Reality is a young man -- "about his fathers business" debating the religious leaders of his day.

Reality is a man -- baptized in the Jordan River and heralded as "The Lamb of God."

Reality is that man -- walking in the wilderness for 40 days with no food, no extra clothes, no water.

Reality is that man -- able to see beyond his real hunger pangs, his real thirst, his real exhaustion and still see the world as it really is.

Reality is that man -- knowing what is really right and what is really wrong and acting accordingly.

Reality is that man -- teaching others about the reality of the world.

Reality is that man -- really suffering and really dying.

Reality is that man -- really being raised again to life having accomplished all that he was sent to accomplish.

Reality is that person -- being restored to his rightful place as King and Lord of the universe.

Reality is Jesus Christ -- true God who humbled himself to be born of a virgin in a feeding trough because the world had no room for him.

Reality is Jesus Christ -- true man who was born, lived a perfect life, and yet suffered and died in order to restore us to a right relationship with himself.

Reality is Jesus Christ -- who was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven.

Reality is that through Him, your sin has been forgiven and your guilt has been removed.

We gain access to this reality through baptism in the name of the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We participate in this reality through corporate worship, the Lord's Supper, and our daily lives in the world. Through Him and in His church we learn to see the world from the point of view of Him who created and upholds it.

In this reality there is life, light, and peace.

May the Christmas Season, a time set aside to celebrate this reality, make it ever more real to you.

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