Thursday, September 03, 2015

In which the pond rules in the discussion of religious beliefs ...

Uh huh, but why?

Are religious beliefs something to be ashamed of, hidden and not discussed? Is creationism not up to a a vigorous debate?

After all, Mr Hastie himself is personally opposed to gay marriage, a view he shares with many fundamentalist Christians.

"I have no problem with people coming after me, but just make sure you come after me and not my family," he said. (and more here).

But why? That's if its not about the family on a personal and private level, but about the views of the family put on the record for public debate and discussion ...

It's not as if creationists are shy, shrinking violets, unable to take a position and make a public stand ...

For example, there's a rock solid creationist at work - by name Peter Hastie - on, only too ready and willing to mock the work of evolutionary scientists.

Here's the beginning of one outing:

The rest of that work is available here.

And there's another insightful piece here.

And there's an introduction to the Rev. Hastie here.

Now the pond has no idea if these Hasties are in any way related. Nor does it much care.

The pond has long been fascinated by creationism, young earthists, angry Sydney Anglicans who believe in Adam and Eve, and all the many other religious beliefs out there, from Xenu to Krishna and the prophet, and claimed the right to discuss and attempt to refute them, and at that, long before Andrew Hastie hovered into view.

And at the heart of it is the question of religion v. science, and the Rev. Hastie himself is aware of the significance of the debate:

There are many Christians who believe in the processes of evolution as an explanation of the origin of life. On the other hand you’ve got people like Richard Dawkins who claim that biblical, and especially evangelical Christianity, is fundamentally incompatible with evolutionary theory. Who’s right?

Here is one case where I agree with Dawkins. The thing is the Bible is very clear about certain things. It says that the world was created in six days and that a flood covered the whole earth. It’s also very clear that the death and suffering we see around us is a result of the fall of Adam and Eve. The New Testament is emphatic about this. In Romans 5, and 1 Corinthians 15, Paul tells us Adam brought death into the world and Jesus Christ, the last Adam, brings the resurrection from the dead. 
So the whole gospel of Jesus Christ depends on a literal happening in the Garden of Eden where Adam sinned against God and brought God’s curse upon us. Evolution undermines this account of our origins by putting death before sin. The Bible also says that death is the “last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26); yet theistic evolutionists would have us believe that God used his last enemy to create things which then became “very good” (Gen 1:31). However, according to the evolutionary view there was death, suffering and disease for millions of years. Frankly, I find it hard to imagine how that can even remotely be described as very good. 
Christians who believe in evolution also have to face the problem of restoration. If Christ is going to restore or “regenerate” the world, what will He restore it to? Will we simply experience millions more years of death, suffering and disease? Once Christians accept an evolutionary hypothesis they are buying into a worldview that not only denies just a few verses in Genesis; in fact, evolution is opposed to the biblical ideas of creation, fall and redemption. We undermine the entire message of Scripture if we try to introduce the idea of evolution into it. 

Where does this leave Christians who believe that evolution resolves the conflict between religion and science? 

You lose your ability to understand where this death and suffering comes from. You lose the ability to understand Jesus as the Kinsman-redeemer, who is our blood relative because He comes from Adam and all the rest of us come from Adam. But if there’s no real Adam, then the Kinsman-redeemer concept gets thrown out the window as well. The authority of Scripture is undermined because there’s no real way you can develop evolutionary ideas from Scripture. This means that fallible evolutionary science becomes the underlying hermeneutic for Scripture. Is this something that evangelicals can afford to tolerate? 
We easily forget the warning of people like the late leading biologist Jacques Monod. He said that evolution is the cruellest, most wasteful, and inefficient way that anyone could imagine of creating the world. I think Monod is right. Evolution leaves us with a supposed God of love who uses a cruel and wasteful process to eliminate the unfit. The gospel of God’s grace, however, is about the God of mercy who delights to save sinners.

Indeed, and the day that religion v. science is swept under the rug would be a sad day for all those interested in the matter.

After all, if science managed to get something so fundamental wrong, where would that leave climate science?

Why, it might well be a conspiracy by the United Nations to establish world government ...

Phew, cue Dame Slap and what an excellent excuse to run some old climate science cartoons:


  1. Hi Dorothy,

    "Science, by its very nature presupposes an orderly universe"

    No it does not. Science explains how complexity can grow from a few simple rules or laws. The Big Bang was not orderly, it was chaos but it did allow four fundamental forces to occur. That the Weak, Strong, Electromagnetic and Gravity forces were enough to build the universe we live in, it's from our viewpoint remarkable but definitely not orderly.

    These laws created mass and a simple particle - Hydrogen. Gravity drew these hydrogen atoms together until they compressed enough to have sufficient energy for fusion and so by created Helium. Cycles of agglomeration created ever more complex atomic structures forged in short lived giant stars which self destructed in incredible Supernovas. Our planet and ourselves are constructed from this debris in again a process of ever increasing complexity caused by gravity.

    Simple forms can together create complex structures, and the same is true in Chemistry. Simple molecules can, in the right conditions, form more complex molecules and eventually form a molecule that can make a "mirror image" of itself by binding simpler molecules in a certain order. Eventually this leads to DNA and a reproducing molecule can move from single cellular life to ever more complex multicellular organisms.

    Science does not need "order" to explain how we and this planet occurred, it merely requires incredible amounts of Time.

    This is probably why the creationists are also so antagonistic to the Geologists, 6000 years just isn't long enough to explain anything about how our continents were formed let alone the universe.

    I am therefore not surprised that Abbott has picked the spawn of a militaristic bible thumper to push his message in Canning, as here is a man who wishes to escape uncertainty by embracing fantasy.

    Anyway, I'll leave you with a Denis Diderot quote;

    "Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."


    1. Thanks DW. But I've always wondered why the Big Bang was chaotic. If there was nothing there before, how could it possibly be anything but uniform? What incidental forces would make it chaotic?

      OMG I think I've just seen his hand! ;-)

    2. Hi Anon,

      We will probably never be able to discover what the exact conditions were at the very moment of the Big Bang for the simple reason that the universe didn't exist then (it's difficult to look past that curtain). However we can observe the remnants of the expansion that followed.

      Maps of Cosmic Microwave Background show that the density of particles was not uniform throughout, so some areas would have had more particles, a greater gravity well and would have been hotter. This may provide some clues as how and why the galaxies formed later.


    3. Thanks DW. Not that I don't agree with you (i too studied chemistry) but how did the density of particles come to be "not uniform throughout," I wonder? Was it not 'perfectly uniform' before the big bang? If not, why not?

      OK, OK, I'll read that link and get back to you!

  2. Obv. not a hardcore fundie; mayhaps, just a smoked-out denialati.

  3. While looking on YouTube for the scene from Bedazzled (1967) of Peter Cook (The Devil) acting out what life is like in Heaven, I found this sketch of Cook's, The Biased Judge: . For some inexplicable reason, I thought of Kathhy Jackson. Funny how the mind works.

    1. Funniest mind of them all :)
      Yes - KJ, DH... courting fun.

  4. DP - "the day that religion v. science is swept under the rug would be a sad day for all..."

    Ya think, Dorothy? How about religion getting along with science then?

    The texts remain: it is the practice that has changed. Why? Because the world has corrected the Bible. The Church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession -- and take the credit of the correction. As she will presently do in this instance.
    (from that page seen linked here last week...
    Bible Teaching and Religious Practice from Europe and Elsewhere and A Pen Warmed Up In Hell by Mark Twain)

    Where religion of any kind exists it always makes for a sad day, any day.

    1. Sadly Anon, the impulse to religion is a universal which is unlikely to go away, and for that the pond is quite grateful on many occasions, because what fun it is to mock the believers as they berate other believers for the stupidity of their beliefs. It's called the human condition, and without it, there would be no comedy, and therefore no Mark Twain, or Life of Brian, or thousands of other studies of the condition, and that would be an incalculable loss.

      On the other hand, a creationist determining climate science policy might be more a tragedy than a comedy, but we already have a fundamentalist Catholic denying papal authority in the matter, so on with the farce, and let's enjoy it while we can ...

    2. DP. Just...Touche'

    3. I caught a bit of Weisser on the drum last night, Oh my goodness she sprouts some shite for all to hear, her excited ways whilst spewing forth hate and bigotry was a sight to see, I thought she might eject right out of her seat, but at least there were two sane people on to slap down her dribble, and after seeing this small amount of the Drum last night, I know why I don't watch it anymore, but that was worth seeing "know thy enemy" and she is the normal hard working folks enemy in this country, I wonder what went wrong in her childhood for her to be so hateful towards humanity now......


      For the very first time the option of "no religion" will be placed above all other religious denominations when you fill-out the national census next August. Having previously appeared at the bottom of the list, "no religion" will appear first.

      Some observers predict that this will result in nearly half the population ticking that top box. ..


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