Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Evolution Sunday!

Happy Evolution Week! It started out Evolution Sunday. Then Evolution Weekend. I have decided we need at least a week. So beginning today through February 14th you can expect just a little something about evolution and my Jesus.




'nuff said.

42 comments:

  1. One of the more disconcerting things about evolution for humans, I think, is that we may have ways we want human evolution to go but we don't have a say in it. One of the basic principles of evolution is that what used to work doesn't work now and a species adapts or dies. Being thinking animals we might see the changes happening and not like them and might even try and control them. I suspect, however, that we don't even see the changes until they are too late.

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  2. Or when we do see them, some of us just ignore them saying that we need more "study". Or they try to argue that having 7 billion people on this planet with their cars, industry, and agriculture can't possibly change the planet.

    Yeah, right.

    Unfortunately we haven't completely gotten rid of the stupid gene.

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  3. Perhaps - or we don't realize they are changes, because we haven't been around long enough, evolutionarily speaking, to make adaptations ourselves. And because of that, we may have more of a say in it that one might realize.

    One example might be the Panda. Cute little buggers, but problematic. Without our intervention they would be gone, likely. It is one of those cases in which we are not directly responsible: loss of habitat, over-hunting, and introduction of non-native predation don't seem to be the problem. But, because they're just so cute, we intercede to keep them going - perhaps contrary to what nature would manage on its own.

    Another example related specifically to humans is food intolerance, such as gluten or lactose intolerance. Even as recently as 100 years ago, a baby born with severe lactose allergies (like me) would have died. Now, we can drink soy formula and other dairy alternatives. Those with glucose intolerance are now finding more and more choices on the grocery shelf. So, rather than the contingent elimination of that genetic "weakness", it continues in the species.

    Are either of these "real problems" that may come back to haunt us? Who knows?

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  4. Alan, whether people believe that 7 billion people etc. will change the planet or not the things you listed will certainly change humans in an evolutionary way. We have created stuff we have to adapt to! And the stupid gene isn't necessarily connected to IQ!

    Snad, I was thinking about that. A lot of people live who wouldn't normally have lived in the past. How does this strengthen or weaken the species.

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  5. "Alan, whether people believe that 7 billion people etc. will change the planet or not the things you listed will certainly change humans in an evolutionary way. "

    Nah. No part of creation has changed in last 6000 years, why would it start now? Nothing changes people, nor do we need to change or adapt. Heck, if it was good enough for Pope Calvin, it's good enough for us.

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  6. I don't know, Alan. Two things have definitely improved just in my life-time: coffee and beer.

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  7. One could argue beer is getting better because it is getting more like it used to be.

    The beer was always better in Pope Calvin's day. ;)

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  8. Well, I'll have to take your word on that one, Alan, as I don't happen to be THAT old! ;-D

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  9. Beer is getting better? Snad you must be drinking micro brews or foreign stuff. Budwieser, well I hesitate to say what we called it in college along with (gag) Stroughs (sp?). Even Coors has gone down hill since they sell it nationwide. Now Iron City beer is another question.

    Give me Killians or Dox Exxus any day of the week.

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  10. And does the transfiguration bring about evolution? An interesting question! I wonder what our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters would say given their theology of the incarnation?

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  11. Bob - of course I'm talking about microbrews! They didn't exist when I was younger. As far as Budweiser goes, evolve or die, I say!

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  12. "I do love the irony of Pope Calvin."

    Well, since the BFTS seem to treat him as infallible, it seems fitting. ;)

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  13. Alan

    To be more specific folks think their interpretation of Calvin is infallible. Example: Calvin was an inerrantist. But there was no theory of inerrancy back then. Thus a more accurate assertion might be that Calvin is infallible because he always agrees with me.

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  14. "To be more specific folks think their interpretation of Calvin is infallible."

    Heh. There's absolutely no evidence to support the notion that the BFTSs believe they have to interpret anything, the Bible, Calvin, or anything else. They just read the words; what is there to interpret?

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  15. Alan

    My point exactly. It all comes from Scottish Common Sense Realism. Oh wait, the writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution used that too . . .

    Well good can come from all quarters. Go figure.

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  16. One might imagine that we'd be a bit smarter nowadays.

    Alas, common sense is all too uncommon, especially when it conflicts with the agenda of the BFTSs.

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  17. I think so. Scottish Common Sense Realism contributed to (but was not alone in this) the belief that everyone saw things the same way, if using reason correctly. Strangely enough common sense was seeing things from the viewpoint of white folk. Which led to "the white man's burden." Yecch.

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  18. Ah, but theirs is not an argument based on common sense. It is based on the argument that they alone receive the divine inspiration that provides them with the one and only correct Truth.

    Don't give them too much credit, Bob. This isn't Scottish common sense realism or any other kind of philosophical outlook. This is due to Bibolatry and idolatry of Calvin (and the other reformers), and turning our confessions into idols as well.

    That's nothing like Scottish common sense realism, and I think the Scots might be insulted that they're being blamed for Bible worship now. ;)

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  19. Ah but the basis of Scottish Common Sense Realism is that if everyone uses reason they will think like me!

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  20. Nope. They dismiss reason (and experience) as any way to know anything about God. (See, for example, the hissy fit they pitched about Mark Achtemeier daring to suggest that if people were to occasionally exercise their God-given brains they might not be such twits. And how did the BFTSs respond to that? By dismissing reason and experience as anyway to know anything about ... well, anything, of course.)

    We can't be talking about the same people if you're using words like "common sense" and "reason" in reference to them. For them it's all about the hocus pocus.

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  21. It's what they see as common sense and also their reading of the Scripture on a line by line basis. And a tendency to see Scripture in a particular way the way they read it. They see the their reading of Scripture as common sense and challenge those who disagree with the as opposing common sense.

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  22. Just because they think it's true doesn't mean it's true, and sympathy for their delusion isn't going to help anyone.

    I'm going to make what is an outrageous statement in this day and age: not all opinions are equally valid, Bob.

    When the BFTSs proclaim that black is white, evil is good, and hate is love, I think it is the responsibility of people who don't share in their delusion to point it out, not pat them on the head. They've had far too much of that already from coddlers and enablers.

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  23. They've had far too much of that already from coddlers and enablers.

    Boo Ya!

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  24. BTW, Bob, I have never in my life had a BFTS challenge my reading of Scripture based on "common sense". Nor have they suggested that I disagree with them because I am simply lacking common sense. In addition, their condemnation of EINO (evangelicals in name only) such as Jack Rogers and Mark Achtemeier were not based on "well, this is just common sense and they're lacking it.")

    Instead, for them it's all about heresy and abomination, who's in and who's out. They got the hocus pocus and we don't. That's their argument.

    No one should be surprised at their vehement rejection of reason and experience. Bigotry and homophobia are, by definition, irrational. So the only way they can defend such irrationality is by attacking reason itself. This is, in my view, a fundamental rejection of the doctrine of the incarnation. But then, they've already made their own idols out of the Bible, the Confessions, and Pope Calvin, so what do they need with Jesus anymore?

    I think perhaps you'd like to believe the things you're saying about them, but I have seen zero evidence -- ever -- to support your assertions.

    That's how reason works. Evidence, not fantasy, not wishful thinking, and not happy thoughts and unicorns. While it may be attractive to you to attempt to give them the benefit of the doubt and read their particular brand of bigotry as a misguided appeal to "common sense", we still operate in the real world and I take them at their own words. If they themselves don't appeal to "common sense" when condemning the rest of us to eternal hellfire and damnation, I'm not sure it does much good for you to put words in their mouths. As I said, it isn't helpful to enable their unreasonable behavior, nor does it seem particularly honest.

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  25. Alan

    I'm not sure that Common Sense Realism actually is about common sense. The basic affirmation is that one can see and evaluate the world through one's senses. The philosophy was developed to counter Hume's philosophy that suggested we cannot actually claim a connection between cause and effect.

    The results of using Common Sense Realism in studying the Bible are:

    1. A tendency to read the Bible as a series of truth statements (propositions). The result of this is that the method takes verses out of context. If each verse is a proposition then each verse can be read separately from context.

    2. Direct statements are valued over stories. This puts Paul above the Gospels.

    3. The method assumes that anyone can read the Bible and come to conclusions about meaning.

    4. An aside: the method was used to support slavery in the 1800's. Since the method was so popular the abolitionists had a terrible time arguing against slavery. They argued from Genesis 1 and 2 and the laws concerning slavery in the Torah (that slavery was temporary) and that preferring one race as the object of slavery was contrary to the meaning of Scripture. The had a hard sell because Paul talks about slavery in ways that their opponents said supported their position.

    5. Common sense in this philosophy does NOT mean what we consider to be common sense. It rather says that what can be perceived by the senses are accurate in describing the world as it is. It also values white northern European ways of looking at the world as the only appropriate way to see the world. That meant that Eastern philosophies were wrong because they didn't agree with the white male perceptions.

    6. You DO hear common sense arguments about homosexuality. Those using the method argue that male and female are made the way they are so that the purpose of the penis in sex is to be inserted into the vagina. Other ways used to achieve orgasm by the male are illegitimate because the penis was not created to be used in those ways.

    7. Since all can use common sense to understand the Scripture the reader can claim that anyone who does not agree with him has misunderstood the meaning of the passage because anyone who reads correctly will agree with him.

    I don't mean to excuse anyone for their failure to study the Scriptures correctly. I think the methods of the Common Sense Realist fail to lead to an appropriate and correct meaning of the Scriptures. If you read Roger's book on homosexuality he says those who disagree with him use this method.

    BTW I am doing my best to describe the method. I am not making excuses for it. I don't think it is a correct method to use in interpreting Scripture (although I think they would argue that Scripture doesn't need interpretation because it speaks clearly and can be understood by anyone who isn't prejudiced toward the wrong).

    Check what Roger's says about Common Sense Realism in his book on homosexuality and in any of a variety of other books by him.

    To state it more clearly I think the philosophy, the method and those who use them are out to lunch. Description does not validate.

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  26. "It rather says that what can be perceived by the senses are accurate in describing the world as it is."

    You may have missed the avalanche of critiques by the hoards of BFTS and their ilk of Achtemeier and Rogers, et. al., but those critiques were *very clearly* all about denying that experience or reason can play any role in understanding God and/or Scripture. They have said (and I believe they meant it) that reason and experience are completely unreliable ways to know anything about the world or about God.

    Apparently only the magical hocus pocus that only they have received is the way to know anything about God.

    Now you can, of course, simply choose to disbelieve that they mean what they say for whatever reason you wish. However, I take them at their word that they're at least intelligent enough to actually mean what they say.

    Or perhaps you've simply missed what they've been saying, writing and doing for years and that is why you persist in believing the stuff you're writing. But again, I base my opinions on the *actual evidence* of what the BFTSs say and what they actually do, not what I wish they were saying or doing.

    Sorry, unlike your buddies, if you want to convince me of something it takes actual evidence, not just mere repetition. That's just one of the differences between them and me.

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  27. BTW, I again find it amusing that you dare suggest there's anything wrong with their method of interpretation here in a long dead blog post on a third party's blog, when I've never seen you even remotely come close to doing so on their blogs.

    Guess you're not ready to be fitted for a millstone yet?

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  28. "They have said (and I believe they meant it) that reason and experience are completely unreliable ways to know anything about the world or about God."

    So did you miss my comment abut penises are made to go in vaginas and not anuses or mouths? That sounds like an argument from reason or experience to me. I don't think this argument is from Scripture. At least I don't hear people quoting Scripture to make the argument.

    And have you forgotten that I defended Mark Achtemeier on my blog? The only other blog I comment on is Viola's and I don't think she uses the methods of Common Sense Realism. She's a Barthian.

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  29. "So did you miss my comment abut penises are made to go in vaginas and not anuses or mouths?"

    LOL. But Bob, where have you been? That's not the argument that the BFTSs make! Show me one letter to Presbyterian Outlook, or the LayMAN regarding Mark Achtemeir's talk to the Covenant Network that specifically mentions natural law arguments. I'll save you the trouble: you won't find one.

    Instead what you'll find is person upon person complaining that Mark Achtemeir has let his personal experience get in the way of Scripture. That's the argument: he holds experience above scripture. Not one of those letters, comments, or blogs talks about genitalia.

    Be clear, Bob. They don't believe they're right because they think they know more than us. They believe they're right because they think they're holier than us.

    I don't know what you've been reading lately, but you seem to have missed their entire point. Or perhaps you still don't recognize the movement you've hitched yourself to as with your faux pas of hitching yourself to the Manhattan Declaration.

    As to the rest of your comment, unlike some, I'm not going to talk about people behind their backs.

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  30. Oddly enough Rob Gagnon uses the argument from nature.

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  31. Well, he uses all sorts of silly arguments. That a so-called "orthodox" Presbyterian uses Catholic natural law arguments is amusing, but does illustrate the lengths to which people will go to maintain their bigotry.

    Again, however, I don't recall seeing his condemnation of reason and experience using Catholic natural law arguments. Instead as I recall he simply condemned reason and experience like the rest of the lemmings.

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  32. ...but does illustrate the lengths to which people will go to maintain their bigotry.

    That is what it is all about.

    "So did you miss my comment abut penises are made to go in vaginas and not anuses or mouths?"

    Can penises go in hands? How about between breasts? In the back of the knee, between the soles of the feet?

    And does this wise little rule of yours apply to all penises or just to gay ones?

    If this revelation applies to all penises then it seems that Bob needs to make an amendment right quick to the Book of Order forbidding (and retracting) marriage and ordination for all heterosexual males who do not use their penises properly in the context of marriage. Do you ever put your penis in the wrong place, Bob?

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  33. John

    I didn't say I agreed with the idea that penises should only go in vaginas. Just that I have heard the argument made. Which is an interesting use of natural law. And a little weird to say nothing of sounding like a Roman Catholic argument.

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  34. Indeed. But for all Bob's dancing about, that still isn't the argument that is made by the BFTSs against experience and reason.

    Their argument is some sort of bizarre corruption of the doctrine of total depravity while ignoring the doctrine of the incarnation to come up with a theology that says that neither experience nor reason can be trusted to tell us anything about Scripture or God at all.

    Though given the silliness of their writings, it shouldn't surprise anyone that they're anti-reason. It's abundantly obvious.

    The BFTSs and their apologists would like to attempt to call their anti-reason positions "classical presbyterianism" or "Barthian" or "orthodox", but their hatred of reason is none of the above. It's just being intentionally stupid.

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  35. Sorry, Bob. I will let you two carry on. From my read (and I think a large number of human beings would agree) all this Bible interpretation, common sense philosophy, natural law, Barthian, Calvinist, and whatever else bullshit is a smokescreen for bigotry plain and simple. If your Bible keeps you from seeing the human being right in front of you, then you should burn it.

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  36. Well, John, if it isn't a smokescreen for bigotry it is at least a clever use of rationalization to keep from having to actually change what's wrong with one's little social system, eh?

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  37. BTW, Bob, if you're still reading, I'm sure we will soon all see your criticism of one of your blogger friends for specifically arguing in a new post that common sense can't tell you anything about the world?

    Nahh.... that'll never happen. ;)

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  38. Finally catching up with the comments on this thread. I think Alan is right regarding the BFTSs. The latest title from one of them (who Bob says he agrees with) is entitled "Submission to God or Human Opinion."

    What is it really about? It is about living in one's own private Idaho.

    "We (gay haters, excuse me, gay 'lovers') 'know' and 'love' Jesus."

    Loving Jesus or submitting to God is a euphemism for heterosexism. If you are in favor of gays being ordained (regardless of where you are on all the other points) you either have lost or are suspect of having lost your hocus pocus.

    As Alan put it:

    Instead, for them it's all about heresy and abomination, who's in and who's out. They got the hocus pocus and we don't. That's their argument.

    Exactly. When the Classical BFTSs are confronted on their outrageous views they close their blog to private readership.

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  39. "When the Classical BFTSs are confronted on their outrageous views they close their blog to private readership."

    Heh. Yeah, I saw that too. All part of the trend. If you don't like people disagreeing with your, ban them from commenting. Then, when that doesn't make your blog enough of a "me too!" echo chamber, beg people on twitter to come and comment on your blog to support your views. When that doesn't work, just close your blog to anyone but your friends so that you can be sure that only people who agree with you will comment.

    So much for spreading the Gospel.

    Of course, that this behavior is applauded by the BFTSs and their enablers merely shows how bankrupt their ideology is.

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