Chris's Rants

Monday, July 04, 2005

The sixth day

Michael Shermer:
And God created the pongidids and hominids with 98 percent genetic similarity, naming two of them Adam and Eve, who were anatomically fully modern humans. In the book in which God explained how He did all this, in chapter one He said he created Adam and Eve together out of the dust at the same time, but in chapter two He said He created Adam first, then later created Eve out of one of Adam’s ribs. This caused further confusion in the valley of the shadow of doubt, so God created Bible scholars and theologians to argue the point.

And in the ground placed He in abundance teeth, jaws, skulls, and pelvises of transitional fossils from pre-Adamite creatures. One he chose as his special creation He named Lucy. And God realized this was confusing, so he created paleoanthropologists to sort it out. And just as He was finishing up the loose ends of the creation God realized that Adam’s immediate descendants who lived as farmers and herders would not understand inflationary cosmology, global general relativity, quantum mechanics, astrophysics, biochemistry, paleontology, population genetics, and evolutionary theory, so He created creation myths. But there were so many creation stories throughout the land that God realized this too was confusing, so he created anthropologists, folklorists, and mythologists to settle the issue.

By now the valley of the shadow of doubt was overrunneth with skepticism, so God became angry, so angry that God lost His temper and cursed the first humans, telling them to go forth and multiply (but not in those words). They took God literally and 6,000 years later there are six billion humans. And the evening and morning were the sixth day.

By now God was tired, so God said, "Thank me its Friday," and He made the weekend. It was a good idea.

Read the whole piece.

The sad thing is that there are actually people who believe the American Taliban's propaganda of "creationism" "intellegent design". I found it fascinating to note that the third definition of the word: "propaganda" derives from the Roman Catholic Church. The Wikipedia reference:
The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Congregatio pro Gentium Evangelizatione) is the congregation of the Roman Curia responsibile for missionary work and related activities. It is perhaps better known by its former title, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide). Renamed by Pope John Paul II in 1982, its mission continues unbroken. The word "propaganda" found in many modern languages derives from the name of the Congregation and its mission; it did not acquire its negative connotations until the nationalistic propaganda campaigns of World War I.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

The church has always been fearful of science because it tended to inconveniently contradict the Bible (or at least the clerical interpretations of it) and thus had a tendancy to undermine the church's authority (can't have the faithful begin to question the church's authority because of a few inconvenient facts, now can we). This battle being waged in the Boards of Education throughout the red states is all about reasserting authority over the masses. It is no different than the persecution of Galileo by the Roman Catholic Church (emphasis mine):
But by far the most terrible champion who now appeared was Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, one of the greatest theologians the world has known. He was earnest, sincere, and learned, but insisted on making science conform to Scripture. The weapons which men of Bellarmin's stamp used were purely theological. They held up before the world the dreadful consequences which must result to Christian theology were the heavenly bodies proved to revolve about the Sun and not about the Earth. Their most tremendous dogmatic engine was the statement that "his pretended discovery vitiates the whole Christian plan of salvation." Father Lecazre declared "it casts suspicion on the doctrine of the incarnation." Others declared, "It upsets the whole basis of theology. If the Earth is a planet, and only one among several planets, it can not be that any such great things have been done specially for it as the Christian doctrine teaches. If there are other planets, since God makes nothing in vain, they must be inhabited; but how can their inhabitants be descended from Adam? How can they trace back their origin to Noah's ark? How can they have been redeemed by the Saviour?" Nor was this argument confined to the theologians of the Roman Church; Melanchthon, Protestant as he was, had already used it in his attacks on Copernicus and his school.
(White, 1898; online text)


According to Andrew Dickson White, in A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (III.iii), 1896, Galileo's experiences demonstrate a classic case of a scholar forced to recant a scientific insight because it offended powerful, conservative forces in society: for the church at the time, it was not the scientific method that should be used to find truth—especially in certain areas— but the doctrine as interpreted and defined by church scholars, and White documented how this doctrine was defended by the Church with torture, murder, deprivation of freedom, and censorship.


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