Some Good News, For a Change 44


A group believe that a God created the whole universe, then decided for some reason having the ability to make anything and anyone he wanted that he would father a child, just once, at a pretty random time some millions of years after he did all that creating, and from the whole universe chose a girl in Palestine, who God decided to make pregnant without impairing her virginity, resultant child being God too and later being killed before coming back to life again. Well, one of the heads of this group has announced that Darwinism is not incompatible with this belief.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/4588289/The-Vatican-claims-Darwins-theory-of-evolution-is-compatible-with-Christianity.html

This is a kind of improvement. That is in itself kind of strange because plainly they are actually incompatible, one being scientific fact, the other obvious tosh.


44 thoughts on “Some Good News, For a Change

1 2
  • merkinonparis

    ‘Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi,. . . . the idea of evolution could be traced to St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas.’

    Same as ‘Brown says he “forecast the Depression ten years ago”, as we were told last week.’

    Pish.

  • Andy

    These are indeed strange times!

    P.S. Read and enjoyed your book.

    P.P.S. We have something in common – inability to swim and dislocatable shoulders. I last had an instance of the latter whilst receiving a BJ a couple of weeks ago. Somewhat embarrassing and mood spoiling. Though mine pops back in itself after 5-10 minutes of excruciating pain.

  • John K

    Someone should send the Vatican a copy of Sam Harris’s wonderful and admirably short “Letter to a Christian Nation”.

    Religion and science can’t both be right. Either God exists and created the universe, or he doesn’t and didn’t. Either the earth is 4.4 billion years old (+/- 0.5 bn) or it is not.

    Many scientists are also cowardly about facing up to this absolute incompatibility. How any biologist, physicist or geologist can say they believe in God is beyond me.

  • Stephen

    Thanks Craig. That made me laugh. How joyful it is to see religion treated as the obvious hogwash it is. No more sober interlocutors scratching their chins and prevaricating about rationality versus faith. Just a straight up description of its tenets as they are with the inevitable comic effect this entails. Your levity makes me smile Thanks!

  • John K

    ps

    Just remembered this quote from Alice through the looking glass:

    “Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”

    “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

  • Matt Costigan

    Oh ye of bugger all faith. Hahahahahaha. You’ll be eating all those words one day soon Craig Murray.

    jimmykrongold.wordpress.com

    [I don’t expect you to believe it, by the way, but just don’t forget that I sent it to you. Okay? Deal?]

  • MJ

    John K:

    “How any biologist, physicist or geologist can say they believe in God is beyond me”

    I think they reconcile the two by saying that God created the universe but evolution was one of the mechanisms he put in place for life to develop. Or something like that.

  • eddie

    I agree with you for once Craig. We need to unite against the creationists and those who are trying to discredit evolution. Darwin was a genius whose ideas are instantly understandable to most sensible people. You only have to look at the awful spectacle of Crufts to realise that species change in all kinds of weird and wonderful ways. I have a funny photograph of one of the atheist buses that I will post here if permitted.

  • John K

    MJ

    I’m sure you’re right.

    But that’s an even worse cop-out than saying “I believe in God. I don’t know why but I just do”.

    There’s absolutely NO evidence for God creating evolution. You can’t even cite any religious text in support.

  • David

    Dont see why the two sides have to be in such opposition, one is science one is faith. You can have both. What you cant have is the continued dogmatic approach to religion. A free mind should easly be able to place both the theory of evolution and the belief in a higher being in harmony. If a religion is written down then its about control, a belief is a much more feeing concept. You can beieve, have a faith and still grasp scientific principles. Only the closed of mind cant.

  • MJ

    Eddie:

    “You only have to look at the awful spectacle of Crufts to realise that species change in all kinds of weird and wonderful ways”

    Not a good example. Dogs (along with domestic cats and domestic farm animals) are not the products of evolution but of thousands of years of deliberate cross-breeding. Creationism in a sense.

  • eddie

    Yes but the point I am making is that species can be deliberately changed over a very short period of time (the Great Dane and the dachshund both come from the wolf) whereas evolution happens over a much longer period. What Darwin proves is that small changes can be magnified over the aeons until a new species emerges – just like breeding dogs, except that these changes happen due to environmental variations or the move into new niches. Regarding creationism, I don’t think that God would take the trouble to “create” something as horrible as the pit bull terrier! Nor would a benevolent God create that worm that eats your eyeball from the inside out. Or the mosquito.

  • MJ

    Or Homo sapiens for that matter.

    Although evolutionary theory is pretty good, it’s not quite the done deal a lot of scientists make it out to be. One major problem is that the archaeological record doesn’t seem to support it. There’s a significant minority of scientists – not all of them religious ones – who have deep misgivings about evolution on purely scientific grounds.

  • eddie

    Home Sapiens most of all! The world would be a quieter place without us.

    I asume you are referring to the so-called “link” species like archaeopteryx that conect the dinosaurs to the birds etc. As I understand it, this is one of the key challenges made by creationists – i.e. if we all evolved from apes or beetles where are the transitionary species in the fossil record? The fact is that they exist, but fossils are incredibly rare in comparison to the number of creatures that have ever lived. Thinking rationally, I cannot believe that any other theory comes close to Darwin. The notion of a creator is just beyond imagination. (You mean palaeontology not archaeology).

  • craig

    Actually I am a bit of a Deist myself – it all had to start somewhere. But the notion that whoever created the incovecivable (to us) expanse of the universe zeroed in on this tiny bit of a speck, and within that tiny bit of a speck had an especial care for the temporary membrane over the vagina of a particular female homo sapiens in Palestine, seems so silly it is hard to believe anyone can take it seriously.

  • Matt Costigan

    craig at February 12, 2009 10:54 PM:

    Yeah sounds nuts doesn’t it. Who would have thunk it. Who would have thunk it indeed.

  • Other John

    This is getting tiresome. Richard Dawkins’ followers are on a tedious crusade.

    First, the list of atheists who have massacred innocent civilians is long, and they include Hitler, who used eugenics, which is founded in so-called Darwinism, to exterminate millions of people. So, should I now proudly proclaim – as Dawkins does over religion – that learning about genetics will lead to evil and more people dying?

    Dawkins has an agenda: to convert as many people as he can to atheism. He claims the 9/11 attackers were Islamic lunatics who thought they’d go to Heaven for what they did – how does he know this? This is highly unscientific reasoning by Dawkins, but it’s what I expect from someone who is trying to discredit religion at every turn.

    Religion is NOT the same as the notion of some kind of creator, and that does not mean a “God” sitting on “His” thrown watching over his creation. It leaves COMPLETELY UNSPECIFIED what this creator could be. For example, if there is a creator – and nothing can exist without it – then the universe is part of the creator – not separate from it – as religions state. It would mean that the creator is us, and we are the creator.

    How is it the height of rationality to believe the universe – or whatever mechanism created it – popped into existence one day for no particular reason, and we are just dead lumps of matter, consciousness being a mere illusion?

    Physicists are now pondering what gives particles mass. But eventually, you have to ponder what gives those particles an existence, a reality.

    According to atheists, nothing does – it all happens by magic, by some kind of miracle of NOTHINGNESS!

    Before the atheists on here attack me for being ignorant of science, and claim that consciousness is now as good as explained, let me quote Joseph Levin from his book “Purple Haze” (Levin is an atheist, a materialist):

    “I’m sure materialism must be true, though for the life of me I don’t see how.”

    That’s it – the idea that consciousness can be explained by physicalism is a mere BELIEF, a HYPOTHESIS, and, at worst, a RELIGION. Science is as clueless about consciousness as it has always been. Perhaps that’s because consciousness is a non-physical phenomenon, whereas everything science has explained to date has been physical.

    For some of the latest research into consciousness, read Semir Zeki, Professor of Neurobiology at University College London.

    Some of his research papers can be read at vislab dot ucl dot ac dot uk. Click on “Papers”, then type “consciousness” as the search term in the “title” box. The papers that come up are:

    . The Disunity of Consciousness

    . Toward a Theory of Visual

    Consciousness

    . The Asynchrony of Consciousness

    . Parallel Processing, Asynchronous

    Perception, and a Distributed System

    of Consciousness in Vision.

    . The Motion Vision of the Blind and

    the Modularity of Consciousness.

    I’ve read all these papers and more besides, and despite Zeki’s claim in 1980/81 that consciousness should be amenable to a physical explanation, nearly 30 years on, he has failed to explain it.

    As for Richard Dawkins’ notion that mankind will have eternal peace if only we imagine there’s no Heaven – after all, it’s easy if you try – and no hell below us – above us only sky – is so much child-like nonsense.

    Corporate globalization, anyone? American and British foreign policy?

    If you want to get rid of the notion of some kind of creator, you are going to have to either explain or destroy consciousness.

  • frank verismo

    Creationism = tosh.

    Evolution = tosh.

    The first is largely the result of a right cerebral hemisphere imbalance, the latter an imbalance of the left. Curious though, how rejection of the latter brings forth the more strident calls of ‘heresy’ these days.

    Mr Dawkins is more than welcome to put his faith in the theories of inbred, elitist eugenicists such as the Darwins. Similarly, those who take an entirely literal view of the book of Genesis are welcome to their fly-in-the-face-of-the-facts interpretation of that book.

    Personally, I’ve found it far more satisfying to reject both imbalances and be brutally honest about this universe’s origins, that is: I don’t know.

    I don’t know – and what’s more, the state of flux that this viewpoint engenders makes a balanced mind infinitely more possible. Ignorance certainly isn’t bliss, but even worse is a certitude born of mental illness.

  • Other John

    Those that want to push the atheist agenda never mention religious people like those that own the site www dot preda dot org. These individuals help street children and exploited women in the Philippines. In the Philippines, some street children are gunned down, and die in a pool of their own blood.

    These are religious people, but they are not lunatics.

    I once went abroad to help some street kids, and I was surprised that most of the volunteers were Christians. I felt somewhat out of place, as I’m agnostic.

    “Darwinism” is no panacea for human nature. For example, the Conservatives distorted what Richard Dawkins wrote in his book, “The Selfish Gene”, to promote a selfish society, a society where we all fend for ourselves and care for no one outside our family and close circle of friends. “Survival of the fittest” is another right-wing corruption of evolution. It’s actually survival of the best adapted to one’s NATURAL ENVIRONMENT.

    Evolution no longer applies to humans, anyway, as we have created an artificial environment, one that is the work of our imagination NOT of nature.

    We didn’t evolve to serve economies, corporations, or other humans.

    In response to Frank’s comment: “Personally, I’ve found it far more satisfying to reject both imbalances and be brutally honest about this universe’s origins, that is: I don’t know.” – yes, I don’t know either. I sometimes swing wildly between a strong feeling that I AM, MOST DEFINITELY, real, not just a lump of matter – which means there’s more to this universe than meets the eye – to there’s nothing at all, evolution must be right, and that’s why the world is such a Hell.

  • Matt Costigan

    Other John at February 14, 2009 2:53 AM:

    “We didn’t evolve to serve economies, corporations, or other humans.”

    Well said. Oh, you mean something like slavery when talking about not evolving to serve other humans, right?

  • lwtc247

    Strewth. I can’t believe what I’m hearing here. You may laugh at religion if you wish – I know most of you here are intelligent people and I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you’ve all openly and honestly researched with issue, but to believe in science absolute makes me shudder.

    Say God ‘exists’ (personally I’d say god is beyond ‘existence’ or anything we can possibly perceive) then how can science possibly characterise the thing that created it? I’m tired of people promoting science for what it isn’t, most often because of their own inability to think past the confines of their own mind. There are many scientists across the whole planet, who see no conflict with science and God. Yes that’s right folks, science isn’t the perverse of whitey, despite whatever quazi-imperial grappling hooks linger in the mind. In fact, many believing scientists gain tremendous affinity for God by studying His physical creation reveals the wonders of the physical universe.

    It is saddening that some can’t see past, or don’t want to see past the deliberate corruptions and distortions that have become ‘religionised’.

    So what do you guys mean by Darwinism? It has become many things to many people. Do you mean that species can change over time? or that species spring forth from other species? That man used to be an ape? That life magically sprang up from nowhere?

    If you believe anything other than the first, which obviously no monotheist will deny (From Adam we now have Chinese, African, European, Aborigine) then you are exhibiting your own religious faith because there isn’t one single fact that proves any of the latter cases. Unless of course you know better.

    As for proving God exists, John K et al, I implore you to study the Qur’an. If you or anyone studies it sincerely and rejects it then fair enough ?” at least you enquired honourably. But I feel truth is actually subjective. My demand for truths is met by the Qur’an.

  • Other John

    (Not sure LWTC247 will like this post, but bear in mind I’m agnostic 😉 )

    MATT COSTIGAN wrote: “Oh, you mean something like slavery when talking about not evolving to serve other humans, right?”

    Well, just generally. In the wild, animals ARE subjected to the will of more dominant individuals in their group without being slaves, but humans have taken this to the extreme. It’s not something that’s done for survival purposes anymore, it’s become a culture, a way of life. The way we are regimented – those in sweat shops experience the worst of that – and the way we are now being forced to ruthlessly compete against each other intellectually – most jobs today are service sector work to meet the needs of our “de-industrialized” economy – we must all move up the “Value Added” chain, become innovative, imaginative, even if we are not up to it. And a lot of us aren’t up to it because our brains evolved to facilitate our survival in a community, and to make things – hence our opposing thumbs! – NOT to incessantly compete against each other intellectually in an economy that shuns the physical (the implosion of the financial sector has shown us what a “de-industrialized” economy is built upon – bubbles!)

    Our brains are no longer being used for survival purposes – instead, we must outwit, or outperform, each other in the workplace in order to create new products and services. Our status in society is then earned by how successful our abstract reasoning – or manipulation skills, in the case of a salesperson or manager – have been, along with how well we subordinate ourselves to certain individuals and their beliefs.

    Evolution is about the survival of a species NOT an individual. That’s how new species arise. Genes only care about the survival chances of an individual, true, but, equally, that means they aren’t selected for their ability to consciously destroy other individuals of the same species. Individuals have to function in a community, as do their offspring, and being helpful and cooperative are good attributes to have, NOT bad ones (even at the level of the gene, this has now been discovered to be true: the genes that survive from one generation to the next are NOT those that create the fittest individuals, but those that work well with other genes in the gene pool – in other words, a “superior” gene (human!) is ejected from the pool if it is merely out for itself). But the human species, now living in an artificial environment, has become pathological – it is now increasingly about the survival of the individual AT THE EXPENSE of others in the community – there’s almost a certain pride in trampling all over others, in humiliating them, especially in politics.

    We no longer live in a close-knit societies, we have become increasingly isolated from each other, allowing those at the top to indulge their appallingly bad survival instincts and treat the rest of us with contempt. In the wild, they wouldn’t last two seconds – others of our species would kill them!

    That’s my interpretation, anyway, from an evolutionary perspective. But I believe consciousness is also a very important factor in regulating human behaviour. Evolution can’t explain genuine altruism, for example. Altruistic acts should be explainable from the point of view of “selfish” genes – which means, why risk your life trying to save someone unrelated to you? The reason: we are conscious, and we assume the other person is also conscious – so seeing them suffer is an unpleasant experience, and we are motivated to do something. That’s my explanation, anyway, for why genuine altruism can exist when evolution says it can’t.

    Also, evolution cannot explain how genes create our personality, control our behaviour, or imbue us with consciousness. A lot is left unexplained – all the really hard stuff, in fact!

  • John K

    ltwc247

    Actually, I HAVE read the Quar’an from cover to cover (in translation, since I don’t have Arabic) and been interested its origins and development since I was a boy, including reading a fair amount about how it came to be put together and what was left out – just as the New Testament leaves out a lot that the compilers found inconvenient and includes a lot that is very doubtful and inconsistent.

    The idea that any religious text, be it the Qur’an, the Bible or whatever “proves” God exists, or that it is the unedited word of God, is factually and theologically untenable. The Qur’an is also historically unviable as a single coherent text dictated by the Prophet, who was almost certainly not literate. As you will know, the text we rely on was compiled and edited over a period of many years by a committee under Uthman, starting over a decade after the Prophet’s death. The San’a manuscripts also put great doubt on the assertion that it is the unedited original text.

    More generally, I don’t doubt the sincerity of believers, just their willingness to be objective about evidence.

    It also saddens me that religions use and misuse their sacred texts to tell us what we can and can’t do. There is for instance nothing in the Qur’an that says women must cover their face and/or hair; this stricture is just the product of patriarchal society deliberately misinterpreting it for its own ends. Ditto alcohol, which is not even mentioned in the Qur’an, despite being an Arabic word (al-khol, the black powder) – the text only refers to “intoxicants” and does not say they are Haram, just that they should be avoided.

    I could go on, but won’t…

  • Other John

    John K, same for apostasy. I read that the Islamic bible says nothing about punishing those that renounce their religion

  • Matt Costigan

    Oh Other John I agree with you. I don’t have a problem with competition per se but this economic system is truly sick. If it wasn’t so sick I’d be all for a bit of healthy competition. So, as a rule, I have my doubts about anyone who is a ‘success’ in this world. You can not possibly be uncorrupted by it and the more you try and ‘win’ the sicker you become. Is it any wonder we’re miserable. So confused. I liked your bit on genuine altruism. Did you know that the anti-Christ himself, Adam Smith, wrote a book called ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments’? He writes about exactly that sort of thing. How one’s own happiness depends on and is affected by the happiness of others. But, conveniently for some, it is his ‘Wealth of Nations’ and that stupid bloody ‘invisible hand’ that gets all the attention. But I reckon even that has been twisted and perverted. I actually don’t think Smith was a free market fundamentalist himself. Apparently after he wrote W of N he worked in customs for the Scottish government so clearly he believed in some sort of government regulation / taxation etc to put the brakes on unrestrained profiteering. From what I understand he was a perfectly decent human. I reckon he’d be turning in his grave. Anyway, that’s off the topic a bit but … oh well.

    Oh but, finally, I liked this from lwtc247:

    “In fact, many believing scientists gain tremendous affinity for God by studying His physical creation reveals the wonders of the physical universe.”

    It really is incomprehensible when you think about it.

  • lwtc247

    OK John. You read “it” well done. You reject it? OK. you have made a more informed decision than many others, and your choice is acknowledged. Craig’s post was about God in general and I chipped in from my angle of it, and I’m not going to pursue this single line of monotheism further by my own accord, but from what you said, I can’t just let is pass however without saying this.

    1) Any translation of the Quran, is, are virtually any Arabic speaking scholar well tell you, praiseworthy efforts in themselves, but are poor reflections as the original Arabic verses, due to the subtleties and complexities of Arabic in general. You can get a glimpse of this by watching the Google video of a lecture by Dr. Maurice Bucaille. YouTube “The Qur’an & The Modern Science – Dr. Maurice Bucaille”

    Relying on those translations is like looking at a Rembrandt in pixels.

    The original Yusuf Ali commentary does a good job in attempting to bridge that gap, but appreciation and comprehension of that is beyond the level capable of a boy. Even experts in Arabic still uncover the glory of the Quran today.

    2) As for your history of the Qur’an, I don’t know where you are getting your information from but it is grossly distorting at best, simply false at worst:

    The Qur’an was revealed over a 22 year span of the prophets(saw) life, was codified and verified there and then. It was also memorised. The Qur’an was arranged (in order) by Muhammad(saw) during his life, and rechecked before his death. the codifications was on numerous materials. After the death of the prophet, Abu Bakar ordered it be collected in sheets. In addition to the companions and hundreds of followers memorised it verbatim. Usman used the Abu Bakar codification to purge the unverified codifications. These were not “inconveniencies” but inaccurate writings of the revelations.

    I could go on also, replying to just about everything else you say. But I’m tired of seeing the same old misrepresentations, misunderstandings and incomprehension’s resurfacing which have been dealt with many times before. I really think you should discuss your perceptions with an Islamic scholar. It may improve your position.

    I did mention study in context of sincerity. That involves being able to spot the MEMRIesque myths and distortions, and avoiding them.

  • Matt Costigan

    Correct me if I’m wrong, lwtc247, but Muslims believe that Jesus was the Son of God and that Mohammed was a Prophet of God. But they take Mohammed’s word over Jesus’ simply because his teachings are more recent. Seems a bit disrespectful to God to me. I mean, surely God’s one and only Son has more authority than a Prophet. And then Muslims believe that Jesus will return as a Muslim and help spread Islam – the religion that disrespected him – throughout the world. It just doesn’t add up to me. Am I wrong?

  • Matt Costigan

    Correct me if I’m wrong, lwtc247, but Muslims believe that Jesus was the Son of God and that Mohammed was a Prophet of God. But they take Mohammed’s word over Jesus’ simply because his teachings are more recent. Seems a bit disrespectful to God to me. I mean, surely God’s one and only Son has more authority than a Prophet. And then Muslims believe that Jesus will return as a Muslim and help spread Islam – the religion that disrespected Him – throughout the world. In other words, to conquer CHRISTianity – the religion named after Jesus Himself in which Jesus is the central figure! It just doesn’t add up to me. Am I wrong?

1 2

Comments are closed.