Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Theory Of Natural Selection

February 12th is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. In my opinion, Charles Darwin influenced the scientific world as much as Isaac Newton and Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei. More so, in fact, because his theories of natural selection have contributed to research in medicine and the etiology of many diseases.

"Evolutionary medicine addresses not only the immediate mechanism of diseases, but why natural selection has not eliminated aspects of the body that leave it vulnerable to disease. We're not asking why some people get sick, which is what most medical research asks, but why all humans are vulnerable to a disease." ... Randolph Nesse, MD

Natural selection is one of the cornerstones of biology. It is the evolution of a species through natural adaptation. Artificial selection is where traits are bred in or out of a species, such as horses or dogs. Horse or dog breeders who utilize artificial selection can see how quickly it works, in a very few generations of animals. I believe the same has applied to every species of living things on earth, either plant or animal. We have learned to adapt according to our environment, and we will continue to adapt. Natural selection is the one thing that has created such genetic diversity. Darwin saw this when he went to the Galapagos Islands on the HMS Beagle. There were plants and animals that had evolved there, cut off from the rest of the world, and unlike anything else on earth.

I have read all of Charles Darwin's books, "The Voyage of the Beagle", "The Origin of Species", and "The Descent of Man" and they have all fascinated me. I first became interested in evolution when I was studying high school biology, and we were learning the theory of genetics, and in particular, Gregor Mendel's peas, and the dominant and recessive genes. Oddly enough, Mendel was also a Catholic priest, and later became an Abbott.

There is a lot of controversy about which theory should be taught in schools, the Theory of Evolution or the Theory of Creationism. A third theory is the Theory of Intelligent Design, which I guess is sort of a combination of the two. I'm not going to debate that here, because I know there are so many diverse opinions about all three theories. I personally subscribe to the Theory of Natural Selection, and I think Charles Darwin was a genius. I have always believed that life on Earth developed by accident ... a Divine accident, perhaps ... and it just sort of took off from there. And that gets into that grey territory between science and religion. There is definitely a spirituality in the universe that no on can explain. I have experienced that spirituality myself, and I know it exists.

"It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure." -- Albert Einstein

However, is that spirituality God? I don't know. Maybe it is a vibration of the universe that we are unable to understand. I have never been able to understand a God that created the Heavens and the Earth, but has never revealed himself to us. We can scientifically prove the Theory of Natural Selection, but we cannot scientifically prove the existence of God. Did God create us in His image, or did we create Him in ours? I have wondered about this ever since I was a little girl. Is it impossible for us to believe that such beauty as we see in the world could have happened, not by accident, but by the natural selection of the living organism known as Life? No matter how much we debate the issue, there is no right answer.

42 comments:

Lorna said...

Well, Jo, you have picked one of my favorite topics. I have a whole set of videos on this in my other political blog, ”Pesky Emotional Republican.”

I go by the theory of Occam's Razor, which is basically that usually the least complex explanation (ones which do not require a set-up) are the ones closest to the truth.

One thing that I have always said when talking/debating this issue is:

If you are at a cross in the road and there are two paths to choose from..

Oh wait a second, Jo. I will write this in a rejoinder post to yours.

I am glad that you posted this.

I have to practice my electric guitar now because my lesson is tomorrow. (gulp)

Lorna

lovelyprism said...

LOL, I love Lorna, but her comment was a bit disjointed, made me laugh. Anyway, I have to agree with you but something you said really struck me. I had often wondered about all this, but I have never heard anyone say-- did God create us in His image or did we create Him in ours? That's a profound question! I can't believe I never really thought of it exactly that way.

ANLIFU said...

Neither God create us in His image Nor we create Him in ours? The Question you asked is totaly wrong...We live a real life coz we have our will that we use when we want to make a decision...
Today,Darwinism is nothing but a deviant thought...It s obvious that there is nothing can be exist by accident.
I don't deny biological evolution completely but evolutionary theory is absurd,that is all.

Firefly said...

This is a very interesting and controversial issue and like you say, not real answer. Debates on this issue can go on for ages and no real answer would be reached. I may be a Christen, but I do believe in evolution. I think you will get a very wide veriety of comments here today.

introspection said...

While reading this blog, I thought this is a very controversial subject. But apart from that I found that not only are Jo's blogs very interesting she is also a poetess (perhaps without knowing it herself). I find this to be like a poem:
'Did God create us in His image or did we create Him in ours?'

Arley said...

This is a very interesting topic. I was born and raised in the Catholic Church. I believe God created the heaven and earth and the first man and woman. I know many would not agree, but just because we can't see something, doesn't mean it is non-existent. We have faith that the sun will rise every day. We have faith that there will be air to breath. We can't see air, but we know its there. How did it get there? Where did the animals and plants come from? Can Science create an animal? I don't think so.

God has shown himself in human form. Read the book of Genesis! How about Moses? He saw God in human form as well. He appeared that way to be pleasing to us. So we would not fear him. I could go on forever, but you get the point. Lol!

greenpanda said...

Very good. We're studying this currently. I find it extremely interesting: if the universe was an accident, why does it still exist?

Russell said...

February 12 is also the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth! How 'bout that?!

Evolution? To deny it is real is absurd. The Catholic church condemned Galileo for advocating the theory that the sun was the center of the solar system back in the 1600s.

Though the Catholic church never actually banned Darwin's writings, it did not warmly receive them, either. But after the Galileo incident, well, politics were learned...

The Church of England officially apologized to Darwin's family this past week and I respect that. But there are many religious groups who overtly detest Darwin and his findings.

Such fundamentalist groups are free to believe that God created the world in six 24-hour days and that evolution is fiction. However, I only hope such people will respect the fact that other people can and do disagree with them.

By the way, there are also people who deny the Holocaust ever happened and that the moon landings were actually staged events...

Butler and Bagman said...

I've never been able to understand why there is an argument between creationism and evolution in the first place. Everything else God has done has involved processes and sequences of events. I guess I have no problem believing that any God worth believing in is capable of creating evolution.

nomore said...

The best philosopy is no philosopy, in this case......

DUTA said...

I agree with Butler and Bagman. There shouldn't be an argument between Creationism and Evolution. I believe in Evolution as being part of the huge Creation process of the universe.

The universe was created by God (call it a super Spiritual Power if you wish) in a certain logical order . Man constantly violates this order by war, migration, pollution, etc...

During the last century we see through the many disasters happening in various parts of he world, that God is angry with us. This leads me to believe hat He might decide to put an end to this world (by sending a natural calamity or by activation of nuclear power which is already in hands of irresponsible factors) - and then rebuilt the universe.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Incredible that Einstein could have such artistic insight, for a physicist.

I'm with Fat Albert.

Lorna, Learn Stairway to Heaven!

Russell said...

I won't come back to this post over and over..... but..! Just for the record, how do you folks who refer to "HE" this and "HE" that know this powerful spirit to be a "HE"? Isn't it possible it could be a "SHE"???

That's okay. I have never met a fundamentalist yet who dared called God a "SHE" when, after all, they are so sure God must be a "HE"!! Interesting, heh?

In my classes I ALWAYS refer to the deity as SHE and, of course, lots of people get upset and distraught because, well after all, everyone KNOWS God is a HE!! Right??!

Wait a moment... I have an answer. The guy I work with has a personal relationship with Jesus - he tells me that all the time. In fact, Jesus is always telling this guy what to do. My office mate will tell me about how he and Jesus talked about this or that.... which I find most interesting.

Perhaps my office mate can tell me whether or not God is a "HE" or a "SHE"! I am sure that Jesus can set my co-worker straight on this and I have a feeling that Jesus will tell my co-worker that, yes, yes, God is, in fact, a "HE"!! Heh!

BeNC said...

@Russell,
Well, I'm a christian too myself. But despite of that, I am not really agreeing on all the things which are taught by the pastors in churches.
To me, although being a Christian, we should not condemn other religions as well as their beliefs. This world and community is suppose to be a fair place to be, I reckon that rejecting the beliefs of others is a type of discrimination indirectly. To be frank, if some of the teachings are introducing moral lessons and aids us to be a better person in life, why not try to let our mind to be more free to receive those concepts?
As for the "HE" or "SHE" issue... Well, one single undeniable truth which we shouldn't doubt, is that, there is certainly a "supernatural power" which created this universe, a phenomenon which cannot be explained by mere human like us, probably it takes forever to explain that. But, is this "supernatural power", or God a "HE" or "SHE"? I don't really care, seriously. But the faith to believe that there is a God who worked wonders onto this world is the most importance thing to acquire.

expressionist said...

It's funny how the theory of evolution gets so many people upset. It's a scientific T-H-E-O-R-Y and not a "rule".

I think it's ridiculous to consider teaching even one religious theory in public classrooms or worse - let religion prevent us from teaching the theory of evolution which btw, is commonly accepted around the world.

So lets be fair. If we have to mention "creationism" as they did in my childhood classes (to point out why it wasn't legally possible to cover Evolution in our Californian classroom), then we might as well cover the other religions' theories on how "man came to be".

And one last thing - I've heard of a few skeleton discoveries over the last 20 years that were all supposed to be the "missing link" but for some reason much of the scientific (or is it non-scientific?) community has stated each time that it's not proof. So - if we find a skeleton to represent every decade of the evolution time line, can we finally end the subject and get on with our regressing?

DUTA said...

In answer to RUSSEL's remark:

God is above "He" and "She". We call God 'He' out of habit which evolved in the pariarchial world of ancient times.

Perhaps the word "It" would be more appropriate as most non-religious people refer to God as a supernatural Power. But it's not going to change as the 'He' is too deeply rooted.

Charles Gramlich said...

I learned about Darwin's theory in college and it made absolute sense to me. It never had one bit of effect one way or the other on my belief in God. I don't see the two as posing problems for each other.

Intelligent Design theory, though, is purely a creationist theory. It tries to attack Darwin and evolutionary theory at all times. I've read a bunch about it and have read all the major books fromt the primary ID proponents. Their committment to a religious and political agenda over any kind of scientific one is absolutely clear.

Ruth C Jones said...

I used to be mixed up on how I felt about science and faith. I'm a devout Catholic, and I struggled for a long time about evolution and how it fit into my faith. I took a Physical Anthropology class 2 years ago and I was going through a 5-year bible study course - I finally got it all figured out (for myself anyway). The Monsignor at my church said Faith and Science should complement - not contradict. He told us to try to think of it this way: Science is "how" we are here, and Faith is "why" we are here. I like this :-)

George said...

I think that essentially your article on Darwinism is good. And essentially true in alot of aspects. I would like to point out however, that when you comment on God in the part you say:
"I have never been able to understand a God that created the Heavens and the Earth, but has never revealed himself to us."

My theological answer to that would be that he did reveal himself through Jesus Christ.

Adios

Mary Ellen said...

Speaking as a Catholic, I agree with Arley,and would add that God did reveal Himself to us, not only in the events in Genesis, but as Jesus who is both Man and God.

Also, regarding the Catholic Church and Darwin, the Catholic Church's teachings have changed throughout the years. Unfortunately, many who don't follow the teachings of the Catholic Church are stuck in Pre-Vatican II and misinformation is often spread.

For instance, Pope John Paul II had said, while speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences...

"In his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII has already affirmed that there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of certain fixed points....Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than a hypothesis. In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies -- which was neither planned nor sought -- constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory."

In 2005, the Vatican's Chief Astronomer (yes! they have a chief Astronomer,go figure!)Father George Coyne, said this regarding "intelligent design":

"Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be. If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science."

Cardinal Paul Poupard added that "the faithful have the obligation to listen to that which secular modern science has to offer, just as we ask that knowledge of the faith be taken in consideration as an expert voice in humanity." He also warned of the permanent lesson we have learned from the Galileo affair, and that "we also know the dangers of a religion that severs its links with reason and becomes prey to fundamentalism."

So, you see....the Catholic Church is not living in ancient times and they are quite open to Science and the teaching of evolution. Basically, what they are saying is that God created the heavens and the earth...to evolve.

Sorry I got off on this long comment about the teachings of Catholicism ...it' must be that "nun" in me, eh? ;-)

PinkPanthress said...

Though I was raised as Muslim, I just cannot believe that a God did create only us alone in this huge Universe.
And these Days I don't even think there is a God, what with so much pain, destruction and other negative factors in this World.
I can't believe there is a God, who would not interfere if they saw the injustice that is going on all around the world. :(

@ Russell
Wow, you actually know someone who can talk with Jesus?
-Please, do ask him why lots of his Christian believers still try to erase the Muslims from Earth, after all they, too, believe that Jesus is a Prophet! ;)

Russell said...

Pink Pantress.... the man I work with is an idiot (!!). He is a very sad reflection, I hope, of my Christians. Any person who claims to have a personal relationship with Jesus to the point where Jesus suggests what color of tie you should wear or beleives that Jesus tells you if you should wear a raincoat or not is, well.... what can I say?

My co-worker considers me a heathen and someone to be avoided at all costs as I am (or was) a Catholic (and he believes all Catholics are going to hell - he is so nice....) and because I find his claim to have a one one one relationship with Jesus a bit pretenious...

To be most honest, the cruelest and most ignorant people I have ever encountered have often professed to be quite religious... and I find that sad.

I cannot believe that if Jesus really did walk into my co-worker's office that He would find the man to be living in the spirit of His teachings...

Take care...

Russell said...

Oops....! I am sorry to have misspelled your name, Pink Panthress!

And I should have typed "many" instead of "my" Christians....

PS... I do not wish to offend anyone. I just sometimes say what I feel and, to be honest, during the last couple of years I have not had very pleasant experiences with people who claim to be religious.... but on balance I do have respect for people and their religious beliefs - regardless of what they are. It is only when people start to push their ideas into my face that I find myself pushing back...

Jo said...

Lorna, yes! The least complex explanations are the ones closest to the truth. Or, common things being common ...

LovelyPrism, yes, I think about it often. If we are going to invent a God, we would make Him look like us, wouldn't we? (Now I am going to get hit by lightning...)

ANLIFU, oh, yes, I think all sorts of thing can exist by accident. Accidentally bring some chemical together, and *poof*...

Firefly, yes I consider myself a Christian too, but with reservations. :-)

Introspection, thank you. But it is something I think about sometimes. Yes.

Arley, I was born and raised in the Anglican Church, which is very similar to the Catholic Church, but I found myself questioning all of these things at a very early age. I wish I had your faith!

Greenpanda, good question! The universe consists of energy. Maybe one day it will go back to nothingness. Who really knows for sure?

Russell, yes! Darwin used tried and true scientific methods to postulate and prove his theory. How can anyone deny science!?

Butler and Bagman, if there is a Creator, it would make sense that he would use evolution as His form of creation!

Nomore, there may be something to what you say!

DUTA, I think what you are speaking of is Armageddon, which many people do believe is close at hand. If there were a God, He would certainly have cause to be angry with us!

Ivan, you should read "Einstein, His Life and Universe". Einstein was extremely poetic and very romantic too! :-)

Russell, I often say God is a Woman, and She has a sense of humor. Why else would She have created someone like your co-worker!? He gives you something to chuckle about, and he doesn't even know it. *heh*

BeNC, I wish I had your faith as well. However, I think the beauty of the Universe is much greater than the simplicity with which most Churches try to describe it. If God created the Universe -- where is He!? Why can't we see him?

Expressionist, yes, I agree. We need to keep an open mind, and unfortunately folks to expound the Theory of Creationism have closed minds.

DUTA, I think Russell's comment was a wee bit "tongue-in-cheek". I think it was meant to show that nothing is written in stone. :-) And yes, I agree, "It" would be good, because we don't know what "It" is.

Charles, the Theory of Intelligent Design really frightens me, because it is widely being accepted, and it is a step back to the dark ages.

Ruth, wow! The Monsignor at your Church sounds like a really enlightened man. And yes, I totally agree! They are science and religion are inextricable.

George, I think God has worked through many men such as Jesus Christ, but I still do not believe he has revealed himself. Again, we have to just rely on faith.

Mary Ellen, thank you! That is extremely interesting. I had no idea of the Catholic Church's position on science and religion. And Father George Coyne sounds like an amazing man. I am going to Google him and read more about him. Thank you! Very interesting!

PinkPanthress, "I can't believe there is a God, who would not interfere if they saw the injustice that is going on all around the world." That is the core question to all philosophy. How can God allow atrocities to happen to His children?

Russell, "To be most honest, the cruelest and most ignorant people I have ever encountered have often professed to be quite religious... and I find that sad." Oh, goodness! I have been at the receiving end of that "righteous, religious cruelty" more times than I can count. Hypocrisy reigns! "What would Jesus think!?" :-) And I agree, I don't wish to offend anyone, especially with my post today. I just think there is so much beauty in this world, and it can sometimes be found in the natural world!

scarlethue said...

Timely post-- just Tuesday night there was a special on Nova on PBS about the Intelligent Design trial that took place in 2005 in Dover, PA. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/

I thought an interesting point it made was someone said that if you have faith in God, that he created us in his image, then we should appreciate the ability to reason and knowledge that he's given us, and use it to the best of our ability instead of denying what we discover with it. And there's no reason why God couldn't have been involved in making evolution happen exactly the way Darwin wrote it.

That said, I'm an agnostic and fully believe in Darwin's theories, with or without a god involved. I am open to new ideas though (hence agnostic, not atheist)-- hey, believe whatever helps you sleep at night, right, as long as it doesn't interfere with me or my life. Which is why this intelligent design "theory" got put on trial-- it was basically creationism repackaged, spun if you will, and a school board tried to force science teachers to teach it even though it's not scientific. (I'm not arguing that it's not valid, just not scientific in the purest since of the word).

PinkPanthress said...

@ Russell
I, too, have always been open minded toward other People and their religious Beliefs, but with every Day it gets harder for me and I wish for a World with nor Religion at all. So far Religion only brought us Hate, War and Racism.
Compared to that, no positive Aspect of any Religion can sooth my Mind and/or convince me otherwise.

Honestly though, that Co-worker is funny. If Jesus talks to him, it should be him called a heathen. But that's another Story, I guess...

@ Jo
Yes, I believe if there is a God, they are not what we believe them to be! Or maybe they have given up on us weak minded human beings anyway!
Oh... and the humour of God, it's really a dead giveaway, isn't it? ;)

Hilary said...

Somebody pass the popcorn, please?

;)

Leave it to Jo to ask the controversial questions and Russell to answer them. You guys are great!

jackc50 said...

a good subject for a fine winter's day. people on both sides of the question will always believe they are right. me? i'm on evolution's side. i do believe there was a man named jesus and to this day,a couple of thousand years later the belief in him, the faith remains strong. however, the bible was written by human beings and we are not perfect. the idea that the whole earth was suddenly created, a mere four thousand years ago just doesn't hold water. of course thats just my opinion, actually alot of people's opinion. creationism seems to ignore cavemen, dinosaurs and lots of old stuff that scientists have been studying for years.......now i'm rambling, see ya soon, jc

leilani said...

However, i got here i am glad i am here. However my eyes were developed i am so glad i can see the things i can. Where ever i go when my last breath is taken i will be sad to leave here. Do you think there is ocean after death ? i hope so.

kenju said...

"And there's no reason why God couldn't have been involved in making evolution happen exactly the way Darwin wrote it." Scarlethue got that part right for me.

I believe that God created everything in the Universe. He set it in motion through the process described by Darwin. He had a plan and nothing was left to chance. To me, everything about nature and humans proclaims the existence of God and His plan. Nothing that detailed could have come about by chance. When you know how the body works, when you see the parallels in nature - how can you believe otherwise?

BeNC said...

Jo, well, regarding the "where is he" question, that's one of the questions which we take forever to explain. There will even be no answer to this no matter how advanced is science in this world. But we do admit that it is a supernatural kind of power which causing these aftermaths of miracles, don't you think? God or not, that really depends on you. To me, the word "God" is just a representative word for the "supernatural power", or the "source of The Big Bang".

Although I'm a christian, but I would love to learn from some other believers such as the famous Pierce Brosnan. He's a believer too, but he too practice and believes the good morals from other religions, for instance, Buddhism. And frankly, I'm actually disagree to some of the statements in the Bible, it says that we should spread the gospel to every corner of the world. Yes, if there is good news, and for the sake of community, we should do so. But is spreading the good news an activity done by force? Many Christians seemed wanting to force non-believers to believe in Christianity, and thus, many people across the globe actually hate Christians because of it.

No hard feelings to other devout Christians and Catholics, I'm just speaking my mind here.

@ Russell,
Did your friend really say that all Catholics are going to hell? I reckon that was an absurd statement anyway.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

As a Christian, I believe that God is ultimately creator and the driving force of Life.

As a scientist, I accept that there is evidence of evolution. However, instead of "natural" selection, I believe God is in charge.

As a microbiologist, I always felt that if the main driving force was the multiplication of genome, then the most advanced life form is arguably the virus and not man. Why? It needs advanced multi cellular organisms to multiply. Therefore it cannot have evolved early but later if not latest. Viruses are the ultimate in design for efficiency with the ability to multiply with so few genes. Some viruses are also probably the most resistant organism to destruction. Finally their immense ability to multiply puts it way ahead of anything else. I notice though that we do not like to think that we are not at the top of the evolutionary chain.

Also, as more evidence arises, the Theory of Evolution itself is evolving. For example, many scientist now believe in periods of accelerated evolution rather than Darwin's slow process of natural selection.

Christians should not blindly dismiss the evidence for evolution. However, equally, some scientists are over stepping their boundaries of knowledge to insist that evolution disproves the existence of God.

Finally, to your question; God created man in His image but man created images of created beings to replace the Creator.

Deedee said...

Excellent subject, as usual Jo! I personally believe the none of the theories cancels out any of the others. I'm reading an excellent book right now on the subject: The Language of God by Francis Collins. He is head of the Human Genome project, one of the world's foremost scientists and a former atheist. I highly recommend it!

Jo said...

Scarlethue, I agree with you completely. I think too many of other people's ideas are forced onto us, and they are no more proven than the Man in the Moon. I believe I am Agnostic too. It's funny how the Agnostic scripts were kept out of the Bible...

PinkPanthress, yes, I believe if there is a superior "Being" in the Universe, it would be in a form that is incomprehensible to us, and there is every possibility it does not even know we exist.

Hilary, never a dull moment over here... :-)

Jackc50, yes, I do believe Jesus was an amazing person. I do believe, also, that over the course of 2,000 years we have misinterpreted what he was saying, and who he was speaking to. I believe much of his story has been mis-translated as the Bible evolved.

Leilani, "Where ever I go when my last breath is taken I will be sad to leave here." Oh, goodness yes! What a beautiful jewel our earth is! (Especially Hawaii...)

Kenju, but you see, I believe science is just as beautiful. Everything has evolved beautifully because of survival of the fittest. If it didn't work, nature discarded it. I would like to think God is involved, but he really is very obscure.

BeNC, oh goodness yes. I totally agree with you. Every religion seems to think it is the ONLY religion. And I too often wonder what was the "source of The Big Bang". I mean, to think that all the energy in the Universe was at the beginning the size of a golf ball. Where did that energy originate? It makes my brain hurt just to think about it.

LGS, thank you! You know, I have often wondered how you are able to meld your scientific mind with your Christian mind, but you explained it perfectly. And yes, I think viruses and bacteria will thrive long after we are gone from this earth. We are definitely not the top of the evolutionary chain. I like the theory that a Higher Power was behind the creation and evolution of life, but not the way it is stated in the Book of Genesis. I just don't buy that. The theory of creationism just doesn't make sense to me. It's like a fairy tale. And yes, I believe in periods of accelerated evolution too. We can even see it in human beings in the last century.

DeeDee, "The Language of God". It sounds very interesting. I am just finishing a book called "The Year of Living Biblically". It's all such a mystery, isn't it?

BeNC said...

@Deedee,
Yup yup, that was a book which I've read too. It was written by the head of the Human Genome Mapping Project. A very good book indeed. it explains how The Big Bang works, how science actually relates to creationism, and stuffs like that.

It explains so well that a scientific person can actually be faithful in religion as well. There are actually no contradictions between the two if you read it.

Mclndesm said...

WOW! I don't know how you keep up Jo but you are so gifted in your writing. I really like what Ruth C Jones said " The Monsignor at my church said Faith and Science should complement - not contradict. He told us to try to think of it this way: Science is "how" we are here, and Faith is "why" we are here." I am Catholic and work towards being a good human being much more than spouting some fundamentalistic diatribe about what God expects of me or else!! I believe we are put here of our own free will otherwise what is the point? My faith has sustained me through incredible pain. Sure I have raged at God or doubted Him. I think that is what Jesus teaches us. That we are human ie:fallible. I am also a gay woman who spent the first 25 years of her life trying to be "straight" and be a "good" Catholic girl until I found myself at midnight, rocking in my livingroom contemplating suicide because I just couldn't do "it". Well, I heard (and no, not in speaking words) God tell me that "I made you this way" "You are Perfect as you are". I never questioned myself again and have never been afraid to be out because I am at peace with knowing I am here exactly as I am suppose to be. Now,I can say why me and not thousands of others who have succumbed to the dispair of feeling "apart" because of their sexual orientation (or anything really). I don't know the answer. I do truly believe that God exists in so many ways... the eyes of a newborn,the touch of a hand at just the right time. This world is a beautiful/ugly place and I wouldn't want to be anywhere at this time. And Russell, I will pray for your co-worker, because yes God and Jesus do have a sense of humor.

Mclndesm said...

Oh,I forgot to say that I am a believer in Darwinism. The evidence is so great and it just keeps on coming.

lovelyprism said...

Wow. I had a feeling this post would bring controversy and a lot of comments. I enjoyed all of them. Hilary, when you're done with the popcorn, pass it on to me :)

Jo said...

BeNC, I am definitely going to get a copy of that book, because it sounds absolutely fabulous!!! Thank you!

McIndesm, Oh, gosh! Thank you for sharing that with me. I do believe in God in the sense that if one has faith in Him, he does exist. Does that sound strange? And I have gone through periods of my life where I have believed in Him. It sounds as if you have suffered unnecessarily. So many fundamentalist religions believe that homosexuality is a "sin" and I strongly disagree with that. God did not create sinners. Homosexuality is as normal as having blue eyes or brown eyes... And yes, you are perfect just as you are...!

LovelyPrism, *heh* I always try to make sure there is something interesting going on here. :-)

Edward Yablonsky said...

I also believe in divine providence that is aloowing free will to exist. Events in history occur for a reason to further a divine mandate. Consider for example the background to the Concordat of the Vatican with Hitler. www.edwardsliteracylog.blogspot.com

The Promiscuous Reader said...

Jo, I'm kinda mystified by these remarks of yours, though they also explain a lot:

... I do believe Jesus was an amazing person. I do believe, also, that over the course of 2,000 years we have misinterpreted what he was saying, and who he was speaking to. I believe much of his story has been mis-translated as the Bible evolved.

You do realize that the gospels were not written by Jesus and are probably not accurate accounts of "what he was saying"? They were probably written no more than 40-60 years after his death, but that's long enough for a very large amount of error in transmission. Just think today's "urban legends" about celebrities, which spring up and are widely believed while the people they are about are still alive. Compare any of the first three gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) with the fourth (John) and you can see very different pictures of Jesus that circulated at roughly the same time. We have no reliable way of sorting out the authentic material in the gospels from the inauthentic, though thousands of serious and sincere scholars have tried for centuries. (A good introduction to this problem might be Bart Ehrman's book Misquoting Jesus. Ehrman's a scholar who comes from a conservative, even fundamentalist background but left much of that behind as he began serious study of the Bible. He knows his stuff, and he writes in a way that non-scholarly readers can understand.)

And that's probably a good thing, really, because the Jesus of the gospels is not, in my opinion anyway, a particularly appealing person. The gospels portray him as a hellfire and brimstone preacher who claimed that the end of the world was near, a faith healer and exorcist, who demanded that his followers abandon their families and give their first, total, loyalty to him. ("Family values" as today's Americans use the term were not high on his list.) And again, the picture John gives of him is somewhat different, but still not appealing to me.

True, people can pick and choose from the teachings in the gospels and find something that sounds nice and cuddly -- but you can do that with just about any text. (I like "If you love those who love you, what is your reward?" myself -- except that reward, or pay as it might better be translated, shouldn't enter into it, but reward/pay is a major theme in Jesus' teaching in the gospels.)

About "mis-translated" ... um, well, it's hard to say how much translation is an issue here, though it's likely that Jesus' teachings and teachings ascribed to Jesus were handed back and forth between Greek and Aramaic, even Latin speakers before they were finally written down in the gospels. That sort of thing should make you even more wary of assuming that you can discern the real Jesus behind the text, I'd think.

I wrote at my blog about some of these questions; I shouldn't run on in comments, but you can find more here.

Nose in a book said...

An excellent article was published on this subject yesterday:

www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/feb/17/evolution-versus-creationism-science

For the record, I believe in evolution. I believe there is a lot of strong evidence in support of it and every year more is discovered. It's a developing theory and, like most scientists, Darwin was wrong on some points, but that does not mean he wasn't a brilliant man.

I think it's also worth noting that evolution is not the only piece of science that creationism denies. It also expounds that the Earth and the universe are only 8000 or so years old, that man and dinosaurs coexisted. Some creationists even say that fossils and evidence of the Earth being millions of years old were put there by the devil to mislead us. To many Christians that is highly blasphemous as it suggests that the devil created something.

Thank you for prompting this debate Jo. It's interesting to hear a range of opinions on the subject.