Archive for Christianity

Archaeopteryx–icon of evolution

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2010 by airtightnoodle


If you are in the Houston area, come on down to the Houston Museum of Natural Science to check out the archaeopteryx exhibit.  Running until September 6, 2010, this exhibit will “present some of the finest known fossils from the late Jurassic period showing life at the time of these first birds. Fossils from the world renowned quarries of Solenhofen, Germany, will be featured.”

Click here for more info including ticket prices.–seeking harmony between science and faith

Posted in Evolution, religion, science with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2009 by airtightnoodle

Those that have read “The Language of God” by Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project, will be familiar with the term “biologos”.  This is a word Collins coined to describe his perspective on evolution/science and religion as he is uncomfortable with the term “theistic evolution”. 

While I do own the aforementioned book and believe it is valuable (though more so for those of a religious persuasion that have difficulty accepting modern scientific truth), I don’t necessarily believe it was well-written.  I do applaud Collins for creating this new BioLogos Foundation, however, and hope the writing on this site will be an improvement.  The mission of the foundation, as stated on their website, is:

We believe that faith and science both lead to truth about God and creation.

The BioLogos Foundation promotes the search for truth in both the natural and spiritual realms seeking harmony between these different perspectives.

This is certainly a mission I can agree with and support, thus far.

One part of the website addresses commonly asked questions regarding faith, science, and their compatability.  For example, one of the questions addressed on the site is, “How was the Genesis creation story interpreted before Darwin?” 

I have not browsed the site in its entirety, but it is one I have bookmarked with the intent of investigating further in the near future.  I encourage others to go check it out as well.


Don McLeroy attempts to spin the issue

Posted in Education, Evolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2009 by airtightnoodle

Today in the Austin American Statesman we have an editorial from none other than the state’s chair of the board of education–Don McLeroy!  Recall that McLeroy is himself anti-evolution, though he has continued to claim for years that he has no intention of promoting the teaching of creationism and/or intelligent design in science classes (though his actions have always said otherwise).

According to McLeroy’s editorial today, the blame for this controversy lies at the feet of the proponents of evolution:

The controversy exists because evolutionists, led by academia’s far-left, along with the secular elite opinion-makers, have decreed that questioning of evolution is not allowed, that it is only an attempt to inject religion or creationism into the classroom. Even Texas’ 20-year-old requirement to teach the scientific strengths and weaknesses of hypotheses and theories has come under attack. Words that were uncontroversial and perfectly acceptable for nearly two decades are now considered “code words” for intelligent design and are deemed unscientific. The elite fear that “unscientific” weaknesses of evolution will be inserted into the textbooks, leaving students without a good science education and unprepared for the future, compelling businesses to shun “illiterate” Texas.

McLeroy makes several misleading statements here.  First, acceptance of the validity of evolution is not restricted to academia’s “far-left”.  Even if that were true, proponents of evolution are not against questioning of the theory, or any theory.  Questioning the world around us is part of the scientific method.  Furthermore, there are plenty of real controversies about the theory of evolution that are currently being questioned and examined by scientists around the globe. 

What educators and scientists ARE concerned about is the attempt to confuse students about the theory.  Anti-evolutionists are trying, as they have been for years, to make it appear as if evolution is a theory in crisis, when it certainly is not.  By making it appear thus, this opens the door for creationists and intelligent design proponents to say, “Look, students.  Here is the alternative.”  Such teachings may be acceptable at home, at church, or in a religion or philosophy class, but these ideas of origins are unscientific.  Being unscientific, they do not belong in a science class. 

Now, others might point out that having the phrase “strengths and weaknesses” in the standards does not mean that teachers will be tossing ideas about creationism around willy-nilly.  True.  However, having the phrase “strengths and weaknesses” in the science TEKS is dangerous regardless.  This phrase itself is unscientific and gives students false ideas about the very nature of science.  McLeroy points out that this phrase has been part of the standards for several years and was uncontroversial until recently.  That’s not really the case.  There have been many people who have wanted that phrase removed for YEARS.  (Recall that several months ago state board of education member Barbara Cargill wrote an editorial in which she stated that the phrase had served Texas students well for years.  When I emailed and asked her to explain this statement, she never replied.)

McLeroy points out that the new standards focus on contructing “testable explanations”–a phrase he says should be satisfactory to both sides of the issue.  He states that, “The debate can now shift from “Is it science?” to “Is it testable?””  Fair enough.  The issue of something being testable is, of course, very important to the scientific method.  McLeroy claims that one of the new controversial science standards is simply following through with this idea of “testability”:

A new curriculum standard asks Texas students to look into this question. It states: “The student is expected to analyze and evaluate the sufficiency or insufficiency of common ancestry to explain the sudden appearance, stasis, and sequential nature of groups in the fossil record.” It should not raise any objections from those who say evolution has no weaknesses; they claim it is unquestionably true.

The question I have for McLeroy and others on the board who support these changes is…why are you singling out evolution?  If you truly feel that the “strengths and weaknesses” of theories need to be addressed, why are you particularly singling out this one theory?  Why aren’t there any standards being drafted to address the strengths and weaknesses of the germ theory of disease, for example?

In his concluding paragraph, McLeroy states:

If we are to train our students, engage their minds and, frankly, be honest with them, why oppose these standards?

McLeroy himself is clearly being dishonest.  By singling out evolutionary theory for “strengths and weaknesses” and attempting to use a Stephen Jay Gould quote to discredit the theory (yes, you’ll have to read the editorial for that tid-bit) he shows that his actions are, in fact, religiously motivated. 

So, to answer McLeroy’s question…why should we oppose such standards?  Here are just a few reasons.

1. These standards give students a false idea that there is a scientific controversy over evolution.  There is not.
2. The phrase “strengths and weaknesses” gives a false idea about the very nature of science. 
3. This approach could potentially lead to costly lawsuits when teachers use the standards to promote alternative theories in class like creationism (or, vice versa, teachers could potentially be accused of not adequately covering the “weaknesses” part of the clause).
4. Potential damage to the educational system, reputation, and economic growth of our great state. 
5. Potential damage to the educational system, reputation, and economic growth of our COUNTRY (recall that Texas is one of the largest purchasers of textbooks, so what Texas decides largely impacts the rest of the nation).

Texas science standards…making the state look bad

Posted in Education, Evolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2009 by airtightnoodle

In the Dallas Morning news from Tuesday, we have an interesting editorial from Daniel Foster, physician and professor.  Daniel points out that

Six thousand years and 13.7 billion years can not be brought together. What is the child to believe?…The first rule of all ethics is, “Do no harm.” I believe it is harmful, and therefore unethical, to confront our children with two disparate truths considered by anti-evolutionists to be equally true.

I think Daniel hit the nail on the head with this comment.  There is no scientific reason to teach, in a science class, that there is evidence for a 6000-10,000 year old earth.  If a student brings it up in class, should the teacher address it?  Sure.  But to promote such discussion about unscientific ideas about origins as part of the state’s standards is ludicrous. 

These ridiculous standards have the potential to make Texas a laughing-stock in several respects.  Foster states, for example:

If Texas appears to the nation and the world uncommitted to science, we confuse outsiders about whether we mean what we say about improving the quality of the education we offer our youth and about our research aspirations.

Texas’ overall high school graduation rate is among the lowest in the nation. Of Texas high school graduates, only 41 percent are ready for college-level math and only 24 percent are ready for college-level science. Many of our most qualified students now leave the state to go to college, creating a “brain drain.” We claim as a state that we mean to improve, but what message does the proposed action regarding our textbooks convey?

Despite our poor high school graduation rates, Texas actually has several great research universities and top-notch medical centers.  It would be a shame for the reputation of these institutions to be damaged as a result of unscientific standards being included in the TEKS.

You can read the rest of the editorial here.

The Incarnation–God’s Plan B?

Posted in religion with tags , , , , , , , on November 16, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Most Christians believe that God created a perfect world that was then sullied by human sin.  As a result, atonement had to be made. 

Does this view make the Incarnation contingent on human sin?  By sinning, did humanity earn an Incarnation which otherwise never would have happened?  What are your thoughts?

Nature’s Witness by Daniel Harrell

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , , , on November 2, 2008 by airtightnoodle

A new book on Christianity and evolution is available entitled “Nature’s Witness: How Evolution Can Inspire Faith“.  You can read an intriguing excerpt from the book at Quintessence of Dust.

What did Paul say about creation?

Posted in Evolution, Genesis with tags , , , , , on October 25, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Some creationists attempt to say that Jesus and Paul also taught a literal six day creation.  I’ve already discussed what Jesus had to say here.  Regarding Paul, Romans 5 is often quoted to support creationism, as Eric Kemp does here:

If death and suffering already existed before the first man had a chance to sin, why do we need a savior?  The most important doctrine of Christianity, humanities need for a savior and Jesus’ ability to fill that roll, is based, according to Paul, on Adam’s first sin (Romans 5:16-18). 

Are we condemned merely because of Adam’s sin?  No.  According to Genesis, sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, but we are all sinful.  Do we not all deserve damnation based on our own deeds? 

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)

Was Jesus’ goal to save us from physical death?  Are we ever promised that we won’t have to suffer physical death simply because we are believers?  No.  We are safe from spiritual death because Jesus died for our sins and rose again. 

The entire focus of Romans 5 is man’s fall and redemption through Jesus Christ.  It is not teaching creationism.