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Clergy for Darwin Marches for Science

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Surely no one bet against that. From Ryan Cross at Science:

More widespread support comes from the Clergy Letter Project in Olympia, a group of some 14,400 ordained clergy members that supports teaching evolution and climate change. Founder and executive director Michael Zimmerman says a survey of the group’s members showed strong support for the march. Negative responses mostly came from people who said they believed the event wouldn’t change anything, and might even further polarize science, Zimmerman says. “The new slightly more political focus of the march might have turned some members off,” he says. (In contrast, he notes, responses in favor of supporting the People’s Climate March were unanimous.)

The Clergy Letter Project is best known for supporting Evolution Weekend at churches, which is just what you probably suspect it is.

Many faith groups and individual churches that Science spoke with expressed disappointment that the March for Science and the People’s Climate March were not combined into a single event on Earth Day. Faced with a choice of putting their efforts into backing just one of the events, the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco chose to support the March for Science. Ellen Clark-King, executive pastor of the Episcopal church, says she doesn’t think that choice shocked church members, who regularly see the stained-glass likeness of Albert Einstein and astronaut John Glenn in their cathedral, alongside Biblical characters and saints. More.

No wonder the Episcopal Church is mostly history now (“uninterrupted decline”). They put Einstein and Glenn in their windows because they have lost all sense of their own mission. Princeton and NASA, after all, are not going to give equal time to the saints. Nor should they.

Dam fine condos those church properties tend to become. Private builders don’t build like that any more.

Also:

In the crowd will be Brian Sauder, who grew up in a deeply religious Anabaptist community in rural Tazewell County in Illinois, where he passed time fishing and hunting. Now a minister in Chicago, Sauder is just one of many faith leaders who are planning to join the march, and see little conflict between faith and science.

Actually, almost no one does think there is such a conflict. If Ryan Cross were writing a serious story, he would interview people who wouldn’t take part for religious reasons or religious people who won’t take part because they think that the issues are likely to be misrepresented in such a venue. Or people who think that religious people shouldn’t be allowed to take part. But the story he wrote is much easier.

Science historian Michael Flannery writes to say,

This piece points out a central problem, namely, the conflation of Darwinism with “science.” I would be interested to know if Brian Sauder has drunk the Darwin Kool-Aid. If he has, then his church and science compatibility is not what needs explaining (few doubt the mutual compatibility of faith and science and Dawkins is among a very small minority of others who still beat the old warfare thesis drum).

What needs explaining is how a personal and providential God operates by and through a wholly random process.

If his answer is something on the order of, “God can do anything,” then I’m reminded of C. S. Lewis who said: “His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense.” He added, “meaningless combination of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words ‘God can’.

It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.” So how is a God personally interested and providentially involved with His creation reconciled with a theory rooted in chance?

Put another way, in this so-called march for “science,” precisely what kind of “science” are we talking about?.

Actually, the marchin’ churches don’t have to explain anything. If they are truly cozy with Darwin, they don’t have to believe that they are life forms capable of making a rational decision. Which solves a lot of problems that used to vex the ages.

See also: Atlantic: March for Science misunderstands politics This sounds like just another riff on: The public can’t make good decisions. One expects to hear that often now. And again, one wonders, would Dr. Jowett like to comment on recent trends in which post-normal, post-truth, and post-fact science seem normal now and objectivity is seen as sexist or worse?

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11 Replies to “Clergy for Darwin Marches for Science

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    So how is a God personally interested and providentially involved with His creation reconciled with a theory rooted in chance?

    Well, I can think of one answer – God does play dice with the universe, but uses loaded dice.

    Such a problem is one for theology, though, and – to be fair – theologians might have come up with a strong reason why this isn’t a solution.

  2. 2
    chris haynes says:

    The interesting question about the March for Science is this: Why was the turnout so bad?

    If there was “Strong support” by the 15,000 member Clergy Letter Project, then “strong support” for a march doesn’t include showing up for it.

    Although unmentioned in the media, the turnout for the March for Science was a joke. Based on the published photographs and a typical value crowd density, in Washington they had 3000 to 5000.

    In New York and Chicago, it was less. It is true that Chicago city officials claimed 40,000. But if that were the true figure, the crowd density was over 10 times that of a typical crowd, and 4 times the passenger density in United Airlines Economy Class.

    10 years ago, anti-war marches were drawing hundreds of thousands. It was reported that the feminist protests at Trump’s inauguration also brought out some hundred thousands. So why did the March for Science draw so few?

  3. 3
    Jon Garvey says:

    @Bob O’H:

    Well, I can think of one answer – God does play dice with the universe, but uses loaded dice.

    Such a problem is one for theology, though, and – to be fair – theologians might have come up with a strong reason why this isn’t a solution.

    I wrote a piece early in the year to debunk “loaded dice” as a tenable cause in creation, based more on science and philosophy than theology. It makes little sense theologically, either, though.

    It’s to be found here. As far as I can see, no kind of chance can ever be seriously regarded as a cause of anything at all.

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I have not seen chance alone proposed as a cause of anything. It is more like random variations in an otherwise ordered system.

    Regardless, there is a fundamental mystery about the origins of the order/regularities/laws/information – call it what you will – without which this universe would not exist. That mystery is not solved, however, by proposing some sort intelligent agency as the cause because the same question of origins applies to that agent.

  5. 5
    LocalMinimum says:

    Seversky:

    It is more like random variations in an otherwise ordered system.

    Ordered system? How? Are you in any way referencing Dawkins’ claim that natural selection isn’t random? Because I can point out how it is.

  6. 6
    rvb8 says:

    The ‘ordered system’ would be the selecting natural environment. It is very ordered, and selects the random variations that suit the environment.

    It’s quite straight forward really; as Darwin said, ‘descent with modification’.

    As for religion and science? Sorry, they have always been in conflict. Even the apologists above who join the march are merely facing the reality of their growing inconsequence.

  7. 7
    LocalMinimum says:

    rvb8:

    Very ordered? A natural environment? How so? Selection criteria are themselves arbitrary with respect to the genome, and will change with time of day, season, mutations in interacting populations, natural events such as weather and disasters, etc.

    Lets give an instance of a clearly universal beneficial mutation. Faster movement in an antelope-like prey animal. Lets say this is gained by a longer bound length (that’s how they move). Lets not worry about extra energy costs or growth stages necessary to produce this superior bounding mechanism, and just let it be totally free.

    Now, lets say that the foraging pattern is generally determined by a number of bounds in some direction, or a bound in a direction provided you are under some radius from the center of mass from the herd. The same input on the bound of the longer bounder is going to result in a longer bound, and thus increase their foraging radius over that of the base type.

    This could put them in range of ambush predators; maybe within tree lines where they can be dropped on, or even close enough to grass hiding ambushers such that they can be seized before the reaction + windup and release time of their bound is achieved.

    It could also make them more likely to injure themselves on hazardous terrain, as their total foraging area will be larger and exploring areas the base genotype aren’t.

    Now, imagine that the common genome stock of the herd that aren’t sick or injured have no issue outrunning these predators. Suddenly your obviously superior mechanism becomes a net liability; dependent on the local terrain, and the behavior of the phenotype and neighboring predator populations.

  8. 8
    asauber says:

    descent with modification

    This is a generalization.

    Like the climate changes or volcanoes sometimes erupt.

    Its a little lacking in scientific rigor.

    It doesn’t explain anything.

    Andrew

  9. 9
    goodusername says:

    LocalMinimum,

    Exactly; what is preferentially selected is:

    dependent on the local terrain, and the behavior of the phenotype and neighboring predator populations

    and other local environmental factors. IOW, not random.

  10. 10
    LocalMinimum says:

    goodusername:

    So, arbitrary with respect to the original genotype, and varying with respect to time on many axes independent of the genotype, and selecting new genotypes in ways unpredictable with respect to previous genotypes; but otherwise not “random”?

  11. 11
    Seversky says:

    LocalMinimum @ 7

    Now, imagine that the common genome stock of the herd that aren’t sick or injured have no issue outrunning these predators. Suddenly your obviously superior mechanism becomes a net liability; dependent on the local terrain, and the behavior of the phenotype and neighboring predator populations.

    That’s right. Whether the effect of a random mutation turns out to be beneficial or detrimental is entirely dependent on the environmental context. In what way is that a problem?

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