29 March 2007

Fundamental Agreements?

French scientists rebut U.S., Muslim creationism
(h/t to Petulant Rumblings for the link)

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor
ORSAY, France (Reuters) - With creationism now coming in Christian and Muslim versions, scientists, teachers and theologians in France are debating ways to counteract what they see as growing religious attacks on science.

Wow, I didn’t know that Falwell, et al, had teamed up with the ‘turrists’. But it turns out that they have. A Turkish “Islamist publisher” has mailed Muslim creationist books to schools in France. I’ve been saying all along that there was very little difference between Christian Fundies and Muslim Fundies (aka Islamists, aka turrists) and here is proof. They both object to the facts of science, among other things.

I really shouldn’t generalize the Muslim Fundies - as I don’t personally know any, but I do have the great misfortune to know some of the Christian variety and I suspect that the Islamic ones are just as narrow-minded and, not to put too fine a point on it, stupid. They reject Darwin and the myriad who have followed, because they believe, falsely, that Evolution denies the existence of God/Allah. Evolution restricts itself to what happened after the origin of life, and has nothing to say regarding those origins.

I don’t fall into the group who believe that all religious people are crackpots. I know, from personal experience, that a person can be both religious and open-minded. My parents, both of whom have graduate degrees in religion and are deeply spiritual, are open-minded and very intelligent. When I was first learning science in school I asked my father why the scientific and religious versions of creation didn’t jibe - specifically why the scientific record contradicts Genesis. He responded that the Creation Story was metaphorical and wasn’t to be taken as literal truth, that Genesis and the other early books of the Bible were descended from oral tradition. He also referenced Hinduism (although I didn’t realize it at the time) by saying, “a day to God could be millions of years to humans.”

So, I suppose that it follows that I do believe that those who believe in a literal translation of the Bible as the absolute and complete truth are seriously bent. I've tried to figure out how anyone could ignore the evidence in front of their faces and choose to believe instead only in something that's based entirely on faith. On the other hand, it must be nice to have someone else tell you how to think. I have to muddle through daily life, thinking for myself, and that can get tiring!!

It is fine for anyone to believe whatever he/she wants. The problem comes when she/he tries to force that belief on others and that is where Fundies (be they Christian or Muslim) are trying to do. Apparently with some success (as seen in this excerpt from the above article):

There is a growing distrust of science in public opinion, especially among the young, and that worries us," said Philippe Deterre, a research biologist and Catholic priest who organized a colloquium on creationism for scientists at the weekend.

There are many issues that go beyond strictly scientific or strictly theological explanations," he said at the colloquium in this university town southwest of Paris. Deterre's Blaise Pascal Network promotes understanding between science and religion.

I find it somewhat surprising, although I probably shouldn't, that a Catholic priest is the one who is pointing out the distrust. Surprising, because the Catholic Church isn't the first (or even fortieth) place where I would turn to look for scientific progressiveness. It only recently recanted its' heresy charges against Galileo, after all. I shouldn't be surprised, though, because the Catholic Church does run prestigious (if necessarily progressive) universities, such as Georgetown and Notre Dame.

In fact, I find Deterre's statement to be very brave. It seems to me, though I'm no Catholic scholar, to not be in line with the current Pope, Benedict XVI, who has reversed many of the progressive stances that John Paul II espoused.

One final quote from the article:

Barred from teaching creationism in U.S. public schools, some conservative Christians now advocate the "intelligent design" argument that some forms of life are too complex to have simply evolved. Scientists call this creationism in disguise.

And a US Federal Court, in Katzmiller v. Dover Area School District agreed:

For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the religious nature of ID [intelligent design] would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child"
After a searching review of the record and applicable case law, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of ‘irreducible complexity‘, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980's; and (3) ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community.

As a result of this case, the entire Dover Area School Board was voted out of office and the district had to pay over a million dollars in legal fees and damages.

Creationists just can’t get past the fact that they lost the “Scopes Monkey Trial” back in 1925, and all the subsequent rulings against them (visit the National Center for Science Education for more info), including the Edwards v. Aguillard SCOTUS case in 1987.

Has all this deterred the Intelligent Design proponents? Oh, hell, no! Take a look at the Discovery Institute website. They have three conferences scheduled over the next few weeks to promote ID. States, including New Mexico, have pending legislation on the subject (see Albuquerque Tribune commentary and rebuttal). Even as I type this, NPR’s “Fresh Air” is airing (on my local affiliate) the second in a series discussing Evolution versus Creationism.

I seem to have strayed from my original topic: the commonalities between Christian and Muslim fundamentalists. I’ll return to that topic, rest assured. But I felt I had to comment on the denial inherent in fundamentalism....

As I said to earlier, I believe that people are entitled to whatever beliefs they have. That’s what Freedom means to me. Believe whatever you want. If you want to be so narrow minded that you refuse to see the evidence all around you that society is becoming more accepting, more open and yes, more liberal - go right ahead. I’m sure ‘God’ will judge you accordingly. But please, please, please stop trying to tell others what to believe!

15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense

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