Saturday, September 03, 2011

Penny-wise and Pound Foolish

Some family humor from the wonderful xkcd (click the picture to see the full image).

Friday, September 02, 2011

David Sloan Wilson's Curious Theological Claims

David Sloan Wilson is a successful popularizer of Darwinism in such books as Evolution for Everyone and Darwin's Cathedral. In his new book, The Neighborhood Project, he offers some surprisingly uncompromising theological claims for an avowed atheist. He writes:

An omniscient God would have created the different kinds of hymenopterans in a single stroke, but evolution exhibits a property that in technical jargon is called path dependence and in more familiar terms could be called you can’t always get there from here.

The second part of this claim is entailed by the Darwinian position. They believe that evolution shows no progress, and is not developing toward any teleological end, but is simply a series of adaptations to local conditions.

The first claim, though, is the one that caught my eye. Wilson simply asserts that a creator would have created all the varieties of creatures at once. This lets him show that some variants (in this case, of insects) seem to have developed later than others, thus disproving creation and proving evolution.

Wilson's victory, though, is over a straw man. The vast majority of Americans believe that God created the universe. Yet very few would claim that all of the kinds of creatures were created at the same time. The Bible tells the story as successive days of creating one kind of thing after another, whether you read those days at ages or as twenty-four-hour periods. The most hard-core Young Earth creationists allow for all extensive micro-evolution within the various "kinds" that the Bible notes. Mainline Christians believe in a longer and more intertwined form of evolution, most accepting at least the main points of the Darwinian theory.

The creationist majority differs from the secular minority over whether evolution is guided by God, and whether it is going someplace.

That is the argument that Wilson needs to address.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Calvinism

Regular reader Ceemac posted this question:

Do you think it is in the DNA of Calvinists to be disgruntled? After all we have a commitment to always be working to reform church and culture. So we are inclined to look at a situation and focus on what needs to be fixed and not what is working.
I do think that a worldview that began with protest and reform does tend to emphasize the negative. Nonetheless, the core of the scripture that Calvinists confess is that God created the world and called it good, and Christ ultimately triumphs over sin. The basic message of Christianity from beginning to end is pretty positive, and Calvinists embrace that message.

I think one of the reasons the Calvinists tend to be so critical is that we find it exasperating that other worldviews do not see the good order God made in the world. Calvinists are stewards of the world in order to work with and bring out the good order that the sovereign God made.

I have toyed with the idea of writing The Happy Calvinist. That happiness is chastened by the knowledge of sin and the Fall, but nonetheless remains cheerful knowing that God triumphs, first and last.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rick Perry is Who George W. Bush Was Trying to Be

I thought from the moment that Rick Perry mused that Texas might secede from the Union (again) that he was going to be the Republican nominee for president in 2012. I still think so.

George W. Bush was a good-old-boy in the making from a small town in Texas. Then they sent him off, against his will, to the fancy prep school and university that his northeastern blue-blood family traditionally attended. He didn't like either one, spending his real energy on social life and cheerleading. He even got a further degree from another fancy northeastern school. He was a military pilot, but mostly to avoid the war. But as I read his history, George W. Bush never really came into his own until he got to be head cheerleader again for a sports team. That job used his best, Texas-honed sales skills. His Texas Methodist wife finally helped him straighten out, dry up, find Jesus, and become a stand-up guy. He was always a political amateur, but he caught the eye of a political professional, Karl Rove, who recruited the money and borrowed other professional politicians from Bush, Sr.'s shop.

Rick Perry was a good-old-boy in the making from a small town in Texas. Except his Texas roots went back generations, proletarian and petite bourgeois all the way. He went to the local high school, was an Eagle Scout, married a Texas Methodist who was his elementary school sweetheart. He then went to an iconic Texas school, where he majored in social life and cheerleading. He became a military pilot, but for real. His real education, as he tells it, came from his boss when Perry was a door-to-door salesman. Perry was a serious and competent Democratic politician, supporting Al Gore for president and backing Bill Clinton's health care plan. Perry switched parties when the opportunities were better, and drew the attention of Karl Rove. When Perry and Rove fell out, Rove picked up George W. Bush.

George W. Bush represented what the activated part of the Republican Party wanted, but in him it was an overlay that went against most of his training. Rick Perry, on the other hand, really is a white Christian businessman who supports government spending for people and interests like his, but is suspicious of government spending for others. And he is a competent politician who can learn enough about government to make just-in-time executive decisions.

I think Gov. Perry will give the Republican base a chance to try to replay the Bush administration, only this time make it come out better.