Evolution cannot be reconciled with traditional Christianity

A young Charles Darwin

A young Charles Darwin

Critics of evolution generally get one thing, and only that one thing, right. Christianity as we traditionally understand it cannot be reconciled with evolution.

South Carolina State Senator Mike Fair is the latest politician to wade into this debate, arguing in a newspaper op-ed that teaching the science of evolution has “placed a stranglehold on the search for truth.” That’s true insomuch as the science is so solid as to exclude alternative explanations of our origins, but it is also true in a subtler and, for religious conservatives, far more dangerous sense.

Evolution is not merely an explanation of where we come from or how living creatures change. We are coming to recognize that evolution is the physics of life, the mechanism by which all living systems grow, change, interact, thrive and potentially fail. As powerful as Darwin’s discoveries are, they have far less to do with events that happened hundreds of millions of years ago than with our understanding of our place in the world now.

Understanding the science of life means embracing a meaning of life which many conservative Christians simply cannot tolerate. In short, it is nearly impossible to develop a working grasp of evolution without wriggling loose from eighteen centuries of Christian teaching on the place and significance of humanity in the world. After slipping that skin we get a Christian message more humble, humane and profound, but utterly irreconcilable with fundamentalist priorities.

Darwin’s discoveries are a decisive step beyond the shocks we experienced in realizing that neither the Earth, nor the Sun, nor even our solar system were at the center of everything. Those jolts were disconcerting, but still left enough room for a comfortably arrogant vision of our own role in the universe. Christianity cannot survive our understanding of natural selection without experiencing some painful evolution of its own.

At stake is far more than the question of where we come from. No one who needs to be taken seriously is still invested in the idea that Genesis is a history lesson. What makes evolution challenging not what it says about a literal, historical interpretation of the Bible, but what it tells us about our place in the world.

In Christian tradition human beings are central to the story of the universe. God, a deity with a distinct human-like personality who thinks and talks and feels, worked out his entire plan for the universe around his interest in human beings whom he created very personally and in his own image.

Unique among all of creation, only human beings have a “spirit” capable of an eternal existence in this scheme. Humans alone are responsible for the “fallen” state of the world and only through human beings can the universe we redeemed. God in the Christian story did not send his Son to become a horse or a lion, but a human.

What we’ve learned from 150 years of science since On the Origin of Species is that humans occupy a significantly less central role in the universe than what our religious stories envisioned for us. We did not merely evolve from simpler life forms, we remain tied to them in an endless chain of causes and reactions, beginning with the simplest building blocks of life and continuing through every aspect of the natural world. I am as much a platform for bacterial life as a father, brother or child. We cannot readily claim to mastered agricultural without simultaneously speculating whether human intelligence was merely a successful evolutionary strategy of early grains. If I suddenly failed to be a viable host for the microbes in my gut I might perish just as certainly as if I jumped off a bridge.

And as for being a “higher order of life,” our genome matches 99% of the genes in our nearest non-human relative, the chimpanzee. About half of our genome is present in plants like the banana. A third of our genes are shared with one of our more distant relatives, the yeast cell. Our genome developed from distant ancestors we share with every other living thing on Earth.

Discovering that Jesus, supposedly the literal human son of God, was 99% chimpanzee is theologically awkward. Even more challenging is the realization that we are tied into a biological web in which every living thing is bound to everyone else, such that changes in one can create unpredictable changes elsewhere in the biome. Even worse, this network extends beyond even living things to the environment around us.

Traditional Christian understandings of the nature of life are built on a hierarchy with humans sitting at the top, separate from and superior to all else. From that assumption we have developed the idea that we exist in some sphere independent of the natural world. That same misconception has for centuries fed a continuing hereditary hierarchy among humans, justifying exploitation and oppression as an extension of the “God-ordained” hierarchies in the natural order.

We have not only learned that we are not on top, but more importantly – no such hierarchy exists. The direction of human evolution might depend less on our own intuition and ingenuity than on the evolutionary success of a particularly noxious virus, or the destruction of some key resource.

We are neither supreme over nor insulated from the fate of the rest of “Creation,” or from each other. Contrary to the half-baked understanding of evolution leveraged by 19th century politicians and racists, my survival and success depends very deeply on yours. Evolution for humans is a heavily collaborative process. That realization may challenge a rigid interpretation of Christianity, but it can be incorporated quite easily with the earliest message of the faith.

Christian conservatives often express the fear that evolution reduces us to mere animals, removing any sense of purpose or meaning to life. It is true perhaps that it threatens the foundations they have built on which to live a meaningful life, but that is not the end of this story.

Our understanding of the nature of life on Earth does absolutely nothing to demean us, but it does give us a new lens through which to view the world. Evolution inspires a great deal more compassion and humility than we might have achieved without it. It may be inconsistent with a conservative vision of Christianity, but with some humility there are adaptations that could work.

Sen. Fair is worried about the “stranglehold” tightening around his vision of the truth. No law is going to loosen that grip or salvage a discredited understanding of the world, but there are alternatives. Interpreting Christianity through the lens of what we know about the natural world is not so hard. A Jesus who is biologically related to chimps and microbes is in some regards a grander, more universal savior than one who is separate from the rest of the natural world and only interested in humans.

If the purpose of religion is to bring us into line with truth, then hiding evolution from schoolchildren is a moral outrage. A religious understanding that can only be sustained by lies and concealment is no moral credibility. Scientific discoveries about our origins and development are in fact inconsistent with traditional, conservative Christianity, but there is hope. There always the opportunity to evolve.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Evolution, Religion
213 comments on “Evolution cannot be reconciled with traditional Christianity
  1. Ivar says:

    The only truly “traditional Christian Church”, being the Catholic Church, has no problem with the teaching of evolution. It is the more modern Christian groups sprouted off by the beliefs of some particular person with their own little interpretation of things. In terms of American conservative Christian churches, I would also not that most that I have met that have a strict literal interpretation of the Bible, also hold that same attitude towards laws and the Constitution.

  2. If you want to watch an excellent documentary on intelligent design and how it really is just religious doctrine dressed up as a science in a vain attempt to sneak Christian creationism into public school science classes, there is an excellent documentary entitled Intelligent Design on Trial. It came out on the PBS show NOVA several years ago. I think you can watch it online for free here:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/intelligent-design-trial.html

  3. tuttabellamia says:

    All this talk of evolution reminds me of a dream I had over 5 years ago, in which President Obama spoke to me. He said, “In order for you to EVOLVE intellectually, you need to relate more to people.” That was it, and then I woke up. It was one of those aha moments.

    The funny thing is that the word “evolve” is not a word that I would normally use. I would be more likely to say “develop” or “grow” intellectually.

    I guess the message originated in my subconscious, and it turned out to be true. I think I had BBC radio playing in the background, so my sleeping brain probably picked up the word “evolve” from the BBC.

    The dream in which the name “Tuttabella” appeared to me was also related to education.

  4. desperado says:

    OK, most of this is way over the head of a blue-collar, community college dropout from Pasadena, but I will say I am a big supporter of the Big Bang Theory. Sheldon is a hoot and Penny is fine as frog hair.

    Carry on.

  5. rightonrush says:

    Oct. 6, 2014
    “WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of an Ohio public school science teacher who was fired for promoting the theory of creationism and refusing to remove religious materials from his classroom.

    The justices on Monday let stand an Ohio Supreme Court ruling that found the Mount Vernon school district had grounds to fire John Freshwater in 2011 for insubordination for keeping religious books and a poster of a praying president.

    The state court said the district infringed on Freshwater’s First Amendment rights by ordering him to remove his personal Bible from his desk, but found he was insubordinate for keeping the other items.

    Freshwater’s attorney had argued that the firing violated the teacher’s free speech rights.”

  6. johngalt says:

    “Christianity and science do not conflict. Christianity and make-believe do conflict.”

    From Fair’s editorial. This might be the most ironic statement ever put on paper.

  7. johngalt says:

    Wow. Bring up evolution and 136 comments in two days. Fortunately, I don’t see many arguing for creationism but, for the record, I want to emphasize that modern biology simply does not make sense without the principles of evolution. Whether this means understanding biodiversity, fighting aging, or curing cancer, none of it is remotely possible without evolutionary principles. For those who argue for “teaching the controversy”, there is none. Amongst professional biologists this has been settled science for more than a century. Sure, the details of some things are still being worked out, but Darwin’s big picture was entirely correct and actually scientists (as opposed to some high school biology teachers in Southern states) who seriously disagree with it are extremely few and very far between.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Ya really should have your avatar on for this one, Bud.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      John Galt, we were wondering what took you so long to show up on this thread, considering you are probably the most “evolved” person here with respect to the blog topic.

      • fiftyohm says:

        He prolly got a slow start to the week as a result of the ‘evolution’ of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

      • johngalt says:

        There were indeed some products of the venerable S. cerevisiae consumed this weekend, but it was a variety of other commitments that kept me largely offline.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Sweet beer?

      • johngalt says:

        Since we’re talking about evolution…

        The reason yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) makes ethanol is because it has a very odd metabolism. Most cells use glucose as the preferred energy source, which are broken down into water, carbon dioxide and energy. Relatively little energy is generated in the first part of the process, breaking the sugar down to pyruvate, which yeast then converts to ethanol. Most of the energy comes from the subsequent conversion of pyruvate to CO2 and water, which requires oxygen. So yeast largely foregoes a huge store of energy by stopping halfway. This would appear to make no evolutionary sense.

        So why does it do this? Knowing nothing of what I just said, Pasteur proposed a reason. He drew images of the rich microbial world of wine making. He noted that the grape must, prior to fermentation had dozens of creatures living in it (neither the first nor last disconcerting revelation from a microbiologist). As fermentation progresses, there were fewer and fewer different species; eventually there was only one left, yeast. It had been known for some time that yeast was responsible for the alcohol and he suggested that it used it as a toxin to kill off its competitors, which cannot survive in the 12-14% alcohol of a nice Burgundy. Once it was the only thing left, when the sugar was exhausted, it could then consume the ethanol at its leisure.

        Incidentally, cancer cells largely do the same thing (forego the second half of glucose breakdown), but for different reasons and they do not, fortunately, produce ethanol while doing it. It’s called the Warburg effect and is another reason why basic research on seemingly unrelated areas pays huge dividends.

      • fiftyohm says:

        So – a brewing question for you As you doubtless know, I brew. Micro labs in college helped with technique, but I’m puzzled re: the following:

        In brewing, sanitation after the wort has cooled below about 160 F is critical, lest you get a bacterial infection in the brew or fermentation by unknown strains of yeast – the byproducts of which produce off-flavors. But when we make wine, the input to the fermenter is absolutely loaded with who-knows-what organisms, in addition to the S. cerevisiae and wild yeasts on the skins. The juice is obviously never boiled like beer wort. How do we get away with that?

      • fiftyohm says:

        Also of note here on this slightly OT thread is the significance of S. cerevisiae in the evolution of human civilization. As population density increased, local water supplies became befouled with pathogens. Beer itself will support almost no common human pathogens. Effectively, if you drank beer, you were good to go. If you drank the water, you ‘went’ all the time, and possibly didn’t survive to reproduce.

        This web of life in which we live is amazing. Our species bears the marks of countless others, including those not in our direct evolutionary lineage. You think we “made” dogs? Guess again. In all likelihood not only would they be different were it not for us, but we too were it not for they.

      • johngalt says:

        For wine, it must have to do with the microbial communities on the grapes, that S. cerevisiae is the predominant yeast species on the plant. A long-retired colleague who was instrumental in early genetics in yeast had a fabulous idea for a swan song to his illustrious career: determine the genetic diversity of wild isolates of S. cerevisiae. He wrote a grant to support the collection of these isolates by himself. Where would one go to be sure of finding it? Why, Napa, Burgundy, Tuscany, Ribiera del Duero, McLaren Vale. Good for him. The homogeneity of isolates he found was the surprise to this, so human culturing of Vitis vinifera must have carried with it a similar group of microbes. The grape must might also have compounds that inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that would cause off-tastes. Wine lasts longer than beer due to the higher alcohol content killing off anything that might spoil it later.

        For beer, the combination of the sugars and other nutrients in the wort must be more conducive to growth of bacteria that produce off-tastes. Most home brewers carbonate the beer in the bottle, where it usually sits for quite a bit longer than the primary fermentation, giving even tiny levels of contamination plenty of time to grow out of control given the lower % alcohol.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Why thanks, JG!

        I don’t bottle, but dispense from a cask with an Angram hand pump after racking out of the primary fermenter.. The cask is the secondary. Sadly, I brew in only 5.5 gallon batches, so the beer doesn’t have time to ‘go off’. 😉

      • johngalt says:

        If you’re brewing in “only” 5.5 gallon batches then there shouldn’t be enough time for it to go bad before you drink it all. Man up!

      • tuttabellamia says:

        JG, and I was sure you were getting ready to receive your Nobel Prize, getting ready for your closeup.

  8. tuttabellamia says:

    What Lifer posted about Jesus being 99% chimp is not just “theologically awkward,” it’s semantically incorrect. Nor are chimps “99% human.” Sharing a genome is not the same as being a hybrid such as the one discussed by Fly, in which a female chimp is inseminated with human sperm. It’s not as though the 99% of a human that shares the genome with a chimp is 100% chimp. It is 100% of the “genome” that we share with chimps; therefore that 99% is just as human as it is chimp.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      The cool thing about this blog is that there are people here who will actually understand what I’m trying to say, no matter how rambling and awkward my post.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Well, it is a bit “theologically awkward” if Jesus is the actual son of god.

      However, it is certainly possible that god was slow playing his/her/its hand by starting a few eons of evolution and threaded the needle to make sure his son originated as a human rather than going down the chimp path.

      Alternatively, I guess we go with god slow playing his/her/its hand with a few eons of evolution and then believe Mary was artificially inseminated by god.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        My fellow Catholic, as long as you don’t call the conception of Jesus the “Immaculate Conception” we are cool.

        I hope you know that the Immaculate Conception refers to Mary herself, as she supposedly was born free of original sin, unlike the rest of us, and so that explains why it was ok for her, an unbaptized woman, to be the mother of God.

        I call you a fellow Catholic because you did say once “I love me some Catholic Church,” which was an “awkward” way of phrasing it, but then you are cool and hip at expressing yourself.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Your phrasing is cool and hip but still “syntactically awkward.”

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        It is but a tiny percentage of folks what would recognize Mary as the immaculately conceived one rather than Jesus.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Angels and pins.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I’m more a Catholic by marriage than by faith.

      • fiftyohm says:

        HT – And I only by birth! (And some early indoctrination.)

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Fifty: Catholic by birth or by baptism? I don’t think you’re officially Catholic until you’re baptized.

        I’m Catholic by baptism, by family indoctrination, 2 years of Catholic middle school, and 4 years of Catholic high school.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Tutt- Birth, baptism, catechism (some voluntary and some not) into high school, and a fair amount of self-study.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Same here. I also took catechism classes on Sundays at our church from grades 1 to 6, plus I’ve studied a lot on my own.

      • fiftyohm says:

        “Who made you?” 😉

      • tuttabellamia says:

        That wink implies I’m supposed to get that question but I don’t. 😦

        Is that supposed to be some inside Catholic joke?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Pray tell !

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        While solidly behind the times in so many ways, many Catholic churches were brilliantly ahead of the curve when it came to offering multiple services across the weekend.

        Knock out Mass on Saturday evening so that I can play golf on Sunday morning? Why yes, and peace be with you brother.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Ah, wise Tutt! It was an inside thing! From the first catechism, recall then the nun asked the class, “How made you?”, all were to respond in unison, “God made me!”

        There was a bit of double entendre there as well, as in, “Who made you ]go]?”, In which case, the response would be “My parents made me!” Which is of course true in a completely different sense as well!

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Fifty, you are a self-made man.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Not “How”, dang it, “Who” for cryeye… Sorry.

  9. fiftyohm says:

    Once upon a time, on a planet far, far away, a self-aware species evolved. For thousands of years, they thought they were unique, and at the canter of the universe and all there was. They developed mythologies to reinforce this. In general, these mythologies involved super-beings with characteristics much like themselves. And these beings were often violent and vengeful, just like themselves.

    At some point in the record a rather elaborate mythology developed involving tricameral beings, redemption, ghosts, and goblins as well as the usual violent sacrifice, and all the rest. Over time, this cult came to dominate most of the- planet. For centuries, it happily continued the business-as-usual of murder and mayhem, seeking to wipe out any who dared defy or disbelieve the cult’s mythology. In time though, the cult became more tolerant of outsiders and their ideas. Members even began to question whether or not they really were at the center of all things. Even this was eventually accepted by the hierarchy. The largest of the sects within the cult even retained astronomers! The leaders of the cult maintained some semblance of consistency by asserting that the ancient runes were not to be taken literally, but rather that they were allegorical in nature. Of course, not all went along, and a minority clung to the letter of the Old Word. Some attempted to reconcile scientific discoveries with the literal truth of the runes into a twisted, hybrid parody of both. It seems this approach, (from what we can tell from the capsule), was somewhat successful in luring many back into the dark.

    Naturally, other cults sprang up in the interim. For the most part, these continued to accept the literal truth of their own runes which, like the others, tended towards violence and mayhem.

    The non-literalists of the first group explored their origins, the inner workings of their kind, their planet, and even began to venture beyond their home world. The literalists memorized runes, chanted, and prayed to their gods for the end of this unholy situation. And they continued to kill each other in sometimes spectacular ways.

    The record of this world stops here We don’t know if the literalists eventually died out, and the species continued to expand its horizons, Or if the literalists flourished and managed to drag the civilization back a couple of thousand years. We don’t know if the species had expanded beyond their world before the Vogon fleet shattered the planet, for nothing remained

  10. CaptSternn says:

    Texans lose to Cowboys. That is just not right.

    BUT …

    The very first official game the Texans ever played was against the Cowboys, and the Texans won. You can never take that away.

  11. flypusher says:

    Also this is a very good complement to Chris’ post:

    http://theweek.com/article/index/265653/why-you-should-stop-believing-in-evolution

    Comparing the acceptance of evolution as the best explanation for the diversity of life to any religious belief is comparing apples to bowling balls.

  12. flypusher says:

    Almost always when the religious nut jobs rail against evolution, their arguments clearly show they have no clue what evolution is/ means. Checking out Senator Fair’s editorial, I see he follows the pattern:

    “Consider these decisions now in place through Supreme Court rulings rather than the process established to change our national Constitution: No prayer in many public places; atheism, a religious belief, is allowed to be a factor in driving Darwinism in public schools; Darwinism or naturalism is the only theory allowed in public school science class on Evolution; The Big Bang Theory confirming the truth of a beginner, judged to be a conclusion or debate that is not allowed; many facts are excluded from science and astronomy because of their non-atheistic implications that point directly to intelligence.”

    Error 1- there is no such thing as “Darwinism” among scientists. There is the theory of evolution. Error 2 -science is AGNOSTIC, not atheistic. Error 3 -what is allowed to be taught in science class is based on evidence. Just because an idea is an alternative to the widely accepted idea is not enough to give it scientific merit. If you want ID in biology class, it has to go through all the same tests that evolution has been going through for the last 150+ years. Make a prediction about the natural world based on ID. Design an experiment that tests it or make an observation that supports it. Otherwise go teach it in philosophy class.

    “Recall that Darwinism is a random process. Intelligence not allowed.”

    Wrong again. There is some randomness in the pool of mutations available for selection, but selection occurs according the laws of nature.

    “Making inferences to the best factual information is not allowed if it points to a religion other than atheism. Consideration that the fine tuning of our galaxy is a miracle (or made that way) is a discussion that is not allowed.”

    There are no “miracles” in science.

    “Another court case ruled “Intelligent Design” violated the Establishment Clause and was therefore ruled unconstitutional. It is hard for me to believe that intelligence has been ruled unconstitutional in the public schools.”

    Intelligent design has no scientific evidence to back it up, and it’s just a smokescreen for a very narrow-minded interpretation of Christianity. The court made the intelligent call on this one.

    “We have a well-defined process to amend our Constitution that guarantees extensive debate, but many of the principles held dear by Americans are being cast aside by judicial activism.”

    Science isn’t about what makes people feel good about themselves, or even amending the Constitution. It’s about explaining how the natural world works.

    I’m not surprised our governing bodies are so dysfunctional, given how many ignorant people like this guy keep getting elected.

  13. flypusher says:

    “If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.”― Dalai Lama XIV, The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality

    Wisdom AND intelligence there.

  14. Firebug2006 says:

    “And who’s to say that we and our actions *aren’t* the “natural order of things”?”

    Then if human activity does cause or affect climate change or global warming or global cooling, it is the natural order of things. Not that I buy into the idea, but that is your currenet [sic] claim.

    CatpSternn

    We exist in nature. How could we and our actions not be part of the natural order of things, ipso facto? Our awareness of this (or lack thereof) does not alter this fact.

    What that awareness should alter is our relationship to the planet, as well as each other. We may share 99% of our genetic makeup with chimps, but that still leaves 1%. It’s this 1% which allows us to understand the world around us, our place in it, and our ability to impact it. Ants are as successful as humans as a species, yet they have no awareness that it is their eusocial development that made their success possible. Humans do. (Well, lots of us do.) As the author states above, “my survival and success depends very deeply on yours. Evolution for humans is a heavily collaborative process.” Obviously, this extends to our environment, for our continued survival will also entail us not destroying our habitat.

    Once again from the author: “Our understanding of the nature of life on Earth does absolutely nothing to demean us, but it does give us a new lens through which to view the world. Evolution inspires a great deal more compassion and humility than we might have achieved without it.”

    Successful evolution demands that we, as a species, continue to act collaboratively. And collaboration necessarily involves compassion and humility, because it requires sacrifice and compromise to be effective. This is where I see space for true Christ-based Christianity to engage with the scientific discourse, because compassion and humility are exactly what Christ demands of His followers.

    If you live a Christ-based life, that “new lens” gives your faith new focus. The moral imperative becomes using that 1% as Christ would have, for the good of all. Which is exactly what intelligent evolution demands. That we work toward the good of all, because the continued success of our species depends very deeply on it.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Hear, hear.

    • flypusher says:

      ” That we work toward the good of all, because the continued success of our species depends very deeply on it.”

      Very well said, and the more people who come here to post such thoughts the better!

      I would add my take on the “good of all” to mean more than just humans. This is not some PETA-like insistence that all animals should be given human rights. Rather it’s an admonition against the wanton and unnecessary destruction of other species that humans have been engaging in (sometimes deliberately, sometimes through carelessness) for the past few centuries. It does not serve the long term interest of humankind to overrun the planet to the extent that we destroy so many habitats and drive so many other species into extinction. We are on the cusp of a 6th mass extinction, and this time it would be our fault. I have no problem with eradicating something like smallpox, which is a direct threat to us. I have a huge moral/ ethical problem with humans killing off elephants and rhinos and sharks and the tragically long list of other endangered species.

      • rightonrush says:

        “I have no problem with eradicating something like smallpox, which is a direct threat to us. I have a huge moral/ ethical problem with humans killing off elephants and rhinos and sharks and the tragically long list of other endangered species”

        Lots of white folks had no problem trying to eradicate Native Americans to the point of extinction. It stands to reason that elephants, rhinos, & sharks are easy targets for slack-jawed morons.

      • Firebug2006 says:

        Agreed. It does not serve the long-term interest of humankind, because it does not serve the long-term interest of the planet.

      • texan5142 says:

        The hate in all the post I am reading here is palpable.

        Disclaimer, this is snark for those that can not distinguish.

        Carry on, it is interesting and refreshing to read well thought out responses. We truly are all in this together and reading about the decline in the wildlife population, we are at a tipping point.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I agree. It’s been an educational day today, a different sort of “Sunday School” here. Your input is welcome as well.

      • flypusher says:

        “*sigh* Again, if there was a serious threat, and those that believe there is a serious threat were serious, their “solution” would be quite a bit different. But in seeing what their solution is tells us that even the Chicken Littles don’t believe there is a serious threat. On top of that, they end up saying there is nothing we can do about it, no matter what we do the climate change will happen anyway.”

        False dichotomy. It isn’t a matter of change or no change. It is the combined matters of how much change, the direction of the change, and how fast the change happens. We absolutely can do plenty of things about our contribution, but not until we get past all the ignorant denial and excuse making.

        “We need some proper regulation to preserve our environment. As a former hunter and Boy Scout, I love keeping our environmemt as clean as possible. But not to the extent of going back to living in caves. Not even to the extent of crippling our economy, promoting polluters like China and India and giving our wealth away to undeveloped nations so they can start polluting the environment. ”

        Strawman alert. Nobody advocates caves or giving China and India a free pass. In fact the chickens will be coming home to roost on them first.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        What about mosquitoes? I can still hate and wish for the eradication of mosquitoes right?

      • flypusher says:

        “What about mosquitoes? I can still hate and wish for the eradication of mosquitoes right?”

        Skeeters are a threat to us, so it’s their ability to breed rapidly and evolve quickly versus our brains that figure out their biology and try to exploit their weak spots. It’s war. But if we do too much collateral damage in trying to kill them, nature’s going to push back with nasty unintended consequences.

    • CaptSternn says:

      “That we work toward the good of all, because the continued success of our species depends very deeply on it.”

      Yes, just as supporting and defending the rights and liberty of others supports and defends my own rights and liberty. Supporting and defending my own liberty and rights supports and defends the rights of others, if done properly and with respect towards others. If not done with respect and equal treatment of others we end up with things like abortion and slavery and ISIS.

      We create our own environment or environments. Long ago we took to living in caves, then we learned to modify those caves to better suit us, then we moved out of those caves and started builing our own caves, and now we can control our environment in out hand built caves. We have even managed to nearly wipe out some diseases, like small pox, in some areas of the world (hat tip to Fly on bringing up that one).

      But we really don’t control this little spinning rock in space, we just ride it as it orbits around our little star. If we really do want toeserve our species we need to work on spreading out to other spinning rocks, first around our little star and then to other spinning rocks orbiting around other stars (hat tip to Stephen Hawking on that call).

      Dragging down the leading economies, the ones that wipe out things like small pox, the one that put men on another rock in this solar system especially, in order to prop up other economies and rerdistribute wealth so there can be more developing economies creating unchecked pollution does nothing to preserve or advance our species. It holds us back, putting our species at more risk.

      We already know that there was a bottleneck long ago, I think some 70,000 years ago, where our species was almost wiped out. What caused that? Whatever it was, it will happen again. Or something else will happen again.

      • texan5142 says:

        I live across the street from the state hospital, would you like the address?

      • flypusher says:

        “We already know that there was a bottleneck long ago, I think some 70,000 years ago, where our species was almost wiped out. What caused that? Whatever it was, it will happen again. Or something else will happen again.”

        So because something external might wipe us out, we shouldn’t take the obvious precautions (not trashing the current balance of the ecosystem) against wiping ourselves out. Wow.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        The address to your home? Sure, we’d love to go visit you and eat some grilled steaks – swordfish for me, some variation of beef for Cap.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Thanks, Texan. It’s helpful to have a landmark so we can find your house more easily.

      • CaptSternn says:

        “So because something external might wipe us out, we shouldn’t take the obvious precautions (not trashing the current balance of the ecosystem) against wiping ourselves out. Wow.”

        *sigh* Again, if there was a serious threat, and those that believe there is a serious threat were serious, their “solution” would be quite a bit different. But in seeing what their solution is tells us that even the Chicken Littles don’t believe there is a serious threat. On top of that, they end up saying there is nothing we can do about it, no matter what we do the climate change will happen anyway.

        Darn, Cowboys just scored. Go Texans.

        We need some proper regulation to preserve our environment. As a former hunter and Boy Scout, I love keeping our environmemt as clean as possible. But not to the extent of going back to living in caves. Not even to the extent of crippling our economy, promoting polluters like China and India and giving our wealth away to undeveloped nations so they can start polluting the environment.

        Reminds me of the move the environmentalists made to switch to plastic from paper and glass. Guess how that worked out.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Nice thought Tutt, but you already know he would just eat your swordfish steak before we got there. 😉

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, why would you ever want swordfish when you dine so plentifully and frequently upon red herring?

      • texan5142 says:

        Trying something different today, beef roast with red potatoes, onion, garlic, and Apple. Just wish I had some fresh arugala to throw in , I like combining sweet fruit and tart spice, the contrast in taste can be amazing. Grilled pork chops and apple the other day.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Darn it Texan, stop talking about cooking. And stop eating Tutt’s swordfish steaks.

        Game in over time. Go Texans.

      • Firebug2006 says:

        “If not done with respect and equal treatment of others we end up with things like abortion and slavery and ISIS.”

        I had no idea that someone could be so completely fatuous yet utterly offensive, all in the same breath. Is this par for the course with the Captain?

      • texan5142 says:

        Yes

      • CaptSternn says:

        Now what would be offensive there? One supports such things or one does not. I do not. You can call me a freedom loving capitalist and I will not be offended at all.

  15. rightonrush says:

    Fly, I’ve always wanted a 3rd arm.

  16. flypusher says:

    There was scifi miniseries on British TV, which I would dearly love to see, that concerned a scientist artificially inseminating a female chimp with human sperm to produce a human/chimp hybrid. The existence of that hybrid of course raised a plethora of legal, ethical, and theological questions. Humans and chimps are more closely related than species that have been demonstrated to cross breed, such as horses and donkeys and lions and tigers. That hybrid could happen. How do you think such a “person” should be treated/ classified/ etc?

    • tuttabellamia says:

      It would depend on which side was dominant. Would he/she have the
      capacity to reason on a typical human level? Would the new being be on the level of someone with Down’s syndrome, for example, and merit the special treatment accorded the handicapped?

      • flypusher says:

        It raises lots of questions. I think life would be really hard for that being, because he/she wouldn’t fit in either with chimps or humans. Both are social species, and not being able to be with your own kind is an awful fate. People have tried raising chimps from infancy alongside human children. There are always problems with the chimps when they reach maturity. They aren’t human, so they can’t socialize properly in a human social context, and they are dangerous when frustrated. They’re also screwed from the chimp perspective, because they never learned how to be a chimp and fit into chimp society. That’s why although such hybrids interest me from a biological perspective (what capabilities would these individuals have?) from an ethical perspective I think it would be cruel.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        So, Tuttabella, are you claiming that the capacity to reason is an important determinant of status as a “person” / human being?

        Even the handicapped, or those with Down’s Syndrome, have orders of magnitude more such capacity than a first-trimester fetus.

        Would that Sternn were as thoughtful as you are.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        But owl, you’re ok with aborting a fetus who would otherwise be born with Down’s Syndrome, for that very reason? So does the being with Down’s Syndrome have the right to live or not?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Cap is very thoughtful. It’s just that here and on the chron his competitive, combative nature gets the best of him and he’s more interested in winning an argument than having a discussion. Blogs will do that even to the best of us.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Tuttabella asks, “you’re ok with aborting a fetus who would otherwise be born with Down’s Syndrome, for that very reason? So does the being with Down’s Syndrome have the right to live or not?”

        What being with Down’s Syndrome? There is no “being” with Down’s Syndrome during the first trimester, unless you’re willing to consider the term “being” as also applicable to goldfish, salamanders, and the like. I haven’t encountered such a usage, but perhaps you can demonstrate it.

        No, the fetus with an extra copy of chromosome 21 has no “right to live”. It has no right to impose a lifetime of expense and hardship on unwilling potential parents. If those parents willingly agree to the responsibilities and expenses, sure. But their own liberty and concern for their future (and their other or future children’s futures) trump the concerns of any imaginary child not yet in being.

        As for Sternn, if his desire is “winning an argument” then he should learn from his mistakes rather than repeating them again and again or even glorying in them. The he loses the argument AND looks the idiot.

      • flypusher says:

        “No, the fetus with an extra copy of chromosome 21 has no “right to live”. It has no right to impose a lifetime of expense and hardship on unwilling potential parents. If those parents willingly agree to the responsibilities and expenses, sure. But their own liberty and concern for their future (and their other or future children’s futures) trump the concerns of any imaginary child not yet in being.”

        I recently read Andrew Solomon’s “Far from the Tree”, which is about parents trying to raise children who are profoundly different. Many of the categories are something undeniably bad, like autism or Down syndrome or criminal behavior, but even traits that are not inherently bad, such as homosexuality, or even considered to be a good thing, such as being a prodigy, are explored. It is not fair to sugar coat how disruptive severe physical/ mental defects are upon families. It is also incredibly ignorant to assert that the families should just be bootstrappy and deal with it on their own, because that’s what families always did in the past. No they didn’t, not to the extent that some expect now. Not all that long ago, most children with Down Syndrome died early, because of all the other issues (like heart defects) that couldn’t be treated. As for children with severe autism, if they weren’t killed outright for being possessed by demons, or abandoned as changelings, they would likely die through mishap, because most families couldn’t afford to spare a productive member to keep a close eye on that child.

        At the end of the chapter on autism, Solomon chronicles a gut-wrenching list of parents driven to murder or murder-suicide because they were overwhelmed. He noted that juries tended to show more sympathy in terms of convicting on lesser charges and/or giving much lighter sentences. He expressed some worry that was sending the message that autistic lives were worth less. I don’t get that message, but rather that we as a society are putting too much burden on these families. We are saving the lives of people who previously wouldn’t have lived to adulthood. Therefore we need a plan about how do we give such people roles in society when possible, or it the very least have a way to take care of them, that does not so disproportionally burden their families.

        This issue is also in play with the frail elderly, for the same reasons.

      • CaptSternn says:

        “What being with Down’s Syndrome?”

        The unborn being.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        You make no sense.

        As usual.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Fire…I had kept up with this issue in Mississippi, and when folks realized “hey, this personhood stuff affect more than knocked up teenagers” the tide turned.

        Since I’m pro-choice, I welcome the argument that fertilized eggs are people because it is an unwinnable argument at this point.

        Every elementary school class in the Woodlands, Kingwood, and Bellaire has at least one IVF baby. These middle- and upper-class suburban folks making these IVF babies are generally Republicans here in Texas.

        It is easy to be against a woman’s right to choose an abortion when you are thinking of a teenage or college-age girl getting pregnant. It is much harder to take that stance when the folks doing IVF are your friends, your suburban neighbors, and in your church group.

        The tolerance for IVF and fertility baby killers suggests to me that the issue is more about the woman than it is about the fetus.

        Our resident non-pro-choice folks vehemently claim otherwise, but no one is out protesting the IVF clinics and “pro-life” websites rarely have a donation page for research into miscarriages that continually wipe out 25% of these fertilized egg persons.

        We’ll happily tell a girl that she shouldn’t have gotten herself knocked up and if she didn’t want to have a baby, she should not have had sex, but we’ll quietly ignore the spree killings in a fertility clinic.

        Makes you wonder why that is.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I would be morally opposed to artificially inseminating, to using the female chimp for such testing purposes to begin with. That opens up a whole new can of worms – the issue of animal ethics.

      • rightonrush says:

        Tutt, how do you feel about artificial insemination of humans?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I am personally opposed to it, especially considering it’s unnecessary with so many kids available for adoption, who are never adopted, and all the fetuses who are disposed of during the process until the creaton of the “perfect” fetus is achieved. It borders on eugenics.

      • rightonrush says:

        Fertility clinics are a big business, while safe abortion clinics are almost a thing of the past in Texas.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Shouldn’t we make a distinction between “eugenics” as a STATE policy to be enforced, and the use of fertility technology as an INDIVIDUAL freedom to be enjoyed?

        Oh, right. Only the *right* kinds of freedoms are acceptable to Texas conservatives.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Actually,owl, cap and i were discussing this just now, and he’s ok with artificial insemination as a personal choice, since it creates life, versus ending it. I did say i was PERSONALLY opposed to it, and i was contemplating with him whether this is a situation in which the state should get involved. As i said, he is ok with it, me not so much. It’s one of those moral dilemmas. To be continued.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        And, again, Sternn betrays his lack of education, even in second-hand reports.

        Artificial insemination destroys more “life” than it creates, under the ridiculous, dewy-eyed, conservative use of the term, since it generates far more embryos than are ever brought to term, and many of those are discarded.

        But it wouldn’t be the first time Sternn has argued from ignorance.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I would definitely be opposed to any sort of govenrment action forcing people to adopt kids, or limiting or otherwise determing the number of kids people could sire, etc.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        So why would you be in favor of government action forcing women to bear children they don’t want?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I consider it the same as “forcing” people to keep their 5 year-old kid alive instead of killng him/her.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        You really don’t perceive any obvious, logical distinctions between a one-month-gestational zygote and a speaking, emoting, thinking five-year-old?

      • CaptSternn says:

        I don’t think the bird understands the difference between artificial insementaion and IVF. Artificial insementation means injecting sperm from a donor in the woman when she is ovulating and from there allowing nature to take its course.

        IVF needs to be refined so lives are not wasted, and those that the parents don’t implant can be put up for adoption. Might want to look up the term “snowflake baby”.

      • objv says:

        Owl fumbles the ball. Touchdown for CaptSternn!

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Owl failed to discuss the distinction, but there is little about artificial insemination that “allows nature to take its course”.

        Artificial insemination is rarely just a turkey baster. Intrauterine insemination is a rather arduous and complex process that frequently results in multiple fertilized eggs, and most of these fertilized eggs (or “persons” for Stern) never become viable.

        It is just one part of the mass murder or spree killings that couples with fertility issues generally partake.

        I’m still waiting for my invitation to the protests for these baby killing women coming and going into fertility clinics.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        HT, are you inviting us to join you at these protests? RSVP?

      • objv says:

        Homer insists on a replay. Sorry to inform you, Homer, your team practically handed the ball to Cap.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_insemination

        Even in cases where fertility drugs are given, embryos are not discarded.

        I am glad that it is not necessary to have a knowledge of medical procedures in order for most couples to achieve a pregnancy. You would still be childless.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        OV, thanks for the sex ed course. 🙂

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I don’t think my mother would approve, though.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Obj…I think you might want to do a bit of research on what happens with fertilized eggs in artificial insemination, and even more so with IVF.

        Rarely is a turkey baster used, and if there are any fertility drugs used on the woman, we probably are looking at a bit of mass murder or at least mass incarceration of embryos in a frozen hellscape of a lab freezer until someone decides to discard them (and the vast, vast majority of them are ultimately destroyed).

        With AI in general…and IUI in particular, lots and lots of fertilized eggs never make it, and even when several fertilized eggs do make it, many couples “selectively reduce” (i.e., murder) a potentially viable fetus or two.

      • objv says:

        Homer, no eggs are ever removed from a women during artificial insemination. It is termed IN VIVO or “within the living.” You and Owl are getting AI mixed up with IVF which is IN VITRO or “in glass.”

        The main difference between AI and the normal way of getting pregnant is that sperm is introduced into a woman’s body (vagina, cervix, uterus or fallopian tubes) by a means other than sexual intercourse with a man. So, yes, a pregnancy involving two lesbians and a turkey baster would be considered AI as much as a procedure done in a doctors office. No eggs are ever removed. No embryos are destroyed in the process.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Obj…I’m not very well versed in many areas, but this happens to be one area about which I have at least a little knowledge.

        Even if you are doing non-IVF fertility-type things, you are still very likely to be making multiple fertilized eggs.

        Your lesbian couple may not be taking many fertility drugs (but they likely are), but if the woman is having any fertility issues (which would be over 90% of people doing artificial insemination), she is on a fair number of fertility meds that are very likely to cause a whole slew of eggs to be produced. Those eggs are going to get flooded with sperm, and it is very likely that more than one is going to become fertilized. Many of those are not going to be viable.

        If a litter of them are viable, lots of folks will have selective reduction.

        So, in your narrow example of a lesbian couple wanting one child and the mother is in good reproductive heath, then it is possible that there would be only one fertilized egg.

        However, for the vast majority of fertility treatments (AI or IVF), lots of these little “persons” are being discarded in one way or another.

      • objv says:

        Homer, Owl spoke of embryos being discarded. That does not happen during artificial insemination since no eggs leave the woman’s body for fertilization to take place. It’s true that some embryos will not develop normally, but that is a natural circumstance which occurs with many pregnancies. I would not consider these embryos or fetuses to be “discarded.”

        A large number of women take fertility drugs for reasons other than AI or IVF. Selective reduction or abortion is a decision that is made after a doctor is able to determine that the woman is carrying more than one fetus, and selective reduction is an entirely different procedure with its own set of thorny ethical issues.

        My point was that Cap was correctly able to point out the difference between AI and IVF while Owl got the two confused.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Thanks, Tutt and OV. Yes, the bird and HT have gotten things confused and are now trying to weasel their way out of it.

        Tutt and I were discussing the issue yesterday and she is very much against artificial insemenation. Me, not so much nor as strongly, but I wouldn’t want that.

        Say she and I got together much earlier in life and we wanted a child together, but I would be sterile and she would be fertile. Would I want the sperm of another man to be artificially inserted so she could concieve and carry a child to birth? Some may say yes so the genes of the mother can be passed on, but I would not really like that.

        That is my personal opinion. I would rather adopt a child that is a complete stranger. But maybe the woman really wants to be pregnant and carry the child herself and give birth. Would I deny her that experience? No, I don’t think I would.

        The opposite happened to my parents, my mom was sterile. Mom and Dad adopted a baby that was a complete stranger, concieved by complete strangers, born by a complete strager.

        Well, Monday Night Football had the national anthem sung by a lady, and she did a great job. Too many butcher it.

        Anyway, I feel sorry for my mom that she was unable to carry a child in her belly and give birth while her sister, her cousins and everybody else was able to do so. She so desired to do so. So, would I really, really be against it? No, I don’t think so. Nor would I ever have a problem with a child concieved and born in that manner.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I am certainly confused about what you think I’m confused about. I have a pretty good grasp of these particular set of birds and bees.

        For a woman on fertility meds, producing a whole slew of eggs, for insemination in vivo (thank you four years of latin), you are suggesting that many of those fertilized eggs may not be viable, “but that is a natural circumstance which occurs with many pregnancies”.

        There is very little “natural circumstances” with a dozen eggs and a bath of sperm all at the same time. Humans were not built for such things, and it is far from natural. In fact, it is a process designed with the full knowledge and actual full hope that not all of these fertilized eggs will be viable.

        You seem to not want to consider this outright murder, but from your perspective it would seem to be premeditated homicide or at least intentional negligence to cause harm. People are walking into the process with the full intent of creating multiple fertilized eggs, hoping that one or two survive, but hoping the rest die.

        In many ways, that should be worse for you than a college student seeking to abort a single fetus.

        Yet, so many on your side of the argument seem to want to give at least one group of baby killers something of a free pass while loudly attempting to stop others from doing a much more low volume killing.

      • flypusher says:

        Sorry to spoil some people’s victory dances ( no, not really), but Homer is speaking 100% truth here. Whether you go the in vitro or in vivo route, you are creating multiple fertilized eggs in conditions where not only most of them won’t survive, but the INTENT is that most of them won’t survive. If you are in the personhood starts at fertilization crowd, this should be as bad to you as a surgical abortion in the 8th month.

      • CaptSternn says:

        HT, the hope that some will survive is the key. Then, once one or two do survive, at what poiny do you decide tio kill them?

        Artificial insemenation is trying to make new human beings, hoping some will be concieved, born and live to become children and eventually adults. It is not done in a petri dish where some are deliberately discarded. It is not abortion for convenience where tens of millions of healthy innocent living human beings are killed in a premeditated fashion.

        You are equating natural death while trying to create new life with premeditated killing. Others try to excuse it by claiming that they don’t really think those are human beings. How well do you thinjk those arguments would hold up in a court of law if you were being tried for murder?

        “Well, that person was eventually going to die anyway, so it doesn’t matter that I killed him” or “Well, that creature was not exactly a human being in my opinion, and you can’t force your morals on me just because you think he was a human being”.

        Your sitting on a jury for somebody that killed one of your children in a premeditaded and deliberate act because he found your child to be an inconvenience, so which one of those arguments will make you acquit the killer?

      • flypusher says:

        “Artificial insemenation is trying to make new human beings, hoping some will be concieved, born and live to become children and eventually adults. It is not done in a petri dish where some are deliberately discarded. It is not abortion for convenience where tens of millions of healthy innocent living human beings are killed in a premeditated fashion.”

        No, it’s done inside a woman’s body, under conditions that insure many / most will be discarded. It’s less direct, but no less intentional.

        “You are equating natural death while trying to create new life with premeditated killing. Others try to excuse it by claiming that they don’t really think those are human beings. How well do you thinjk those arguments would hold up in a court of law if you were being tried for murder?”

        Except it’s not “natural”. It’s not natural for human women to have hormone levels that high. It’s not natural for human ovaries to release large numbers of eggs simultaneously. The human uterus didn’t evolve to produce litters. People who actually understand biology know this sets up most of those fertilized eggs to die, which fits the definition of premeditated killing. The only different is it is less direct than an abortion.

        Let’s say a group of people get stranded somewhere remote, run out of food and some decide they have to kill and eat some of the others to survive. Maybe even they all agree to it and cast lots. But then rescue comes unexpectedly (but not before a few unlucky ones get eaten). Do you think the “we had to kill some to save the rest” defense would hold up in court?

      • objv says:

        Fly and Homer, thanks for all the information about AI. I have friends who have had fertility issues and I in no way condemn them for trying AI or even IVF. In fact, I would have undergone the same procedures if it would have been necessary.

        There is almost five years difference in age between my two children. During most of that time I was trying to get pregnant the good old fashioned way, so I went through dozens of cycles where an egg was produced that either was not fertilized or did not mature after being fertilized. I do not consider myself a murderer. I do not consider a woman that undergoes fertility treatments a murderer either even if multiple eggs are produced at the same time.

        Eventually, I became pregnant without fertility treatments. I would have probably gone and seen a doctor at some point, but I was still young enough not to feel pressured by the ticking of my biological clock. My husband and I also thoroughly enjoyed doing without contraceptives. We knew that if we started down the route of doctor’s visits and testing, things would become less fun real fast.

        My issue has never been about whether fertility treatments are right or wrong.All I was trying to say was that there is a difference between AI and IVF and the use of the word “discarded” when used in conjunction with artificial insemination.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Wow…stern…that is a pretty impressive threading of a needle for when you think it is A-OK to kill a whole slew of fertilized eggs.

        So, as long as the woman is trying to create a life, it is OK to set up conditions to kill a half dozen other lives?

        Is it somehow less egregious for you because it is happening inside the woman’s body?

        Hey, we created nine fertilized eggs with the full intent that most of them are going to die, but we hope one turns out to be viable. If they all die, we’ll reload this sucker and try it again in a few months.

        Heck, you have a lower body count with IVF fertilization of a small number of eggs rather than the shotgun approach of intrauterine insemination.

      • Firebug2006 says:

        Threading the needle is all pro-lifers can do. The premise of their argument cannot be rigorously applied, because so many of the resultant conclusions–e.g., IVF is murder–would be suicidal for the movement. We saw that play out here in Mississippi with the defeat of Prop 26, the Personhood amendment. Mobilizing opposition was slow going until the realization that IVF could be criminalized became front and center.

        Another example is the pro-life movement’s failure to advocate for mandated organ transplants, which we’ve been discussing elsewhere in this thread. https://goplifer.com/2014/10/04/evolution-cannot-be-reconciled-with-traditional-christianity/comment-page-1/#comment-25815

        But none of this should be surprising, for you cannot logically defend an argument that is based on an illogical premise; in this case, the assertion that a mass of cells is the equivalent of a viable human being.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Fire…I had kept up with this issue in Mississippi, and when folks realized “hey, this personhood stuff affect more than knocked up teenagers” the tide turned.

        Since I’m pro-choice, I welcome the argument that fertilized eggs are people because it is an unwinnable argument at this point.

        Every elementary school class in the Woodlands, Kingwood, and Bellaire has at least one IVF baby. These middle- and upper-class suburban folks making these IVF babies are generally Republicans here in Texas.

        It is easy to be against a woman’s right to choose an abortion when you are thinking of a teenage or college-age girl getting pregnant. It is much harder to take that stance when the folks doing IVF are your friends, your suburban neighbors, and in your church group.

        The tolerance for IVF and fertility baby killers suggests to me that the issue is more about the woman than it is about the fetus.

        Our resident non-pro-choice folks vehemently claim otherwise, but no one is out protesting the IVF clinics and “pro-life” websites rarely have a donation page for research into miscarriages that continually wipe out 25% of these fertilized egg persons.

        We’ll happily tell a girl that she shouldn’t have gotten herself knocked up and if she didn’t want to have a baby, she should not have had sex, but we’ll quietly ignore the spree killings in a fertility clinic.

        Makes you wonder why that is.

      • Firebug2006 says:

        Houston said: “Makes you wonder why that is.”

        I think the answer lies in your observation: “The tolerance for IVF and fertility baby killers suggests to me that the issue is more about the woman than it is about the fetus.”

        If the falsities exposed by their failure to logically reconcile the IVF issue and refusal to demand mandated organ donation are not enough to convince that this isn’t really about fetus= human, then just factor in the pro-life movement’s lack of concern once the fetus is a child.

        I think the real impetus behind the movement boils down to power and control. White Patriarchy is losing its grip, and nothing since the 13th Amendment has done as much to loosen it as did women gaining reproductive autonomy. This would also explain why a movement radically devoted to ending abortion advocates AGAINST the single most efficacious public policy for deterring abortions: easily accessible contraception.

        Now that the GOP has become the de facto legislative wing of the movement, these inconsistencies are unfolding on the public stage. As a result, the hypocrisy is now apparent and the effects are writ large.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Killing is not the same as accepting death by natural causes. Talk aboyut those trying to “thread the needle”.

      • objv says:

        Homer, I’m a bit mystified by your reasoning. Are you really trying to equate killing a thumb-sucking, wriggling, kicking,normal fetus with all its organs to an embryo that fails to mature or implant during AI? Like I said, I and most women have probably had embryos that didn’t make it for some reason or another during the normal process of trying to become pregnant.

  17. sbonasso says:

    I’ve never had any problem reconciling Christianity with evolution. I believe evolution was God’s method of creating humans. The creation story in Genesis is allegorical.

    The theories of intelligent design and evolution are not mutually exclusive.

    I really liked the sequence in the movie “Noah” of Noah recounting the creation story (which included images referencing evolution). That’s how I imagined it happened.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Anyone taking an honest look at human beings on the genetic or biochemical level should soon be disabused of the notion of “intelligent design”.

      Unless, of course, you believe that God is a semi-competent hack who prefers Rube Goldberg to solid engineering.

      Evolution proceeds through random accumulation, not deliberate design.

      • sbonasso says:

        We’ve had this conversation before, Owl. The simple fact that there is a planet/habitat in this universe that is even able to sustain human life is a virtual miracle; a near mathematical impossibility.

        Plus, what’s to say that our minor biological flaws aren’t intentional. We are still evolving after all.

      • flypusher says:

        ” a near mathematical impossibility”

        Can’t agree with that at all, given the size of the universe.

      • flypusher says:

        “Plus, what’s to say that our minor biological flaws aren’t intentional. We are still evolving after all.”

        Evolution doesn’t start over from scratch, it modifies what is already there. Human jaws are a prime example of that. Our jaws are got smaller; one of the benefits was more ease in speech, and communication between humans enhances survival. But we’re still dealing with the problems of having too many teeth to fit in those smaller jaws ( raise your hand if you’ve been plagued by wisdom teeth issues). Some people don’t have wisdom teeth- you could see that as the next step in human jaw evolution, although good dental care means that people with wisdom teeth won’t suffer a disadvantage. Nothing intentional about that at all.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        In fact, technology has *reduced* many of the factors that might otherwise drive survival of the fittest. Astigmatism is no longer a significant reproductive or survival handicap; nor are flat feet or mild scoliosis; and the list goes on. Technology has *significantly* slowed many of the potential drivers of evolution. So does God intend for us to become gods ourselves? Or is all technology suspect since, to some extent, all technology interferes with the proper culling by Nature, red in tooth and claw?

        And what we’ve got already isn’t likely to undergo huge improvements. The human knee is an absolutely *stupid* design if you wanted to design a durable biped. So is the lower back. Instead, both show obvious signs of being cobbled together from the equipment package that came with our quadruped predecessors. And evolution simply isn’t likely to produce a well-formed bipedal knee in a leap (or even in a series of minor scuttles), any more than human beings are likely to suddenly evolve wings. It just doesn’t happen that way. So is God a Jerk or an Incompetent?

        As to the supposed statistical marvel that is Earth and humanity, if a habitable planet is a one in a trillion possibility (that is, a ten-billionth percent chance), but there are a septillion stars (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) in the observable universe, then simple statistical logic suggests that there might be around a trillion such planets in the universe. We just happen to live on one of them — since, after all, if this weren’t one of them, we wouldn’t be around to ponder the question. That’s the anthropic principle in action.

        And, in fact, the ongoing revolution in extra-solar planetology (one of the great scientific revolutions of our time) suggests that habitable planets could be far more common than that minuscule fraction… which raises the number even further.

        So I submit, sbonasso, that your statistics and imagination are sorely lacking.

        Reference: http://www.universetoday.com/102630/how-many-stars-are-there-in-the-universe/

      • flypusher says:

        Also in the list of bad “design”, human bipedalism combined with increasing brain (and head) size. Any woman who has experienced childbirth knows exactly what I am talking about. Female knees are especially stressed, because as a concession to being able to birth ever larger headed infants, female hips are wider and the thigh bones articulate at a more extreme angle.

      • sbonasso says:

        “How is it that inanimate matter can organize itself to contemplate itself?” – Allan Sandage

        “Based on the discovery of microfossils, scientists have now estimated that the time gap between the earth reaching the right temperature and the first emergence of life was only about four hundred million years. The mathematical odds of assembling a living organism within that timeframe are so astronomical that nobody believes that random chance accounts of the origin of life. Even if you optimized the conditions, it wouldn’t work. If you took all the carbon in the universe and put it on the face of the earth, allowed it to chemically react at the most rapid rate possible, and left it for a billion years, the odds of creating just one functional protein molecule would be one chance in a 10 with 60 zeroes after it.” – Walter L. Bradley

        “Scientifically speaking, it’s far more probable for a life-prohibiting universe to exist than a life-sustaining one. Life is balanced on a razor’s edge. Stephen Hawking has calculated that if the rate of the universe’s expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million, the universe would have collapsed into a fireball.” – William Lane Craig

        “The odds against the initial conditions of the universe after the Big Bang being suitable for the formation of stars – a necessity for planets and thus life – is a one followed by at least a thousand billion zeroes.” – P.C.W. Davies

      • sbonasso says:

        By the way, Owl, you can legitimately debate my stats all day long, but when you say I sorely lack imagination, you’re making an immature, combative, unfounded accusation that serves only to betray your arrogance and ignorance.

        I wonder if you’re able to have a disagreement with someone without resorting to childish taunts. Does that make you feel smarter? More superior?

      • flypusher says:

        ““Based on the discovery of microfossils, scientists have now estimated that the time gap between the earth reaching the right temperature and the first emergence of life was only about four hundred million years. The mathematical odds of assembling a living organism within that timeframe are so astronomical that nobody believes that random chance accounts of the origin of life.”

        Trouble is, that’s abiogenesis you are arguing against, not evolution. Two different things. There’s also the possibility that life didn’t start on Earth, but was carried here by space debris. If Earth life originally came from Mars, and landed on Earth in that 400 M time, then it’s not so astronomical.

        Also, astronomical does not mean impossible.

        This idea is testable, by thoroughly investigating Martian strata.

        ““Scientifically speaking, it’s far more probable for a life-prohibiting universe to exist than a life-sustaining one……” “The odds against the initial conditions of the universe after the Big Bang being suitable for the formation of stars – a necessity for planets and thus life – is a one followed by at least a thousand billion zeroes.”

        That’s assuming one universe, one shot at making it. We don’t know that is the case. Some physics research suggests the possibility of multiverses.

      • sbonasso says:

        Fly,

        Owl seems to take exception with my assertion that human life was “designed” or created purposefully. My point here is that I believe the statistics prove that human life, or any sentient life in this universe, is special and was created with purpose. I’ve not argued against evolution at all, but evolution accounts only for biological development and adaptation, not for the spark of sentience. The soul, if you will.

        If parallel universe theory is ever proven, then EVERYTHING changes. I actually wrote a book about this very topic. #TOK

      • flypusher says:

        ” My point here is that I believe the statistics prove that human life, or any sentient life in this universe, is special and was created with purpose.”

        Trouble is, there’s so many gaps in the data. We have no idea how common life might be in the universe, because we still have big limits in trying to observe small scale things from distances across so many light years. Planets with life could be a dime a dozen; we just don’t know yet. As for intelligence, we can look at life on Earth and by extrapolation judge it to be even rarer, but we’re still guessing at this stage. As I’ve said in an earlier post, these are things I really want to see.

        For the same reasons (not enough data) I’m agnostic. But I think that if there is a creator, writing a versatile and adaptable code in nucleic acids (or any other biomolecule) is a far more subtle, elegant, and impressive mechanism of creation that the standard “ex nihilo” route.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Well, sbonasso, I seem to have touched a nerve.

        But, yes, I see no problem with issuing a challenge to your powers of imagination when you warble about “miracles” and “mathematical impossibilities” in the face of clear statistical evidence otherwise, and then go on to do a cut-and-paste of a hit-parade of quotes representing classic creationist claptrap.

        If human life was “created” with “purpose”, then part of that purpose was suffering. And that makes God a Jerk.

      • sbonasso says:

        Are you this misanthropic in real life, Owl? Were you bullied as a child or something? You must be a ‘hoot’ to hang out with.

        And I notice that you sling around your pretentious taunts from behind the cloak of anonymity. If you’re as wise as you think you are, why don’t you put your real name to your comments. Let us all know who this wise owl really is.

        If you ever read TOK, pay attention to the blog commenter, “Slither.” You were the inspiration for that character. Of course, that should come as no surprise to you, because I wouldn’t have enough imagination to create my own characters from scratch.

      • sbonasso says:

        Allan Sandage, PH.D, was an American astronomer. He was Staff Member Emeritus with the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California. He is best known for determining the first reasonably accurate value for the Hubble constant and the age of the universe. He is also the discoverer of the first quasar.

        Walter L. Bradley, PH.D., is a retired professor of engineering, lecturer, and an advocate of intelligent design. He is a professor at Baylor University and has researched the use of coconut husks as a replacement for synthetic fibers. He taught mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University.

        William Lane Craig, PH.D., is an American analytical philosopher and Christian theologian. Craig’s philosophical work focuses on philosophy of religion, metaphysics, and philosophy of time.

        P.C.W. Davies, AM, is an English physicist, writer and broadcaster, a professor at Arizona State University as well as the Director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. He is affiliated with the Institute for Quantum Studies at Chapman University in California. He has held previous academic appointments at the University of Cambridge, University College London, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, University of Adelaide and Macquarie University. His research interests are in the fields of cosmology, quantum field theory, and astrobiology.
        __________________

        My citations of these men’s observations are a “hit-parade of quotes representing classic creationist claptrap?” This makes you look really stupid, friend.

        What are your degrees in, Owl? What are your notable awards and accomplishments? Can you direct me to some of your books on physics? Or should we all just take your opinions as absolute truth because the website that you cut and paste from is infallible, and because you can piece together some moderately eloquent insults on an anonymous blog?

        Sentient life is random and purposeless, and there is no creator because he would have to be evil. Very imaginative, Owl.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Ok, that does it. I think I am going to have to put my current reading aside to read TOK.

      • flypusher says:

        “Sentient life is random and purposeless, and there is no creator because he would have to be evil. Very imaginative, Owl.”

        Nobody has definitively ruled out that possibility, though. To paraphrase a good friend, I have considered the likelihood that the universe is an indifferent, apersonal place, and that there really is no purpose to life (other than the ones we choose to create for ourselves), and I can live with that possibility. The peril I see in trying to find God/ personal meaning/ etc in math/ science/ the patterns of the universe/etc is that there is usually a very strong bias in wanting what you are searching for to be true. People want order, they want love, they want some assurance that justice will be done. I’ve seen people make some really bizarre reaches in that quest.

        My sister once sent me an e-mail about how laminin molecules (which help hold cells together) were shaped like little crosses, therefore : confirmation of the Christian worldview!!!!! But strangely enough, I had just seen a conference poster in the lunchroom featuring the structures of another bio molecule that looked a lot like a 6-pointed star. So score one for Judaism?

      • sbonasso says:

        Fly,

        I don’t see any physical evidence that supports any specific religion (funny story about your sister) and my feeling is that there probably will never be. I struggle with my own specific faith mightily. Sometimes I think my choice of church is simply about familiarity, family, friends, rather than dogma.
        However, in my own examination of physics I’ve yet to find anything that would absolutely rule out an intelligent creator of some kind.
        The only theory that gives me pause is multiple-world/parallel universe. I have trouble reconciling the reality of that concept with the concept of the unique, individual soul, as well as with moral consequence. It scares me, frankly, which is probably what spurred me into writing TOK.

    • sbonasso says:

      By the way, Fly, it’s really nice to have a conversation without taunts and name-calling. You know, like adults.

    • flypusher says:

      “I don’t see any physical evidence that supports any specific religion (funny story about your sister) and my feeling is that there probably will never be. I struggle with my own specific faith mightily. Sometimes I think my choice of church is simply about familiarity, family, friends, rather than dogma.”

      We are in complete agreement here. I’ve often argued that for most people, their religion is very much like their citizenship- an accident of birth. That’s one huge reason why I have some major issues with born-again Christian arguments. Some members of my family buy in those arguments, and we’ve talked about it and agreed to disagree. It undoubtedly causes them some distress that I don’t agree, and am I sorry got that, but I won’t lie about what I think.

      I have no issues with you or the people you’ve cited trying to see the mind/ head of God in the workings of the universe. In fact I find intelligent and thoughtful approaches to the matter quite interesting (whether or not I agree) and am happy to discuss. But with people like Sen Fair, I have a huge issue. Huge enough that it’s war in my mind.

  18. tuttabellamia says:

    I wonder how abortion fits into the conversation about evolution, the parallels — determining the origin of human life versus determining the origin of the human species, Chris’s talk of hosting a microbe in his gut versus a lady hosting a fetus in her womb. If we are all connected and related and should respect all life, and if there is no hierarchy, wouldn’t that give the fetus, and for that matter, animals, equal importance? Or do we kill/eat them, just because we can, for the very reason that there is a hierarchy after all? The fact that we are even having this discussion, thanks to that tiny but significant 1% that separates us from apes, speaks volumes about our place in the universe.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      There may not be a hierarchy, but we’re certainly entitled to act in our own self-interest.

      Otherwise, you have no right to protect your house from termites, and you have no right to wear chemicals that ward off mosquitos. And I doubt Chris is making such an argument.

    • flypusher says:

      “I wonder how abortion fits into the conversation about evolution, the parallels —”

      It’s very common in nature for mothers to abandon, abort, or even cannibalize offspring in situations were it’s the mother’s survival vs the offspring’s survival, or the mother determines that investment in the offspring is a bad bet. It’s the live to breed another day strategy.

    • Firebug2006 says:

      tuttabellamia says: “If we are all connected and related and should respect all life, and if there is no hierarchy, wouldn’t that give the fetus, and for that matter, animals, equal importance?”

      If you are Pro-Life, you are not advocating for equal rights for the fetus. You are actually demanding that the fetus be given rights to which no born person has ever been entitled. Namely, that one in need be granted access to the body of another.

      Thousands of people die every year, some in excruciating pain, in need of organ transplants. Yet we allow them to die rather than institute state-mandated organ donation. There’s not a single state that requires we donate our organs, even after death. (How about that. In some states, a corpse has more bodily autonomy than I do.)

      If all life is sacred and all life should be treated equally, then sacrificing a part of your body to perpetuate the life of a transplant patient is of equal moral import to forcing a woman to bear every zygote to term. This is an inevitable conclusion given the premise of your argument.

      Are you lobbying for mandated organ donation? Of course you aren’t. None of you Pro-Birthers are, which is why you are all fundamentally hypocrites. You are not beholden to your own argument, either logically or morally.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        What a great simile, Firebug2006. I’m going to have to use that one in future. Thanks for the ammunition!

      • Firebug2006 says:

        My pleasure.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Yeah, Owl, think up some other scenarios, and decide we are hypocrites before even asking us to consider some of the possible consequences of our arguments.

        Shoot, Owl, use that ammunition, jump the gun.

      • CaptSternn says:

        A human being is more than just an organ.

        Pregnancy is a possble result of having sex. What the pro-choice side wants is the “right” to kill an innocent person to avoid the consequences of their own actions.

      • Firebug2006 says:

        CaptSternn said: “A human being is more than just an organ.”

        More than an organ, yet less than a zygote.

        I’m supposed to take this argument seriously?

      • CaptSternn says:

        “More than an organ, yet less than a zygote.”

        Um, what? A human being is a zygote at one stage in their life. Why would a human being be less than a human being at any stage in their life?

      • Firebug2006 says:

        “More than an organ, yet less than a zygote.”

        “Um, what? A human being is a zygote at one stage in their life. Why would a human being be less than a human being at any stage in their life?”

        You claim that a zygote is a human.
        You claim that an organ is not a human.

        I’m I the only one who finds these two statements to be at odds?

        Regardless, your point is a mute one when it comes to refuting my original argument. Perpetuation of the life of the organ transplant patient is as much of a moral imperative as safeguarding the “life” of the zygote.

      • CaptSternn says:

        A human is a zygote at one stage in their life. A kidney is not.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Also, you assume that I am pro-life, I am not. A pro-life person opposes the death penalty, war and even killing in self defense. I do not.

      • Firebug2006 says:

        CaptSternn said: “Also, you assume that I am pro-life, I am not. A pro-life person opposes the death penalty, war and even killing in self defense. I do not.”

        You have just described every Pro-Life person with whom I have engaged. Unlike you, however, they all insist they are pro-life.

      • Firebug2006 says:

        CaptSternn said: “A human is a zygote at one stage in their life. A kidney is not.”

        We are not talking about perpetuating the life of a kidney. We are talking about perpetuating the life of the human who needs a the kidney.

        Your opposition to abortion is premised on the idea that we are equally human at all stages of our development. If that is so, you cannot escape the conclusion that the 42-year old waiting on a new kidney is just as human as the zygote. Your failure to recognize this moral equivalency strikes me as hypocritical.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Of course a 42-year-old needing a kidney transplant is human, just as he was a human beung when he was a zygote, fetus, baby, toddler, child, teen and then adult. He was never any other species. He was never an inanimate object. He will be a human being from the time of conception until death.

        What you are suggesting is that we decide that some human beings are less than others, and those that are less should be killed, dissected and have their organs harvested for the bhenefit of those that are more human. You are trying to justify things like the Tuskegee Experiment.

        But again, that comes from a long line of people that deny others their very humanity, their basic human rights, to be treated as nothing more than property, sub-human.

  19. kabuzz61 says:

    Wow! The hate.

    You do know their are democrat Christian fundamentalists don’t you?

    We who believe in God also know there is electricity, microscopes, cars, jets, etc. None, none listed in the Bible. You just want to weed out a very small pet peeve, pick some insignificant politician to form a hit piece. You are a cheap man.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Kabuzz, a quick question: why do you take the effort to capitalize “Christian”, “God”, and “Bible”… but not “Democrat”?

      More on-topic, Chris’ essay wasn’t about fundamentalist Christianity as some sort of modern-day Luddism (though it can be so, with regard to biological or biochemical technologies like contraceptives, arbortifacients, stem-cell research, and cloning).

      It was about the relation of human beings to the universe, and how Darwin posits a very different sort of relationship than the Yahweh, straddling hunter-gatherers and early agriculturalists, to whom many Biblical literalists seem devoted.

      Has anyone here read any of the books by author Daniel Quinn (now residing in Houston)? My spouse helped set up an early version of his website, and I enjoyed *Ishmael* (not the dreadful movie, but the actual book and its sequels) as a thought-provoking piece about much this same topic.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        By tinkering with nature, as in the case of cloning, aren’t we proving and at the same time abusing our superiority, interfering with the natural order of things, instead of allowing evolution to proceed on its own? Could we say perhaps that evolution IS God, and to try to outsmart it is an affront to evolution/God?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        If through “tinkering with nature” we created a super-bug that wiped out human civilization, that wouldn’t do much to prove superiority, would it? Any technology comes with dangers as well as opportunities.

        And who’s to say that we and our actions *aren’t* the “natural order of things”? Nature has produced primates with big brains: us. Our brains are natural. What is it about the products of those brains that is “unnatural”? Would that mean that other tool-using animals (which we keep finding, now that we look for such behavior) are also “unnatural”? That seems a self-defeating definition.

        Are you claiming that evolution is somehow a sentient, intentional force? You cannot “outsmart” evolution, since it is a mindless, random, natural process. I have seldom heard God referred to as mindless and random, and I rather doubt that’s what you’re arguing.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        But no matter how random, isn’t evolution logical, based on the principle of survival of the fittest, and to the extent that you can explain it after the fact, even though you can’t predict exactly how and what’s going to happen?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Except that a mutant with a fantastic new feature that might revolutionize its entire species over time could also die from a random rockslide before every reproducing.

        And the definition of “fittest” can easily change, at random. I remember hearing a sci-fi idea in which human beings had edited out most of the genes for body fat, so as to fit into ever-slimmer aesthetics. Too bad about that asteroid strike and the resultant “nuclear winter”, and the people who found it even more difficult to stay warm…. What is “fit” now may suddenly turn into a liability later, and vice versa.

        You can explain history after the fact, too. Does that mean history is logical? Sort of… but you can also easily see ways it could have happened entirely differently. That’s why the literary genre of “alternate history” offers so many options.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Ahem. “before EVER reproducing.”

      • CaptSternn says:

        “And who’s to say that we and our actions *aren’t* the “natural order of things”?”

        Then if human activity does cause or affect climate change or global warming or global cooling, it is the natural order of things. Not that I buy into the idea, but that is your currenet claim.

        As for evolution, I believe most Christians, the vast, vast majority, accept evolution as part of the Creation. The Bible and the Torah are not history books, even though there is some history not covered anywhere else but proven by science in the end. BigWilly covered that part.

        Yes, second time I am posting when not at my home computer. Maybe I am regaining some trust in Lifer. Time will tell.

      • CaptSternn says:

        “… from a random rockslide before every reproducing.”

        “Ahem. “before EVER reproducing.'”

        “Incompetence at spelling and grammar definitely implies a tendency toward inadequacy at grasping other simple facts, or at least too much laziness to actually understand them.”

        Apologies Lifer, but the bird had that one coming. Catch y’all later.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Owl, but isn’t there a certain logic to chance as well? Theories of probability – predicting the “odds” of something happening, eventually, and after so many opportunities? Even the odds of something NEVER happening is a form of logic.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sternn, as usual you stumble around bumping into the logical furniture.

        Sure, global climate change is a natural effect. We’re taking carbon which was naturally sequestered in the ground for eons and releasing it into the atmosphere. It has the natural effect of warming the oceans, which proceed to naturally evaporate more water, naturally melt more ice, and naturally release more trapped methane deposits.

        It’s all “natural”. It’s just not USEFUL or HELPFUL to our civilization and standards of living. I mean, it’s “natural” when a stampede of cattle go off a cliff, too, or when an epidemic ravages a population, or when a meteor causes a mass extinction. “Natural” is not a synonym for “good”, except in the minds of the most dim-witted and un-thoughtful.

        As for Christianity, evolution shows no sign of creation. It’s a random, undirected process. If you believe God directed evolution, then you either believe in a bumbling idiot who accomplishes everything through the most Rube-Goldbergian of jury-rigging, or a Blind Watchmaker who set things into motion, knowing from outside the full span of time and chance, and then has remained aloof from the natural processes ticking away without Her. Neither is a very compatible idea with the Bronze Age interventionist, omnipotent Deity in which most American Christians claim to profess their faith.

        So, as usual, you’re just not thinking. So far as I can tell, that’s the role that Tutt has to play in your relationship. Are you just there to emote and offer random, thoughtless but heartfelt ranting in support of whatever preconceived notions you’ve held since childhood?

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Oh, and Sternn, there’s a difference between catching and correcting your errors, as I try to do, and ignoring them or even cherishing them, as the behavior in which you seem to wallow.

        I mean, I’m talking to an abject idiot who, over on the *Chronicle*, has just publicly and gleefully accepted the consequence of his own definitions, that 75% of all human beings throughout time have died without ever being born.

        If that’s true, here’s another sign of an utterly cruel and incompetent God for you.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Comsidering that evolution produced the human race, I would say God did a really good job with the process, endng with the human race as He intended.

        Climate change? If we have any say in the matter, warmer is better. If you believe we have any say in the matter, we prevented global cooling, glaciers covering North America by the year 2000, and losing half the population due to famine and disease. I don’t buy into such theories, we are insignificant when it comes to solar activity and the orbit around the sun, and CO2 is a minor greenhouse gas, and our contribution is insignificant compared to nature. God had a really good plan yet again.

        Yes, I make typos. Takes a small mind that can only attack a person over typos. If that’s all ya got, ya got nothin’.

      • flypusher says:

        “Then if human activity does cause or affect climate change or global warming or global cooling, it is the natural order of things. Not that I buy into the idea, but that is your currenet claim.”

        You really can’t see the forrest for the trees, can you? The important thing is not some semantics about “natural” vs. “unnatural”‘ it’s the capacity of the earth to support human life. We have already demonstrated on smaller scales that we can trash things so that they are no longer useable- go look the effects of unregulated mining on the land and the streams in some parts of the American West. Go look at Chernoble. EVERY living thing causes changes in its environment. EVERY living thing. The biosphere is dynamic and adjusts, but sometimes some living things will cause very big changes. Humans have the capacity to cause big changes, because we’re taking all that carbon that’s been out of the system for so long and tipping the scales. The earth will adjust, but it’s a bad bet to assume the adjustment is going to be even better for feeding 7 billion+ humans.

        “Yes, second time I am posting when not at my home computer. Maybe I am regaining some trust in Lifer. Time will tell.”

        Are you still butthurt over Dan? He refused to act like an adult and he deserved what he got. If you don’t crap all over the blog the way he did, what happened to him isn’t going to happen to you.

      • flypusher says:

        “Climate change? If we have any say in the matter, warmer is better. ”

        Except you don’t just get warmer. You get higher high temps in some places, lower low temps in some places, some places getting much wetter, some places getting much drier, sea level rise taking out a lot of densely populated low-elevation land, and ocean food chains getting disrupted due to the increasing acidification of the ocean. That’s not better, not by a long shot.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        “Comsidering that evolution produced the human race….”

        That’s an ASS-umption, Sheila.

        “If we have any say in the matter, warmer is better.”

        And another ASS-umption, Sheila. You’ve been taught better in the past; you just are determined to remain ineducable.

        “[W]e prevented global cooling, glaciers covering North America by the year 2000, and losing half the population due to famine and disease.”

        And another ASS-umption, Sheila dear. Based, again, on very dodgy science, which you’ve had dissected and handed back to you umpteen times in the recent past. Again, you are doggedly determined to remain stupid, despite the opportunities offered you to become otherwise. And it is that, rather than your lack of education, which renders you an idiot.

        “[W]e are insignificant when it comes to solar activity and the orbit around the sun”

        And that’s called a red herring. Congratulations, you’ve achieved some minor variety in your rhetorical fallacies. Something suggests to me it’s pure chance rather than actual, thoughtful intention, since you seem incapable of the latter.

        “CO2 is a minor greenhouse gas, and our contribution is insignificant compared to nature.”

        That’s neither an assumption, nor a red herring. It’s just a flat-out lie. And, again, you should know better. So you’re lying deliberately, keeping yourself stupid by design, and basically proving a roundabout embarrassment to yourself. At least one can’t see you drooling online.

        “If that’s all ya got, ya got nothin’.”

        Oh, I “got” plenty. You’re just too stupid to notice most of it.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Fly, again, we can do some minor things to the planet, and the planet will shrug it off. We are just a blip of the screen, we don’t get to control the climate. Adapt or die, the world will keep right on spinning. We can change things, like building cities. And for all of our building cities, as impressive as they are to us, they pale in comparison to the total of what other species build. Our cities will crumble and return to the earth. When we can control the orbit of the planet, then we will really be able to control and change things. Until then, we are just along for the ride.

        I see the bird is hacking up another casing.

      • flypusher says:

        “Fly, again, we can do some minor things to the planet, and the planet will shrug it off. We are just a blip of the screen, we don’t get to control the climate. ”

        What is it with you Sternn? Do you really have that much trouble comprehending what people are writing here? How many times have we told you that nobody is arguing from the position of humans can CONTROL the climate. How many times have people here (and on the chron) explained to you the difference between control ( which nobody is claiming) and influence (which we are claiming )? How can a supposedly literate native English speaker keep repeating that error again and again and again and again? That’s why I have to wonder if you aren’t trolling, because your level of incomprehension is hard to believe.

        Control means being able to make something do exactly what you want it to do. It is not necessary to be able to control a thing in order to destroy it. As our population increases and our use of fossil fuels increases, all those minor things start adding up into major things. We absolutely can wreak destruction on balance of the systems of this planet that has been so favorable for sustaining us. Yes, the earth itself will adapt to such changes, but you continuously ignore the very likely possibility that the planet is going to “shrug” in a way that’s not going to be good for us. There’s a word for that: suicide.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Fly, our influence” is insignificant, not even measurable. You bring up the example of Chernobyl, which was a terrible disaster. But that ignores the fact that the U.S. and the USSR set off hundreds, or was it thousands, of atomic and nuclear weapons above ground. Did you only mention Chernobyl because you are old enough to remember it, but not old enough to remember all the other deliberate detonations? (I know I remember Chernobyl very well as I was in Germany at the time and we were watching the wind directions.)

        Seriously, if you want to bring up environmental damage, just look back to WWII and the few years following. You could even use Iraq as an example, setting oil wells on fire as it was driven out of Kuwait.

        Now, as to your question about Dan and my posting to this blog away from home, it has nothing to do with Dan. It has everything to do with Lifer and trust. Lifer used the information he is able to collect by running this site and using the tools available in order to not only out a man’s identity, but also the identity of the man’s employer. The outting his identity was wrong, seriously wrong. But outting the man’s employer is threatening the man’s job, his livelyhood, the ability to support his family. He could have even caused problems for the employer, the company the man works for, threatening the employer and the jobs of other employees. Your inablity to grasp that basic truth is telling. Or worse, your deliberate ignorance. Or worse yet, your blind loyalty.

        Anyway, I have started posting a bit more here again, but being driven away got me back to the Chronicle adn I won;t post to this blog from work, even though that damage has already been done, depending on how petty Lifer wants to be. He did gain a little respect and trust back by reprimanding us on the personal attacks, though a certain fowl seems oblivious.

        And Texans just took the lead over the Cowboys. Go Texans.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Dan got what he deserved, as just recompense for his actions.

        If you want to play the coward, by all means do so, rather than just whining about it.

      • flypusher says:

        “Fly, our influence” is insignificant, not even measurable. ”

        Bullshit Sternn, It’s being measured constantly. It’s not just the ppm of CO2 in the air, it’s the pH of the oceans, and the habitats destroyed, and the species being wiped out.

        You bring up the example of Chernobyl, which was a terrible disaster. But that ignores the fact that the U.S. and the USSR set off hundreds, or was it thousands, of atomic and nuclear weapons above ground. Did you only mention Chernobyl because you are old enough to remember it, but not old enough to remember all the other deliberate detonations? (I know I remember Chernobyl very well as I was in Germany at the time and we were watching the wind directions.)

        I brought up Chernobyl as one example. That doesn’t mean I don’t know about the effects of the above ground nuclear tests. A lot of those places are unfit for humans to live there safely. That’s a negative effect on the environment caused by us. Negative effects accumulate and the earth is not infinite. If we had detonated enough nuclear bombs, we could have made all of North America unsafe for humans, and all without having “control”.

        “Seriously, if you want to bring up environmental damage, just look back to WWII and the few years following. You could even use Iraq as an example, setting oil wells on fire as it was driven out of Kuwait.”

        Or the Deep Water Horizon, which is still doing it’s damage.

        “Now, as to your question about Dan and my posting to this blog away from home, it has nothing to do with Dan. It has everything to do with Lifer and trust. Lifer used the information he is able to collect by running this site and using the tools available in order to not only out a man’s identity, but also the identity of the man’s employer. The outting his identity was wrong, seriously wrong. But outting the man’s employer is threatening the man’s job, his livelyhood, the ability to support his family. He could have even caused problems for the employer, the company the man works for, threatening the employer and the jobs of other employees. Your inablity to grasp that basic truth is telling. Or worse, your deliberate ignorance. Or worse yet, your blind loyalty.”

        More bullshit. Exactly how would Chris posting Dan’s ID and his employer here do any damage to Dan, unless Dan was stupid enough to let his employer know that he was using company resources to troll on this blog? If he was that stupid and lost his job, then he deserved it. Why don’t you demand any accountability from Dan for those actions? Would you want someone working for you to do that? Chris cut Dan more slack than he deserved, but DanTroll couldn’t take the hint and act like an adult. I’m all for free expression, and I’ve been frustrated on many a forum by over zealous-over sensitive mods, but when someone crosses the line to the point that they are a disruption, the mods have the right to bring down the hammer. Nobody here behaved as badly as Dan did, nobody. Bubba’s sniping was a far distant 2nd.

        I’m not worried about any “dangers” from being outed because 1) I don’t act like a total asshole like Dan did, so I don’t give Chris any reason to have to deal with such disruption, and 2) I post on my own devices and accounts, not my employer’s 3). While I’m not giving away anything obvious, I’m also not taking extraordinary precautions to guard my identity, and someone could sleuth it out. But I haven’t said anything here that I wouldn’t say in public, so I’m not worried there either.

      • CaptSternn says:

        We can measure changes in nature, but the amount of those changes that are caused by human activity. Storms moved through the area today bringing rains and winds. How many of those rain drops were caused by human activity? Or did human activity cause fewer rain drops?

        Can’t measure that, and the global climate is vastly larger. CO2 amounts to very little of our atmpsphere, and also very little of the greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere. Huuman activity contributes very little to that.

        We could have made North America unsafe temporarily, a blip of the geological and evolutionary time scales.

        The Deep Water Horizion is another example to use. Imagine an olympic swimming pool, and then add a thimble of crude oil, and half a thimble of Dawn dishwashing liquid. Think that is going to really impact that swimming pool as a whole? And we are just talking about the swimming pool being the Gulf of Mexico, which is a small part of the total of our seas and oceans.

        That’s not to say that we can’t harm our environment, the Pacific garbage patch shows that we very well can do so. And that exists thanks to the Chicken Little environmentalists. But the really telling thing about the AGW Chicken Littles is to examine their “solutions”, like the Kyoto Treaty.

        Finally, you are still making excuses for what Lifer did with the information he is able to gather by running this blog. He violated a trust and I lost a lot of respect for him.

        Overall I find it kind of sad, for under that very entry I was talking of having my own blog and asking him questions about who hosted his site and other things. He was supportive of the idea and answered my questions.

        OV, Kabuzz and myself have resumed posting on his blog again, little bits here and there. I doubt I will ever be one of the most active people here as I was before. Lifer could regain a lot of respect and trust from me if he would say outting the man’s employer was too much. Maybe he doesn’t think so, or maybe he doesn’t care what I think. I will say no more about the matter.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Bird, you are a person that wishes death for all that disagree with you, including members of your own family. You really have nothing to say beyond that.

        I will give a person respect until they earn disrespect, and you earned my disrespect long ago. Even though you have earned disrespect, I still extend a courtesy to you by calling you “bird” or “fowl” rather than “Owl”. Seems that when I called you “Owl” on Chron.com, you quickly got banned again and again, and I don’t agree with having you banned. Nor do I know yor sex though you have hinted towards female. I would much rather have your hateful, ignorant and disrespectful comments left in public view for all to see.

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Buzz…I’m not seeing the hate, much less “Wow! The hate.”

      I think I now understand why you talk about people hating you and your beliefs so much. You just go from zero to hate faster than TT on a motorcycle.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Kabuzz, steeped in hate, perceives it everywhere he looks. But it’s really all just the kitty.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Let’s go back in time when the democrats ran the south and hated black people. They imposed many obstacles in their way because they were ‘not like us white folks at ‘tall’. All the white democrats believed they were acting on what is best for the country and black people. The black folks recognized the hate. I know where you are now. You don’t see the hate. You just see a great explanation.

      • flypusher says:

        And then we had the New Deal and an administration that while they didn’t do everything thing they could have to help black Americans (like pass anti- lynching laws), did do far more to improve their lives than the previous GOP administrations. Then we had Dems in the White House who pushed through civil rights legislation in the 60s. Then we had the GOP go with the “Southern strategy”. Black Americans didn’t stop noticing things that happened after your dishonest cut off point.

    • flypusher says:

      “You just want to weed out a very small pet peeve, pick some insignificant politician to form a hit piece. ”

      Good Lord Buzzy, your knee jerk defensiveness knows no limits. Speaking as a biologist, this is absolutely not some “very small pet peeve”. This is nothing less than an all out assault on our discipline, the worst sort of willful ignorance, and fortunately something that is slowly being crushed under the weight of the evidence.

  20. texan5142 says:

    Buying popcorn stock for this thread

    • rightonrush says:

      Me too Tex. Since I’m a self professed heathen I’m just gonna sit on the sidelines and watch Owl tear them a new one.

  21. BigWilly says:

    Science is not compatible with mystery, yet it isn’t possible for science to advance without it. Someone has to play Democritus and create the theory for future generations to back fill with fact.

    I would not rule out some form of alien interference in the “Evolution” of humanity or life on the earth in general. The Bible is not meant to be understood in a solely literal sense.

    From Matthew 13

    “11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

    “Though seeing, they do not see;
    though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

    14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

    “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
    you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

    15
    For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
    Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
    and turn, and I would heal them.’[a]”

    I believe this statement to be true. So if a thousand years is “As a day” then a thousand years is merely a convenient measurement for the human mind and not to be understood as a literal thousand year to day ratio. What’s time to an immortal being anyway?

    • texan5142 says:

      Yep!

    • lomamonster says:

      Let’s ask one then…

    • rightonrush says:

      I’m sure happy you are back in Texas BW. The collective IQ of Texas went up at least 2 points when you crossed the state line. I’d even go to a bible class if you were the teacher.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        The “collective” IQ of Texas went up by 2 points? So Willy’s IQ is 2? 🙂

      • rightonrush says:

        No Tutt, you know that is not what I meant. BW has a high IQ which is sorely needed to help balance out the IQ of the idiots that seem to infest our great state.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        So, “*average* collective IQ”. An easy lapse.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        True, but the implication is funny nonetheless. I meant no disrespect to either Rush or Willy.

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      So, BigWilly, you’re claiming that God could really be E.T.?

      • rightonrush says:

        I have a neighbor that swears he was abducted by aliens (ET types). He’s a straight up guy, highly educated and not prone to being goofy. I’ve never had a close encounter of the first kind, much less the third kind.

      • flypusher says:

        If there is one thing I’d love to witness in my lifetime, it would be conclusive evidence of extra-terrestrial life. I’d be overjoyed over just some microbes, so something with sentience would probably be the biggest thrill I could imagine.

        Assuming they weren’t bringing cookbooks!!!

      • fiftyohm says:

        Owl- Seems to me, any god would be an E.T. pretty much definition!

      • rightonrush says:

        Me too Fly. If they are out there I seriously doubt they mean us harm. I imagine they looks at us and scratch their heads (assuming they have heads) and wonder what kind of warring fools are these earthlings.

      • flypusher says:

        ROR, or maybe they give us the treatment the Moties got in “The Mote in God’s Eye”.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Actually, under some nomenclatures, God would be an *ultra*-terrestrial.

        I mean, if He or She or It is supposedly omnipresent, one can’t say the Deity is “from” somewhere off Earth, can one?

      • CaptSternn says:

        Speaking of ET and that someone else brought up sciece fiction, and to give a shout out to my most favorite science fiction TV series …

        http://babylon5.wikia.com/wiki/Berserka_Probe

        Darn, Cowboys just scored another touchdown. Go Texans.

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