August 15, 2005

SOUND THE CHARGE AND BEAT A RETREAT:

The Right Fight: It took the Bush administration to bring a truce between the postmodern left and the scientific community. (Chris Mooney, 08.15.05, American Prospect)

[D]espite some undeniable academic excesses, the "science wars" were always somewhat overblown. The sociological, historical, philosophical, and cultural study of science is a very worthwhile endeavor. If scholars engaged in such research sometimes take a stance of agnosticism toward the truth claims of science, perhaps that's simply their way of remaining detached from the subject they're studying. But it doesn't necessarily follow that these scholars are absolute relativists, to the extent of thinking that concepts like gravity are a mere matter of opinion. Social Text founding Editor Stanley Aronowitz has himself written that "[t]he critical theories of science do not refute the results of scientific discoveries since, say, the Copernican revolution or since Galileo's development of the telescope."

When it comes to the field of science studies, meanwhile, much scholarly work in the area lends itself not to left-wing attacks on science but rather to defenses of science from forms of abuse prevalent on the political right. To cite just one example, leading science-studies scholar Sheila Jasanoff's 1991 book, The Fifth Branch: Science Advisers as Policymakers, presents a potent critique of demands for unreasonable levels of scientific certainty before political decisions can be made, especially when it comes to protecting public health and the environment.

So perhaps it's no surprise that the science wars of the 1990s have almost entirely subsided, and, as the scientific community has increasingly become embroiled with the Bush administration across a wide range of issues (from evolution to climate science), a very new zeitgeist has emerged. The summer issue of The American Scholar, a leading read among academic humanists and the literary set, provides a case in point. "Science matters," blazons the cover. Inside, Editor Robert Wilson explains to readers that although "the attack on science has always been our game … the enemy of our enemy is most definitely not our friend." The right's attack on science, Wilson continues, "is an attack on reason, and it cannot be ignored, or excused, or allowed to go uncontested."

With those words, I think it's safe to say that peace has officially been made in the science wars of the 1990s. And not a moment too soon. The evolution deniers (and other reality deniers) are gathering momentum. On matters like this, the university community -- composed of scientists and scholars alike -- really ought to be on the same page.


It's perhaps fortunate that Stephen Jay Gould didn't live to see this moment. The science war that Mr. Mooney discusses here -- over the validity of Cartesian Reason -- is really only one battle in the wider war and not the most important from the Left's perspective. The one that mattered, and in which Mr. Mooney implicitly concedes surrender, occurred within Darwinism, as Tom Bethell ably described several years ago, Against Sociobiology (Tom Bethell, January 2001, First Things)
To future generations, the Sociobiology Wars may come as something of a puzzle. The shared beliefs of the disputants were so much more impressive than their disagreements that historians may wonder what the fuss was about. Perhaps the controversy will come to resemble the Wars of the Roses, all of whose contestants believed in the divine right of kings. Their differing opinions as to succession seem rather trivial by comparison. In the case of sociobiology, all the principal actors accept the premise of materialism, sometimes called naturalism. They believe, or at least for the purposes of doing science they believe, that matter in motion is all that exists, and that mind and consciousness are merely special configurations of that matter.

Anyone who believes this must, as a matter of logical necessity, also believe in evolution. No digging for fossils, no test tubes or microscopes, no further experiments are needed. For birds, bats, and bees do exist. They came into existence somehow. Your consistent materialist has no choice but to allow that, yes, molecules in motion succeeded, over the eons, in whirling themselves into ever more complex conglomerations, some of them called bats, some birds, some bees. He “knows” that is true, not because he sees it in the genes, or in the lab, or in the fossils, but because it is embedded in his philosophy.

Sociobiology extended Darwinian insights about bodies to behavior, and may be thought of as having revived the old controversy about nature and nurture. Its participants were, mostly, Harvard professors, and included some of the best science writers of our day. Its two main antagonists, Edward O. Wilson and Richard C. Lewontin, both born in 1929, occupied offices one floor apart in Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. For a while, they didn’t speak in the elevator. Oddly enough, Wilson, the naturalist, was on the side of the genes, while Lewontin, the geneticist, was on the side of the environment (to oversimplify). A frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books, Lewontin has recently published under that imprint a collection of his essays, It Ain’t Necessarily So: The Dream of the Human Genome and Other Illusions. His best–known supporter, Stephen Jay Gould, is the author of many books on evolution and natural history. Richard Dawkins of Oxford is only one of the many biologists who have sided with Wilson.

The conflict, therefore, should be thought of as a dispute between like–minded professors whose understanding of life on earth differed in detail, but agreed on a key premise: any reference to a creator or designer must be excluded from biology from the outset, as a matter of principle. [...]

The left–wing animus against sociobiology becomes understandable once we look at its major defect in a political light. Sociobiology “explains” (in a very weak sense of that word) whatever exists. But as Marx said, the left wants to change the world, not explain it. The world that exists, filled as it is with injustice, must be replaced by something better; a world without inequality, for example. Existing qualities of human nature—the dissimilar attitudes of men and women toward sexual intercourse, for example—can be explained by the usual, unvarying, and unfalsifiable formula. The trait arose by accident, then was selected for. But the raison d’être of the left is to champion states, conditions, and attitudes that do not exist—gender egalitarianism, say. The sociobiologists’ retort that these things don’t exist either because the requisite genes never did exist, or (fatal flaw) were not selected for, puts the left on the defensive. So the whole field of sociobiology suffers from a bias against the potential and in favor of the actual, and in that sense it’s true that it does have a “conservative” bias.

We can see the same thing in the assignment of costs and benefits in kin selection. In a plain–language section of his famous article, William Hamilton wrote as follows: “The alarm call of a bird probably involves a small extra risk to the individual making it by rendering it more noticeable to the approaching predator, but the consequent reduction of risk to a nearby bird previously unaware of danger must be much greater. We need not discuss here just how risks are to be reckoned in terms of fitness: for the present illustration it is reasonable to guess that . . . [mathematical symbols follow].”

The point to notice here is not just that the relevant costs and benefits have not been measured, but that there is no way of measuring them other than by observing the behavior that they are said to determine. The fact that the bird emits the alarm call itself demonstrates that the benefits (to the bird’s genes) exceed the costs to those genes. QED. The theory is “proved,” but it never really gets off the page and out into the measurable world. Not for nothing was it published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

The critics of sociobiology were using arguments that threatened to undermine the whole of Darwinian evolution, since the physical, the mental, and the behavioral are (in the materialist’s world) parts of one material whole. Phillip E. Johnson, the U.C. Berkeley law professor whose most recent book on the problems of evolution is The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism (InterVarsity Press; reviewed in this issue), thinks that the critics may have “burned down the Darwinist house in order to roast the sociobiological pig.” They were certainly playing with fire. The same critical scrutiny “might have far–reaching consequences if it were ever applied to the generally accepted Darwinian theory that complex adaptive organs came into existence through the accumulation of micro–mutations by natural selection,” Johnson writes. “Here, too, the prevailing practice is to assume that stories of adaptive evolution require no confirmation from genetics, or paleontology, or anything else except the adaptationist community’s prevailing sense of plausibility.”

But the critics of sociobiology also accepted the premise of materialism, and that put them in a weak position. How else did minds appear, if not by evolution? Lewontin gave points to the opposition when he conceded the “undoubted truth” that “behavior must, like morphology and physiology, be subject to the forces of natural selection.” (More recently, he has written: “No biologist now doubts that organisms are chemico–electrico–mechanical systems.”) Gould makes a similar concession: “How can an evolutionary biologist deny that Darwinian processes can work on behavior as well as form?” Game and set to Wilson!

The critics of adaptive rape were similarly weakened. Thornhill and Palmer had written: “When one considers any feature of living things, whether evolution applies is never a question. The only legitimate question is how to apply evolutionary principles. This is the case for all human behaviors—even for such by–products as cosmetic surgery, the content of movies, legal systems, and fashion trends.” The critics were disarmed by their shared worldview. “If Thornhill and Palmer want to lump rape together with tummy tucks and Titanic as evolutionary phenomena, God (or Darwin) bless them,” Jerry Coyne wrote, his frustration showing. But he was not about to quit the Church of Materialism either, so what alternative could he offer?

After a while, Stephen Jay Gould seemed to pull back. He surely saw the danger—that an attack on sociobiology could damage Darwinism itself. This was far from what he wanted. The overriding impression created by Gould’s work is that Darwin is his hero because his theory of evolution has provided intellectuals with a wonderful battering ram in the war against religion. Gould has himself been very much a leader in America’s culture war. Here, his antagonist in the sociobiology skirmish, the aggressively atheistic Richard Dawkins, is his natural ally. By 1994, when Wilson’s book Naturalist was published, Gould was cited in the acknowledgments, along with Hamilton, Trivers, and others, for “reading portions of the manuscript and generously providing help and advice.”

Lewontin was not in that number, however. Unlike Gould, he has at times given the impression that he wouldn’t mind if the Darwinian house did burn down—provided the materialist order could be preserved intact. As a committed leftist, Lewontin was ambivalent. On the one hand he could see that “evolution by natural selection bears an uncanny resemblance to the political economy theory of early capitalism. . . . What Darwin did was take early nineteenth century political economy and expand it to include all of natural economy.” Darwin had admitted as much when he acknowledged the influence of Thomas Malthus. In Bertrand Russell’s caustic phrase, Darwinism was “laissez–faire economics applied to the animal and vegetable kingdoms.” On the other hand, Lewontin could also see that Darwinism had done the job—it had completed “the unfinished Cartesian revolution that demanded a mechanical model for all living processes.”

To those outside the materialist citadel, Lewontin is interesting not just because he is willing to treat Darwinism with a disdain that is rarely found in the Halls of Biology. He seems primarily committed to a remade political order—to a new society based on egalitarian ideals (a recipe for disappointment, surely). He sees a thoroughgoing materialism as indispensable to science, and in an oft–quoted passage (the New York Review article in which it appeared has not been reprinted, alas) he wrote that that materialism must be absolute, “for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” Nature, as he sees it, “is at constant risk before an all–powerful God who at any moment can rupture natural relations. For sufficient reason, He may just decide to stop the sun, even if He hasn’t done so yet. Science cannot coexist with such a God. If, on the other hand, God cannot intervene, he is not God; he is an irrelevancy.” Few biologists in our day have spoken so forthrightly.


Now, around these parts we're pretty skeptical of the Left's politics, but we respect the attraction it holds for at least 40% of the population at all times and for a majority under certain conditions. And while liberal politics do not require God they are certainly not incompatible with the idea of God. Indeed, it's easy enough to ground a social justice ethic in the religious teachings of any of the three branches of monotheism, a very useful feature in a nation where some 80% of the citizenry confesses faith in God.

But for a variety of reasons the Left has conceived a particular hatred of religious faith and of the values that typify the faithful, such that even their own operatives are warning that they risk so distancing themselves from middle America that they won't be able to contest national elections. But if the political professionals on the Left have grasped how perilous is their current path, the ideologues seem rather oblivious. So here we find Mr. Mooney celebrating a phenomenon that has seen them forfeit even the political values that had already made them a minority party in order to cozen favor with scientists whose views on Darwinism are so extreme that they manage to narrw that 20% down to just 13%. That kind of political prostitution and self-marginalization would seem an awfully high price to pay just to try and push the Divine Foot out of the door.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 15, 2005 10:19 PM
Comments

The alleged belief in God turns out to be pretty mushy in practice.

I just finished reading a hilarious book, 'Diary of a Southern Refugee,' by Julia McGuire, wife of an Episcopal minister and an FFV.

Part of the hilarity is that in a diary she kept for four years during the War Between the States she manages never to use the word 'slave.'

More to the point here, in every entry for the first 3 years and 11 months, she contends that God is on her side and that, despite being outnumbered, he will eventually cause the South to prevail.

When the South fails to do so, God suddenly departs the scene.

I could see it coming but even so, it really was funny.

Orrin always says humor is conservative.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 16, 2005 3:11 AM

Hardly anybody has faith in God. Possibly less than 1% of people who go to Church.

But a sizeable majority believe in the idea of having faith in God, and many aspire towards it. A thing which politicians, as OJ correctly observes, ignore at their peril.

Posted by: Brit at August 16, 2005 4:19 AM

The idea that "sociobiology" is an attempt to apply Darwin to behavior is, as some of the sources cited in the Bethel article point out, exactly backwards: Darwinism is biological Spencerianism.

That this is being discussed at all underscores the unreality of leftist thought. What we call the left is the opposite of "progressive." On the contrary, the left is the reaction to progress, still reacting to the progress of the last several thousand years.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 16, 2005 6:13 AM

Harry: Humor is conservative, that's why we laught at you.

Posted by: jd watson at August 16, 2005 6:23 AM

Harry:

But the point is exactly right. The South was forced to the realization that its society did not conform to Christian principles. On the other hand, it was pluperfect Applied Darwinism.

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 8:04 AM

Brit:

God lacked faith when put to the test.

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 8:17 AM

So, that means that America is 80% untested believers?

I fail to see why a scientist should give a rip about what 80% of the people think about his work.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 16, 2005 9:24 AM

Robert:

Scientists shouldn't--they live in ivory towers unaffected by reality. Political parties should. Mr. Mooney thinks it's good for a 40% to adopt a 13% position so they can fight the 80% who believe in God. You do the math.

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 9:38 AM

What Harry's example shows is that there are lots of people who believe that G-d has faith in them. They tend to be wrong.

The rest of us tend to look more towards Lincoln for an understanding of G-d's likely role in the Civil War than some random diary writer.

Posted by: David Cohen at August 16, 2005 9:47 AM

David:

Leave the poor man his samizdata. Next you'll make fun of his Jack Chick collection.

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 10:05 AM

The winning side is always the one with God on it. The problem is that you have to wait to see who wins before you find out which side God is actually on.

What Harry's example shows it that God is a bit like your lucky underpants.

They guarantee that you'll win, except when they don't, in which case you can put it down to an off-day. After a few more off-days, it turns out they weren't your lucky underpants after all.

Or is that just me?

Posted by: Brit at August 16, 2005 10:19 AM

It's just you, and you need to go change your shorts and maybe take a shower. Smelly d**d wog.

Posted by: joe shropshire at August 16, 2005 10:23 AM

Why do you (OJ et al) always use the term "Darwinism" as if there isn't 100+ years of scholarship on evolution that its detractors take little or no consideration of when they speak out against it?
Why are the ideas of evolution so challenging to your religious views?
Why can you only conceive of a monotheistic world? Don't you think its a little close minded?
Are you so stuck upon the literal interpretation of the Bible that you are unwilling to appreciate scripture for its figurative significance? Words are nothing more than metaphors; symbols for something else; and the Bible is nothing more than a work of art; like a Greek myths.

Posted by: Jason at August 16, 2005 10:25 AM

Brit:

No, it isn't. The Christians had God on their side when they were being fed to the lions, blacks when they were slaves and Jews in the death camps.

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 10:28 AM

Don't want to get all theodicy debate on you OJ, but how do you account for that?

Posted by: jmilton at August 16, 2005 10:30 AM

David Cohen-

Yeah, im sure it was in god's providence that Europeans were able to steal an entire continents from the Native Americans and slaughter their race over the course of 400 years. It guess it must be god's providence that Christian, Western European nations have been able to colonize Latin America, Africa, and Southeast to plunder their wealth, natural resources, and labor for their own personal betterment. God must want his non-believers to suffer at the hands of his believers.

Posted by: Jason at August 16, 2005 10:33 AM

OJ: Yes, so it eventually turned out.

Joe: What a pretty wit you have, sir. Top marks.

Posted by: Brit at August 16, 2005 10:35 AM

Yes, Jason, didn't you know that the tsunami was God's flood-like punishment for all the infidels in Southeast Asia?

Posted by: jmilton at August 16, 2005 10:37 AM

Jason:

They're believers now.

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 10:39 AM

j:

God has told us how to treat one another. Even when we aren't doing so His command pertains. That's the essence of the Declaration:

" We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

The slaves had not just God but our own understanding of how government is to be arranged on their side.

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 10:43 AM

Jason:

There are Darwinists, Creationists and IDers. the various subsets are meaningless.

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 10:44 AM

Brit:

It hasn't turned out yet.

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 10:47 AM

Have any of you read "Things Fall Apart." OJ, i know you've reviewed it, but that doesnt necessarily mean you've read it. Is anyone here familiar with the story of the turtle and the birds?
It goes to show how Christian missionaries came with a promise of a god that would care for "everyone"; a promise of a universal religion that would benefit all. Only in practice, these promises have yet to be realized.
Democratic capitalism makes similar promises to the poor and down-trodden, and after several centuries of its development, there is now a more gross disparity between rich and poor than there has ever been in the history of the world, and it is only growing worse.
Christian democratic capitalism is the promise of a tyrant to his subjects that someday the the poor hands they have been dealt will be reshuffled by an imaginary force. But this is like the promise of a carrot dangling on a stick in front of the donkey; it keeps us working for a promise that will never be fulfilled. And some people, like OJ, will cling to this promise till the bitter end, wasting their entire lives in the defense of a trickster ideology.

Posted by: Jason at August 16, 2005 10:48 AM

OJ
You're conflating American political ideas and religion again. They are two distinct entities, I hope you know. Oh, and didn't our government also have "our understanding of how government is be arranged" on its side while it allowed slavery to go on?

Posted by: jmilton at August 16, 2005 10:53 AM

Nod jmilton. By the way OJ, what does the Old Testament say about slavery?

Posted by: Jason at August 16, 2005 11:21 AM

Jason - what do you suggest? More income re-distribution? Socialism? Communism? Anarchy? You mentioned "democratic capitalism", does that mean you would rather have something other than a democracy? How does one get the poor to stop being poor? A wise man once told me the only thing socitey owes an individual is an opportunity. This nation provides more opportunity than any in the history of this world. Why do all you leftists think the poor are just victims? I guess the words personal responsibility never meant anything to you. Why?

Posted by: BJW at August 16, 2005 11:23 AM

BJW,

Please don't put words in my mouth. I believe in a balance between forces. This nation offers many opportunites within its borders, but it is at the expense of opportunities for those in other nations. For that reason and others, we don't really live in a democracy. We give more welfare to corporations, who are battling each other for control, and for this and other reasons we do not live in true capitalism. I suggest that we change our foreign policy and restructure our political process in ways so that it is not driven by moneyed interests. Yeah, personal resposibility means a lot me; the billionaires of the world are responsible for a lot a damage that needs to be paid back.

Posted by: Jason at August 16, 2005 11:33 AM

Jason, while there are many valid criticisms about the world economy, complaining that today has the greatest income disparity between rich and poor because of capitlaism misses the point that today more people have been lifted out of poverty than at any other time in world history because of that capitalism. The reason for systemic poverty in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East is due to corruption, no rule of law, statism, and tyranny, not capitalism.

And Harry is right that most people tend to worship a god that merely confirms their own expectations and prejudices than anything transcendent.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at August 16, 2005 11:51 AM

It's the archetypal leftist complaint: what's the use of my pay rise if Bill Gates is still earning more than me?

Posted by: Brit at August 16, 2005 11:58 AM

j:

No, they aren't.

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 12:24 PM

Jason:

It's early innings.

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 12:24 PM

Jason:

The Bible requires you to treat your slaves with respect. Chattel slavery is incompatible with the Bible.

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 12:27 PM

Jason: You're wrong on so many levels that it's a little hard to know where to start. There's no bad excuse for quoting the Lincoln's second inaugural address, so I'll start there:

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

Lincoln ends with the finest sentence ever written in English: With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

The rest of your questions to me are bizarre, as they seem to assign to me positions I've never taken and a religion that isn't mine. But your still wrong. G-d is not a materialist. His concern is not with how much stuff we have. In any event, we all have a lot more stuff than we used to.

When you say, after several centuries of its development, there is now a more gross disparity between rich and poor than there has ever been, you give away the game. What crabbed and twisted ideology thinks that the only basis on which to judge how one person is doing is by looking at how another person is doing? Envy is, hey, a sin, not a value. Those of us who are rational have noted that no system is better than democratic capitalism at raising the standard of living of those who have the least. (By the way, another problem with those studies of "wealth inequality" is that they tend to ignore age and immigration status.)

As for evolution, what in the world are you talking about. If any of the regular posters here are young-Earth creationists, they've kept it to themselves. As far as I know, only OJ and I have described ourselves as Creationists of any sort and, speaking strictly for myself, my Creationsism is wholly solipsistic and doesn't interfere with my accepting geological and genetic evidence.

No one here has ever said they don't believe in evolution. I far as I can gather, though he can speak for himself, OJ doesn't believe that evolution gives rise to speciation. I have no great trouble with modern synthesis, although I still think that it puts too much of an emphasis on natural selection, which I think is a vanishingly small factor in evolution, except to the extent that natural selection is just another way of saying that those mutations not incompatible with survival may survive, in which case I think that it's trivial.

Any religion that is not monotheistic is moonbatism.

But now I'd like to turn your own question against you: why do you ignore all the developments in theology over the last 100 years and, lumping all religions together, focus on the exploits of one religion's adherents from one small peninsula?

Posted by: David Cohen at August 16, 2005 12:44 PM

You guys are so brainwashed; its not even worth talking to you. When the whole world goes up in flames, or rather, finally burns out because of the orgy of selfish consumption that our leader are make no steps to curb, supply and demand and god, and arguments that we are having now will be meaningless, and we will all be wishing that our leaders had been more responsive to real problems (like the coming oil crisis, global warming and other environmental damages, and massive disparities of wealth) than to conduct petty arguments predicated on the literal interpretation of Jewish myths. Im glad that you guys can accept the scientific evidence of evolution; now, connect the dots.

Posted by: Jason at August 16, 2005 1:17 PM

Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father's) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.
When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty."

G of Thomas #3

I don't think this is the kind of poverty Jason is talking about though. Too bad.

Posted by: BJW at August 16, 2005 1:58 PM

David: Nice

Jason: When the whole world goes up in flames, or rather, finally burns out... arguments that we are having now will be meaningless...

I'll buy that.

Posted by: Peter B at August 16, 2005 2:05 PM

Evolution is a biological theory. Those who think that it has some greater meaning for society are either monsters or thwarted monsters.

Posted by: David Cohen at August 16, 2005 2:06 PM

David:
Nice response to Jason.

Jason:

Here's what is going to happen when the world goes up in flames or finally burns out:

"I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind." (Isaiah 65:17)

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth earth had passed away, and the sea was no more." (Revelation 21:1)

Posted by: Dave W. at August 16, 2005 2:35 PM

Dave W

And Jason will be right there scowling and cursing and saying: "That's all very well, but what about the real problems of global warming and inequality!

Posted by: Peter B at August 16, 2005 2:48 PM

If there's a coming oil crisis doesn't that fix global warming?

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 3:31 PM

Are you guys purposely trying to sound stupid? Is this whole site some kind of parody of ignorant misinformation. God allows us to kill foreigners, he doesnt replenish oil reserves, or remove C02 from the atmosphere. God isn't going to clean up the mes we've made, he is an imaginary friend that you guys take way too seriously, and I just cant wait for the day to come when you guys realize this. Unfortunately, you will probably die, before you get a chance to.

Posted by: Jason at August 16, 2005 3:42 PM

How old are you, Jason?

Posted by: joe shropshire at August 16, 2005 3:45 PM

Jason:

Isn't running out of oil good?

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 3:50 PM

Oj - not for dinosauric American society.

Posted by: Jason at August 16, 2005 3:56 PM

Jason:

Why not?

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 4:00 PM

No, here's what is going to happen when the world goes up in flames or finally burns out:

"Aaaaaarrrrgghh....Aaaaarrrrrrrgggghhh!!!!! It's burning!!!!! Aaaaaaarrrrrrggggghhh!!!!"

The Christians had God on their side when they were being fed to the lions, blacks when they were slaves and Jews in the death camps.

Hmmmmmm... Maybe having God on your side isn't such a great thing.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 16, 2005 4:41 PM

Robert:

Bingo!

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2005 4:45 PM

"Sometimes, however, she couldn't avoid complaining to her closest Friend about the hostility and gossip that surrounded her. When Jesus told her, "Teresa, that's how I treat my friends" Teresa responded, "No wonder you have so few friends." But since Christ has so few friends, she felt they should be good ones. And that's why she decided to reform her Carmelite order. "

Posted by: Teresa of Avila at August 16, 2005 7:36 PM

Peter:

To be fair to Jason, by then he'll probably be what everyone eventually becomes: a mildly grumpy conservative taking the p*ss out of idealistic college kids.

Posted by: Brit at August 17, 2005 4:23 AM

mildly?

Posted by: oj at August 17, 2005 8:42 AM

You're getting warmer, David. Keep trying.

Society is only constrained, not impelled by biology.

I disagree with Orrin that chattel slavery is unbiblical, but there can be no argument that it is unchristian. Nothing has been more Christian than chattel slavery.

There were quite a few little lessons in my story about Mrs. McGuire, but the really important one was: Even if there really is a Big Spook, and even if somebody really does understand what he wants, there is no way to figure out who that somebody is.

You're all on your own.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 19, 2005 12:56 AM

The central tenet of Judeo-Christianity is that Man will behave in an un-Jewish/un-Christian nature and that we are called upon by God to try to change our evil ways.

Your central tenet, that we're on our own, disposes of good and evil and makes slavery perfetly acceptable.

Posted by: oj at August 19, 2005 8:25 AM
« YOU JUST KNOW HE WANTS TO RUN AWAY AND JOIN THE CRAWFORD CIRCUS: | Main | UM, PAUL?: »