Watching the Gristmill

There are many subjects and circumstances by which one can watch culture in transition.

Today’s example that always makes the news is the annual evaluation of secondary school texts by the Texas Board of Education. Watching this process in action is somewhat irritating both to creationists and to evolutionists. Every year there is a battle between conservative Christians and fact-driven centrists. It is an unsavory mix of religious faith and scientific analysis – truly an oil and water mix that will never find satisfaction.

What makes it a news item is the fact that Texas buys a proportionately large number of schoolbooks. Publishers have no interest in publishing more than one version because it is expensive. The publishers want to sell their texts across the country but because of its purchasing power, the publishers have to accommodate the Texas Board of Education as the Board attempts to withdraw evolution or at least defame it in the textbooks while at the same time giving credence to creationism. Other states, of course, may not want this approach to history.

Texas finally had to pass a law saying that Texas School Districts did not have to accept the textbooks approved by the Texas Board of Education. That is a significant concession that moves the bar to the left. However, this year, according to the Associated Press, the issue of global warming is added to the mix.

What makes the issue a study in cultural transition is to look at the changing attitude and belief statistics across time. It bounces up and down. What interests the mariner most is the increase in creationist and God driven evolution (Intelligent Design). Is this caused by our troubled economy and the growing disparity of our economic classes? Is it caused because religious institutions are available at the neighborhood level while science is promoted only in college and postgraduate institutions? Oddly, even as American Christianity grows more conservative, the Roman Catholic Pope welcomes atheists. The mariner is fascinated. Fascinated but he has no answers. All of us are in the gristmill of day-to-day history. It’s like watching sausage being made.

The Texas battle between belief and fact is not the only conflict. It has always been this way. It began with Jesus claiming to be the Son of God, which led to his crucifixion. Galileo was sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life by the Roman Church for defending the idea that the Sun was at the center of the Solar System rather than the Earth. Charles Darwin has been condemned by the Christian religion for his thesis on evolution. An open, unfrozen Arctic Ocean, a global rise in temperature of 1.5 degrees and oceans that are three inches deeper are dismissed as unreliable facts insofar as global warming is concerned.

If Christians would stick to the New Testament and not begin by reading the Pentateuch in the Jewish Bible, things would be a lot simpler.

Ancient Mariner


4 thoughts on “Watching the Gristmill

  1. Ed..while I cannot be absolutely sure without looking it up again..I think that Intelligent Design does not necessarily assume that it is always an all powerful God doing the creating and I think that one reason the Vatican has not supported intelligent design, or had not as of a few years ago, is due to the fact that the Vatican wants the scientific paradigm of Darwinian evolution kept in tact, and Intelligent Design would not do that, not necessarily. I need to look some of this stuff up again. I do know that the scientific community is doing all that they can to hold onto Darwinian theory, but that there are many holes in it, and it does not answer how life originated in the first place, only how it evolved..apparently the “small warm pond” statement is not saying where life actually came from….I think you can be a believer in Intelligent Design and still be an atheist.

    A couple of years ago I read a national study that scored atheists higher on knowledge of the Bible and Christianity than it did Christians..Jews also scored higher than Christians, and this is very very believable to me..from listening to you, I know that you are a “blind faith” person or blind faith is sufficient. I am not challenging the assumption that blind faith sometimes can work miracles, but I am stating that no one knows why a miracle was stimulated, or how, and Christians, in particular, do not want to know either, if it could have had a scientific basis or could someday be explained through advanced knowledge..they just like blind faith. Christians of today would find some condemnation for themselves in Proverbs, which elevates wisdom and knowledge, but it is in the old testament and it would complicate things for people I suppose. I know that there is a difference between wisdom and knowledge but would be hard pressed to explain it.

  2. Goodness, Karen! So much to choose from. We’ll walk through them one at a time. Some may require new posts!
    I placed Intelligent Design in parentheses to acknowledge that there was overlap with the God-driven evolutionists but that there were dissimilarities. For a quick reference, I checked with Wikipedia and copied one sentence for our purposes:
    “The leading proponents of this version of the argument are associated with the Discovery Institute, a politically conservative think tank based in the United States, and believe the designer to be the Christian deity.”
    The Holy Roman Catholic Church has not supported evolution based on the conflict with Biblical accounts. However, the mariner thinks it was Pope Pius II that had to acquiesce to evolution. It was a big story then. The Pope made the argument that God created the soul and empirical processes were a separate phenomenon. Having not delved into this topic deeply, the mariner believes this is still the case.
    The warm pond theory of creation is losing support in the scientific community. Replacing it is the idea that chemical regeneration in extreme environments can produce simple replicating molecules.
    “Miracle” requires more definition. One direction is probability; another is deviation from expectation; another is an experience of extreme value; of course, another is an intercession by the Old Testament version of God, who controlled history.
    The mariner has not used the term “blind faith.” The mariner does not consider himself to be free of skepticism – a requirement for blind faith. He cautions all readers to be aware that he takes on different personas just for the sake of argument. The mariner will concede that he is a grumpy liberal intellectual – which readers have figured out by now.
    Regarding knowledge, I share your disdain for the lack of importance in our culture. If knowledge had the same furor as gun owners, the United States would dominate every nation.
    Wisdom, as you suggest, is different from knowledge. One can have a doctorate and still be a fool. Wisdom is the ability to make a decision of the highest value in any circumstance.
    Thanks for responding.
    Ancient Mariner

  3. Dear Mariner,
    I did find a brief blurb regarding the Vatican and Intelligent Design from the year 2009 for you to look at:

    ” Chris Irvine 8:03AM GMT 11 Feb 2009
    Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said while the Church had been hostile to Darwin’s theory in the past, the idea of evolution could be traced to St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas.
    Father Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti, Professor of Theology at the Pontifical Santa Croce University in Rome, added that 4th century theologian St Augustine had “never heard the term evolution, but knew that big fish eat smaller fish” and forms of life had been transformed “slowly over time”. Aquinas made similar observations in the Middle Ages.
    Ahead of a papal-backed conference next month marking the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, the Vatican is also set to play down the idea of Intelligent Design, which argues a “higher power” must be responsible for the complexities of life.

    Anyway……We were all strongly conditioned as children as to the nature of the beginning of time, and how creation came about. The majority of people do become threatened about discussions that differ substantially from what they were told as children(ie Earth was populated by one man and one woman who an all powerful God created and the universe was created by Him, that mankind on Earth was at the pinnacle of universal creation, that man could just do as he wished with the Earth and the animals on it, no special care was required, etc etc…these childhood conditionings are extremely strong) You know, when we grew up we all thought the Garden of Eden took place only about 4,000 or 5,000 years ago and our knowledge has come a long when since then. But, even though they know that horses or camels existed a couple of million years ago..nothing in education attempted to integrate that with our original I think people just mostly had two completely separate lines of thought…they believed in dinosauers millions of years ago but also thought Earth was created about 4000 years ago(that is my own personal guess as I do not think I integrated those two things until much much later in life)

    I recall hearing something about one origin of life coming from extreme environments.but I cannot find my notes about that. Cricks(Nobel prize for DNA studies) panspermia is also a theory and there are more out of the box thoughts than these. All kinds of people and professions are into pitched battles over all of this of the most interesting is the conflict over whether consciousness exists outside of the body and brain..they are so deadly serious about these things that it is as though they would happily knife someone who took an opposing position…in my opinion, this conflict is the “is there a god” question writ physics and everwhere else. Right now traditional science calls people who believe in consciousness outside the brain as “pseudo scientists”., and they are disregarded. I do not think anyone could believe in God or God forces, and not believe consciousness existed outside the brain

    I should not have mentioned the Old Testament God, people do not like him.
    Years ago, things happened that were of the breaking through the matrix, over the Internet, much like the Matrix movie as the hero was breaking through. It went on for months, and the Old Testament chapter was just a small part. I cannot really talk about it in detail, but it was like there was a sudden rift in space time, and all kinds of characters showed up. I now believe that this OT God experience was partially for the point of setting in motion evolutionary brain changes, lasting years. It was a shock so great that it triggered higher evolution. If I think about it it will not leave my mind easily. But anyway they broke through into this time and this dimension and were eventually chased off
    and/or the rift closed. This really did happen, I know in the United States and assume all over the world..but in the end it all resulted in even stricter controls than previously. I do not necessarily think that the OT GOD showed up for everyone..probably Jesus showed up for most or whatever religious figure they might have..It was quite something. The experiences were individualized, I am almost definite….just literally blows ones mind away

    Anyway…all for now…

    • Karen, thanks for the update on the Vatican position.
      I agree that as one approaches fringe thinking, the emotional intensity is stronger. Perhaps because they are put upon by those in the norm.
      You raise an interesting logical conundrum combining out of body consciousness with the presence of God. I wonder if the difference is that out of body advocates are talking about the single consciousness concept proposed by Edmund J. Bourne. He said that everything in the Universe has a consciousness, meaning every animate object and every inanimate object, even molecules. His intent was not to express anthropomorphic awareness but rather a unification of existence. You may be interested in his work. Both theism and universal consciousness require a leap of faith but I suspect there is no structural relationship.
      Your last paragraph I associate with normal mental progress in history. We have imagined a lot to come from the Babylonian library to cloud databases. The insight that is assigned to Jesus is a phenomenal leap in religious concept, that is, discounting virtually all meaning in the theology of the Old Testament and replacing it with the theology of the New Testament – comparable to the leap that Einstein took in Physics.
      Ancient Mariner

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