Christian University Rejects Attempts to Reconcile Evolution and Religious Beliefs

Sharon Begley presents an example of how some religious institutions are becoming increasingly intolerant of science in a Newsweek column. Some faculty members of religious colleges have made attempts to reconcile science with their religious beliefs:

One approach is to interpret evolution as the mechanism by which a creator creates. Physicist Karl Giberson of Eastern Nazarene College takes this tack in “Saving Darwin,” which will be published next year. Michael Dowd, a former anti-evolution crusader who is now an itinerant minister, argues in “Thank God for Evolution!,” out in November, that understanding evolution can deepen and strengthen faith. He’s in good company. Biochemist and Anglican priest Arthur Peacocke, who died last year, saw in random mutation and natural selection—the core of Darwinian evolution—a hint of God’s nature: by making mutations the raw material of evolution from which natural selection picks winners and losers, God freely opted to limit his omnipotence. It was evidence, Peacocke said, of divine humility.

Before the episode described by Begley, one might think that the Church of the Nazarene would accept such views:

since its founding in 1908, the Church of the Nazarene has deemed knowledge acquired by science and human inquiry equal to that acquired by divine revelation. And although Nazarene theology “believes in the Biblical account of creation” and holds that God is the sole creator, it allows latitude “regarding the ‘how’ of creation,” as president Bowling put it in a letter to trustees.

Despite such latitude on creation, one professor found that any acceptance of evolution was not tolerated:

A professor at Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois and a lifelong member of the evangelical Church of the Nazarene, Colling wrote a 2004 book called “Random Designer” because—as he said in a letter to students and colleagues this year—”I want you to know the truth that God is bigger, far more profound and vastly more creative than you may have known.” Moreover, he said, God “cares enough about creation to harness even the forces of [Darwinian] randomness.”

This led to considerable religious opposition:

Anger over his work had been building for two years. When classes resumed in late August, things finally came to a head. Colling is prohibited from teaching the general biology class, a version of which he had taught since 1991, and college president John Bowling has banned professors from assigning his book. At least one local Nazarene church called for Colling to be fired and threatened to withhold financial support from the college. In a letter to Bowling, ministers in Caro, Mo., expressed “deep concern regarding the teaching of evolutionary theory as a scientifically proven fact,” calling it “a philosophy that is godless, contrary to scripture and scientifically unverifiable.” Irate parents, pastors and others complained to Bowling, while a meeting between church leaders and Colling “led to some tension and misunderstanding,” Bowling said in a letter to trustees. (Well, “misunderstanding” in the sense that the Noachian flood was a little puddle.) It’s a rude awakening to scientists who thought the Galilean gulf was closing.

There is a simple reason for teaching “evolutionary theory as a scientifically proven fact.” Evolution has been proven as fact and evolution has become a fundamental principle of modern biology. As just one example of the degree to which evolution is accepted without any real controversy in the scientific community, see Science and Creationism from The National Academy of Sciences. Their review of evolution begins:

Studies in evolutionary biology have led to the conclusion that human beings arose from ancestral primates. This association was hotly debated among scientists in Darwin’s day. But today there is no significant scientific doubt about the close evolutionary relationships among all primates, including humans.

Edwards 2003 v. Edwards 2007 on Health Care

One of the annoying things about John Edwards (an extremely long and growing list) is that he has a tendency to attack other candidates as being unworthy of consideration for being President for not having moved as sharply to the left as he has in an extremely short time. I’ve previously noted how Edwards has actied as if he is holier than the other Democrats on Iraq, only to be shot down by Obama who actually opposed the war which Edwards supported. Edwards has been very quick to oppose the health care plans offered by his opponents for the Democratic nomination for not going far enough but Political Radar notes how Edwards backed a much more moderate plan four years ago:

But Edwards wasn’t always a fan of having the government provide universal health coverage. In 2003 and 2004, during his first campaign for president, he backed a far more modest proposal that was estimated to cover about half of those who lacked health insurance — and criticized rivals who had universal plans for what he portrayed as fiscal irresponsibility.

“What we ought to be doing is something that number one is achievable and number two is responsible,” Edwards said in July 2003, in reference to then-rep. Richard Gephardt’s, D-Mo., universal healthcare plan, according to The Washington Post.

Late in the Democratic primary fight, when Edwards was trying to topple Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., he contrasted his plan with Kerry’s by pointing out that it was less expensive. He said at the time that his $53 billion healthcare plan would cover about 21 million people, including all children under age 21; Kerry’s plan was pitched as costing $72 billion, to cover 27 million people.

“We will be able to attract the support we need to get my plan actually done, so we don’t spend 15 or 20 years debating the issue,” Edwards said in February 2004.

While Edwards ran in 2004 as a moderate, he has tacked leftward in his 2008 bid. His healthcare plan would cost roughly twice as much as the plan he put forward four years ago, with an estimated price tag of between $90 billion to $120 billion. He has said he would pay for the spending by rolling back tax cuts for the rich passed under President Bush’s tenure.

It is one thing for a candidate to change their mind and push for a bigger plan. It is a different thing for Edwards to argue that anything short of his current plan is not even worthy of consideration. Whether there should be a mandate and the size of any new programs is a legitimate matter for debate among the candidates. Other candidates might also question Edwards’ idea for making preventative care mandatory. I also question whether a candidate who didn’t even know Cuba has a government-run health care plan shortly after watching Sicko is knowledgeable enough to criticize anyone else’s plan.

Another factor which changed in Edwards’ plan between 2003 and 2007 is the absence of his previous plans for malpractice reform. Has Edwards decided that he does not want to risk antagonizing those who are financing his campaign? Will Americans really vote for someone so indebted to a single special interest–especially when they realize how secretive he has been with regards to his fund raising?

HillaryCare 2008 Unveiled

Hillary Clinton has released her health care plan. The key aspects are similar to those already proposed by others including providing options such as the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program and a Medicare-like government program. As with all the other plans, there’s not enough specifics to really judge how much this will cost businesses and individuals.

One aspect which I find questionable is the claim that “Over half the savings come from the public savings generated from Senator Clinton’s broader agenda to modernize the heath systems and reduce wasteful health spending.” I’ve previously discussed the fallacy that there such changes can save enough money to pay for universal coverage. Clinton will also include tax credits to make the plan more affordable for individuals and small businesses.

Barack Obama has criticized Clinton for lack of transparency, but this argument is more applicable to her 1993 plan than present. Obama has come under criticism from some on the left for making his plan more voluntary without mandates. Rather than going on the defensive, he could benefit politically by stressing this choice which would make the plan more acceptable to voters. Even Clinton has the advantage over John Edwards, despite including mandates, as long as she doesn’t make preventative care mandatory.

Sally Field’s Censored Line at the Emmy Awards


Thanks to Think Progress for filling in the gap created by the censors at Fox during the Emmy Awards. As shown in the video above, Sally Field’s acceptance speech was cut short.

At tonight’s Emmy Awards show, the audience cheered Sally Field’s acceptance speech, which the recognized mothers of U.S. troops. “Surely this [award] belongs to all the mothers of the world,” she stated. “May they be seen, may their work be valued and raised. Especially to the mothers who stand with an open heart and wait. Wait for their children to come home from danger, from harm’s way, and from war. I am proud to be one of those women.”

Field then continued, “If mothers ruled the world, there would be no –” But the Fox Emmycast cut off her sound and pointed the camera away from the stage, silencing the rest of her sentence: “god-damned wars in the first place.”

Was this Sally Field or Norah Walker speaking?

Update: Tom Shales writes, ” If Fox censored Field for political reason, it would be an ugly first in the history of the Emmys.”  Tom O’Neil adds:

Backstage, in the press room later, Field told reporters, “I would have liked to have said more four-letter words up there!

“Oh, well. I’ve been there before!” Field added when asked what she thought of the gagging. “Good. I don’t care. I have no comment other than, ‘Oh, well.’ I said what I wanted to say. I wanted to pay homage to the mothers of the world. And I very, very seriously think that if mothers ruled the world we wouldn’t be sending our children off to be slaughtered.”

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