Parasites and morality

An anonymous Christian academic commenting on an earlier piece of mine, about the overwhelming witness in pre-modern theology to the ongoing goodness of creation (notwithstanding the Fall), criticized my passing reference to parasitism, because it was passing. Though the old writers were well acquainted with predation, they were simply unaware, he said, of the grave new challenge to God’s goodness posed by parasites:

Without microscopy, most parasites couldn’t even be seen; and without molecular biology, their exquisitely designed mechanisms for producing slow, prolonged suffering leading to death—not quick, relatively painless death, such as at the hands of a lion or a shark—were not fully “appreciated.” This is the type of phenomenon that Darwin was driving at.

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Facing the Music

On a light note, I just want to record a small personal record over the weekend. I played music at 5 gigs and in 4 different genres on 7 different instruments within one 24 hour period. Nearly 8 hours on stage in all. Not bad for an old man. Lucky I had that early-morning pizza before the start. It somehow reminds me of Phil Collins playing Live-Aid on both sides of the Atlantic. Continue reading

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Placebo and personhood

The placebo effect always interested me when I was in medical practice. After all, it’s the only treatment that works across the entire spectrum of illness and the standard against which all other drug effects are judged. I caught the repeat of a BBC documentary on it here (unfortunately UK readers will only be able to catch it for a couple of weeks and those in foreign parts not at all. Sorry). Continue reading

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Evolving to extinction happens

It’s widely believed that Social Darwinism was a temporary evil that died out with racial eugenics after the Holocaust woke the world up. But there is one Social Darwinist whose ideas have managed not only to survive that setback, but to conquer the world. I refer, of course, to Alfred Kinsey, who would have rejoiced to see America’s official redefinition of marriage this week, as a fitting culmination of his life and work. Continue reading

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Keeping cool for Armageddon

One of the things that’s been interesting about following the discussion on Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ is the polarizing effect on Christians elicited by the very issue of climate change. That’s quite apart from a certain to-be-anticipated “No Popery” stance in some of the internet comments (including some from self-labelled Catholics). Opposition by some Christians to claims of global warming is not news, but is still an interesting cultural phenomenon, especially since (as a “religious position”) it’s largely confined to North Americam believers. Some of the objections, in my view, are related to the doctrine of creation, as particularly understood in America, so are worthy of discussion here. Continue reading

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Laudato Si’ and CPN

As a non-Catholic I heard about Pope Francis’s new encyclical only through the jaded words of the mind-controlling secular press: “Pope accepts global warming.” Not living in North America, where climate change skepticism seems to be part of the Faith for many Evangelicals (though still a minority of them, according to surveys), my first thought was a fairly indifferent “Good.” Continue reading

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Truth gets harder, not easier, to find

I find myself reading an old (1956) book by psychologist A. M. Meerloo, The Rape of the Mind – the Psychology of Thought Control. His study of the techniques of individual mind control under Naziism and, particularly, Communist brain-washing – which he more correctly calls “menticide” – arose from his first-hand experience as a Dutch resistance worker and later examiner of both Nazis and Communists. Continue reading

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Incarnational insights on the emergence of man

It often seems to me that in the discussions over how evolution impacts theology, the theological adjustments felt necessary by many are often apparently snatched out of the air with little thought over how they change very basic Christian truths about, say, the nature of God himself. And that’s just when the theologians are writing. Start reading the comments of ὀι πολλοι and it’s like being in a rowing boat in the vicinity of Cape Horn. Somehow, it brings to mind an image from art history. Continue reading

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Is Lamarck now up to la marque?

Our friend pngarrison has once again shown his ability to nose out articles relevant to the science-faith issue, only this time it was for the benefit of BioLogos poster Roger Sawtelle rather than mine. I assume his link to this article by epigeneticist Michael Skinner was to speak to Roger’s perennial concern over the role of the environment and its ecology in evolution. Continue reading

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More acidic observations

I finished my piece about the BioLogos discussion of the need to reform the doctrine of original sin with a “slippery slope” comment:

In the Bible, sin is an offence against our own inherent nature formed in the image of Christ (the true Image of God), and against God’s good order for the cosmos, both of which are restored in the redemption of Christ. In evolutionary scenarios, sin is an ontological feature of our nature, and nature itself is disordered from the start. Few aspects of Christian doctrine emerge unscathed in the long run.

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