Monthly Archives: July 2015
We were fortunate enough, my wife and I, to celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary last weekend. A good excuse for a family reunion and some bubbles. The great passage of time was remarked by the absence of so many of our original guests, sadly no longer with us, and by the presence of folks we never even invited first time round, most notably our children and their families.
I put in a couple of comments on a thread on BioLogos that began by tut-tutting Intelligent Design’s “anti scientific” stance. Coincidentally it overlaps with the theme of my last post on ID, whose aim (by provocatively portraying ID as a foundational science rather than the more usual accusation that it is a pseudo-science) was to draw attention to the historical centrality of teleology to science, and the scientific cost of its loss in the last last two centuries. Eddie Robinson continues, currently, to battle away to good effect on that thread.
When the first attempts were made at serious natural philosophy by the Greeks two and a half millennia ago, the most fundamental disagreement was between those who held that chance was at the root of the world, and those who considered there was direction to it, telos. In the former category would be the atomists like Democritus and Lucretius, and in reaction to them were those like Plato and, particularly, Aristototle, who held the teleological view.
In our thinking here about origins theological and scientifical, and the metaphysical and philosophical issues related to these that can’t be ignored, the old scholastics, and particularly Aquinas, have provided us many insights. With that interest raised, one theme we’ve touched on a few times is the way that Thomas Aquinas is invoked to support the most common version of theistic evolution, in which (as far as it’s ever spelled out) God seems to set up the universe to evolve itself with neither intervention, nor even necessarily forward planning (aka “design”). Such drawings on Aquinas have been commonplace on BioLogos (with usually superficial treatments and the overall message “Look, even … Continue reading
I don’t know exactly how the genetic theory of biology fits into the questions of propaganda and public opinion we’ve been discussing in the last few posts, but for one reason or another it seems to have a grip on the popular imagination far beyond their understanding of science. I was prompted to this line of thought by chatting to my neighbour by the garden gate last week.
It was the fortuitous but timely reading of the early work of Meerloo (1956) and Ellul (1965) on propaganda that brought home to me forcefully how the total change in public morality, that has led so rapidly from sexual aberration being a criminal matter to its legally redefining marriage and the US Constitution, is essentially a text-book example of how propaganda is done. I think that must become clear to anyone who takes the trouble to compare the public discussion with the scientific evidence.
Even ordinary Independent readers were quizzical about why a UK newspaper carried the possible inapplicability of the US court judgement on same-sex marriage to American Samoa as its lead story last Thursday (the day after my post on their part in this persistent propaganda programme). But in between the ads for libertinism, there were one or two items of actual news, including a piece about Dr Simon Conway Morris, and his forthcoming book on convergent evolution.
In a recent post I explored psychologist A M Meerloo’s 1956 book, The Rape of the Mind – the Psychology of Thought Control, applying it (as he did) to the increasing control of opinion within Western society through propaganda. A later, more complete study of the issue – and of the overwhelming dangers it poses both to society and the human spirit – is in a 1965 work by Christian sociologist Jacques Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes. I’ve linked to both texts here. They have direct relevance to the deliberate undermining of society’s sexual morality over the last decades, which I highlighted here (incidentally getting more hits in … Continue reading
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 … Continue reading
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.