Thursday, May 03, 2007

Oh My G-d No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nightline apparently thinks it appropriate to air a challenge between Christians and Atheists, which could be a potentially enlightening debate IF the representatives from each side were even remotely representative of most Christians or most Atheists OR if each side was represented by competent experts.

Instead, we have Kirk Cameron/Ray Comfort v. the Rational Response Squad. A lot of room for fireworks here but seemingly little for substance. I'm cautiously pessimistic. However, it bodes ill for modern discourse when journalistic "balance" devolves into "dueling straw men" to a point where such blatant nonsense can pass for journalism at even one of the most respected news outlets. Even professional wrestling makes a more sincere attempt at creating an illusion that what they do is real and meaningful.

UPDATE: Why do I think Kirk Cameron is a nutball who shouldn't be used as a public representative of Christianity? Read this and note his views on evolution. Even the Pope acknowledges evolution. Although anti-evolution views were once widespread in Christianity, that time has passed with most who still reject evolution doing so mainly through the failures of the education system not through any true opposition to the theory as it stands. You can read my take on that subject here.

And let's not forget Kirk Cameron and the banana as proof of G-d. I'm expecting Cameron and Comfort to argue fruit as theology. Terrifying.


Blogger Rob the Webkahunah said...

Now, now... I think Kirk Cameron is fairly representitive of most truly faithful, devout christians... i.e: if you don't believe the way he does, then to hell you're a-goin, and the lord has charged his people to explain this to as many unbelievers as possible.

These are basic tenants of christianity, and Kirk is well spoken enough that I feel he has a fair chance of articulating these ideas in a clear, well thought out manner.

The athiests, however, are arrogant and cocky about their "faith" (or lack thereof). It is unscientific to think that just because your theory has merit, that it can never be disproven, and really arrogant to think that someone you disagree with can't possibly have evidence of their own just because their theroy would invalidate your own.

This is why a lot of athiests piss me off, (thinking that science disproves god) but I hardly think that it's representitive of the whole lot.

Well, that and giving one of my best friends death threats.

I hope Kirk makes em look like morons.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

It's not the going to hell stuff. Cameron/Comfort have done some absolutely retarded stuff before. I'll find links when and if I can. I'm at work now, sneaking net time. As I said, I'm "cautiously" pessimistic. Perhaps something productive will come of it, but this seems designed for infotainment rather than furthering actual debate on the topic, which would require providing a variety of viewpoints from (preferably) knowledgeable sources. I'd much rather the debate involve someone like Donald or you or me than Kirk Cameron.

1:28 PM  
Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

back up. are we talking about the ACTOR kirk cameron??? from 'growing pains?' i knew he was a jesus nut and i knew he'd been in some of the 'left behind' movies, but he's going to be a spokesperson for CHRISTIANS??? holee shit. that's just sad.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Canardius said...

I know some in Judaic circles cast wary glances at Benedict XVI, but the pope has not said evolution is the way everything happened. He only said it was not for the church to sound dumb in ignoring it, much as his predecessor finally acknowledged Galileo was not a raving lunatic. Galileo has the science to back him up and now we all can see that. So if science could be proven by such observation, the pontiff would be inclined to look at it rathr than just dismiss it out of hand.

Benedict said there was no scientific experiment capable of being set up to prove or disprove evolution, and scientific method doesn't work by taking things on faith. I think we should all agree on "God created evolution" as the mechanism by which He designed things to work -- and He is free to chose whatever mechanism He pleases, but the process is not as important as we make it, in the grand design.

Read on. I quote:

Pope Benedict Contends Evolution Isn't Provable

By MELISSA EDDY The Associated Press

Published: Apr 13, 2007 Site Search | Tribune archive from 1990

BERLIN - Benedict XVI, in his first extended reflections on evolution published as pope, says that Charles Darwin's theory cannot be finally proven and that science has unnecessarily narrowed humanity's view of creation.

In a new book, "Creation and Evolution," published Wednesday in German, the pope praised progress gained by science, but cautioned that evolution raises philosophical questions science alone cannot answer.

"The question is not to either make a decision for a creationism that fundamentally excludes science, or for an evolutionary theory that covers over its own gaps and does not want to see the questions that reach beyond the methodological possibilities of natural science," the pope said.

He stopped short of endorsing intelligent design, but said scientific and philosophical reason must work together in a way that does not exclude faith.

"I find it important to underline that the theory of evolution implies questions that must be assigned to philosophy and which themselves lead beyond the realms of science," the pope was quoted as saying in the book.

In the book, Benedict reflected on a 1996 comment of his predecessor, John Paul II, who said that Darwin's theories on evolution were sound, as long as they took into account that creation was the work of God, and that Darwin's theory of evolution was "more than a hypothesis."

"The pope [John Paul] had his reasons for saying this," Benedict said. "But it is also true that the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory."

Benedict added that the immense time span that evolution covers made it impossible to conduct experiments in a controlled environment to finally verify or disprove the theory.

"We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory," he said.

The book, which was released by the Sankt Ulrich publishing house, includes reflections of the pope and others who attended a meeting of theological scholars at the papal summer estate in early September.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

As a Jew, I'm almost embarassed to agree with Herr Benedict BUT:

When I say "acknowledges evolution", I don't mean accepting the full theory as proven fact or as excluding G-d. Scientifically, only the fact of evolution (life changing over time) can be said to be "proven" to any extent. The theory of evolution is a provisional explanation of how this occurred with some questions remaining unanswered and some gaps filled by reasonable speculation. The theory has changed tremendously since Darwin and probably will again. Also, the pope is correct that evolution like many scientific theories/advances raises questions that can't be answered by science but must instead be answered by philosophy. The question of G-d is one example. I argued this in an article for Watching the Watchers in early 2006, I believe and touched on it also in posts here on evidence. I'll try to find a link when I get a chance or you can just google it.

The pope does not outright reject the fact of evolution, nor does he argue that the theory is an outright lie as many young-earth creationists have. Thus, he acknowledges that it has provisional validity but is not the absolute truth nor does it exclude non-scientific inquiry into the existence of G-d, morality, humanity, etc. This, my friend, is the scientifically correct view as opposed to the politically and philosophically-charged arguments now perpetuated in the name of "science" by those with an agenda and an ax to grind.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

And yes, RPP, THAT Kirk Cameron.

8:17 AM  
Anonymous ross k. said...

Why not Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale? Two great examples of educated, liberal politicians who happen to be Christian but believe in separating church and state and were doveish in office even though they had both been in the military. They're SO level-headed and normal that they don't make shocking enough TV, so the new, post-Koppel Nightline is taking the cheapo way out.

Or, any of several religious professors in name universities. When I was in college, the Divinity School was the most liberal one on campus. Everybody in it was gay. Big universities across the country are PACKED with liberal religious academics ready to hold a reasoned, measured debate. However, reasoned and measured just doesn't get on TV a lot, though it should.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

And on the atheist side, I'd recommend Mitchell Stephens. (I have a link to his future of the book blog on the main page).

11:55 AM  
Blogger Canardius said...

It is rare when your grammar slips, Melinda, but I believe German usage of the term "Herr" goes with a surname or title.. as in "Herr Schwartz" or "Herr Generalfeldmarschall".... to say Herr Benedict is like calling me Mr Donald. [which many women have done, but that is another story.]

8:12 PM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

Unfortunately, my German is limited to a smattering of polite phrases, some philosophy terminology, and counting to 20. So, you'll forgive the slip in grammar, one which would not usually occur in the four languages I do speak. :P

10:07 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

Well, you don't think they'd use normal people to have this debate, did you? It's all about the ratings. Why do you think Flavor of Love was so popular on Vh1? Normal people don't get ratings.

10:25 AM  

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