Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Evolution, intelligent design and creationism

In spite of oil spills, nuclear catastrophes and whatever else humans throw at it, I still feel that the Earth and animal life on it (not any specific animal life, mind you) would survive whatever we end up doing to it. Since one of my degrees is in human evolution, I am always curious about people's opinions on evolution.

Generally, I usually am surprised at the number of folks who still think that the tenets of creation or intelligent design are true, so I thought I'd devote today's post to getting an idea of what you all thought. It still is, 80 plus years after the Scopes Monkey Trial, a controversial subject and a taboo topic of conversation.

Ultimately, I'm curious whether or not people who are interested in environmental issues tend to agree with the principles of evolution, ID or the belief of creationism? Or does it really matter?

So, what do you think? Does your understanding of how life is formed and evolved affect your environmentalism? Also, do you think that America's wishy-washy approach to teaching evolutionary science in schools has made us lose our edge in the biological sciences?


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I can't accept supernatural explanations for how the world began and how life came to be, therefore I do not believe in any form of intelligent design or creationism.

Bucky said...

Evolution, of course. I started to say "I believe in evolution," but that is somewhat silly because is the mechanism that has given rise to all life on earth regardless of my believing in it or not.

Evolution is a scientific fact.

And yes, our educational system has been damaged by the move away from teaching scientific truth because it makes some people uncomfortable. American universities are still turning out some great minds in the area of science. Unfortunately, those people aren't Americans. We are moving backwards in so many ways.

Sad. And so unnecessary.

Erica/Northwest Edible Life said...

Sure, life will survive in some form. But will people? My environmentalism is totally selfish. Point 1 (short-term): It is generally cheaper to do the green thing. Point 2 (long-term): I'd like my progeny to have a fighting shot at making more progeny. Therefore they need to live someplace not totally fu@ked.

I'm not sure that I've ever connected my environmental ethic with my belief in evolution per se. It's a good question to ask. This is slightly tangential, but what I have found as a secular person is that I have a surprising amount in common with religious types when it comes to sustainable food-policy issues. I am very interested in the ways that some topics - like the right to grow our own food - seem to unite people on otherwise opposite ends of the political and belief spectrum.

In terms of schooling, as a former, wistfully-nostalgic homeschool mom, I am very discouraged by what I see in public school. I think America's wishy-washy approach to everything in public education is completely undermining the ability of our students to think critically about the world around them. It's not just science.

Erika said...

I wholeheartedly believe in God, and that He created the heavens and the Earth, and everything on Earth. I also believe that, since the time of creation, the things God has created have evolved - just like Darwin's birds (I really shouldn't post this late... I forget important words and become too lazy to google them...).

That said, I have issue with the way evolution is taught in schools - it's approached with fear almost - as if to say, 'Well, we have this science, and it's what we consider 'good science,' but so many people think it's wrong, but we are going to learn about it anyway, so just make sure you believe it, but don't tell anyone what you actually believe, 'cause we can't talk about that." Now, that is how evolution was taught when I was in high school (I've only had one class reunion since then...), in the particular classes I took - I can't speak to current classrooms or other experiences (obviously). My thought is that evolution should be taught without equivocation or hesitation - it's a great example of scientific reasoning and thought - and if students want to question it, or discuss it with their peers while relating it to their particular beliefs - GO FOR IT!

My understanding of how life is formed certainly affects my environmentalism - God has charged humans with caring for creation... that's a lofty job - especially when you consider ALL the aspects of creation (animals, plants, natural environment, interactions with and use of animals/plants/natural environment for our own purposes, etc.). The key point, IMHO is that I worship God, not His creation, but I am still to protect what God has given.

So, to make a (late-night) long story short - I believe in Creationism (and, I guess that also lends itself to believing in ID) and evolution, and that my spiritual beliefs highly influence my environmentalism. I also think we're way too wishy-washy --way too PC-- about teaching evolution in public schools - let's teach the science and let the churches/other places of spiritual learning teach the rest.



Nic, SD said...

It doesn't matter to me how it started. Although I also don't think creationism and evolution have to be mutually exclusive, and I never have. (Agnostic for the record.)

But yes, doesn't matter to me in any way, really. We're here now. Not slowly (or not-so-slowly) poisoning the PLANET KEEPING US ALL ALIVE just seems like good common sense, regardless of how it all started. To me, anyway.

As for the second question, I've never even kinda thought about it, and you've given me something new to ponder....

April Alexander said...

Oooh, great topic! It seems to be one the eco/green movement has avoided, in fact this is only the second time I've seen religion mentioned in this context. I'm glad you brought it up, because up until now many people of faith have avoided their responsibility to the earth and it's time for them to be called into accountability. In fact, the liberals have taken the lead in green issues and have put the religious right to shame big time, ouch. I think this has been a huge wake up call/embarrassing moment to people of faith.

As for me I believe in Creationism, but feel that how creation came to be involved and involves evolution. Evolution is evident in science and can't be ignored, as much as the church would like for it to be, but as for people evolving from apes I can't go there. I don't think there is enough evidence to prove or justify it.

So, to answer your question, I believe every person on earth should care for the earth - it's our job, period, no matter if you're a creationist or an evolutionist. It's obvious that people on both sides feel an innate desire to protect earth, which makes sense since we belong to it, came from it, and will return to it.

April Alexander said...

Great second question by the way...I have no idea, but what you said makes sense. If we're not embracing our life origins/patterns fully then we won't be able to attain to the highest level of excellence in science, or any field for that matter.

Amberley said...

It doesn't really matter what a person believes in order for them to have an "interest" in environmental issues. People can have a tidy interest in certain sorts of environmentalism for all sorts of general human reasons: to feel good about oneself, to save money, to be healthy, because one is equipped to think about the future, to feel as though others will see one as a good and thoughtful person, because of peer pressure or style or because it is offered and easy. Taking an interest or not can be influenced by the smallest things: what you watch in the media, where you live, who your parents are, how you make your money, how much money you have.

Taking a superficial interest is better than no interest but its not the kind of thing that will preserve optimal future health for our kind or for many species of plants and animals.

It is educated people who are willing to think outside of myth, cultural mores, tradition, and our limited knowledge of written history that can bring true creative change to an otherwise doomed environment.

For myself, I was raised conservative, literal bible believing and have always cared about animals, the preservation of parks and wild places and thought people shouldn't foul up the environment. But it wasn't until I got an education, grew up and left my childish, childhood faith that I really started to see the importance of the work humans do to better our situation and advance our understanding of reality. I realized that there is no grand-daddy in the sky who is coming back for us and will save us if things get too bad. I realized that god isn't guiding what goes on, that its up to us to do what little we can. I realized the importance of the ecosystem and my place in it while studying evolutionary biology. I realized that humans are not animal numero uno because we were ordained by deity but because we are the most dangerous and destructive creatures on earth and the only ones with developed introspection and forward thinking that may be able to check our behavior enough to give our ecosystem a little more time to sustain us.

So yes, a clear understanding of who I am, where I came from and how I'm related to everything else absolutely makes a difference in what I choose to do to, and on, this planet. It also makes a difference in whom I'm willing to listen to, believe, and take advise from.

Kate said...

Evolution - 100% The best argument against intelligent design is that the design often isn't very intelligent. Ask a guy how he feels about testicles being external to the body. Or take the human lower back, for instance. We carry numerous genes that cancel each other out, such as for/against extra pairs of nipples, which makes no sense whatsoever if we were created from scratch. And there's all that junk DNA that just gets passed along with no purpose whatsoever - coding errors that neither confer advantage nor caused deformity, handicap, or catastrophic disease.

I believe life in some form will survive whatever we do to the planet. Just ask anyone who has ever tried exterminating rats, cockroaches, or coyotes. I hope the human species survives, even though we clearly don't deserve to, and the planet would obviously be better off without us.

Anonymous said...

I think evolutionism is still the best scientific explanation out there on how we all came about, and I don't think it is incompatible with a religiuos view of creation.
I'm Italian, born and raised Catholic and I've never really encoutered, in school or when I was going to catechism (or Sunday School or whatever it's called!) any clash between religion and evolution theories. I don't know if things have changed in the past 15 years in the teaching of the subject, but I really don't heve afeeling (talking with my younger cousins stil in school) it's an issue. Even the priests I've spoken to about the subject seemed very much in favor of evolution theories.

Christina said...

As a former developmental biologist, I feel very strongly about the importance of teaching evolution to our children and the general public because of its relevance to environmental issues.

My husband is a professor of biology who regularly teaches about climate change, including lectures at local high school assemblies and the Chamber of Commerce. We are continually baffled and frustrated by those members of society who will literally say, "Wow, you have presented some really scary facts about climate change. But I believe that God loves us and will fix it, so I'm not worried." I only wish I were exaggerating, but these are the types of comments students (including older, non-traditional students) make when asked to write "think pieces" after seeing a movie like "An Inconvenient Truth" or "The Eleventh Hour".

Like so many other issues in this country, I am not sure how we will ever overcome this type of willful ignorance. To be aware of the dire situation on our planet and yet still throw your hands up and say "Oh, well, it's not my problem" is beyond irresponsible. And it makes me furious.

That being said, I know that this is not the attitude of all Christians. As some of the commenters before me have suggested, there are many who feel that their responsibility as Christians is to protect the Earth and life that God created. Unfortunately, much like the Christian message of love and tolerance, many Christians don't seem to feel the need to practice what they preach.

So yes, evolution most certainly does shape my environmentalism, and sadly I think it does more to add to my pessimism about whether or not we'll find a way out of this mess. The problem lies not only in fundamentalist churches, but in public schools and homes where the teachers and parents have had no education in evolution or environmental issues. The general public is completely misinformed on these topics, and that lack of understanding and awareness leaves much of the American public vulnerable to the meaningless rhetoric and empty promises of politicians and corporations. No divine entity, business, or civic group is going to come to our rescue. It's going to take the education and participation of every one of us to even have a chance at providing a decent future for our children, and I firmly believe that an acceptance and understanding of evolution, not just as something that happened in the past but as an active force on our planet today, is essential to making the changes and sacrifices necessary to bring our planet back into balance.

Melanie, One Wellness said...

This brings to mind a performance by George Carlin in which he is talking about how everyone wants to save the planet. The punch line is "The planet is fine. The people are f@#ked!"
I have to agree with George, and with many of the other people who have commented that life in some way will prevail.
I stand with science all the way, and believe that quantum physics explains a lot of the questions about the creation of the universe. However, I am also a strongly spiritual person, and believe that there is a collective energy that many would call a higher power. I prefer to call it The Way.
I also agree with one of the posters who mentioned that there are so many hipocracies and poor educational decisions being made in public schools. I long for the day when we return to a tribal mentality. Perhaps that will be the post-apocalyptic Way for humans... I can hope.

All of Us said...

I will never understand why it is up for debate. We have shown evolution in labs everywhere (hello to the fruit flies). We have created mutations by selecting certain genes (that may not be technically natural although I would argue that since we are animals what we do is natural).

It is a form of delusional insanity that anyone would believe such a fairy tale as creationism.

If I said leprechauns created the Earth by wishing on their magic pot of gold and had a book (written by the sacred leprechaun himself!) to 'prove' it, would I get a national debate?

Aydan said...

I don't see conflict between the two. Evolution is a scientific principle; it doesn't answer the question of why we are here, only provides a possible way we could have gotten here. I believe God made everything, and the evidence indicates that what we call evolution was a major tool in the process.

My understanding of creationism/evolution doesn't affect my environmentalism; it's more the idea that I don't have the right to screw over either God's creation, or my fellow man.

I think it's our wishy-washy approach to science in general that has made us lose our edge in all sorts of sciences. Americans don't see science as a valid way of finding out about the world, and so we are convinced far less by scientific conclusions than, say, some Europeans (in my experience). I encounter a relatively wide distrust or misunderstanding of science and scientists on a fairly regular basis-- at least, when those scientists are presenting some inconvenient information. Nearly everyone seems to at least pay lip service to studies about stuff that will keep you healthier.

Kate said...

@ All of Us, just make sure the Sacred Leprechaun's text asserts its own infallibility. That's the basis for all scriptural "authority," regardless of which faith we're talking about. The text is the truth because it states that it's irrefutably true. Can't argue with tautology now, can you?

El Gaucho said...

I find that the more people lean toward a scientific based understanding of the world the more (typically) inclined they are to be sensitive and attentive toward environmental matters. When you believe that all you have is your time here on earth, you want to get the most out of it. When you start placing your faith in supernatural beings, the thought process can lend itself towards lack of responsibility for your own actions here on this planet. When your goal is meeting a set of demands that will get you accepted to "the afterlife" it's easier to justify poor environmental decisions here on earth.

There is a small but growing movement of "Christian Ecologists" or Christian environmentalists who interpret the Biblical tenets of caring for your garden as a directive to engage in positive environmental stewardship of the earth. It would be really nice to see more "Christian" folk join this movement.

Jennifer at Fast, Cheap, and Good said...

I "believe" in both. I believe that there was a divine start, with the intention of evolution driving us forward.

I actually think the more religious you are, the more environmentally responsible you should be. I wrote about it, referencing both God and Jimmy Buffett (and thus probably going to hell), here:

As for science education, I don't think that it is the problem. I think the hunger for religion and doing something out of faith is frankly more interesting and feels more relevant to many in society. Most of the Creationists I know are college educated, some in the sciences, and have simply made a decision to go with faith rather than scientific fact. It is an interesting situation.

Carmen said...

I definitely believe in evolution. No question.

I also definitely believe in a God that is the ultimate creator.

The more we understand about science and creation, the more we understand about our God.

That said - the science part has a place in the science classroom. The religion part has no place in the science classroom.

Rachel said...

I proudly call myself an atheist, so obviously I don't believe in creationism or intelligent design. When someone says "there's only a one in a billion chance that x could have evolved into x" I reply with "well I guess we got lucky and didn't end up with five feet." As long as there are odds then it can happen.

I would say my environmentalism is based off being an atheist. No god/dess is going to save us when we destroy our environment. It's up to us, and only us to take that responsibility.

LynnieBee said...

I think several people have touched on this already, but I'll throw in my two cents:

I do not believe that creationism/evolution are mutually exclusive. I believe there is room for both in one's psyche and perception of the world around them.
I am a faithful person, I believe in God, I was raised Catholic but find myself drifting away from organized religion and building my own path. However, I also believe in evolution and I am full support of it being taught in schools.

Some may say that these two thing contradict each other, but in my mind, they do not...I believe in God as the creator of the earth and everything he created has evolved and continues to evolve.

Bottom line, it is our absolute responsibility to take care of our planet and all the animal and plant life on it, and leave it better than we found it for the generations that come after us. ...we don't always do a good job of this, in fact, over the years some have done a terrible job...but I want to be part of the solution, not the problem....

owlfan said...

Definitely evolution. Way too much evidence not to believe in it (and thus definitely I don't believe the Bible literally). As to whether there was a divine beginning, I'm unsure. But it wouldn't discount evolution.

CJ said...

It doesn't matter to me one way or the other - they all require some leap of faith, just in different directions.

My feeling is I'm here, I'm going to try to make the best of it and try to do more good than harm.

Anna said...

Creation with Intelligent Design. It makes no sense to me, at all, how anyone could think that there was a big bang and all of a sudden, life began. The world around us is so complex - from the way the earth orbits in perfect unity with the rest of the universe to the intricate human eye. That didn't just come to be over millions of years. God created it all and it's all beautiful. Because of this, I value life, as I believe everyone should, and I choose to do my part in taking care of that life on our earth. Evolution is not scientific fact and that is why the public schools cannot teach it as such. My environmentalism exists out of a love for God and his creation - because it is the responsible way to live and what I want to pass on to my children.

Danielle said...

I obviously believe in "micro-evolution" - that cells/organisms adapt to change in their environments. Nobody (with any education) can argue against genetic mutations in fruit flies, bacteria, Darwin's finches, and all that. These small mutations have been proven time and again.
However, monkeys-to-man evolution hasn't exactly been proven in a lab (correct me if I'm wrong here, I'd love to see some spectacular proof), and the fossil record seems...ahem...embarrassingly lacking in this area. Even Darwin said that if he didn't see some pretty conclusive "missing link" type fossils within the next 50 years, his own theory would be invalid. I think time's up.
That good ol' creation story in the Bible does say that humans were put on Earth to "tend and take care of it." So any Christians who claim to adhere to Biblical principles are hypocritical if they ignore care of the environment.
Unfortunately, I don't think a more solid education in evolutionary theory will "fix" America's science problem. Among other problems, I think many Americans have lost faith in the scientific process because so much of the "science" we see in everyday life is so unreliable. For example, there is a new "scientific" nutrition study every week that contradicts the one before, the FDA keeps flip-flopping on whether drugs are "scientifically" proven to be safe, and anyone with half a brain knows that many studies are funded by companies who stand to profit hugely by results in their own favor. The real, ground-breaking science is usually not the kind of stuff your average Joe reads about in the newspaper. People get a watered-down view of what good science can be, so they reject the whole field as irrelevant, and their attitudes are passed on to their kids.

Brad K. said...

I never found it a problem that school taught evolution and Sunday School taught creation. The stories were appropriate in different places, and don't contradict each other.

I have always had a problem with people that claim belief in creation means that evolution or any other useful tool of science is invalid. I resent the fact that creationism as taught in American school was intentionally contrived in Seattle, in modern America. That is, creationism has less theological foundation than of Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon.

Is evolution and star formation a mere mechanism, similar to weather, that effected (effect) creation? I don't know. Sometimes one approach is useful, other times another. Being flexible enough to use what is useful at the time is something I admire. Grabbing a bigger hammer, because a small hammer made a mess of breaking eggs, doesn't impress me.

Most of the time, the controversy over evolution doesn't get my peas planted.

Unknown said...

Evolution is an incredibly efficient and clever fact that I have no problem believing that God came up with.

Creationism seems to me to be similar to taking the bible literally and not realizing that it not only open to interpretation but has already been interpreted in the past.

Anonymous said...

I am a United State high school science teacher, by profession.

Your post got me so fired up, that the comment I'd wished to write exceeded the character limit {4,096 characters} of the Blogger commenting system. I hope that you will click on the link below, to read it on my blog. I apologize for having to make you jump through such a hoop, but I didn't want any prose to be lost to the shortening process.

Anonymous said...

The notion of a flash of light forming current mammals is pretty silly. This version of creationism is pretty... childish.

On the other hand, I find a "watchmaker" version of creationism to be believable. As in, the heavens and earth were created and life evolved here (and maybe some other places, too.) I could buy that.

But, evolution is pretty freaking obvious. Animal and plant breeding make it even more obvious.

Amy in Tacoma said...

I echo what someone wrote above:
"Evolution is an incredibly efficient and clever fact that I have no problem believing that God came up with."

I never thought about either evolution or creation when starting my green journey, however. Rather, it was the birth of my daughter, and wanting there to be a great future for her.

However, both beliefs influence how I teach my daughter. I teach her that it is important to care for the earth, and one reason is because it is a gift God gave us.

Manda said...

I know it has been said before but I will add my 2c to show some agreement.
I believe in creationism. While I still believe that evolution takes place to an extent, I don't think we evolve from one species to another and God created how the world works even if we don't understand it most of the time.
My environmentalism stems from both selfish reasons, I would like myself and my family to be able to survive comfortably, it also comes from my belief that God gave us this planet and it is our responsibility to take care of it. This is my argument to the numerous arguments I have had with other Christians that believe global warming isn't real because God promised never to flood the world again. Well even if global warming isn't real, this is God's planet and how do you think He feel about you filling the ocean with trash?
Lol oops, didn't mean to get so carried away.

Anonymous said...

Didn't we just do this on your blog not that long ago?

Dmarie said...

E.O. Wilson (my hero), Professor Emeritus at Harvard, wrote a book specifically to bring more Southern Baptists to the environmental table, "The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth." Love that! No reason all can't be on the same page when it comes to the environment!!

Anonymous said...

I believe God created us, but evolution is the process he used!

My daughter goes to Catholic school and they teach evolution.

The bible says God created the Earth in 7 days, but those seven days could have been millions of years.

Anonymous said...

I believe God created us, but evolution is the process he used!

My daughter goes to Catholic school and they teach evolution.

The bible says God created the Earth in 7 days, but those seven days could have been millions of years.

Unknown said...

I believe in God and evolution. I believe that God created everything, including evolution and the laws of science. I do not believe that the two are mutually exclusive. 

My religious beliefs do influence my environmental decisions, as I feel that humans are morally responsible to care for the earth. I do not live a "green" lifestyle solely out of a sense of duty, however. Environmental responsibility is practical, healthy, and sensical. 

I do not understand America's fear of teaching evolutionary science or religious studies. I think that our education problem goes much deeper than this, but I will refrain from getting into that here. (In a few words: I believe that students should be taught TO think, not WHAT to think.)

Some demographics for you:
I received a "classical" education through home- and private-schools, studied Anthropology at a public university, and am a "Christian" (Lutheran).

brad said...

It doesn't matter.

i get along with all my neighbors and co-workers regardless of their religious beliefs and we easily unite around common causes like reducing our chance of giving each other cancer by pouring engine oil in the drinking water.

i know a creationist at NASA, a devout Hindu who is a clear leader in his area of software dev, a Mormon woman tech biz leader, a theoretical physicist from Cambridge who is open to various forms of mysticism, an evangelical treehugger, and i could go on for an entire blog. btw, the inventor of the MRI is a creationist who was told for years his idea was impossible. if we want to start a witchhunt about what people believe then remember we'd probably kick Newton out of college for his creationist beliefs too. He lived most of his life hiding his religious beliefs from the established state religion because he believed in an active, creator God, but refused to accept the trinity. Gandhi was a Hindu, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian, Mother Theresa was Catholic.

At the end of the day we still have Monsanto destroying our food, BP destroying our environment, and nation building based on multinational corporations who really don't give a flip what you believe but are very happy to legislate you out of life, liberty and cash.

As long as we are willing to divide ourselves over these other issues and be polarized around 'leprechaun ideology' comments we are susceptible to empty campaign promises from those who have only their own interests at heart. Look at the TeaPartiers disappointment in the Boehner crew and a lot of liberals disappointment in Obama and cabinet. I spent the morning reading the rants of a liberal atheist constitutional lawyer beside himself at how the OLC is extending the ruination of Constitutional law rather than removing the abuses under Bush.

I don't know what my neighbors believe, but we cook and garden together, share eggs, help each other with projects, and exchange food. I believe sustainable living can be a grassroots unifying force where we come together around a real quality of life, and start to mend the divisions wrought upon us by the pursuit of unchecked greed and power.

Kathy said...

Evolution is a fact, creationism and intelligent design are fairy tales. I find it quite disturbing that there are people who want to interject their religious beliefs into scientific classes, particularly classes involving evolution.

And I do think that what people believe matters because for every environmentally-conscious supernatural believer there is another believer who wants to destroy the planet quicker to try bring biblical prophecies to life.

Desert Lean-to said...

Two opposable digits up for evolution!

brad said...

It's pretty disingenuous to say that for every "eco-christian" there is one willing to destroy the environment considering the heads of the companies ACTUALLY destroying the environment are probably atheists. Also the atheist havens of China, Russia and other countries are not really doing the environment any favors either. Atheism does not inherently lead to environmentalism and in the case of Gordon Gekko "greed is good" seems to exclude caring for the earth.

Why do people want to make this a religious issue? Do you want to eliminate probably 90% of the population of the world that holds religious beliefs from moving toward a sustainable future together? Clean water isn't something that everyone wants? Really? Poor evangelical Christians want to raise their children on a cancer cluster by a BASF factory? Really? Catholic south Americans that work in chemical laden banana fields and die early don't care about the environment? Hindu women fighting Monsanto in India don't care?

People you need to turn off your TV and come back here to earth.

Yes there are Christians that think stupidly and selfishly about our shared planet, just as there are atheists that do. Who do you think is robbing the banks on Wall Street and writing corporate law to allow the robbery of natural resources, Gordon Gekko or a bunch of creationists?

Getting back to the ultimate question of whether or not it matters, no it does not.

jennee said...

I believe in micro-evolution (adaption) not maco-evolution which involves one thing to change into a completely other thing. Eg. A monkey is a monkey, and a frog is a frog. They adapt and change as their environment changes.

For the record I am a God-fearing Christian, and not because I'm stupid or uneducated-- Quite the contrary. I used to whole-heartedly in Darwinism, but in the end science won me over.

In a complex and intriquite world it makes sense that a higher power put it together. We are intellegent people. A single plant or animal cell is so complex, they devote entire colleges courses on them, and they don't even know how and why all the part and processes work.

Think about it. Have all the ingredients to a recipe doesn't make a pie. Throwing them together with force doesn't make a pie. An intelligent being who knows how to make a pie, the order in which to make a pie, the temp to cook a pie, makes a pie.

The 2nd LAW (proven) of thermodynamics in itself disproves Darwin THEORY. Things don't evolve. to get better. The more evolving that takes place the more deterioration of the species.

As far as environmental awareness goes, I believe that we should take responsibility to care for our planet. I cloth diaper, I reuse, I use cloth napkins/towels. I would love to be completely self-suffient someday as far as food goes. We eat and use organic products as much as we can afford ect.

Hope I answered your question. Thanks for asking.

PS there is a reason why the "theory" of evolution is a theory. It cannot be proven. Likewise no one can really "prove" in any scientific way that God exists. What I think intelligent design is for those who see the evidence and have no faith.

Amberley said...

Brad, I wish you were my neighbor, what a great attitude for co-existence!

You‘re correct, “Atheism does not inherently lead to environmentalism.” But it is not true that what we believe doesn’t matter. Of course we all want, no matter what our perspective on creation, what will maximize our perceived well-being. But there are better and worse ways to go about getting it.

Mother Theresa probably had the purest of intentions when she took every opportunity to speak out against the inherent evils of birth control. Was she ultimately doing the environment any favors? No. Was she doing society any favors? No. Had she believed less in the edict of her god to “be fruitful and multiply” as a society and more in the scientifically sound theory of overpopulation she may have taken a different tack.

My very generous and good hearted relatives, steeped in generations of hard-core biblical literalism, recently went to the Amazon as missionaries and spent some quality time burning rainforest to make room for fruit orchards, a school and a church for their particular brand of “wellbeing“. This seemed ultimately right to them in the scheme of things. For which was more important in the long run? A little less rainforest, a little less habitat for the endangered rainbow boa they hacked up before caring to identify it or the eternal well-being of the indigenous people’s souls? It was an absolute no brainer to them. Rainforest doesn’t matter when the return of the Lord is at hand.

What we believe about the reality of our condition changes what we value and how we choose to act on those values.

Amberley said...

jennee--you are indoctrinated, not educated. You prove this, among other things, in your understanding of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Try reading a book not written by a bible thumper.

Brad K. said...

@ Kathy,

I think of these a bit differently. "Evolution is a fact, creationism and intelligent design are fairy tales".

I think of evolution as a scientific hypothesis - an organization of information that seems to answer current questions as well or better than other explanations. A hypothesis is 'acknowledged', that is, much of the scientific community uses this same hypothesis as being the best way to study the world and shed understanding on what we find. Personally? I think evolution does better for predicting and understanding what is in the wide world.

Intelligent Design and Creationism are in fact teachings, religious teachings. When people believe, it makes little difference whether the belief is based on their deity, other teachings, or invented whole cloth by four guys in Seattle.

They each serve a purpose. Intelligent Design and Creationism serve the Christian community by building walls to keep the 'heathens' out, and serve as a badge of membership. For those that believe the premise of Creationism or Intelligent Design, they offer the comfort of understanding their world, and allow them to call the science that doesn't conform to their other teachings 'wrong'.

The scientific premise that the world is flat was 'fact' for a time, and science rarely claims anythings is fundamentally, inarguably 'true' - just acknowledged as the best we know at the moment. The more we learn, the better we learn to question the 'fundamentals' that define what we know. And the more surprises and answers - and questions - we find.

jennee said...

Let's not forget evolution id still a theory, and people still argue whether or not God exists. In the end, it's a matter of belief. I am not indocrinated, as a stated, I have fully explored both side personally. I chose what made the most sense. This is after all a post on science. I tried to explain my scientific reasons for my view.

Also, I thought it may be of interest to the crunchychicken that someone who firmly believes in God also firmly believes in caring for the environment. Simply answering the questions and asking a few of my own.

Hostility is not neeeded in a friendly debate. Have fun and be light about it.

Rosa said...

One of our local churches has a great sign out front (I think it's a Lutheran church but I'm not sure) -

"God's World in Our Hands"

I'm on the "evolution, duh" side but that doesn't really address the religious question at all - we can see evolution happening in real time (like antibiotic-resistant infections) but it's fully compatible with my pagan beliefs and most Christians I know find they don't need the Bible to be literal to have their own faith.

rosiemomma said...

I consider myself a "crunchy-conservative". I am green through and through but also believe we were created with a purpose that is much bigger than this planet. I desire to do everything I can to take care of this earth but i don't believe it's the end of the story. Enjoyed reading all the comments. I really enjoy hearing other peoples points of view and am always inspired when folks who are on polar opposite sides of an issue can dialogue with grace and humility. The first thing I notice is that we all must have a lot in common to be reading this blog in the first place! Thanks Crunchy CHicken!!

brad said...

Amberley, I genuinely appreciate your comments and I also strongly encourage and welcome the dialog (thank you).

I understand your comment on beliefs but I'd like to elaborate more on mine. I can make a similar and possilby stronger argument about atheist land developers who see no future but their own, and believe in nothing but amassing the greatest wealth in this life at the expense of every other creature. Not sure if I'm making my point clearly, but you can argue that those who believe in nothing have the least to lose by living selfishly, i.e. "he who dies with the most toys wins." If I compare Vegas to an Amish community that point almost makes itself. But I don't think those two extremes represent where most people are in their thinking.

But let's also consider who has more global power, atheist lead corporations or creationist missionaries? The destruction of the rain forest from corporate interests versus missionaries would be an interesting study but I'm betting the missionaries wouldn't make a dot on the pie chart.

When I see Bill Gates funding studies to use mosquitoes to administer vaccinations I know he's ultimately looking at population control, and I'm shocked at the arrogance his wealth has given him in that he should make those decisions for the rest of us and create more technology that could truly endanger every life on the planet. How many MS pc's have built trash mountains and ocean reefs simply because we are in continual obsolescence mode to shift wealth?

It really makes me shudder in the same way when I think that one Monsanto debacle could shut down the food supply for enough time to jeopardize all our lives.

I really enjoyed comments from folks like Erica who said she seems to see a lot in common with religous people on the sustainability side, but even as a 'secular person' listed her second goal as the reproduction of her progeny. I just don't think these discussions split cleanly down religious lines.

Also I do understand your larger point, but I don't think Mother Theresa had any children of her own.


If your relatives are concerned for humanity both in this life and the next, they may be open to a more sustainable approach to what they are doing. They may not currently understand the near term impact of burning the rainforest but I bet they'd be open to hearing better ways of helping with the physical needs of those people. Even with their focus on eternity I would strongly suggest that they would not knowing and willingly do something to physically harm the people they are trying to serve, like poisoning their water supply or walking away from their community after Bhopal. I think it's an oversimplification to say that people are willing to destroy the earth because of the weight of eternity. I don't know any such people but I would be happy to meet and talk with them - their position does not align with any religious view I've ever heard.

I'm not saying it doesn't matter what people believe, clearly it does. But I think most people are open to discussion and learning better ways of living when they are approached with care and compassion rather than insults and picket signs. Also helping people understanding that they're not Losing, but Gaining when they live sustainably.

Let me rephrase my "it does not matter" to this, "it does not matter TO ME" what people believe, I want to work with them on ways to live better.

I don't know that I can make any case to the Gordon Gekko's of the world, but for those who try to live by some ethical code that involves caring for others I think the case is easily made, creationist, ID or evolutionist. And with 80-90% of the world holding religious views it seems like they'd make better alies than outcasts. Seems like we could work to find the common thread and tackle those issues we share before getting stuck on the things we see differently.

brad said...

Side note, creationism and ID are not the same.

The 'designer' in ID could be one of Carl Sagan's Billions of Intelligent Life Forms in the universe, ala SETI project, whereas in creationism the designer is "God almighty."

In an interesting twist of irony, this makes ID the only theory that has the potential to disprove both Darwinian evolution and Biblical creationism and is therefore often despised and discounted by both sides.

I have found that people from all three camps enjoy drinking organic homebrew with me, many of them have organic gardens and most of them have lost relatives to cancer. When we scratch the surface we have a lot of reasons to work together.

Anonymous said...

I believe the universe is a large place with many realms and dimensions with spiritual creatures who are all evolving. We are all here on earth to learn lessons of some sort, which I guess we really wont know until our time is done. All religions draw in different spirits/people for there own reasons/lessons... No one is right or wrong. We are just all on our own path.

Amberley said...

Brad--biblical creation has already been disproved which is why ID was invented. Look up the history. And you are wrong if you think that a discovery of intelligent aliens having planted life here would disprove Darwinian evolution. It might answer questions associated with Abiogenesis but unless the aliens created all life from the same genetic material, systematically planted islands with varying species of mainland life, populated the earth’s layers with progressively more complex fossils, and intentionally designed us with vestigial anatomy than it wouldn’t be disproving a thing.

Maybe all your friends enjoy an occasional homebrew, but some of them have fuzzier sober thinking than others.

Lola said...

We evolved into what we are now. I don't deny the existence of a creator but so far I have not had any scientific evidence that life on Earth was "created", while there is a plethora of evidence showing evolution of species.

Lola said...

Oh yeah, and about the second question, I think it has more to do with the environment and less to do with beliefs. I have found many people with a broad variety of beliefs and ideas that really care about the place where we are living. And here in the south, believe me, it is HARD to find people that will actually understand evolution and yet some of them (small proportion but still some) go an extra mile to recycle and grow their own crops.

Saponaria said...

I almost don't want to comment because of the immediate digs at religion in the comments. But I'm a Christian. I do believe in intelligent design. I'm not sure on evolution. I'll admit that I went to schools that taught creationism. I occasionally read up some on evolution and weigh what's presented. I'm not convinced though.

However I've never found my belief in God to be antithetical to my environmentalism. They are both instinctive to me and work hand in hand. I've always believed in God and can't fathom not. I've also always found the world to be a beautiful incredible place and I want to see this world healthy. Wanting clean air, water and soil to me is part of the golden rule. It's wrong for people to be sickened by pollutants so that others can financially prosper. It's just wrong.

And I've been a gardener for as far back as I can remember. I want to care for and cultivate the earth. I want to grow things. I could never stop. It's almost not a choice. It's as instinctive as breathing to me to grow things. It's an incredible planet. I love my little plot of earth. I do what I can to improve it, to make it beautiful, to grow food to feed my children and my animals. Who cares how I or anyone else feels it all came to be? I just choose to find what I can in common with others who share my interests and pursue what common goals we can.

Anna said...

@Amberly - some of your posts are not very kind and I find that very sad. Just because someone doesn't believe full-blown evolution to be true does not make them uneducated, stupid or indoctrinated. Evolution has never been proven - nor has Creationism. I am a Crunchy Born-again Christian. I love my God and I love all things natural, organic and sustainable. And that should be ok.

Amberley said...

Anna--It’s as if you’re scolding me for telling the kids the Easter Bunny isn’t real. If you’re going to deny evidence, misrepresent scientific knowledge, and pretend that ignorance is somehow sacred then you *are* uneducated or indoctrinated (I didn‘t call anyone stupid). It does matter what reality is. Its not the same as having individual preferences. I’m not “being mean” just to be mean--to assert that my sports team is better than yours or dogs rule and cats drool. You can’t pretend that facts don’t matter. It matters that we know the earth is round and not chest shaped, it matters that we know the sun is the center and not the earth, it matters the germ theory of disease, it matters that we believe vaccinations prevent epidemics or that antibiotics and not homeopathy can save your life, it matters what we believe about the color of each other‘s skin, it matters that women be treated as equal citizens--these are things that we learned apart from the holy writings of our ancestral religions. We need to stop pretending that somebody’s wrong belief is off limits just because its held by a lot of other people, or because its old or because it makes them feel good. Its important to strive to get as close to reality as possible and we do this through not ignoring things that make us feel uncomfortable.

Brad K. said...

@ Amberley,

I think you are missing a very important point.

Evolution applies in certain instances.

Creationism and Intelligent Design serve other purposes that evolution doesn't address, and that many people have found not just useful, but life-changing and quite fundamental.

We say, in my neighborhood, that one person's treasure is another person's junk. Yes, we get the point that you value your evolution theory. But some people value what you are calling junk, mostly for very different reasons than why you value evolution.

Amberley said...

Brad, I just noticed your comment with the mosquito example in it. Since you welcome it…

Your point is taken about atheist land developers, greedy Vegas hedonists who don‘t choose to think at all, and the non-human-like conglomerates of capitalism, the corporations--although they are just as likely to hold some religious viewpoint as none. You seem to have the idea that as long as you garden it doesn’t matter what you believe. Well we can’t all be gardeners. We don’t all live where the climate and space and resources and professional bent allow us to. It is unfair of you to assume that all leaders of corporate destruction are atheist and even if they were it doesn’t mean that they have been educated to the fact of our precarious place in an evolutionary chain with utter dependence on the ecosystem not collapsing.

And on another point, where do you get the idea that being an atheist means you don’t believe in anything? Being non-deity doesn‘t preclude one from being human, holding human values, experiencing awe and wonder and delight, having a thoughtful and reflective mind that can grasp concepts like the inherent sadness of prematurely and needlessly destroying biological diversity, the things that make us thrive, and a future.

What sort of gotcha comment is that about Mother Theresa? She didn‘t have her own children because she was married to a jealous, invisible, three-part spirit head who considers sex defiling and a woman‘s right to choose the number one world problem--even when he sees fit to allow 9 million children under the age of 5 die of preventable causes every year. Incidentally, all you religionists will be glad to know, I don’t have any children either. But that choice is based on my own personal decision to not unnecessarily add to the planet’s already groaning load. My time and resources are freed up to love and support children already in existence and to help preserve the things that make it possible for what I value most--quality life, for me, my fellow humans and the web of biology we depend on.

Grace said...

The fossil record is very clear. There are no missing links left. We know how Modern Man came to be. We know how Chihuahuas and Jersey cows and Maine Coon cats came into existence. Evolution is valid, it is proven, and it is fact. It is just wishful thinking to deny it and I find it embarrassing and ridiculous when people bury their heads in the sand and pretend it isn't real because it doesn't gibe with their religious beliefs. Jesus said that you have to make the leap of faith to be considered his follower. Wouldn't that apply here? Would he rather we prevent our children from learning facts and truth or would he prefer them to look at the evidence, recognize it's validity and choose to believe in him anyway?

As for the harm we've done in our schools, yes, we have certainly denied our kids valuable knowledge. It's absurd in this day and age.

Crunchy, you have some serious stones even bringing this subject up these days. Good for you!

Crunchy Chicken said...

I'm going to have to agree with Grace here. Even in the last two decades much has been filled in by way of "missing links" in the fossil record regarding the evolution of man.

April - Humans didn't evolve from apes, we share a common ancestor that we branched off of millions of years ago. How would one, otherwise, explain the fact that we share over 95% identical DNA with chimpanzees and share a common "broken" gene? God must have either been uninspired or really like chimps. If that's not evidence of a common ancestor, I don't know what is.

Evolution is non-directional. It's the result of a number of different influences (genetic, environmental constrictions, random mutations etc.) and there is no end "goal". Not for betterment or degradation. So, the idea that evolution is faulty because it doesn't produce something "better" shows a misunderstanding.

I went to a lecture with Stephen Jay Gould a number of years ago and, at the end of the 2 or so hours, someone stood up and asked where evolution was headed, what was the end goal. Stephen was visibly annoyed and chastised him with the statement, "weren't you paying attention at all to what I've been saying?"

Anyway, life on Earth has had billions of years to develop. Humans have been around for a mere blip in terms of geologic time. Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for hundreds of millions of years and we are lucky to last more than a hundred thousand. I can't say there's anything divine in that. Again, God must have really liked dinosaurs.

Brad - "Considering the heads of the companies ACTUALLY destroying the environment are probably atheists. Also the atheist havens of China, Russia and other countries are not really doing the environment any favors either. Atheism does not inherently lead to environmentalism and in the case of Gordon Gekko "greed is good" seems to exclude caring for the earth."

Wow. Do you want to back up any of these statements here because those are just highly offensive. All the atheists I know are more likely to protect the planet because they don't have the idea of "it's God's will" to defend their actions or believe that God will fix things. Further, they cherish their time on Earth more because of the fact they don't believe in an afterlife.

All those evil atheist run big businesses you speak of are more likely to be headed by right wing Christians or better yet, how 'bout some Jews? Sound racist? It's no different than pulling the same card with atheists.

Environmental issues with China and Russia have less to do with their religion (or lack thereof) and more to do with their politics and economy.

Let's not turn atheists in the 21st century bogeyman.

Personally, my environmentalism stems from my understanding of evolution and the desire to leave the world a better place than when I first stepped foot here.

Anonymous said...

Evolution has become a religion it seems to me. The kind of religion where anyone who thinks any different is just w.r.o.n.g.. The worst kind of religion. People thinking they know everything that ever happened and it is all for sure... and there is nothing else anyone can say about it.

Just because their is different kinds of 'people' in fossils out there means nothing to support people came from apes... it just doesn't. Personally seems to me aliens... or 'gods' came to earth and played with its creatures a bit. Made us more like them? More intelligent? More 'human'? Experimented perhaps? What about all those unexplained fossils of humanlike peoples that don't quite fit into mainstream evolutions theory? Reminds us that it is all just a theory... or as religious peoples outlook... a belief. To each there own. We are all changing, adapting, but that does not for me personally support the big bang and evolution as the big answer. To me the evolution crowd is just as closed minded as the your going to burn in hell crowd.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Kirsten - Man's understanding of evolution is fluid in that it changes dependent on when new discoveries and new scientific techniques come about. What we knew 100 years ago versus today and what we'll know in 100 years from now will, no doubt, be different as we will continue learning more.

No scientist worth their salt would claim to "know everything that ever happened and it is all for sure" because that is impossible. We only know what we know based on evidence at that point in time.

Religion is dramatically different than evolution. It's like saying that you "believe" in gravity. Are you also claiming that physics is like religion? Even quantum physics has a basis in reality and, no matter how mind boggling, can be repeated in a lab.

The issue is really the misunderstanding people have with the concepts of evolution, what new discoveries mean and, generally, a lack of scientific foundation. And, more alarmingly, a distrust of the scientific method. Which is why I made the statement that the U.S. is deplorably behind the rest of the world in science education.

Anonymous said...

physics is completely different than evolution as it can be recreated in a lab. you cannot do a science project on evolution. (Except maybe Lisa Simpson haha) Physics is not fluid. The fluidity of evolution only shows how little we know or will ever know about it. Don't get me wrong, we do live in an ever changing environment. But who is to say how or what changed anything? how are scientists to prove that their aging of the earth, ect, ect is fact? Impossible to prove, which makes it theory. You can make fossils say anything you want them to, ignore what you wish.... just like the bible. Evolution: the religion of the future. Making people think they know everything since 1859.

brad said...

Hi Crunchy-Please reread my posts, I think my intent was misunderstood. All were in response to your question Does it Matter in sustainability if people believe in ID, Creationism or Evolution? My answer was NO. I said anyone with an ethic that cares about other people; Creationist OR Evolutionist has common ground to work together.

I said not only does it NOT MATTER, I think it's a mistake to let ourselves be divided over religious beliefs. Everyone in the CC community has come together around green issues not religious issues, and clearly there are a lot of religious people here who are staunch greenies.

My comment about atheist lead corps was in RESPONSE to people inferring Christians (me) are MORE likely to destroy the environment because of a belief in the afterlife- I have never met a single person who believes that. An afterlife means eternal accountability for selfishness.

Monsanto is not doing what they are doing for religious reasons. Clearly Monsanto scientists understand how evolution works! My point was that powerful interests are doing everything they can to maximize profit at the expense of humanity and it impacts us all, regardless of religion. The comment about the missionaries in the Amazon just seemed weak contrasted with the vast destruction driven from a corp level.

BP is not doing what they are doing because they believe in an afterlife. Banana farms in S America that exploit children and the poor and make them work with carcinogens that end their life early and painfully are not
doing so on Bible based positions. The Bible teaches caring for the poor, and consequences to those who don't.

When I look at environmental destruction I don't see it tied to a belief in the afterlife or a religious position. It's about greed, which most religions teach against.

What I said about atheist lead corporations was an illustration in response to the comment that Christians are MORE likely to destroy the environment - No, that goes against everything I believe in as a Christian.

You said, "Environmental issues with China and Russia have less to do with their religion (or lack thereof) and more to do with their politics and economy." - you're making my point exactly, it's not a religious issue. Poor evangelicals living in a cancer cluster do not think it's "ok" to die a painful death because there's an afterlife. They get screwed because they're poor, by people trying to get rich.

My comment to Amberley in response to her comments that belief in an afterlife somehow leads to not caring about the environment, "I understand your comment on beliefs but I'd like to elaborate more on mine. I can make a similar and possilby stronger argument about atheist land developers who see no future but their own, and believe in nothing but amassing the greatest wealth in this life at the expense of every other creature. Not sure if I'm making my point clearly, but you can argue that those who believe in nothing have the least to lose by living selfishly, i.e. "he who dies with the most toys wins." If I compare Vegas to an Amish community that point almost makes itself. But I don't think those two extremes represent where most people are in their thinking."

I said I do NOT believe those extremes represent most people, religious or non-religious, just that I can make the same kind of bogus argument about atheists that Amberley makes about Christians. We cannot and should not try to pin the problem onto a group because of their religion.

If I thought it was a problem with atheists I wouldn't be hanging out here with all the atheists getting kicked in the nads for believing in God. People are working together on sustainability issues despite their religious backgrounds - let's do MORE of that.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Kirsten - Evolution, most assuredly, can be recreated in a lab and has been done countless times on drosophila and in numerous other experiments. (Here's a college course lab exercise if you don't believe me: Evolution Lab with Drosophila)

Physics is indeed fluid. The physics of 1900 are different than the physics of 2011. There are substantial differences between Newtonian physics (classical mechanics) which excludes relativistic mechanics (Einstein's work) and then further quantum mechanics and more, recently, string theory. All of this points to the same fluidity of physics as exists in evolutionary science.

All science is a work in progress, it is not static. So, given the fluidity of physics, does this show "how little we know or will ever know about it"? No, it just shows that we will forever be learning new things and refining those ideas. Scientists can estimate the age of the Earth using a number of different, scientific methods much like we can prove that the Earth goes around the sun and isn't flat. Can we recreate it in a lab? No, but I think we all trust the science is sound enough to accept those "facts".

Creation seems to be the last vestiges of religion trying to insert itself into the sciences in order to prove some historically religious argument. I don't see too many people these days that are flat-earthers, but centuries ago, presuming that the Sun was the center of the solar system or that the Earth was mobile would have gotten you convicted of heresy (see the tragic ending to Galileo Galilei). The same concept applies to the resistance to evolution - based wholly on religious notions, not on scientific ones.

Ron Alexander said...

Deanna, you replied "So, the idea that evolution is faulty because it doesn't produce something "better" shows a misunderstanding." (I assume you were talking to me here.) I didn't infer that evolution is faulty because it doesn't produce something better - in fact I stated that evolution exists. I totally agree with what you had to say about evolution, age of the earth, dinosaurs, etc. up until the common ancestor bit. Just thought I'd clarify that in case there was any question.

April Alexander said...

Ooops, that was April, signed in as Ron.

April Alexander said...

I was just going back through the posts and saw this comment: "All the atheists I know are more likely to protect the planet because they don't have the idea of "it's God's will" to defend their actions or believe that God will fix things." I think this is a pretty broad label you're putting on those of the Christian faith here honestly. I personally feel it's my responsibility to care for the earth, and I not for a second believe that God isn't going to "fix things" for us. We're all accountable for our actions, those toward humans, nature and animals alike. I know many Christians who feel the same way, and who deeply care for the environment and are devoted to doing everything they can to care for the earth. The "It's God's will" is a huge cop out, and I'm sick of hearing other Christians using this as an excuse. I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way, and I think there is a large shift happening in Christianity. I would hope that those of different faiths and beliefs would be excited to see this change, and realize that though our core beliefs/faiths may be different we can work together to make the planet a better place.

What Kirsten said about atheism becoming a religion makes complete sense to me. Recently I had a friend, who happens to be an atheist, over to my house. The entire time he was here he tried to "convert" me to atheism, going through all of the reasons that creationism is a flat out fairy tale, trying to prove that apes and humans came from a common ancestor, and on and on...and guess what? I didn't try to shove my religion down his throat one time during the entire conversation. I found it quite ironic that I was the Christian who got preached at for a few hours by an atheist. I'm not saying that all atheists/evolutionists are this way, but I've been coming in contact with more who are like this than not. One word of advice, (and take it or leave it), from a person who worked for years to "convert" unbelievers: Don't try it unless you feel the person is open to it, or shows an interest in learning more about your beliefs. You are likely to get the same "bad label" Christians have gotten through the years by shoving their doctrines down your throats. It isn't effective, and it will work against you in the end, pushing the person further away from truth.

Crunchy Chicken said...

April - A large percentage of people that read my blog are Christian and, clearly, are very concerned about the environment and don't apply the "God's will" argument any more than the atheists I know.

As for the advice, this is an open discussion with willing participants. I'm not trying to convert unbelievers of evolution so much as refute statements made in the comments. Statements that I believe are erroneous. I encourage readers to back up their assertions as well.

April Alexander said...

Deanna - To clarify, I don't see you trying to convert people to evolution here. I was just making the point that some people are out there preaching their evolution message with the sole purpose of converting others.

Thanks for being willing to dialog with people of different faiths/beliefs about this topic.

Anna said...

"Anna--It’s as if you’re scolding me for telling the kids the Easter Bunny isn’t real."

No, I'm saying that your tone is rude. Crunchy has many different types of readers from many different backgrounds, but the one thing that we have in common is that we share a passion for the environment, sustainability and homesteading. Name calling is out of place, mean and shows a huge lack of maturity simply because someone doesn't agree with you.

"If you’re going to deny evidence, misrepresent scientific knowledge, and pretend that ignorance is somehow sacred then you *are* uneducated or indoctrinated (I didn‘t call anyone stupid). It does matter what reality is."

Again... rude. I most certainly am NOT uneducated or indoctrinated. (I have 2 different degrees, in music and in nutrition, and am on my way to my third.) And to assume that I am uneducated/indoctrinated just because I'm a Christian is a huge and wrong assumption on your part. You didn't say "stupid" but you certainly implied it.

"it matters the germ theory of disease,"

I do not believe the germ theory of disease is fact either.

"it matters that we believe vaccinations prevent epidemics or that antibiotics and not homeopathy"

I think that vaccinations are extremely dangerous and would not recommend them for anyone. Auto-immune diseases, autism, seizures and other severe reactions result from vaccinations. I do not believe that they prevent epidemics - the data is flawed.
I would give natural treatments over antibiotics any day. Antibiotics wear down our body's natural defenses and although there is a time and place for them, natural treatments should always be tried first.

"these are things that we learned apart from the holy writings of our ancestral religions. We need to stop pretending that somebody’s wrong belief is off limits just because its held by a lot of other people, or because its old or because it makes them feel good."

Right back atcha. You believe all of these things to be truth... but have you actually researched any of these "truths" for yourself? Or are you just believing them because they are held by a lot of other people - because it makes you feel good? I have done a lot of research on many things and try very hard to not just take anyone's word for it. Have you?

Back to the original topic - evolution is not proven. It is not fact. It is a theory and I believe it to be a wrong theory. I'm not trying to tell you to believe it or not believe it and you certainly shouldn't belittle others for believing something different.

Christina said...

What an interesting topic!! For the record, I call myself an Occam's Razor atheist - meaning the simplest explanation is more supportable. In other words, it is preferable to state that the universe exists by unknown mechanism, than to state that the universe was created by a god who exists by unknown mechanism. But enough about me.

What I find intriguing is that evolution and environmentalism both care not a smidge for the individual. You may have been born with an evolutionary preferable trait (like a weirdly prehensile tail), but will die before you reproduce your mutation. Similarly, you may be working your tail off to live lightly on the earth and to stop/reverse climate change and environmental degradation, but you'll still die off in a drought-induced famine.

What an atheist has to confront in both settings is that the universe does not care about the sparrow, so to speak. So we are left to do things because we have rationally determined them to be "right".

Environmentalism is not about saving the earth - the earth has mechanisms evolved over billions of years to keep itself on track. Environmentalism is about saving humanity as a species. It may turn out that the many evolutionary "benefits" of homo sapiens sapiens (frontal lobe, opposing thumbs leading to tool use, etc.) actually lead pretty directly to our extinction.

I have three kids, and this is the hardest part of life for me: the growing fatalism that what I do as an individual cannot possibly matter, and that we are on the cusp of being past the ability of any large group of us to do anything effective, either. It's as if the dinosaurs knew the Yucatan asteroid was coming... (to choose one theory of their extinction)

Yet I take action as if I could have an impact - because it is the right thing to do.

Brad K. said...

@ Christina,

"evolutionary preferable trait".

Someone on my draft horse chat board, several years ago, pointed out that improving the species (horses, in this case), depends not on the planned matings (preferential reproduction), but on the culls - those that aren't permitted to reproduce.

My understanding is that evolution describes this as differences that don't tend to survive don't get reproduced and thus increase the gene pool.

When you discuss the uncaring nature of evolution and creation, I think you are overlooking something fundamental. People don't live solitary lives, we form families and communities. Even hermits and recluses live within an encompassing social structure.

It took me a long time to pursue the question, "Why should we tell our children they should grow to make babies?" The best I could come up with - was that cultures and families don't persist into the future if there are too few children raised within them.

Whether your personal investment is your faith, your secular community, your nation or state, your family, or your interests, unless you raise your children to understand and respect your values (they don't have to actually agree with you!), then you are committing a cultural form of 'suicide' which I believe self-limits the concepts that aren't survivable.

The point you address, "Why am I here, what is my value?" isn't found in nature. I think the answer is found in your faith, your culture, your family. Nature expects you to persist and reproduce, culture and faith do as well. Look to identifying those values you hold most important, and work to see those values carried on into the next generation's 'cultural gene pool'. Teach, nurture, and support your family and community to the best you are able, is the best answer I can think of.

What of personal ambition, what of political power and security? These are hazards, like the leopard and the malaria mosquito (that the UN is banning DDT to preserve at the cost of millions of tropical children's lives soon to be lost to deadly malaria - and, by the way, the politics that call DDT harmful overlook the science that shows it isn't. California's move to declare DDT carcinogenic backfired when they found it prevents the formation of certain kinds of tumors. And DDT doesn't thin any egg shells unless you actively remove calcium from the bird's diet, and then it isn't the DDT that causes the thin calcium-rich egg shell. Round-up and other pesticides are a completely different matter, and the hazards with them are looming larger all the time.).

Christina, I think of evolution not as describing what survives, but what doesn't. There are many strange and wondrous variations in human cultures and in nature that somehow passed the test of 'failing to survive' - some of which I refuse to call 'desirable'. I don't look to evolution or creationism to explain how I got here or where I am going, merely to describe why someone else isn't here in my stead.

Or is that 'striving to avoid failure' instead of 'striving to succeed'? Hmm. That might not be such a bad direction to take.

Blessed be.

Christina said...


Thank you, Brad, for your thoughtful response. I think what you say above is essential - and yet it is diametrically opposite to the hyper-individualism of American culture. I think that is where the struggle arises. One has to let go of the need for individual success, and instead take hold of the desire for community success, in order to make sense of the picture.