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12 February 2006

Sunday Sermon: Now you can be Christian AND grok Science AND not go to Hell!

Rude, offensive, disrespectful cartoon of the Birthday Boy. No riots, please. The co-discoverer of the Theory of Natural Selection was the younger naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913). Though Charles Darwin had worked out his version earlier, he had been reluctant to publish his ideas for fear of the religious controversy and scandal they would cause. When Wallace sent him his manuscript, they agreed to share credit for the discovery.

PIZZAQ: Both Darwin and Wallace said their inspiration to discover the theory of Natural Selection came to them after reading the same book. What book?

Newsday (daily newspaper)
Long Island, New York USA
Sunday 12 February 2006

Compromise between
Darwin and God

In effort to challenge the belief
by some that God, Darwin’s theories
don’t jibe, clergy group calls for coexistence


The Rev. Richard E. Edwards will not mince words in his sermon today about God and Charles Darwin, the 19th century naturalist whose theory of evolution rocked the world.

"I want to reaffirm the compatibility of Biblical tradition and modern science," said Edwards, pastor of Stony Brook Community Church, a small Methodist congregation that draws members from the nearby university and medical center. "This is a community where science counts, and where folks really need to hear that."

[VLEEPTRON guide to colleges and universities: The State University of New York @ Stony Brook is one of the top science universities in the USA. It's the home of the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics. Chen Ning (Frank/Franklin) Yang won the 1957 Nobel Physics Prize (with T.D. Lee) for a fundamental discovery regarding the parity violation (assymetrical behavior) of subatomic particles.]

At a time when conservative Christians are mounting aggressive challenges to the teaching of evolution in public schools, Edwards is one of about 400 pastors nationwide, mostly from mainline Protestant churches, who are participating in "Evolution Sunday" to promote the idea that Christianity and science may coexist peacefully.

Today, on Darwin's birthday, some will draw upon the Book of Job to validate the innate human thirst for understanding. Others will lead discussions about how to reconcile a divine Creator with the notion that life evolved through a random process of natural selection.

"I believe that instead of suppressing or falsifying science, we people of faith need to go back to the theological drawing board in order to rethink our existing theology in the light of new data -- just as Martin Luther and John Calvin did nearly five centuries ago," said the Rev. Byron E. Shafer of Rutgers Presbyterian Church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Evolution Sunday is part of a broader campaign begun a year ago called the Clergy Letter Project. Through e-mail and word-of-mouth, 10,266 clergy have now signed an online letter backing evolution as "a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests."

The project is the brainchild of Michael Zimmerman, a biologist rather than a clergyman, who said he was fed up with Christian preachers who told people that they had to choose between evolution and God -- "and that if you choose evolution, you're going to hell, and if you choose our version of religion, you'll be saved."

"One of the goals of the Clergy Letter Project," Zimmerman said, "is to demonstrate that the choice that people are trying to foist on them is a false dichotomy. The fact that thousands of clergy are standing up and saying, 'We are comfortable in our beliefs, in our faith and in our God, and we are comfortable with modern science,' is a very forceful statement."

Zimmerman, a Wisconsin college administrator, declined to elaborate on his own religious beliefs beyond saying he does not attend church.

Many of the clergy participating in Evolution Sunday say they have no doubt that God is behind the process of natural selection -- but unlike backers of intelligent design, they describe those beliefs as religious, rather than scientific, and therefore, appropriate for Sunday school rather than science class.

A few acknowledge they are struggling themselves with how to reconcile Darwin's concepts with a Christian world view.

The notion that life evolved through a random and often brutal process does not square easily, Shafer said, with Christian notions of creation -- or, for that matter, a benevolent God.

"People want to believe that we humans are special in the sight of God, and that we are a distinct and separate creation," he said. "So obviously those who are challenging that concept have a lot of explaining to do."

Others are more sanguine about reconciling the world views -- if only to enhance their appreciation of the complexity of God's creation.

"Does the theory of natural selection raise questions for us?" asked the Rev. Catherine Schuyler, Protestant chaplain at Stony Brook University and pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Selden, who is married to Edwards.

"Yes, of course. But I don't think questions are such a scary thing. Questions are how we go deeper into our understanding, and therefore, deeper into our own faith."

- 30 -

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.


Anonymous patfromch said...

This is from memory, I have not cheated, honest
It was actually Wallace who introduced Darwin to the concepts of Thomas Malthus. It is widely believed that Malthus theories on economics (that a contry or society will collapse when it hat reached its highest point and can no longer expand due to a lack of resources. this Idea can be applied to the Idea of Evolution) hold Darvin's Theory on Evolution together. It basically makes it TICK
Source: Edward J Larson "The History of Evolution", TTC Audiobook (currently on me IPod, heard it first last fall, haven't heard it since then. I must listen to it again if the answer is falsch)
Thanks to Vleeptron I got interested in the subject and this time it pays off
Where did you get that cartoon from ??

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Okay, it's Malthus' Essay on Human Population! You win the pizza!

And yes, Vleeptron got into a Big-Ass Fight about Rev. Malthus and his Naughty Idea with mein Neffe the Economist. Which is pretty typical with Malthus. Darwin's idea is easy to swallow compared to Malthus' idea. You're only threatened with Hell Everlasting for believing in Natural Selection. But Malthus threatens you with Starving to Death. In the history of ideas, Malthus is far more controversial than Darwin.

The cartoon almost HAS to have originated in the London magazine Punch. Except that I can't find any credit/citation for the cartoon in the 8 or so images of it that show up on Google Image Search: Darwin.

If you get lucky and find a citation, please let Vleeptron know.

Some of the websites are very high-class and academic and professional ... but sadly, when intellectual property gets very old and the copyright lapses, even Professors and Scholars start to get very lazy and sloppy.

But my guess is: Punch. Cartoonist Unknown.

Anonymous patfromch said...

Why should the idea be naughty ???? The only poeple I know who have a problem with this idea is you and Michael Crichton (hehe)
I find it quite logical and there are lots of exaples to prove it !!! What would Maynard Keynes have done without those theories ??? Or bloody Karl Marx and his chum Engels ?
Ancient Egypt, Rome, French Revolution, Black Friday, the big plague in 1348-50, all exaples where there is proof of Malthus' Ideas.
Now prove me wrong.
I'm off to find some Punch/Darwin cartoons .

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

No, no, it was mein Neffe who thought Malthus Is Naughty (and Wrong).

Bob is a 100% Believer in The Word (and Equation) of Malthus.

But even Malthus worried that people would think he was naughty, so he first published "Essay" anonymously.

I still haven't found a critic who gives a persuasive explanation of how increase in food production is arithmetic, population growth is exponential, but we won't eventually run out of food. Maybe Neffe will see this thread and jump back in. Interestingly enough, Everybody -- both leftists/Marxists AND rightists/Capitalists -- hate Malthus.

Another reason to hate math. If you like math just enough to understand Malthus' argument (and a simpler math argument you couldn't ask for, it's Algebra II again), then you know there's a big Famine on the way.

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Unless of course we all immediately stop making babies, or slow down enough to achieve global Zero Population Growth. I think everybody's allowed to have 1.4 children and we still get ZPG.

The Bush Administration is for global reduction of human population -- but you must reduce human population by relying only on the birth-control methods of Abstinence and Sexual Fidelity in Marriage. If you're distributing condoms, birth-control pills, or providing abortions, you get no $$ from USA.

Anonymous patfromch said...

Bout the Darwin Cartoons:
The cartoon is indeed from Punch, it's one of their most famous. The official website of Punch ( is definetly NOT what you would expect from a satire magazine so you don't want to go there, because it is dull and utter bloody boring.
But someone has actually written a term paper about the History of Darwin and caricature and you can find it right here as a pdf file (illustrations included)
I found this paper on the server of the Wellcome Medical College Library, London, they also have a searchable image database at
(just type in darwin cartoon and see what happens)
Bloody hell, I think I got too much free time on me hands !

Blogger Newphew Kwak said...

It's ye Neffe here, here to exclaim once again that most of what is referred to as "proof" of Malthus's rightness ain't no such a thing. (Which don't mean he was wrong.) [Except that in many observably objectively factual ways, it is clear that he was largely wrong.] {Though in the end he might turn out right after all.}

Por ejample, upon what basis is patfromch claiming that any of those examples function as proof--nay, even mere suggestive support--for Malthusianism? Plus, I'm pretty sure that Marx thought Malthus was a dunderhead. (Which doesn't make Malthus a dunderhead; just makes patfromch's comment confusing.)

Anonymous patfromch said...

Bob ?
You've been skippin fer a 0420 again ? Do you hve a split personality ?
Yer nephews site just looks like yours (almost)
If not
I cannot bloody believe that a student of economics claims that Malthus is wrong. What the bloody hell are they teaching you there in Colege ???
I can bloody hell tell you that I have enough proof to vertfy me previous statement and I ain' been to no College. Malthus was right, and you academic pinheads are utter bloody wrong. Just look around you. It ain't Greenspan what you see, it's Malthus.
I got the evidence. Choose the battleground. Now it's up to you mate
I'm ready.
Go ahead and prove me wrong.
If you dare.


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