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Evolution threatens Christianity - Comments

SoHelpMeReason's Avatar Comment 1 by SoHelpMeReason

She never talks about how she reconciles evolution with being a Christian.

I'm confused. How, again, do liberal Christian border-line-atheists make it make sense? I've never understood clearly.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 20:01:39 UTC | #863848

six45ive's Avatar Comment 2 by six45ive

Wonderfully concise as usual from Paula.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 20:02:43 UTC | #863849

SoHelpMeReason's Avatar Comment 3 by SoHelpMeReason

Comment Removed by Author

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 20:02:52 UTC | #863850

locutus7's Avatar Comment 4 by locutus7

Stunning article. Washington Post has been increasingly printing atheist articles, something that never happened even a couple of years ago. And these articles are widely read. This will be an influential piece.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 20:07:51 UTC | #863852

skiles1's Avatar Comment 5 by skiles1

Paula Kirby's answer on this subject is the best I've ever read.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 20:08:54 UTC | #863853

tembuki's Avatar Comment 6 by tembuki

Comment 1 by SoHelpMeReason :

She never talks about how she reconciles evolution with being a Christian.

I'm confused. How, again, do liberal Christian border-line-atheists make it make sense? I've never understood clearly.

Are you sure you didn't misread the article? I did not get the impression that she's currently a Christian.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 20:11:07 UTC | #863854

BanJoIvie's Avatar Comment 7 by BanJoIvie

Comment 1 by SoHelpMeReason

She never talks about how she reconciles evolution with being a Christian.

Who is the she to whom you refer? It seems unrelated to this article, since Paula specifically does talk about exactly that in this piece. Right here:

...many Christians happily accept evolution: they see Genesis 1 as merely a metaphor, and declare that if God chose to create us using evolution, that's fine by them. I used to be this kind of Christian myself; but I must confess that my blitheness was only possible because I had only the vaguest possible idea of how evolution works and certainly didn't know enough about it to realize that unguided-ness is central to it


I'm confused. How, again, do liberal Christian border-line-atheists make it make sense? I've never understood clearly.

I share your befuddlement about Christian apologetics who manage somehow to square the circle and simultaneously "accept" evolution and the idea of a fallen world redeemed through blood atonement. However I am more confused by your comment springing from this article. Do you mean to include Paula Kirby in the ranks of "Christian border-line-atheists?" If so, I believe you are mistaken. Paula is very securely on the atheist side of the borderline. Are you referring to Governor Perry, who is neither a she nor apparently interested in reconcileing evolution with his Christianity? Is there another she evoked by this article I am somehow missing.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 20:17:22 UTC | #863856

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 8 by Mr DArcy

No doubt Rick Perry will be priming himself for such meaningful questions as to why there were no dinosaurs on Noah's Ark, or were there? And they evolved into modern birds!

A theory "with holes in it". Is that the theory that a Jewish carpenter created the unniverse, perhaps using fig wood?

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 20:17:44 UTC | #863857

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 9 by glenister_m

Is it just me, or are the comments not loading on the washington post website? For both this and Richard's article.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 20:26:14 UTC | #863859

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 10 by alaskansee

Where did that "Reality TV" straw man come from Paula? Yes a popularity contest, such as a phone in vote, will produce the most popular choice not neccesarily the "best". What's the surprise and what's new - remember the Eurovision, remember any election ever?

Creationist and right wingers have been working hard in the US to convince everyone that their beliefs are true facts and you're blaming reality TV? I'm not sure which is funniest; that you think Reality TV has even the slightest conection or that it wasn't all of the hard work the creationists have been doing. I think I know which one the IDiots would like you not to believe, so thanks on their behalf.

"I don't just mean because the vast majority of such programs are mind-numbingly tedious..."

It's hard to believe you wrote this Paula, do you have any understanding of personnel tastes? I like mountain biking, drum and bass, smoking weed and Hells Kitchen (US reality TV show), if you don't agree with everything I like you must be, what, "mind-numbingly tedious", funny that's never come across in any of your previous pieces?

Zero marks for getting your pet peeve into the first paragraph, full marks for the rest.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 20:41:00 UTC | #863861

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 11 by Red Dog

Comment 1 by SoHelpMeReason :

She never talks about how she reconciles evolution with being a Christian.

I'm confused. How, again, do liberal Christian border-line-atheists make it make sense? I've never understood clearly.

I'm assuming you mean she to be Paula Kirby the author. I wasn't aware she was Christian. Even if she is why does she have to talk about her personal beliefs in this article? Articles like this aren't PhD dissertations, you can't cover every issue. If for example, I were to write an article about how the Gnostic Christians were more egalitarian then the Catholic church that destroyed them would it make sense for someone to criticize "how can he praise the ideas of the Gnostics when he's an atheist?"

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 20:44:13 UTC | #863863

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 12 by Red Dog

Comment 10 by alaskansee :

Where did that "Reality TV" straw man come from Paula? Yes a popularity contest, such as a phone in vote, will produce the most popular choice not neccesarily the "best". What's the surprise and what's new - remember the Eurovision, remember any election ever?

Creationist and right wingers have been working hard in the US to convince everyone that their beliefs are true facts and you're blaming reality TV? I'm not sure which is funniest; that you think Reality TV has even the slightest conection or that it wasn't all of the hard work the creationists have been doing. I think I know which one the IDiots would like you not to believe, so thanks on their behalf.

"I don't just mean because the vast majority of such programs are mind-numbingly tedious..."

It's hard to believe you wrote this Paula, do you have any understanding of personnel tastes? I like mountain biking, drum and bass, smoking weed and Hells Kitchen (US reality TV show), if you don't agree with everything I like you must be, what, "mind-numbingly tedious", funny that's never come across in any of your previous pieces?

Zero marks for getting your pet peeve into the first paragraph, full marks for the rest.

That seems like an amazing over reaction to me. All she said was "the vast majority of such programs are mind-numbingly tedious...". I mean I would say that's true for ALL Television and Hollywood movies for that matter. That the vast majority (not all) are mind-numbingly tedious. I'm sure that Hell's Kitchen is the exception that it is full of witty intellectual discussions that rival the Alqonquin round table. That doesn't contradict her point that the vast majority are mind-numbingly tedious.

I've never seen a reality TV show and never will unless I'm in a persistent vegitative state and the nurse turns the TV to one. But if you like them so what? We all have our guilty pleasures, mine is Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:01:09 UTC | #863868

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 13 by Paula Kirby

Red Dog: I'm assuming you mean she to be Paula Kirby the author. I wasn't aware she was Christian. Even if she is ...

No, definitely not Christian!

Used to be, though, and back in those days, as I tried to explain in my article, I accepted evolution but knew next to nothing about it. I hadn't looked into it at all, hadn't been taught about it at school, had no idea how it worked. I simply assumed (taking things on faith being something you become quite good at as a Christian) that the scientists would have good reason for saying that it was true, and then just ignored it.

'God is mysterious and all-powerful' is an incredibly flexible and convenient belief. What it means is that anything is possible but the believer cannot expect to understand how - which in turn means that what seems like an insurmountable obstacle to faith to those of us outside the bubble can be easily hand-waved away by those on the inside of it. 'Well, I can't explain it, but that doesn't mean that God couldn't do it.'

Religious belief creates an entirely different way of looking at the world. Leaving that behind when I realised that Christianity was literally incredible was an enormous relief: I can remember to this day the almost physical sense of release, the sense of finally coming up for air, the sheer sense of liberation when I began to investigate proper explanations and grapple with facts and evidence and data rather than the woolliness of faith!

Taking things on trust and believing that there are some things we will not be able to understand in this life are central to faith - so we should never be surprised when, like the White Queen in Alice through the Looking Glass, the religious believe six impossible things before breakfast. It doesn't necessarily mean they are not sincere or genuine; and certainly not that they're stupid. It's just what the intellectual prison of religion does to its inmates.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:11:10 UTC | #863872

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 14 by Neodarwinian

Now this should be what is watched as " reality " TV. If the reality of evolution and the theory that explains it were televised I might just go out and but a TV.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:11:59 UTC | #863873

KenChimp's Avatar Comment 15 by KenChimp

Comment 13 by Paula Kirby :

Taking things on trust and believing that there are some things we will not be able to understand in this life are central to faith - so we should never be surprised when, like the White Queen in Alice through the Looking Glass, the religious believe six impossible things before breakfast. It doesn't necessarily mean they are not sincere or genuine; and certainly not that they're stupid. It's just what the intellectual prison of religion does to its inmates.

Interesting metaphor for religion. Intellectual prison.

This naughty monkey like!

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:15:58 UTC | #863875

Quine's Avatar Comment 16 by Quine

I was glad to see Paula make use of the simple line of logic that goes from no Adam&Eve to no Fall to no need for a redeemer. It has come up many times on the threads, here, but needs more exposure in the wider media. The theological details thereof are presented very well in this recent video by the YouTube poster ProfMTH.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:16:50 UTC | #863876

jel's Avatar Comment 17 by jel

Comment 9 by glenister_m Is it just me, or are the comments not loading on the washington post website? For both this and Richard's article

Must be you,My comment on this posted okay :-)))

I love the way Paula points out,

"No Adam and Eve: no fall. No fall: no need for redemption. No need for redemption: no need for a redeemer. No need for a redeemer: no need for the crucifixion or the resurrection, and no need to believe in that redeemer in order to gain eternal life."

That just says it all.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:19:30 UTC | #863877

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 18 by Steve Zara

Comment 13 by Paula Kirby

It's just what the intellectual prison of religion does to its inmates.

I think for some, it's an emotional prison more than an intellectual prison. You simply have to believe those six impossible things because if you don't, death will be final. It was really that straightforward for me when I was a Christian. I played all kinds of silly intellectual games so as to not let go of that possibility of survival of death. So much of theism is thanatophobia - fear of death.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:19:40 UTC | #863878

Starcrash's Avatar Comment 19 by Starcrash

Great article!

Let's allow Creationism in science classes... when it becomes scientific by being testable, falsifiable, has scope, mechanism, etc.... and when it actually passes tests, naturally.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:36:28 UTC | #863880

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 20 by Paula Kirby

Comment 18 by Steve Zara

Yes, I think you are right, but we're thinking of the prison differently. I meant that religion imprisons the intellect - stifles it, confines it. You mean that religion creates a prison out of believers' emotions - and I think that works too. In my analogy it is the intellect that is imprisoned; in yours, it is the emotions that do the imprisoning. Two sides of the same coin, pretty much.

I think you are right, too, that for many Christians the driving emotion is fear of death. But don't rule out the fear of life too. Life can feel pretty overwhelming at times, and the idea of a benign, all-powerful being who will look after us and 'work all things for good' if only we'll let him can be very appealing.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:37:05 UTC | #863881

GBile's Avatar Comment 21 by GBile

unimaginable suffering on the part of countless billions of individuals

I find this statement a little 'overdone'. Do bacteria suffer ? Is this suffering related to 'being eaten' by an other species? I think that evolution would take place even if every animal was a vegetarian. Every living creature dies in the end, but whether this is perceived as suffering might hold only true for 'higher' animals.

Nevertheless, a excellent article by Paula. Any comments, mr Perry, mrs Palin ....

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:39:52 UTC | #863883

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 22 by Steve Zara

Comment 20 by Paula Kirby

In my analogy it is the intellect that is imprisoned; in yours, it is the emotions that do the imprisoning. Two sides of the same coin, pretty much.

Yes. What I find fascinating is the way that believers can think that they are thinking rationally when their arguments are really driven by emotion. All too often, they don't see the bars of the cage imprisoning their intellects.

I think you are right, too, that for many Christians the driving emotion is fear of death. But don't rule out the fear of life too. Life can feel pretty overwhelming at times, and the idea of a benign, all-powerful being who will look after us and 'work all things for good' if only we'll let him can be very appealing.

A story comes to mind of a rat that has been kept in a cage for most of its life. When offered freedom, it ran back to the cage, because the cage, though a prison, was familiar and safe. I don't know if this story is true, but it makes sense.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:45:22 UTC | #863884

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 23 by Red Dog

Comment 13 by Paula Kirby :

Red Dog: I'm assuming you mean she to be Paula Kirby the author. I wasn't aware she was Christian. Even if she is ... No, definitely not Christian!

Used to be, though, and back in those days, as I tried to explain in my article, I accepted evolution but knew next to nothing about it. I hadn't looked into it at all, hadn't been taught about it at school, had no idea how it worked. I simply assumed (taking things on faith being something you become quite good at as a Christian) that the scientists would have good reason for saying that it was true, and then just ignored it.

'God is mysterious and all-powerful' is an incredibly flexible and convenient belief. What it means is that anything is possible but the believer cannot expect to understand how - which in turn means that what seems like an insurmountable obstacle to faith to those of us outside the bubble can be easily hand-waved away by those on the inside of it. 'Well, I can't explain it, but that doesn't mean that God couldn't do it.'

Religious belief creates an entirely different way of looking at the world. Leaving that behind when I realised that Christianity was literally incredible was an enormous relief: I can remember to this day the almost physical sense of release, the sense of finally coming up for air, the sheer sense of liberation when I began to investigate proper explanations and grapple with facts and evidence and data rather than the woolliness of faith!

Taking things on trust and believing that there are some things we will not be able to understand in this life are central to faith - so we should never be surprised when, like the White Queen in Alice through the Looking Glass, the religious believe six impossible things before breakfast. It doesn't necessarily mean they are not sincere or genuine; and certainly not that they're stupid. It's just what the intellectual prison of religion does to its inmates.

Thanks for the explanation. I know what you mean about the feeling when leaving faith behind. I did it at a fairly young age. I was around 12. Up until that time I took Catholocism VERY seriously. I was constantly worried about what would happen if I swore or committed other sins before getting to confession, not to mention what would happen to my dad who was a good guy but seemed to prefer the church of Golf to the one we went to, even though he professed to being a Catholic as well. When Dawkins talks about religious training as child abuse its not hyperbole to me. I was quite literally in a state of fear much of the time.

For me it really was an epiphany. Suddenly I realized that God and Jesus were no different than Santa. It was one more lie adults were telling me to make me do what they wanted. I think I did feel an almost physical sense of relief as all sorts of things that hadn't made sense before now did. Of course my ideas have refined a bit since then but I don't think that's such a bad way of summing it up even now.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:58:44 UTC | #863888

Atheist Mike's Avatar Comment 24 by Atheist Mike

Evolution threatens Christianity

Does it? Hm let's see:

Christianity: God created men with clay and women with ribs.

Evolution: A self-replicating molecule arose out of primordial elements and gave rise to complex organisms culminating with the human intellect.

Blimey! It does! Well that's good news I guess.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 22:03:12 UTC | #863890

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 25 by alaskansee

@ Red Dog

If you imagine any field of entertainment is "full of witty intellectual discussions that rival the Alqonquin round table" then you will be disappointed. It is not, nor does it have any requirement to be so. The idea that that is why people watch TV, much less reality TV is foolish - your's not Paula's.

" That doesn't contradict her point that the vast majority are mind-numbingly tedious."

I'm sure her point was that facts are facts whether you like them or not. Her (sorry) Paula's taste in Reality TV or not did nothing to strengthen the argument. It was not her point, it was only her opinion

My point which you missed as badly as you missed Paula's was that it was a pointless attack on Reality TV when the article should have been a serious response to a real and important problem manufactured by powerful vested interest groups not bad TV.

As I said, nil point for off topic rant, beaucoup point for actual article.

Edit - Sorry forgot to mention your last paragraph when you agreed with me, strange.

Although not as bad as the admission, "I've never seen a reality TV show and never will unless I'm in a persistent vegitative state and the nurse turns the TV to one." Please this is a "clear thinking Oasis" not a place to hide your head in the sand and ignore things you think you might not like but won't try because you already know you won't like them, maybe. Epic fail. Read, THINK, comment. If you don't know what you're commenting about, don't.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 22:09:22 UTC | #863891

Scruddy Bleensaver's Avatar Comment 26 by Scruddy Bleensaver

Comment 24 by Atheist Mike :

Evolution: A self-replicating molecule arose out of primordial elements and gave rise to complex organisms culminating with the human intellect.

That's nothing to do with the theory of evolution, which only explains the diversity of life rather than its origins. And evolution doesn't "culminate" in anything whatsoever.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 22:10:49 UTC | #863892

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 27 by Schrodinger's Cat

While I welcome anyone who recognizes that the evidence for evolution is such that it cannot sensibly be denied, to attempt to co-opt evolution as part of a divine plan simply does not work, and suggests a highly superficial understanding of the subject.

The problem with all this is that it is erring in the opposite direction. If the 'divine plan' is unrealistic......so too is the 'its all just random changes' hypothesis.

Changes at the molecular level may be random, but the thing that actually shapes those changes into species, natural selection, is a 'top down' process. Species are literally honed into existence by their environments.

Not that top down is evidence of any greater 'plan'.....but I see the argument that 'evolution is just random' so often and it really isn't true. I personally suspect that organisms on a planet similar to Earth would evolve the same characteristics.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 22:14:31 UTC | #863893

John_Geeshu's Avatar Comment 28 by John_Geeshu

The comments section on the WaPo is buggy. Depending on your browser and how you hold your mouth when you are viewing an article, the comments may or may not display correctly or at all.

Comment 9 by glenister_m :

Is it just me, or are the comments not loading on the washington post website? For both this and Richard's article.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 22:15:18 UTC | #863895

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 29 by Premiseless

Comment 22 by Steve Zara :

Comment 20 by Paula Kirby

In my analogy it is the intellect that is imprisoned; in yours, it is the emotions that do the imprisoning. Two sides of the same coin, pretty much.

Yes. What I find fascinating is the way that believers can think that they are thinking rationally when their arguments are really driven by emotion. All too often, they don't see the bars of the cage imprisoning their intellects.

I think you are right, too, that for many Christians the driving emotion is fear of death. But don't rule out the fear of life too. Life can feel pretty overwhelming at times, and the idea of a benign, all-powerful being who will look after us and 'work all things for good' if only we'll let him can be very appealing.

A story comes to mind of a rat that has been kept in a cage for most of its life. When offered freedom, it ran back to the cage, because the cage, though a prison, was familiar and safe. I don't know if this story is true, but it makes sense.

I suppose the rules in a cage work in a cage, however cruel. On the outside one is in unfamiliar territory emotionally, intellectually and in terms of general networking 'taken for granteds' as well as 'nostaligias'. One quickly feels out of touch and has no idea how to get in touch, never mind catch up on the missed development. It's an echo inside that feels like missed imprinting with reality has bypassed oneself. An emptiness lies where a natural kindredship ought to be. Morris (human zoo) puts it well when he mentions the humanising of animals is a cruelty if ever they are to be put with their own kind. Their instincts have been misplaced too long to reform adequately for complete integration. Everything is a trade off, even if the cage is best left well alone - though religions practise another of Morris' observations as to how many creatures (including us) respond to magnified comforts (especially in times of distress), over and above what they would normally experience - hence religions 'love bombing' vulnerable individuals to gather emotional bondage.

This is an interesting point because even when the mind is freeing up the dogma it ingested, the emotions are waaay behind in establishing, or having any clue as to integrate, network dependencies (as many humans have de facto) that reflect this new wave of thought. It is no easy changeover, in spite of the relief out of delusion.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 22:16:45 UTC | #863896

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 30 by Ignorant Amos

That article has came as a breath of fresh air at a time that quite a number of the current threads here at the moment have begun to whiff of stagnation, are addressed. I was starting to get dizzy with the ever decreasing circles. Brilliant piece, as usual, and thanks.

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 22:17:14 UTC | #863897