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« "The danger of tribal ostracism" | Main | "A creative transfer to biology of Adam Smith's basic argument for a rational economy" »

January 16, 2009


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Benedict XVI (and Tiny) would doubtless approve of the fact that the Laboratory of Genetic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute has an official Cat Genome Project (its sub-project, the Genome Annotation Research Fields Felis catus is known as GARFIELD). The LGD decided to research the cat genome because its evolution sheds new light on the evolution of the human genome. The researchers think that the domestic cat is the most useful animal model at present for gaining a better understanding of human hereditary diseases and human infectious diseases as well as the evolution of genome organization in general. Wonderful photo of a cat pondering a diagram of the feline genome.

Did Darwin like cats too, I wonder?

Ben Stein not only produces loony movies. He also gave the maximum allowable political contribution to Al Franken's senate campaign, talking about intractable looniness. The man's reputation as a intellectual is highly suspect, wouldn't you say?

Connecticut Yankee: I'm not sure about Darwin himself, but a quick googling turned up this fabulous quotation from his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin:

"To respect the cat is the beginning of the aesthetic sense."

"Natural tendency to believe." These words open an understanding of the nature of mankind, which is to be rewarded for what we do that is good and forgiven for the wrong. The Judeo-Christian philosophies which contain the most successful moral codes for living in a civilized society are the accumulated wisdom of mankind's recorded history. They were developed and written in a style that was able to reach people living in a far less understood physical world than that in which we live today. Unfortunately many today think their understanding of the physical development of mankind precludes the necessity of understanding the needs of the spiritual nature of mankind. Benedict XVI points in the right direction.

Like many say of Christianity, "it's not Jesus I have a problem with, it's his followers," I find myself in a lonely camp in this debate.

Raised Catholic, I've never had a problem with the sciences or Darwin. What I do have a problem with is the "darwinist" or scientistic views that seek to shut out any consideration of an Intelligence beyond what can be merely observed.

Indeed, as our physical eye grows keener through atomic microscopes, we are amazed at the still-unfathomable knowledge that is holding it all together, even as we observe it. Had we not suspected something beyond what we could see, we would have not delved deeper.

The outright rejection of what is Unseen causes scientific inquiry to stop. I choose to encourage the scientist to keep moving forward, to see even more, not less! But to ascribe some sort of purity or superiority to the Darwinist who sneers at any thought of the divine is to hobble free thought, lest it discover something uncomfortably unknowable.

Joan --

A beautiful exposition of a point of view I totally admire.

I carry no water for those atheists who insist on imposing their lack of faith on others.

Joan, you don't seem to understand.

We don't 'shut out consideration of an intelligence beyond what we can observe.' It's been considered, it still gets considered. The thing is, we *don't find any evidence for it*.
We don't entertain ideas for the simple fact that they make some people feel good. We prefer to spend our time on ideas that produce knowledge.
'Free thought' does not mean 'pursue every idea that is possible with equal commitment, no matter how unlikely or unevidenced.' That's a sure-fire way to waste your time.

Don't you see how your call to use knowledge to seek the 'unknowable' is crippled from the outset?

"I carry no water for those atheists who insist on imposing their lack of faith on others."
And I have no idea why people think faith is a good thing. If we were talking about any topic other than religion, and you told me all the evidence points toward one conclusion, but I said I believed in the exact opposite conclusion for no other reason than 'I just know it, I have faith' you would think of me as an ignorant, close minded moron. And rightly so.
Why is religion different?

Why Jason, how did you come to have a thought about your thinking? You have only barely begun to think. You have certainly ingested information.

You assume that those with faith have such faith without a reason for it, just "a hunch." I always find that to be a fallacious start to the discussion, as you have never assumed a position other than your own, or have given no more than a cursory nod to what others have parroted about actual Logic. Logic and Reason are fearless.

I ask no one to take anything on "faith". Indeed, there can be no real faith without Reason and Evidence.

You say there is no evidence, but there never will be if you do not suspect enough to look for it. Apples fell even when the invisible force of gravity was unknown. Thankfully, Newton was unafraid of what he didn't know, and was fully prepared to use logic to get to the invisible gravity of the universe.

In law school, one must learn to reason and deduce from both sides of an argument. This has been lost in the casual public discourse about matters of metaphysics and global warming. A yawning gap of ignorance exists where one side simply refuses to engage the hypotheses of the other.

Centuries of disciplined thought, logic, and sound reason can easily lead someone to an entirely reasonable conclusion of an Intelligence that working to make itself known. Christians have more readily faced the assumptions of a non-existent Creator more than any Darwinistic or scientistic (please note the separation from true Science in the "scientistic" manner of thought) frame of mind has ever deigned to consider such an existence.

Loon or not, Stein's main point stands as an affront to those who are afraid to argue against their own prejudices. That fear is no complement to Darwin or to Science.

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