Happy All Saints Day!
I offer two short items I came across on the Internet yesterday. One is a positive item and the other is an example of the issue facing this country in regard to teaching Intelligent Design in schools:
It is obvious, in this era of “Pastor” Dubya Bush, why the commentary was printed in the op/ed section.
The writer, Chris Ayers, notes that Kramnick and Moore describe why and how our form of government is secular and how that secularism is a point of pride and criticism.
Government defined in secular terms
All of which makes the achievement of a secular government by the framers of the Constitution so remarkable. When they wrote our Constitution, they made no mention of God, Jesus or Christianity. The Constitution’s sole reference to religion was one that restricted religion. Article 6 declares “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” A person’s religious convictions, or his lack of religious convictions, were irrelevant in judging the value of his political opinion or in assessing his qualifications to hold political office.So successful were the drafters of the Constitution in defining government in secular terms that one of the most powerful criticisms of the Constitution in the ratification process was that it was indifferent to God. During the ratification conventions in the states, outraged Protestants advocating a Christian commonwealth proposed specific changes in the Constitution — all of which, fortunately, were rejected.
The movement to make the United States a Christian nation has never died and has had some success. In 1863 God entered in, of all places, the U.S. currency. “In God We Trust” was printed on our money. The move to a Christian commonwealth had another success in 1912 with mail service no longer providing seven-day service. And in 1954 God made it into the Pledge of Allegiance. The author of the pledge, Francis Bellamy, a socialist, had left God out.
Ayers also wishes people would study Thomas Jeffeson, who he calls, correctly, a free-thinker:
When Jefferson ran for president he was accused of being an infidel by religious conservatives, but he was a free-thinking Christian. Jefferson wrote: “Almighty God hath created the mind free.” Unfortunately, preachers, according to Jefferson, had missed this important development. Jefferson believed all denominations should be like the Quakers, who don’t have clergy. Jefferson said clergy — he called them the irritable tribe of priests — had perverted Christianity into “an engine for enslaving mankind, a mere contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves.”
So who is this writer, Chris Ayers? He is also known as Rev. Dr. Chris Ayers, who is pastor of Wedgewood Baptist Church in Charlotte North Carolina.
Thanks Rev. Ayers for getting it.
Next we have someone who doesn’t get it yet.
A letter to the editor of The Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi, on 10/31, takes “Secularists” to task for mixing microevolution and macroevolution:
Random mutatic genetic changes, that result in an increased probability of survival, become the predominant genetic material passed on to the next generation. This theory has been proven. It is called “micro-evolution.”
A rat becomes a rat more capable of surviving, a virus becomes a more drug-resistant virus. What the secularist, godless proponents claim for the “natural selection” theory is that it accounts for “macroevolution,” that is, when one species evolves through random mutation into an entirely new species over several million years.
These are two distinct areas of study and claims of proof for one do not prove the other.
This is actually a common “argument” of the creationism/intelligent design crowd. They acknowledge microevolution – genetic mutations that cause change, but dig in against macroevolution – which is also known as Common Descent.
There was a story in the press not long ago that said that scientists had found that monkey DNA was 98% similar to human DNA. What that would mean is that humans and apes had a common ancestor and creationists as well as a lot of believers hate that. It’s understandable. I don’t know a lot of people who would like being compared to an “animal” seeing as we aren’t “animals” ourselves. *wink*
Here are some articles that talk about the similarities:
Macroevolution studies common ancestors in biology. In an article linked from the Talk Origins website titled 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution, Douglas Theobald, Ph.D. notes:
Common descent is a general descriptive theory that concerns the genetic origins of living organisms (though not the ultimate origin of life). The theory specifically postulates that all of the earth’s known biota are genealogically related, much in the same way that siblings or cousins are related to one another. Thus, macroevolutionary history and processes necessarily entail the transformation of one species into another and, consequently, the origin of higher taxa. Because it is so well supported scientifically, common descent is often called the “fact of evolution” by biologists. For these reasons, proponents of special creation are especially hostile to the macroevolutionary foundation of the biological sciences.
The “fact of evolution” is defined as:
Biologists consider the existence of biological evolution to be a fact. It can be demonstrated today and the historical evidence for its occurrence in the past is overwhelming. However, biologists readily admit that they are less certain of the exact mechanism of evolution; there are several theories of the mechanism of evolution.
So that is why the letter writer doesn’t get it and “arguments” of micro vs macroevoluion is a red herring of the creationism/intelligent design group.