Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 137

On Politics
Finally, Mitt Romney is going to be the nominee. Finally, Mitt Romney will move toward the center and seemingly forget past comments. Let the Etch-a-Sketch begin.

Did anyone notice that Mr. Romney hasn’t been using “conservative” in recent speeches?

Mr. Romney is correct at making the economy the central theme of his campaign.

“They (the American people) have lost faith in sporting institutions in this country because of many different scandals. They’ve lost faith in the government. They’ve lost faith in both political parties… They’ve lost faith in corporate institutions. They’ve lost faith in the media.” Well said Mathew Dowd, political analyst.

On Headlines from The Onion
Nation’s Employment Outlook Drastically Improves after Fifth Beer
Vatican Tightening Nocturnal Emissions Standards
Red Meat Takes Years off Cow’s Life
Anthropologist Reports Human Feet Originally Used for Walking
First-Time Flasher is going to Make Sure He’s Erect Next Time
New TV Show: Ice Road Hookers
Nation’s Toddler Reports new iPad Taste about the Same

Interesting Reads
Big Companies Getting to Keep Employee’s Tax Withholdings
Tale of Two Recoveries
Teaching Science in Tennessee
Cells Phone Seeing through Walls
Grappling with the Garbage Glut
Brain Gigbytes
The Buffet Rule is Worth Debating

On Potpourri
I have often said that with their view of creation, religious conservatives give God too little credit. Here’s an interesting perspective.

Google’s recent zipper interface was awesome! Here’s an explanation of how a zipper works.

On the Thursday morning news I heard “social Darwinism” – interestingly, I posted about it earlier this week.

Blog spam amuses me. I just had one telling how pre-natal message therapy is linked to my post about Popeye the Sailor!

I have a classic cartoon post planned for tomorrow.

Because the week started with Cincinnati’s dancing morning traffic reporter, we might as well as end the week in similar fashion. Here’s a recent Dance Party Friday dedicated to an upcoming Barry Manilow performance.

Have a good weekend everyone. In the words of Garrison Keillor; Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Evolutionism

One should not confuse evolution and evolutionism because they are different. Whereas evolution is about nature (previously explained), evolutionism attempts to use evolution to express progress and value of society. Some even link biological and cultural progress back to God because humans are worth more to God as a result of this progress.

We can trace the concept of evolutionism back to Aristotle’s hierarchical Great Chain of Being. Numerous societal shifts during the 1800s as agricultural to industrial and rural to urban marked the growth in evolutionism. With these shifts in mind and the thought that the church was not addressing society’s latest needs, evolutionism became an ideology challenging the religious trends at the time of literalism, fire, and brimstone.

Hebert Spencer (1820-1903), a Darwin contemporary, used psychology, sociology, philosophy, and biology to embrace human struggles and evolutionism to justify social policies. Spencer coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” (yes, Hebert Spencer, not Charles Darwin) because he saw evolution as a mechanism to explain social development. Because he influenced so many sociologists, some say that Hebert Spencer’s work has been more influential than Charles Darwin.

Thomas Huxley (1825-1895), another Darwin contemporary and Darwin confidant and supporter, also used Darwin’s theory to promote a social agenda in his challenge to the Church of England – deeming it as an obstructionist to human and culture progress.

It is the work of Spencer, Huxley, Francis Galton, Ernest Haeckel, and others morphed into “social Darwinism”, which some use to embrace selective breeding for humans. Interestingly, Galton (1822-1911), Charles Darwin’s cousin known as the founding father of eugenics – a socio-biological movement advocating methods for improving the human population through genetics.

Haeckel (1834-1919), a German biologist and philosopher, embraced Spencer and evolution, but not Darwin’s natural selection. Adolph Hitler mistakenly used Hackael’s “politics is applied biology” as one reason for justifying Arian dominance. It is this on this point that anti-evolutionists today inaccurately point to Charles Darwin’s evolution leading to a life of homosexuality, promiscuity, abortion, dysfunctional families, and other societal issues.

Today, evolutionism referred to as Social Darwinism, lies in the social sciences than in the natural sciences. One should not confuse this field with sociobiology, which studies social behaviors by animals. (Many recognize E.O Wilson for his work in this area.)

Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is not about culture and values or a vehicle for exposing desired values – nor does it attempt to answer questions as why are we here, what is the role of humans, what is the role of God, or what would Jesus do. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is not tied to Nazism, Fascism, communism, and socialism. Darwinism is about genetics, adaptation, diversity, and the natural world.

Science is supposed to yield objective knowledge that is free from cultural values. Social Darwinism/evolutionism was not good science in the time of Hebert Spencer nor is it good science today because good science involves observation, measurement, experimentation, predictions, and conclusions that are free from societal norms and philosophy.

On the Evolution-Creation Struggle: A Book

Many years ago, a student entered my science class with a frustrated look and asked, “What is the purpose of history?” Fortunately, my answer is one that I remember and one that I frequently remind myself: To know where you are going, you must know where you are. To know where you are, you must know where you have been – that’s history.

For the past, several years I have done may share of reading about the interchange between science and theology, especially around the topic of evolution. Not all that long ago, I noticed a certain book on the library shelf, but I admit, knowing the reputation of the writer I didn’t proceed. Good news is that I gave in and I’m glad I did.

The creation-evolution debate continues today – many times in a religious context. However, this debate has a story – it has a history that should help us understand today. As it turned out, The Evolution-Creation Struggle (Michael Ruse, 2005) examines this historical perspective.

Although the core of the debate lies in the 1700s, Dr. Ruse starts the story with a view of Aristotle’s (the Great Chain of Being) that served as the baseline for many philosophical perspectives. Awareness of the thoughts before, during, and after Charles Darwin’s writings is paramount to understanding the situation.

While I differ with Dr. Ruse’s views about God, he primarily focused on the history – thus held-back his perspective until the final chapters. Surely, one can argue that Ruse injects his perspective throughout the book through his view of history, but I challenge critics to show me any unbiased analysis. Bottom line – The Evolution-Creation Struggle is worth reading because it helped me better understand the misunderstanding and misconceptions held by many.