Bishop of Chester3g
Church of England

Bishop of Chester: papal encyclical 'Laudato Si' is "shrill.. naive.. unclear.. unconvincing.. exaggerated scaremongering"

 

Thank God for The Rt Rev’d Dr Peter Forster, Bishop of Chester, and lay Roman Catholic Bernard Donoughue, who, together, have issued the most comprehensive ecumenical rebuttal to Laudato Si, the second encyclical penned by Pope Francis.

The Papal Encyclical – A critical Christian response is published by The Global Warming Policy Foundation, though the authors make clear that: “Our thoughts are offered in a personal capacity, and do not represent GWPF as a whole.” So here we have the cogent thoughts of a senior Anglican bishop on the environment, global warming, market capitalism and global poverty (though it isn’t made clear why the monograph is entitle ‘The Papal Encyclical‘, since there have been more than a hundred of them [in the modern form], and the definite article may be properly apportioned only until Pope Francis issues his next encyclical, after which Laudato Si will simply become another epistle of indefinite object [unless, of course, it becomes so notorious as to go down in history as The papal enclyclical, but that seems most unlikely).

The Forster-Donoughue thesis is measured, intelligent and polite as it interrogates the pontifications and probes the pious platitudes of the encyclical’s unscientific generalisations, ahistorical assertions and economic banality. It is curious that much of the mainstream media goes with the ‘C of E backs Pope in lunacy‘ line (with the typical shallow swipe at the Archbishop of Canterbury), when the climate-change ecstasy of bishops like Nicholas Holtam of Salisbury is more than compensated for by the reasoned and corrective rationale of bishops like Peter Forster of Chester. Consider:

On Poverty

..To imagine that human civilisation could develop with no adverse or competitive impact upon the wider natural world would be a misleading idealism.

To us the encyclical is coloured too much by a hankering for a past world, prior to the Industrial Revolution, which is assumed to have been generally simpler, cleaner, and happier. There is little historical evidence for such a vision, and for most people then life was brief, painful, poor, and even brutal.

..When St Paul wrote ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice’ (Philippians 4 v. 4 ) he was imprisoned and awaiting martyrdom. But that is entirely compatible with an aspiration to improve one’s immediate human lot, whether that be through improving the quality of public infrastructure, or our homes, or seeking to travel in order precisely to enjoy the opportunities that our planet provides. For any chance of fulfilment, all these hopes need economic development, and inasmuch as the developed western world has achieved a much better quality of life and greater life expectancy than earlier generations or other societies, it is largely due to wealth creation and economic success.

When did you last hear a bishop of the Church of England laud the virtues of wealth creation and economic success (doubtless for fear of invoking leitmotifs of Thatcherism)?

On fossil fuels

The discovery of new ways to release the energy stored in fossil fuels was integral to the Industrial Revolution upon which modern western society is based. Let us not forget that fossil fuels are nature’s primary, and very efficient, means of storing the energy of the sun. Burning them has everywhere diverted human beings from burning wood, killing whales and seals, and damming streams: there were therefore genuine environmental benefits to be gained from the switch to fossil fuels. Nature is in most trouble in societies that have not yet made the switch. Steam power in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries evolved into the internal combustion engine, a national electricity grid and the central heating of homes.

..Many deaths of older people are caused, or hastened, in winter by ‘fuel poverty’, which is undoubtedly being made worse in the UK by current environmental policies. This is another reason why the availability of cheap energy is of such wide social importance, and why we question the virtue in supporting forms of renewable energy that are inefficient and require huge subsidies, which are levied upon everyone’s electricity bills, including the poorest in our society.

When did you last hear a bishop of the Church of England talk of the virtues of fossil fuels or warn of the dangers of green obsession with ‘renewables’?

On markets

There is a great deal in the encyclical about the evils of ‘the market’, which ‘tends to promote extreme consumerism’.. but it is unclear precisely what alternative the Pope is advocating – presumably not a return to discredited communism, which caused such human misery in the twentieth century.

Markets are, and always have been, the mechanism by which the fruits of human activity and enterprise are established and shared. They need oversight and regulation by wider organs of society, and particularly governments, to avoid the dangers of monopoly, or undue exploitation of human beings and nature alike. Tax policy, planning laws and regulatory bodies are commonly deployed to offer a smoothing effect upon the crude operation of the market. As societies become more complex and inter-related, such regulatory mechanisms tend to grow, amid periodic calls for a countervailing deregulation.

..Markets are the lifeblood of wealth creation, and wealth creation is the necessary, if not sufficient, prerequisite to the lasting alleviation of poverty.

When did you last hear a bishop of the Church of England laud the virtues of the free market (without segueing into deceptive hyperbole like ‘unbridled’ and ‘dog-eat-dog’)?

On science and consensus

..we note that in the encyclical the existence of economic and scientific voices who challenge the current majority position is not acknowledged. In the past such majority views have often proved to be wrong. We believe that the ever more shrill warnings issued by those representing the current majoritarian position reflect the growing criticism of the assumptions and policy assertions of that position.

..There is little doubt that, over the past century or so, there has been a rise in the average global temperature of around 0.8◦C. Whether this has been, or is, ‘disturbing’, is less certain. Agricultural yields for most produce are at an all-time high, as evidenced by recent negative food inflation in the UK, despite the foolish diversion of food crops to make expensive biofuels. Further rises in world temperatures would be likely to have a significant impact upon agriculture, but by no means all of this would necessarily be a matter for concern.

..we would question the description of carbon dioxide as a ‘pollutant’. It is vital to all plant growth, and indeed commercial growers often pump it into greenhouses in order to accelerate growth. The human body is not adversely affected by higher carbon dioxide levels, as is evidenced by submarines, which typically operate with levels about 400% higher than in the atmosphere.

..The fact that those advocating the majoritarian view now refer emotively to a part of our natural atmosphere that is vital to life as a pollutant, and to those who question the majority consensus as ‘deniers’, with unpleasant echoes of Holocaust denial, simply serves to illustrate the underlying fragility of their arguments.

You frequently hear of the odd Church of England bishop who is content to challenge the majoritarian view of the House of Bishops, but it is usually from the liberal wing denouncing the settled view of episcopal orthodoxy, seeking to redefine heresy. But here the Bishop of Chester impugns those who appropriate terms like ‘denier’ (and, by logical extension, ‘-phobe’) to attack their opponents. He is right to point out that those who resort to such are usually devoid of argument.

On adaptation

..to deny (Africa) a wider access to cheap fossil fuels and electricity generated by them will only serve to embed that poverty.

..The billions – tens and even hundreds of billions – of pounds that are in the process of being spent on the very uncertain programme to curtail carbon dioxide emissions, would surely be better spent on assisting communities engage in such processes of adaptation.

When did you last hear a bishop of the Church of England expound the manifestly compassionate ethic that the £billions currently being spent to mitigate climate change would be better spent investing in strategies for human adaptation and the direct alleviation of poverty?

On the precautionary principle

Indirectly acknowledging these scientific uncertainties, the Pope quotes the Rio Declaration of 1992, that:

…where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a pretext for postponing cost-effective measures.

This is the so-called ‘precautionary principle’, which can easily be invoked to disguise a weak evidential base. The last thing our world needs now is an exaggerated scaremongering. Rather it needs a cool, rational analysis of the evidence, and the risks attached to different courses of action.

..the policies that the encyclical advocates, both directly and by implication, do not constitute a precautionary insurance policy. They represent a huge gamble upon assumptions and predictions concerning possible climate change and its consequences, which are not yet sufficiently confirmed by evidence and observable facts. The encyclical’s attempt to link the ‘green’ campaign to curb climate change with his commendable aim to curb poverty seems to us to be both unconvincing and potentially counterproductive.

..the encyclical makes only a passing and rather negative reference to nuclear energy. All serious estimates of how a substantially decarbonised world economy can be achieved require a substantial contribution from nuclear energy.

One awaits from The Times, Telegraph or BBC a headline something along the lines of ‘CofE challenges papal market/climate/poverty lunacy with a reasoned environmental ethic and rational applied theology’. But that would be far too considered, and, in a soundbite world of media misinformation and crass argumentation, far too thoughtful and long-winded.

  • Martin

    One wonders when we will find a bishop of the CoE who takes God at His word. Who accepts that the one who made the world knows how He did it and who understand the human soul better than the one who has it.

    Not, of course, that the bishop of Rome has a clue, either about Christianity or about how the world should be governed.

  • Dominic Stockford

    He makes some good criticisms of Laudato si – well done for those. But how exactly does sin come into the world with evolution? And who is the man who brought sin into the world that the bible teaches of, as opposed to the man who saves us from it? Half a story is as bad as no story at all.

    • The Explorer

      My primary problem with evolution is its cruelty. Chrsitianity tells us to defend the weak. Evolution tells us to destroy the weak. How so, if it is a divinely-ordained mechanism? . The Book of God’s Word and the Book of God’s Works seem to be in conflict with one another as to how we should conduct ourselves.

      • Dominic Stockford

        That is yet another serious problem with evolutionism, yes.

        • The Explorer

          The ‘Genesis’ explanantion that something has gone wrong with the natural world (for the cruelty of Nature is still a problem even if you reject evolution) makes sense to me. Without it, there must either be pitiless indifference, or God is a devil.

          • dannybhoy

            Absolutely. If there is no Creator God then theoretically anything goes. The future belongs to the most ruthless, just as in nature the predator lives on the prey..
            There is no doubt that we see some pretty ghastly life forms, and as you say how these brain burrowing, host life sucking creatures could be created by a loving compassionate God is (to me) unanswerable.
            So I hang them on my ‘anomalies list’ and trust that one day I will have an answer.

          • avi barzel

            Just saw this. It is unanswerable because you are applying a particular set of ethical criteria and judgments to nature and Creation, rather than human conduct, which they expressly address. Obviously we can not multiply, as instructed, on finite playform, the Earth, and not die. Possibly, the array of seeming diseasess and physiological imperfections which cause disruption have a functional role in Creation.

          • dannybhoy

            There are some awful creepy crawlies around Avi, but you’re right I am applying my own understanding of what is ethically acceptable to the world of bugs.
            But then is that reaction because I am a human being (of sorts) or because as a human I bear the image of God in my soul?
            When I look at the beauty of a rose and smell its scent, why do I regard it as beautiful?
            I believe this is God given. When my sense of compassion is stirred. when my conscience is pricked, it is because I am made in the image of God.

          • avi barzel

            It’s ok, you’re just biased. Roses are edible…and cousins to plums, peaches, apples and host of other fruits… and we respond favourably to edibles… especially fats and sugars. But roses also adapted to us and others like us (from their “perspective”), “seeking” to attract us to their pollen and their seeds. It’s this mind-blowing complexity of seemingly endless variables behind the mechanism of Creation that I find incredibly exalting. It is “magical” beyond any fantasy or “magic” we can concoct.

          • dannybhoy

            No no no, I think our finer feelings are a tiny reflection of our Maker. We enjoy music and dancing and art because they are a very weak reflection of He who is beauty..
            I do agree about the incredible overwhelming diversity of life. and as I have become older it sometimes provokes me to worship God in praise and worship.
            It’s been said before that there can be no ultimate clash between science and (true) faith. We don’t have to have all the answers.
            Job 38>

            38 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
            3 Dress for action[a] like a man;
            I will question you, and you make it known to me.
            4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
            Tell me, if you have understanding.”

          • avi barzel

            I see no disagreement. They are a reflection of the Almighty because because we are created as a reflection of His faces/facets and Creation, nature and natural laws are His tools. Science can tell us how He has done this for us and how it works. Oddly enough, many of those, the majority for certain, who pioneer the study of Creation as scientists, begin from a rejection of the First Principle, the belief in God as the Creator and Master of all existence. I don’t buy their claim that science led them to that position and suspect that only that an a priori rejection or suspension of belief can create a clean slate for effective empirical studies studies… which lead to our understanding of the physics of God’s work! It’s because of this apparent paradox of self-sacrifice in the form of starving one self of the comforts, promises and benefits of faith that I have trouble condemning them.

          • dannybhoy

            We believe that true science began from a belief that an intelligent Creator made the universe, and therefore we can empirically examine the world and its workings.
            I do think that consciously or unconsciously, we try to put God in a box and by doing so we can control or define Him too.
            As the years pass I incline – or perhaps become more aware of the ‘mystical’ aspects of the Almighty. The beauty and diversity of plants and animals, the sheer complexity of things like ‘simple’ cells and tiny delicate painted flowers and birdsong. Even the newness and innocence of babies and toddlers and the maternal bond and that child came from such a tiny egg and seed.
            God is so much more awesome and in a sense unknowable, unless He reveals Himself to us.

          • Linus

            “I think, therefore it is…” eh?

            It amazes me how reality conforms to your every stray and half-developed pseudo-philosophical thought.

            You require a god to exist in order to give meaning to your spiritual ramblings and all that ecstatic nonsense about roses and how they transport you into some kind of beauty mindgasm, so a god must therefore exist.

            Talk about man creating god in his own image. There’s very little humility in a mind that can conjure unseen things into existence just to give sense to its fantasies.

            Where’s your evidence? And if you say “consider the rose…”, why should “consider the ichneumon wasp,,,” not tell us just as much about the nature of the so-called “divine”?

          • avi barzel

            What’s this, Linus? Not the ichneumon wasp again! How novel. Next, you’ll be dusting off Russel….and it’s the fearful anticipation that’s the torture. I’m just having coffee, one eye still shut, and here you are, doing a vicious slash and burn on my wobbly, theisting paradigms. Trouble in your paradise? Like, someone peed in your castle moat?

          • Linus

            There’s a family of muskrats that lives in my castle moat, as well as various ducks and other water fowl. One imagines they pee in it constantly. The thought doesn’t bother me. That’s nature, after all. I wonder why you’re so upset by the idea? You Canadians are so … hygienic.

            The problem of the ichneumon wasp is one that Christianity and Judaism both fail to provide an answer for. At least one that doesn’t make god into a cruel tyrant. It illustrates very well the incompatibility of a benevolent god with a cruel and arbitrary creation.

            Religionists try to explain it away by making it our fault, i.e. wasps only started laying eggs in caterpillars once Adam had tasted the fruit, but that just provides cover for god, because who created Adam, and who knew he would fall and therefore by his actions condemned billions of caterpillars to be consumed alive? God’s responsibility runs through the entire Judæo-Christian creation myth without ever being faced for what it is. Who put Adam and Eve in the garden with a tree that could kill them and then left them unsupervised, and even allowed others of his creation to tempt them? What kind of benevolent father exposes his innocent child to that kind of risk and then blames it all on the child?

            Not only is this god of yours not benevolent, he’s also a “parent démissionnaire”. If this is what omnipotence and omniscience do, then the saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely has a definite ring of truth to it.

          • avi barzel

            You are fixating on a straw man. I can’t speak for Christians, but in Jewish thought, the savagery in nature, pain, suffering and death are components of existence which are vital to Creation and more so, are outside of our control or mandate. Their function may be mysyerious, but is comprehensible with our senses, intelligence and sciences. We do not fully understand the workings of existence, but must strive to do so. I’ll say that the parasitic wasp is no more cruel than animal husbandry, diseases or death of organisms and all clearly play a role in the workings of the world.

            For us, the Eden story doesn’t signify a “fall of man” or degradation of nature, (not Judaic assumptions). Is the eating of fruit of knowledge a poetic allegory of an evolutionary step in human cultural and brain development? Who knows. But the story suggests that humankind disobeyed instruction and protocol which appeared to have a schedule, acted prematurely and got removed from its “compound” not as a punishment but, as scripturaly stated, so as not to access eternal life (yet?), which any biologist could point out, would destroy a reproducing organism in a finite ecology.

          • Linus

            So you think that starting with the conclusion that you want to be true and shoehorning the known facts into it whether they fit or not, and then inventing a god to fill in all the holes and smoothe a layer of magic and wonder over it all, is an intellectually sound way to proceed?

            According to your theory, if something is bad, all you need to do is readjust your perception of bad and suddenly it isn’t bad any more. Parasitic worms can be explained away as irrelevant because they’re out of our control, so who cares what happens to them?

            So how about if I take the tack that the Holocaust wasn’t bad because it didn’t affect me and I certainly didn’t have any control over it. And perhaps I should stop viewing the Nazis as evil because the pain, suffering and death they inflicted are vital to creation…

            What a “je-m’en-foutiste” argument. I shouldn’t care about the nature of god revealed by the fate of caterpillars that fall victim to ichneumon wasps. I shouldn’t care that this god of yours has ordered things so that creatures with central nervous systems capable of feeling pain are slowly devoured from within? I should only care if it affects me directly?

            If this is the basis of Jewish philosophy, it’s even more inhuman than Christianity…

          • avi barzel

            And according to you, you can start with a universe that miraculously came into being, or always existed, and in the end produced you and endowed you with the sense and power to determine criteria for good and evil? This is what leads your intellectual colleagues to accommodate those Nazis; your inevitable inability to distinguish between a parasitic wasp and a human being…because if both are now eaually evil, eventually, when you shed the last bits of Judeo-Christian ethics that still influence a few components of what defines or remains of your morality, none will.

            The Torah sets out instructions for morality applicable to us, governs interactions between humans, including conduct with animals. We cannot behave like the ichneumon or a rhesus monkey, sucking out life of another living being slowly or copulating with anyone at will, at the urgings of our lusts. The basis of your philosophy is known and predictable. Its products are savagery not even animals are capable of. It appears in history from time to time, first as an enticing, romantic and seemingly logical path and after it crushes individuals and crashes civilizations in orgies of selfinishness, greed, cruelty and hormonal abandon, it collapses just as quickly. A prime example of social evolution and its prophylactic defense mechanisms at work.

          • Linus

            You accuse atheists of being guilty of savagery (that) not even animals are capable of, while you brandish the Torah that instructs you to leave none alive in your enemy’s citadel. Your God tells you to slaughter their women, their children, and even their livestock. Not even Pol Pot went after the goats…

            The Jews may not have invented genocide, but you were certainly early and enthusiastic practitioners of the art.

            And how about hypocrisy? Criticizing tyrannical atheist régimes for carrying out the instructions written in your own holy book? Instructions you took so seriously, none of us have ever met, or will ever meet, an Amalekite.

            People who live in glass houses should think very, very carefully before throwing stones, don’t you think?

          • Linus

            There are many theories about what might have caused the Big Bang, but no solid evidence to back any of them up. So the origin of the universe remains unknown, and that’s the way it will stay until we uncover the evidence we need to tell us what really happened. Until then, we just have to accept that we don’t know.

            You don’t like that? Too bad! Deal with it like an adult instead of behaving like a child and inventing an imaginary and magical spirit to plug the gaps. Ancient Egyptians had no logical explanation to account for the heat and power of the sun, so they invented a sun god to explain that ignorance away. And here you are doing exactly the same several thousand years later. Clearly the advancing current of human intellectual evolution really does leave many a stagnant backwater in its wake…

            And sorry, no matter how tragic the history of your people may be, you don’t get a free pass to criticize totalitarian secular régimes for committing genocide when your own holy book formally recommends just such a method for dealing with your own enemies. Ever met an Amalekite? I thought not. And all because your God told you to annihilate them. All the men. All the women. All the children. Even all the livestock!

            I mean, come on! Even Pol Pot didn’t go after the goats…

          • avi barzel

            Let’s together accept the fact that we will not agree on each others’ core beliefs and accept that we have personal reasons for what we choose to believe and follow. That’s what grown-ups do. I can’t help noticing your growing hysteria on these topics, though. They are understandable; if you have any sense at all, you would have reasoned that the speed and radical nature of the cultural and legislative turns on “human rights” issues you celebrate with so much glee indicates a worrying instability and volatility, with real possibilities of sudden reverses and dangerous blowbacks. But you’re screeching in the wrong direction. After all, the only case of thorough, organised and systematic persecutions, mass murders, incarcerations and horrific treatment of Gays occured under 20th century secular ideologies and regimes.

            “Until then, we just have to accept that we don’t know.”

            Precisely. Same goes for descriptions of commandments, and their reasons, to totally eliminate specified tribes…there were several more than the Amalek, btw. But we’ve covered this before; this is not prescriptive, but descriptive, limited to certain tribes in an age when total annihilation of all enemies was the universal norm. That in all other conflicts the rules of warfare and treatment of captives, first ever recorded, were to be maintained. Those are not excuses, but facts which you conveniently and mendaciously leave out to score points. So, again, there is is no standing order or general policy that allows Jews to conduct total warfare and genocide, as was the case in practice with even your recent ancestors, religious or secular.

            I find it rather bizzare and deeply repulsive to be subjecyed to lectures on the morality of the Bible and Bronze Age Jewish tribes by a descendant of a people who, in living memory and as secular, nationalistic Frenchmen, joyfully, energetically and with quite a bit of efficiency which delighted their friends and masters, collaborated in the planned destruction of my people. Or that you write this in a country, which you seem to be so proud of, where Jews can no longer walk the streets or attend their synagogues in safety. From a country whose government is hostile to the survivors in their own nation state and funds, arms and defends their enemies who, incidentally, openly declare their intent to complete the destruction of Jewry. And I’m astounded at your ignorance and ethical obscurantism as you brag about supposedly living in a castle with a moat (which dates it at least to the late medieval), on violently expropriated land build with the blood of pauperised and enslaved agrarians, while pretending to shed tears over three thoudand year old events.

          • Linus

            That’s right, keep on playing the smallest Jewish violin in the world. The pathos of the melody might distract everyone from the emptiness of your arguments. Add a few notes of rabble-rousing Francophobia to the composition. Like all bargain basement demagogues, you know how to play to your crowd.

            It’s terrible that Jews are harassed and murdered in France. It’s terrible that gays are harassed and murdered in Africa. It’s terrible that ichneumon wasps lay their eggs in caterpillars. There’s a lot of “terrible” in this world, as you would expect in an existence governed by random chance. You can deal with that fact, or you can retreat into a fantasy of daddy gods who wave their magic wands and make it all better, because otherwise it just isn’t FAIR!

            Of course it wasn’t very fair on the Amalekites, was it? Total annihilation at the hands of your people, who were commanded to eliminate their enemies by the same book you still consider holy today. Terrible things, these holy books. We can perhaps be thankful that future generations of Germans won’t be printing Mein Kampf on a scroll and keeping it in a tabernacle while they wander about with selected bits of it strapped to their foreheads in black leather boxes. Your survival as a people was ensured by the destruction of that creed. The Amalekites weren’t so lucky.

            Neither were the Native Americans who were decimated by the colonization of your country. If my home was built with the blood of pauperized and enslaved agrarians, so was yours. At least my ancestors were lording it over their own kind, so the struggle for supremacy was a relatively even fight. They didn’t sail over an ocean in boats full of vastly superior technology and proceed to enslave and virtually exterminate an alien and vastly less developed culture.

            You see, people who live in glass houses really, really, really shouldn’t resort to throwing stones…

          • avi barzel

            …It’s terrible that Jews are harassed and murdered in France. It’s terrible that gays are harassed and murdered in Africa. It’s terrible that ichneumon wasps lay their eggs in caterpillars. There’s a lot of “terrible” in this world, as you would expect in an existence governed by random chance….

            Took you bloody long enough and a heaping cartload of bullshit to agree to my description of your philosophy, such as it is, didn’t it? A caterpillar is a Jew, an Amelek is a Gay African, a Torah is a Mein Kampf, a castle is a treaty territory; for that matter a child is a broiler chicken, is a commodity, is a man and a woman at the same time and all this in a random and cl
            early meaningless universe. Or whatever and anything. Only you, through the filtres of your culture, ideology and passions can interpret and imbue existence with reason. Except that by your own rules, you matter as much as the poor caterpilar.

          • Linus

            Your spelling and grammar suffer terribly when you’re angry. Take a deep breath before typing and think about using the spellchecker function on your browser. It would help us all understand the point you’re trying to make.

            Your position seems to be that without your imaginary god, everything is meaningless. But that’s clearly utter nonsense. Meaning is a subjective notion. I perceive meaning based on how I interact with the world and how it interacts with me. So my life has meaning because it is my life and I am currently experiencing it. It may also have meaning for others because of my interactions with them. Apart from that, it needs no other meaning. And I need no other reason to wish to preserve it as long as possible, within the rational framework determined by entropy and its effects on all matter, including me.

            I will die one day and then I will no longer exist. But that doesn’t mean my life doesn’t have meaning while I’m still alive. It may even have meaning after my death if the memory of it impacts someone else’s life.

            For example, over the past decade or so, I’ve restored large sections of my home and when I die and hand it on to the next successor, my life and what I did with it will have a continuing impact on his existence. So the meaning of my life won’t cease completely with my death, but will live on in various guises for very long time, if the building stays upright for a few more centuries, which there’s every reason to think it will.

            But of course that probably wouldn’t be enough for you, would it? The narcissism you’re afflicted with requires you to be eternal, because how can creation possibly get along without YOU?

            Quite nicely, I’m sure. Just as it will get along quite nicely without me. I wonder why that thought bothers you so much? Is it another example of the straight white man’s utter conviction that he’s the centre of the universe around which everything and everyone revolve?

          • avi barzel

            Angry? At diversions? My spelling and grammar suffer when I write on my phone in a rush; I’m a truck driver, with large, clumsy and calloused fingers and a choppy schedule with interruptions and noise everywhere. Must be annoying to read, though, so I’ll try to proof and fix before posting.

            No, I didn’t say that to an atheist or agnostic everything is meaningless, but that their undetstanding of existence is limited only to meanings they personally accept according to their own thoughts and personalities.

            Neither should you assume that I go about convinced of my indispensable eternal loitering or that I get comfort from imagining a life after death; I’m agnostic on the issue, eventhough required by Maimonides’ 13 Principles, to believe in a vague idea of eventual resurrection. Still working on acquiring that belief and reaping emotional comforts from ot, as I’m unenthusiastic about the idea of being gradually incapacitated by age and then slipping into non-existence for eternity. The latter would be a bummer, but I don’t lose sleep over it.

            The moniker in semiotic theory for the extreme self-centered view of reality you may be looking for is umwelt…or what the jolly LSD guru Tim Leary called, a “reality tunnel,” and Constructivism is its antidote…so don’t worry about me, it’s in my daily pill box together with the vitamin supplements.

          • Little Black Censored

            Avi Barzel, you are a good egg, but I am afraid you are wasting your time.

          • avi barzel

            Where have you been, you Politically Incorrect Entity, you? Two-timing on us on other blogs?

            Anyhow, I know. Linus has his script…as we all do to some degree…but his is uniquelly shallow,and unjusyfiably arrogant and confined to a teensy-weensy loop. One must never give up hope, though. Funny, though, that on this post I’m getting hammered by both theists and atheists, with neither side apparently noticing. Great rhetorical workout!

          • Little Black Censored

            “Religionists try to explain it away by making it our fault, i.e. wasps
            only started laying eggs in caterpillars once Adam had tasted the fruit…”

            Religious belief thus caricatured is naturally easy to make fun of. Do credit believers with some intelligence.

          • Linus

            Man eating the forbidden fruit caused fluffy vegan bunny rabbits to turn into ravening wolves and lions?

            So sin has measurable effects on flora and fauna, does it? It makes them cruel and violent and even transforms their morphology.

            A vegan lion can have had no fangs, because fangs serve no purpose if you’re a grazing animal. Indeed the very concept of fangs can’t have existed until Adam sank his teeth into that fruit. That act must have been the genesis of all things fanged and carnivorous.

            So, one assumes these vegan lions must have been standing there minding their own business, perhaps chewing on a mouthful of clover, when slap! bang! suddenly they had a mouth full of bloodthirsty fangs! Pity the poor antelope or gnu standing beside them. The poor beast can have had no idea that he was about to become lunch.

            You’d have thought there would be traces of such miraculous transformations in the fossil record. But perhaps God made sure there were no remains so that we wouldn’t have proof of his ability to turn docile grazing animals into ravening beasts. After all, what point would there be in faith if we could prove everything scientifically?

            Still, I wonder … if sin has such dramatic effects, it should be possible to figure out an experiment to observe them. Apparently my sex life with my husband is horribly sinful, so perhaps we should put a small cage containing an inoffensive, cute and fluffy bunny rabbit under our bed one evening and then, after a night of torrid lovemaking, check it in the morning to see if it’s been magically transformed into a wolverine or a Tasmanian devil, or something even worse!

            If not, I’ll take it as proof positive that you’re all as mad as hatters and your stories about sin transforming harmless animals into bloodthirsty killers is just one more symptom of your illness. As if one were needed!

            Now, where can I find a rabbit?

          • The Explorer

            Linus old bunnyman,
            No thread is complete without your input. Your statement is a great deal more specific than mine, and you obviously read ‘Genesis’ a great deal more literally than I do.
            We’ve been through all this stuf on a previous thread, and I see no point in revisiting it, other than to reiterate the point I made then about Darwin.
            The two greatest obsacles to belief for Darwin were the deah of his favourite daugter, and the ichneumon wasp that lays its eggs in paralysed caterpillars. We die, but why do some have to die so young? Creatures may feed on other creatures, but why in such a horrible way?
            These seem to me to be excellent questions.

          • Linus

            Read Genesis literally or admit that you’re filtering the Bible through your own personal prejudices and your religion is therefore founded on your own ego more than anything else.

            Who are you to interpret God’s word? Who are you to decide the earth was not created in seven days? If the Bible is what the Church says it is, then how dare you interpret it so that it falls into line with your prejudices? I repeat, who do you think you are? Do you know God’s mind better than everyone else?

            You’d better watch out, pride comes before a fall. The Bible tells you to have faith like a child, and yet here you are refusing to take its stories at face value like children do, and putting your own spin and interpretation on them.

            Bad, disobedient Christian! The world was made in seven days and sin entered the world as a result of Adam’s snapping jaws and swallowing throat muscles. It must have immediately transformed those docile vegan lions into ravening beasts otherwise Adam and Eve would have been perfectly sanguine about their expulsion from Eden, because they would have witnessed with their own four eyes that all the lions were still vegans, so they were in no danger. If they had to wait for evolutionary processes to give fangs to the beasts, even their implausibly extended lifespans wouldn’t have seen an appreciable change to the lions’ dentition. So it must have happened immediately, otherwise what were they afraid of?

            Honestly, the total absence of consistency and logic in your pick’n’mix religious ramblings, and the substitution of hubris and “I know best” makes them so hard to respect…

          • avi barzel

            Just to clarify for others, like Linus, who might take your Christian interpretation as the only one, Genesis does not blame humankind for death or an “original sin.” The commandment to multiply was givem in Eden and death was already in place. The expulsion from the Garden of Eden, a place where humankind and animals were fenced off from ordinary nature, was not a punishment; it was a removal of Adam and Eve from access to the Tree of Life which would give them eternal life after they had eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: “…lest he put forth his hand and take also of the Tree of Life and eat, and live forever.”

      • Sybaseguru

        Evolution does not destroy the weak, it builds the next generation stronger.

        • carl jacobs

          Yes, I believe we were taught that fundamental truth by the Great Theologian Nietzsche.

          • avi barzel

            Come now, Carl, that’s an unfair attack. Incorrect conclusions drawn from an observable phenomenon do not disqualify the reality of that phenomenon. Evolution is simply natural selection, a favouring of organism, mechanisms and sub-processes over others. It occurs in the social and intellectual components of life as well; do you not see a disconnect between your conservative outlook favouring competition and your surprisingly static and proscriptive judgment on the very mechanism behind it?

          • carl jacobs

            I simply noted that Sybaseguru had reformulated evolution into Nietzsche’s most famous dictim. And appropriately so.

            Evolution is no more empirically observable than a parallel universe is observable. Evolution is instead an organization of data that has been constructed to support a prior conclusion intended to explain existence without appeal to discontinuity – because materialism cannot explain discontinuity.

            And if you ask them the singularity that must exist prior to time zero, well … they will look puzzled and talk about string theory or something. They haven’t quite figured that out yet. I wonder why?

          • avi barzel

            Sybaseguru did no such thing. He merely described a process; he did not promote or proscribe an ethical position. It’s a process you can observe in a petrie dish, under a microscope or with fruit flies.

            Your description of evolution theory as a theoretical construct patched together to explain an a priori position is faulty. Historical chronology, in this case the process of discovering natural events and correlations, matters. What prior conclusion there was, was a set of obviously inadequate, simply incorrect, interpretations of biblical texts. Evolution theory …or the theory of epidemiologic transition, for that matter… is not just a perception, just another political “organization of data;” it is a demonstrable, testable, chronologically ordered process.

            And what has the parallel universe hypothesis…a speculative model…have to do with evolution theory? Or atheistic theories attempting to explain beginning of life and existence? They make the same error you make; they draw incorrect conclusions from a natural process.

          • Thousands of generations of fruit flies have suffered in the cause of science. There should be a monument to them somewhere.
            They have proved that while you can breed some strange-looking fruit flies, and a whole lot of very sick ones, fruit flies they remain. They provide no evidence whatsoever for evolution, rather the reverse.

          • sarky

            Hmmm, think you may need to read up on evolution before you post again.

          • avi barzel

            I agree, fruit flies have not been given their due respect.

            What you seem to be doing though, is saying that while we can document most componens of natural selection such as heritable and shared traits, common descent, extinction, DNA sequwncing and such, rapid evolution or speciation, remains unresolved. That is no longer the case. It is readily observed and replicated in laboratories in some plant specie, with certain grasses, the mechanisms being mutation or cross-breeding.

          • What you seem to be doing is disrespecting all those poor suffering fruit flies by changing the subject and talking about grass.
            There have been observations of thousands of generations of fruit flies; not one of them has ‘evolved’ into anything but a fruit fly. Neither can they, even if they want to, because evolution would require additional genetic information, and they neither have it nor anywhere to get it. Mutations can bring about loss of genetic information (eyeless fish, flightless birds), but not an increase.

          • avi barzel

            The point is that speciation can and does occur, is observable and in some cases can be replicated, and we can explain the mechanism. Genes do copy themselves from chromome to chromosome and in a phenomenon called polyploydy (sp?), will increase number of chromomes…and the engine behind this process appears to be mutation. It is unlikely that we can witness speciation in higher organic forms (the fruit fly has 5 chromosomes and it has been experimented with for about a century only) within our time frame.

          • Observe the faith of the evolutionist.
            The fruit fly was chosen for experimentation precisely because it is a relatively simple creature and because of its short life cycle (5 days?). As repeatedly mentioned, we have thousands of generations of FFs to play with and nary a bit of evolution have we seen. What has been seen is that mutations are harmful in around 99% of cases, which tends to make them unsuitable for ‘goo to you’ evolution.
            But in the crazy world of evolution, failure equals success and so evolution is proclaimed as a proven fact.

          • avi barzel

            Ah, the goal posts move again, now to the imagined challenge of the hastily thrown-in criterion of “macroevolution.” And yet, we know that speciation occurs. We know when and where, but …ah-hah!… not how exactly, and while we can now observe it and consistently replicate it with some plants, it’s no longer hood enough because we haven’t observed it with…with… fruit flies, in the ludicrously short amount of time and tiny experimental sample for such a project. And so, observable speciation in plant organisms or significant adaptations in isolated fruit fly populations don’t count any more. And of course, the day we engineer or observe drosophilla-whatever speciation, the goal posts will jump…as they always do, year after year, discovery after discovery.

            All this to to obscure the fact that “creationism” is not a science, no matter how much it tries to ape its superficialities while rejecting it, and worse, not even an essential, dominant, credible or logical scriptural interpretation.

          • Polyploidy is genetic duplication. It does not produce new genetic information. It just reshuffles and duplicates current information. No new biological structures or functions are gained by polyploidy or any other mutations.
            Creationists do not deny the genetic mechanisms for production of new varieties within a kind. God created both animals and plants to reproduce after their kind, and that design allows for the magnificent variety we see in many species of both plants and animals.

          • avi barzel

            You just defined new and went on to say it’s not new. Of course they are new, something you would know if you undetstood biology, instead of repeating apologia by pseudoscientists. “Reshuffling and duplicating” is the way nature works…it doesn’t plop nrw things out of nowhere. And of course Creationists… I’m a creationist, so let’s be specific; scriptural literalist Christians… don’t deny the obvious which they denied only yesterday; they can’t without further inviting ridicule. Just as they can no longer deny most of modern medicine, astronomy and physics, which they also falsely believed to be in opposition to science. They deny only what they can get away with today, pointing out real and imagined gaps in a field so thoroughly documented and empirically established. As I said, this is neither proper science, nor honest theology.

          • dannybhoy

            “They have proved that while you can breed some strange-looking fruit flies, and a whole lot of very sick ones, fruit flies they remain.”
            (Bloodied, but unbowed….)

          • The Explorer

            Evolution builds the next generation stronger? Is that necessarily true?

            We had a pond with tadpoles. The fish ate the bigger ones; the smaller ones escaped into a crack between two rocks.
            Don’t know how the story panned out: as they got bigger they’d have to emerge etc. But the point is, you’d think being bigger and stronger was an advantage. In reality, it meant getting eaten sooner. If big trees died out due to disease, small giraffes would survive better than big ones etc.

            I’d say evolution builds the next generation to suit the prevailing conditions: even if that means degeneration.

          • avi barzel

            Correct and sloppy of me. You could read my “stronger generation” as Lysenkoism. To be exact, adaptation favours the stronger organisms, leaving the next generation stronger…i.e., more compatible with its environment and better abke to cope with the prevailing chalkenges.

            Your example is a good one, being bigger is not necessaily an advantage…nor a disadvantage, for that matter. The North American groudndhog got selected towards a much smaller size and the horse towards larger one.

          • bluedog

            One of the great trends in all systems is that of gigantism, which is invariably justified by the mantra of ‘economies of scale’. Gigantism is a found in human societies and technological developments just as it is found in the natural world. Think for example of ever-bigger ocean liners that were replaced by relatively much smaller and more efficient passenger aircraft. The DC-3 has now become the A380 within a life-time; what next? Similarly one sees empires expanding until they reach a state of administrative and economic inefficiency which leads to collapse.
            The gigantic dinosaurs were replaced by proto-mammals. One can say that the imperative of economies of scale is in constant tension with the parallel need to diversify and spread risk. Very large animals such as elephants have a tendency to outgrow their environment which leads to unmanageable vulnerability. In the case of European elephants such as mammoths it is likely than the environmental threat was us. Now we see African and Asian elephants similarly failing to cope with competition from an expanding human population. If these very large animals are to avoid extinction, they can only do so as wards of their predators, us.
            Given that we are rapidly reaching plague proportions on the planet, it is reasonable to ask what will topple our own dominance? The smart money has to be on us, as Stephen Hawking alludes.
            Quite how that possibility can be reconciled with Christian belief is something that troubles this communicant.

          • alternative_perspective

            It depends on the definition. If its merely an observable change in the frequency of genes, then clearly that’s verifiable… But it seems a long jump between such changes in frequency and evolution as an explanatory model for everything.

        • The Explorer

          Doesn’t it do so by eliminating the weaker? What about ‘The Descent of Man’: the higher races will exterminate the lower?

          Actually in World War War One the fittest to survive were the unfit. That is why some German evolutionists became pacifists: the cream of Europe was destroying itself. So we are both wrong in our statements. Evolution preserves the weak and builds the next generaton weaker.

          • Pubcrawler

            “Doesn’t it do so by eliminating the weaker?”

            The less well adapted traits, yes. All individuals perish anyway; those better suited to their context tend to manage to survive long enough to reproduce.

          • avi barzel

            Straw man argument. Social Darwinism and its idiocies on the left and right do not disqualify an empirically observable natural process obviously put in place by the Almighty. The Torah sets instructions for our behavior, for ethics and the principle that we are to transcend nature. We do so not by denying the reality of diseases, the Cosmos or the process of evolution.

          • The Explorer

            I’m not denying evolution. I’m saying I find it a cruel process. If it is God’s preferred method, God is cruel too.It’s not that things die; it’s how they die.

            Christ healed diseases. He should have said, see things from God’s perspective.

          • avi barzel

            You can’t have it both ways, Explorer. You cannot judge God, assume that there are better ways than His, offer unsourced competing values and call yourself a monotheist. You either have to suggest or reveal the source of your “higher” value system (and slide into dualism, Manicheanism or all the way to Paganism), or you have to ultimately submit, like a good boy, with all your legitimate concerns and disagreements, to the decidedly anti-modern notion that whatever God has made or ordained is ultimately right and good.

          • The Explorer

            It’s Tennyson’s “Are God and Nature then at strife?” that I’m thinking through. As T puts it, Nature seems to care for the type, but not for the individual.
            I don’t think I know better than God, I’m simply trying to follow God’s instructions: which are to love my neighbour, defend the weak, and care for the individual. Nature seems to give a different message, and if God is the source of Nature, it’s confusing.
            My own solution is that Nature has been corrupted, and will one day be restored.

          • dannybhoy

            “I’m simply trying to follow God’s instructions: which are to love my neighbour, defend the weak, and care for the individual.”
            Loving your neighbour is particularly difficult…
            Defending the weak’s no picnic either.
            Caring for the individual is pretty much dependent on whether you like ’em or not….

          • avi barzel

            Your solution, though, is merely a rationalization of your (gasp!) heretical conclusion. Genedis makes it clear that the Garden and life in the Garden were exceptions to the natural process and order of the universe…humankind got the boot and immediately became subject to natural laws. Yes, you as a human have obligations, but natural law simply exists as the foundation of Creation and existence. This is why only we are capable of murder and other sins, but not animals, weather, microbes, toxins, geological processes or falling tree branches.

          • The Explorer

            I’m only heretical in terms of Judasim (as is Christianity). Christianity says that Satan is/was the Prince of this World. However you want to understand that, it means some sort of screw up/usurpation/things not being as they were intended. SInce I’m quoting the founder of my religion, in tems of my religion I’m perfectly orthodox.

          • avi barzel

            Well definitely with mainstream Judaism, but I’d wager that Satan as prince of the world might not sit well with all Christian denominations either. Nevertheless, you’re right, we follow very different beliefs and I withdraw my careless and judgmental comment with apologies.

          • The Explorer

            No apology was needed since no offence was taken, but very handsome sentiments; for which I thank you.

          • …there you go. Took you a while to get there too.

          • alternative_perspective

            The idea of evolution, within types, is already in the bible. Seed bearing fruit after their own kind, is a repeated refrain.

          • The Explorer

            There’s Huysman’s ‘Au Rebours’. I know the work only very slightly, but I think the argument is that Christianity is unnatural, and therefore Christianity is wrong. Nature is the benchmark.

            I’m argung the opposite. Christianity is unnatural, and therefore, Nature is wrong. Christianity is the benchmark.

          • avi barzel

            I’m not gamiliar with the writer, but his thesis is essentially a definition of Paganism. The Torah itself is a blueprint for transcending nature. This is why it orders us to resist or modify so many natural inclinations such as those in the areas of sex and competition in culture and economic life. Evolution can show us how the world works under natural laws, but it is not our instruction manual.

          • bluedog

            How can Nature be wrong when Nature is God’s creation?

          • The Explorer

            How can Satan be the Prince of this World?

          • dannybhoy

            Yes, it’s because our Lord healed the sick and raised the dead that one believes that God knows what He is doing.
            (what a stupid thing for a dopey creature to say about his Creator!)

          • alternative_perspective

            God could have made the world through special creation but knew via his middle knowledge such beings would rebel… I call it the Garden of Eden counterfactual. Thus in order to veil his presence and give those rebellious children the degrees of freedom they so desired he instituted a model of creation they would accept… Reality. Thus the cruel process which we have is a direct product of human rebellion, in that they would not accept a reality with God as intimate as in Eden.
            Please also consider the possible gap between Gen 1.1 and 1.2, this may provide another possible solution.

          • Inspector General

            Absolutely Explorer! In the 1920s, the Imperial British Army was wondering where its future general and senior field officers where coming from. The best and most promising of the officer breed never came home. The ultimate manifestation of that fear being the Singapore debacle two decades down the line, and the useless General Percival, (who unfortunately DID come home), who managed to surrender a massive army to an inferior Japanese force. And he was far from alone as a culprit out there. A succession of military commanders before him must share the responsibility for one of the empires darkest days.

          • bluedog

            You seem to forget the critical importance of the female line, which contains identical genetics to the male line. If the males are killed, a society which avoids the folly of committing its females to battle may survive.

          • The Explorer

            True. It’s why, with the shortage of German males after WW1, Nazi theorists like Rosenberg wanted men to have legal access to more than one German woman.

            (Haeckel thought , before WW1, that superior males like himself should have access to more than one woman, while inferior males were denied access altgether. What his wife thought is, I believe, not known.)

        • alternative_perspective

          No, it promotes those specimens most adapted to the prevailing conditions…

      • John Thomas

        Maybe, Explorer, you need to be a bit sceptical about evolution(ism) – why not read my recent book Christianity & Materialism (Amazon, etc.), which very much majors on E. and Christianity’s relationship with it.

        • The Explorer

          Just downloaded it onto my Kindle.

          • dannybhoy

            Have you read or watched “Evolution’s Achilles Heels”?

          • The Explorer

            No.

      • avi barzel

        Evolution is an obvious component process in Creation and life. It doesn’t “tell us” to behave like it any more than epidemics, natural disasters or death do.

        • The Explorer

          Except when there are those who use it as a guide to conduct: as with the Herero

          • avi barzel

            By now we know, though, that we can rationalize misconduct with anything. Just as people commit horrors in the name of God.

          • dannybhoy

            You having a dig, ben Barzel?

          • avi barzel

            You Pommies have made an evolutionary branch-off on idiomatic expressions, so you’ll have to define for me “having a dig,” Danny.

          • dannybhoy

            As an aside I have renewed contact with American Christians I worked with on kibbutz in Israel what, nearly 40 years ago.
            I was reminded how different we are. Cousins separated by a common language…
            They really struggle with our British (cynical, self deprecating) humour, yet we Brits perfectly understand -and enjoy- their humour…
            Anyway Zayde, “Having a dig” means to accuse obliquely, to infer indirectly, that someone is responsible for, or is guilty of something…

          • avi barzel

            Goodness, no, an energetic debate with smart friends is how I look at it!

          • dannybhoy

            You haven’t got any smart friends. Only people you like to annoy by asking difficult questions…

          • avi barzel

            Tsk, tsk! You are charging that we”re all dummies and that I’m just a contrarian pest. Even if so, mind our reputations andkeep it under wraps!

          • dannybhoy

            An intelligent and educated contrarian pest some might concede..
            Obviously some kind of genetic mutation, commonly found among the genus ‘truck driver barzelicus’
            Destined for evolutionary extinction.
            Unless our God intervenes….

          • avi barzel

            Hanging on by a a thread and His mercy!

      • dannybhoy

        Evolution is divinely ordained?
        Nah.
        There are plenty of creatures whose design, purpose or modus operandii is hard to comprehend, but Evolution is totally at odds with Sin, Salvation and Redemption.

        • avi barzel

          No more than disease and natural disasters.

          • dannybhoy

            Natural disasters..
            Like Canada you mean?
            :0)
            No, I don’t struggle with that because we live in a cause and effect world. If you had a molten core you’d be unpredictable also.
            Disease.

            Well, I am not sure that the Scriptures teach that man or animals were to live indefinitely.

            B’Reshit says in Chapter 1>
            20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.”

            21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.”

            So all those creatures and their offspring had to live somewhere. There had to be some sort of quality control..
            Along with the predators did God also create disease or was that as a result of the fall?
            I dunno.

            I remain convinced however that God is responsible for all life on earth, that He designed families of creatures with the ability to adapt to their environment, and those that couldn’t died out.

          • avi barzel

            Well, we vertainly don’t know everything about the secrets of Creation. My point is that natural selection through a competition of specie is no more immoral or cruel than through economic and social competition or than disters, diseases and death (cool three d’s!). God declared his Creation good and that to me means that it defines or should define perfection. We can point to problems with our eyes, our spine, or whatever, but can’t assume that these are errors, omissions or weaknesses, and therefore imperfect. To be consistent, we must accept these as necessary mechanisms in the unfolding of His plan.

      • One’s a natural process – adaptation and survival of species. The other a social and personal process – loving and caring for all human’s as made in the image of God.

      • alternative_perspective

        Perhaps there is a gap between gen 1/1 and gen 1.2. I have heard it taught that the Hebrew strongly implies a perfect creation in 1.1 but somehow by 1.2 we have darkness and chaos. Perhaps the angelic fall happened between?

        • dannybhoy

          I think there is an awful lot we don’t yet know about the history of our planet.

      • sarky

        Evolution doesn’t tell us to destroy the weak, it shows us that the strongest survive. A society that cares for its weak shows a higher level of civilisation and is stronger because of it. I don’t see the conflict.

        • The Explorer

          When the doctors and nurses of Hitler’s T4 euthanasia programme were asked for their motivation, they all said Darwin. They may have misread him, but they believed that the weakest mentally and physically ought to be eliminated to improve the quality of the Master Race. Galton was led to eugenics by evolution: the unfit should not be allowed to breed in the irst place. Dawkins, however, says evolution should not be our guide for conduct.

          I’m not sure evolution shows the strongest survive. It shows the fittest (best adapted to the situation) survive. That’s not the same thing.

      • Little Black Censored

        Evolution doesn’t tell us to do anything. You are confusing “is” with “ought”.

        • The Explorer

          Yes, I wasn’t meaning the word ‘tell’ in terms of direct instruction; more like providing a model.

    • sarky

      You have just explained a christians problem with evolution. If you swap sin for human nature then a savour becomes redundant.

  • IanCad

    Now, that’s more like it!
    Commonsense from church leaders. How refreshing! It hits all the right notes, except for the dissonant phrase:
    “The normal operation of the evolutionary process”
    I would like to think that he meant the ‘Decaying” process; or am I being naïve?
    If so, then have two major denominations discarded the fundamental belief that we are made by, and in the image, of God?

    • avi barzel

      I’m unfamiliar with this “decaying process” notion. Do you mean to say that evolution, natural selection are to be interpreted as entropy? The latter is also an observable process, but organic life and evolution are its exact opposites.

      • IanCad

        Avi, “The normal operation of the evolutionary process”
        This quote was from the box just below HG’s title of today’s homily.
        I commented because of the choice of words seemed to indicate that if “De-evolution?!” were valid its opposite would also stand.

        • avi barzel

          I ‘m not sure that the authors implied anything by “normal” in “normal process.” Perhaps that was redundant. All processes observed in natural selection, including extinction, are by default “normal” by virtue of the fact that they operate. Thus evolition cannot de-evolve,as it, on its own, is not a goal-defined process. Organisms may retain characteristics that may be, or appear to be, dysfunctional, but the ultimate arbiter is the continuation and demographic success of the organism.

          • Pubcrawler

            “it, on its own, is not a goal-defined process”

            That cannot be restated too many times.

  • Owl

    Have we witnessed “a breath of fresh air”? Could sanity be returning?
    Thank you YG, your article made my day.

  • avi barzel

    Absolutely stunning, Your Grace! Thank you for the heads-up and sum-up on this timely response to what would be fair to call the “Unabomber Encyclical Manifesto.” And a kudos to the intrepid duo who must have known that they are about to be savaged from so many corners. Yoy, I see it’s already begun….

    • carl jacobs

      “Unabomber Encyclical Manifesto.”

      Oh, my. Jack is not gonna like that. But it was hilarious. 😀

      • avi barzel

        Don’t bet on it; perhaps I’m going out on a limb, but like many conservative Catholics, Jack has most likely shed his illusions about this pope.

        • Jack never had any illusions about Pope Francis. Remember, he reads Munabor.

          • avi barzel

            Hmm. No doubt Mundabor, the blogger? Different religion from mine, but I admire his approach and gusto. Says things about Pope Francis I couldn’t say publicly.

          • I thought for a very long time that Mundabor was actually a parody site. Took me ages to work out that the man was indeed serious.

          • The Explorer

            Welcome back Sister T. Wondered where you were. Thought Mundabor or Happy Jack must have you imprisoned somewhere.

          • Nothing so dramatic, Explorer, just been very busy with work/family commitments which have gravely cut down the amount of time I spend online. Probably overall a good thing. I’m still around though 🙂

          • That’s because you’ve been listening too much to the liberal-progressive Jesuits, Sister T.

          • If it wasn’t for the liberal-progressive Jesuits (particularly those of Farm Street in London) who received my mother into the Catholic Church as a convert in the early Sixties, Jack, I almost certainly would have been brought up as CofE. Just think how much more peaceful your online life would have been. Those wily Jesuits have a lot to answer for… 🙂

          • Lol ….
            Ah, but back in the early 1960’s the Jesuits weren’t so bad Sister T. There’s a great priest and writer who Jack was and is an avid reader of – Father John Hardon. You should read some of his writings – they’re all on-line.

            He was shunned by his American brother Jesuits and banned from teaching at Jesuit institutions. Why? For rejecting a then favoured psychology model in vogue, the ‘Enneagram of Personality’ – a so called pathway to higher states of being, essence, and enlightenment, and a model for self-understanding and self-development. He viewed it as a New Age process dangerous to the Catholic faith. And, in Jack’s view, it is. Father Bernard Groeschel, another great Catholic writer, has much to say on the spiritual hazards of unsubstantiated psychological theories and methods of reaching ‘enlightenment’.

            Anyway, Jack digresses. American Jesuits especially are to be avoided and one suspects if your mother approached one these days they’d recommend any Christian community she felt at ease in. Come to think of it, they’d probably recommend any faith group she felt comfortable with.
            Hope you and your family are all well; not forgetting that long suffering priest of yours.

          • Yes, we’re all well (including the long suffering priest who’s actually on holiday in Ireland at the moment, taking a well earned break). :). If you want the specific Jesuit who was indirectly responsible for every headache I’ve given you that would be Fr Thomas Corbishley SJ who my mother remembers with great fondness -every time I do a retreat where the director is a Jesuit she sends me with a very generous donation to have a Mass said for him. Not an American, I think he came from Lancashire originally 🙂

          • Well, God Bless him for leading your mother to the Church. Is this the chap? If so, you might enjoy sharing it with your mother.

            http://archive.thetablet.co.uk/article/20th-march-1976/30/fr-tom-corbishley
            (To be honest, he seems a bit of a liberal type to Happy Jack.)

          • That’s him. I’ll show her the article – as to whether he was a “bit of a liberal type”, she describes him as very intelligent, wise and kind. Whether he would seem liberal probably depends where one stands on the sliding scale from Mundabor to Jamie Manson 🙂

          • He seems a good guy whatever his theological slant was and certainly a caring compassionate man.

            Why is it, Jack wonders, that those with an eye to social justice appear to adopt liberal positions on personal morality, private conscience and lay power? Jack is ‘leftish’ when it comes to the social message and doctrines of the Church and ‘rightish’ (well, probably very right) on questions of personal morality, Magisterium authority and one’s conscience needing to be properly formed.

            It’s really a rhetorical question that Jack often ponders.

          • I don’t have an answer, Jack, any more than you do. Perhaps because we’re all too good at drawing up the battle lines? I have Catholic friends who would fall both on the ‘leftish’ and ‘rightish’ camps, and it does feel sometimes that they manage to find the craziest things to argue about.

          • carl jacobs

            So we can start calling this Encyclical … “Unam Bombam”?

          • Actually, sections of it are an embarrassment and cloud much that is good within it. Jack has read it a few times now and thinks it needs editing down to 50 pages.

          • carl jacobs

            There you go … exercising private judgment again. 😉

          • Only in those areas where prudential judgement is permissible.

          • carl jacobs

            So … you are free to exercise Prudential judgment on Papal Encyclicals? Like say Humanae Vitae? I’ll be sure to tell the Denizens of NCR.

          • Humanae Vitae covers established Biblical and Traditional Christian teaching on matters of faith and morals. It is not based on matters of contested science. The Church and Pope Francis has no authority to side with one contested theory over another on either climate or on how to improve modern capitalism.
            He should have gone no further than state the principles of responsible stewardship of the planet and using resources for the benefit of all. Actually, Jack agreed with a fair bit of his commentary and his critique of the modern world. However, he contradicted established Catholic doctrine on subsidiarity in proposing a global body to address the problems and impose solutions to the problems his speculations led him to.
            The NCR loons are already calling Jack a “cafeteria Catholic” because of his views on this. Pope Francis, Jack fears, is something of a liability and his up and coming trip to America will be fascinating.

          • carl jacobs

            So in all seriousness – as opposed to any thought that I might have been pulling your chain with those previous posts, which of course I would never do – I have never heard that Humanae Vitae is infallible. So what does it mean to say it is established Biblical and Traditional Christian teaching? Why was it written if the teaching was already established? NO ulterior motive here. I am actually asking because I don’t understand.

            I sympathize with your burden of posting at NCR. Just think of it as … a form of purgatory. No, don’t. Forget that. There isn’t any purgatory. And I can’t believe you would think I’d have an ulterior motive.

          • Humanae Vitae is infallible not in itself as a new doctrine but rather because it restated and endorsed the established and constant teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium on contraception. It has this infallible status by virtue of the indefectibility of the Church on matters of faith and morals. It was written because some were advocating use of the contraceptive pill that prevented ovulation and clarification was needed over the then documented and researched “rhythm method”. It’s predecessor Casti Connubii, written to counter the Lambeth Conference decision to accept contraception, and developed teaching to formally include unitive purposes for marital sex.

            Liberals hate this – Tradition – because it means the Catholic Church cannot formally change its position on contraception, abortion, ordaining woman, homosexuality and divorce.

  • David

    Bravo Bishop Peter, a senior C of E cleric with a grasp of economic, social and technological reality.

    True compassion acknowledges the roles of markets and applied science in relieving poverty and suffering, lifting chunks of humanity out of unnecessary suffering.

    Science, technology and responsibly operated capitalism are not enemies of the Christian faith. But too many leftists within the Church seem to assume that faith and markets are opposed – they’re not !

  • Hamish Redux

    Meanwhile, in the Catholic church quite a few people are worried about the fact that the Pope’s been “got at” by the warmist, carbon-hating, lobby. Cardinal Pell in particular is proud to be a denier.

    • bluedog

      Cardinal Pell in particular is proud to be a denier.’ An attribute not restricted to matters climatic.

  • Mona Lott

    Wonder how much Bishop Forster pulls in annually as a trustee of the “Global Warming Policy Foundation”? Not a little, I suspect. He gained some attention for drawing £34,909 over and above his bishop’s stipend, for 97 days attendance at the 2010/11 session of the House of Peers.

  • Inspector General

    I say Cranmer, this is spiffing stuff! A joy to read, dear fellow!

    Forgive the Inspector if he appears obtuse, but he cannot for the life of him understand what this global warming business problem is all about. Is there a problem, he asks? All he knows is that a couple of tiny islands in the Indian ocean face being swamped by waves. That’s not much of a problem at all. Just evacuate the populations and dump them somewhere else. Perhaps Calcutta will take them in. If they’re muslims, then put them some place where they can’t do (any more) harm. The South Pole comes to mind.

    We know the earth is constantly changing, what with plate tectonics and erosion and volcanos. Why should the weather be sacrosanct? Who knows, maybe frozen Siberia can be opened up for agriculture. Used to be nice there, apparently. Mammoths loved the place.

    Life’s a challenge you know, always has been, so let’s get on with adapting to our ever changing home, and not concern ourselves with daft solutions that can never work, what!

    Tally ho!

    • avi barzel

      Inspector, I wish to register my concern …nay, distress… at one of your suggestions. Antartica, its polar region included, has a very sensitive and fragile ecosystem, not to mention a severe climate, both of which might not be the best match for adherents to the Religion of Peace and vice versa. Allow me to suggest the city of Karachi, or the new caliphate in Mesopotamia for the more enthusuastic members.

      • Inspector General

        Was originally thinking of the North Pole, that man, but unfortunately it has this habit of melting away each summer. Then again…

        • avi barzel

          ….then again, floating ice packs, crevices and polynias offer at least a sporting chance.

          • Inspector General

            …and polar bears. Don’t forget them…

          • avi barzel

            Right, easy to forget those bloody monsters (a few years back on killed a truck driver in the town of Churchill! ) when…apart from their black noses which they sometimes hide with a paw…they are practically invisible!

          • Inspector General

            Heard that on their territory, they are natures most efficient killers. Explains why there’s only them and a few artic foxes near the pole. They’ve eaten everything else…

          • avi barzel

            They are, essentially, a white grizzly bear. Like the Inuit people, they adapted to an almost exclusive animal diet. Don’t forget though that the Inu hunt them and can make you a pair of fluffy mittens out them. We’re still the deadliest, most efficient killer around.

      • dannybhoy

        Avi has a summerhouse there..

        • avi barzel

          Which I can rent at reasonable rates and after a modest downpayment. Just give me a week and a US fleet to clean up the place with.

          • dannybhoy

            Oh, so you have got a sense of humour!
            Must have been the influence of that Cockney geezer..

          • avi barzel

            Hey! Paul is the same age as I am. He’s no geezer.

          • dannybhoy

            Every time I look at that (rather self satisfied) selfie of yours, you look older.
            It’s like the Portrait of Dorian Gray.
            The version Wilde ditched…

          • avi barzel

            That’s a two year-old selfie (before I found out you don’t need a mirror, that you can take pics from both sides of the device). I look even older now; my beard turned nearly all white, although my hair seems to hold its colour just to piss me off.

          • dannybhoy

            You have a beard as well?
            You’re training to be a rabbi?

          • avi barzel

            Goodness, no; I’m not rabbinic material. Big beard, long hair in winter, shorter for both in Summer; that looks to be a Summer pic.

          • bluedog

            Pony tail? Earing, Inking?

          • avi barzel

            Pony tail until 16 years ago. Earrings or tats never.

          • bluedog

            Fails to meet expectations.

          • avi barzel

            Earrings on men are no-no, body marking apart from bris much worse. Long hair meets with disapproval, but with beard not too bad.

          • sarky

            Ha ha I pretty much tick all your no-no boxes!!

          • avi barzel

            You’re missing the bris, though. We can arrange it and I promise to bring a decent bottle of Canadian whisky for the celebration. You just bring your own bullet to bite on.

          • sarky

            Sounds like a modification too far!!
            I’m still up for the whisky though 🙂

          • avi barzel

            And I’m still up trying to crack a recurring BSOD on my PC at 3.30 AM. Checked video card, RAM is new, disconnected peripherals, virus-free, loaded Windows 10 after dumping 8, dual hard drives synched with plenty of room.Took it to my friend’s…didn’t crash once in five hours! here, bang! Toast again. No power fluctuations, logs only show attempts to update old printer drivers before blue screen, dumped those and only thing remaining is to switch keyboard, mouse and monitor, but don’t want to root around my kid’s room at this hour. Any ideas? Google has run out of suggestions.

          • sarky

            Sorry I’m a total technophobe!!!!
            You may as well have posted in Russian.
            my advice – ‘if in doubt give it a clout’

          • avi barzel

            Don’t worry, so am I until things crash. Threw this out for everyone just in case someone suffered the same issues. After all, we’re stuck with the same junk and software made in the same Guangzhao factories.

          • dannybhoy

            Avi with a pony tail?
            The mind boggles..

      • grandpa1940

        So what has Karachi done to upset you so much that you want to inflict ever more religious raghead nut-cases than it normally possesses?

        • avi barzel

          Ok, you have a point, Grandpa. Unfair to Karachi and a travesty for the refugees whose friends and families are in the UK. You folks are more experienced in processing them, seem to have unlimited housing stock and can’t seem to get enough of them.

    • Siberian Venison is absolutely delicious and low fat.

  • Sigfridiii

    The best thing the pope could do would be to abolish Humanae Vitae and help to slow down the overpopulation of the planet.

    • Pubcrawler

      How will that affect the birth rate in, say, China and the Middle East/North Africa?

      • Sigfridiii

        It will be heard by those who belong to his Church.