Re: the pool we're trying to paddle in

From: Jim Fehlinger (
Date: Mon Apr 09 2001 - 21:11:17 MDT

Brent Allsop wrote:
> Jim Fehlinger <> quoted Niles Eldredge:
> > "There are... many people who believe literally that the notion of
> > biological evolution is the work of the devil... I remain convinced
> > that their unrelenting hatred of the very idea of evolution stems
> > from their concept of morality: where morals come from, and why people
> > behave in a moral fashion (when they do).
> I can't figure out how creationists can make this kind of an
> argument. It is so completely twisted and backwards.

Here's another quote from the same book (_The Triumph of Evolution and
the Failure of Creationism_ by Niles Eldredge). In this case, Eldredge
is quoting an editorial from the _New York Times_ (in Chapter 7, "Can We
Afford a Culture War?"):

"In the culture wars, you can credit [House Republican Whip Tom] DeLay
for turning a major political axiom upside down. It used to be an article
of faith for conservatives that Americans need to take more individual
responsibility for their actions. But now, thanks to Mr. DeLay, we learn
that violence perpetrated by gun owners is really the product of larger
forces. What might those be? According to the Republican whip from
Texas, nothing less than 'broken homes,' day care, television, video
games, birth control, abortion, and, unbelievably, the teaching of
the theory of evolution." (lead editorial, Sunday, June 20, 1999,
p. 14 in the _New York Times, Week in Review_)
> Yet, if we evolved from lower life forms, yet so many of us
> are still able to achieve the high level of morality they do, that is
> the most fantastic thing of all.

WYATT: Well now, if you don't believe in religion, and you don't; and
if you don't, on the whole, think much of the assorted rules thrown
up by taboo morality, do you believe in any system of ethics?

RUSSELL: Yes, but it's very difficult to separate ethics altogether
from politics. Ethics, it seems to me, arises in this way: a man
is inclined to do something which benefits him and harms his neighbor.
Well, if it harms a good many of his neighbors, they will combine
together and say, "Look, we don't like this sort of thing; we
will see to it that it **doesn't** benefit the man." And that leads
to the criminal law. Which is perfectly rational: it's a method
of harmonizing the general and private interest.

WYATT: But now, isn't it, though, rather inconvenient if
everybody goes about with his own kind of private system of
ethics, instead of accepting a general one?

RUSSELL: It would be, if that were so, but in fact they're not
so private as all that because, as I was saying a moment ago,
they get embodied in the criminal law and, apart from the
criminal law, in public approval and disapproval. People don't
like to incur public disapproval, and in that way, the
accepted code of morality becomes a very potent thing.

-- LP "Bertrand Russell Speaking" 1959 52 min. (Woodrow Wyatt Interviews)

> "J. R. Molloy" <> posted this quote:
> > " God unable to prevent suffering and thus not omnipotent? or
> > is he able but not willing to prevent it and thus not merciful?"
> > --Walter Kaufmann
> This is the plain and simple truth which even a child can
> grasp (until his mind is corrupted in Sunday School.)

I fancy God as a sort of Alice Krige horror-film character:
"No vegetables, no dessert. Those are the Rules.", not because ve's
necessarily a meanie, but because those are indeed The Rules.
Mitch (Spudboy100) pointed out that this is known as Process Theory.

Jim F.

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