- June 2017
- December 2016
- December 2015
- August 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- July 2014
- March 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
To Be Virgin Or Not, That is the Question
Does it make sense that males as well as females stay virginal prior to marriage? Does it make sense that persons not eat a delicious meal prior to their 21st birthday because they are saving the taste treat for some time in the future? Does it make sense to forego any pleasurable experience that does us no harm, until some time in the future? What if the future never comes? Answers to these questions depend upon the harmful aspects of not being virginal, or the harmful effects of eating nothing except a Spartan diet. If there are no harmful effects, what reason do we have for abstaining from sex or food?
I fully understand there are religious laws that advise what we should do are not do. The Orthodox Churches want to control marriage, births and deaths. For some folks this is good enough reason to be illogical. For others, there are no good reasons not to indulge except for possible health reasons.
Unwanted pregnancies are no longer valid reasons for not having pre-marital sex with the advent of effective birth control. The dangers of venereal disease need not be a reason to abstain from premarital sex if precautions are taken. So, why not have premarital sex? I can find no good reason to deprive oneself of a pleasurable experience.
The debate continues: those for premarital sex often liken the experience to taking a test drive before buying an automobile. Or tasting food (wine) before consuming it. That makes sense to most everyone. So why not have premarital sex? If the possibility of contracting a disease or becoming pregnant is eliminated, what other reasons remain. True, the inequality of the sexes might still be a reason, all be it an invalid reason. A woman engaging in premarital sex is still considered cheap, without morals, and libel to continue that behavior post marriage by narrow-minded people. This, of course, is unfair to women and is totally bunk. What applies to the gander also applies to the goose. Why not both the potential husband and the wife test-drive the new car?
Getting back to religious sexual restrictions, The bible is often used as a marriage guide, but sexual and marriage rules are so varied in that book one can pick and chose any passages to justify any kind of behavior. And, celibate priests are not ideal marriage counselors especially those who violate their vows.
Mature, intelligent people should be able to effectively consider the options. Sex prior to marriage can well be an effective method of intimately knowing a future marriage partner. After the sexual drive is appeased a man and a woman might ask themselves, “Do I still love this potential partner and want to spend the rest of my life with him or her?” Often, sex plays too large a role in marriage. A successful marriage must be based upon many factors, which sex often hides. By temporarily dampening sex, one can better make wiser decisions.
Please consider that in no way am I recommending indiscriminate sex to anyone. But, under certain conditions premarital sex may be an ideal behavior to better know a potential marriage partner.
Does Prayer Work in the Huddle?
A definitive answer is better found in a scientific study than in my casual observations of athletic events over the years. Nevertheless, let me present my observations and conclusions prior to actual scientific studies.
As a child in grade school and high school, I noticed my Catholic friends gathering in huddles on the field or court, or with their coach on the sidelines. I wondered what was going on in these little congregations until I was told by a friend that they were praying.
“For What” I naively asked my Catholic friends.
“To win” was their naive reply.
The inevitable follow up questions were:
What does it mean if you lose?
Does God favor one team over another?
What if both teams pray?
Jumping from grade school and high school days to the recent 2016 Olympics, I noticed the winning USA woman’s relay teams praying after they won their events. I wondered, did all four members, or more accurately, all those who contributed by running in qualifications and the semi finals feel a need to pray? Did it help them in any way? Did other teams pray? I assumed they did, especially from Catholic nations.
The USA women’s relay teams won, so I assume their prayers worked very well at the expense of the losing teams.
At this point I realize readers may be finding fault with my reasoning because it may be that those who were praying, were not praying to win, but were praying to do their best, compete to the best of their ability. Winning or losing was not necessarily up for grabs, just do your best as the Lord allows you. Inevitably the question arises; Did a losing prayerful team or individual do their best or was their simple performance lacking that day in the face of a superior team or individual? What role did prayer play? I’ll leave you to ponder those questions.
Other questions: Was prayer a psychological help or and actual physical help, or was it a combination of both for a winner? I expect that proponents of prayer would choose all of the above.
What if a prayerful athlete or coach looses? Did god have a yet unknown purpose for the loss or was the loss a punishment for not training harder, or was the loss an incentive and inspiration to practice harder? For ever winner there are several losers. Children soon come to this conclusion after beating a prayerful team. Praying did no good even when lead by a priest or coach, so why pray or, for that matter why even believe in a god, who lets you lose after you prayed to him, A really bad team might pray for a win for years without a even one positive answer from god.
As we can well see, prayers can be interpreted so many ways that any outcome in athletic events can be interpreted in any number of ways. Unlike scientific studies where definitive trials and outcomes should bear a specific relationship and be substantiated by identical repetitive trials, outcomes of prayerful trials need not bear any relationship to each other. Essentially, anything goes. There is no way to asses the effectiveness of prayer because, if God exists, he may have his own purpose for each individual who prays and who does not.
Debate with my prayerful friends was and continues to be useless. Any and all outcomes are the work of god, win, loose or draw.
Unfortunately, a logical approach to prayer in sporting events is usually lacking by those who pray. If they win a contest, they give god the praise; if they loose a contest, the loss is not god’s impotence but to the simple fact that their opponents were a better team. God is removed from the equation. He plays no part in the loss, just in the win as evidenced by group or individual prayer at the conclusion of a successful athletic contest. This is a pishy god who acts like he doesn’t even exist and yet gullible people believe in him.
Shall We Ridicule Sacred Beliefs?
As teenagers in school we studied the Inquisition; today we understand and totally reject its principals and its methods; we are embarrassed to admit that it was sponsored by Catholic and Protestant churches of the day. To sooth our guilty conscience we attempt to deny its very existence and scope.
Today some Catholic and Protestant theologians attempt to reduce the severity of the inquisition. They are embarrassed by it, as they should be. A brief Internet search reveals many inconsistencies and denials in the numbers of victims tortured, murdered and robbed by the Inquisition. Your search will also reveal a surprising inconsistency in who is to blame for the atrocities perpetrated by the Inquisition. Christian apologists admit to little blame and shift most blame to “secular authorities”. It is shameful how soon we forget the atrocities of the past and wipe clean the slate of responsibility.
Today we face another type of religion-based inquisition by radical Islam. Shall we treat this inquisition with patience and understanding? Shall we allow it to thrive and spread? It threatens, “under the penalty of death”, that any criticism or ridicule of Islam will result in execution.” Can and should the civilized nations of the world be intimidated and allow this to happen? Of course not.
Instead, we must recognize radical Islam for what it is and resist its violence on all fronts. The recent terrorist bombings and murder of cartoonists, who depicted and ridiculed the Muslim Deity, Allah, and His prophet Mohamed, indicate the power and influence of Muslim clergy and the emotional instability of its followers. Shall our descendants look back on today’s terrorism and wonder why the civilized nations of the world tolerated it. How could one religion impose its beliefs with impunity upon other religions, and upon all the democratic nations of the world? How could this have happened? Certainly the free democratic nations of the world would never attempt to impose their political beliefs upon Islamic nations. And certainly, today a Christian nation would not attempt to impose its religious beliefs upon a Muslim nation.
Our founding fathers recognized the dangers inherent in a government ruled by a religious faction. The US Constitution and Bill of Rights, and other statements by our founding fathers make this separation of church and state abundantly clear. Unfortunately this separation of government and church is threatened by Christian radicals who believe the U.S. is a Christian nation and should be governed with the principals found in the Ten Commandments. These Christian radicals remind us of their Muslim brethren in their intolerance of other religious beliefs and science.
Thomas Jefferson recognized the dangers inherent in the mixing of religion with government.
“In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to Liberty.”
“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814
“I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.” TJ
“False religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time have been maintained through the church-state. To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propaganda of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.” No citizen “shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever”
-Thomas Jefferson in the Virginia Statue
“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, 30 July, 1816
Our third president had no objection to using ridicule to demonstrate the cruelty and stupidity and emotionality of religion. Neither should we. By word or cartoon, the free nations of the world must speak out for freedom of the press and the freedom for all citizens to speak their mind. – CGG
The free nations of the world cannot be intimidated by the ramblings of religious radicals. Today, after the murder of cartoonists and editorial staff, the world press is still reluctant to publish the cartoons that generated the fury of Muslim radicals. This is wrong! The cartoons must be published by the world press and made available to all who wish to see them in defiance of the radicals. A religion that is incapable of taking criticism is too fragile to survive and not worthy of inspiring a following of believers. The free press must take a strong stand on this issue. Radical Islam must expect a harsh response to their expectation that the free press will bow down to their demands. Now, more than ever, satirized pictures of Allah and Mohamed need to be published, just as is pictures of Jesus, Buddha and an almost unlimited variety of deities are routinely published in all free press outlets, films, and books.
Only intolerant, hateful, and insecure religions retain the ignorant policies of their past. We cannot indulge their passion and encourage their leaders. The world’s free press must take a stand and we the public must stand with them. This is our chance to make a difference. No religion, no philosophy, no theology, no political theory should be immune from criticism and ridicule.
Darwin Presentation and Panel Discussion
The following presentation has been performed several times with a Darwin impersonator. In the absence of an impersonator, all the roles may be performed by readers. The questions at the end of the reading are excellent topics for discussion.
Introduction – addressing Darwin: Thank you Dr. Darwin, for coming to talk to us. We are aware in the past, you avoided making public appearance; your research was usually presented by others in your stead. We are grateful you made this one exception today.
Addressing the audience: Our esteemed guest, did his best to present his earth shaking research in such a way that it would not offend the scientific and religious community. Although he was the brunt of ridicule from the press, from many fellow scientists, and, of course, from the religious community, he never responded in kind. Before his passing in 1882 and State burial in Westminster Abbey, the scientific community had finally come to realize that evolution was, indeed, a proven theory.
Today the significance of biological evolution has been confirmed by all the physical sciences, including geology, paleontology, biology, physics, cosmology, embryology, and genetics, to mention just a few. Over 99% of biological scientists embrace evolution as the explanation of how life has changed over billions of years. There have been NO recognized peer reviewed scientific papers ever presented that have successfully refuted evolution.
Currently, religious communities, with the exception of Young Earth Creationists, acknowledge that evolution is good science. Some have quietly abandoned Creationism and the literal interpretation of the Bible and now believe in a concept called Intelligent Design, where evolution plays a partial role. Dr. Francis Collins, an Evangelical Christian and noted geneticist who co-led the mapping of the human genome, calls evolution The Language of God. Whether or not one believes in a higher power, evolution remains the foundation of all physical science.
Without an understanding of evolution, there would be no antibiotics, vaccines, stem cell research, gene splicing, medical science advances, and agriculture advances. Plagues and starvation would have taken a terrible toll on humanity.
Addressing Darwin: We are forever indebted to you Dr. Darwin, for your insight and enormous contribution to humanity.
Darwin – Thank you Mr. ——-. It is a privilege to be here in this beautiful edifice with you good people. I understand the Tampa Unitarian church has a rich history of doing good, helping the needy, and inspiring members. In my day, Unitarianism was in its infancy. Traditional religion was involved in colonialism, it condoned slavery, did little to help the needy, and participated in the subjugation and destruction of indigenous people and their culture. Times have indeed changed, but there is much yet to be done. I wish you the best in your endeavors.
My personal views concerning religion may distress some of you, and for that I apologize. I was a Creationist in my youth but gradually rejected superstition and became an Agnostic. I had no choice but to reject superstition and follow science wherever it led. The terms atheism and agnosticism are variable depending who defines them. I am comfortable with agnosticism although both terms may well be interchangeable in my mind. I generally avoided debate whether it be concerning evolution or religion. From what I have heard about you good folks, we must certainly agree on all aspects of science and religion. I feel comfortable and very much relaxed speaking to you today.
Jim explains format of the panel presentation and introduces the panel. The panel will take turns asking questions. Many of Darwin’s replies will be his own words (quotes) or very close summaries of his words.
1) – Most of us know nothing of your youth Dr. Darwin. Was there anything in your childhood that might have indicated that you were to go on and contribute so much to science and humanity? We would all be interested to hear about your childhood and family. Did they encourage you to follow your dream? Were you always interested in nature?
Darwin – As a small boy I had an obsession for collected things, shells, rocks, stamps, coins… and beetles. I remember letting my imagination slightly distort truth on several occasions, but haven’t we all been guilty of that?; I claimed to have watered flowers with colored liquid resulting in blossoms of a like color…I was greeted with laughter and not taken seriously. On another occasion I hid fruit from our orchard and then claimed to have found a secret stash hidden by thieves. My father was not amused, but under his mustache I detected a smile. Such was my early childhood.
I remember nothing of my dear mother who died of a stomach ailment when I was barely eight years old. Father refrained from talking about her and strictly prohibited us from ever mentioning her name. I believe that under his stern countenance he loved her so dearly he could not bear to recall their happy times together.
No, I was not encouraged to make science a career although I always had a natural interest in nature and wondered how things came to be. Far from being encouraged to study nature, I was ordered by my father to study for the clergy. He imagined me as a pastor of a sleepy farming town with much leisure on my hands, time to read and think, and raise a large family as did he.
2) – Dr. Darwin, please tell us more about your early education. Did you attend special schools because there were no public schools back then? How about elementary school, high school, and college. I understand you attended medical school and divinity school.
Darwin – Ah, you are correct. There was no public education in England at that time. At seven years old I began taking lessons from my older sister Caroline, who was a teenager. Hah!, she often lost patience and scolded me, justifiably, I must admit. Father finally enrolled me in a nearby private boy’s boarding school. It was a fearsome place, and beatings were common for those who did not get the good grades, such as me. I disliked being there.
After school each day I ran the mile to my home and played with my sisters, until I had to run the mile back to school before the doors were locked at night. I was a vigorous boy with more energy than I knew what to do with.
I remember my brother Erasmus and I set up a home-made chemistry lab in an old shed at home. We managed to make some most horrible concoctions of sickening odor, that drew the attention of our sisters and the servants, .. to our great pleasure. I enjoyed the learning experience.
I spent much time outside as I could. I had a passion for collecting things such as newts, bugs and other little gems of nature. I loved fishing and hunting and became quite a good shot. But, I thoroughly disliked my studies and could see no future in studying dull subjects which I could not see would be any help in my future life. I had no interest whatsoever in bible study.
3) – It is rumored that you were a terrible student, a cheat, you did not study your lessons, got poor grades, and squandered your youth?
Darwin – “Nothing could have been worse for the development of my mind than the boarding school, as it was strictly classical, nothing else being taught except a little ancient geography, ancient history, Latin and Greek. The school, as a means of education to me, was simply a blank.” Had they taught science and recent history I might have been a better student.
3) again with follow-up question – Is it true your father admonished you numerous times for your terrible performance at school and he actually berated you, and I quote, “You care for nothing but hunting, dogs, and rat catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all of your family.”
Darwin – Nodes his head. Ahhh, Exactly. That is very true. I was a great disappointment to him. Neither I nor my brother wished to follow in his footsteps. Father took our choice as a personal affront to him, for which we did not blame him.
3) again – And, your school headmaster also berated you before the whole school saying you wasted your time on useless subjects. Is it true he claimed you were “… a very ordinary boy, rather below the standard of intellect.”
Darwin – Truthfully, I was an awful student and did not pay attention in class. It is true that on occasion, I copied from fellow students and promptly forgot everything I had learned. And, yes, I felt badly about my father’s disappointment in me and resolved to make him proud of me…sometime in the future.
1) – You did not finish telling us about the rest of your education. What about medical school and divinity school?
Darwin – Oh yes, forgive me. Father soon realized I was a failure at the boarding school. He pulled me out, and sent me on to Edinburgh University Medical School to join my brother Erasmus, who was now attending there.
1) – Did I hear you right Dr. Darwin, you went directly from boarding school to Medical school?
Darwin – Ahh, yes. It may seem strange to you now, but back then there were no prerequisites for admission. All one needed was money, and my father was well positioned. I confess, I did no better there than at the boarding school. I barely lasted two years and then dropped out without my father’s knowledge. I kept it from him as long as could manage, for fear of his anger. Needless to say he was disappointed when he found me out, very disappointed indeed. I did however manage to meet a professor Robert Grant whose creative ideas about science set my mind to answer the mysterious questions about nature.
About that time, I also had the privilege of attending a fascinating lecture and demonstration of taxidermy by James Audubon. Shortly after, I made the acquaintance of a former slave, John Edmonstone, who was skilled in taxidermy and greatly impressed me with his intelligence and exploration stories through South America. We became great friends and he taught me much about nature. I learned taxidermy skills, but even of more importance, I learned that the claims of so called inferior races of man was pure fiction. His mind was keen and his intellect great. His exploration stories were quite amazing and I hoped to explore the world as did he sometime in my future.
Medical studies turned my stomach. I literally became sick watching the pure agony of patients while they were secured by force and cut open. Most died of infection and were minimally helped…. Yes, I failed again in my studies. I was too sensitive to spend my life inflicting pain upon fellow humans.
In desperation, due to my failure at Medical School, my father finally hired a tutor to prepare me for admission to Christ’s College at Cambridge University in hope that I might become a country parson. I was greatly lacking in qualifications to enter such a prestigious school, but finally I did qualify for Cambridge, and resigned myself to becoming… a country parson.
3) – Dr. Darwin, Is it true you spent much of your time at Cambridge playing cards with rowdy students and getting drunk? Is it true that you skipped many of your classes?
Darwin – “During the three years which I spent at Cambridge my time was wasted as far as the academic studies were concerned, as completely as at Edinburgh… and boarding school.” I graduated at age 22 with minimal grades.
2) – Dr. Darwin, please tell us about your momentous voyage on the HMS Beagle. How were you chosen to go? What qualifications did you have?
Darwin – I received a surprise letter from a botanist friend, a Professor Henslow. He had recommended me for a two-year voyage on the HMS Beagle, as the ship’s assistant naturalist. It was a life-changing opportunity. Imagine, I was invited to ship out for a two year voyage around the world, with a Captain Fitz Roy who was ordered by the British Navy to explore and chart the coast of South America. As you know, the voyage on HMS Beagle stretched out into a five year adventure. Unfortunately, my father refused to fund the voyage. He thought it was a complete waste of time and unbecoming for a future parson.
In my depression I sought solace with friends and an attractive young lady neighbor. It was her father, my father-in-law to be, Josiah Wedgewood who came to my aid and attempted to convince my father to reconsider. Josiah accompanied me to meet with my father, his cousin and good friend. He strongly spoke in my behalf. Father finally relented and agreed to finance my adventure It was truly an unexpected stroke of good fortune.
1) – What was your route? Where did you visit?
Darwin – We had numerous ports. We set sail from Portsmouth harbor southward along the East coast of South America, surveying as we went. Captain FitzRoy spent time mapping to the southern tip of the continent and then sailed northward up the west coast of South America. Then on to the Galapagos islands, the Polynesian Islands, Hawaii, New Zealand, Tasmania, Australia, across the Indian Ocean around the tip of Africa back to the west coast of South America, and finally on to England. Our journey, scheduled to last two years actually lasted five years.
1) – What impressed you most about South America? You must have been amazed at the variety of plants, animals, so different from England. What did you think of the tropical environment?
Darwin – “In my journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest, it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion which fill and elevate the mind. I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body…I understand these words of mine have been widely quoted and used by some to argue that I was of the Christian faith. But now, the grandest scenes would not cause any such feeling and convictions to rise in my mind. …this sense…can hardly be advanced as an argument for the existence of God, any more than the powerful though vague and similar feelings excited by… music.”
3) – So, you admit you felt a higher presence in the grandeur of nature and then rejected it. Why could you not see that the Creation Story in Genesis is all you needed to understand the natural world? The Old Testament was the only book you needed. It had all the answers.
Darwin – ” I had gradually come to see that the literal belief in the Old Testament, its manifestly false history of the world…from its attributing to God the feelings of a vengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of other religions, or the beliefs of any barbarian. By further reflecting, … the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is supported… Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete.)
2) – Dr. Darwin, you suggest that your conversion from orthodoxy was gradual. Please tell us more about it. Was it distressful to you to give up your childhood beliefs.
Darwin – The rate of my conversion was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. – The more we know about the fixed laws of nature, the more incredible do miracles become. – The men at the time the scriptures were written, were ignorant and credulous to a degree almost incomprehensible to us.
2) – I take it that you do not believe in Divine revelation.
Darwin – I gradually came to disbelieve Christianity as a divine revelation. – I can indeed, hardly see why anyone ought to wish that Christianity to be true; for the plain language of the scriptures seems to show that those who do not believe, and this would include my father, brother and most all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished… This is a Damnable doctrine!”
3) – Dr. Darwin, In your youth you have stated that you were impressed with the Argument from Design as advanced by the great Theologian Robert Paley. Did you not, at one time, accept Paley’s proof of God concerning the intricate design of a watch and the vastly more intricate design of creatures in nature?
Darwin – “Ahhh, The old argument of design, as given by Paley, which formally seemed to me so conclusive, fails now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue, for example, that the beautiful hinge of a bivalve must be made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door. There seems to be no more purposeful design in the variability of organic beings and in the action of natural selection, than in the course that the wind blows. Everything in nature is the result of fixed laws.”
3) – So now, what are your beliefs about God? How can you deny hat He is omnipotent and omnicient when we can see the wonders of nature all around us every day? Can’t you feel His presence deep inside your soul?
Darwin – I can easily see that to the human finite mind, a being so powerful and so full of knowledge, who could create the universe, would seem omnipotent and omniscient… But, it revolts our understanding to suppose that his benevolence is not unbounded, for what advantage can there be in the sufferings of the millions of the lower animals throughout almost endless time? … The presence of so much suffering agrees well with the view that all organic beings have been developed through variation and natural selection.”
As to your other question, I cannot see that such inner convictions and feelings of faith are of any weight as evidence of what really exists.”
2) – Dr. Darwin, you didn’t have a camera, so how did your record and amass all the information you brought back? What kind of specimens did you collect? The Beagle was so small, where did you store all the specimens you collected?
Darwin – That was a major problem because I had little storage space. I packed and shipped crates back to England at every port we visited, and hoped they would arrive safely. Fortunately, most did.
There was an official artist on board, Augustus Earle who documented the topography and people at every port of call. He was of great help in illustrating the strange and wondrous animal and plant life we encountered, and of course the geology.
2) – Did you keep in touch with family and friends while traveling the world?
Darwin – Yes, at every opportunity. In fact I wrote in detail about the things I saw to my friend Henslow who published them without my knowledge, misspellings and all. It was embarrassing but I was pleased they were so well accepted.
1) – I understand that you witnessed some spectacular natural events along the West coast of South America that helped explain how the earth and life has changed. What were they?
Darwin – I explored Chile and high passes in the Andes I experienced earthquakes that raised the shoreline several feet. It explained how fossilized seashells and coral are to be found 12,000 ft. above sea level. It convinced me of the old age of the earth, and I could no longer believed the earth was little more than 6,000 years old as I was taught at Cambridge. I came across a standing forest of petrified trees and discovered hundreds of fossil animals that had, no doubt, existed for millions of years.
3) – I understand that you visited the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Chili. What could you possibly have seen of interest on those God-forsaken islands? How could a few birds and turtles be worth all the time you spent there and lead you to your theory of evolution?
Darwin – Although I did not fully realize it at the time, the Galapagos Islands and their wildlife confirmed once and for all that the transmutation of species through natural selection was true. It would validate all my research. The Galapagos Islands was a workshop of evolution. Only the most narrow of minds could reject the evidence that the Islands’ wildlife was a strong demonstration of evolution in action.
1) – Your next stop was the Polynesian Islands and Hawaii? What did you learn there?
Darwin –Although I was by then, weary from our voyage, I found them fascinating. The coral atolls and islands appeared to be sinking into the sea around them. As the sea floor sank, coral animals proliferated near the surface causing the islands to grow upward. The concept amazed me and convinced me that the sea floor was continually moving and changing, and that was strong evidence of the antiquity of the earth.
2) – Your next stop was New Zealand and Australia. What impressed you the most about them?
Darwin – I was more impressed with the marsupial animals than I was with the European inhabitants themselves. Unfortunately, the so-called civilized immigrants were slaughtering the helpless aboriginal people without mercy, and were in process of devastating the natural environment.
1) – What did you think of the strange marsupial animals? Did you wonder about how they came to be?
Darwin – The marsupials filled the same niches in nature as did non-marsupial animals elsewhere. They were strong evidence of the transmutation of species by isolation. Everything I witnessed supported evolution. At the time, however, the full understanding of what I saw was a mere flickering in my mind. It took many years for the concept of evolution to come into full focus.
3) – Your return to England was eminent. Were you worried that your father would be angry with you for giving up a chance to become a country pastor? How could you turn your back on the very Church that nourished you in your youth?
Darwin – Actually, father was rather proud of me. The crates of specimens and fossils, and my accounts of the voyage seem to have established my reputation and relieved his concerns about my future. He never again asked me to consider the Church as a career… thankfully.
3) – Is it true that you plagiarized the work of Alfred Russel Wallace? Didn’t Russel publish his work prior to yours?
Darwin – Concerning my good friend Alfred Russel Wallace: I treated him with respect and published several papers with him. He was an admirable man with keen observation and a creative mind. He arrived at a similar theory to mine at least twenty years after I formulated my theory of transmutation through natural selection. His letter to me concerning his ideas prompted us to publish three scientific papers together. Most importantly, his letter prompted me to publish over twenty years of my research. Prior to that time I had refrained from publishing because I worried that my work would not be well received. I also worried that it would distress my dear wife Emma, who was a faithful Christian and Creationist. She was of great help in preparing my first manuscript, in fact, I could not have completed it so rapidly without her able assistance. None of my work would have been possible without her loving and devoted care of an invalid husband.
1) – So, what did you do when you got home? Your father and sisters must have been overjoyed to see you.
Darwin – There is far too much to tell in the time we have remaining, but I will share the somewhat humorous story of my return home. The Beagle docked in the southern port of Falmouth, October 2, 1836, after four years, nine months, and five days at sea. I was overjoyed at being home at last, and vowed never again to step foot on a ship. It took me three days to travel home by carriage. When I arrived late at night, I retired to my bedroom without waking the family. As a joke, the next morning, I strolled into breakfast as if I had never been away, and surprised my father, sisters, and servants. Truthfully, I have never been so giddy with joy and confusion as at the ensuing celebration.
1) – How long did it take for you settle down and get married? Please tell us about your family life and children.
Darwin – My post-voyage life was full excitement and readjustment. For a while I lived with my brother Erasmus in London, and returned home often to visit my family and dear sisters. I also spent much time at the Wedgewood’s and could not help but noticed dear Emma. She was of most attractive personality and favorable to the eye. We spent much time together as she was fascinated to hear my stories of the voyage. Our relationship grew and I soon asked Uncle Josiah for her hand in marriage. We married two years after my teturn, and set up our household in London.
3) – Dr. Darwin, It seems to me that somewhere I read that you still could not support yourself and your family. Your brother lived off the family fortune and never became a country parson. Just how did you earn a living?
Darwin – There is some truth to your inquiry. Gentlemen of that time were not expected to work for a living. In fact, it was considered demeaning to have a trade. Brother Erasmus lived comfortable in London well supported by our father. Although my new reputation and writing situated me well in the scientific and social London environment, I was still dependant upon my father. City life was not for me as London was crowded and filthy. I longed for the peace and quiet of the country and nature, where I could continue my research and dwell on the vast information gathered during my voyage. With a loan from my father, I purchased a sprawling country home in Kent and raised my family there. Emma bore ten children…but alas, three did not survive. In spite of this tragic loss and my poor health, life there was fulfilling and happy.
Jim – I’m sorry to interrupt, but I’m afraid our time has run out. Thank you Dr. Darwin, in behalf of the panel and the attendees. We would be delighted if you could return in the future and continue your fascinating story.
Darwin – Thank you Professor Lemons for your invitation…I will certainly consider it, if health permits. I thank all of you in attendance here today for your very kind reception and attention. It has been true pleasure.
Additional questions if time permits.
Q – Do you think that evolution is still occurring? Can you give us examples of evolution we can see?
Q – What about Lamark? Didn’t you favor his ideas at first? Please tell us a little about your Grandfather Erasmus. Is it true that he also had a theory about evolution?
Q – Do you deny that you claimed humans come from monkeys? Survival of the fittest is a cruel philosophy. How could preach that the powerful have the right to subdue the weak? Don’t you agree, Social Darwinism is a crime against humanity?
Q – What role did Thomas Malthus play? What role did Thomas Huxley play? What other scientists influenced you? Darwin quotes Sir Isaac Newton “ The only reason we can see further into the future is that we are standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Q – You were healthy and robust in your youth but an invalid the rest of your life. Please tell us about your health problems and how you dealt with them.
Q – If evolution is true why don’t more people believe in it? Of course, humans breed dogs and cats and horses, but, that’s microevolution, not real evolution! Real evolution is changing an animal from one species to another one. Mr. Darwin, have you ever seen that happen? Can a person believe in evolution and still be a good Christian, Jew, or Moslem? Doesn’t Intelligent Design make good sense? Evolution is still just a theory isn’t it?
Dan Barker visits CFI Indiana, November 15, 2015
I recently had a chat with Dan Barker prior to his presentation at CFI Indiana. He was pushing his new book The Purpose Driven Life, (oops), The Life Driven purpose.
We chatted for a few minutes before his two-hour presentation to a capacity crowd at CFI’ s headquarters on the canal in Indianapolis, Indiana. I asked him questions about science and archaeology. He seemed as literate on those topics as he is concerning bible text.
If you have not meet Dan, you are missing a real treat. He is a neat guy: very likable, soft spoken and smart. I’ve read his first two books and have tuned in on YouTube to enjoy his numerous debates with religious opponents. (He always wins the
Debates.) You will enjoy Dan’s informed defense of atheism and freethinking.
What follows are his opinions on several fascinating topics
During the question period after his talk Dan was asked about the human need for a belief in God. He replied by questioning the very premise of the question noting that several ancient societies do not have a god belief. The very concept of a magical father and a heaven was beyond their conception. They asked: Where was heaven? How can people be alive after dying? How does praying help when hunting and growing food? Good questions not yet answered to their satisfaction, and of course, ours.
Dan explained that many, what we call primitive societies, do have beliefs in deities, but seldom is there one deity. Usually, multiple deities made more sense to them. Often, ancestor worship replaced a belief in single or multiple Gods. The point Dan made was, there is not a natural instinct or need to have a belief in a supernatural being. Religion is man-made designed to address the needs of a society. Bad weather is an indication of sin against God and good weather is a reward for obeying God. The logic with this belief is being obedient to your religious leaders interpretation of God is rewarded and being non obedient of that interpretation is is punishment.
I wondered if Dan had the time or inclination to keep up with science as applied to religion. It was obvious from his debates that he knew more about the scriptures than his opponents, but was he adept at defending atheism and attacking religion with physical science arguments such as archaeology and biology? During my brief conversation with Dan, I asked if he knew about the recent archaeological finds at Megiddo, also known as Armageddon, which seem to debunk the major tenants of the Old Testament stories. Stories dear to the Jews, Muslims and Christians. In case you are not familiar with the finds, I’ll explain. Several Jewish archaeologists, looking for corroborating evidence supporting the Old Testament stories have actually found evidence indicating that the Exodus story is a fabricated legend. Yes, Dan knew all about it. I was impressed. His presentation to us was informative and entertaining because he started and ended with several songs while he played on a keyboard. He is a talented jazz pianist. If you ever get the chance to attend one of his lectures, by all means do it, and of course read his books.
I finished his book. It belongs in every secular humanist’s bookcase. His previous books are Godless and Losing Faith in Faith.
World Population Grows – Threatens Wars, Starvation, and Plagues
But, not to worry friends, there’s little you can do until Pope Francis has a heart to heart with God. The world population has surpassed 7.2 billion this year. In spite of those in power doing their best to kill off the unfortunate populations of poor and weak nations, in just two more years there will be 2 billion more humans competing for the earth’s dwindling resources. Does God realize this? He sure as hell acts as if He doesn’t know what’s happening. Pope Francis is an intelligent and educated man, surely he is aware of the impending disaster. Surely he knows prayer will not stop population growth. Or, does he?
Pope Francis appears to be pushing for doctrinal changes in his church. True, he has some pushback from his Bishops, Cardinals, high up Vatican officials who, like in times of old, have resisted change to protect their status, wealth and power. They still believe that increased births mean increased church members and increased power. No doubt, some church leaders do not question the sad consequences of their stand against birth control. They believe church doctrine is the word of God and they accept it without question. Obedience to God is the greatest duty of all. Follow, accept, pray, do not question, do not think for oneself, be obedient to superiors and God. Obedience is the greatest of all things God asks of us.
The Pope talks to God at least several times per day. Certainly he has time to bring up the single most important problem humanity faces today. Well, Pope Francis did have a heart to heart prayer talk with God and I received a copy of it last night while in the middle world of sleep and wakefulness. It went something like this.
Francis – “God, are you there? It is I, Francis your obedient servant.”
God – Stop it, stop it! You always begin that way. I’m sick of it and your poor grammar. Of course I am here. How many times must I tell you I am everywhere?
Francis – I praise you dear Father and am reluctant to admit my misunderstanding of ‘your will be done’ thing. I have questions that I cannot resolved by reading your book.”
God – I gave you a brain to reason with.” Have you used it lately? No, of course you haven’t. You need to be creative and open to change as your world changes.
Francis – I’m sorry Lord. Lately it has been brought to my attention that earth’s population will soon be 9 billion even though millions die each year from war, plagues and starvation. Non-believers claim birth control techniques might slow down the birth rate and spare the suffering of millions. This is what I have been told by knowledgeable and sincere experts.
God – Yes, I am well aware of this pending disaster. I knew about it when I created the universe.
Francis – My Lord, May I ask why you never warned my predecessors or me about it?
God – My poor Francis, they and you never asked. And, had you asked and I answered, you would not have listened. I know the ways of your church. I created humans with more than ears and tongue, I created them with a thinking brain.
Francis – I try to use it dear Father but I am hesitant. I fear I will displease you by changing your policy.
God – You have displeased me and so have your despicable predecessors. Fear has made you impotent. You all have acted to benefit yourselves and the church, but seldom humanity. You have wasted the brains I gave you.
Francis – Then, do I have your OK to go ahead and suspend the church’s opposition to birth control, at least temporarily? It is, I have been told the most significant thing I can do to forestall the ongoing calamity that all humanity now faces.
God, are you there? Why don’t you answer me? I need you guidance. Please God…
Obviously, no one is listening to reason. Below is the essence of a letter I recently wrote to the Editor of the Indianapolis Star.
Dear Editor of the Indiana Star Newspaper:
Past Indiana senator, Richard Lugar has heard part of the message from God. He has made an attempt, feeble as it is, to address the looming food crises. Unfortunately Lugar believes the solution lies in increased US charity to the poor nations of the word. He explained his views in a recent Indianapolis Star editorial.
His letter was an especially important reminder to all of us concerning worldwide hunger. He encouraged the US to take the lead in feeding an expanding world population and writes that congress should address the problem with “effective aid legislation.” The numbers of nations and people who are starving grows everyday. Lugar did not mention another crisis already affecting the world, especially the poor, and that is water shortage. Wars will be fought over fresh water for drinking and agriculture. Because water will become more valuable than oil, many more millions will suffer and die in the next decades.
Unfortunately, Senator Lugar offers no solution except encouraging Congress to pass legislation. Hah! But there is one solution easily within our reach, and that is putting an end to overpopulation. We cannot and are not willing to provide adequate food and clean water to those in need with world population as it currently is. Continuous and increased suffering and war is unavoidable. It’s true, we Americans will continue to sit comfortably in front of out TVs for a while watching the war news from around the world. But eventually the news will get worse and we will be sucked into a huge world crisis.
Senator Lugar did not mention that any attempt at a solution is doomed to failure without a restraint on increasing populations. This is where we must encourage and fund worldwide birth control. This is where the Catholic Church must reverse its policy concerning birth control. The world has changed since the Catholic Church proclaimed birth control was contrary to God’s wishes. We need Pope Francis to start the ball rolling, have a heart to heart with God and then proclaim His new and charitable policy, at least temporarily, until the problem of overpopulation is balanced with food and water supplies. With the onslaught of climate change, the problem will intensify. Churches as well as governments need to join together in solving this threat to humankind. It may already be too late.