Creationist Wisdom #398: Faith Is Great Science

Today’s letter-to-the-editor is titled Your faith may be the greatest science of all. It appears in the Oroville Mercury-Register of Oroville, California, a town famous for the 1881 lynching of Tom Noacks, who had killed an elderly pioneer, Jack Crum, by stomping him to death. Noacks had been known for punching oxen in the head, like Mongo in Blazing Saddles.

We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), so we usually omit the writer’s full name and city. But today’s letter-writer is a preacher — Rev. Peter F. Hansen, described as “rector of St. Augustine of Canterbury Anglican Church in Chico.” We’ll give you a few excerpts from the rev’s letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. Okay, here we go:

Feb. 12, 1809, was the birthday of both Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. They affected the world in unexpected ways. They were both called fools, but today are considered wise. Which were they? Lincoln was not a Christian when he was elected our 16th president. In office his faith emerged, an anchor in a stormy time. Darwin was trained to be an Anglican priest. After his theory of evolution, his faith slipped away.

Problems emerge immediately. It’s very debatable whether Lincoln ever was a Christian — although like all Presidents, he included scriptural references in his speeches. Darwin, on the other hand, did indeed see his faith slip away, but it was the death of his daughter that triggered it, not his theory of evolution. Your compassionate Curmudgeon understands the rev’s motivation, so we’ll overlook what seems to be a bit of historical shading. Where is he going with this? That’s coming soon, so stay with us.

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Psalm 14:1. Using a scientific theory to get rid of a troublesome God is like holding your hand up in the sky to destroy the sun. It takes the sun from view, but your arm tires, and the sun is still there.

That was completely wacky. Let’s read on:

Lincoln freed the slaves and fought a bitter battle to save the Union. He led America through its darkest hours, watching half a million young men die.

Yes, we know. What does that have to do with Darwin? The rev continues:

At his second inauguration, he stood, a tower of faith, speaking to both sides: “Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other … ” [loads of bible stuff from Lincoln’s speech omitted].

Yes, there were many bible allusions in that speech. Come on, rev, make your point! No, we must be patient. The rev is doing this slowly:

This man’s heart broke under the terrible things he’d performed in office. No such task was thrust on Darwin, a man of the Age of Reason when science was supposed to solve all unknowns, free mankind from superstition, religion and mythology through science. Our schools teach his theory as fact: [the rev’s summary of evolution isn’t worth being copied here].

We think we see where the rev is leading us. Lincoln became a Christian and did great things. Darwin stopped being a Christian and did evil things. Yes, the pattern is emerging. Let’s see if we’ve guessed correctly. Moving along:

Evolution actually bolstered the racism that subjugated blacks in the same hour Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Hold on there, rev. That’s flat-out wrong — outrageously so (unless Darwin had a time machine). Ignoring indentured servitude, African slavery began in the US when a Dutch ship, bound for the Caribbean (where the Spanish had been practicing slavery for at least a century) stopped in Virginia and sold a few African slaves to the colonists in 1619 (see Slavery in the United States). That was 240 years before the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in late November of 1859, and it wasn’t published in the US until mid-January 1860. Civil War hostilities began at Fort Sumter in April of 1861.

Hey, rev — as long as you don’t mind anachronisms, why not blame Darwin for the Crucifixion? Ah well, here’s another excerpt:

One found God at a time of trouble. The other lost God in the details of his theory. Today, evolution’s proponents denounce God.

It must be very comforting to see the world in such simplistic terms. On with the rev’s letter:

Speak against the prevailing wisdom of our day and it may cost you dearly. Instructors across the country have lost teaching positions for even mentioning any origin except evolution.

Yeah, yeah. The rev has been watching Expelled. Hey, rev, that’s pure creationist porn! See Expelled Exposed. The rev doesn’t care. He’s guzzling the Kool-Aid. Get this:

There is science behind the theory of Intelligent Design that proclaims an intelligence behind it all. Our design delicately balances complex functions that, if even one of them was missing or altered, nothing would work or even make sense. The genius behind DNA, blueprint of all genetic order, was mapped by the Human Genome Project. Random chance cannot reasonably result in 3 billion pairs of chemical codes that, missing just one piece, won’t result in life at all.

Thanks for the science lesson, rev. Your humble Curmudgeon respectfully suggests that you stick to your theological trade. It’s safe. No one can ever show that you’re doing it wrong.

The rev isn’t taking our advice. In fact, his science proclamations become increasingly grandiose:

Every physical system makes our universe possible. It is nearly impossible, yet because of intelligence in its design, it exists. We’re not stupid to think God made this. Many scientific disciplines are coming to the conclusion: We are made of light. Don’t be ashamed of your faith. It may be the greatest science of all.

Yeah, okay. We’ll skip the rev’s T.S. Eliot quote. He concludes with this:

Saving the world from suicide is reason enough for us to speak as fools, brave the consequences, face the fire, and tell the truth.

Well said, rev! Great letter.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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11 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #398: Faith Is Great Science

  1. Mark Twain said it best: “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”

  2. “Many scientific disciplines are coming to the conclusion: We are made of light.”

    Ah, yes! “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” The rev has been supplementing the Bible with the wise teachings of Master Yoda.

  3. Until now I thought we were mostly water…but now I see the light!

  4. Lighten up, Ed . . . 🙂

  5. Bugs Bunny would have said, “What a maroon!” Bugs would have been right.

    1. Did Darwin “lose his faith?” I argue he never did lose his faith — he lost confidence in religious idiots who attacked him (first) and his work (after attacking Darwin) without knowing or understanding what Darwin said. But Darwin stayed active in the church until his death, contributing to mission funds, and taking vestry positions. His health prevented his attending services often. Darwin didn’t share the Darbyists’ view that the Bible is infallible in grammar and science, and Darwin was disappointed in theologians who abandoned traditional Christian views of the Bible to take up the creationist view instead.

    On what grounds does this so-called preacher claim Darwin lost his faith? He offers none at all — though he suggests that Darwin condemned the church, the Bible and God. Darwin did none of those things.

    Our preacher friend bears false witness. I wonder if he knows what that means?

    2. Darwin was a rather strident, ardent and life-long anti-racist. He was appalled by slavery, and with the rest of the Wedgwood family he dedicate money and time with the MPs to eliminate slavery in the English realms. Darwin was a close friend of the only black man in Edinburgh, who taught him taxidermy. (Darwin became an expert taxidermist; he remains the sole, greatest collector of specimens of both plants and animals for the British Museum; his preservation of birds and other animals often got compliments from the experts there.) Darwin befriended the dark-skinned resident of Tierra del Fuego who had been captured on an earlier voyage of HMS Beagle, and who was returned on the first legs of the voyage Darwin took.

    I’ve written at greater length about Darwin’s anti-racist views and actions, on several occasions, at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

    So, on two points the good rev makes about Darwin, he is dead wrong. Scholarship in the church just isn’t what it used to be, you know?

    You’d think an Anglican minister would be more circumspect in condemning a fellow church member.

    On Darwin’s death, the entire nation of England mourned, and the church took Darwin into its bosom. Darwin’s funeral was a state funeral, with hymns written just for the occasion (out of Proverbs, as I recall); Darwin is interred in Westminster Abbey as a hero of the church and nation. How could we forget that?

  6. Many scientific disciplines are coming to the conclusion: We are made of light. Don’t be ashamed of your faith. It may be the greatest science of all.


    I suppose in a technical sense, he’s right.

    More accurate, though, is Carl Sagan’s description, that we are made of the stuff of stars — stardust.

    Matter and energy are, at root, the same thing, Einstein noted. E=mc². To the extent that light energy is interchangeable with matter, we are made of light.

    I doubt the good rev understands that in any depth.

  7. Charles Deetz ;)

    The SC serves up a rash of letters from men of the cloth, each showing a lack of understanding, research, and scientific knowledge. If they are doing this because they feel the best suited for arguing the creationist point, they have failed. And this lack of ability to persuasively and intellectually connect makes you wonder how well they can do this when they are sermonizing about their faith.

    Similarly, I saw one comment on FB by a creationist that wishes Nye was the one arguing their point.

  8. Once again: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. The wise man has said it out loud.”

  9. Made of light??? Rubbish. We are 99% made of the force that holds protons and neutrons together.

  10. “Random chance cannot reasonably result in 3 billion pairs of chemical codes”

    Yes it can, Rev (and it’s not random). There are 3.17 x 10e23 “chemical codes” (aka bonds) in one gram of sugar.

    That’s kind of a large number, a lot larger than 3 billion, FYI.

  11. “Random chance cannot reasonably result in …”

    1) all forms of life have their place in the Tree of Life
    2) the eye of humans which is a typical vertebrate eye (rather than like the eye of an insect, or of an octopus, or of a potato).
    3) the structure of the geophysical record.