Creationist Wisdom #886: Welsh Genius Returns

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears at the website WalesOnline, which refers to itself as “as Wales’ premier outlet for breaking news.” They’re located in Cardiff, the capital of Wales. The letter is titled Shepherd should not lead his flock astray, and it’s the second letter at that link. They don’t seem to have a comments feature.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name, but instead of a first name he uses his initials — RH. We wrote about one of his earlier letters a month ago — see #873: Another Genius in Wales. Excerpts from his new letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, some bold font for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Here we go!

rev [sic] Dr Desmond Davies (July 6) supports a previous letter-writer in telling us that “the evidence for Darwin’s theory of evolution is irrefutable”. Not so.

We can’t find that earlier letter, but it doesn’t matter. RH claims it was all wrong. He says:

While having to agree that Darwin was generally right in what he had to say about variation occurring within animal kinds, (micro-evolution) any scientist worthy of the name will have to admit that Darwin’s belief that one kind or species could evolve from a different one (macro evolution) remains unproven because the evidence in the form of missing links is lacking.

RH is not only dancing he micro-macro mambo — see Common Creationist Claims Confuted — he also mentions missing links. Creationists love missing links. He tells us:

In his book The Origin of Species Darwin himself asked: “Why, if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms?” Quite! In his frustration Darwin remained hopeful that time would prove his theory correct. But we’re still waiting.

That’s classic quote-mining. It’s true that Darwin raised the question. That was his style. He said it was “the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.” Then he gave his explanation in Chapter 9: On the Imperfection of the Geological Record. Somehow, RH seems to have overlooked that. He also overlooked Wikipedia’s ever-growing list of transitional fossil. Anyway, he continues:

Dr Davies [the earlier letter-writer] asserts that there should be “no incompatibility between science and religion.” Well, that depends upon whether it’s testable science or pseudo-science. Good science will always back up biblical truth.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Yes, that’s the test of whether or not science is good. Let’s read on:

I think it worth saying in passing that there are more scientists who are Christians holding to the biblical creation account than many are aware of, with some heading up university departments.

Maybe in bible colleges. Another excerpt:

Although it is possible to be a Christian and hold to an evolutionary viewpoint, it is surely very inconsistent. If one regards the biblical creation account as “myth”, with no Adam and Eve and no original sin resulting in the fall of man bringing death and suffering into the world, then one has to question the need for a Saviour; the need for Christ’s death on the Cross.

Yes, that’s a big problem for creationists — but not for Anglicans, Catholics, and many other denominations — see the National Center for Science Education’s list of Statements from Religious Organizations that support evolution.

Then he purports to quote Richard Dawkins, who allegedly said:

… there really is a deep incompatibility between evolution and Christianity.

Maybe he said that, maybe he didn’t. Anyway, RH agrees, and here’s how he ends his letter

This is why the teaching of a non-historical mythical Genesis has been so damaging to the proclamation of the Gospel message. And thus, any so-called “shepherd” who promotes such teaching is plainly leading his flock astray, and placing himself and them in a very dangerous position before God.

Egad, the preacher is leading his whole flock to the Lake of Fire!

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17 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #886: Welsh Genius Returns

  1. While it does not matter in this case, I think you should expand your naming criteria a bit to include folks who write multiple letters.

  2. Michael Fugate

    I wonder how RH knows that evolution leads the flock astray? Sin as defined in the Bible exists even if Adam and Eve didn’t, no?

    The Letter:
    https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/western-mail-letters-friday-july-14872788
    Science and religion perfectly compatible
    As Hugh Griffiths (June 17) points out, the evidence for Darwin’s theory of evolution is irrefutable, and those who seek to deny it on religious grounds do their cause no favours.

    Earth is not flat, nor is it the centre of the universe, and neither was the world created 6,000 years ago – at nine o’clock on the morning of October 23, 4004 BC, as precisely, and erroneously calculated (on the basis of the genealogy of the book of Genesis) by Archbishop Ussher in the 17th century.

    Prevalent today is a naive belief that treats the Bible as a science textbook, which it is not. Rather, it is a religious compilation, and whereas the fundamental question which science seeks to answer is that of How?, that of the Bible is Why? Its subject matter is that of the purpose of existence and human and divine relationships, often expressed by means of myth, metaphor and poetry.

    Once this is understood it follows that there exists no incompatibility between science and religion, with both disciplines contributing greatly in their respective ways to our understanding of the natural world and the meaning of life.

    Reverend Dr Desmond Davies

    Carmarthen

  3. I will take the occasion of the claim that no transitional forms are found in nature to tell about the new book;
    Menno Schilthuizen
    Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution
    and this article from The Guardian, dependent on the book
    https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/jul/23/darwin-comes-to-town-how-cities-are-creating-new-species
    “…Indeed, evolutionary biologists no longer need to travel to remote places like the Galápagos to discover their holy grail: speciation, the formation of new and distinct species in the course of evolution. The process is going on right in the very cities where they live and work.”

  4. If [Genesis is not factual] then one has to question the need for a Saviour; the need for Christ’s death on the Cross.
    Aside from the use of mere human reason to add to the meaning of the Bible,
    I question the orthodoxy of someone attributing need to the action of the omnipotent. God does not recognize a need driving his action. God did not need Christ’s death on the Cross.

  5. @TomS

    I don’t follow. Why is the orthodoxy of someone like RH deemed to be untenable when it comes to what the Abrahamic god does or does not do; but the speculations of a moderate or liberal theist about the same god are supposed to be more legitimate, simply because they accept evolution, among other things?

    Dawkins is often accused of fundamentalism himself, but he’s right to point out that the evangelicals, as misguided as they are, are at least honest in holding to their orthodox hard line. But once someone rejects the claims of divine origin or inspiration for the Bible, and acknowledges the purely human provenance instead- i.e. that this god is a man-made construct- it seems disingenuous to go on believing in said god, not to mention postulating about him.

    After all, no-one’s had any empirical experience of “God”. They can either go by what’s in the Bible and interpret things literally, according to need; or equally, take a liberal, metaphorical view of it and feel free to attribute all sorts of things to this god.

    Either way, they shouldn’t be afforded too much credibility.

  6. Dave Luckett

    RH makes the usual error – he attributes to scripture a meaning it doesn’t bear. He substitutes a personal and unnecessary interpretation for the words themselves, and supposes this substitution to be necessary.

    There are no words in scripture that require one to believe that “original sin” was the literal result of eating a literal fruit. That’s an allegory, and there is not a word in scripture anywhere, nor in any of the creeds, nor (nowadays) in mainstream Christian doctrine, that requires it to be taken as anything else.

    The scripture speaks of two related events, intertwined in an uncommonly elegant figure: our very humanity gave us empathy and understanding of consequence, which are together the “knowledge of good and evil”. In that very acquisition, precisely caused by it, we disobeyed God. We still do. Nobody is without that sin. (Oh, sure, Jesus himself and, for Catholics, his mother, but them aside.) We all disobey, which is the original sin. All of us. Everyone. Not all the time, but frequently and inveterately.

    The rest follows. Well, kind of. Original sin therefore exists, and must be expiated, or we are unfit to enter God’s perfect Kingdom. Jesus provided that expiation.

    This is the standard Christian line. It can be enormously elaborated, of course. For example, just exactly why Jesus had to provide the redemption on the Cross, and what are its exact terms, and so on. But the point is that there is (a) no warrant in Scripture for requiring the Genesis story of the Fall of Man to be read literally and (b) there is no threat to the doctrine of original sin, expiation and redemption in reading it allegorically.

    The threats to that doctrine come from a different direction altogether. There’s two I can think of: one, if perfection and sinlessness are the criteria for Heaven, then our free will will have to be excised at the door, as the price of entry. We will have to revert to the innocence of animals, or become robots. And two, if a bloody and agonised death by torture was required by God as necessary for Him to grant redemption and forgiveness, what price God’s much-touted mercy? What price his requirement that we forgive each other without demanding death or suffering? Or is there some kind of rule? If so, who made this rule that God must obey?

    But that has nothing to do with reading Genesis literally.

  7. It’s slightly surprising that RH makes the mistake to quote Darwin, who did not talk about “missing links” but about “transitional forms”. The one creationist I ever invited could not deny the crystal clear line leading to the modern whales and modern horses and they are very easily accessible. Usually creacrappers prefer to talk about “missing links”, which of course by definition are lacking (for the dumber readers of this blog: if they weren’t lacking they would not have been missing).
    Of course RH is not the first creacrapper who carefully kills off himself the case he tries to make.

  8. I would agree with Dawkins I’m the hypothetical case of a Biblical literalist who accepted the cosmology of the Ancient Near East, such as borrowed by the author of Genesis 1.
    But not even flat-Earthers can manage to ignore their own culture to that extent.
    Yes. Every Bible reader, including the contempories of the writing of Genesis 1, borrow from their culture for understanding the text.
    I was pointing out the presumption
    of those who speak of the “need” for God’s action. The omnipotent faces no need, particularly no need constrained by human capacity. Whatever reason we can imagine for the Cross, it is impious say that God was acting under a need.
    Whether Catholics make mistakes is irrelevant.

  9. I’m trying to track Khan has he arranged Dawkins quote, ” there really is a deep incompatibility between evolution and Christianity”. When I googled it, I got page after page of re-quotation in the creationist literature.

    There are times when I think that Dawkins and Ham feed off one another. But I would be grateful for verification of this quote, in order to see whether this is really one of them.

  10. to track down the alleged Dawkins quote. I think I must have a bit of a cold; voice recognition is really misbehaving today

  11. I could not find it either. Ol’Hambo has it on his website, but without specific source.

  12. bewilderbeast

    @Paul Braterman you’re trying to carefully check a quote. Most Creation types would find that so quaint. If a quote fits, use it. If it doesn’t, alter it to fit and say “he said it”. Careful checking!? Ha! Not their style.

  13. Bewilderbeast, I really want to know if Dawkins actually said that. Because if he did, given how fond the creationists are of quoting it, it would be fine illustration of my thesis about how NOT to respond to creationism. But I don’t want to pillory him for something that he didn’t actually do

  14. Given the inbred dishonesty of creacrappers and given the fact that neither you nor I could find anything the safe bet is that didn’t say so. And I do know of atheists who said something like it:

    https://www.alternet.org/belief/why-you-cant-reconcile-god-and-evolution

  15. bewilderbeast

    I’ll try’n check. I have a whole bunch of Dawkins books and websites. 🙂

  16. bewilderbeast

    Found this possible source: Richard Dawkins, when interviewed a few years ago by Howard Condor on Revelation TV, could clearly see this inconsistency. He observed that “…sophisticated theologians are quite happy to live with evolution. I think they’re deluded. I think the evangelicals have got it right, in that there really is a deep incompatibility between evolution and Christianity.”
    For the rest it is often quoted on creationist sites.
    I went to youtube to look at Revelation TV interviews, but no way! I haven’t the patience, I’m afraid!
    For what its worth, I agree that if the bible means anything (“IF”) the evangelicals are right and the ‘sophisticated theologians’ are clutching at straws. IMO you can’t just temper your fire and brimstone because modern audiences are queasy!

  17. Thanks, Bewilderbeast. So he did say it, with predictable effect.

    Myself, I am under the strange delusion that Canon Theologians David Jennings and Professor Keith Ward, who (along with Dawkins) signed a letter to then England Education Secretary Michael Gove to help keep creationism out of English schools, to say nothing of the thousands of congregations signed up to the Clergy Letter Project that celebrates evolution as God’s handiwork, know more about what is and what is not compatible with Christianity than Richard Dawkins does, but perhaps that’s just my Dunning-Kroger ignorance.