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Thread: Ministers across U.S. pay homage to Charles Darwin

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    Default Ministers across U.S. pay homage to Charles Darwin

    By Neela Banerjee and Anne Berryman The New York Times
    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2006
    NEW YORK To mark the 197th birthday of Charles Darwin, ministers at several hundred churches around the United States preached against recent efforts to undermine the theory of evolution, asserting that the opposition many Christians say exists between science and faith is false.

    At St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church, a small structure among the pricey homes of north Atlanta, the Reverend Patricia Templeton told the 85 worshipers gathered Sunday: "A faith that requires you to close your mind in order to believe is not much of a faith at all."

    In the basement of an apartment building in Evanston, Illinois, the Reverend Mitchell Brown said to the 21 people who came to services at the Evanston Mennonite Church that Darwin's theories in fact had compelled people to have faith rather than look for "special effects" to confirm the existence of God.

    "He forced religion to grow up, to become really faith for the first time," Brown said. "The life of community, that is where we know God today."

    The event, called Evolution Sunday, was an outgrowth of the Clergy Letter Project, started by academics and clergy in Wisconsin in early 2005 as a response to efforts around the country, most notably in Dover, Pennsylvania, to discredit the teaching of evolutionary theory in public schools.

    "There was a growing need to demonstrate that the loud, shrill voices of fundamentalists claiming that Christians had to choose between modern science and religion were presenting a false dichotomy," said Michael Zimmerman, dean of the college of letters and sciences at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh and the key organizer of the letter project.

    Zimmerman said that more than 10,000 ministers had signed the letter, which states, in part, that the theory of evolution is "a foundational scientific truth." To reject it, the letter continues, "is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children."

    "We believe," the letter continues, "that among God's good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought, and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator."

    Most of the signatories and those preaching on Sunday were from mainline Protestant denominations. Their congregations have fallen sharply over the last 30 years. At the same time, the number of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians has risen considerably and many of them, because of their literalist view of the Bible, doubt evolutionary theory.

    The Clergy Letter Project said that 441 congregations in 48 states and the District of Columbia took part in Evolution Sunday, but that was impossible to verify independently. Around Chicago, for instance, officials of two churches that were listed as participants in Evolution Sunday said they were not planning sermons on the subject.

    Still, those who did attend sermons welcomed what they heard. After the service at St. Dunstan's, Brett Lowe, a 41-year-old computer engineer, sat in a pew while his son Ian, 2, and daughter, Paige 6, played at his side. "Sermons like this are exactly the reason we came to this church," Lowe said.
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    Default Re: Ministers across U.S. pay homage to Charles Darwin

    I am against Charles Darwin because he was a bigot. His theory of evolutions were racist and just down right offensive. Well, he was a product of his times and at that time, eugenics involved racist ideologies.

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    Default Re: Ministers across U.S. pay homage to Charles Darwin

    His personal values, as bigoted and perhaps prejudiced and they may be, should not sway anyone's opinion of the value of the information and science that was revolutionary which he was the main perpetrator of.

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    Default Re: Ministers across U.S. pay homage to Charles Darwin

    It's actually a bit of a misconception that Darwin played a role in the theories of eugenics. Charles Darwin was a naturalist, an observer, who basically catalogued what he saw in the natural world and ultimately devised a theory of natural selection. It was his cousin, Francis Galton, who applied Darwin's work to human societies, and only after Darwin's death in 1883 did Galton begin calling his philosophies Eugenics.

    Following Darwin's publication of the Origin his cousin Francis Galton applied the concepts to human society, producing ideas to promote "hereditary improvement" starting in 1865 and elaborated at length in 1869. In The Descent of Man Darwin agreed that Galton had demonstrated that "talent" and "genius" in humans were probably inherited, but thought that the social changes Galton proposed were too "utopian". Neither Galton nor Darwin supported government intervention and instead believed that, at most, heredity should be taken into consideration by people seeking potential mates. In 1883, after Darwin's death, Galton began calling his social philosophy Eugenics. In the twentieth century, eugenics movements gained popularity in a number of countries and became associated with reproduction control programmes such as compulsory sterilisation laws, then were stigmatised after their usage in the rhetoric of Nazi Germany in its goals of genetic "purity".
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin

    In my anthropology classes, Darwin has been studied in depth, and nothing I have heard has ever suggested that his theories were racist. In fact, they delved mainly into the animal and plant kingdoms. It was primarily his successors in the field who applied his theories to racist ends.
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    Default Re: Ministers across U.S. pay homage to Charles Darwin

    Thanks for that info. Tati, I love Darwin and I never heard Darwin was a bigot before. It doesn't seem possible to link Darwin's theories to human intelligence. Intelligence in humans, like beauty, is random.
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    Default Re: Ministers across U.S. pay homage to Charles Darwin

    Ok,I guess I was mistaken with the eugenics stuff...

    I did some research and this is the quote that made me believe maybe he was a racist which he wrote in his book entitled The Descent of Man about "human races":
    At some future period not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes...will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest Allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as the baboon, instead of as now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla (1874, p. 178).
    But maybe I am interpreting in the wrong way.

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    Default Re: Ministers across U.S. pay homage to Charles Darwin

    My interpretation is not racist, I would like to add I haven't read the book in years(I will in the near future) so I don't know what info is before or after this passage.

    At some future period not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world.

    If anything this is the most damning sentence, but look what's going on in the world, is that really off the mark? In 1874 the "savage races" of MAN were Africans and look how the world turns their back on them. Most "civilised races" of MAN in the world could afford to vaccinate and feed Africans and we choose not to.

    also "civilised races" could mean more educated not just skin color. Maybe religious or political implications as well.

    At the same time the anthropomorphous apes...will no doubt be exterminated.

    Anthropomorphous (human-Like) apes are being exterminated. That is true Gorillas, Chimps and most of our close primate relatives are becoming extinct.

    The break between man and his nearest Allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as the baboon, instead of as now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla.

    I read it as: the break between it's nearest Allies(primate family) will then be wider, for it will intervene MAN(all mankind) in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as the baboon, INSTEAD of as now the Negro or Australian(aborginal) and the gorilla. The gorilla is our closest animal relative, his inclusion is not to talk down about black people, but it was to elevate the importance of the gorilla.

    I could be wrong, I will double check, but I am not sold that Darwin was a racist. His language can be uncomfortable but it was 1874. I have seen newspapers from that era and the language that was used wouldn't fly today. So I try to keep that in mind when I read old books.
    Last edited by PaintTheTownRed; February 20th, 2006 at 02:14 AM.
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    Default Re: Ministers across U.S. pay homage to Charles Darwin

    You're always going to have a bit of racism when you talk about categorization of humans. The races are distinct, and some of them are further evolved from their ancestors.

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    Default Re: Ministers across U.S. pay homage to Charles Darwin

    ^^ The last theory I heard about races is that you can consider that A is from another species than B if A and B can't safely breed together. So it would mean that human races do not exist.

    But my scientifical knowledge on the subject is kinda below zero
    Nope.

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    Default Re: Ministers across U.S. pay homage to Charles Darwin

    In my Anthropology class, we learned races are a cultural definition, while ethnicities implies a geographical definition.

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    Default Re: Ministers across U.S. pay homage to Charles Darwin

    ^^ Aye - my Anth prof says that distinct human races do not exist on any genetic, physical level.
    If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.

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