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  1. #331
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    Being a Young-Earth Creationist is a deal breaker for me.
    The quote doesn't mean he's a young-earth creationists, it means he was a politician trying (unsuccessfully) to give an innocuous answer to a question on an issue that half the country (including a plurality of Democrats) is stubborn about....Obama gave a similar, albeit slightly more sophisticated, answer in 2008: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/1...n_2170810.html

    I know you're an independent, I just thought it appropriate to point out that Democrats are not much better than Republicans on this issue.

    And frankly, I myself doubt that a president's politicized stance on creationism, or even whether 'intelligent design' should be taught alongside evolution in schools*, has much if any impact on economic stewardship....especially considering that education is a local issue. I think its far more likely that a politician would (rightly) believe that there's a scientific consensus that human-induced climate change exists to some unspecified degree, and then greatly hinder economic growth by uncritically applying greenhouse regulations which are virtually assured, by everything known within economics and game theory, not only to fail but to likely increase the global amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

    *which probably has a real but rather marginal impact on future economic growth....unless they live in Oklahoma, virtually any kid that's already interested in science is going to accept evolution, and is likely to have a science teacher who does so as well, making the actual economic and technological impact of such policies close to nil.

  2. #332
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowtech redneck View Post
    The quote doesn't mean he's a young-earth creationists, it means he was a politician trying (unsuccessfully) to give an innocuous answer to a question on an issue that half the country (including a plurality of Democrats) is stubborn about....Obama gave a similar, albeit slightly more sophisticated, answer in 2008: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/1...n_2170810.html

    I know you're an independent, I just thought it appropriate to point out that Democrats are not much better than Republicans on this issue.

    And frankly, I myself doubt that a president's politicized stance on creationism, or even whether 'intelligent design' should be taught alongside evolution in schools*, has much if any impact on economic stewardship....especially considering that education is a local issue. I think its far more likely that a politician would (rightly) believe that there's a scientific consensus that human-induced climate change exists to some unspecified degree, and then greatly hinder economic growth by uncritically applying greenhouse regulations which are virtually assured, by everything known within economics and game theory, not only to fail but to likely increase the global amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

    *which probably has a real but rather marginal impact on future economic growth....unless they live in Oklahoma, virtually any kid that's already interested in science is going to accept evolution, and is likely to have a science teacher who does so as well, making the actual economic and technological impact of such policies close to nil.
    Yes, it does mean he is a YEC. He thinks this is a question that should be answered by theologians. Wrong answer! The age of the Earth is a scientific question that religion is incapable of answering.

    And when I think about the economic impact of science and the age of the Earth, global warming isn't what comes to mind, it's evolution. If we have leaders who do not accept science, who question its motives, who demean it, who claim its theories are "from the pit of hell", this nation will no longer be a technological leader. We will decline, collapsing under the weight of our own debt and crumbling infrastructure, and another civilization will take the lead.

    As for Obama, I never voted for him.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  3. #333
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    Yes, it does mean he is a YEC. He thinks this is a question that should be answered by theologians. Wrong answer! The age of the Earth is a scientific question that religion is incapable of answering.

    And when I think about the economic impact of science and the age of the Earth, global warming isn't what comes to mind, it's evolution. If we have leaders who do not accept science, who question its motives, who demean it, who claim its theories are "from the pit of hell", this nation will no longer be a technological leader. We will decline, collapsing under the weight of our own debt and crumbling infrastructure, and another civilization will take the lead.
    Fair enough, but I don't read Rubio's remarks as an endorsement of young-earth creationism so much as equivicating for political purposes.

    I simply don't think that willfully disbelieving in one major aspect of scientific knowledge is necessarily indicative of technological decline in general-that kind of willful ignorance tends to be compartmentalized. For example, it might have a (marginally) negative future effect on industries and technological advancement in the medical or agricultural industries, but that does not mean it will have any impact on, say, electronics or engineering. What I think has a much greater impact on future economic (and associated technological) growth is broad public knowledge of basic economics and public attitudes toward commerce and entrepenuers.

  4. #334
    Senior Member BAJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    If you're interested in the difference between actual conservatives and the right wing populism we see disguising itself as conservatism have a look at this article from The American Conservative by Daniel McCarthy.

    It's long so I'll bold the best bits.

    Outsider Conservatism

    From Burke to Buckley, traditionalism has never meant conformism.


    Nice. According to the new Lincoln movie, the apple has indeed fallen far from the tree. The movie portrays the fight to pass the 13th Amendment, where Republicans and conservatives supported abolition of slavery and equivalence for African Americans under the law.

    Now the situation is reversed, and the Republican party, like it or not, is full of the bigots, and the religious zealots who would claim the Biblical inferiority of African Americans. Indeed, as I posted previously, Mitt was a church leader in a church with a rich history of declaring extremely racist views.

  5. #335
    Senior Member BAJ's Avatar
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    Someone posted this on my facebook. This is the Conservative Party in England. This is sort of nice. They have a well defined platform with definitions and prices for each thing they plan. A big problem with the Republicans this past term was that Romney was flopping around more than a dying fish, and obviously his promises were boldface lies because they didn't add up.

    http://www.conservatives.com/Policy.aspx

  6. #336
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    Quote Originally Posted by BAJ View Post
    and the Republican party, like it or not, is full of the bigots, and the religious zealots who would claim the Biblical inferiority of African Americans. Indeed, as I posted previously, Mitt was a church leader in a church with a rich history of declaring extremely racist views.
    You drink way too much Kool-aid son.

  7. #337
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    Well, that seals the deal there. I will never vote for Rubio under any circumstance. Being a Young-Earth Creationist is a deal breaker for me. And the fact that he thinks the age of the universe has zero to do with the economy only further exposes how clueless he is.
    The fact that you can't see that Rubio is clearly punting here so as not to piss off part of the base, not affirming his belief in YEC, is telling.

    Allow Rod Dreher to humbly rebut your ridiculous assertion:

    The 7,000 Year Old World

    Did you say you wanted another mega-post on the Marco Rubio/Young Earth Creationism/Republicans point? Well, sorry, that’s what you’re going to get. I have views on the topic that will irritate just about everybody.

    1. People who use this flap to say that people should not bring religion into politics don’t really mean what they say, or at least they don’t know what they’re talking about. As Alan Jacobs pointed out succinctly, what they really mean is they don’t want conservative religion in politics. There is no way to denounce religion in politics without excluding Martin Luther King Jr and the Civil Rights movement — and, before them, the abolitionists. There’s no way to denounce religion in politics without also denouncing the segregation-era Roman Catholic archbishop of New Orleans who excommunicated several Catholic Louisiana politicians because they tried to pass a law forbidding the integration of Catholic schools. I’m old enough to remember hearing older white Southerners complain bitterly about how the Northern churches overstepped their bounds with the Civil Rights movement, and didn’t realize that religion ought not to get involved in politics.

    2. The media love to believe this kind of thing is an exclusively Republican problem, but Daniel Engber at Slate observes that squishiness on the creationism issue is a bipartisan phenomenon. He recalls a 2008 moment when then-Sen. Obama gave more or less the same answer as Sen. Marco Rubio when a similar question was presented to him. Here is a lengthy excerpt from Engber’s analysis that you need to see:

    How do these quotes stack up? It seems to me that they’re exactly in agreement on four crucial and dismaying points:


    1) Both senators refuse to give an honest answer to the question. Neither deigns to mention that the Earth is 4.54 billion years old.

    2) They both go so far as to disqualify themselves from even pronouncing an opinion.I’m not a scientist, says Rubio. I don’t presume to know, says Obama.

    3) That’s because they both agree that the question is a tough one, and subject to vigorous debate. I think there are multiple theories out there on how this universe was created, says Rubio. I think it’s a legitimate debate within the Christian community of which I’m a part, says Obama.

    4) Finally they both profess confusion over whether the Bible should be taken literally. Maybe the “days” in Genesis were actual eras, says Rubio. They might not have been standard 24-hour days, says Obama.

    In light of these concordances, to call Rubio a liar or a fool would be to call our nation’s president the same, along with every other politician who might like to occupy the Oval Office. If a reporter asks a candidate to name the age of Earth, there’s only one acceptable response:Well, you know, that’s a complicated issue … and who am I to say?

    That’s not to argue that Obama and Rubio are identical in mind-set (although it’s hard to tell what either thinks on the basis of his cagey public statements). It’s clear enough they differ on some scientific policies. At the same 2008 event in Pennsylvania, Obama went on to give this caveat:

    Let me just make one last point on this. I do believe in evolution. I don’t think that is incompatible with Christian faith, just as I don’t think science generally is incompatible with Christian faith. I think that this is something that we get bogged down in. There are those who suggest that if you have a scientific bent of mind then somehow you should reject religion, and I fundamentally disagree with that. In fact, the more I learn about the world, the more I know about science, the more I am amazed about the mystery of this planet and this universe—and it strengthens my faith as opposed to weakens it. [APPLAUSE]

    So Obama believes in evolution, and presumably he’d like to teach it in the nation’s public schools, while Rubio suggests that “multiple theories” should be given equal time. But even so, both men present the science as a matter of personal opinion. Obama doesn’t say, Evolution is a fact; he says, I believe in it.
    3. Ross Douthat is right:

    The fact that the “conservatives vs. science” framework is frequently unfair doesn’t mean that the problem doesn’t exist, or that Republican politicians should just get a free pass for tiptoeing around it. No matter how you spin it, Rubio’s bets-hedging non-answer isn’t exactly a great indicator about the state of the party he might aspire to lead. Instead, he’s contributing to the problem that the wise Jim Manzi has described as follows:

    The debate about evolution is a great example of the kind of sucker play that often ensnares conservatives. Frequently, conservatives are confronted with the assertion that scientific finding X implies political or moral conclusion Y with which they vehemently disagree. Obvious examples include (X = the Modern Synthesis of Evolutionary biology, Y = atheism) and (X = increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 will lead to some increase in global temperatures, Y = we must implement a global regulatory and tax system to radically reduce carbon emissions). Those conservatives with access to the biggest megaphones have recently developed the habit of responding to this by challenging the scientific finding X. The same sorry spectacle of cranks, gibberish and the resulting alienation of scientists and those who respect the practical benefits of science (i.e., pretty much the whole population of the modern world) then ensues.

    In general, it would be far wiser to challenge the assertion that X implies Y. Scientific findings almost never entail specific moral or political conclusions because the scope of application of science is rarely sufficient.
    4. I was discussing this issue yesterday with a friend on the left, who challenged my claim that it’s possible for someone to be well-educated and to believe in Young Earth Creationism. I told him that I have known, and do know, a number of people who are well-educated and who nevertheless affirm this. It’s mostly a matter of cognitive dissonance, I believe. But it’s also a matter of people living in bubbles.

    Here’s what I mean: I don’t know a soul — aside from scientists, science educators, theologians who work in this area, or former colleagues at the Templeton Foundation — who ever talks about the age of the earth, God, and evolution. I care about this stuff more than most people I know, but until I went to work for Templeton, I rarely gave the topic much sustained thought, except episodically, e.g., when reading newspaper stories about the controversy in this or that school system. It’s just not the sort of thing that comes up, and when it does (or when it did with me), I would tend not to engage, because the last thing I wanted to do was argue in a social situation about religion, unless I had to. Granted, for some churches, this is a very big deal, but they only really talk about it with people who already agree with them. Again, I’m speaking from anecdotal experience, but in Southern culture, a well brought up person will avoid talking about controversial issues in social situations. It is easy for me to imagine that a well-educated person who attends a church that preaches some form of creationism might never encounter someone who plausibly challenges that belief, and might never, in his reading, come across books or essays that do.

    Forget science and evolution for a second. Alan Jacobs (him again!) cites a whopping example of cultural ignorance: a literary scholar’s op-ed piece in The New York Times completely misunderstanding the meaning of the phrase “the Word made flesh” with reference to Jesus Christ. Nobody on The New York Times staff caught her egregious mistake before it went into print. Jacobs, who teaches literature, writes:

    There are few pages of Scripture more famous and influential than that first chapter of John. A scholar of pre-twentieth-century literature, American or European, who is unfamiliar with it is operating at a severe disadvantage. If we want to understand — truly to understand — writers and thinkers from the past, we’re going to have to go to some considerable trouble to know as much as possible of what they knew, even if it’s boring or unpalatable to us. That goes for historians and literary critics alike.
    Now, I would wager that many Christians with nothing more than a high school education can tell you what that phrase means. It is hard for me to understand how anyone in American culture — Christian or non-Christian — can be well-educated without awareness of that phrase’s meaning. Yet a professor who teaches 19th century literature is not only ignorant of the metaphysical basis of the worldview that produced much of what she teaches, but moves within a cultural milieu in which nobody grasped how wrong she was, or challenged her.

    Was this professor not well-educated? Are editors at The New York Times not well-educated? Of course they’re well-educated, but they are still ignorant of something very basic in this culture. I only bring this up as an illustration of how cultural context determines what a person knows, and, more crucially to the point I want to make here, it determines what a person knows he doesn’t know. This professor, and the Times editorial staff, did not think her wildly inaccurate interpretation of “the Word made flesh” might be wrong. A minute’s googling would have shown them otherwise, but they didn’t know what they didn’t know, because (presumably) nobody in their intellectual and social circles ever talks about such a thing, or challenges what they think they know about religion.

    This is what I mean by many educated people not knowing enough about science (geology, biology, etc.) to know what they don’t know. It’s not because they are poorly educated. It’s because for whatever reason or reasons, they’re ignorant. The more interesting question raised by this Rubio thing is why so many Americans are so uninformed about basic science. A second and parallel question is why so many elites are so uninformed about basic Christianity, and how it informs the content of the culture in which they live (beyond their immediate circles, I mean).

    5. For all that, Ross is right about the need for the Republican Party to get over its weakness on this issue. Fundamentalist doctrine on the matter is not the same thing as Christian doctrine. Well-known Christians who did not believe in a literal reading of Genesis’s creation account include St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and John Wesley. [UPDATE: Not Calvin, as I previously claimed, depending on the BioLogos claim; I thank the reader in the comments section who pointed out this error -- RD]. It is a myth that all Christians believed that Genesis was a science textbook until Charles Darwin called that into question. The excellent website BioLogos is staffed by Christians who write about how the Christian faith and biological science can be reconciled. And, for the record, the Discovery Institute’s advocacy of Intelligent Design is intellectually provocative; whether or not you agree with ID — and BioLogos does not support ID — it is a far more scientific approach to the question of human origins than Creationism.

    The political point here is simply that there is no good reason for a politician of Christian conviction to hedge on this issue as a matter of faith. Yes, to reject Creationism will tick off some of the GOP base, but this is just going to have to be done. Why? Because fair or not, this issue is becoming more relevant as the population becomes more secular. As a friend wrote to me about it this morning:

    [Rubio's] remarks are disqualifying to me for the presidency for the following reason: either he really is as dense as he sounded in that statement, which is a bad sign about his intellect more generally, or he’s just saying it to placate the folks I described above, which might be worse. We had 8 years of that garbage under W. That’s why I’m now a functional Democrat — meaning: I vote Democratic for almost entirely negative reasons, because I hate what the Republican Party has become.
    Democrats do this too, of course (see Daniel Engber’s column above), but the media narrative is that it is an exclusively Republican thing. This is a problem for the party, and complaining about the selective outrage of the media over it is not going to help.

    6. My friend Joe Carter asks of me, Ross, Pete Wehner and others who have criticized Rubio:

    Douthat is Catholic, Dreher is Eastern Orthodox, and Wehner is Evangelical. Yet all three Christians think that Rubio’s mild support for Young-Earth Creationism is somewhat embarrassing.

    Even though I myself believe that that the Earth is about 4 billion years old (give or take a decade), I wish these gentlemen—and others who are criticizing Rubio—would explain why their—or, I should say, our—beliefs are preferable to our fellow Christians who believe the Earth is 10,000 years old

    If you pressed us to give an explanation for our explanation (without the aid of Wikipedia) we could probably say that it has something to do with radiometric dating. But even though each of these men are highly educated, I doubt they could give a sufficient explanation for how the process works, much less how it can be reliable enough to make a measurement of billions of years (I certainly could not).

    In fact, I suspect that if you ask most scientists, they would be similarly stymied. Their answers—like the ones Douthat, Dreher, Wehner, and I would give—is that we have faith that the people who understand that sort of thing and have taken the measurements know what they are talking about. We may not know these people personally or even know people who know them. But we have great faith in the presumed knowledge of these people we don’t know because other people also have faith in them. Our epistemic warrant—our justification for reasonably holding such a belief—is based on our faith in what other people know.

    There is nothing wrong with this type of faith-based belief. But why do we assume it is inherently superior to other types of faith-based beliefs?
    Joe’s point is an interesting one, and one I endorse to a strictly limited degree. He’s completely right that I, a non-scientist whose technical knowledge of science is scanty at best, accepts the standard scientific account of the origin of life based on the authority of scientists. I also accept certain theological doctrines and reject others, even though I could not give a strong and detailed account of why, based on authority. I would point out that I often write on this blog critically of the tendency in our culture to grant science more authority than it deserves; this is called scientism.

    Even so, to answer Joe’s question, I accept the verdict of science on the age of the earth because science is a mode of inquiry best suited to investigating these kinds of questions, and delivering accurate judgments. That is not to say science provides definitive, unchanging judgments: in fact, the scientific method presupposes that every scientific claim can in theory be falsified (that is, proved wrong). Scientists test and retest theories, and adjust them in light of new knowledge. Scientists may find out in the future that the scientific consensus on the biological origins of humankind are wrong (see Alvin Plantinga’s review in The New Republic of Thomas Nagel’s new book on the topic). But I trust science to give us the most accurate — if incomplete! — explanation of the origins of humankind that is available to us in the present moment. It is highly improbable that the Young Earth Creationist’s account of the origins of the earth and humankind are true, with respect to the evidence, and vastly more probable that the scientific consensus on this question is true, or far more true.

    Would Joe privilege a reputable Bible scholar’s explanation of atonement over a geologist’s? I bet he would. That’s why I privilege a geologist’s account of the age of the earth over a reputable Bible scholar’s.

  8. #338
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    Interesting article. Right on.

  9. #339
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    There are two sides to every coin...

    This is also from Rod's column over at The American Conservative:

    When Atheists Make It Easy To Hate Them

    P.Z. Myers once desecrated the Eucharist and the Koran. In that spirit, his ideological confreres have a fun event planned at Dartmouth:

    An atheist group at Dartmouth College is planning an event aimed at skewering the reputation of the late Mother Teresa.

    The Atheists Humanists Agnostics (AHA) club sent out a campus-wide e-mail announcing the program on Tuesday and promising a “full-out romp against why one of the most beloved people of the century, Mother Teresa, is as Hitchens put it… ‘a lying, thieving Albanian dwarf.’”

    Mother Teresa is widely known for her life’s work of aiding the poor and comforting the sick.

    The e-mail says the group plans to screen an anti-Mother Teresa film, discuss Hitchens’ book, Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, and question how the public has been “conned into thinking this woman [Teresa] was good.”

    The e-mail states Teresa, who is on her way to sainthood in the Catholic church, “was not a friend of the poor,” but “was a friend of poverty.”

    The email links to a now infamous article by the late Christopher Hitchens which attempts to debunk much of the lore that surrounds Teresa.

    The event has ignited controversy on the Ivy League campus, with students telling Campus Reform they were upset AHA was hosting such an event.

    “It’s easy for a group of privileged Ivy League students who have never experienced poverty to meet in a ‘super secret room’ and think themselves as intellectuals by bashing Mother Teresa,” Melanie Wilcox, Executive Editor of the conservative Dartmouth Review, told Campus Reform.

    “I’d like to know what they have done, if anything, to help the needy,” she added.
    Indeed. And when people react with disgust to these juveniles’ petulant, hateful stunt, they will claim that they are being oppressed.

    I have a name for this kind of thing: Westboro Atheism.

  10. #340
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    Here's a second article from Rod on the Rubio statement:

    Rubio’s Science As Theology

    Here we go again:

    GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?
    Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.
    This sort of thing drives me crazy, and not just because that’s an embarrassing, illiterate answer for a national politician to give on a question like that.

    For the record, I am far more interested in what a politician has to say about the problems we’re dealing with now than in his religious beliefs about the age of the universe. Science shows that it’s impossible for American Indians to have been descended from the Hebrews, as the LDS Church teaches. Yet what is it to me if Romney believes this falsifiable “fact”? I know, I know: But if he believes something that is provably not true, how can we trust his thinking? All I can tell you is that I’ve known people with whom I would trust to manage my money, who believe as a matter of dogma that the earth was created 7,000 years ago. People are strange about that sort of thing. I don’t have any particular problem reconciling what science tells us about the age of the earth with my Christian faith, but I’ve known lots of Christians — really intelligent people — who, for some reason, draw a bright, clear line around a literal reading of Genesis. I wish they wouldn’t, but I am not unnerved by the fact that they do, or at least I don’t see it as disqualifying in a politician, any more than I would see it as disqualifying for a businessman. (For a scientist, science teacher, or theologian, it’s a different story.)

    This question is really about laying down a status marker, giving Republican politicians the opportunity to show to secular liberals whether or not they’re the troglodyte idiots that they (the secular liberals) believe all Republicans are. Liberal journalists keep thinking that if only they can draw Republicans out on this issue, it will be perfectly obvious that these politicians are unfit for office, because they’re anti-science! They never seem to notice that just about half of all Americans believe in the creationist account of mankind’s origins. Me, I wish Republican politicians had a more sophisticated and plausible account for how God created the universe and all within it, but this is hardly the vote-loser that liberals think it is.

    I wish one of these liberal journalists would go into a black or Latino church supper and ask people their thoughts about how the universe began. I’d bet that 99 percent of the people there would agree with Marco Rubio, even if most of them would vote for his opponent. People just don’t care about this stuff at the national political level. You’d better believe I’d fight over this issue if it came down to a matter of what was going to be taught in my local school. But I couldn’t possibly care less what the guy who lives in the White House thinks, unless he tries to impose it on the country.

    Having said all that, could we please have a rising GOP star who would, for once, defend both science and religion on this question? It’s a false choice, saying that either Genesis has to be literally right, or the atheists do. According to that Gallup poll, one-third of all Americans believe the standard scientific account of the universe’s origins, but also believe that God guided the process (this is my view, by the way). When I was working for the Templeton Foundation, I ran across distinguished scientists and theologians who believed this, and who could defend it. The answer to the question is not the either/or that secular liberals or Christian fundamentalists types believe it to be. Would it kill top Republican politicians to do a little reading in the works of Sir John Polkinghorne, a theoretical physicist and Anglican priest, and other Christian scientists like him?

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