Dec. 22, 2005
December 22, 2005
THE INTELLIGENT DESIGN DECISION:
If you'd like to read the complete 139-page decision by a federal judge this week that forbids teaching Intelligent Design in public school science classes, click here.
Reporters David Brown and Rick Weiss of the Washington Post write that this opinion is "a passionate paean to science" that evolution's defenders no doubt will rely on to help make their case.
By the way, it might be easier for me if any group that doesn't have a statement to make about this case would send me an e-mail.
* * *
I can think of no better way to start the second year of this blog than by quoting Jurgen Moltmann, one of the premier Christian theologians of our era. Moltmann is professor emeritus of systematic theology at the University of Tubingen in Germany.
I felt privileged a couple of years ago to be able to hear Moltmann speak at a small dinner gathering at a Kansas City area seminary. I turn to Moltmann again today because he's written a piece in the current issue of Theology Today, the quarterly whose content is overseen by the Princeton Theological Seminary. (Moltmann's piece is not available online at the Theology Today site, at least not yet.)
Let me first just give you the abstract of the piece, then I want to quote a few sentences that I found particularly interesting.
Abstract: " 'Trust is good, control is better,' said Lenin and those who want the total surveillance state. But who controls the controllers? This ancient question is unaswered. No control works without trust. After looking into different levels of trust from psychology to politics, we ask about trust in God. Only a God who bears the sins and sufferings of the world is trustworthy. Can trust be restored when it is broken? Repentance, confession of guilt, change of the heart and reparation of damages can restore trust on the personal level as well as on the political."
Here's some of what Moltmann says in his piece: "I was never very happy with German politics in general and stood most of my time on the side of the opposition, but looking back on German postwar politics as a whole, I would say that it was a politics of reconciliation -- first with France, then with Russia and most recently with Poland.
"This politics of reconciliation replaced the old German 'realpolitik' power-politics. It began with the Nuremberg trials, which brought some justice into our bloody history, and with the Stuttgart Confession of Guilt made by the Protestant Churches in the summer of 1945. But the secret motivation behind it was and is 'Auschwitz,' as a reminder of the German change of heart.
" 'Auschwitz' became the primordial story of postwar Germany as after-Auschwitz Germany. In the center of Berlin, there is no monument of the unknown soldier of World War II, but the Auschwitz -monument. And last, but not least, German politics made reparation-payments to the victims of German crimes against humanity, with a strict commitment to peace. . . .
"This brings us to the following conclusion: The restoration of trust is politically possible. Every step to truth leads to new trust."
If you want to read my latest work for The Kansas City Star, click here.
It sounds to me like you're expecting to be swamped by "intelligent design" emails. Oh, the hard life of a columnist!
Posted by: Joe Barone | December 22, 2005 at 05:43 AM
NO! I do NOT want to read the judge's 139 page opinion. I am sick of the whole subject. Our "beloved" Daily Star (AM paper) prints people's letters on the subject much too often. I think they do that so they have an excuse not to print letters from people like me who disagree with them on Local issues - same for some of their slanted or omitted news. It reminds me of the Chicago Tribune in McCormic days.
There are so many very serious problems facing just our country it is maddening that so much time and energy is wasted on what should be a non-issue.
Our congrgation teaches our children to evaluate situations like this and learn to make their own accountable moral decisions. That is to think for themselves. We have lots of teachers in our family so we appreciated this approach. My kids joined the church mostly as a social thing because their friends did. But they learned well what we felt was essential.
It looks as if these people who get all steamed up over things like evolution or sexuality don't trust their kids to make their own decisions.
We ate meals together and talked about our expriences. Our oldest daughter reported what happened in a government class in grade 7. A subsitute guy came and ran on and on about how much better communism was. She said he was stupid and dodged all the questions the class asked him. He was all wet. We felt it was a very valuable class and she learned a lot. But alas, later she reported that lots of parents got hysterical that their kids were exposed to such evil ideas. The guy was sacked. I am glad we could trust our kids to think for themselves. Why is it so hard for conservatives to trust theirs?
I find your blogs on the subject interestinng so keep up the good work. We need to know what is on people's minds so we can protect our public schools.
Posted by: Ruth Stokes | December 22, 2005 at 11:56 AM
Ruth is probably right about trusting our children. Trusting the people who write student textbooks is a different matter. I usually find it encouraging when I hear about people (conservatives, liberals, whoever) who are interested in their child's education and get involved.
Posted by: Kansas Bob | December 22, 2005 at 04:58 PM
The judge in this ID case has echoed the decision of Judge William Overton in his treatment of the 1982 Creationism case in Arkansas. One place to read this is:
Both judges give a rational, clear explanation of how to distinguish science from religion. Both emphasize the importance of keeping religious views from being forced on students in science classes. I think Overton's is better written.
I do believe that many young people are woefully ignorant of religious matters. Ideally, they would learn about religion at their family's church or a friend's church or temple. I'd love every high school in USA to have a requirement for a comparative religion course. It would give a venue for discussion of Intelligent Design in public schools, as well as cosmology beliefs from around the world. I'm particularly fond of a Hindu view that there is no beginning at all, created or evolved, but that the universe has always existed in cycles of expansion and degradation. The question of origins is meaningless in the absence of a beginning. An interesting alternative perspective, don't you think? The British astronomer, Fred Hoyle, attempted to couch this in scientific terms but had to abandon it in the face of growing evidence against it.
Posted by: David Wagner | December 23, 2005 at 02:16 AM
If a child is raised in a church then presumably the church and the family have taught them their values and theology (like creation etc). If they had done a good job conveying their values and been open and honest with their kids, then they should not be afraid if they are exposed to other ideas like the theory of evolution. For example, my daughter believed that democracy was better than communism and was not threatened by opposing views.
One time I complained to our minister that our kids asked important questions about religeon that I could not answer and I had to keep saying that I did not know the answer - but this is how I feel. His advice was "don't bluff or they will see right thru you".
When my daughter was in jr high, the church had a sex education class. All the parents were required to take part. Sometimes the kids met alone with the teacher and sometimes the parents did. The most exciting was when kids and parents met. The kids contrasted "other" parents with "our parents". They said that we were HONEST with them and admited we did not know everything. It was time on a mountain top. So our kids felt secure in their faith and they could trust us and vice versa.
The people who are trying to force the public schools to teach what they now call "intelelgent design" seem to lack confidence in the effectiveness of their teaching.
Yes it is very good when parents of different faiths take an interest in their education - the quality of the teaching, text books etc. We took a very active part all thru the years. But respecting diverse views is critical. So it is wrong and unfair to try to force the teaching of any religeon in the public schools.
As a 3rd generation scientist, I do not want the integrity of the scientific process degraded by forcing religeous teachings in science classes.
Posted by: Ruth Stokes | December 23, 2005 at 07:01 PM
This thread's time has passed, but I'm just getting around to a comment--not on ID, but on your main entry re: Moltmann.
Thanks for your pointer to the "Stuttgart Confession of Guilt," made by the Protestant Churches of Germany in 1945. I hadn't been aware of that.
I'm about halfway through the lengthy web page to which you pointed us (authored by an American Lutheran pastor, taking issue with the Stuttgart Confession). As I read, my response became more visceral until I felt I had to comment here.
The author quotes Barth--a Reformed theologian--as saying that in the Hitler years, "The Lutherans slept while the Reformed stayed awake." I can't speak for the Reformed, but as far as the Lutherans go, Barth is being too kind. "Lutherans were comatose" might be closer to the truth. If it weren't for pastors like Niemoeller (whom the author chastizes) and Bonhoeffer, the Lutherans would have a legacy of nothing but shame.
As a Lutheran who is not a German, I too can join in endorsing and making the confession of guilt which was made at Stuttgart.
From what I've read so far, I feel ashamed of the perspective proposed by the author of the web page to which you pointed us (whose name I will not mention).
Posted by: Dave Miller | December 24, 2005 at 11:43 AM