Sunday, November 1, 2009

"God Created Darwin, there now everyone is happy"

I was listening to the Dennis Miller Show the other week when he was scheduled to have a guest that was promoting "Intelligent Design", and Miller was a little bit squeamish announcing it. Then he just said "God created Darwin, there now everyone is happy!" Generally when I am discussing religion with dogmatic Catholics, I ask the question "how do you know that God did not invent Natural Selection as his mechanism for species propagation?" I disagree that a benevolent overlord would want to design a system based on specific parameters and pre-write the screenplay. What is wrong with believing that the future has not been decided yet?

To the "militant atheists" out there, you people need to calm the fuck down okay. You don't know how life was created, whether it started as Adam and Eve or a single celled organism. Until the day when a scientist can mix a bunch of inorganic chemicals in a Crockpot, zap it with high voltage electricity and create life that can evolve into this modern civilization; I can never be an athiest. Also, for all your fancy mathematical equations on the birth of our Universe, none of you can say with any reliable certainty what existed at "Time = Zero". You don't know what was here before the big bang or who lit the fuse.

To the dogmatic creationists out there, if you believe that all life forms where designed and pre ordained by God; what say you about that pesky little organism Malaria? God invented Malaria? To cope with this, he then designed people in Malaria outbreak zones to become immune by suffering from sickle cell anemia? Anemia equals low iron in the blood; Malaria feeds off iron in the blood, or something like that. Was it the plan to invent Malaria and then design people to be anemic? If you play that role in ordaining life and space, why not just forget Malaria and Anemia?

As the Mayo Clinic describes:

Anemia. Sickle cells are fragile. They break apart easily and die, leaving you chronically short on red blood cells. Red blood cells usually live for about 120 days before they die and need to be replaced. However, sickle cells die after only 10 to 20 days. The result is a chronic shortage of red blood cells, known as anemia. Without enough red blood cells in circulation, your body can't get the oxygen it needs to feel energized. That's why anemia causes fatigue.

Episodes of pain. Periodic episodes of pain, called crises, are a major symptom of sickle cell anemia. Pain develops when sickle-shaped red blood cells block blood flow through tiny blood vessels to your chest, abdomen and joints. Pain can also occur in your bones. The pain may vary in intensity and can last for a few hours to a few weeks. Some people experience only a few episodes of pain. Others experience a dozen or more crises a year. If a crisis is severe enough, you may need hospitalization so that pain medication can be injected into your veins (intravenously).

Hand-foot syndrome. Swollen hands and feet may be the first signs of sickle cell anemia in babies. The swelling is caused by sickle-shaped red blood cells blocking blood flow out of their hands and feet.

Jaundice. Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eyes that occurs because of liver damage or dysfunction. Occasionally, people who have sickle cell anemia have some degree of jaundice because the liver, which filters harmful substances from the blood, is overwhelmed by the rapid breakdown of red blood cells. In people with dark skin, jaundice is visible mostly as yellowing of the whites of the eyes.

Frequent infections. Sickle cells can damage your spleen, an organ that fights infection. This may make you more vulnerable to infections. Doctors commonly give infants and children with sickle cell anemia antibiotics to prevent potentially life-threatening infections, such as pneumonia.

Delayed growth. Red blood cells provide your body with the oxygen and nutrients you need for growth. A shortage of healthy red blood cells can slow growth in infants and children and delay puberty in teenagers.

Vision problems. Some people with sickle cell anemia experience vision problems. Tiny blood vessels that supply your eyes may become plugged with sickle cells. This can damage the retina — the portion of the eye that processes visual images.

Does that sound like a merciful cure from a creator that has already decided the end of the story? I say it sounds more like an evolutionary adaptation with side effects. There are strong correlations between viral outbreak zones and sickle cell anemia. Malaria can't flourish in an anemic body. How does it make any moral sense to pre-ordain Malaria with Anemia as the antidote?

Why can't evolution and creationism merge into a better narrative? If we are all to live under the same tent, Protestants and Catholics, religious and agnostic, we are going to have to find a compromise somewhere in the middle on these types of issues. I would identify myself as Humanist-Protestant. I follow the important rules that I believe make our society a better place to live. Don't kill people, don't steal from people, etc. I attended Sunday school as a young child. I know the rules. I don't commit crimes, and I even hold doors open for old people. Are you going to tell me that I'm going to Hell because I'm highly skeptical of the Vatican?


  1. Actually, the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church has been consistent since at least the beginning of the 20th century: whenever they have commented publicly (i.e. as the official position of the Church) they have confirmed that there cannot be any conflict between evolution and the Bible, between science and Christianity. Our understanding of life as humans is fallible and therefore (pardon the phrase) always evolving, but the Pope and the Bible and the religion cannot be and are not.

    I'm not a Catholic nor any kind of remote fan of Catholicism, but I think, having studied the matter a bit, it is fair to criticize them for what they do wrong and not for something that they get kinda right (as far as marrying science and religion are concerned, if you think the two can be rationalized together).

    No doubt there are many arch-conservative Catholics who believe like all evangelicals believe that the world was created in 144 hours some 6000 years ago, but they are very much in the minority and it is certainly very very much not the official Vatican position.

  2. I like you Iceman. Good post. There is always something good to read here.
    I'm an atheist, but not a militant one. I'm aware that my strongest beliefs are still only beliefs be they atheist or otherwise. The militant atheist is highly self righteous in a way reminiscent of of any reliegion claiming to be "the one true faith". The global warming scam proves that even scientists can succumb to superstition and group think. The only thing that keep beliefs from being turned into fundamentalist extremist dogma is to be skeptical of everything. We should embrace and endorse skepticism as the ultimate safety valve against mass hysteria.