While the ACLU and Americans United for a Naked Public Square were holding a press conference that was described as a “victory party,” others were more carefully reading the court decision in the Dover, Pennsylvania, case about Intelligent Design. There is, for instance, this by William Saletan over on Slate:
Judge Jones acts like it’s no big deal to declare ID unscientific, since science is just one kind of learning. “Supernatural explanations may be important and have merit,” he says. “ID arguments may be true,” could have “veracity,” and possibly “should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed.” But if unscientific theories are religious, and religion can’t be taught, it’s unclear how notions related to ID could be debated in schools, or how their truth or merit could be entertained. And that’s bad news for science, because it offers people with creationist sympathies—roughly half the American public—no outlet in the public education system outside of the science classroom.
As Jones makes clear, the Dover case is lousy with evidence of explicit religious motivation on the part of local ID proponents. But is ID, by virtue of being unscientific, wholly and inherently religious—or is there, contrary to the judge’s dualism, a third category? The answer is inadvertently sprinkled throughout his opinion. Statements by ID leaders “reveal ID’s religious, philosophical, and cultural content,” he writes. A strategy document developed by the “Center for Renewal of Science and Culture” is full of “cultural and religious goals, as opposed to scientific ones.” Proponents of ID fear “evolution’s threat to culture and society,” and the Dover board’s collaborators have “demonstrably religious, cultural, and legal missions.” Cultural, cultural, cultural. Not scientific, not necessarily religious, but cultural.
Is the pseudo-science of creationism ultimately being driven by religion? Or is this brand of religion, in turn, being driven by cultural anxieties? Is it possible to open a conversation with these folks and their kids, not in biology class but in, say, social studies?
According to Jones, the founder of the ID movement has written that evolution contradicts “every word in the Bible.” Every word? You mean, including the part about not killing or stealing? No wonder so many people cling to creationism. And no wonder scientists and judges can’t make it go away.
Saletan is right about the centrality of culture in this dispute, but it is even more importantly about human reason and the ways in which we know what we know. That is the argument made by Cardinal Schönborn in the current issue of F IRST T HINGS , ” The Designs of Science .” I am glad to see the Cardinal’s article getting a fair reading also over on Andrew Sullivan’s site, even if the item is by a guest editor and not by Mr. Sullivan.
Mark Judge is a young Washington-based writer who has been trying to persuade Christians and conservatives in general that they should not scorn rock music. The other day on this site I referred to “forms of degenerate rock music.” Mr. Judge writes to protest that “many forms of rock music are not degenerate.” Right. I was referring to degenerate rock music. Degenerate rock music tends to be degenerate.
On this site and in the pages of F IRST T HINGS , I have been calling on ethicists and moral theologians to address the question of the use of torture in interrogation. The question has been intensely debated in Congress and the media in connection with the McCain amendment against cruel, inhuman, and degrading methods of interrogation. But the debate [was conducted] largely absent thoughtful and explicitly Christian reflection. Now there is a fine symposium online at www.evangelicaloutpost.com . Participants are Darrel Cole of Drew, Daniel Heimbach and Mark Lieberbach of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, John Jefferson Davis of Gordon-Conwell, and Albert Mohler of Southern Baptist Seminary. The conversation is very much worth a careful read. (Included also is my critique of Charles Krauthammer on this question, which appeared earlier on this site.)
Here is a letter to the editor of the New Yorker that apparently is not to be published there but makes some important points:
December 6, 2005
In criticizing C.S. Lewis’ use of a lion to symbolize Jesus Christ in the Narnia Tales, Adam Gopnik (“Prisoner of Narnia,” November 21) writes that “a central point of the Gospel story is that Jesus is not the lion of the faith, but the lamb of God, while his other symbolic animal is, specifically, the lowly and bedraggled donkey”(p. 92).
In Biblical times, the donkey was highly valued (cf. Job 24:3), and only the wealthy could afford to use one for personal transportation. King David loaned his own mule to Solomon so the latter could enter Jerusalem in recollection of David’s own entry into the city and be crowned as David’s successor (1 Kings 1:33). By entering Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus was making a claim to be the promised descendent of David. 1 Peter 1:18 and Acts 8:32 apply to Jesus Christ references to a lamb in Exodus 12:5 and Isaiah 53:7. The book of Revelation refers to him 27 times as “the Lamb.” Only John the Baptizer calls him “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36).Although Gopnik makes no mention of it, C.S. Lewis makes use of this imagery by using a Lamb to symbolize Jesus Christ in the end of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader .
In Genesis 49:9, however, Judah—the tribe the Messiah was to be born of—is called “a lion’s whelp.” Proverbs 19:12 compares the king’s wrath to “the roaring of a lion,” and in Job 10:16 and Hosea 13:7 the Lord is likened to a lion. Following these leads, the book of Revelation calls Jesus Christ the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (5:5).
Contra Gopnik, therefore, The Narnia Tales are thoroughly Scriptural in describing Jesus Christ as both a Lamb and a Lion.
Philip J. Secker
In addition to which :
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