Saturday, January 28, 2006

End of the Spear

Christianity Today has a review of End of the Spear. We haven't yet seen the movie, but it's based on a truly amazing story. For those not familiar with it, in 1956 four young missionaries were murdered by Ecuadoran indians. After their deaths, two of the widows and a sister of another of the slain men went to live with the tribe from which the killers came. Because of the beauty of their witness, eventually much of the tribe, including the killers, was converted to Christianity.

It is very difficult to imagine the selflessness of bereaved women who might have been understandably embittered toward the murderers of their loved ones, instead going to live among the killers to win them to the Truth. It is an amazing story of love, forgiveness, redemption, and human nobility, and from all that we've heard and read the movie tells it faithfully and powerfully.

Another Humanist For ID

Another non-Christian, non-theist endorses the basic idea of Intelligent Design. In a recent interview on National Public Radio, novelist Kurt Vonnegut, who describes himself as a secular humanist, said this:

Mr. VONNEGUT: Where you can see tribal behavior now is in this business about teaching evolution in a science class and intelligent design. It's the scientists themselves are behaving tribally.

NPR: How are the scientists behaving tribally?

Mr. VONNEGUT: They say, you know, about evolution, it surely happened because their fossil record shows that. But look, my body and your body are miracles of design. Scientists are pretending they have the answer as how we got this way when natural selection couldn't possibly have produced such machines.

NPR: Does that mean you would favor teaching intelligent design in the classroom?

Mr. VONNEGUT: Look, if it's what we're thinking about all the time; if I were a physics teacher or a science teacher, it'd be on my mind all the time as to how the hell we really got this way. It's a perfectly natural human thought and, okay, if you go into the science class you can't think this? Well, alright, as soon as you leave you can start thinking about it again without giving aid and comfort to the lunatic fringe of the Christian religion. Also, I think that, you know, it's tribal behavior. I don't think that Pat Robertson, for instance, doubts that we evolved. He is simply representing a tribe.

NPR: There are tribes on both sides here in your view?


NPR: May I ask what tribes, if any, you have belonged to over the years?

Mr. VONNEGUT: Well, it's an ancestral tribe. These were immigrants from north of Germany who came here about the time of the Civil War, but anyway, these people called themselves free thinkers. They were impressed, incidentally, by Darwin. They're called Humanists now: people who aren't so sure that the Bible is the Word of God.

NPR: Who are denounced by some religious people as secular humanists?

Mr. VONNEGUT: Well, that's exactly what I am. The trouble with being a secular humanist is that we don't have a congregation. We don't meet, so it's a very flimsy tribe, but there's a wonderful quotation from Nietzsche. Nietzsche said, Only a person of deep faith can afford the luxury of skepticism. Something perfectly wonderful is going on. I do not doubt it, but the explanations I hear do not satisfy me.

So much for the canard that ID is a Christian meme and that the designer has to be the God of the Bible. David Berlinski, Michael Denton, Antony Flew, and now Kurt Vonnegut are none of them Christians nor theists. Yet they're all impressed by the evidence that life displays purpose and intention.

Is Judge Jones paying attention?

Swann vs. Rendell in PA

We'd like to point out that a recent poll in Pennsylvania showed Lyn Swann leading the incumbent Democratic governor Ed Rendell 46% to 44%. There are so many odd results on this poll, however, that we can't put too much confidence in Swann's lead. For just one example, Republican respondents said that they'd like to see Condaleeza Rice run for president by 46% to 32% margin, but on the previous question, when asked who their choice for president would be, Rice wasn't even mentioned in a list of nine candidates.

It's hard to say what significance a poll has at this point in the election campaign, but it does seem that Rendell is vulnerable, especially to a black opponent with the name recognition of someone like Lyn Swann.