September 16, 2008

Church Of England (Anglicans) Takes Giant Step Into The 21st Century

Around a year ago, the new Pope, Pope Whatshisname, oh wait, is it Pope Arnold?, no no no, Pope Benedict, yeah that's the ticket, embraced evolution.

Now the Anglicans have finally decided to embrace evolution too. In fact, they have gone a step further and apologized to Charles Darwin.

Really, they should apologize to the Anglicans, who have been told by many an Anglican priest, to deny evolution. In other words to deny reality.

I think the Anglicans are understanding that by deny evolution in today's computer world is slow suicide:

Anglican leaders fear that “noisy” advocates of a literal interpretation of the Bible - especially in the United States...are infecting the perception of Christianity worldwide.

I love the term "noisy creationists." Every science or atheist blog gets comments from them. They are all over Youtube too. And the best part is that they are getting clobbered in cyberspace. Clobbered, because they are arguing against fact.
And lurkers, who assumed everything they heard in church or from their parents is true, are now questioning everything to the point that they realize that they are being lied to.

If faith is presented as genuine faith, it isn't a lie. But if faith is dependent on the earth being flat or evolution being false, then it is a lie, and especially the young people are getting it.

Back to the Anglicans. I really get lost when I try to figure out the differences between different Christian sub cults, like Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Jews for Jesus, Anglicans, etc.

I read that Anglicans are sort of between Catholics and Baptists, whatever that means. I was also told that Anglicans are really Catholics who believe the King or Queen of England is the Pope. In other words, they must be more progressive towards science than the noisy Fundy Baptists.

Anyway, the Church of England has a web site, and yesterday they officially devoted a few pages to Charles Darwin and evolution.


  1. One thing to keep in mind, the Anglican Communion is made up of many independent parts that all trace their origins to the Church of England.

    In the U.S. it's the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, or ECUSA. The beauty of ECUSA is that everyone is free to question doctrine, and reason is never to be surrenderd to dogma.

    I'm an atheist, and a member of the Episcopal church (it's complicated). The point being, I guess, is that ECUSA is definitely on the left edge of the spectrum of Anglicanism. You can't, by any means, paint the whole Communion with one brush.

  2. OT: I'm an Israeli atheist Jew. I'm curious as to what "species of Jew" (lol) you are :-P

    The apology-to-darwin thing is all over the webbytubes. Gah. I find it really sad that churches only apologize and recant their "evil-doings" centuries after the evil deed. There's also the fact that this apology does not include, say, a renunciation of this whole religion crap thingie. I wonder what they're trying to achieve with this.

  3. COF, all these variations of Christianity are just mind boggling.
    You figure God would have been a lot more straight forward when he wrote the book:)

    Freidenker, I'm a Canadian atheist Jew.
    In Israel, is it true that about half the Jews there today are either atheist or agnostic?

  4. Oh, Canadian? My sister went to Canada a few years back. I heard there's a huge Jewish congregation there! What kind of Jewish population is there? Mostly Orthodox/reform?

    Well, about Israel - the majority (meaning, well, more than 50%!) of Jews are secular Jews. That's the former "congregation" I belonged to. Secular Jews are kind of like "pick-and-choose" Jews. But all secular Jews, however, celebrate the main holidays and circumcise and get their bar-mitsva - all things I've done (or were done to me :/ )

    Anyway,there's a huge percentage of non-orthodox religious Jews up here. People who wear a knitted Kipa. They're also "pick-and-choose" people, only more rigid about their picks and chooses. There's a few hundred thousand Ha'redim in here - and they are... Well, they're a bunch of demented fuckwits, that's what they are. They're worse than American fundies but better than Islamic fascists (i.e, they don't suicide bomb or even bomb for that matter. Oh, and they're rich. FILTHY rich)

  5. Most Jews in Canada are secular Jews.
    I recently went to a Bar Mitzvah party with around 250 people, mostly Jewish. Not one kipa.
    My parents were the pick and choose type, and they didn't choose very much.

  6. The Church of England was more or less the creation of Henry VIII, when Popey Longtimeago refused to grant him a divorce on Catholic Dogma grounds. Henry also saw the lucrative side of having your own, tailor-made state religion although Catholic rebellion more or less prevented that from really happening. In modern Britain, the whole thing is now pretty confusing, what with the monarch also being the 'Defender of the Faiths' (somefink like that anyroads).

    The Northern Ireland Troubles can also be more or less be traced back to Anglican misdeeds and land grabs.

    Anglo Saxons generally will have you believe that Anglicanism is somewhat less dogmatic and more progressive than Catholicism but that's only marginally true. But many prominent Anglicans were also supporters of social change and industrial, scientific endeavours in Britain.

    I might link to this 'apology', well spotted.

  7. The Bible used to be more straight-forward than it is today. It just didn't survive the editors very well.

    As a "creationist" (albeit of the less noisy variety) I really only take umbrage with one statement: we do not argue against "fact," because evolution, for all its science, is still a theory.

    Now, to the extent that others of my ilk love to play these emotional shrieking games with Darwinists, hey, enjoy the ride. ;-)

  8. Woody, you are a noisy one. Anyone who starts with the idiocy "only a theory" is completely out to lunch when it comes to what a scientific theory is.
    It is a fact that evolution happens.
    Take the cane toad in Australia. Evolution in front of our eyes. Or take the nylon bug, again, evolution in front of our eyes.
    The theory part only has to do with exactly when and how, not whether.

  9. Woody,

    Do you also rail against "Newtonists" when discussing the theory of gravity?

    Please be honest and admit that the only reason you have an issue with evolution is because it conflicts with your understanding of a bronze age text. You haven't a clue or a care about any scientific theory other than the one that threatens your basis for faith.

  10. Oh, tsk, tsk. You guys need to come out of the caves and get some fresh air.

    I chanced a response to the Bacon Man at my own blog, but I'll summarize here: I've no problem with evolution as a theory, but I refuse to believe that it covers every known (or unknown) contingency. Science is constantly in motion. New evidences are uncovered every day, which must not only be added to the existing knowledge store, but frequently modify those theories to match the new evidence.

    Of course I believe Newtonian theory because the evidence supports it (them, actually) so strongly. Doesn't mean there may not be exceptions to it under extraordinary circumstances. Heck, Einstein himself spent years second-guessing his own theories, and several of those still haven't been proven beyond all reasonable explanation.

    Look, I live in a physical world with very specific parameters and specifications. I work in aerospace, which means I believe in a physical universe that is many billions (14, last I heard) years old. I understand pretty well how science has contributed to our mastery of those theories that allow us to explore the micro-gravity of near-earth orbit, or escape that orbit to visit other celestial bodies.

    But I also possess a store of faith that reminds me that there are powers superior to anything we have yet discovered that keep things in their ordered pattern. There are secrets that the earth still possesses that we have yet to unlock. We've been given tantalizing clues and hints through the simple medium of scripture that do not ever profess to have all the answers to all our questions; only to those questions that affect our eternal salvation.

    So you'll forgive me if I accept much of what science offers at face value, while retaining some reserve of faith-based belief in a creative force with which man has reckoned for his entire existence.

    I certainly have managed to maintain a workable balance between the two entities. No idea why that becomes so difficult for self-professed "atheists" to accept.


  11. P.S. One more thing: there's "evolution," and there's "adaptation." The two are not synonymous.

    Just sayin'.

  12. P.P.S. I guess that wasn't much of a "summary," was it?

    My bad.

  13. Woody -

    you're not too special. A lot of creationists accept science with open hands up until the point where it conflicts with their untested prior beliefs. So it'd hurt you to let go of them, boo-hoo.

    The idea that scripture somehow attaches us to all those things that science didn't find out about yet is absurd. Where was Scripture when the plague wiped a third of Europe? What good are the insights of an ancient text as compared to the painstaking human endeavor to understand nature the way it really works?

    You can say that you know nothing of biology. THAT would make sense and in that respect, you could say that your creationism has nothing to do with knowledge, it has to do with habit and tradition. It's quite sad to see you pinning evolution as a "theory". It's a theory just as much as Newtonian gravity is - and it's just as evidence-based. The reason evolution seems unsupported to you is because you're ignorant of the evidence. That's not a problem for evolution. That's a problem for you.

  14. My, my. Okay, freidenker85, a few responses to your deeply held convictions (could science really be your "belief system?"):

    1. "Untested?" My friend, you have no idea to what extent my beliefs have been tested. Such tests either destroy faith, or build it up. My tests have, fortunately, built mine up.

    2. There is nothing in the entire extant corpus of scientific knowledge that would deny the existence of God. Perhaps for you, but not for me. It really is just that simple.

    3. Scripture was where it had always been during the plague: in the hands of the "church." Understand that my own beliefs have nothing to do with that church that existed during the middle ages. Not to be a dead giveaway, but mine is a faith based on living revelation, which only one church professes to have today. That would make me, probably, your worst religious nightmare. ;-)

    4. You proceed from a false assumption: you assume that because I accept an act of "creation," that I also accept a literal and verbatim account of creation as it exists in Genesis today. This is incorrect. The Genesis account is valuable, but is a) incorrectly translated in its present form, and b) incomplete. There is much more to the creation story, some of it factual, and parts of it allegorical. Understanding which is which can be a life-long endeavor.

    5. Finally, you're absolutely correct in stating that evolution is just as much a theory as Newtonian "law." I just happen to believe that I have deep background information that evolutionists haven't quite caught up with as yet. May take a few more decades. Or longer. I'm saying that faith is light-years ahead of the theorists in this respect.

    Would it surprise you to know that I believe in a God who operates within natural (that is to say, eternal) law? The fact that he probably is aware of laws that we have yet to even scratch the surface of just means that science is far from completing its stated objectives.

    That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.

  15. Woody,

    science is not a belief system, it's a method of finding out about the universe. My "belief system", if you could call it that, is simply "rational-naturalist" - as such, I use science as the method in which I reach any convictions about the universe.

    1.Well, I have an idea of the kind of beliefs YOU stated in your first reply, namely, and I quote you:

    "So you'll forgive me if I accept much of what science offers at face value, while retaining some reserve of faith-based belief in a creative force"

    That, Woody, is untested belief, according to your very own definition. You claim that science has a lot of answers, but not all of them, and that scripture somehow does better or even equally as good as science to account for these unknown phenomena. According to what you, yourself, wrote, this is because of some creative force that we do not understand yet. "Faith-based" equals "untested". According to you, not me.

    If you have any beliefs that are based on tests, don't call them "faith-based". If you have such beliefs as those I've quoted and you've written of, please state what kind of tests affirm them.

    2. True. In fact, there's probably nothing that humans can come up with that can deny the existence of God. Or Santa Clause. Or flying cucumber-fornicating imps. The problem for you is that they're all in the same category. Talking about something like God without even being able to, in principle, deny Him, is meaningless. If you provided us a visible method of denying Him, then perhaps we could support your tentative God hypothesis. Since you can't and we don't, the mere suggestion of His existence is meaningless. It really is that simple.

    3.Oh, so you endorse the scripture but not the church? Which church? You Christians have so many denominations nowadays.
    Anyway, your beliefs may be different than those endorsed by the medieval Roman Catholic Church, but as far as what the actual scriptures say, the only difference visible between your apparent convictions and what the church promoted was that you don't believe that the bible actually means what is written there and the catholic church did. Of course, I'm originally Jewish, so I wouldn't know much about that, I would love for you to fill me in on that.

    In any case, you've openly admitted a "pick-and-choose" attitude towards the gospel. There's a verse in the NT (Revelation 22:18) that states that it is an abject sin to make any changes to the bible or to interpret it in any other way than its written. Of course, you could always avoid taking THIS verse literally ;-)

    Oh, and I don't know about you being my worst religious nightmare. I live in a country that's constantly bombed with ground-to-ground rockets (Kasam) because of Islamic political-religious ideology. That, my friend, is my worst religious nightmare, and I'm not even asleep.

    At any rate, I wouldn't know which Christian sect actually believes that any person in it really communicates with God, but I'd love to be acquainted with any such claims being tested.

    4. Well, if you accept an act of creation based on the bible, and the bible says that the universe was created - then, well, you take the literal word of the bible that it had been created by God. Where exactly is my false assumption here? I'm using YOUR words, not mine.
    Also, can you tell me how the Genesis account is valuable? Does it offer any testable hypotheses?

    Oh, and here's my favourite part in this paragraph. I was born and raised in Israel, in which we learnt Torah, IN HEBREW. Hebrew, Woody, is the original language of the bible, although it probably was written in Aramaic, then Greek and eventually, Latin in much later periods. In any way, the Jewish people have been safeguarding the OT in its PRECISE form, in Hebrew, for millenia. In Hebrew it specifically says "Bereshit bara elohim et hashamaim veet haarets", or in plain English: In the beginning, God created (!) the heaven and the earth. How can you take something like this not literally? And if you do, what's stopping you from taking whatever you want as literal or not? It makes the whole of scripture meaningless as a unifying literary creation.

    5. So you accept some of the predictions of evolutionary theory? Which ones? What problems does your superior and clandestine knowledge of nature pertain to, say, the universal common descent of all living creatures? I have so many questions to ask about this particular claim, but I'll withhold my question-cannons until we discuss this particular subject specifically.

    About your epilogue:

    Yes, it WOULD surprise me to know that you believe in a God that operates within natural laws. First, if you admit not understanding these laws, how can you know if God's operating in them? Second, if this God is strictly an agent of natural phenomena, why do you need him to explain these laws? Who benefits?

    Oh, and I hope you don't seriously mean those last two lines - if you do, it rather embarrassingly reveals that you've no interest in debate and are just holding on to whatever belief you have because of dogmatic faith and not out of any substantiated reason. That would be, well, sad for your part and a waste of my time for my part to have any debate. Please affirm that you're willing to change your opinion should you be presented with proper refutations to your claims. Otherwise, let's terminate our discourse here. Let me conclude by saying that I will gladly dismiss the evolutionary explanation to the origin of species if you provide me with a better one.

  16. Woody isn't really a creationist. Why he wants to don that cap is a mystery to me. Clearly too informed and intelligent to believe dinosaurs are described in scripture, ergo must have lived less than 5,000 years ago.

    Creationism is more of a political movement anyway, a consequence of the highly risible American Culture Wars, a hilarious phenomenon that makes the US the laughing stock of every civilised country in the world. Poor things haven't got much going for them these days: disaster in Iraq, things aren't bright in Afghanistan either, China emerging as the next superpower, super-capitalism collapsing around them and now possibly a pinup for Veep. My oh my...

    He's the genre that believes in "a higher power", nice and vague, a cop-out for things science hasn't explained yet.

  17. "I chanced a response to the Bacon Man at my own blog, [...]"

    Where did that happen: I searched Woody's blogs for it...

  18. Gert, you were looking at his other blog. This is where I commented.

    Oh, and if you want more fun, I like searching "atheist Jew" on google blogsearch to see if anyone is talking about me. Another indication of course is lots of hits in a short time frame from other blogs.

    Check this out.

    And then check this one out. You might actually find this one kind of hilarious.

    Finally, this one.

    I'm a popular guy. What can I say?

  19. Freidenker85: Surprisingly, I'm about as open-minded as it comes where science is concerned. I have long since decided that science merely lags behind in the knowledge required to understand the spriritual nature (and knowledge) of man.

    Full disclosure: I am a Latter-day Saint. We are commonly known as Mormons, although that's a nickname. We do not claim any direct relation to any other existing church, and are, in fact, frequently disavowed by most of them. One of the tenets of our faith is that the Bible "is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly." We also have other revealed scripture that helps to explain many of the gaps in the Bible as it exists today. Among them is an account of Abraham that complements the Genesis account of creation and gives us those "tantalizing clues" I mentioned elsewhere. (I'm writing here and on my other blog, so I get confused just where I said what.)

    As for the Hebrew version: completely agree with it. What the scriptural accounts leave out are the details behind the statements. Do I believe that the earth was created in 7 days? I do not; not as we understand the concept of "day" today. I do, however, believe that there seven distinct periods of time called days (the allegorical part I mentioned previously) wherein all the work that we can only surmise from the scientific data gathered thus far was accomplished.

    Since I have spiritual beliefs, however, and since I believe much of the scriptural account, I also believe that all of that work was accomplished for one purpose: to prepare the earth for man's arrival.

    More than that opens up a whole new can of worms that those who hold no "faith" would simply refuse to believe or understand.

    And that, as I mentioned to baconeater on my blog, is where we need to agree to disagree.

    Bring on all the "proofs" you like. I will freely admit that they certainly seem to support the commonly held notions of evolutionary theory as it is currently understood. But I will continue to believe that there is more - much more - waiting to be understood.


  20. Woody, you're being too hard on yourself. What you say intrigues me, and even though we might disagree, it doesn't mean we can't enjoy a debate. I know I've been enjoying it, so far.

    I've read a bit about the LDS, you boys had a REALLY nasty history, as far as I could tell. The father of your church was a con artist, I think you would have no doubt of that, yourself. The guy practiced polygamy while preaching it's a sin, and printed his own money without permission - there's an endless file on the guy.

    But regardless of what the person actually was - your church, at least if Wikipedia is any indication- is quite an unusual denomination in Christianity. For example, you guys not only say that the bible isn't literally to be taken, you also say that the bible is incomplete, and that you possess other scriptures, apparently written in the 19th century, that fill in details about the OT that apparently contradict or modify the original meanings of the scriptures, if taken literally.

    Let's ignore for a moment that this claim requires extraordinary evidence to be backed - this is quite an amazing deviation from standard Christianity, I find it puzzling that other Christians don't find you to be heretics! I'm not saying this out of spite, it just seems to clash with every Judeo-Christian dogma I'm familiar with!

    At any rate, you seem to accept evolutionary theory on the face of the evidence - and whether or not you're inclined to shoehorn any LDS doctrine to that evidence - it doesn't quite matter in the long run, so long as you use standard reasoning to make statements about the universe.

    Well, I could be just plain naive here. Mormonism is about as alien to me as Shinto. What is it that you think happened? Does your church have any official statements regarding the evolution of animals on earth and the age of the earth and universe?

  21. BEAJ:

    Yeah, fun with wacky Judeophobes. These guys are hilarious. You gotta love their style of writing: that says a lot to me. The inability to surpass grade 1 level should tell us much about where they get their "material" from.

    Love it also when they get both ethnicity and political leanings wrong, almost in the same sentence... you Judeo-crypto Trotskyite sc*mb*g!

  22. Freidenker85,

    When you start off with the rather obvious fact that the whole Mormon cult was made up out of whole cloth by a con man intent on sleeping with as many women as possible, there's really not much point in "debating" with a Mormon true believer.

    If Woody can swallow the totally unsupportable basics of the cult, he's not really going to be interested in a rational discussion.

  23. cranky old:

    If I recall correctly, the LDS church had several schisms back in the 19th century and it's kinda hard to pinpoint exactly what these guys actually believe - this is why I enquired in the first place.

    Regardless of the founder being a con man - I'm still curious as to what and why Mormons believe what they say they believe in. So far, Woody made the appearance of a thoughtful person - I'm curious to see how deep the dogma runs.

  24. As for what Mormons believe in, just look to the Book of Mormon. The basics are pretty straight forward.

    This South Park episode pretty much sums it up:

  25. Obviously my html skills are lacking. See if this works:

  26. Traditional Christians do, in fact, regard us as "heretical" as you put it. In fact, there are entire "ministries" devoted to saving us from ourselves.

    Needless to say, we don't typically accept the help.

    If one is interested in a more "Reader's Digest" version of our basic tenets, I always point them to the Articles of Faith ( These were contained in a letter Joseph Smith wrote in response to questions from a newspaper editor. Quite illuminating as they define most of our motivation for believing what we do.

    Might also interest you folks to know that among our Twelve Apostles (one of our ruling councils) we have one nuclear engineer who specialized in fuels for nuclear submarines, as well as the son of a well-known (forty years ago, anyway) scientist by the name of Henry Eyring, who also happened to be a faithful member of the church.

    Science and religion, gentlemen, are not mutually exclusive unless we want them to be. ;-)