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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Finding a Champion

Everyone needs one. Or perhaps I should say that everyone feels their particular ideology/cause needs one. They can be found everywhere. Really it's why we have celebrity product endorsements - advertisers would not waste their dollars if they were not effective. Of course you and I are immune to the appeal of having champions, right? Well, not really.

I was reading through some science blogs recently and (inevitably) stumbled upon another flame war between Darwinists, Creationists, and ID'ers. Now I've done my rounds in that debate, but my opinion on the matter isn't at issue here. What was interesting in the argument I found was that the entire issue focused upon the beliefs of one man who dies in 1975. In scientific circles he is well known: Theodosius Dobzhansky. You can read about him here and from a more Orthodox source, here.

There is no greater champion than one who switches sides...or appears to play on the team not typically played on by such champions. This is particularly the case when the competing sides are in religion or politics...all one needs to do to make a career in speaking and writing is to first gain some degree or prominence (or perhaps even not so much) on one side of the culture war and then switch sides! BANG! You double your star power!

So on this particular blog (I'm not going to link to it because I don't want the argument meandering over here) we have people debating the personal beliefs of this scientist because apparently both sides believe it is critically important to have poor old Dobzhansky on their side. Interestingly the debate centers on that one quote that can be found in the Wikipedia article above about not believing in a personal God. Contrast this with the stories briefly relayed in the other link. It's absurd in the end because who can really say what this man believed? You could go in circles forever digging up obscure quotes and looking at his life: trips to Mt. Athos or the fact that he was cremated. But does it really matter? Is it worth the effort to try and win the argument? I think it speaks to the overall quality that frequently exists in internet arguments.

I do find it interesting that science apparently needs their champions as much as religion. As I often note, there is unfortunately sometimes little difference between the two.

God does not need important people (by worldly definitions) to go to bat for Him. In fact, God in His rich wisdom has a history ridden with having the most unexpected of people go to bat for Him. Of course this is not always the case (we surely have a few Kings and Queens thrown into the mix, right?), but even then...God doesn't NEED these witnesses...we do. Curious that I opt for the word witness, eh? For in truth the greatest champions we Christians have are not those of prominence who have switched sides and go on speaking engagement/book tours to make a living, but rather those who literally lay down their lives as a witness to the faith.

Our true champions almost always suffer, and they stand at odds with the champions most of the world seeks to uphold. Some champions are busy holding out their keyboards to spill electrons online, but ours hold out their arteries to have their blood spilled. Even still today.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:33 AM [+]
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3 comments


3 Comments:

I for a long time have felt that the comparison between religion and science is unfair. It is true that humans' interaction with science, particularly recent findings, borders on "irrational faith." But at this point, to put one's faith and reliance in Newton's laws of mechanics, realizing that such laws break down under speed of light conditions, seems pretty reasonable. There is nothing religious about insisting that those laws and their limits have now been rigorously tested and proven over millions of experiments and a wide variety of conditions. The idea that Force, Mass and Energy are not related by F=MA is not "doubt", it's "ignorance."

But sometimes, particularly when cutting edge science oversteps its bounds (global warming, stem cell research, et al) it seems like a mistake to point to misplaced human enthusiasm for Science and say "see, you guys have a religion, too." By making this argument don't be buy into the accusation that Religion is subjective, unreliable, always changing? Seems like a bad move.

I'd rather we stick to the truth/value script and say that Science can answer certain questions about how and when, but not the why. For example, why is it bad to "change the environment", if it were true? Only religion and possibly some moral philosophizing, can answer the question.

Science can't prove that murder is wrong, but it can sometimes prove who committed the murder.

So I respectfully disagree with your post.

- Steve K

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:12 AM  

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I don't think you're actually disagreeing with my post - perhaps just a portion of it? On that website I mentioned there were both the religious and the scientific arguing vehemently in order to "claim" an important dead man's allegiance to their respective worldviews. So I'm not sure it's so much about science and religion in and of themselves, but rather how people internalize religion and science. We, as humans, need champions for our worldviews.

I think that it's totally a human thing. Whatever we humans do or ascribe to, I think, often takes upon itself a religious significance. I suspect it's our inclination to do this. Of course there IS a difference between science and religion objectively speaking....but once humans are tossed into the equation I think the differences can get blurred. Again...that doesn't change the definition and praxis of religion and science in and of themselves.

When something profoundly informs our worldview I think it will quite obviously take upon itself philosophical proportions. This is how I would define religion, I suppose. A system by which we predominantly determine our worldview which consequently speaks to many other aspects of our life. Is secularism a religion? Because if it is, then its prophet is science - or so I'm generally told by those who ascribe to that worldview.

An intriguing side note is how political candidates are grilled on their religion and also on their opinions on things like global warming or evolution. I wonder how much the concerns here are about future policy as they are felt to really inform us about the person being a heretic? Have you read the accusations hurled at global warming agnostics? It's stuff I think that was once reserved for the religious to pin upon the heathens...a scarlet letter of sorts.

This is also becoming Institutionalized and I think this can best be observed in the context of biological determinism as found in scientific realms such as evolutionary biology where they are more and more delving into realms where they are very much indeed seeking answer the question about whether murder is wrong.

I really have no qualms in suggesting some people have made a religion of their science. I think the shoe fits...because very often their perception of scientific orthodoxy is no more provable than my faith in God.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 11:43 AM  

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Hmmm. "Scientific Orhtodoxy". Now you're using the word "Orthodox" in the modern sense meaning "engineered and imposed by elites," as opposed to the Church's understanding. Here again, don't we undermine our own worldview here by buying into a broken vocabulary?

Fr. Alexander Schmemman once said that people since the Enlightenment are not rebelling from God. No. They're rebelling from Religious Authority. In our society, "freedom to do X Y an Z" has been replaced by "Freedom From Authority" of any kind. To people who really buy into this, Science is a wonderful thing if it can be used to bash and disregard a) "Organized Religion" and b) Republicans. Otherwise they don't give a %^&$@ what Science says. This doesn't seem like religion to me, it's more like a legalism or a sophistry.

- Steve K

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:22 PM  

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