Monday, October 13, 2014


I have just discovered BBC4 and am so astonished with the news people’s talk, and their recordings of their leaders arguing in public and being interviewed about all sorts of things--formal gardens’ destruction, Ebola (two despairing welfare executives with foreboding news), an old chap with a wry deconstruction of the news--a pundit! OH! The old chap wants his wife’s wishes followed, the garden to the National Trust! A plea to save a garden! Destroyed! Given to friends then if his wishes cannot be carried out. Interviewer asks her interviewees if the old chap has had “a fit of pique?” He tries to reply with reason but it is clear he is being unreasonable destroying the garden if it will not be given to the National Trust. There must be much prestige attached to belonging to the National Trust. What is similar in America? The garden will be destroyed (its unique historical significance) by Sir............

Labor clobbers........?

People speak clearly without newsspeak jargon here! Back and forth, quick, intelligently! (BBC4) But I take a caveat--if I listen long enough, I’ll know if they too speak in jargon as we do. I will say, I love the on-going mix, a news junkie’s panoply of interview and report; confession and attack in dialogue and monologue. People are (or seem to be) actually talking to each other here  Coffee--its making, its moulding of class. Coffee the universal cultural effect of equality. Twitter is a coffee house culture. Articulation seems to be here. Must listen longer. MPs are the subject. No, twitter. Coffee, now twitter, is the great social leveler, the mixing bowl. Does it compete with America, the coffee house, cafe? Is it stronger or weaker now that the globe is homogenized and borders disappearing, DNA mingled, races disappearing, local languages too?

Tricky meeting
He denies it strongly
political realities
the overall feeling
back in government.
They think that prize is there.

What is happening in Syria? Anbar, Baghdad, Sunni and strategic advances for the Islamic state. Sit on their hands. Why is ISIS so strong. Sunni tensions in Iraq. Alqueda. Surprise? No.

Northern Ireland too, a midwife strike, and here at home. When midwives strike, who suffers? Mothers and babies. Who cannot give Artemis, goddess of midwifery in one place at least, homage? Midwives may, should have, must have all that they want and ask for. It won’t be much. They find quite joy in their jobs as is.

“What is networking?” is like Ira Glass on MPBS.

Large family seven siblings, coffee shop, the strongest network is the family, the widest network is the customer. We feel less comfortable on some networks, since some networks require uncomfortable networking.

 Julia Harpsborn (?) is brilliant.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why songs matter: Miners and Negroes

Do you remember old songs, the kind people supposedly actually sang a lot once? I do. They taught them to us in school as part of the curriculum.

Oh my darlin, oh my darlin, on my darlin Clementine, you are lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry Clementine..........In a canyon, in a cavern, excavating for a mine, dwelt a miner, forty-niner, and his daughter, Clementine.

Or, the mysterious and simple, but maybe most beautiful of all: "Shoo fly"

Shoo fly don't bother me, shoo fly don't bother, shoo fly don't bother me, for I belong to somebody
I feel, I feel, I feel like a morning star, I feel, I feel, I feel like a morning star
Shoo fly don't bother me, for I belong to somebody.

We were told at the same time we were taught them, what these songs were: Miner's songs and Negro Spirituals, and what those were. This was Venable School in Charlottesville Virginia, around 1950. None of us seven or eight year olds knew any miners or Negroes personally of course; our lives were lived separately from theirs (Negroes and miners)--one separated by neighborhood, the other by time, that is to say, in an eight year old's imagination, long, long ago. It was some time before I understood that the miners  in the songs from out West and my own great, great grandparents in Parsonsfield Maine were alive at exactly the same time, and that the essence of being a slave is eloquently expressed in "Shoo fly."

It occurs to me that whatever the people who ran Venable school planned to have happen because of their curriculum, they got it right. Children were exposed to actual relics of days gone by and it stuck in their heads (because songs do) to eventually inform the child when it is well into its forties or fifties what it must have been like back then being a slave. Knowledge like that is universal and invaluable.

Seven deadly sins and other close readings of the Gardens of Flora Baum

September 29, 2014

Flora Baum envies the ghost of Tasso his patience and graciousness:

"Tasso, you lasted. Is this mad? You worked. 
Is our right work our earthly paradise,
The work that is our play the paradise, 
The play that works our madness paradise?
Our madness may be rationality.
How patiently you listen. Do I rave?
Is there a rationality that anger
Advances like a warrior to guard,
A play protected by a pious pride,
A lust that burns for truth, a gluttony
Greedy for feasts of beauty, and a sloth
That is the otiosity of art
And the long laziness of contemplation?
How graciously you listen. 
                                                  Tasso laughed
Patience is easy in eternity,
But those who live in finite time must try
To finish something fine before they die." (Bk.3, 935.9-10)

Flora has listed for Tasso the deadly sins inherent in the act of bringing about an earthly paradise in her life: "Is our right work our earthly paradise?"  Might not writing poetry for her be an angry rationality,  an expression of pious pride, a lusting (if only for truth),  a greediness (though for beauty), a sloth inseparable from art and its contemplation? Do these apply? 

His answer--a laugh--brings her about, encourages her, answers her fully. These things come with being finite and mortal: bear up. Try and finish something fine before you die.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Deliverance! Like the movie but with a happy ending (it happens sometimes).

When I was in the Fourth Grade or so I remember reading the fiction, or fairytale part of my reading book, about this little comic character who wanted to get up a mountain; and he's given two ways to get up it: the shortest or the fastest. He is told the fastest way is to go around and around and up the mountain gradually, but he doesn't believe it and thinks the shortest way, straight up, will be quickest. Of course he was sorry later after trying to get up the mountain that way--that was the lesson and the moral of the story.  So it was for me too, a moral and a lesson, after I changed my GPS navigation setting from "Quickest" to "Shortest"and headed home after visiting my daughter and grandchildren. I expected miles and miles of lovely roads through the beautiful Maine countryside and a quick arrival home. I was so wrong.

Of course it started out that way. Road led to road through the beautiful Maine countryside. I paid no attention to the little signs crossing town lines, I was too busy admiring the fields and trees and sky; and I had no idea what town I was in, I simply turned right or left as my GPS dictated. It said I'd be home in about an hour and a quarter and I believed it. It was just then, when I was feeling happiest, thinking how much fun it was seeing this particular part of Maine that I'd never seen before, that it happened. Not all at once of course,  but almost.

"Turn right on such and such road" it said, so I prepared to turn. No road, however, appeared on the right that I could see, just unmarked dirt roads. (It couldn't mean those could it?) Thinking I'd missed the road somehow (for I am very nearsighted) I continued on.

"Turn right on Wheeler Rd. and then turn right in 1.2 miles," it said. This time I happily obeyed it because there it was, the sign for Wheeler Rd. on the right.  It was a dirt road and this might have been a warning for some, but did not phase me in the least. Every town in Maine I knew of, and I knew plenty, had its dirt roads and they are all usually navigable, if sometimes a bit bumpy. This one appeared to me nothing different. I could see where it led on up over the little rise and past a farm house on the left, and so on I drove.

 I passed the farmhouse on the left and saw that the road, still broad and level and well graveled, led across his field into the woods, dipping down slightly. A little way into the trees at the edge of the woods, the road began to narrow slightly, but only slightly, and got bumpier. Still not alarmed, and ever the optimist, thinking the small rocks making the road bumpy were bound to be a temporary matter or at least not get worse, on I went. But then it did narrow, considerably! It was just about there I realized the road itself was too narrow for me to turn around in, and even if I wanted to go back I couldn't because I I was too far in! I was so far in, that is to say, that even if I did walk out and ask for help at the farmhouse, how could a tow truck get down in there? These were my thoughts as I continued along, slowly now, for the gravel had disappeared, the rocks were turning into small boulders and the spaces of clear level road between them were growing fewer and fewer. Yet there were tracks ahead of me made by somebody--somebody had gotten through here, and this thought kept me going, though my optimism was fading fast.

Then I started getting the horrible sound of car frame meeting boulders, no matter what direction I took through the maze of mud and stones ahead. I began to do that thing you do when you know you must keep going or you will get mired--speed up, slow down in what was now an extremely narrow mud-and-boulder road closed in on both sides by dense forest. I couldn't stop, I couldn't go back, I had to keep going. In my mind's eye I saw myself as an eagle might see me far below, a tiny flash of metal which was my Honda Accord passing along an almost invisible thread of a road through a forest which was immense and unending, stretching far out into the distance on all sides. It had turned into a nightmare. I had a cell phone, but if I reached anybody would I be able to say where I was call from? No. I had absolutely no idea where I was, the name of the town, even what it was near. This part of Maine was unknown to me.  Northeast of Lisbon Falls somewhere maybe?  On I lurched, concentrating wholly upon getting through the next ten feet. It took the driving skill I had acquired since 1959 to do that. That came in handy.

When I reached the stream at the bottom of the hill I stopped. I had to, to study the best way across. The stream bed looked just like the road but with water flowing across it, shallow water and the stream not more than ten feet across, those tire tracks leading right across it as though this was no problem. No problem for a four wheel drive vehicle or a truck, which my car was not. I sat there gazing at the way through the stream, how I would go, when I would slow down, when I would speed up, when I would turn and when I would turn again. I rehearsed it over and over in my mind. There was no way even a helicopter could get in here. Finally I did it, I drove into the stream, across it--or rather through it--and to my utter amazement reached the other side. I kept on going of course, not to lose momentum in the mud, saying aloud as I went "please oh please," and started up the hill on the other side. I was aware by now that I was shaking all over. If I could just keep going, and it did not get worse, eventually I would get there, wherever that was, wouldn't I? I hoped for this in a profound sort of way.

And for a while it did not get worse. I got used to the loud banging sound of the bottom of my car hitting small boulders which were just a little too high, and giving the accelerator a shove to make it over them anyway. I got used to the sliding which happened when the depth of the mud put a spin on my tires and made the whole car swerve and lurch in the wrong direction, usually into another rock. I was used to that now and all I could think was to keep going, which I did, slowly climbing the hill, driving across the top and then slowly coming down the other side again, still following the tracks through the mud ahead of the strange super-vehicle which had had obviously no problem at all with this road whatsoever, who had gone before me and left tracks for me to follow. It was just about then that I spotted in the distance--maybe a hundred yards ahead where the road met the level again--a normal dirt road. I was going to make it!

I lurched and banged and swerved along with great hope now, my heart beating wildly, my entire body one with my hands on the wheel, tightly gripped for maybe another fifty yards and then....BANG! This was the one boulder too far, too high, too impervious to anything I could come up with to counter it. The car stopped, I stopped with it. There was no forward or back. This was it. Immediately I got out of the car into ankle deep mud and began walking toward the clear road ahead. Now I just wanted to get some help, though I still could not imagine how a tow vehicle could get up what looked like an abandoned stream bed to my car stranded on it a hundred yards up the road on the hillside.

Within only twenty-five yards or so of picking my way through the mud and stones I came to a well-graveled driveway (it looked heavenly to me) leading back up to the side hill where I could see a building at the top. I walked up to the building, a barn, and it looked empty but I knocked on the door anyway until I was sure no one would come, then headed back down the driveway and kept going on my road (my road) toward the normal sandy road ahead. And just as I got to that sandy road, I saw in the distance a large red truck coming toward me. Oh wonderful! I started waving both my arms and it slowly approached and then stopped. A man was inside and I pointed back toward my car . "I'm stuck!" I exclaimed and started telling him about the GPS.

As soon as I said the word "GPS" he made a face. "Oh no!" he said and then "If it makes you feel any better, you're not the first to get stuck on that road. Don't worry," he said "I"ll take a look at it and see what we can do." He told me he would go up to his barn (that barn was his) and see what he could find to help get me out. He told me, again, not to be worried, that if he hadn't found me, someone else on this road would have. There are good people on this road he assured me. I had no reason, at this point, to think differently. All I needed was one, and I had him already. I was feeling better by the minute..

Did he drive or did he walk to his barn from there? I do not know. This man, my deliverer, was amazing. There was not one moment during the whole time the rescue itself was underway when he was not conscious of my feelings. Twice he expressed regret for the time it was taking him to do something. "Mostly," he said, "I just have to think for a minute." I was agog with the thoughtfulness of this man. One is never too old to be surprised at and appreciate anew how fine some human beings can be. They seem to redeem all the rest.

I walked back to my car and got in and waited. By now my shaking had subsided and I just  sat there, awaiting his return, turning over in my mind all the ideas about providence I had ever encountered, still wondering if a tow truck could reach my car to get it out. I knew if I started reading something I would calm down even more, hopefully something with a complicated or interesting syntax like Proust or Henry James or Moby Dick. I was happy to spy Wolf Hall, lent me by my oldest daughter just yesterday, laying on the back seat. Happily I could just reach it. I had just opened it when my deliverer appeared again, coming out of the bushes down the fern-covered bank from the direction of his barn with a large square of thick cardboard in his hands. Not once did he mention AAA or a tow truck.

He made me try to go forward or backwards. He affirmed it was indeed stuck. He expressed shock and amazement that I had come so far: "You came in from the (blank--forgotten the name) road???" A nod from me. Then realizing his cardboard would be of no help, he told me he'd go to his mom's house and get a chain. He asked me if I had a place on my car to attach a chain and I nodded--but he had to reach down through the muck to find it. Then, in the midst of all this, he pointed to a strange-looking plant and said "Oh! Look at that! I've never seen that before! Do you know what it is?"  No, I told him, but I bet my grandfather could, and mumbled something about my grandfather being a botanist. He went off to get his truck to drive to his mom's house to get his chain.

In the time it took for him to go and return, a lady came by walking up the road toward me with her dog. I saw her appear in the distance, tall and spare with white hair, and I wondered if she was a man or a woman until it became evident--she must have been about my age. She asked me if I needed help and I told her Steve (the man's name) was helping me, and she immediately said "Oh good! He'll help you." And after expressing shock and amazement: "You came in from the (blank--forgotten the name) road???") asked me if I had AAA (no) and why I hadn't turned around? I explained about the slippery slope of the road turning into a stream bed before I had time to, and she went on her way, wishing me well and again expressing optimism about the help I would receive.  I began to read Wolf Hall, but couldn't stay with it, complex as it was, for more than a few moments. Thoughts pervaded my consciousness about providence, what leads us into these situations, what gets us out of them. "The Line" chapter of Moby Dick came to mind, the chapter in which Melville points out that the proximity of death is always with us, like the line in the whale boat whipping along, ready to get wrapped around some rower's foot and whip him overboard to his certain death, even when we are sitting by our firesides, pictures of domestic felicity. The problem, or the reward, depending on how you look at it, of doing a lot of reading of the classics--that is, books about big ideas which have endured for a long, long time--is that you think about them when the line, so to speak, whips by you and you can almost see it. That is to say, when you are almost lost deep in the woods, but then you go on and someone finds you, but you are still not completely out of the woods yet (Can I afford another car?). You think of things like this at moments like this. Or I do.

He came back with his truck and his shovel--or was the shovel in the truck and had he already backed it up that road from the smooth place where he had parked it after returning with his chain from his mom's house? I do not know the sequence now of those events, they grow hazy. I did not ask if he thought I could help. I knew the answer to that and didn't want to bother him with niceties ("No, you sit right there")--I just sat right there and watched him work. He shoveled and shoveled, and pitched rocks, and shoveled again--and once again pointed to the strange plant, wondering what it was. Finally he backed his truck up to within ten feet of my car; he asked me to pop the hood and right away said "Good" when he looked down to where the chain would go-- then I was hopeful. At last the chain was attached and he told me to put on the engine. I asked him if I should put it in neutral and he nodded. I did and once again gripped the wheel.

What ensued was as terrifying as anything I've ever endured. His truck pulled ahead and I was moving again, but this time with no control over the speed, just trying to keep the wheels straight. And yet the car would not stay straight, it bounced from rock to rock (bang! bang! bang!) and up the side of the slippery muddy bank and onto more rocks--bang, bang, bang, bang! And finally, finally, rolled out onto the firm and level gravel road. I was shaking and gasping for breath.

He gave me careful instructions on how to get out to a paved road, I asked him for his address and his email address. I said "I owe you so much," and he said don't send me anything but a card.  I said, thinking of the plant (which even now he was asking me about, wondering if it would survive if he tried to transplant it) and my grandfather's books, "I know what I will send you." I said  said this latter confidently, said good-bye and thank you once again, and drove off. A mile or so later I found the paved road he had directed me to, and I thought I followed his directions well, but I must not have because, with my GPS on again (this time set on "quickest," not "shortest"), I once again came to another dirt road!

Has anyone ever read George Quackenbush's wonderful story Henry's Awful Mistake? ( It's about a duck who sees an ant in this kitchen and tries to get rid of it and ends up destroying his whole house in the process. At the end he sees another ant. This time Henry looks the other way, and that is the end. When I saw that dirt road I did what Henry did, I turned right around and stayed on the paved and wide way until my GPS told me how to get out on the highway. It is a good thing I am well read.

The next morning I woke up with flashbacks--I was in my car and all I could hear and feel was the terrible sound of car frame meeting granite, again and again and again..............But I took my car to the garage and believe it or not, nothing was broken. Just a whole piece of the bumper was broken off, to remind me that it had happened at all.

Deliverance, despite what some movies suggest, can have happy endings. But whether this is due to providence, the result of the random workings of the Universe trying to recover equilibrium, or angels disguised as regular human being with mothers, I can't say with certainly.  I'd argue in a second for the latter though.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Necessity, War and Peace, and theories of history

I have just read War and Peace for the fourth time in my life. This time I really loved it and understood it. I must be old enough now--almost seventy. A friend who was reading it at the same time asked me what I thought of Tolstoy's theory of history, and of the character of its major character Pierre, who seemed to him "an intelligent oaf," who did not use his intelligence to further himself socially. This was my response:

I think Tolstoy is exceptionally gifted, not only for his views, which he explains very clearly, but also because they show such obvious investment of thought, but also for his characterizations of people. These always are universal depictions, not stereotypical; moreover, they develop in a natural (ie organic) and coherent way and in ways also furthering the plot--I think that takes genius.

If Tolstoy is not (as you contend) learned about history in general, he certainly is learned about that particular period, the men in it, the war, and the Russian character. Given that, he's made use of the microcosm he knows and projected it logically, positing a formidable theory of history from it--almost scientific in nature. As I began reading it, I began thinking about statistics, into which his theories seem to fit perfectly. Total effects are made up of three kinds: indirect, direct, and spurious (T=D+I+S). I am surprised, given his personal understanding of mathematics and the rise of statistics historically which was occurring in the early 19th century at the time he was writing the book, that he himself did not try to express his theory in its terms. I thought of economic and social pressures on men as being the direct effects, the pressures brought to bear by powerful individuals (Alexander and Napoleon) indirect effects, and finally spurious--all those mysterious unknowns (the cholera you mentioned now becomes one of the direct effects) which Tolstoy sees as best taken care of by religion--or inferred by him, "God."

I thought of chaos theory and complexity--history, like the weather, can never be collectively controlled (only individually, as happens when we come inside when there's a blizzard outside), or explained in a way that satisfies everybody, because the very act of controlling or observing (as in history-telling) either one changes what is being controlled or observed it through time. (There is a great deal of discussion about this in Frederick Turner's writings--have you read anything by him?

I think Tolstoy's method of writing is itself offers a sort of microcosm of, or format for, my preferred theory of history you asked for: he presents readers with a little summary (often, not always) of what is happening in the abstract and then goes on to people it with dialogue and fictional characters playing out what he has just told them. We want the "sweeping events" of history because they are like events in an individual's life to which we best relate--the collective view of such and such happening to such and such a population constituting an analogy with what an event in an individual's life might seem like to him. We can make an analogy of a war on a people being like a violent act of coercion being enacted by one person against another; and we usually do, perhaps because people think in metaphor and construct meaning on the basis of interconnected metaphor. But we also want a little of the lives of actual people depicted--naturally the ones who have the power and gave the orders and drew the plans (Dylan's "masters of war)--we think of Hitler, not his millions of minions. And we also want an understanding by way of summary, or abstraction. So I think all those elements need to be there for a story to emerge out of the collective (history) which would satisfy the most readers.

I never see Pierre as the "intelligent oaf," just intelligent. He is so hard at work thinking he appears to be an oaf, a do-nothing. But if he is indecisive, it's because he has the imagination to perceive moral questions from many often opposing perspectives, and the moral sensitivity to do nothing rather than to do something he is not sure is right and therefore might be wrong. With that moral sense of his being so immense, it would be out of character for him to have done anything to advance himself socially, to be so calculating. His motive for learning is to become a better man morally and ethically, thus preparing himself to be worthy of marriage (marriage for love in in its most ideal sense), the consumation of which contains the seeds of his future happiness. His deriving such happiness from responding successfully to the demands of sheer necessity during the march from Moscow while in captivity is really eye-opening and allows insight into his character--our universal character I should say. Yes, the peasant (and child, and fool) understands in a state of innocence what is often lost with experience, the insight into what is truly important and necessary for happiness. I am reminded of Blake's "We are blinded by the light"(...Simon and Garfunkel adding "...of God and truth and Right.")

What a GREAT book is War and Peace. In Joseph Ratner's introduction to Philosophy of Spinoza, he too talks  about Spinoza's take on a theory of history and about Necessity.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ritual Wisdom: on matches, mileage, and love

There is a kind of wisdom that comes from rites, being in them, repeating them mindlessly sometimes. Rites like lighting matches to start fires, or checking mileage to see when we should have an oil change, or pouring someone a glass of wine--that kind of wisdom. We tend to forget it, being scientists, or thinking as we think they ought to think--scientifically. But non-scientifically,  ritually rather, this kind of wisdom comes from thinking about things as being wise, knowledgeable yes,  but even better right. It may take six strikes of the match to finally make a fire and one that keeps itself burning. It may take six burned out engines before you know you need to change the oil. One always pours wine for and hands it to someone one loves. This kind of wisdom is cumulative. In rites we don't even acknowledge as such so integrated are they with us and our lives, like cells with each other, and with what we call our "will," the wellspring of our actions form thoughts and fantasies.  Perhaps we were selected for this, seeing rituals conceptually in our ordinary existence and learning (becoming wise) from them--be patience, it will take six matches to start this fire. Be cautionary: keep the engine oiled regularly. This is how we make love--pour the wine.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Creationism encounters Christian Pantheism

I encountered a Creationist on my chess site who sent me his talking points on evolution. In my response I tried to reconcile his point of view with mine--did I succeed? I hope so. The Creationist’s talking points are in italics.

Creationist: Some evolutionary scientist refuses creation because they do not want a god. “Professor Richard Lewontin, is an American evolutionary biologist, geneticist and social commentator— He stated “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs…because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism…Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine foot in the door.” Quote from Lewontin, Richard, Review of The Demon-Haunted World, by Carl Sagan. In New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997.”

Me: It is unfortunate that Lewontin wants to eliminate a god, by which he means (I think) that God as so-conceived by Creationists exists above and beyond and outside of matter and was in existence before the Universe. He believes there can be no proper study of matter which cannot be proven, and since a god cannot be proven he cannot consider it when studying matter. I too do not believe God exists outside of his creation, or existed before his creation. I call God his entire creation, which is everlasting and always was. I see the study of matter and the system by which matter in live form exists and evolves as the scientific study of God.

Creationist: For the creationist the Creation is essential because the Bible states that death came as a consequence of sin but evaluation points to things such as parasitism, suffering, pain, survival of the fittest and death before the fall of mankind. Basically, intentionally or not, death before mankind’s fall implies there is no such thing as sin and no need for a Savior; even when sin and its results are literally evident before our eyes. 

Me: I believe inspired people, not God, wrote the Bible, and that the wisdom it holds in consistent with all the best of human history and human nature; that it is explained (the creation) in the form of stories, myths, analogies, parables, and metaphors which explain truth in clearly understandable terms to everybody. Jesus always used parables to explains truths.

Creationist: One example of the negative effects of the belief in evolution is the valuing of one type of human over another and cheapening of life. The original title of Darwin’s book was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Though evolutionary theory did not invent racism and genocide, it sure gave fuel to the fire. The worst genocides of the 20th and 21st Centuries (click here) by people who embraced evolution and some of its theories. 

Me: The early evolutionary scientists did indeed believe in “lower” races. But that was because they did not understand all races are one species, as they do now, and no one believes that anymore. That thinking was most popular about eighty or ninety years ago.

Creationist: Again, by evolution man’s value is brought down to the level of animals or even lower. There was a study done, in which people were asked if they saw a stranger drowning and their own pet was drowning at the same time, but could only save one, who would you save? Though I do not remember all the details I believe 1/3rd chose saving their pets over a stranger and 1/3rd stated they didn’t know what they world do. I see no moral foundation or base in evolution outside trusting one’s own heart or the heart of others, this I cannot do. I cannot trust my own desires or another’s desires as a base for building morality. Survival of the fittest and materialism are stated by evaluation to be the only absolutes, but from history they are shown not to be a safe functional base for a society. In my view when no principle or values transcend the human heart such as the 10 commandments then society fails and eventually falls. Example the French revolution. 

Me: Man is neither lower nor higher than all the other animals in God’s creation in terms of innate value. All must die so others may live, as consumption of food is necessary to life and death part of God’s plan. “Fit” to survive is   now understood to be only one factor involved in natural selection--all creatures are subject to other evolutionary pressures--luck (being in the wrong place at the wrong time) causes death as well as not being fit, and often the fittest do not survive for this and many other reasons. “Survival of the fittest,”  like sub-human races, is an old and out-dated conception of evolution. God created evolution and death for the purpose of sustaining life (I believe) over immensely long periods of time: how wonderful! I do believe we instinctively recognize such rules as the Ten Commandments and the beatitudes of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount as rules we should live by, because we intuitively recognize rules which will result in our living longer and better lives. I believe the resurrection Jesus spoke of was meant to be a spiritual one, experienced here on earth.

Creationist: The Bible says that mankind’s creation was special and different from the other animals and we were created in the image of God. Genesis 1:24-25, 26-28, 2:7 (click here) In contrast evolution of any kind says, mankind is no different than and is just another evolving animal. Because of evolution Mankind is no longer considered to be made in the image of God and of great value by creation and redemption, but we are thought even to be a blight upon the world. In my opinion, we mankind, are seen, because of evolutionary theories, to be like a herd animal that has lost its predators and needs to be culled. Example 5 min video onJustify Your Existence (click here) or die.
More closely to your question now; some believe in creative evolution, but I believe this theory ultimately diminishes the power and authority of God and diminishes a personal relationship with our creator. 

Me: I believe we have God in each of us, or God “lives” in each of us, and that the fact of evolution, far from diminishing God’s powers, shows God in a greater light, as well as making possible for God to exist in more creatures constantly throughout time. I believe that “in the image of God” is a metaphor (an analogy) to God in that it means we too are creators, our species being able to think about thinking, and therefore able to create. We (and all his other creations) are the way God experiences his creation, his body so to speak.

Creationist: In other words a distant impersonal god who stands afar off, watches ooze form vs. a God who intimately forms man of the dust of the ground, gave man a special time to be with Himself Genesis 2:1-3 (click here) and then lovingly stretches out His hands on the cross to save all who call upon Him.
Or—with evolution a god who cultivates humans by cruelty and blood vs a God who desires to the utmost to save from the power of and to put an end to sin along with its two children; suffering and death. God hates sin and its results. Suffering and death were not His plan for us, but He had a plan to save us from it. “Affliction will not rise up the second time” Nahum 1:9 (click here) and it will not have come in vain to those who call upon His Blessed name. “All things work together for good…” Romans 8:28 (click here) 

Me: Ooze and dust are very similar--an explanation of life-infused matter. The explanation of the cross as meaning death to save mankind is a more recent one. In the days of the early Christians it meant that man’s life was “crossed” by both joy and suffering, life and death--and all opposites, but that if we followed Jesus’s advice we could transcend the suffering and death spiritually, and become like children in that way, reborn.

Creationist: With evolution god would have no claim over us nor close concern for our wellbeing. However, because of Creation Gods has as special claim over us and closeness to us. Genesis 2:7(previously given), Revelation 14:6-7, Exodus 20:8-11 (click here) 

Me: God’s creation IS evolution, and certainly has a claim over us in that, I believe.

Creationist: They can breed bacteria and even splice some jeans but it is still the animal or plant within the limits of the code provide. In my opinion the code came only by the Creator who built in both variety, flexibility in expression of and gave limits to, in the Genome. 

Flexibility and limits are both build into the genome, indeed, obedient to all the laws of physics, chemistry, etc. which are in whole, God’s matter.

Do I believe in evolution? I believe in only one of the 6 types of evolution (Click here) that is “micro evolution” which is small adjustments to environment, climate, and minor outer changes which is observable. But these changes are within a specific “kind”. For example, a salmon is a “Kind” but due to isolation from each other and differing environmental factors the salmon kinds have become many “species”. Principal Pacific salmon species: Sockeye, Chum, Coastal Cutthroat Trout, Chinook, Coho, Steelhead and Pink Pacific salmon species (Click here) As you can see from the picture of the Pacific salmon from the link, that they vary in size, color and even life span but they all have one thing in common, they are all still Salmon. 

In conclusion, while some do believe that the Bible and evolution are mutually compatible from a different view on the creation story, in my small opinion they are not compatible. I do not have a problem with science. I just have a problem with the interpretation of the evidence from the world view or paradigm of evolution. I assert that both sides utilize faith but that the science actually supports a Biblical faith and world view, and that evolution is incompatible with the Bible. 

What do you think?

Me: Whatever we call them, all species evolve and adapt--a wonderful creation of  God!!