Creationist neurosurgeon speaks at yet another commencement

Dr. Benjamin Carson, a Seventh-Day Adventist neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins, and also an outspoken young-earth creationist, was invited to give the commencement address at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. (I’ve posted before about his giving a similar address at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.) Carson is apparently a brilliant surgeon, but how does that square with these views, expressed in an interview at The Adventist Review?:

How does this happen? What are the consequences of accepting evolutionary views of human origins? How does this affect society and the way we see ourselves?
By believing we are the product of random acts, we eliminate morality and the basis of ethical behavior. For if there is no such thing as moral authority, you can do anything you want. You make everything relative, and there’s no reason for any of our higher values.

If we are all the product of chance, the random assortment of atoms, living in a deterministic universe that is simply the consequence of physical interactions, doesn’t it all seem so futile?
Yes, in my education I had to learn evolutionary theories, and as a God-fearing Christian I wondered how to make God and evolution mesh. The truth is that you can’t make them mesh–you have to choose one or the other.

Too many Christians have given up too much to “science,” conceding not just the observed data but the anti-God interpretations. Are you often questioned about being both a logical scientist and a Christian?
Yes, my answer is that the more you understand science, the less you can believe all this is an accident! Just look at the brain, with its billions and billions of neurons, and 100 billions of connections, and how it remembers everything it has ever seen and heard . . .

. . . A few closing thoughts?
Ultimately, if you accept the evolutionary theory, you dismiss ethics, you don’t have to abide by a set of moral codes, you determine your own conscience based on your own desires. You have no reason for things such as selfless love, when a father dives in to save his son from drowning. You can trash the Bible as irrelevant, just silly fables, since you believe that it does not conform to scientific thought. You can be like Lucifer, who said, “I will make myself like the Most High.”

Can you prove evolution? No. Can you prove creation? No. Can you use the intellect God has given you to decide whether something is logical or illogical? Yes, absolutely. It all comes down to “faith”–and I don’t have enough to believe in evolution. I’m too logical!

Carson’s also opposed to gay marriage, which why some students and faculty walked out of his presentation.  Fine: he has the right to express his views, and academics have the right to walk out silently.  But what is wrong here is that a respectable university chose as its commencement speaker someone committed to a profoundly misguided view of biology. He is antiscientific, except, perhaps, in the operating room.

Yes, Carson worked his way up from a horrible background (raised in Detroit by a single mom) to a position of prestige and accomplishment, and yes, he’s been a role model to black students.  But none of that, to my mind, outweighs his profoundly creationist views.  He certainly shouldn’t be barred from speaking because of his faith, but the officials who pick commencement speakers should have excluded him because his view of science, based on lies, is hardly exemplary of an institution devoted to learning.  Truth outweighs inspiration.

h/t: Dan

89 Comments

  1. lulu_footloose
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    *raised* in Detroit by a single mom instead of raided?

  2. Posted May 12, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Oz is also a brilliant surgeon, but by crikey, some experts need to just shut the heck up about stuff outside their expertise, ‘cos expertise just isn’t transfrerable.

    • gluonspring
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      I’ve seen the TV show Scrubs a few times and they portray surgeons as the jocks of medicine… skilled technicians who actually know less about everything non-surgical than everyone else. I had assumed this was a silly TV hyperbole done for laughs, but one wonders…

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

        (Forgive me for mentioning it again..) here in New Zealand, I was surprised that the top heart surgeon who operated on me was addressed as ‘Mr’. Apparently surgeons don’t rate ‘Doctor’, even as a courtesy title.

        Still, I’m sure he wasn’t so ignorant about peripheral matters as Carson seems to be.

        • Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:02 am | Permalink

          Actually, “Dr.” Is considered an inferior title to a surgeon’s “Mr.” Confusing? Yep.

          /@

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:35 am | Permalink

            I’m sure that is the case, and I find it paradoxical rather than confusing. I rather like these little ironies.

            • Aj
              Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:16 am | Permalink

              The Mr/Dr distinction is due to historic rivalries between the separate royal colleges of physicians and surgeons. Physicians always had medical degrees and thus were doctors, surgeons originally did not (they were previously incorporated as the college of barber surgeons).

              When the surgeons’ college received royal charter the physicians pushed for it to be made a requirement that applicants first have a medical degree and thus would be doctors. So, as a kind of “up yours” ,the college of surgeons made it the tradition that when a doctor receives their surgical diploma they revert back to the title of Mr.

              … although asking your surgeon for a short back and sides and something for the weekend rarely goes down well.

    • Golkarian
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think two men should cause you to judge the intelligence of an entire profession, that seems to be a tendency of people, such as criticizing biochemists for the views of Behe.

  3. ploubere
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Nothing but bad news out of Texas anymore.

    • gluonspring
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      There’s Lance Armstrong.. oh, yeah.

    • Jeff Lewis
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Well, as a resident of Wichita Falls myself, I guess the positive spin to put on it is that some faculty and students did walk out, and the article did mention other students wore rainbow ribbons.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    When a university asks someone with backwards views about science to give a commencement speech, they are tacitly supporting those beliefs even if they are doing so indirectly.

    It’s unfortunate as Dr. Carson’s incorrect understanding of biology taints his accomplishments. I’d be uncomfortable if he were my surgeon even though he is accomplished.

  5. Posted May 12, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m no neurosurgeon, but:

    Just look at the brain, with its billions and billions of neurons, and 100 billions of connections, and how it remembers everything it has ever seen and heard . . .

    That’s obviously not correct…it’s really odd to me that in describing the marvel that is the human brain he’d feel obligated to make something up.

    • Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Neurosurgeon is to neuroscience as car mechanic is to mechanical engineer.

  6. Hempenstein
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    The truth is that you can’t make them mesh–you have to choose one or the other.

    And how d’ya suppose the good Dr. got to Wichita from Ballmer? I sure hope he didn’t fly, ’cause if God hadda wanted men to fly, he wouldda given ’em wings.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      I think he’s absolutely correct in that statement and 99% of the posters here would agree with him. We just disagree with him on which one to choose…

  7. SA Gould
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    “You have no reason for things such as selfless love…” Where do people even get this stuff? Have any of them ever actually talked to non-christians? This is just stupid.

    • Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      Out of their asses.

    • Beth Purkhiser
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      This is one of the most frustrating things about trying to talk with creationists in my opinion. They absolutely are NOT interested in hearing what YOU have to say. *They* tell *you* what *your* “world-view” is and what *your* ethics and sense of morality are. And somehow they still think we’re the arrogant ones.

      • SA Gould
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        “Arrogance.” Yes! That is the word. Arrogance.

  8. Posted May 12, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    “By believing we are the product of random acts, we eliminate morality and the basis of ethical behavior. For if there is no such thing as moral authority, you can do anything you want. You make everything relative, and there’s no reason for any of our higher values.”

    I am so sick of reading this trope that I can puke. Where, please point it out to me, does anyone find any “moral authority” in the freakin’ bible? Do the morons who repeat this trash actually believe that moral authority come from the example of a god who commands his
    subject to smite all men, women and children for for picking up sticks on the sabbath? Is that the definition of moral authority?

    Why is this “there’s no moral authority unless you accept Jebus” bullshit allowed to simply go ignored every time it’s uttered?

    I’m sick of it already. It’s utter nonsense.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      I think what bothers me most (after all the wrong science) is the underlying Orwellian hint that if you give credence to an idea then this idea would lead to moral decay. What people who say this are really saying is “don’t believe something because it will harm you. The truth of it doesn’t matter; trust in what I or some other authority says because I/we know what’s best for you and society” It means out of fear, they will never accept the truth and will instead try their best to obfuscate it.

      • Sastra
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

        This basic apologetic tactic has been called “The Argument from Boo-Hoo.” It goes like this:

        1.) If there is no God, then (horrible consequence.)

        2.) BOO-HOO!

        3.) Therefore, God exists.

        No, that doesn’t work, does it?

    • Dave
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that one gets me too. I don’t know why supposedly educated people keep saying it when there’ obviously plenty of evidence to the contrary walking around them every day.

    • Prof.Pedant
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      The supposed connection between “being the product of random acts” and “there’s no reason for any of our higher values” is never made clear. Why would being derived from randomly occurring mutations imply any lack of morality? All they have to do is declare that the randomness of mutations demonstrates that God’s Plan is so great that it is coming true despite the randomness of the ‘building material’. Their silly adherence to earlier comprehensions of the universe impedes their efficiency at delusionally comprehending the universe as it is. They are not fantasizing about a very great god if simple randomness is enough to defeat god.

  9. lamacher
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I’ve known Ben for many years, though he would not remermber or acknowledge me. He has always been expert at self-promotion, and never fails to practice it. He IS a good surgeon, but notthe ‘gifted hands’ that he has pushed for himself. I have taken care of a couple of his less-than-stellar results, without comment or thanks from him for my doing so. His dogma is reprehensible. He was here at Bucknell a few years ago, and the science people were up in arms. Feet of clay for a self-proclaimed icon.

  10. Posted May 12, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Carson is ‘good’ only because he believes in god? Please, keep him away from me. Thank you.

  11. Chuck O'Connor
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    It is sad that a man with such intellectual talent has such a psychological weakness for authoritarian ethics.

  12. Simon Eskow
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    So, he’s the Rain Main of Brain Surgery? How does one make the increndibly huge leap from random selection to randome morality, and still take himself seriously?

    Frequently getting into fights with god-fearing relations, I’m often accused of calling faith-believers stupid. I’ve tried to tell them I don’t think there’s a direct connection between intelligence and faith.

    There is something as powerful as intellect going on that allows people to hold unfounded propositions as true, which says more about us as social and psychological beings than individuals grappling with reason.

  13. Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t Evolution the basis of all medicine? Infectious diseases are a cat and mouse game of evolution of the pathogen in just a short period of time.

    How did he pass all of the biology courses required to get into medical school? Did he lie when taking the tests?

    I’m tired of these religious types in medicine. They are fakes.

    And I hope he’s not praying before surgery. I want my doctor to be a cocky, arrogant, self-centered prick when he’s operating on my brain. I want him to have absolute confidence in his skills not in some wizard in the sky.

  14. Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Are 7th Day whatchamacallits “true Christians”?

    • Dave
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Not according to the JWs who ARE the true xians.

      • Kevin Alexander
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        No the Catholics are the TRUE Christians. or something.
        All this obsession with sects is confusing.

        • M Janello
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

          Abstain from sects!

          It’s the only way.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted May 12, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

            Ha ha! Very nicely done!

          • Dave
            Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

            I prefer safe sects.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

              ROTFL! 🙂

              • Kae Foggo
                Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

                No…. they work on Sabbath and get paid but will tell you that the 4th commandment says ‘Thou Shall not do any servile work on the sabbath.” Their other excuse for working on the sabbath is the text that says “IF your neighbor’s (ass) ox in the ditch then it is ok to help them get it out on the sabbath.” I don’t think that the neighbor’s about to pay them for their help in dragging their ASS out of the ditch, so they get no pay for their help….Talk about talking out of both sides of their faces..

                Dr Carson Sounds a bit like Lucifer who wants to be The Most High.

        • gluonspring
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

          Catholics? You ignorant people. It’s not the Catholics. They are not only not Christian but part of the anti-Christ. The Baptists were close, I’ll grant, but it’s the Disciples of Christ who are the true Christians. Why can’t anyone get this straight?

    • Sastra
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      For most Christians, it seems like the definition of a “True Christian” is “anyone who is arguing against the atheists.”

      • Posted May 12, 2013 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        Well, in that moment.

        When everybody goes home, then they all go back to being heretics, according to each other.

  15. Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I’ve noticed at least two words in the last few hours that were wrong. Is everything okay, or have you managed to find a cell phone that lets you access the internet, with a autocorrect that doesn’t screw up quite as often as the autocorrect memes would suggest?

    “raided in Detroit by a single mom”
    raised?

    “The name-lending, after all, is want Templeton really wants.”

  16. kelskye
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    “By believing we are the product of random acts, we eliminate morality and the basis of ethical behavior. For if there is no such thing as moral authority, you can do anything you want. You make everything relative, and there’s no reason for any of our higher values.”

    Reminds me of a quote by Hector Avalos:
    “One understands nothing about creationism unless one understands that it is meant to be a system of ethics. That is why the assault on evolution has always included a lengthy history of moral judgments against evolution.”

    • Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:19 am | Permalink

      This is the Avalos paper the quote leads: Creationists for Genocide.

      I must admit, this is a point I’d never realised the depth of, even as I kept seeing creationists make the argument from adverse consequences.

  17. Beth Purkhiser
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    God *fearing* is right. If they weren’t so scared of this wrathful, blood-thirsty deity of theirs, they wouldn’t have to twist the nature of reality so completely to conform to what they think they’re *supposed* to believe.

  18. Posted May 12, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and something relevant that contributes to the discussion.

    SDA, the seventh day adventists, have a tendency to be opposed to evolution. The organization has a public declaration of support for creationism (http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/statements/bible-worldview.html)

    “The Seventh-day Adventist Church affirms its belief in the biblical account of creation in contrast to an evolutionary explanation for the origin of living organisms and the relationship of humans to other life forms.”

    with a number of apologists with SDA affiliations taking a similar stance on evolution.

    Combine that with the followers (at least those I’ve interacted with) generally being inclined to avoid thinking (I’ve interacted with at least one who’s method of answering questions was to quote, word for word, SDA and creationist sites), and its safe to say that creationism is fairly heavily ingrained in the SDA church.

    • Barb
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Not only are they creationists, but they are officially YEC. A 7 day, recent creation is important to their doctrine. Culturally, education is important too which leads to fun and games for the SDA university science professors.

    • vini
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      As a former SDA, I can confirm it is. I grew up looking at illustrations of tigers and lions walking around with Adam & Even in the garden.

  19. coyotenose
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Did I read that right? Is he actually a neurosurgeon who believes that the brain “remembers everything it has ever seen or heard”?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      What’s with these neurosurgeons? The guy that died and went to heaven was a neurosurgeon too – Dr Eben Alexander.

    • Suri
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      Exactly what I was thinking.

      Religious doctors are not uncommon. It doesn’t matter if they are neurosurgeons or cardiologists seems like most of them fail to make the connection between well functioning body/organs= alive , completely damaged body/organ= dead .. No god just biology.

      • coyotenose
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        Hey yeah, that’s another point y’all are reminding me about: Brain damage and mental illness very easily refute the doctrine of Free Will upon which all of Christianity is built. If their special magic version of “free will” existed, then anyone could simply choose to not have either issue, or an addiction, or even an unwanted emotion, because all of those things impair one’s ability to make choices.

        It’s not that, for instance, a person could “choose” to withstand the temptation of an addiction. It’s that, for their version of “free will” to work, a person could choose to not have the addiction at all. Otherwise it is impairing and limiting the range of his choices, even if he doesn’t engage in the addiction.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      “remembers everything”? I could hardly believe that when I read it. Coming from a neurosurgeon? Roughly equivalent to a MD who doesn’t believe in the circulation of the blood, I’d say.

      I’m a complete amateur, but I’d bet 100 to 1 there’s established scientific proof that that just isn’t so. I certainly know from reading that much of what the brain does ‘remember’, it gets wrong. (And, I’ve had this demonstrated to me about my brain too 😦

      • gluonspring
        Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

        Oh, you brain remembers everything, you just can’t recall it all. (just prepping you for what people who believe this idea will say…)

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

          I’m sure they will.

          So why, then, does almost every psychological experiment that has been carried out (plus the numerous guilty-by-eyewitness inmates who have since been released on DNA evidence) demonstrate that people remember details incorrectly. Surely ‘remembers everything’ implies remembering it accurately, otherwise everything isn’t being remembered.

    • DV
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      >>Ultimately, if you accept the evolutionary theory, you dismiss ethics, you don’t have to abide by a set of moral codes

      This explains why evolutionists and atheists are disproportionately over-represented in jails. Oh wait.

  20. Wayne Robinson
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I seem to remember reading that Carson actually did say that the brain remembers everything it sees or hears. But I’m certain I won’t remember it tomorrow…

  21. neil
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    “The truth is that you can’t make them (evolution and god) mesh–you have to choose one or the other.”

    Well, at least he got that right.

  22. Posted May 12, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    §

  23. nurnord
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Jerry…

    If you are interested, Richard Dawkins and Dan Dennett took part in a discussion with Carson and Francis Collins some years back. Predictably it is on YouTube. Here is the link (spaced to prevent posting the actual vid !).

    http://www. youtube .com/watch?v=JPxGnN7RV1Y

  24. Marcoli
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    …AND WHAT IS UP WITH THE HUGE FONT???

  25. Sastra
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    For if there is no such thing as moral authority, you can do anything you want. You make everything relative, and there’s no reason for any of our higher values.

    The people who make this argument don’t realize that they’re actually undermining God’s moral authority here. They’re implying that 1.) God’s moral values aren’t any more reasonable or appealing than arbitrary values and 2.) there’s no motivation to want God.

    After all, what does God’s “authority” rest on? Do we recognize and want and choose to follow God willingly because we can see the worth of right and wrong and good and evil according to God? Do God’s morals meet our highest standards?

    Or are we just trying to avoid a Mighty Fist?

    Without God, you can still point to higher values and high moral standards. All you lose is the Mighty Fist. And most Christians today scorn the idea that they only care about God because they fear punishment if they don’t.

    If the neurosurgeon is going to say that no, he means that without God then we wouldn’t be capable of the higher values we do have — then that’s an after-the-fact argument regarding a cause. He’s conceding that we ARE capable of higher values. So he can’t talk about the consequences of accepting evolution.
    Pick a horse and ride it.

    It’s like saying that we love flowers and flowers are caused by flower fairies. But if there are no flower fairies, though — and we all find this out — then the flowers disappear! And we stop loving them! Either. Both.

    Nonsense. If we find out that flower fairies didn’t make the flowers we love so much then we still love them and search for another explanation. If Carson is claiming that there is this wonderful moral truth made by God then God’s nonexistence only leaves us in need of an explanation for why we are moral animals. It doesn’t remove wonderful moral truths.

    The form of the argument is muddled.

    • AlexK
      Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:53 am | Permalink

      Hear, hear.
      Are you listening, Mr. Euthyphro?… erm I mean Carson?

  26. Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    ()

  27. Posted May 12, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    He’s forgetting the famous rule, Do Unto Others as you would have them do to you, or Don’t do to others what you don’t what done to you. It requires no belief, there’s no deity involved, it is a basis for ethical action that even many animals understand.

    • Posted May 12, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Not to mention, it substantially predates christianity.

      • AlexK
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:30 am | Permalink

        Careful, when you say that something predates Christianity, they will cite you as evidence that they are persecuted.

    • neil
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      Actually, more often than not, we eat each other, unless we are the same species, and even then…

  28. Brad
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    So if your child or parent needed a nuerosurgeon and you could choose between a creationist surgeon of exquisite talent or an atheist one of ordinary talent, who would you choose?

    • gluonspring
      Posted May 12, 2013 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      Depends. How you measure talent? If it was based on “reputation”, I’d go with the atheist on the assumption that the creationist’s reputation was inflated. It would take some pretty convincing evidence to get me to accept that someone that wrong about science could be that good on something else that is, at some core, science based.

      • Brad
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        Muddled answer to a very clear and simple question. Jerry, in his piece, states that Carson’s creationist views outweigh his operating room credentials. Respectfully, I don’t see how. Carson’s prominence is based on his surgical prowess, not his creationist views (which I totally oppose). My question, which you dodged, forces one to acknowledge Carson’s more valid identity — that of surgeon. Jerry clearly feels that Carson’s primary identity is that of creationist, which it is not, as my question demonstrates.

  29. footface
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    “…if you accept the evolutionary theory, you dismiss ethics, you don’t have to abide by a set of moral codes…. You can trash the Bible as irrelevant, just silly fables”

    The first conclusion is blatantly untrue.

    The second one is blatantly trivial. People can dismiss the bible as a bunch of fairy tales! Okay, sure. And?

  30. Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    “Yes, in my education I had to learn evolutionary theories, and as a God-fearing Christian I wondered how to make God and evolution mesh. The truth is that you can’t make them mesh–you have to choose one or the other.”

    Fundies can at least speak honestly about the incompatibility!

    • Posted May 13, 2013 at 12:57 am | Permalink

      Why is it “God Fearing”? Why must you fear your God? This is a foundation of Christianity and one reason many of us reject it. If he’s a “loving God” as is often proclaimed, where does fear come into it.

      • Dave
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:01 am | Permalink

        To be fair, if the Christian God is anything like the way he’s portrayed in the Old Testament, then I think fear is the appropriate emotion to feel towards him. Love, respect, gratitude….not so much.

  31. Dave
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    Carson sounds exactly the sort of person that BioLogos supposedly aims to reach out to. I’m sure they’ve got his case-notes already and he’s in their sights. Never fear, a few hours with a crack BioLogos educational team will soon put a stop to all that silly creationist nonsense and convince the good doctor that evolution is fully compatible with his religious faith.

    Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work, isn’t it?

  32. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    By believing we are the product of random acts, we eliminate morality and the basis of ethical behavior. For if there is no such thing as moral authority, you can do anything you want. You make everything relative, and there’s no reason for any of our higher values.

    Ordinarily I would expect a creationist to raise such an argument, but as a neurosurgeon presumably Carson would a) understand epidemic surveys, b) be interested in behavior, and c) do his homework.

    It can’t be that difficult to find the work that shows people have basically the same moral behavior regardless of beliefs/no beliefs. Which means we _can_ make everything relative, and there’s no reason for believing any outside agent are needed to set our higher values.

    • Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      “people have basically the same moral behavior regardless of beliefs/no beliefs”

      But that’s not always the crux of the believer’s contention. They may claim that God exists and all of us – believers or not – get our morality from Him anyway.

      /@

      • DV
        Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:38 am | Permalink

        Furthermore, God is the source of morality even for those who don’t behave morally, whether a believer or not. So God explains everything!

      • Posted May 13, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

        Case in point, m.m., on Sean’s “On Templeton” post, Tony Rz says, “God is Love, the Love with which we Love regardless of whether we believe in His existence or not.”

        /@

  33. Posted May 13, 2013 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    There is an interesting thing about Christianity when it has to do with sects. Each set will call themselves “true Christians” and 7 Day Adventists are no different. However, they will acknowledge and confirm other views when ALL of Christianity seems to be endangered.

    For example, many Prostestants in America feel they need a modern spokesman for apologetics with their faith. The person many Christians first move to is CS Lewis. However, most do not realize he believed in a supernatural evolution that was guided by God and had various writings that undermined the traditional view of Hell believing almost conforming to a universalist view. They choose what they like about him and ignore what they don’t in order to further their cause.

    Most denominations I have been a part of seem to consider the 7 Day Adventists more like a redheaded stepchild of Christianity. What they don’t realize is that their influence on creationism is where most of its modern-day adherents originate. It was the flawed science of adventists who began asserting that the fossil record was due to a global flood and that is a viable alternative to evolution. Again, they choose what they will to advance and further their arguments while ignoring what they don’t agree with.

    Just some history on the modern YEC movement and where it started (look up the name George McCready Price to see how influential he and his denomination was).

  34. Vaal
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Dr. Benjamin Carson: “Yes, my answer is that the more you understand science, the less you can believe all this is an accident!”

    Yet this is the guy who’d just stated:

    Dr. Benjamin Carson :…as a God-fearing Christian I wondered how to make God and evolution mesh. The truth is that you can’t make them mesh–you have to choose one or the other.

    So the more you understand science the more it supports your belief in God. Oh, EXCEPT of course when the foundational scientific theory of biology CONFLICTS with your belief in God, then you just choose to ignore it and keep believing.

    What do you do with people who just don’t care about bald inconsistencies in what they say and believe? This is what you get when you happily live with a “Porous Epistemology,” where things don’t really need to hang together coherently, you just patch this logical whole with an emotional idea that feels good, when it springs a leak in another area of your reasoning, no need to patch holes – that type of consistency
    is for pedants and not people who feel-the-truth of things.

    Vaal

  35. DV
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    We are the products of random acts? Speak for yourself Dr. Carson.

  36. Andrikzen
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    On the moral relativism issue: I think cultural/moral relativists miss the point – humanity is the frame of reference, what’s right and good for all humans on this planet is the moral/ethical anchor; not subsets or subgroups of humanity. I feel optimistic that secular humanism will eventually prevail in spite of the current insanity.

  37. vini
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I was born and raised Seventh-Day Adventist. I grew up reading the extremely popular church-published biographical books on Dr. Carson, and therefore have always viewed him through this shiny sacred veil as the pinnacle of morality and intelligence. Now I’m just embarrassed. Funny how things, uh… change.

  38. Jeff Lewis
    Posted May 13, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I commented up above, but as one more note in defense of Wichita Falls, if you actually go through and read the comments on this article, bear in mind that there’s a small group of regular commenters who monopolize the comment threads in our local paper. OTOH, sadly, I don’t think their opinions are that out of line with the community at large.

  39. guilherme21msa
    Posted May 14, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Benjamin Carson is just another example of the PhD Strategy, in which a creationist acquires a legitimate degree in a legitimate scientific field to use an argument from authority on himself. The creationist says

    “Look! I have a PhD in geology and I believe that the Earth is 6 thousand years old! Therefore believing that the Earth is 6 thousand years old is a valid scientific position!”

    Of course the fact that a scientist believes something does not make that belief scientific.

    What makes a belief scientific is whether it is based on evidence and observation. Creationism is not based on evidence or observation and even if evolution were completely wrong creationism would not be a valid scientific position because creationism is about as valid as measuring the distance from the Earth to the Moon with a laser and then concluding that the Earth and the Moon are separated by a distance of less than 400 meters.

  40. guilherme21msa
    Posted May 15, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    [b]How does this happen? What are the consequences of accepting creationist views of human origins? How does this affect society and the way we see ourselves?[/b]

    By believing we are the product of a cosmic tyrant who we should obey without questioning, we eliminate morality and the basis of ethical behavior. People do not make moral decisions anymore, they simply obey orders from a higher authority. When you replace moral decisions with obeying orders, you make people feel that they are not responsible for the consequences of their actions because they are simply following orders, not making the decisions that they follow. A person wh does not kill simply because God prohibits is also a person who will be willing to kill the moment God allows it.


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