A “Heretic” in Jewish Terms? Someone Who Denies Intelligent Design

Last week some readers of my Beliefnet blog had a hard time accepting that the rabbinic term “apikoros,” a kind of heretic, denotes someone who rejects — if I may use the contemporary term — intelligent design. One fellow, by a rigorous Google search, even believed he’d found Internet-based proof that an apikoros designates a Christian! Um, no. The Mishnah uses the word without explanation, for a category of persons who have no share in the World to Come. The Talmud links it with insolence either to the face of the Sages or in their presence. (See Sanhedrin 90a, 99b.) Maimonides finds an etymological connection to an Aramaic word for “disparagement.” But what of the idea content of the term? Read More ›

The Hollowness of Conservatism Under Darwinism’s Sway

Sometimes the hollowness of contemporary conservatism gets me down. An earlier figure in the conservative tradition, Whittaker Chambers, began his journey up from Communism one morning when he was feeding his little daughter and he noticed her ear. Suddenly he felt the power and beauty in its evident design, and this transformed his whole view of reality. His political philosophy is summarized in the sentence from Witness, “Political freedom, as the Western world has known it, is only a political reading of the Bible.” Perceiving that his daughter’s ear reflected purpose, intelligence, and design made it possible for him to turn from Marx to Moses, and the rest of Scripture, for illumination. Compare the timeless wisdom of Chambers with two Read More ›

Robert Wright’s Evolution of God

It’s hard for a religious believer not to appreciate, at least in part, the spirit in which Robert Wright presents his new book The Evolution of God. On one hand, he regards the history of religion as the history of an illusion. On the other hand, he argues that the evolution of that illusion represents humanity’s groping toward a truth about the universe that may include the existence of a force operating in human lives, a force that it may even be fair to call God. He writes admittedly as a materialist — for whom the most basic postulate holds that reality can be explained in purely material terms. He sees an “evolution” in the Bible where relatively primitive, even Read More ›

New Scientist and Jerry Coyne’s Responses to ID Advocate Thomas Jefferson: Cases of Necromancy and Alzheimer’s

Responses from the Darwin faithful to anything touching upon intelligent design are often so thoughtless it takes your breath away. I guess this is how they manage to stay impervious to the evidentiary challenge to their religion — they just don’t think it through, or even read it. A single article in a newspaper or journal taxes their ability simply to read what a person says and respond to that, rather than to what they imagine he would say. Consider the cases of Ewen Callaway and Jerry Coyne. When Stephen C. Meyer wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe on Thomas Jefferson as a proto-ID supporter, outraged science journalist Callaway at the New Scientist couldn’t even mount an argument. He Read More ›

H.P. Lovecraft, Darwinism’s Visionary Storyteller

Picture a majestic T. rex receiving the tablets of the Ten Commandments in its undersized forelimbs, or an elegant octopus crucified on an old rugged cross with four crossbars instead of one. Such images are what Kenneth Miller presumably has in mind with his comforting Darwinist thought that intelligent creatures were guaranteed to pop up even in the course of an evolutionary process of purely unguided, purposeless churning. You see, he tells us, evolution was bound to “converge” (as theorized by Simon Conway Morris) not necessarily on a human being but on — well, as Miller has said, it could have been “a big-brained dinosaur, or… a mollusk with exceptional mental capabilities.” Just for fun, let’s grant the scientific merit Read More ›