Friday, 23 May 2008

Church Times on the embryology bill

Ed Beavan has this news report, Embryology vote leaves lobbyists out in the cold and there is a Leader, In the wake of the embryo debate, which has harsh words for some:

The second observation is that, in the main, the debate has been conducted at a disappointingly low level. It was only to be expected that the different lobby groups would simplify the issues in order to attract support; but the ludicrous invocation of Dr Frankenstein at every turn has degraded the arguments, not least those of some Christian lobbyists. The Church has been justifiably scornful of Richard Dawkins’s efforts to construct a case against religion. Religious commentators ought, at least, to ensure they have a secure grasp on the scientific constraints contained in the Bill before dismissing them in such a cavalier fashion.

This is not the first time for such criticism, remember this earlier leader, Church fails its Biology exam, from 28 March this year. It ended with:

Theologians have been rightly dismissive of the ignorant forays that scientists have made into theology. They must beware of giving scientists the opportunity to return the compliment.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 23 May 2008 at 3:04pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

I agree with the inadequate levels of empirical comprehension, let alone the failures of much in the most vigorous conservative sides of the debate to take into account careful yet fine details of empirical method and biological technique. This mirrors, sadly, a widespread failure of many in ethics or theology or church life to bother at all carefully with the radical shifts that the human sciences have been experiencing, especially over the past twenty to fifty years of surprise after surprise in biological, psychological, and developmental research.

(Most religious believers are still struggling and wrestling with the hot button shifts, say, from gender as categorical and exclusive and binary, to gender as a continuum. Ditto, for empirical models of sexual orientation variance or topography which have equally done away with so many negatives for reasons of empirical competence, not to mention new data in human development across the life cycle. Yet cutting edge research has left these inadequate frames and models far behind, whether any religious believer gets it or not.)

As new discoveries speak powerfully to various key aspects of our embodiment - a goodly number of which have never been accurately understood in any prior human civilization - most ethics or theology trails pitifully behind - and the loudest among these tries to make up in sheer noise and volume for what it consistently fails to do in homework or empirical study. As if a self-important, sometimes bullying, sense of being uniquely right trumped all understanding, offering us a given so that no empirical data can ever really speak to religion or ethics without asking humble permission first, probably from the most extreme and conservative religious leader available on the church life scene.

Alas, if this most recent conversation is a good indicator of the level of understanding among Anglican believers (and other believers?), we who do read and follow what we can of empirical news, as carefully as we are able, are surely among just those many different species whose ecologies are supposed to be realigned out of existence in the ongoing high conservative campaign.

Look for intelligent life elsewhere, then, if the current conservative campaign succeeds in dumbing down Anglican ethics and Anglican theologies - not least because of these inadequacies in various conservative or other Anglican quick reads of science and empirical data.

How long can Anglican thinking continue to flunk modern biology tests?

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 24 May 2008 at 8:25am BST

I agree with the CT that specific knowledge of details is key to proper conduct of debate and voting. But in the case of various parts of this bill there would have been no discussion of secondary issues in the first place had there ever been the slightest discussion of the primary (and far more central) issues relating to the value of human life; centrality of fathers; etc..

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 24 May 2008 at 1:06pm BST
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