PZ has a nice brief on R. Albert Mohler (President of the Southern Baptist Convention), who has decided to issue an alarm about the possibility that a mouse might come up to one of us and ask us for a cookie.

Please, no Cartoon Network jokes. That's way too easy.

Think about it: the head of the SBC (the largest Protestant denomination in North America) pretty much acknowledges the possibility that scientific tinkering could blur the distinction between, say, a man and a mouse.

Now, that is light years from the comfortable assumption, after Plato, that the Biblical 'kinds' (baramin) represent fixed, inviolable categories of being. Mayr has memorably described this misplaced conception as 'essentialism' and claimed that one of Darwin's most brilliant moves was to think in terms of populations of organisms, rather than 'kinds' or essential categories of organisms.

Dr. Mohler declines to engage on those terms, but instead seems to be fighting a delaying action, and I fully expect someone with Ken Ham's convictions to eventually figure out that Mohler is giving away the farm, and criticize him for it.

This is highly reminescent of Mohler's preemptive strike on the possible biological basis of homosexuality. Mohler essentially concedes that scientific research has undermined the claim that either homosexuality or non-human (but human-like) sapience is 'unnatural' or 'impossible', then flails about for some other argument, not yet contravened by evidence, that would still lead to the same conduct, the same outcomes, for the sheep in his flock. Never mind that there's no straw, you still have to make the same amount of bricks, slaves. I would be very interested to learn what John Wilkins thinks about all this!


John S. Wilkins said...

I think that you are pretty right - either there is no way of crossing the boundaries (because, e.g., souls only are created in humans by God), or evolution is possible and any property of humans might be evolved or made by purely material means.

Kristine said...

Mohler really brings up a lot of relevant questions. Such as, do girls sharing hairbrushes spread their souls around? If my cat's brain is implanted into me, will I rule the world, or is that precisely what my evil cat is plotting? Also, I've heard that if enough pennies accumulate, they mutate into dollars. I don't believe it.

But I do believe that you have been tagged!

Bijoy said...

Hi, i just surfed in searching for interesting blogs on Spirituality, you have a cool blog. Do keep up the good work. I'll be back even though i live far from where you live. its nice to be able to see what people from across the world thinks.

Warm Regards from the Other Side of the Moon.

On a related note perhaps you might find the following link interesting. Its propossing a theory and i'll like to hear your take on the subject via comments. See ya...

Jesus an Essenes ?


Kerala, India

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

John: Thanks for weighing in, if however briefly, on the subject. What I'm really hoping for is that (if you happened to have the time) to hear a somewhat lengthier discussion of how some species concepts (your field of expertise, as I recall) might be more or less relevant to the 'boundary' you alluded to.

Kristine: As usual, you surprise and delight.

Biby Cletus: Welcome! We haven't met before. how wonderful that someone on the other side of the world would visit. I hope to see you again. I will check out the link you provide and comment....SH