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  • An Atheist Challenge | Thank God For Evolution
    perspective is a Pollyanna like one but I assure you that this is not the case I outline my view of life in general evolution specifically and what I think we as individuals and as a species are up against in chapters 2 6 9 10 14 and 17 of my book Thank God for Evolution Nowhere do I deny that life is full of chaos cruelty pain and all sorts of other horrible experiences In fact in chapter 3 I argue that if the Universe can be counted on for anything it can be counted on to provide all sorts of problems and breakdowns that can but not always do fuel the creative process In your third sentence you say I can t really disagree with any of the facts you brought up but I disagree with your interpretation of them By this I assume you mean that you interpret the same facts differently and that you believe or feel that your interpretations are truer or more accurate than mine But in my experience interpretations are rarely true or false rather they are more or less useful As I discuss in Chapter 6 Words Create Worlds We co create our experience of the world by what we say about it and how we interpret it Given our neocortex we simply cannot not interpret facts events and processes in some way Yet of course there is never only one inspiring way nor only one depressing way to interpret anything Here s the way I put it in Chapter 11 page 217 of the Viking 2008 edition of TGFE where I specifically discuss how one can if one chooses to do so develop the habit of interpreting life in less victim like and more personally empowering ways Few things impact our experience of the world and the quality of our life more directly and profoundly than our habits of meaning making and self talk Why Because none of us experiences the world as it is We experience the world through the filter of our interpretations The meaning we make of an event the story we tell ourselves about it is generally far more consequential over the long run than the experience itself The belief that life could or should be different from what it actually is i e no pain suffering death etc is a fiction that exists only in our minds an abstraction with no grounding in reality I ve found nothing more helpful ineed inspiring on this subject than my wife Connie s program celebrating the positive role of death in our evolving Universe at all nested levels Death Through Deep Time Eyes I highly recommend visiting this page on our Great Story site and especially reading this A New Scientific Understanding of Death With respect to the trajectory of evolution and the question of teleology as I ve written elsewhere nowhere in my book do I suggest or even imply that there is a force intelligence or consciousness

    Original URL path: http://www.thankgodforevolution.com/node/1143 (2016-04-30)
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  • Responding to Mixed Reviews | Thank God For Evolution
    many humanists and atheists have yet to fully realize Until churches in America teach and preach evolution enthusiastically in ways that expand and enrich faith the battle over teaching evolutionary science in public schools will never end One of the goals of Thank God for Evolution is to assist the devoutly religious in letting go of attachment to literal interpretations of their otherworldly supernatural sacred stories myths in order to wholeheartedly embrace an evidential empirical worldview Surely this turn needs to happen in order for radically diverse religious people to cooperate in service of a just and sustainable future Anyone who believes that we can achieve a healthy future for planet Earth and its species without billions of religious people being commited to it is seriously out of touch with reality Those who might initially be put off by the religious language in my book should know that my wife Connie Barlow an evolutionary humanist atheist science writer worked with me very closely throughout the writing and editing process She ghost wrote the science sections of chapters 2 5 9 and 10 as I mention in my Acknowledgments I challenge those who claim that I am offering questionable science or distorting science to cite where exactly Which page s Which paragraph s Richard Dawkins graciously allowed me to include a letter he wrote to his daughter Juliet as an appendix in my book That letter was previously published as the last chapter in his A Devil s Chaplain There Richard highlights the difference between believing something based on measurable evidence versus believing something based on private revelation scripture authority or tradition That religious people might likewise come to value this distinction is a central theme of my book Regarding the question of teleology Nowhere in my book do I suggest or even imply that there is a force or intelligence or consciousness outside the Universe or within it for that matter that is pulling strings or making evolution go in a benevolent direction With respect to the arrow of evolution what I do say is this When we look back over the course of billions of years of biological and social evolution we see interdependence and co operation at increasing scale of size and complexity This is an empirical fact not a statement of belief Three or four billion years ago the peak of Earth s evolved complexity was expressed in carbon based molecules maintained by processes co operating at the scale of a millionth of a meter Today mutual support in the maintenance of peak cultural complexity occurs across distances measured in the millions of meters It is true that I interpret this trajectory in a way that many find religiously inspiring I also however acknowledge that it is just as legitimate to interpret the same facts in a non inspiring way When I make the case for chaos and bad news catalyzing evolutionary creativity I m not suggesting that a Supreme Being or divine intelligence is intending favorable

    Original URL path: http://www.thankgodforevolution.com/node/1134 (2016-04-30)
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  • 4 Reasons Why Nothing Matters More Than What We Think About Evolution | Thank God For Evolution
    at cultural evolution and appreciate the necessity of both day language and night language we see that science is revelatory it reveals truth and that many of religion s seemingly unnatural or miraculous stories actually have a measurably real this world referent For example the biblical story of the fall of Adam and Eve and the concept of Original Sin superbly reveal a deep truth that has only recently been understood in a factual way thanks to evolutionary brain science and evolutionary psychology Yes we all have powerful instincts instincts that served the survival and reproductive needs of our ancestors in early human and pre human times but that are now sometimes very much out of sync with the demands of civilized life The ancients sensed this truth and their story conveyed it in powerful night language ways notably a talking snake and an otherworldly God who punished not only the disobedient couple but all their descendents and for all time Today there is no need to argue whether the supernatural claims in that story trump the data revealed by science today Rather the biblical story is a brilliant night language way to communicate the day language truths born of science the suffering we experience as fallible individuals in a challenging world has very very deep roots Our ancient instincts are not matched for the conditions of today s world and today s societies Thus one of the greatest gifts afforded by religiously nourishing interpretations of the science based history of the universe is that it becomes obvious how unnatural sounding supernatural language can be interpreted in undeniably real and utterly experiential ways I predict that within the first half of this century the vast majority of people and throughout the entire world will come to appreciate that evolution is a gift to religion and that meaning making is a gift to science As the religions come to embrace the science based history of the cosmos each tradition s core insights will be accessed in larger more realistic ways than ever before Cultures in conflict will find common ground that today seems inconceivable The science and religion war ends when we get that science is revelatory and facts are God s native tongue TGFE chapters 4 10 Appendix A Appendix B 3 Unmasks the powers of manipulation and clarifies our way forward When we understand our brain s creation story and its deep structure we can easily see how the media and advertising industry manipulate us by appealing to instincts related to sex safety sustenance and status An evolutionary worldview is essential for unmasking the powers of manipulation and for inspiring and empowering us to channel our instinctual energies in ways that serve our higher purpose and the common good Only by knowing how we really got here and the trajectory we re undeniably on can we possibly respond to global issues like climate change and terrorism without making things worse Indeed trying to solve any large scale problem without

    Original URL path: http://www.thankgodforevolution.com/node/1132 (2016-04-30)
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  • Evolution Theology: Religion 2.0 | Thank God For Evolution
    Store The Great Story Search Evolution Theology Religion 2 0 As I and others use the term Evolution Theology a k a Evolutionary Theology Evo Theo or Religion 2 0 refers to those whose theological orientation is grounded in the Epic of Evolution or Great Story those whose position on the science vs religion controversy tends toward reconciliation or synthesis Evolution Theology points broadly to those who do not see

    Original URL path: http://www.thankgodforevolution.com/node/1128 (2016-04-30)
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  • Rewilding: Evolution in Action | Thank God For Evolution
    Promises Free Chapter Audiobook Table of Contents Study Guides FAQ Resources The Great Story Huffington Post Blog News Recent Archives Blog Recent Archives Huffington Post Blog Get Involved Evangelize Posters Flyers Donate Testimonials Subscribe Study Guides Media Audio Video Flyers Posters Schedule Store The Great Story Search Rewilding Evolution in Action Something I dearly love about my wife and mission partner Connie Barlow is that she not only talks evolution she walks it Thanks to her last week I was privileged to participate in a radical act of biodiversity protection the assisted migration of the most endangered conifer tree in the world And it was evolutionary science that gave our team the deep time perspective necessary to undertake this action not as some sort of ecological insanity but as a reverent responsibility in a time of global warming On July 30 a crew of 8 along with a writer and photographer from Audubon magazine planted 31 seedlings of Torreya taxifolia into naturally forested habitat on private lands far to the north of its so called native range We were planting this Florida native on mountain slopes of western North Carolina because we were returning this species to the range that

    Original URL path: http://www.thankgodforevolution.com/node/1127 (2016-04-30)
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  • There's Nothing Shameful About Accountability | Thank God For Evolution
    take risks Edwards told the world I was slapped down to the ground when my son Wade died in 1996 in April of 1996 But then after that I ran for the Senate and I got elected to the Senate and here we go again it s the same old thing again Adulation respect admiration Then I went from being a senator a young senator to being considered for vice president running for president being a vice presidential candidate and becoming a national public figure All of which fed a self focus an egotism a narcissism that leads you to believe that you can do whatever you want You re invincible And there will be no consequences And nothing nothing could be further from the truth Thus yet another bright successful man with a passion for public service was unprepared for the drug like hit of testosterone that his career trajectory made an inevitability Instead of tut tutting about yet another casualty or speaking from an implied position of holier than he my response is this There but for the grace of understanding our brain s creation story go I The turn in my own less than integrous life came when I began to understand the chemical basis of my own temptations to waywardness To move beyond denial and its twin of grandiose self justification was for me a multi step process Early on I benefitted from the 12 step recovery process of coming to admit that my sexual appetite had become a problem and that without support it could easily undermine not only my marriage but the higher purpose for which I now live my very mission in life Yet it was not until I came to embrace the evolutionary story and its implications for my personal challenges that I found the keys to the kingdom and the peace that passes all understanding The evolutionary story worked its magic for me in this way First I came to genuinely appreciate the demon within That is I accepted the very real possibility that it was in fact high doses of testosterone that had given my ancestral grandfathers both the strength and the rage to protect their families and villages from marauders It was testosterone that endowed my male forebears with the courage to hunt mammoths despite terrible casualties And yes it was testosterone too that had made my entire lineage of grandfathers masters at taking every opportunity to engage in sexual intercourse and not that long ago my mother never learned the name of her father nor the circumstances by which her mother my grandmother had become pregnant But I couldn t stop there Such storytelling would only feed the demon of self justification what Edwards calls self focus egotism Rather I had to admit to myself and others that because I was human and male the very trajectory of my life work demanded that I take steps to curb and channel ancient instincts that were now out of sync

    Original URL path: http://www.thankgodforevolution.com/node/1125 (2016-04-30)
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  • Why I thank God for Charles Darwin | Thank God For Evolution
    young man A corollary of being born again however was that the preachers I listened to and the authors I read told me that accepting evolution would seduce me away from godly living At first I believed them But then I met professors ministers priests nuns rabbis and chaplains who not only accepted an evolutionary view of cosmos and culture but found it religiously inspiring Soon I too came to embrace the history of everyone and everything as our common Creation story Today thanks to Charles Darwin and the countless evolutionary scientists and writers he inspired in fields as diverse as astrophysics geology genetics primatology sociobiology and brain science I interpret my Christian faith in far broader and more this world realistic ways than ever before It is obvious to me now that God didn t stop revealing truth vital to human wellbeing back when people believed the world was flat and religious insights were recorded on animal skins God is still communicating faithfully today publicly through the worldwide self correcting scientific enterprise I now see science as revelatory and facts as God s native tongue From this perspective divine grace and guidance extend back billions not just thousands of years Looking at the history of the universe through sacred eyes my faith is strengthened and my heart filled with joy No longer do I fear that my family and friends will suffer for eternity in the fires of an otherworldly hell No longer am I led astray by my instinct my unchosen nature And no longer do I find it difficult to live in integrity and know the peace that passes all understanding When I ponder the past I am humbled and filled with unspeakable awe and gratitude at our journey through deep time to the present moment When

    Original URL path: http://www.thankgodforevolution.com/blog/why-i-thank-god-for-charles-darwin (2016-04-30)
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  • Honoring Charles Darwin | Thank God For Evolution
    Story Search Honoring Charles Darwin Last week NY Times op ed blogger and evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson wrote a remarkable piece about the coming 18 months of Darwinmania From July 1 2008 through the end of 2009 Charles Darwin s life and work will be celebrated in countless ways and by countless groups throughout the world The question Dr Judson poses and 350 people responded to is Darwin got all the glory but did he deserve it Dr Judson is an excellent writer and I ve enjoyed reading her column The Wild Side the past year or two But I was caught by surprise even moved to tears by this post I feel unspeakably blessed to be called to take a sacred meaningful view of evolution to the masses The timing could not be more perfect 1 My book Thank God for Evolution was published by Viking Plume this past Monday June 23rd 2 My science writer wife Connie Barlow and I permanently travel North America teaching and preaching evolution in religiously inspiring and personally empowering ways 3 Next Tuesday begins a year and a half of celebrations honoring Darwin It just doesn t get any better than this Here s the introduction to Darwinmania The party is about to begin In a week or so the trumpets will sound heralding the start of 18 months of non stop festivities in honor of Charles Darwin July 1 2008 is the 150th anniversary of the first announcement of his discovery of natural selection the main driving force of evolution Since 2009 is the 200th anniversary of Darwin s birth Feb 12 as well as being the 150th anniversary of the publication of his masterpiece On the Origin of Species Nov 24 the extravaganza is set to continue until the end of

    Original URL path: http://www.thankgodforevolution.com/blog/honoring-charles-darwin (2016-04-30)
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