Saturday, September 21, 2013

Beetles, Bibles, and Brains

While putting tomorrow morning's post together, I noticed that I'd started writing about Victorian gentlemen, 17th century scholarship, and Joshua.

That sort of thing happens fairly often. Sometimes I simply wrench myself back on-topic and resume writing. This time, I thought that what I'd wandered into might be worth posting:

Haldane's Beetles

J. B. S. Haldane may or may not have said "it would appear that God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles." He did point out that there are a great many sorts of beetles; and stars:
"...The Creator would appear as endowed with a passion for stars, on the one hand, and for beetles on the other, for the simple reason that there are nearly 300,000 species of beetle known, and perhaps more.... Beetles are actually more numerous than the species of any other insect order...."
("What is Life? The Layman's View of Nature," J. B. S. Haldane; via Wikiquote.)
More recently, someone said roughly the same thing about bats and primates. I think it's interesting that there are many more kinds of chiroptera than primates: but don't think that fact, or how many beetle species we've found, has much to do with God's existence or interest in humanity.

Reading the Bible

I think the Bible, Sacred Scripture, is important. That's literally 'Catholicism 101:' Catechism of the Catholic Church, 101-133.

I'm not just allowed to read the Bible: as a Catholic, reading the Word of God is a very high priority. (Catechism, 133)


That's not the same as believing that Earth is in the center of the universe.

I take Joshua 10:13 seriously: but I also recognize that it's a poetic description of what folks noticed during a battle. Besides, as I've said before: the Bible wasn't written by an American. I live in a culture that's remarkably devoid of poetry and metaphor: which folks writing the inspired Word of God didn't, and that's another topic.

What Haldane said about God and beetles goes back to someone named Ussher who decided that God created the universe on the nightfall before October 23, 4004 BC.

Don't laugh. In the 17th century, someone who hadn't kept up with cutting-edge natural philosophy might reasonably have sorted that date out from studying ancient history.

By the 19th century, evidence that Earth was much more than 6 millennia old had been accumulating. Some folks decided to take the universe "as is," others didn't approve of an ancient Earth. I don't think it helped that some of the ones who accepted the idea that Earth is old didn't want God to exist.

The Darwin published his famous book, and we've had crazy arguments ever since. My opinion.

My faith doesn't demand that I keep up with what we're discovering about this astounding universe. But it's not threatened by knowledge, either. I've said it before: I don't have to check my brain at the church door.

I've been over this before:
Getting a grip about the Bible:
  • "Understanding the Bible"
    Mary Elizabeth Sperry, Associate Director for Utilization of the New American Bible, USCCB

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.