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Open Letter to Abby Johnson Part II

I think it is safe to assume that either Abby Johnson's Twitter was hacked or that she did not take my open letter to her very well. The evidence for my assumption is her blocking me on Twitter and the following Tweets. Ouch. I love her and her work...but I really don't think this is a good way for her to promote her work.
I watched the video she referenced and I thought it was awful example of what can happen when ignorance grasps at straws. Scientists do not see evolution as a mere timeline where humans evolve from monkeys (unfortunately, a VERY COMMON MISCONCEPTION). Scientists, along with Saint Thomas of Aquinas, Pope John Paul the Great, and other brilliant (and religious) folk believe and have evidence to suggest that there is much more to the story.

I cannot exclude the possibility that Abby's account was hacked because these tweets and some of her comments on subsequent posts are just outright uncharitable. However, if it was truly Abby who posted these tweets... it is my sincerest hope that she is right and that I am an ass. You see, if I am not an ass...then she is a hypocrite.

I refuse to link to the video she references on the principle that it really is irrelevant and will do more harm to attempts at dialogue than it will do any good. I am sure that the people in this video never bothered to look up what the Catholic Church says about evolution...or what certain doctors of the church have said with regards to creation. The video is simply an introduction to what I can only assume to be a very misinformed group of people going after a very socially awkward group of people (scientists) in an effort to attack rather than discuss or understand evolution. It is not dialogue. It is propaganda...and it restricts God's infinite genius and creativity into a small, human-defined box.

Basically, if you want the gist of it all, the people behind the video don't believe in bacteria evolution as evidence for evolution on a grander scale...and demanded more evidence from scientists that are experts on evolution. As a scientist, I know how hard it is to try to convince people about something when they 1) don't understand the basics behind it and 2) refuse to understand the basics behind it. Their profound ignorance was proven well before the 1:15 min video clip was over when they used a quote by a certain rabid, anti-religious polemicist to speak for all evolutionary scientists and when they attempted to claim THAT EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE ASSERTS THAT HUMANS DESCENDED FROM MONKEYS....which, as I mention before, is a COMMON MISCONCEPTION. These are two big red flags for anyone out there who ever enters a debate about God and evolution....and indicate that the person you are debating against is a rabid fanatic that is incapable of understanding God as well as science.

(Side note for those who do decide to look up the video) Had I been interviewed, I would have talked about microsatellites, genetic slippage, speciation, black pepper moths, etc....instead of bacteria. I would have also drawn diagrams and used the same kind of activities I use in a classroom whenever I teach genetics and evolution. However, I say this under the assumption that the people behind the video would remove their fingers from their ears and stop screaming "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU" as soon as I started saying something that they would find (in their ignorance) either offensive or outright satanic.

I can't stand the ignorance and refusal for dialogue seen in videos like this one and I vehemently dislike outright refusals for dialogue whenever uncomfortable subjects come up....whether I am trying to talk to a rabid atheist troll or a rabid neogeocentrist troll. Scientists do not see evolution as a mere timeline where humans evolve from monkeys (again, a VERY COMMON MISCONCEPTION)...just as our Church does not view evolution as something contrary to the story of creation (the Roman Catholic Church, at least).

I can only hope that her account was hacked because these tweets and some of her comments on subsequent posts are just outright uncharitable. It is such a shame if this truly is her manner of approaching uncomfortable topics...because I love her work as a prolife advocate. I am very glad to see that she turned away from working at an abortion clinic and sought God. However, I am very saddened by her attitude towards me and my letter to her....especially considering her constant pleas for understanding, forgiveness, and mercy towards abortion workers and those who have left the abortion industry.

If you follow Abby on Facebook, you often see posts such as the ones below:

You see, as someone who continually encourages prolife individuals to give abortionists and former abortionists a chance at mercy and love...Abby comes across as extremely hypocritical with these tweets (and Twitter block) following my last post. If I am considered an ass for seeking dialogue between science and religion and for seeking to debunk the common misconceptions that lead people to label evolution as "anti-God" and religion as "anti-science"...then all I can say is that I am truly disheartened by her attitude and hope that she will one day experience the inner conversion necessary to appreciate God's LIMITLESS and ongoing creation.

One more thing, just to clarify another BIG misconception regarding my beliefs as a Catholic science geek,  I do not see evolution as a replacement for Church doctrine regarding free will, compassion, selflessness, etc. I see it as a stark reminder of what can happen when we turn away from God in order to fulfill our basest instincts. Survival of the fittest is a cruel law, but it helps demonstrate why the laws of love and forgiveness are necessary and 100% contrary to our basest instincts. It helps demonstrate the heartlessness that appeals to our selfish human nature when we are unable to see the sanctity and dignity of each life. Evolution exists, but so does God and He continues to love us in spite of our flaws and selfishness. Should Darwin's observations and theory ever be used to justify death at our hands? No. Should they ever be used in an attempt to eradicate religion? No. However, they should be used to help us understand how God's universe works and why we are to rise above our fallen natures in order to seek holiness.

Evolution simply makes it easier for me to understand the types of weaknesses we are up against when we decide to overcome our natural impulses (anger, lust, etc) in order to embrace God's plan for our life. (And if that plan involves being called an "ass" for a spiritual work of mercy...then so be it!) My understanding of evolution also helps explain the cleansing effect of fasting and prayer and many other traditions, doctrines, etc. I love and appreciate as a Catholic. With that said, may God continue to bless Abby and may He help soften any hardness in her heart.

Pax Vobiscum

An open letter to Abby Johnson

For the record, I love Abby Johnson and the work she has done for the prolife movement and I truly appreciate the uphill battle she has waged against the abortion industry. With that said, I still love and appreciate her work...and I truly do respect her. However, as much as I love Abby, I felt that I just had to say something to her after a recent post and comment thread on Facebook...even though it was late and even though I had just gotten home from several hours on the road. I do not wish, in any way, to offend her or denounce her work. I seek only to clarify a few things and encourage more dialogue between religion and science. 

It all began when I began scrolling through updates on Facebook. I follow quite a few prolife leaders to keep up with events such as March for Life and many of the prolife/proabortion laws that are proposed, voted on, passed, and pretty much ignored by mainstream media. With that said, I came across this post by Abby Johnson. 

I could not resist the urge to check out the comments on the growing thread...and came across one comment that broke my heart. Essentially, in response to a comment...Abby stated that "there is nothing about Darwinian evolution that would bring you to God." I disagree. Wholeheartedly. I know that there are often too many words thrown around with regards to creation, evolution, etc. However, the way I see it, Darwinian evolution is the evolution theory that Darwin proposed. It is not a movement to cancel out religion or promote genocide, euthanasia, abortion, etc. even if it people may attempt to use the theory of evolution to promote these awful things. With that said, I was unable to keep quiet. I have decided to share the letter here know how I feel about the whole debate (1, 2, 3, 4).

I am a huge fan of your work and understand where you are coming from with regards to evolution. Yes, the theory of evolution is very often used (improperly) to justify certain beliefs regarding life as well as religion. However, I have to disagree with the statement earlier:
 " … there is nothing about Darwinian evolution that would bring you to God."
I am 100% Catholic, 100% prolife… and I have studied and even taught evolution. The way I see it, there is a far richer story to creation than God was able to transmit to the authors of Genesis. The problem is, they could not understand evolution as we do today. Perhaps even the understanding we have today is insufficient to map out everything that is going on in our genes from generation to generation. However, when we look at how and when Genesis was first written…we have to realize that God spoke to his children in words and stories that they could understand. However, God speaks to us a little differently today as science continues to make discoveries. I know because I hear Him speaking to me every time I learn more about how I came to be and every time I meditate upon creation from a scientific perspective.

When I take a look at the beginnings of evolution, I have a greater appreciation for God’s love for us…as well as His plan for us. He loved us and saw great potential in us long before the first homo sapiens. We learn in the bible that God fashioned Adam (from Adamah, meaning earth) from clay. The elements present in clay are the same elements found in our bodies and in the bodies of even the simplest life forms. These same elements are also present in the stars of the universe. I find it humbling and beautiful that God could create so much from so few ingredients. Even more humbling is that he saw it fit to make us in his image and likeness.

Of course, another thing to consider is God’s idea of time and his idea of creation. To throw away the possibility for genetic change over time is to put a limit on God’s creation and it adds restrictions to the time frame of creation and restrictions to the processes He put in motion…the processes which continue to shape the universe today. As humbling as it is to consider that we were created with the same elements as a paramecium, the fact that God’s creation is still so dynamic and mutable simply fills me with awe. It also makes me truly appreciate His vision for human life. If He was willing to take millennia on the creation of Homo sapiens and if He saw so much potential in so little at the beginning…all I can see is love. All I can do is appreciate the role He has for me in this earth. All I can do is appreciate how valuable each life is to Him. This, in turn, brings me closer to Him and helps me love Him even more than I did before I started learning about genetics, etc.
I’ve taken enough science courses (and quite a few of them were based on evolution) and read Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” to understand evolution as a science.  I’ve also read the Bible and tried to become as learned in my Catholic faith as possible. To date, I have yet to find a manner in which evolution and creation are incompatible. Unfortunately, evolutionary science seems to be taken hostage by groups and individuals that seek to twist Darwin’s observations and theories into proof for or against ideologies attempting to either attack religion, science, or the value of each and every life on this planet. Evolution simply explains the “how” behind everything we see. It explains the mechanisms, the proteins involved, how changes are passed down over time, etc. It does not, however, explain the “why” behind everything.
That’s where God comes in. That’s where Genesis comes in. That’s where dialogue between scientists and religious institutions come in. Rather than cancel each other out as the more extreme sides of the God/Evolution debate tend to suggest….each compliments the other and adds meaning to the other.
In my own faith journey, it was science that ultimately drew me closer to God. If you could only understand just how many things can go wrong whenever DNA is replicated and passed down from one generation to the next…you would truly begin to appreciate how much God loves us and the rest of creation. 
I think it is extremely unfair to throw away the potential for dialogue based on an interpretation of evolution or Genesis that does not appear to agree with your views and hope that you may reconsider such a rigid stance in this debate.

I would be more than welcome to discuss this matter further with you and invite you to check out my blog for more reflections on the God and evolution debate as well as my views as a prolife scientist. May God continue to bless you as you continue your fight to defend the sanctity of life.

I will leave all of you with the following quote...which has helped shape me as both a scientist and a Catholic:

 "Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes." - Pope John Paul II

Pax Vobiscum

Updating Things

I've decided to spruce things up on this blog. I haven't changed much around in a year or two and felt that it was time for something fresh.

With that said, I am trying to update my blog roll and find new Catholic blogs to follow. If you have a blog of your own or a list of blogs you like, feel free to share and I will check them out and possibly add them to the sidebar on the bottom of the site.

Also, please check out the blogs I currently have up.

They are definitely worth a read.

I would like to design some kind of banner at some point, but until then, I have replaced Saint Michael with Saint George. Not sure how I feel about the new color scheme we'll see how this works out.

Pax Vobiscum

Binging on Belloc Books

I've been laying low for a while because I have been up to some pretty amazing things.

For starters, I spent the weekend with some very lovely Benedictine nuns at the Saint Scholastica Priory in Petersham, Massachusetts. It is a WONDERFUL place where anyone can go to enjoy some peace and truly feel the presence of God. I will write more on this once I get a few hours to myself to collect my thoughts, notes, photographs, etc to write a cohesive post all about my visit.

I've also been doing a few wedding planning things. The invitations are now designed and ordered...and I have gotten the food part figured out. Not everything has been going according to plan*...but I am more than okay with that, having fully anticipated that some things were not going to go according to plan (c'est la vie!). Essentially, we picked the first plate option we were given, passed on colored linens, and kept everything as simple and sane as possible. Seriously, the amount of thought and work that people put into these trivial details still boggles my mind. We settled on food that we thought people would eat...mainly nothing too spicy or too exotic. I did not care for the idea of a signature cocktail...because I think it's pointless...and who will remember it anyway? The fiance may have made some strange food pairings** but I'm not stressing over it too much. You see, people are very strange when it comes to food. You won't please everybody and people will eat just about anything if it is presented correctly....or if they are hungry enough.

On a related note, one thing I am still trying to understand is how putting macaroni and cheese in a martini glass somehow turns it into a classy appetizer. I may not be a gourmand...but macaroni and cheese is just that. You can put it in a martini glass and it is still macaroni and cheese. It's nothing special and has no place beside the beef wellington when it comes time for cocktail hour. Same goes for the mushroom risotto in the martini glass! The only thing that should ever be put in a martini glass is gin, vermouth, an olive, and maybe a lemon twist. I decided not to raise this issue in front of the reception hall guy. It just didn't seem prudent...especially because I had already found myself having to explain what a TARDIS was to this poor guy.

I have also been guessed it...busy in the lab. The paintings I want to show here are not finished yet and I really don't think it would be prudent to discuss what I do in my lab on the internet. According to the fiance, the whole internet is like a 13 or 14 year old child. It whines and complains about everything. Reading through any comment section are bound to make you despair in the human race. Even the most trivial of things seems to be the biggest issue for some people and I have heard stories from colleagues about threats, etc. I've gotten some nasty feedback and comments in the past...but am beginning to take things a bit more seriously now....but enough about this!

Let's get to the good part!

As the title suggests, I have also been on a Belloc binge. G.K. Chesterton and I were having a great time together and then he introduced me to his good friend, Hilaire Belloc. Mr. Belloc and I hit it off pretty well right off the bat. I appreciated his humor and absolutely LOVED his writing style...and his snark. His wit is similar to that of Twain and could have been his had Mr. Samuel Langhorne Clemens been of Anglo-French ancestry. Belloc reminds me a lot about myself when it comes to appreciating God's sense of humor and making the best of things. He enjoys a good wine, marvels at both the simple and complex, and is an extremely intelligent thinker. Some of the thoughts that seemed to pop into his head during his pilgrimage to Rome are the thoughts that tend to pop into my mind whenever I go for a good ramble through the grass. I finished "The Free Press" and the "Path to Rome" within a week. I am currently working on "On Nothing and Kindred Spirits" and have already put plenty more of his books (the free books at least) on my Kindle.

Unlike the celebrity feuds we see today...his feuds were actually pretty brilliant.
H.G. Wells (regarding a feud with Belloc)- "Debating Mr. Belloc is like arguing with a hailstorm."
I read a lot but sometimes I cannot help but feel that great authors like Belloc are few and far between. What I mean to say is that it is very rare for me to encounter an author and actually enjoy most (or, even rarer, ALL) of their books. Thus far, Belloc has yet to disappoint and I am very glad that Chesterton introduced me to him. For the record, I like Chesterton quite a bit...but tend to appreciate listening to audio version of his books more than I do reading them. For some reason, Chesterton seems to stick to my brain better when I listen to his works. I will have to investigate this matter further the next time I pick up my neurobiology books.

Pax Vobiscum

*Spoiler Alert*

*The Minas Tirith cake idea has been thrown out of the window because I just could not justify ever paying $3,500 for a cake....or $1200 for a miniature Minas Tirith groom's cake.
**like caldo verde with caesar salad