Science: September 2006 Archives

Was Steve Irwin a Christian?

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Was Steve Irwin a Christian
steve irwin christian
I've been getting searches like this up to several times an hour (but usually less) since Steve Irwin died, but nothing I said was relevant to this. Maybe those searches will get diverted to this post. I know nothing for sure about Steve Irwin's views on religion. He did, of course, accept current scientific understanding on the process of human origins, which will automatically disqualify him in the eyes of some people who think views on the means and time frame of creation count as the gospel (or, even worse, think evangelism consists of sending creationist tracts to celebrities). But of course plenty of people accept common descent who are genuine Christians.

He did believe in God, or at least he sometimes talked that way, saying, "But I have a gift. God put me on this planet with a mission. My mission is to educate people about conservation." But lots of people believe in God without being Christians, and lots of people speak of God's purpose metaphorically, mostly to suggest that they feel a purpose for their life. Someone in this thread remembers him saying he believed his mom was in heaven and looked forward to joining her, which suggests some sort of Christianlike view of heaven. I can't find any substantiation for him saying this, however. It says it's in the Larry King interview, but I didn't see anything even close to that there.

One piece of evidence against his being a Christian is that they had Buddhist nuns (his term; I don't know the proper term) bless their child in a sort of public baptismal ceremony. I doubt they would have done that in addition to a private Christian service, but it's possible. More likely is that this was all they did in that area, and it's probably not something serious Christians who accept and follow biblical teaching would have done, since this looks strikingly like the kind of pagan temple worship that the early Christians would have considered idolatry.

Update: Snopes.com finally tackles this issue (or at least the issue of the hoax discussed in the comments).

Camel Shadows

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The dark camel-shaped things in this picture are not camels. Look more closely. The light-colored objects just below the dark shapes are the camels. This overhead shot was taken at dawn or dusk, when the shadows were fairly large in comparison to the camels. This is the sort of thing that humans would rarely have the occasion to see.

For more information, see Shadow Caravan at, of all places, snopes.com.

The top Vatican bioethicist has spoken out against the new stem cell method that seems to be able to produce embryonic stem cells without killing embryos. [hat tip: Mark Olson] One might expect pro-lifers might be cautious in case the facts are not as they have been presented. Still, this sort of criticism is a little surprising. Is this really the standard Catholic view? It seems to me to be based on very strange reasoning.

As far as the article reports, this is the reasoning. This method relies on in vitro fertilization, which the Roman Catholic Church opposes in general. I understand the argument that in vitro fertilization if immoral as it's often practiced, with far more embryos created than are implanted to be developed. A consistent pro-life view will oppose that practice. But opposing in vitro fertilization in principle? That just seems irrational. The explanation seems to be that in vitro fertilization necessarily replaces conjugal relations in a way that artificial insemination may or may not do so. So artificial insemination can be ok or wrong, depending on whether it replaces conjugal relations. But in vitro fertilization always replaces conjugal relations.

This argument makes absolutely no sense. How many people who engage in in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination do so to avoid having sex? The only people I can think of are single moms who have someone donate sperm without engaging in sex, but I would hope the Catholic church doesn't oppose unmarried people not having sex. The ordinary married couple who uses in vitro methods to conceive is not doing so to avoid sex. They're doing so because sex is insufficient to cause conception in their case, and they're hoping in vitro methods will succeed. That doesn't mean they've abstaining from sexual relations. People do abstain from sexual relations for reasons other than prayer if they're using natural family planning to avoid conception, and that does go against biblical teaching, but that isn't what goes on in the ordinary case of in vitro fertilization. This objection just doesn't make any sense.

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