Happy birthday, Abe and Chuck

So, if you were invited to simultaneous birthday parties today, for Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin, and the actual honorees would be there alive and participating in the celebration, which one would you go to?

Me, I'd pick Lincoln. They say he was a lot of fun at parties. Also, I look up to him and what he did more.
Nothing against Darwin, but I suspect that if he hadn't worked out natural selection, someone else would have. But if Lincoln hadn't been president, the union would have fallen apart — nobody else would have been as single-mindedly stubborn about holding it together. I mean, why do you think so many of my fellow South Carolinians are still ticked at him? And even though all of my ancestors that I know about fought for the opposite outcome (five great-great grandaddies that I know about), this Southern boy is glad that the U.S. of A. is still around. So it all worked out well in the end.

All of which reminds me that I need to get back to reading Obama's favorite, desert-island-must-have book, Team of Rivals. I've let myself get sidetracked with re-reading O'Brian, and reading Moby Dick for the first time, so I need to buckle down and get back to Goodwin.

As for Darwin, I thought I'd share this interesting piece that I saw in The New Republic, headlined "Charles Darwin, Conservative?"

Basically, it examines the great irony of modern politics, which is that conservatives tend to snub Darwin, even though his idea of order arising from nature without a guiding plan fits THEIR ideas about how society can produce civilization without guiding government.

Meanwhile, liberals who honor Darwin act as though they don't believe in that principle one bit, since they think you need a strong guiding hand of government to have order.

George Will made much the same point in his column that we ran Sunday, but I think the point is made more clearly in the TNR piece.

By the way, I side with the modern-day liberals on this point: I don't think you can have order without
government. Take away the guiding hand, and you get Somalia — warring militias running around firing AK-47s at everybody. But you know already that I thought that. I'm a rule-of-law guy.

As for the thing that everybody fights about over Darwin… Well, I'm a Catholic, and I hear the pope made peace with Darwin awhile back.

You know what I think about evolution, and natural selection? I think that is just exactly the way God would create the world. I don't see Him doing it like Cecil B. DeMille, six days and abracadabra, here's the world. I think He'd do it the slow, majestic, complicated way. Evolution seems just His style, to me. But what do I know?

(Now watch this: The controversial part of this post won't be the Darwin stuff; it'll be that I said nice things about Lincoln.)

55 thoughts on “Happy birthday, Abe and Chuck

  1. Lee Muller

    Abe Lincoln was forgotten, merged into “Presidents Day”, for retail sales, until Hussein Obama, man without identity, decided to attach recast himself as Lincoln II, after riding the MLK II, and JFK II acts for a while.
    Next, he will drop Lincoln and start acting as Roosevelt II. Let’s hope it stops there, before he moves on to Castro II.

  2. bud

    I don’t understand how anyone can be a member of the Catholic Church. Aren’t there other religous options that aren’t tainted by their vile leaders (priests)? From the Chicago Tribune:
    Ex-priest gets 25 years for ‘a very, very serious sin’
    February 11, 2009
    A prominent former Roman Catholic priest convicted of taking a boy on religious retreats to have sex with him was sentenced today to 25 years in prison by a federal judge in Chicago.
    Calling the crime “a very, very serious sin,” U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer went above the maximum of what federal sentencing guidelines called for in sentencing defrocked priest Donald McGuire, 78.
    Pallmeyer said the sentence was meant as a message to anyone who would abuse children through a position off “power, respect and love.”
    “I want any such person to know the system of justice and this judge personally finds it absolutely abhorrent.” Pallmeyer said.
    McGuire did not apologize and described himself as nearing the end of his life. He has diabetes and heart problems.
    “I will continue to pray and praise God and beg him to bless all who participated in the trial as well as their families,” he said.
    At the sentencing hearing, McGuire was confronted by parents of two victims.
    The mother of one victim who had testified at the trial faced McGuire and condemned him for robbing her son of his joy while calling himself a representative of Christ.
    “You were the vilest of traitors,” she said.
    Five of McGuire’s victims addressed the judge, describing how they have lived with years of depression and pain because of his abuse. Dominic, 23, whose assault was at the center of the federal case, said he remembered telling his wife about the abuse.
    “It was the lowest point in my life,” he said, fighting back tears as he described how the molestation had given him “a life without happiness.”
    But Dominic did smile later after the sentence was handed down, telling reporters the long sentence should encourage other victims of other priests to come forward.
    “I think this case has proved the truth will set you free,” he said.
    Jurors deliberated less than three hours in a 2 1/2-week trial. Several boys testified that McGuire had engaged in sexual conduct with them.
    In 2006, McGuire was convicted in Wisconsin for child molestation and sentenced to seven years in prison. He has appealed that conviction. He was also indicted in Arizona for child molestation and faces lawsuits in a series of new child molestation accusations.
    — Jeff Coen

  3. Lee Muller

    Over 95% of the child molestations by Catholic priests were homosexual.
    The investigation showed that homosexuals sought to join the priesthood in order to stalk boys.
    That’s why the media doesn’t like to discuss these cases anymore – one of their pet groups was found guilty.

  4. Phillip

    OK, let’s send this thread even further astray…
    Count me now as a new skeptic about Darwinism and evolution and natural selection…it couldn’t possibly be true, otherwise we wouldn’t have reached the stage of human existence where such creatures as Leon Lott and the entire Richland County Sheriff’s Office could exist. Surely levels of stupidity such as this Lott creature (latin name: Sherrifus Moronus Publicitus-Seekum) displays, would have been “selected out” were Darwin’s theories really true.

  5. bud

    Phillip, you got that right. Of course I knew way back that ex-narc Leon Lott has a mania for go after drug offenses, no matter how minor the crime. I feared Lott would act this way once he became Sheriff and for the most part I have been pleased that his focus was on serious crime.
    But this whole Michael Phelps incident reveals the real Leon Lott. This is not about law and order, this is about wasting valuable public resources. Besides, how did this get to be a Richland County jurisdiction? Didn’t the incident occur in the city of Columbia?

  6. Doug Ross

    Didn’t you hear? There’s no more gang activity in Richland County… no ATM robberies… no drugs being sold on the streets…
    It’s pretty bad when Jay Leno the other night mentioned the arrests and said “So, I guess we’ve caught Bin Laden?”

  7. Weldon VII

    Bud, when three decades ago the Methodist preacher assigned to our church was convicted of shoplifting, should we have disbanded our church and become Baptists?
    In light of Blagojevich, should all Democrats change party?
    Let he whose church is without sin cast the first stone.

  8. Weldon VII

    Oh, boy. This is interesting. When I tried to post as p.m., Typepad changed my ID to the one under which I used to post, Weldon VII, after it refused to accept one post and made me sign in, which I didn’t think occurred successfully until my post above showed up.
    The blog is evolving before my very eyes.

  9. Brad Warthen

    OK, so I say to myself, tomorrow is the 200th birthday of these major figures, and maybe some folks on the blog would like to discuss that. I can link them to an interesting article I read. So I stay here late at the end of a tiring day and post something to publish after midnight, so my dear readers will have this interesting topic before them when they get their sleepy little heads up in the a.m.
    And what do I get? An anti-Catholic diatribe and an anti-gay one. Total non sequiturs. By this standard, what Phillip just said stands as a model case of sticking to the point.
    Why do I bother with this, folks? Why don’t I just put up a blank post once a day, and everybody can just jump in and exorcise their personal demons as they see fit? Really, why try?

  10. Brad Warthen

    Oh, and thanks to Weldon for trying to turn back to the subject, too — his comments and mine crossed paths.
    I don’t know what the trouble is with “p.m.” I haven’t changed anything on my end…

  11. Birch Barlow

    I don’t think you can have order without government.
    I think you’d be pretty hard-pressed to find anyone in this country who disagrees with this statement.
    The controversial part of this post won’t be the Darwin stuff; it’ll be that I said nice things about Lincoln.
    Well it is interesting that a newspaper editor would praise a man who threw newspaper editors in jail for being critical of him.

  12. Lee Muller

    Brad, it is not “anti-gay” to point out the fact that the child molester were almost all homosexuals. It is not the fault of God or the Church that these men chose to live in disguise and attack children.
    I posted first about Lincoln, who is mainly remembered because of Obama claiming to be the second Lincoln, second MLK, and second JFK, all rolled into one, come to free non-whites of having to work like white people in order to have the wealth of white people.
    I could post a commentary on how the Theory of Natural Selection did not originate with Darwin, or how the concept of “survival of the fittest” was adopted by Darwin from the libertarian economist Herbert Spencer, or on Darwinism as a secular religion.
    But if you don’t want to defend your Church from the lies and attacks of haters like ‘bud’ and ‘Rich’, I will.

  13. Weldon VII

    I read a dandy article on evolution this morning in the Washington Post which focused on the methodology of natural selection and didn’t waste time on spitting at creationism every other paragraph.
    I’m like you, Brad, in that I don’t see creationism and Darwinism as mutually exclusive by necessity. If God created the heavens and the earth, things certainly have evolved since, just like college basketball has evolved to include the three-point shot and rock ‘n’ roll has evolved to where Little Richard must surely be shaking his head.
    I watched a National Geographic channel show the other night on how whales evolved from a land mammal similar to a large dog beginning 49 million years ago when climate change left the doglike creature with too little food on land.
    To say the fossil record had some contentious gaps in it would be an understatement, and the first couple of links toward the whale appeared to have no chance of surviving, really, so awkward did they appear, but there they lay in the fossil record, two or three million years later, complete with one telltale bone in the ear that turns out, according to other sources, to be not so telltale after all.
    So when it comes to Darwin, we will always have something to argue about. Evolutionary changes require 200 generations to stick, according to that Washington Post article, so no one will ever live 4,000 years to see a mutation genuinely become permanent.
    Of course, when it comes to Lincoln, there’s not much to argue about at all, unless someone wants to bring up states rights vs. central government and the horrible irony of how the war Lincoln found it necessary to pursue industrialized America to the point that the agrarian world Lincoln preferred, the land of his childhood, no longer existed.
    Yep, Lincoln had a lot to do with America’s evolution, and apparently he’s still having his effect. Two hundred score years from now, we’ll be able to see if it stuck.

  14. bud

    Well, I’m a Catholic, and I hear the pope made peace with Darwin awhile back.
    My little digression was my way of saying I don’t give a damn what the Catholic Church thinks about Darwin, or anything else. You happen to believe what they say is important. I don’t. That’s all I’m saying and I presented a good story to support my position.

  15. Brad Warthen

    Actually, bud, I was making the point that while some see Christians and Darwinists as being at odds, I belong to a group that doesn’t see it that way. And I went on, in case you wondered what I think as opposed to what the pope thinks, to SAY what I think. My point being to lead to a discussion of what Y’ALL think. I didn’t imagine that my aside about the pope would lead to a rhetorical waving of the middle finger at my faith.
    And thank you, weldon, for advancing the topic at hand, although I’ll quibble with one of your examples: Is the three-point shot evolution or devolution? Is it survival of the fittest, or an inappropriate stacking of the deck to ensure the survival of players who can’t drive for the basket?
    But don’t suppose I’m encouraging a digression. Back to Lincoln and Darwin (and between the two of them, I’d pick Lincoln for MY basketball team, based purely on height) …

  16. Greg Flowers

    I have to admit that I am dubious of the claim that Lincoln was the only man who could have held the nation together. I would think that any leader of a force possessing a far larger population and stronger and more diversified economic base would have the cards stacked in their favor. This is not to say that Lincoln was not a strong leader, just that he was not sine qua non.

  17. Lee Muller

    Lincoln obviously split the nation apart.
    His election with less than a majority of votes caused the immediate creation of the Confederacy.
    Lincoln was infatuated with socialism, corresponded with socialist leaders of the 1848 revolutions. He recruited thousands of German socialists to America to fight for the North.

  18. Weldon VII

    Be it evolution or devolution with respect to driving the basket, Brad, the three-point shot is evolution in terms of ESPN making money televising games.
    Believe me, I realize that, back in the day, yours and mine at Carolina, John Roche could have scored 40 points a game if all the 22-footers were worth three points.
    The three-point shot also makes the inside-out game (in to Owens, back out to Roche) more valuable.
    The jump-stop is the basketball change I hate.
    But I digress. I think Darwin would have like the three, but Lincoln would have preferred a world where the Civil War wasn’t necessary. 🙂

  19. Rich

    My beef is with religion in general, not Catholicism in particular. I firmly respect a person’s right to believe whatever he/she wants and to attend or not attend the religious institution of their choice. But freedom of religion also includes freedom from religion, if a person so desires. There is no constitutional requirement to treat religious beliefs with respect, and I admit that I frequently do not. I find any assertion without empirical evidence to be suspect.
    The diatribes against religion and gays in this blog were definitely “off task.” The concern here is the memory of Lincoln.
    Clearly, he was ahead of his time, but he shared at the outset of the civil war many of the prejudices of his countrymen with regard to African Americans, he just did not think that these prejudices merited for them the yoke of slavery.
    Lincoln made clear in a speech from the White House shortly after Appomatox how much his thinking had evolved. Like the Radical Republicans who would follow him after his death, he envisioned the progressive education and enfranchisement of the freedmen and envisioned a day when fully social and political equality would be realized.
    It took the Radical Republicans in Congress under Thaddeus Stevens to realize his vision. Of course, that was back in the day when the early Republican Party represented free soil, free labor, the preservation of the Union, abolitionism, and civil rights. Let’s not forget that there were black Republican Reconstruction governments all over the South and it was a Republican Congress that imposed the 13th,14th and 15th amendments on the South as conditions for an enforced reunification of the state.
    Very different from today’s Republicans, don’t you think?
    Let’s remember that Lincoln kept the Union together, and for that we should remember him with the utmost gratitude as our greatest president ever.
    Barack Obama is right to draw inspiration from this greatest of Republican presidents.

  20. Brad Warthen

    As to the assertion above that, given the resources at hand, someone else could have done what Lincoln did — I most emphatically disagree.
    The war was prosecuted as long as it was, and as successfully as it was — and against the most vehement kind of antiwar sentiment (W. only had MoveOn.org; Lincoln had the deadly New York Draft Riots) — because of Lincoln’s unwavering vision of the importance of preserving the union, and his iron will and perseverance. To my reading of history, almost any other American politician would have let things putter along under the ineffectual McLellan until public revulsion became so great that he had to give up and let the nation split, which would have been fine with a lot of people in the North.
    Someone mentions arresting newspaper editors. Lincoln was prepared to bear any burden, pay any price to preserve the union. If that meant hundreds of thousands of casualties, if it meant a temporary suspension of habeas corpus, then that was the price. For that matter, if it meant keeping slavery, that’s what he would have done (or so he said; fortunately, he arrived at a different conclusion). You can either despise him or respect him for that. I respect him, because I think that through it all, he had his eye on the highest ideals of our nation and what it meant to people then living and those to come.

  21. Birch Barlow

    Phillip, you got that right. Of course I knew way back that ex-narc Leon Lott has a mania for go after drug offenses, no matter how minor the crime. I feared Lott would act this way once he became Sheriff and for the most part I have been pleased that his focus was on serious crime.
    But this whole Michael Phelps incident reveals the real Leon Lott. This is not about law and order, this is about wasting valuable public resources. Besides, how did this get to be a Richland County jurisdiction? Didn’t the incident occur in the city of Columbia?

    Bud, I’m sure Phelps will think twice about smoking it up around here again, especially with this monster rolling down the streets.
    Seriously, is this necessary? Did I miss something or are we not in a war zone?

  22. Greg Flowers

    OK then, let’s say that you are right and no one else could have preserved the union. Why would two nations have been a bad thing? Until 1783 the thirteen colonies were on equal footing with Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland as British colonies. We were essentially in a civil was with them and the approximately 1/3 of the population in the thirteen that were pro-British. After the War many loyalist fled to what is now Canada. Bitterness remained for some period but by some period in the early 19th century (though Canada did not become a nation until 1867 excluding PEI and Nwfld. but that’s another story) the two began to coexist, both were successful democracies who became one another’s biggest trading partners. Industrialization would have led to an end to slavery by 1885 or so. Both nations would have had civil rights revolutions, one obviously before the other. The USA would have been an international power of much the same magnitude as it is today while the CSA would be much like Canada. So, if Lincoln were the only man who could have saved the union, saving the union was not a necessity. Much like the English kings losing their extensive holdings in France. Bad for England at the time, but in the grander scheme of things, at worst, neutral (except those Frenchies are all damned socialists (kidding, of course)). Developing the theory of evolution is something of immeasurable benefit to all of mankind, a gateway event that has led to so many ways to improve life. I vote for Chuck.

  23. Brad Warthen

    Thanks for engaging the subject, Greg. I’ll take your word for it that Darwin’s ideas have led to immeasurable benefit. Personally, I haven’t seen it. Not being a biologist or anything, I see mostly the political manifestation, and it seems to me that what has been generated there is mostly hot air. I mean, do I really care what my ancestors of a million years ago were like, enough to argue with somebody about it? No, I don’t.

    Here’s how much of a scientific philistine I am: When someone figures out that there was a genetic “Eve” from from whom we’ve all descended (nothing like the babe we think of with the blonde hair flowing on her breasts chatting about fruit with a snake, by the way), first I don’t understand how such calculations are made, and then immediately after that I realize that I don’t care. So you tell me that people with red hair are the products of long-ago dalliances between “our” people and Neanderthals, and I go, “Huh. You don’t say,” and quickly move on to something relevant. (I’m not interested in John Edwards’ philanderings; why would I care about some caveman’s?) It’s interesting to speculate about things, such as the theory that we became farmers instead of hunter-gatherers because we figured out that if we did then we could make beer. But is that as relevant to me as, say, debating what the Framers intended in the Constitution and whether we should be bound by that? No. Frankly, if I think about the way our ancestors lived in a world red in tooth and claw, starving for long periods before gorging themselves on whatever they had managed to kill, looking forward to dying before they turned 30, I find it depressing. And then I look around and see millions, if not billions, of people live that way still or not much better, and I’m more concerned about that than the forces that shaped us what, 10,000 or 40,000 years ago? (I read a review today of a book that dealt with the controversy over whether we have advanced in evolutionary terms at all since 40,000 years ago; I would bet not).

    I’m interested in history. I’m VERY interested in history. Not so much in PREhistory, though.

  24. Birch Barlow

    Someone mentions arresting newspaper editors. Lincoln was prepared to bear any burden, pay any price to preserve the union.
    So do you also respect this act of false imprisonment in the wake of another national emergency that threatened this nation?

  25. bud

    I feel safer knowing that we have a .50 caliber armed tank going after the bad guys. What is the budget of Richland County anyway? They have a tank and can afford a half dozen detectives to go after one stoned swimmer. Apparently Richland County is suffeciently stimulated without help from the U.S. government.

  26. Greg Flowers

    I have been told (though I have not independently verified it) that without the science springing from the theory of evolution, we would not have discovered DNA or broken the genetic code. If this is true then I think you will agree that the potential benefits to mankind are beyond numbering. I hope a poster with a greater knowledge of science than I (which does not narrow the field much) can confirm or deny the link between Darwin, Watson and Crick and the wonderful progress being made almost daily regarding genetics.

  27. Greg Flowers

    I have been told (though I have not independently verified it) that without the science springing from the theory of evolution, we would not have discovered DNA or broken the genetic code. If this is true then I think you will agree that the potential benefits to mankind are beyond numbering. I hope a poster with a greater knowledge of science than I (which does not narrow the field much) can confirm or deny the link between Darwin, Watson and Crick and the wonderful progress being made almost daily regarding genetics.

  28. Greg Flowers

    I have been told (though I have not independently verified it) that without the science springing from the theory of evolution, we would not have discovered DNA or broken the genetic code. If this is true then I think you will agree that the potential benefits to mankind are beyond numbering. I hope a poster with a greater knowledge of science than I (which does not narrow the field much) can confirm or deny the link between Darwin, Watson and Crick and the wonderful progress being made almost daily regarding genetics.

  29. Springfield,Ill.

    The 28-year-old traveler, Abe Lincoln was tall, with rough hands, a chiseled jaw and unforgettable, deep-set, melancholy eyes. He arrived in town, his worldly possessions in two battered suitcases, and inquired at a general store about buying some bedding. But the price was far beyond his budget. The strikingly handsome 23-year-old merchant, Joshua Speed took pity on the man and invited him into his own bed, free of charge, which happened to be just upstairs. The traveler inspected the bed and, looking into the merchant’s sparkling blue eyes, agreed on the spot. For the next four years the two men shared that bed along with their most private fears and desires…

  30. Lee Muller

    Lincoln didn’t keep the country together. He split it apart. Secession was legal. The northern states agreed on that, and the federal government was peacefully turning over its land and military bases to the states when Lincoln took office and attacked South Carolina.
    Then, when the war got tough, Lincoln offered a peace treaty to let the South keep slavery. He had no scruples, and cared nothing for the Negroes.
    Lincoln sent the army to shut down the state assembly in Maryland.
    Lincoln arrested the governor of Ohio and deported him to Canada.
    Lincoln instituted the first military constription
    Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, printed worthless paper money, imposed an unConstitutional income tax, borrowed money illegally, arrested newspaper editors, recruited socialist mercenaries from Europe….
    No wonder Obama likes such and unAmerican tyrant.

  31. Rich

    I am not a biologist, either. But it matters to me a great deal that Darwin’s insights were right on the money. Evolution dethrones religion and metaphysics from the positions they held for millenia in human thought. Suddenly, the Founders’ intuition that religion was unprovable and therefore best left out of the constitution could be seen to be inspired. As many religious people quite rightly have observed since 1859, Darwin made religion dispensable. One could no longer ask, how can you NOT believe in a Creator deity who rules all and gives us life and succor (apart from the fact that such a deity shows no empirical evidence whatsoever of merely even existing).
    Now, I know you are a man of faith, and that is not my problem, but evolution makes plausible an entirely secular government and pluralistic society. Religion is everything you would think it to be if it were manmade which, in fact, it truly is. The contradictions, irrational commands, vicious history, tabus, arcane mysteries, incense, robes, and bibliolatry do not commend themselves to divine origins. In the Bible, the earth is flat, the heavens are a firmament, and there is no mention of germs, black holes, atoms, energy, or even the slightest technological advice that could possibly make human life look bearably better than what we see in those dull Bible films on TBN in which the miracles of Jesus are recounted, etc. Then there’s the whole sacrifice of one’s son for the expiation of all sin. Whom was God the Father trying to impress?
    Evolution makes all of this nonsense optional. Brad, I love the ceremonies of the Catholic Church, but I am under no illusion about them. I cherish what good works holy mother church does in the world; the idea of Jesus as the propagator of a social gospel of love and justice I can certainly buy into. But the church, like all churches, has engaged in massive social injustice over the centuries. That just cannot be denied. You’ve said you like history. Face the history of the church. It is quite sanguine, fanatical, and intolerant of dissent.
    Again, evolution makes hash of all this, and it shows that all human beings have a common black ancestry in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa. This is a much better story than that of Adam and Eve.
    I love Lincoln, but I have to vote for Darwin as the more important and impressive of the two.

  32. Bart

    The most exhaustive research on the life of Lincoln was done by Dale Carnegie and the result was one of the best books written about Lincoln. The title is “Lincoln, the Unknown”.
    Carnegie delved more into the man himself and tried to understand what made him tick. Lincoln suffered from depression and self-doubt constantly. He endured life with a mentally disturbed wife and the loss of a child to illness.
    He also had a burning desire to learn and he never allowed his circumstances to deter his will to accomplish or achieve. In spite of his problems, he constantly strived to overcome and be a better person.
    He made decisions he thought were the right ones and did so in the face of tremendous opposition and ridicule. Lincoln was ridiculed by his peers more than any president in our history. His detractors launched personal attacks, both written and verbal against him that would make some of the current diatribes against Bush look like Sunday School sermons.
    His decisions were based on keeping the Union intact even when they went against some of his personal beliefs and convictions. He could see beyond the present and understood that maintaining the Union would keep the country safer and a unified America would be much better than a fractured country like we have witnessed in our lifetime, the USSR.
    Slavery was primarily an economic issue and the cost of producing goods outweighed the cost of putting up with using human beings as chattel. Although slavery was assigned to the South, both North and South prospered greatly from the practice. There were just as many Northerners who refused to fight over slavery as those who did. Defections by the thousands were not uncommon during the Civil War by Northerners.
    Lincoln was not against state’s rights but he knew that a nation supporting slavery would never survive. He understood that enslaving the body and soul of his fellow man would be the undoing of this promising nation. He understood the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation for the future, not concentrating solely on the present. Slavery had become a cause célèbre’ and was gaining support. Lincoln also understood the importance of keeping as much support alive for preservation of the Union as possible and he made some decisions that were and still are unpopular. He had no choice but conscription if the army was to have enough soldiers to fight. He understood the power of the press even then and took steps to keep the vitriol and hatred down when he could.
    Abraham Lincoln was not a perfect man and understood that better than anyone else. He made mistakes when he trusted generals and advisors during the Civil War much like a recently departed president did with his staff. (Before some of you go off on an ass rending rant, I am not comparing Bush to Lincoln.) Lincoln displayed a tremendous tolerance and patience when he was dealing with his generals who stood by and did nothing when they should have been making advances and failing to follow up on battle victories that could have shortened the war by a year or so.
    Lincoln was not as complicated as most try to portray him to be. He possessed an intellect that did not accommodate an elitist attitude but one of common sense and the ability to analyze a problem and come up with a good solution.
    Lincoln was in my estimation one of the greatest presidents of all time. In spite of his emotional problems, problems at home, betrayal by his advisors, and many other obstacles, he persevered and overcame them. If you read the Gettysburg Address and cannot understand the depth of passion, understanding of the human situation and sacrifice, and an intellect capable of writing one of the greatest speeches ever written, then you have no understanding of man or history.
    In the end, Lincoln understood that he was after all, just a man, not a god. He understood the problems of the least to the greatest. His understanding came from the being and doing, not the reading and research of the elitists who never split a rail but will tell you how it is to be done.

  33. Weldon VII

    You know, Rich, I just don’t understand why you think evolution and God are mutually exclusive concepts.
    What God started, evolution could finish, n’est-ce pas?
    Why can’t we all just get along?

  34. Rich

    God and evolution are indeed mutually exclusive concepts. It requires a raft of rationalization to reconcile the two. Evolution is based on empirical study, and religion is based on emotion, superstitition, irrationalism, obscurantism, and nonsense.
    You may find it comforting to believe that there is an afterlife or, as S.C. Baptists seem to think, that you know the mind of God. But you’re just fooling yourselves.
    When you’re dead, you’re dead. We need to make the most of this life for our species rather than worrying about personal immortality (which, by the way, sounds rather dull).

  35. KP

    Rich, you’ve said many things I disagree with, but this is the first that made me feel sorry for you. When I say my superstitious, irrational prayers, I plan to thank God for not making me so intellectually arrogant that my mind is closed.

  36. Doug Ross

    Rich believes in a higher power – the absolute power of turning over all personal responsibility to the government.

  37. martin

    Lee, we can read the first sentence of a post and know you wrote it.
    How does it feel to know you’re so boringly predictable?

  38. KP

    I’d also have to say, Rich, that if the idea of living eternally in perfect peace within the will of God sounds “dull” to you, then your life must be a whole lot less stressful than mine.

  39. Brad Warthen

    Thanks, Greg. And thanks to modern genetics, I have determined that those three comments you posted above have precisely the same DNA…
    Seriously, I know I’m showing my ignorance, but didn’t Mendel get us rolling on modern genetics, without any reference to natural selection? Couldn’t we understand the mechanisms by which traits are passed on, and the structure of the genome, etc., without a theory of the origin of species? Maybe not; I just don’t know.
    I realize that in fighting diseases we deal with species of microbes that mutate a lot more quickly than WE do, and as we develop vaccines and such to fight them we need to understand those processes. But seeing as how we HAVEN’T changed in 40,000 years (or 10,000, if you subscribe to the other school), to what extent do we have to deal with such cosmic issues as “Where did Man come from?” to fight ebola?
    The whole thing that the creationists and Darwinists fight over just seems unnecessary to me. It’s not the helpful, useful, practical end of the body of human knowledge. Figure out how mosquitoes spread disease and fight it; I see no reason you have to fight over the existence of God to get the job done…
    I mean, if my job is to land on the moon, say, then I need to know all about the surface that I’m landing on, how to survive there, etc. What I don’t need is for anyone to calculate for me how many similar moons there are in the universe, or what the (total wild guess) estimate of planets that might support life might be.

  40. Weldon VII

    Rich, God and evolution are actually no more mutually exclusive than you and I are.
    I’m beginning to think you may be possessed by the evolution demon. 🙂

  41. Greg Flowers

    Sorry for the triple post. Even I do not find myself that interesting. Yes, Mendal was the father of genetics, but I could swear that I read that without Darwin’s work DNA could never have been isolated. I could be wrong, I will try and look into it.
    I agree 100% that religion and science should have no conflict. Religion, to the extent that it encourages a moral code which enables all men to live together in a more harmonious manner, is a good thing. Whether that morality is transmitted via Roman Catholicism, Islam, a tribal nature cult or some form of secular humanism is not important. If there is a supreme being, I am certain that it will hold behavior which extends and enhances the existence of its creation to be a very good thing. If there is no such being, such behavior is still to the long term benefit of us all.
    To the extent that ritual and liturgy makes the execution of this moral code more real to us, it is a good thing. Problems arise when groups begin to believe that their particular mode of celebration and belief make them superior to others and gives them the right to dictate to or pass judgment upon them.
    Salvation or at least a happy life may even be available to socialists. Many bright good people have sincerely believed in religion, many bright good people have not. As long as they respect themselves and try and respect others, I do not think it matters. Spending time insisting that one must choose between the two strikes me as counterproductive.

  42. Rich

    I recommend to all of you the wonderful PBS program on Nova on the Dover Case of 2005, when a conservative federal judge nevertheless ruled that intelligent design was religion and not science. For that reason, it could not be taught in the public schools alongside evolution.
    Regardless of where you are on this issue, you should find the program interesting. You can access it online at pbs.org/nova. I also think it will be repeated again Sunday afternoon on ETV.

  43. Lee Muller

    Martin, you can always predict I will deliver facts which are totally new to you, until you decide to study on your own and not sit in the stupor induced by government brain laundries.
    I hope you go study all the unAmerican things Abe Lincoln did. It will help you understand how unAmerican Hussein Obama is.

  44. KP

    We weren’t debating the question of whether intelligent design should be taught in public schools, were we Rich? We were talking about whether God and evolution are mutually exclusive, and whether believers are irrational.

  45. Rich

    Ah, Lee!
    What can be said about your doublespeak? Like the Republican Party itself, your day is past. Time to retire. Time to disappear–which you will, because even here in S.C., people are fed up with the conservative bullshit your party preaches. With Obama in the White House, we’ll have an honest census and more honest elections that ferret out all voters and get them to the polls.
    Why, that would be the death of the Republican Party–perhaps even in the South!
    I do believe your views are in the minority, and I am not bullied by them. I heap on them all the ridicule and opprobrium they deserve.

  46. Lee Muller

    Poor Richard thinks the time of the Constitution and rule of law has passed. It is all mob now, chanting to the beat of Cult Obama.
    Don’t pick out our mass gravea, yet, richie.
    Remember, you low-level socialists are the spineless ones who depend on sending paid goons to do your dirty work. We Real Americans can take care of ourselves.
    I know you think the day will never come when you have to work for a living in the free market, but there are worse things. Just wait and see how far down you rank on Obama’s food chain.

  47. Herb Brasher

    Well, let’s see if I can post this time, without having my contribution tossed out as spam. I’m about to give up on this blog altogether (not because of the comments, but because whenever I post a link, it goes bonkers), which I’m sure wouldn’t bother some people anyway.
    But it is sad that we have so many extremist positions that make dialog on anything other than movies and books almost impossible.
    First there is Rich, who cannot cease to insult all God-fearing people by calling them ignorant fools and worse. Having reached the position he does by faith in some idea of absolute knowledge, he then lashes out at everyone else who happen to put their faith in equally valid objects (the existence of God,for example). His ridiculous rants against religion, while exonerating his own atheist religion (which ideology has been responsible for more death and misery in this world than any other religion ever was) are, I assume, calculated to make the rest of us gag. They do achieve that purpose, I’ll admit.
    Then there is Cap, who, similarly having thoroughly imbibed revisionist history of the 17th and 18th centuries, cannot cease to make believing Christians scapegoats for all that is wrong in this country, and to push his gay agenda as though anyone who differs from him is an enemy whose right to free speech must be curtailed.
    Both of the above are convinced that Obama, who is not an atheist himself, and happens to be the president of choice for many Christians, is going to champion their radical cause of eradicating the radical right. I doubt it, thankfully. It is true that many evangelicals have lost positions that they had in government and foreign aid the last years. That is probably OK. Some of them deserve it. We will come out of it just fine, I expect. We will continue to preach and teach the truth, especially in our churches, unless of course, agendas like Cap’s eventually really do curtail free speech. But we will find ways to continue, as Christians have always done. (We can always bring Christians over from the former East German republic to teach us how.)
    I’m assuming that these two are, at least in part, writing tongue-in-cheek, but I am never very sure. What I am sure of is that a good master of history and religion could cut either of them to shreds in a well-prepared debate. Even Richard Dawkins would step back from where Rich has no fear of treading.
    Then there is Lee, operating like a loose cannon on the other side.
    What seems to me is that none of these extremists have any reliable sources for what they write. If they did, their comments would, of necessity, be a lot more measured, for the real world is a lot more complex than they would ever want to admit. It only looks the way it does for them through their ideological lenses.
    Meanwhile, very little discussion about the topic at hand ever takes place, for which I suppose I am as responsible as anyone else.
    Now after that rant, I’ll see if this posts. Without links, it might.

  48. Lee Muller

    I have sources for everything I post.
    I don’t footnote everything, because I expect those who want to converse to keep up with the basic news.
    If you don’t know that hundreds of economists and financial analysts oppose these big Democrat spending bills, then catch up on the news.
    If you are surprised to hear that FDR’s deficit spending failed to stimulate the economy, and actually made unemployment worse, open your mind to the facts you were not fed in the government schools.

  49. Capital A

    Oh poor Herb and Christians in general! Herb it really gets annoying when Christians play the victim card when you are the religious majority in this country. Check the calendar: you are not being assailed by Romans. You won the war and replaced their silly pantheon with your own.
    What realy is annoying is that I have defended your own free speech against others, yet you accuse me of limiting free speech. You need to come to terms with your own set of “facts”, if that is your belief.
    Just because I rail against the more conservative elements who usually face no opposition in this state does not make me an enemy of free speech. Those who represent that other side are shocked that their truth is not the be all, end all. I now lump you into that pile of jackanapes.
    You don’t have to renounce this blog, as I will. Enjoy the singular voice of comfort as it echoes on this blog and tentpoles your delusional reality.

  50. Lee Muller

    I thought the liberals were so concerned about protecting the rights and freedoms of minorities. Hmmmm….
    Maybe Cap A and Rich aren’t liberals, but… intolerant socialists who cannot stand to have their bigotry confronted, especially by the Christians.

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