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Calvin + Darwin = 2009

This year we celebrate Calvin’s five centennial and Darwin’s birth bicentenary. Events would be held all over the world during these celebrations. John Calvin (10 July 1509 – 27 May 1564) brought important changes in the Christianity after Martin Luther’s reformation and I believe Charles Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) needs no introduction here.

Calvin’s teachings are called Calvinism and had defined how Reformed Christianity,  as we know now in the Netherlands (therefore also the Protestantism in Indonesia, since Indonesians were Christianized by the Dutches) looks like. With my limited knowledge of Calvin’s system I’m not able to dedicate this entry to his teachings. Furthermore there are enough studies and analyzes of his works you can find yourself on the web.

What I want to share here is Calvin’s strong influences in Dutch society. To act modestly (no excessive behaviour, manage to stay calm without showing your emotion, don’t show off your success) is still characteristic to most Dutch people. A Dutch saying goes “Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg”  which means Act normal then you’d do crazy enough.

Now, you must be wondering the reason why I put Calvin + Darwin = 2009 as the title of this entry. It is inspired by my own thoughts after having remarked the celebration of these two influential characters to the mankind this year. Between religions (in this entry represented by Calvin) and followers of Darwin’s evolutionary theory has been, let’s say, a passionated discussion about what truly had taken place. It is very human to search for some answers. The believers are searching, some have found their answers in what they believe in as Darwin’s followers have found theirs. What happens if these two cross the road?

As a Christian myself, I read the bible, know by heart the story of God creating the earth in a week, but I am also interested in Darwin’s theory and in the Big Bang theory. Does this make me a bad Christian? I don’t know. An acquaintance of mine who is a researcher in breast cancer gens said once that religions and science didn’t get along together.  Is this true?


9 thoughts on “Calvin + Darwin = 2009

  1. ah, I learned about this lutheranism, calvinism and the whole thing during high school but never really remember what are the main differences, I don’t care that much. I mean, well, the Christians worship Jesus, right? LOL that’s the main thing.

  2. Gw cuma ngutip Albert Einstein aja deh: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

    Dari situ jelas menurut AE yg notabene seorang scientist hebat, harus ada korelasi antara keduanya, dan pasti ada (^^,)

  3. @ The Writer,

    You are right, Christians worship Jesus. If everyone thinks like you do, there would be no denominations. Unfortunately there were/are some people who are convinced of their ability interpreting the religions better that the established teachings.

    @ Gat, ok, tapi banyak juga ilmuwan yg ngga ada korelasi dengan agama sama sekali.

    Contoh mengenai titik temu Agama & Ilmu Pengetahuan: Dulu sewaktu Copernicus menyatakan bahwa bumi itu bundar dia dianggap menghujat agama, sekarang theory Copernicus telah terbukti bahwa memang Matahari pusat tata surya dan bumi kita itu bundar.

    Menurut gw halangan untuk mencapai titik temu adalah kedua kubu berusaha sebaik mungkin untuk meyakinkan kalangan umum berpihak kekubu mereka sendiri. Bagaimana dengan kalangan umum seperti gw ini, yg percaya dan berfikir positif atas theory Darwin.

  4. Hi Lorraine,
    I happened to learn Calvinism and its Protestant ethic during my post-grad study here. It’s very interesting subject as the American pilgrims must work hard for God’s grace and salvation.

    Yang point kedua, debat antara kubu Creationism & Evolutionism khususnya di Amerika masih berlangsung hingga sekarang. Hal ini berkaitan dengan kebijakan sekolah umum di sana yang hanya boleh mengajarkan teori Darwin karena pemisalah state & religion. Banyaknya kasus dimana guru2 dengan segaja atau tidak memasukan teori Creationism merupakan fenomena menarik karena bagaimanapun imigran Amerika pertama datang karena kebebasan beragama bukan ?
    Salam 🙂

  5. Very relevant and good post, if you don’t mind me saying so.

    Religion and science, I think, should not interfere with each other.

    Science, Darwinism included, is about a theory, about a hypothesis which can be put tot the test. Ideally in an experimental way scientists try to prove the hypothesis wrong. In science there is no definite, eternal and absolute truth. It a gradual process of improving knowlegde.

    Religion by definition is one way of making sense of one’s life. To find answers to existential questions.

    Characteristically at least the three monotheistic religions claim they possess the definite, eternal and absolute truth on basis of revelation. But the stories of which religion consists are not – and usually can not be- put to the test: they are to be believed. As soon as religion interferes with science, science is either in danger or impotent.

    To equal creationism with darwinism is one of those dangers. The creation of the Earth and mankind in one week (Genesis) is a literary masterpiece, but not fit for science.

    And as for impotence: that happened for instance when the Christian religion stated that the Earth was at the center of the Universe ; the scientist who, over three centuries ago, proved the opposite, he was forced by the Church to deny his own findings. Only in the nineties of last century the Roman Catholic Church ultimately recognized it had been wrong.

    Let’s keep society secular. Let’s keep science free from religion.

  6. @ Mas Toni,
    Really? How interesting. What did you study exactly? ‘Thou should work therefore thou should not having fun…’It is indeed the guilty feeling Calvin’s followers have when they are supposed to experience the joy of life.

    Here in NL there was a case of a high school girl who refused to learn Darwin’s theory because it was against teachings of her religion. Her teacher however succeeded in convincing her to see Darwin’s theory just as any other lecture. So she did learn Evolution Theory and got her grade for it.

  7. @ Colson,
    I don’t mind you saying that at all, thanks.

    Your explaination about the difference between scientifical theory (a hypothesis) and religions (a way of making sense to life) is clear for me. But doesn’t Darwinísm also belong to an attempt of a mankind finding answers for existential questions?

    The way religion and science have been approaching this ultimate question is indeed very different. The believers see Darwin’s theory as Heresy, on the other hand Darwin’s followers consider the believers as people who believe in fairy tale (the Holy books of three Monotheistic Religions).

    There is unfortunately no space in between available. I am one of those people who stuck in the middle of this discussion. This subject doesn’t make me crazy but I find it interesting to follow. So thank you for sharing your point of view. I’ll take this to my knowledge.

    Your last remark about Copernicus, I shared the same example in my reply above to G (In Bahasa Indonesia).

  8. Adoh postingannya bagus banget .. saking bagusnya ampe udah berulang2 gw visit ini entry tapi teteup nga tau mo komentar apaan.

    Ngga mutu banget yak komentar gw hihihi.

  9. Thanks San. Gw hanya nulis yang ada dihati gw aja. Beneran, sering bertanya2 apakah ada tempat untuk orang beragama yg bersikap terbuka mengenai theory Darwin.

    Ngga mutu? Loe udah sudi komen gwnya seneng kok.

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