Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Evolution defense behind theologian’s ouster?

posted by Rod Dreher

Shocking news from the world of Protestant theology: Bruce Waltke, arguably the pre-eminent Old Testament scholar in the field, has resigned from the Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando. Why? It’s not clear, but this comes right after he was excoriated by other conservative Protestant figures for statements made in a video posted to the BioLogos website. (Full disclosure: BioLogos receives grant money from my employer, the John Templeton Foundation). According to an eyebrow-raising statement on the BioLogos site, Waltke stated in a video commentary that had been posted to the site that the church needed to come to terms with the fact of evolution, explaining that “if the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult…some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness.” He said that refusing to deal with science as it is will marginalize Christians.
Outrage from the Evangelical community, and a directive from his seminary, compelled Waltke to ask that the video be removed, though he still stands by his position.
The unsigned commentary from BioLogos says, in part:

The fact that Dr. Waltke felt he was unable to leave the video in place, despite the fact that he still agrees with its contents, is an extremely important statement about the culture of fear within evangelicalism in today’s world. Leading evangelicals who support evolution are rightly fearful of personal attacks on the integrity of their faith and character. Even when they believe that scientific data must be taken seriously, and that science has revealed the ways in which God created the world, they are more willing to be associated with those who are clearly wrong about God’s truth as revealed within His World, and who are thereby also wrong about how they understand His Word. How will the Church ever come to discern truth and falsehood if academic discourse is neutered for fears of public perception? This situation, before us, more than any that we are familiar with in the one year history of biologos.org, poignantly demonstrates the importance of the task we all have.
There are countless people, especially young people, who are discovering that the world of science is not out of touch with reality. Data emerge every day that make this even more clear. As Dr. Waltke himself says in the video, we cannot allow Christianity to become a cult–but this is what will happen if the Church continues to turn its head. When young people discover that neither the science they’ve been taught in their churches nor the theology that undergirds it are credible, many will feel they have to throw out their faith. For the sake of those countless young people, and for the sake of intellectual integrity, courage of conviction is required.

Though I work for Templeton, I have had no contact with the BioLogos people about this or any other subject, and nothing I blog here should be taken in any way as an official Templeton Foundation position. That said, even though I would agree that Waltke’s controversial remarks were overstated, it is all but incomprehensible that in 2010, any American scholar, particularly one of his academic distinction, could be so harshly bullied for stating an opinion consonant with current scientific orthodoxy. Doesn’t Waltke at least have the right to be wrong about something like this? Don’t mistake me, I believe that any and every religion, and religious institution, has the right, and indeed the obligation, to set standards and to enforce them. But is this really the hill these Reformed folks want to die on?
To be sure, the intolerance goes both ways, as Dr. Richard Sternberg can attest. Still, Waltke was not questioning basic Christian dogmas, only asserting the importance of religion reconciling itself with science. As 2010 Templeton laureate and eminent scientist Francisco Ayala recently said, he’s had university students who, when they learn about evolutionary science, come to believe quite wrongly that they have to choose between science and their faith. However well meaning, the people who have apparently pushed Waltke out of the seminary over this are not protecting the integrity of the faith; they’re badly compromising it.
See more Beliefnet commentary on this scandalous turn of events by Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed. I spoke with an ex-Evangelical friend about this today, telling her how mysterious Waltke’s bullying was to me. She said it’s not the least bit surprising to her. “You didn’t grow up with it, so you have no idea how central Biblical literalism on this stuff is,” she said. “It’s all about Biblical inerrancy. If Genesis is not literally true in every respect, in their minds the whole thing falls apart. They can’t give an inch on this.”



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Richard

posted April 7, 2010 at 1:41 pm


“It’s all about Biblical inerrancy. If Genesis is not literally true in every respect, in their minds the whole thing falls apart. They can’t give an inch on this.”
Who is ‘they’? Look, there are some wacko Christians out there, granted. But they are hardly representative of thoughtful evangelicalism. I think of the work of William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias, Gary Habermas, David Block, etc. who are serious scholarly Evangelical men who do not hold to a literal interpretation of Genesis.
Besides, you’ve got to define exactly what you mean by ‘Biblical inerrancy’ – it has many meanings in the protestant community.
Waltke worked at a seminary, after all – he signed some sort of Statement of Faith, I’m sure. He wasn’t employed by MIT. It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that repudiating part of that statement would cause the seminary to Take Steps. What is so shocking about this?



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Larry

posted April 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm


I’m afraid the the conservative church, at least in the US, always has been primarily motivated by fear. Most conservative and evangelical traditions were started from a fear of liberalism, and from the very beginning they tried to silence, or at least ignore, any voices that were saying things which they disagreed with. Almost invariably, when forced to choose between honest engagement and censorship, they will choose censorship.
Unfortunately, Dr. Waltke isn’t the only victim of this, he isn’t the first, nor will he be the last. Just look at the case of Peter Enns for another example.



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Chris Jones

posted April 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm


If Genesis is not literally true in every respect, in their minds the whole thing falls apart.
This, perhaps, is the rock on which evangelicalism either is founded, or is dashed. From a theological perspective, the hermeneutical foundation expressed in this quote is very, very shaky indeed. The question is, is it all about the Bible, or is it all about Christ?
If it’s about the Bible, and we only believe what we believe about Christ “because the Bible tells me so” (as the old children’s hymn goes), then every contradiction (seeming or actual) between science and the Bible cuts to the heart of our faith, and we go through life cowering from the “threat” of science. Obscurantism is our only refuge.
If, on the other hand, it is all about Christ, and we believe the Bible because (and only because) it reveals Christ to us, then we quickly realize that the Bible is not about science, because it is about Christ. And in particular even the early chapters of Genesis are not a textbook of cosmology, but the proclamation of the Messiah.
There is a right way and a wrong way to interpret the Scriptures; and the right way is not always the literal way. When the Scriptures are typological, or when they are metaphorical, or hyperbolic, then it will not do to interpret them literally. The question is always, how does this passage speak of Christ? How does it proclaim the Gospel.
To read Genesis as if it were about science is to empty it of the Gospel. That is enough to tell us that this is a wrong reading. You would think that those who style themselves “evangelical” would be the first to see this.



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Cecelia

posted April 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm


What strikes me about this is – the Protestant religions were founded by people who were dissenters, people who questioned the prevailing beliefs, people who were quite willing to upset the apple cart.
And now we have the spiritual descendants of those dissidents refusing to allow dissent, refusing to allow the very spirit of inquiry and questioning which resulted in the creation of their religion. Amazing how theories about organizational fossilization prove so often to be true. Maybe another reformation needs happen.



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Connie Connie in Wisconsin

posted April 7, 2010 at 1:44 pm


The Dali Lama supposedly said that if science shows Buddhism wrong, Buddhim will have to change. Too many fundamentalists (yes, I know that term is not interchangeable with evangelicals) have staked their religious life on the denial of evolution. To many, to say that Jonah was not really in a whale for three days is to deny Christ’s resurrection.
Mr. Waltke is welcome to join the Lutherans in the ELCA.



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JLF

posted April 7, 2010 at 1:46 pm


I have long said that I expect in heaven to see biblical inerrantists arguing with God that certain people cannot possibly remain there because “the Bible doesn’t allow it.”
It is as if the Bible, as they interpret it, is a contract to which they can hold God. They fear any compromise with any tenent of their interpretation will be the first step on a slippery slope to perdition. If Adam and Eve are allegorical, perhaps Christ’s death might not be sufficient for them.



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Paul

posted April 7, 2010 at 1:46 pm


This is a silly post.
That Orlando seminary is nutso. You’re making it sound like a leading, or even respected, institution in the evangelical world. It’s nothing of the sort. What next, a post on the Moonies and science?



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Larry

posted April 7, 2010 at 1:47 pm


It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that repudiating part of that statement would cause the seminary to Take Steps. What is so shocking about this?
Not shocking, so much, as tragically ironic, the motto of Reformed Theological Seminary is “A mind for truth, A heart for God”.



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John E - Agn Stoic

posted April 7, 2010 at 2:03 pm


When young people discover that neither the science they’ve been taught in their churches nor the theology that undergirds it are credible, many will feel they have to throw out their faith.
Check out the falling retention rates of young adults from Evangelical backgrounds.
Richard: Who is ‘they’?
Oh, every Fundamentalist Church I was dragged to before I turned 18.



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tmatt

posted April 7, 2010 at 2:03 pm


A few comments:
* In his other writings, it appears that Waltke fits somewhere in the world of Intelligent Design theory. He accepts, as many do, common descent but also sees room for divine intervention and design. He certainly rejects materialistic philosophy.
* How would a scholar have fared at a, oh, Baylor if she or he had come out in favor of creation being the result of a non-random process? Wait, don’t we already know the answer to that one?
* BioLogos folks do not talk to people on the other side of this issue either, of course. It appears that the silence runs both ways. Waltke has written about that and, to their credit, BioLogos has posted his paper. That and many other interesting links related to this here:
http://thedesignspectrum.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/bruce-waltkes-views-on-evolution-and-intelligent-design/
* Once again, we urgently need a way — in public discussions and press coverage — to describe these various campus other than “creationist” and “evolutionist.” Clearly Waltke is from the very dangerous territory in between.



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Richard

posted April 7, 2010 at 2:05 pm


Amen, Chris Jones. When did Genesis stop being written in the language of revelation and become a science textbook?



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Anti Dhimmi

posted April 7, 2010 at 2:16 pm


Cecelia wrote:
What strikes me about this is – the Protestant religions were founded by people who were dissenters, people who questioned the prevailing beliefs, people who were quite willing to upset the apple cart.
First, Cecelia, when you write “Protestant religions” it appears you are implying that Protestants are not Christians. Did you mean to do that?
Second, if you actually read what was written by Luther, Hus, Tyndale, Calvin and others, you would find that many of their protests were directed towards worldly corruptions that had zero basis in Scripture — indeed, some of them explicitly violated teachings of Jesus. One example would be the concept that a human can buy his or her way into Heaven, by sending enough money to Rome via the Papal dispensation channel.
From the point of view of Reformers, the apple cart was already upset, and even smashed into pieces, and some people were using parts of it to build a brothel. They were, in their view, seeking to repair the damage of centuries.
And now we have the spiritual descendants of those dissidents refusing to allow dissent, refusing to allow the very spirit of inquiry and questioning which resulted in the creation of their religion.
I don’t know the details, but apparently you do? If not, perhaps there should be some qualifiers such as “it appears” or “it seems” in that flat statement?
Based solely on what Rod has posted, it could be that the theologian in question either ran afoul of Biblical literalism, or that is being used as a political lever on him. Yes, Cecelia, every group has politics. Even in the Vatican…
Now if the theologian in question had to agree as a condition of employment with 6-day creation reading of Genesis, then he’s violated a contract and his ouster is to be expected. However, it was foolish of him to sign such an agreement…if he indeed did so. On the other hand, this could well be a power play by 6-day creation believers within the seminary.
I know 6-day creationist Christians. One of them holds a PhD in agriculture, interestingly. I guess he never took atomic physics during his education. There is a major theological error in the 6-day creationist position that bothers me quite a lot. The Scriptures are not science texts: they teach what we are to believe about God, and what duties we have. There are many, many things upon which the Bible is silent. Entire empires and huge wars are not mentioned, because they are not relevant to the message. There is a clear statement in more than one place that God’s time and man’s time are not the same thing: “A thousand years is as a day” being but one. I frankly have never had a problem with such things as the age of the earth as determined by radioactive decay & geological activity in the terms of Genesis, because it is clear that God is outside of time.
Chris Jones makes an excellent point that is similar to mine: if one regards the Bible as all about itself, then one is missing the entire message.
Cecelia also wrote:
Amazing how theories about organizational fossilization prove so often to be true.
You mean, it is amazing to you that sinful, fallen men tend to be sinful and fall short of their duties? I assume that you were being sarcastic?
Maybe another reformation needs happen.
Christianity is constantly stumbling, falling and re-forming because although the church was ordained by God, it’s run by fallible, sinful, fallen men and women. So there is always a reformation happening, although perhaps you cannot see it.



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Hector

posted April 7, 2010 at 2:20 pm


Re: To many, to say that Jonah was not really in a whale for three days is to deny Christ’s resurrection.
Connie Connie,
Amen!
It’s interesting you should bring that example up. Those of us who hold to a typological interpretation of the Old Testament, tend to think that Jonah in the whale is exactly that, a prefiguration of Christ and his resurrection on the third day. To see it as a literal story about a man and a big fish is the height of foolery.
As Augustine puts it, “As, therefore, Jonah passed from the ship to the belly of the whale, so Christ passed from the cross to the sepulchre, or into the abyss of death. And as Jonah suffered this for the sake of those who were endangered by the storm, so Christ suffered for the sake of those who are tossed on the waves of this world.”
To me, the real miracle isn’t that some guy got swallowed by a big fish- the real miracle is the miracle of prophecy, that the Jews were passing around an enigmatic shaggy-dog story several hundreds of years before Christ, whose real meaning would not become clear until after the fact. That’s enough of a miracle in my book.
And yes, I’d suggest that Mr. Waltke may want to find a new church. There are plenty of other churches out there that believe in evolution.
Re: If, on the other hand, it is all about Christ, and we believe the Bible because (and only because) it reveals Christ to us, then we quickly realize that the Bible is not about science, because it is about Christ.
Chris Jones,
Exactly!



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Josh Cramer

posted April 7, 2010 at 2:37 pm


Thanks for this info, Rod. It saddens me to read that an apparently thinking Evangelical institution would force Dr. Waltke out over something like this (and I hope that he left for some other, less interesting reason). Dr. Waltke is one of the great teachers I have ever had the pleasure to study under. I had my disagreements over his views on the Old Testaments (not over the creation story in Genesis), but he is clearly a man who knows and loves God. I would have paid, and would pay again, the price of tuition just to hear him pray at the beginning of each class. As Evangelicals, if we can’t keep a man like Dr. Waltke around then we don’t deserve to keep the Evangelical label.
Josh



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Peter

posted April 7, 2010 at 2:52 pm


There’s not intellectual freedom at religious institutions for faculty, on the right or the left.



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Anti Dhimmi

posted April 7, 2010 at 3:14 pm


Peter wrote:
There’s not intellectual freedom at religious institutions for faculty, on the right or the left.
That’s an interesting thing to say. How do you define “intellectual freedom”? What’s your criterion for a religious institution? These definitions matter.



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R Hampton

posted April 7, 2010 at 3:37 pm


There was a lively discussion about this on FirstThings.
Today’s conservative evangelical has been raised in a Karl Barth worldview that denies Natural Revelation. So pervasive is this mindset that many are not aware, and thus shocked to learn, that traditional Christian theology understand Natural and Special Revelation as equally – and complimentary – the authentic Word of God.



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Appalachian Prof

posted April 7, 2010 at 3:54 pm


“Once again, we urgently need a way — in public discussions and press coverage — to describe these various camps other than “creationist” and “evolutionist.”
Well, for starters, we can make a distinction between the terms “Creationism” and “Creation.”
I believe in creation, and evolution, which are both true and perfectly compatible with one another. I do not subscribe to either Creationism or Evolutionism. Both are false and opposed to each other.



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michael

posted April 7, 2010 at 4:15 pm


Wow. Dr Waltke once guest-preached in the church I attend in Southern California. Seems like an intelligent, learned, and godly man. Evangelicalism (especially the conservative Reformed variety that he is in) definitely has become an anti-modern cult system, in which I need to time-travel every Sunday as people pretend it’s still 1600 in the way we view the world. I hope he finds a job in a quality seminary.



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Jim

posted April 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm


If Waltke said, “if the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult…some odd group that is not really interacting with the world,” then his “if” is a BIG “IF”. The raw data is NOT overwhelmingly in favor of evolution. The arguement is simply who is qualified to interpret the data. The correct answer is that no one is qualified, thus the continuing debate. All we have regarding the raw data are educated guesses. Then, it comes down to who one might believe is qualified; in whom shall one place his faith. Everyone dies believing something unproved.



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Unapologetic Catholic

posted April 7, 2010 at 4:38 pm


Well Jim, How did the Kool-Aid taste?



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TTT

posted April 7, 2010 at 4:45 pm


It was inevitable that this thread would come to include the old chestnut about how “nobody REALLY knows anything, because everything you can observe about the universe is actually filtered through a HUMAN ASSUMPTION which taints the whole process.”
Such terrifying things, these assumptions!
Except…. that they’re really not. And the simple fact that the people using that argument actually use that argument proves that it’s not. The process of making an argument, and of hearing one, and of deciding it to be rational and agreeable, uses at least as many of these dreadful, thought-negating “assumptions” as does counting the feathers on a dromaeosaurid fossil. It’s one of those go-nowhere nihilistic debating tricks on par with “your argument might not really be right, because maybe all of reality doesn’t exist and we’re just dreaming in the Matrix”. How would someone ever accept the notion that “there are no facts” without making a conclusion of fact? This argument is at best tautological, at worst insincere, and at any rate of no intellectual importance.



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Hector

posted April 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm


Re: There’s not intellectual freedom at religious institutions for faculty, on the right or the left.
Do you not consider Boston College, Notre Dame, and Georgetown to be religious institutions? Which of those institutions has fired scientists for teaching or researching about evolution?
Gimme a break.



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Alan K

posted April 7, 2010 at 6:17 pm


R. Hampton said, “Today’s conservative evangelical has been raised in a Karl Barth worldview that denies Natural Revelation.” This statement is false. In fact I would say that no conservative evangelical has been raised with Barth’s worldview. In fact Barth denied such a thing as “Christian worldview”. For him all there is worldviews and cosmologies (that by their very nature are provisional) on the one hand, and the Word of God (which is the same yesterday, today and forever) on the other.
Barth saw that natural theology could be used to put Jesus in front of a tank, could be used to put Jews into gas chambers, could be used to make God be whatever we desired him/her to be.



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meh

posted April 7, 2010 at 7:23 pm


John Derbyshire:
“I can report that the Creationists are absolutely correct to hate and fear modern biology. Learning this stuff works against your faith. To take a single point at random: The idea that we are made in God’s image implies we are a finished product. We are not, though. It is now indisputable that natural selection has been going on not just through human prehistory, but through recorded history too, and is still going on today, and will go on into the future, presumably to speciation, either natural or artificial. So which human being was made in God’s image: the one of 100,000 years ago? 10,000 years ago? 1,000 years ago? The one of today? The species that will descend from us? All of those future post-human species, or just some of them? And so on. The genomes are all different. They are not the same creature.”



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R Hampton

posted April 7, 2010 at 7:25 pm


Alan K,
Suppose Karl Barth had lived today and concluded that the Prosperity Gospel was so destructive, that Biblical verses used to promote it had to be removed. I’m guessing that you would immediately recognize the error in such thinking: Just because some people (intentionally or not) twist the Bible (or Science) to justify terrible wrongs does not mean that the fault lies with those verses (or theories) or that they are untrue.
Now consider that Evolutionary theory describes how life evolves through natural processes, it does not tell us anything about Christian morality. Strictly speaking, Evolutionary theory doesn’t even help us measure the future genetic “worth” of a specific person or animal (that is its present and future worth) because we don’t know how the environment will change or which genes will help or hinder us.
For example, lactose tolerance has been described as “the single most advantageous gene trait in humans in the last 30,000 years.” Research indicates the mutation first appeared 6,000 years ago in Northern Europe. That particular individual may have had below average intelligence or may have been especially lazy or prone to extreme violence. But that one genetic mutation – whose implications could not have been foreseen – meant that particular individual had a value beyond measure.
So, did Hitler or anyone else (then or now) who promoted “Social Evolution” and/or Eugenics have the ability identify specific individuals and specific genes that would be vital to the human species thousands of years hence? Not at all. That’s why Karl Barth’s demotion of Natural Revelation was ignorant, reactionary, and unnecessary.



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Larry

posted April 7, 2010 at 7:44 pm


The idea that we are made in God’s image implies we are a finished product.
Perhaps you shouldn’t let an avowed atheist do your Biblical exegesis. No serious Christian thinks that being made in God’s image refers to our physicality, finished or not.



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MH

posted April 7, 2010 at 9:15 pm


This constant evolution battle for 150 years is getting old. It’s particularly annoying because there’s no underlying unsolvable moral conflict in this corner of the culture war.



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Joseph D'Hippolito

posted April 7, 2010 at 9:25 pm


I can report that the Creationists are absolutely correct to hate and fear modern biology. Learning this stuff works against your faith.
That depends on where one puts that faith. If many Catholics are guilty of worshipping the ecclesiastical structure and its members as God, then fundamentalist Protestants are guilty of worshipping their own interpretations of Scripture as God. I say “their own interpretations” because God chooses to define Himself and chooses how to work in the world, regardless of human opinions.
To those who believe in a literalist view of Creation, let me ask you the following: Are Christ’s atoning death on the cross and his resurrection contingent upon the method in which God created humanity? Or are they contingent upon God’s own promise to redeem humanity? Which, in terms of salvation and reconciliation before God, is more important?
If God created the universe, then He has the perogative to create whatever tools He needs to finish the job. If evolution is one of those tools, so be it. If evolution isn’t one of those tools, so be it. The problem is that too many Creationists and Evolutionists have their own quasi-political and social agendas to promote. Also, too many people believe that what we know now about science is all that we’re going to know. That’s certainly not true. We need to understand that scientific knowledge changes as we get more information.



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meh

posted April 7, 2010 at 9:28 pm


No serious Christian thinks that being made in God’s image refers to our physicality, finished or not.
Okay, excepting the serious Christians that do think being made in God’s image refers to our physicality, what do you think it refers to, finished or not?



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Joseph D'Hippolito

posted April 7, 2010 at 9:47 pm


meh, it referes to our ability to be in a relationship with and worship God, as well as our own creative efforts (art, literature, music) and ability to understand (science) and adapt to what is going on around us.
Regarding creation, here’s another thing to chew on. There’s a big difference between asking the question, “Did you create this?” and “How did you create this?” One is pretty straightforward; the other is profoundly more complex. Example: If you were to ask Beethoven if he wrote the Fifth Symphony, he would reply, “Of course!” If you asked him how he did it, you’d get an answer that’s far different from “Well, I put a few notes on paper.”
Same with God. Trying to figure out how God “created” the universe means a lot more than just quoting Scripture. If we were to try and scientifically analyze the phrase, “Let there be light,” for example, it would make our heads spin — even with our scientific sophistication. If Genesis is divinely inspired (as Christians and Jews believe it to be), then God’s thrust is far more than just giving a convenient explanation for why the universe is what it is. That thrust is to give insight into the character and fundamental nature of God.
Consider, also, that if Genesis is divinely inspired literature — and if the Israelites came out from one polytheistic culture (Egypt) to conquer another (Canaan) — then the Israelites would need a view of God that would countermand and contradict those views offered by Canaanite and Babylonian religion, especially if God called the Israelites to be his oracle to the world.



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Rich

posted April 7, 2010 at 10:10 pm


Alan K, you wrote:
Barth denied such a thing as “Christian worldview”. For him all there is worldviews and cosmologies (that by their very nature are provisional) on the one hand, and the Word of God (which is the same yesterday, today and forever) on the other.
Response: Barth was surely naive if he did not realize that his neo-Calvinism didn’t amount to a “worldview” itself. Barth offers an account of God, of man, of nature, of the human predicament, of salvation, etc. If all of that doesn’t add up to a “worldview”, what does?
Barth represents a desperate attempt of Protestantism to isolate itself from the rational and empirical critique to which all religious traditions are subject. Calvin himself would have had no trouble affirming “Yes, we Christians do indeed have what you are calling a “world view”, and it’s different from the pagan and from the Muslim and all other world views, and it’s the *right* world view.” But Barth, being on the other side of Kant from Calvin, had lost the older European objectivity, and had to recast theology in terms pleasing to the reigning Kantian subjectivism. And Barth’s theology suffers from the same flaws as all subjectivist theologies– it’s a leap in the dark, with no possibility of communicating itself to others who won’t haven’t already made the same leap. Barth’s view leans dangerously in the direction of ancient Gnosticism. In contrast, the Pope’s Regensburg address points out the way of classical, pre-Kantian Christianity, in which religion is not entirely incommunicable because it is not entirely detached from reason and nature and the created order.
You also wrote:
Barth saw that natural theology could be used to put Jesus in front of a tank, could be used to put Jews into gas chambers, could be used to make God be whatever we desired him/her to be.
Response: Barth “saw” no such thing. He doubtless imagined this conclusion, but this is what happens when one abandons reason in religion for sheer piety, and substitutes fantasy for tightly-reasoned chains of metaphysical and ethical argument. Anyone the slightest bit acquainted with the *genuine* natural theology tradition in Christianity (as opposed to the caricature Barth presents) would know that there is no way of reasoning from natural theology to Nazi atrocities or any other kind of atrocity. Indeed, the closest example in current religion to a Barthian view of the relationship between God and natural ethics is found in militant Islam, in which the massacre of innocent lives is justifiable precisely because “God’s will” trumps all natural and rational forms of ethical and political behavior. If the 9/11 murderers had held to the “natural theology” that Barth condemns, they would have believed that God would never command atrocities, and they would never would have committed the act that they did. Sheer revelationism always produces dangerous (not to mention spiritually unworthy) religion.



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meh

posted April 7, 2010 at 10:16 pm


This constant evolution battle for 150 years is getting old. It’s particularly annoying because there’s no underlying unsolvable moral conflict in this corner of the culture war.
That reminds me of something I read on Steve Sailer’s site:
http://isteve.blogspot.com/2010/03/this-is-weirdly-fascinating.html
A friend comments:
This is weirdly fascinating. The proposition that individuals can differ by innate mental ability and that races can differ by the average of such abilities:
1) conflicts with no major Western religious tradition;
2) conflicts with no major Western philosophical tradition;
3) is consistent with everyday experience;
4) is probably believed by the majority of ordinary people of all races;
5) is consistent with the weight of evidence from the most exhaustive and sophisticated empirical studies;
6) is consistent with, indeed is an almost inevitable implication of, the most basic version of evolutionary theory, which theory all educated people are supposed to accept.
And yet the operative assumption of government policy and the protocols of almost all public journals are that this proposition cannot be true.



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Hector

posted April 7, 2010 at 10:40 pm


Rich,
I agree with you that abandoning natural law in favor of pure reliance on ‘sola scriptura’ is a very, very dangerous entreprise. However, I think the fault here is with Calvin and Calvinism in general more then with Barth.



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Larry

posted April 7, 2010 at 11:04 pm


Okay, excepting the serious Christians that do think being made in God’s image refers to our physicality, what do you think it refers to, finished or not?
Many things, but at least this: in the ancient world to “bear someone’s image” meant that the image bearer had the authority to act in the name of the one whose image they bore. So a satrap would carry a statue of his king with him and this symbolized his authority to act on behalf of the king.
Of course, there are many other implications of bearing the Imago Dei, that we can speak as God speaks, that we are meant to be in relationship since the Godhead is primarily a relationship, that we are capable of reason, and so on. What no thoughtful Christian has ever thought was that it refers to our physical bodies, since this would imply that God also had a physical, material body, which is at odds with the idea that God is spirit, and that He created all material substances.



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Wouldn't Dare

posted April 7, 2010 at 11:05 pm


I belong to the denomination that Reformed Seminary belongs to–in fact, there’s a chair named for a family member, but that’s another matter. Once I told a church friend that I believed in evolution. She looked at me very seriously and then said, “I want you to know that, in spite of this, we’re still friends.” I never told anyone else!



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anon prof

posted April 7, 2010 at 11:49 pm


It might be helpful to consider the history of the engagement between conservative protestants and modern science. It is ironic that B. B. Warfield was open to evolution back in the late 19th/early 20th century. He is also a contributor to several chapters in the “The Fundamentals” and literally wrote the book on biblical inerrancy:
http://homepage.mac.com/shanerosenthal/reformationink/bbwauthority.htm
Marsden, Numbers and Livingston have written on this history and it is worth keeping in mind in these kinds of discussions. The story is far more nuanced that the comments above suggest.
Also, Biblical inerrancy does not entail a naive literalism. For example article XV of the Chicago statement on inerrancy states:
“WE AFFIRM the necessity of interpreting the Bible according to its literal, or normal, sense. The literal sense is the grammatical-historical sense, that is, the meaning which the writer expressed. Interpretation according to the literal sense will take account of all figures of speech and literary forms found in the text.”
In other words, if the author wrote a poem, it is meant to be read poetically. So conservative theologians such as the late Meredith Kline at Westminster Seminary (west) have argued that the Genesis creation account should be understood poetically (the literary framework hypothesis). That being said, I think the Chicago statement is mistaken and adding it to a denomination or seminary’s statement of faith is an unfortunate (though common) move.



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Turmarion

posted April 8, 2010 at 12:33 am


If the attitude toward evolution was just an internal church matter, the Evangelical views on it might be interesting to scholars of religion, or to Evangelicals themselves (obviously), but to no one else. The problem is that they seek to impose their views on everyone else. This is why the Dover, Pennsylvania trial about ID textbooks occurred, as well as the debacle in Kansas where the state board of education removed evolution from the schools, before being voted out for a later roster that restored evolution. If someone wants to reject evolution, or the heliocentric solar system, or insists on believing in a flat Earth, for that matter, that’s their business; what’s not their business is trying to shanghai the public schools in order to force their incorrect views on others’ children. That the motivation is religious makes it also an issue of church-state separation, which such actions egregiously violate.
This is the same problem with intelligent design (ID). If it really were a matter of some scientists who believed their research pointed to the existence of God and who were trying to get published against a hostile establishment, that would be one thing. However, the ID movement is bankrolled by well-funded organizations such as the Discovery Institute. Such organizations, though they try to present themselves as dispassionately seeking scientific truth, are actually funded and run, for the most part, by conservative Evangelicals, many of whom are actually young-Earth creationists (that is, they take Genesis absolutely literally).
These people are pursuing an agenda of using ID as a “wedge” to get full-blown creationism into the schools (see the infamous Wedge Strategy). This is only the first part, though. They seek ultimately to re-order society along Evangelical lines—the importance to them of ID is that, in their view, all problems of modernity originate from secularism, and all secularism originates from, or at least is enabled by, the concepts of evolution. Thus, destroy evolution, and then re-make the U.S. as a non-secular, Christian state (that is, a Christian state as a narrow segment of Christians view it). This is why many of us are so adamantly opposed to ID—it’s not about the science, it’s about church-state separation and keeping a pluralistic society pluralistic.
Paul, it’s not about one nutso seminary. See John E on “every Fundamentalist Church I was dragged to before I turned 18.” Alas, anti-evolutionism, young-Earth creationism, and Biblical literalism are quite mainstream in large parts of the Evangelical community.
Chris Jones: Exactly right, but I’ve tried to have that exact conversation with Biblical literalists, and it just doesn’t work. As Rod’s friend said (and she’s exactly right), there’s a huge fear that if the slightest part of Scripture is wrong that the whole thing collapses. As she said, there is therefore no motivation to give an inch. This is why those who leave these belief systems often lose their faith altogether. The whole mindset is all or none, so one has only the options of absolute belief or absolute rejection.
TTT: I second you re Jim, who obviously doesn’t get how science works.
MH: I definitelly second you.



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aaron

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:31 am


Rod, you may want to investigate Dr. Sternberg’s claims a little more closely.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sternberg_peer_review_controversy



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Richard

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:37 am


Turmarion: “…it’s not about one nutso seminary. See John E on “every Fundamentalist Church I was dragged to before I turned 18.” Alas, anti-evolutionism, young-Earth creationism, and Biblical literalism are quite mainstream in large parts of the Evangelical community.”
See anon prof’s comment on literalism.
Yes, Young Earthers are mainstream in parts of the Evangelical community. But large parts? What do you have to back that up?
John E’s experience won’t do – I can go to a three churches within 15 miles of my home where they not only teach the stuff you mentioned, but view any tanslation other than the KJV as Satan’s. No kidding.
But I can go to 50 churches within 15 miles of here where they don’t want any part of that stuff. Maybe John E just got dragged to unfortunate churches.
Aside from all of that, I know a good many Young Earthers. But they hold that position as their present understanding of Scripture. If that view becomes completely untenable, their worldview does not fall apart. One of them took me to a presentation by David Block, the astronomer, who is most assuredly NOT a Young Earther. Their comment afterwards: “Maybe he’s right. Isn’t God amazing?”



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MH

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:54 am


Turmarion, interesting perspective. The funny thing is that secularism is older than evolution, so they have the history and causality turned around. Indeed the US Constitution is founded on the ideas of John Locke.
Richard, I agree with Turmarion this is not constrained to just one region of the country and is main stream. I’ve had two personal experiences in the North East with this annoying battle:
- In 1994 the Merrimack New Hampshire school board was taken over by some anti-evolution zealots. They were tossed out in the next election cycle, but they wound up making the national news.
- In the 70′s through the early 80′s I attended a rural protestant church in the New York that was hostile to evolution.



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Richard

posted April 8, 2010 at 10:17 am


Oh, I agree that it is not in any one area of the country. But look at the examples you’re citing: 70s, 80s, and 1994. How mainstream is this belief now? Maybe more so than I think, I’ll grant you.
But the more important question is how true is it that giving an inch on any question of evolution send peoples’ faith into a tailspin?
Honestly, I’m hostile to evolution to the degree that there are colossal logical problems with the idea when you’re talking about origins and ‘how things started’. But that doesn’t mean if those problems are resolved, BAM!, my faith disappears.
There are many many commentaries and debates over Dawkins’ book The God Delusion, for example. Google John Lennox v Richard Dawkins for the YouTube debate about it. Stephen Barr, a particle physicist at Univ of Delaware, wrote a great paper on The Devil’s Chaplain – it’s online, too. These are serious scholarly (Christian) men. This is NOT to suggest that I am a Young Earth evolution-my-ass type. But I have serious reservations.
And as someone noted above, I can accept evolution – at least in part – but I don’t want any part of evolutionism/neo-Darwinism any more than I want Creationism.



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MH

posted April 8, 2010 at 10:34 am


Richard, I doubt it is any better. For example in the 2008 Republican presidential debates three candidates (Tancredo, Brownback, and Huckabee) indicated they did not believe in evolution.
Also, evolution is not the same as abiogenesis. Evolution explains the diversity of life based upon decent from a common ancestor. The evidence of this process is enormous and comes from multiple lines of scientific inquiry. I personally think abiogenesis explains the origin of life. But the evidence for this process is on much less firm ground and this process shouldn’t be conflated with atheism.
Finally, notice how you’re mentioning Dawkins books. He has an annoying tendency to conflate atheism and evolution. I wish he wouldn’t do that because he’s hurting the cause of science.



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Alicia

posted April 8, 2010 at 10:37 am


I am nearly finished reading Richard Dawkins’ book, “The God Delusion.” While I don’t agree with his understanding of religion, many of his criticisms are “on the money” in my opinion. He is right to rail against fundamentalism, and, to a certain extent, against orthodoxy, but what I don’t think he gets is that there is a depth to religion that is not found in either fundamentalism or orthodoxy. Both forms are essentially shallow, based upon rote memorization and conformity to established views.
There is nothing deep about fundamentalism. There may be a conflict between evolutionary science and religious fundamentalism, but I would argue that there does not have to be a conflict between the deeper forms of religious knowledge and scientific knowledge.



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anon prof

posted April 8, 2010 at 11:40 am


I didn’t mean to suggest that YEC is not the dominant view among evangelicals. It is, and perhaps there is a non-negligible number who are quite fanatical about it. I am an astrophysicist and attend a conservative, evangelical presbyterian church in the south. I am quite open about my work and views regarding YEC/ID (that they are demonstrably false). While several say they think I’m wrong, no one has ever been rude about it or questioned my faith. I’m not saying there aren’t belligerent YECs (I’ve read the message boards), just that I’ve not come across them in person.
I also suspect that belief in YEC/ID isn’t all that different in other churches. As of 2001 Gallup found that 45% of all Americans believe God created humans in their present form and another 37% believe God guided the process:
http://www.unl.edu/rhames/courses/current/creation/evol-poll.htm
These numbers were quite stable over two decades, so I doubt there has been much movement over the past nine years.
That being said, YEC is a relatively modern phenomenon that took off in the mid-20th century. I suspect some of it was a defensive reaction to the triumphalism of secularists (as Ron Numbers suggests) – i.e. the Ditchkens types drive religious believers to YEC/ID.
Another aspect of this is the woeful under representation of religious people in science. This seems to be the result of self-selection away from science by believers:
http://www.ehecklund.rice.edu/raas.html
Do we scientists create the impression among the public that science isn’t for religious believers? If so, I think we need to ask ourselves whether our behavior is driving the anti-science sentiment among broad swaths of our country.



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MH

posted April 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm


anon prof, my guess is that the methodological naturalism required by the scientific method tends to appeal to people who accept metaphysical naturalism. Conversely people who don’t accept metaphysical naturalism find methodological naturalism off putting.
Indeed the understanding that these are two separate ideas may not be something that many people are aware of.



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Franklin Evans

posted April 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm


Aaron, the Stenberg review is evidence of a bureaucratic (i.e. human) corruption within a process, and has no connection to the validity of the peer review component of the scientific method. I see it nearly every day in my software development world:
A user finds a problem.
A manager initiates a project planning review culminating in a guesstimate of the cost to fix the problem.
Another manager who holds the budget reins decides that it’s too expensive (one may extend this analogy to, for example, the automotive industry, eh?).
The user continues to face the problem.
That first manager has not been invalidated in any way. His “peer” review is a critical component in the software development cycle which, at least in my IT shop, continues to produce quality software solutions and fixes. The second manager’s motivations, on the other hand, are quite validly open to questioning…



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Franklin Evans

posted April 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm


For some reason, this refrain from Chicago’s “Does Anybody Really Care About Time” started echoing in my mind’s ear:
And I said
Does anybody really know what time it is
I don’t
Does anybody really care
care
If so I can’t imagine why
about time
We’ve all got time enough to cry
Oh no, no



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Francis Beckwith

posted April 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm


We are so trapped in the present that many of us forget–or don’t remember, or never know–that American Christian fundamentalism never required a belief in young-earth creationism.
In the 1950s Biola University had on its faculty, Bernard Ramm, a strong critic of the creationism that was dominant at the time: http://www.amazon.com/Christian-View-Science-Scripture-Bernard/dp/0802814298. It was not considered a big deal then, since in the famous five volume THE FUNDAMENTALS, theistic evolution was defended by James Orr! So much for fundamentalists all being young-earth creationists.
I am convinced that virtually everything the mainstream media think about American Christianity–both Protestant and Catholic–is probably false, since much of what they believe is part of a narrative they have never dreamed of challenging.



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Richard

posted April 8, 2010 at 1:16 pm


MH, first of all, thank you for your civil reply to my post. I was at a lecture this morning comprised exclusively of unthinking people unthinkingly shouting their opinion. Thanks for not doing that.
I agree that evolution undoubtedly explains much of our divesity of life. But there are sections of that diversity that do not meet up in a nice ‘family tree’ – hence some of that theory is still under (scholarly) debate.
Unlike you, I do not see abiogenesis as an explanation for life’s origins – too much like spontaneous generation or one of Dawkins’ “little flights of fancy”. But I will stipulate the jury is still out on that, and I am no scientist.
Lastly, you are quite right that Dawkins (annoyingly) conflates science with atheism, and this is something I find far too common with scientists. John Derbyshire is mentioned above; his tendency to assert that science disproves religion (while calling himself an agnostic) is equally maddening. Perhaps I get defensive over the creation v evolution debate because of that kind of thing.
At any rate, thank you again for your civility, I am off to seed spinach and lettuce on this glorious day.



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TTT

posted April 8, 2010 at 1:19 pm


Anon Prof: YEC is a relatively modern phenomenon that took off in the mid-20th century. I suspect some of it was a defensive reaction to the triumphalism of secularists (as Ron Numbers suggests) – i.e. the Ditchkens types drive religious believers to YEC/ID
Highly doubtful, since “the Ditchkens types” rose to prominence around, what, 2004? Dawkins had been writing popular science books for decades before then but had always stuck to his “section” in the bookstore. The Scopes trial significantly pre-dated all of them, as does the thread of American anti-intellectualism and anti-expertism. It isn’t the “triumphalism” of secularists that offends YECs, it is their very existence. The science textbooks just cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged, because these fancy collegeboys think they know so much.



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MH

posted April 8, 2010 at 1:33 pm


Richard, you’re welcome. Have fun with the spinach, I’ll be inside flipping bits all afternoon.



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meh

posted April 8, 2010 at 1:41 pm


MH, if you saw an example of methodological supernaturalism, would that incline you to be more receptive to metaphysical supernaturalism, even though they are two separate ideas?



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GrantL

posted April 8, 2010 at 1:55 pm


Well that is just disgusting, if not all that surprising. Really is anyone surprised that some evangelicals will turn on one of their own simply because he does the fairly non-revolutionary thing of accepting reality? It’s what they do. They have this extreme, unsophisticated, highly irrational view of the universe and the bible that CANNOT be questioned. The moment you question it, as an outsider, you become an enemy. For an insider to say “yah the science is solid”, which it is, for them, is like spitting in their face and burning their bibles. It is as bad a thing as you can do.
It’s very hard for people like me, and judging by the comments here for most of you, to put your minds into theirs and really grasp how they think. There is a book called “Kingdom Coming: Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism” by Michelle Goldberg that is rather good in detailing this particular form Christian “thought.”
It is far more worth while, if you want to hear a believer talk about science, evolution and his faith, to listen to someone like Father George Coyne (there is an excellent interview between him and Dawkins on youtube) who understands that there is no science in the bible. As he says, how can there be? Although I am an atheist, I find Coyne utterly fascinating and his very clear and honest appraisal of both faith and science is refreshing.
It is just sad, and somewhat frightening, how far people will go in pursuit of an anti-intellectual, theologically driven agenda.
By the by young earth creationists are not that “new”. The roots of this sort of thinking go back to Bishop Usher and his looney attempt to date the age of the earth by counting the generations in the bible. To be fair, he does this when we knew next nothing about the universe and our place in it. But for YEC, that sort of thing is what counts for “logical reasoning.”



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MH

posted April 8, 2010 at 1:59 pm


meh, no as I would prefer to have evidence of the supernatural before I assume it exists. But I tend towards metaphysical naturalist by belief, but assume methodological naturalism as a position of knowledge.



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anon prof

posted April 8, 2010 at 5:35 pm


TTT: Highly doubtful, since “the Ditchkens types” rose to prominence around, what, 2004?
I should have been more clear. By type, I meant something a bit more broad: White, Draper, Mencken, Huxley, and Sagan fit the mold to varying degrees. Your description of YEC is ahistorical. Ron Numbers and George Marsden have shown that the reaction of conservative protestants to Darwinism in the late 19th and early 20th century was far more nuanced than you allow. There certainly has been an anti-intellectual thread running through our history, but it does not explain the rise of YEC in the middle of the 20th century. Interestingly enough, not even William Jennings Bryan was a YEC, and several contributors to the Fundamentals were open to Darwin’s ideas.
MH: I doubt very much that high school students who decide that science isn’t for them because they think all scientists are atheists are at all aware of the distinction between methodological and metaphysical naturalism. Curiously, the methodological naturalism required by mechanical engineering and medicine doesn’t seem to deter religious folks.



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Pat

posted April 8, 2010 at 7:02 pm


“I can report that the Creationists are absolutely correct to hate and fear modern biology. Learning this stuff works against your faith.”
Biology never did my faith any damage. It was bible study that ruined it.



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Rich

posted April 8, 2010 at 7:21 pm


anon prof:
Agreed about the sudden surge of YEC in the mid-20th century.
The distinction methodological vs. metaphysical naturalism is in many cases offered insincerely, since many neo-Darwinists really believe in metaphysical naturalism but won’t admit it, for legal/constitutional reasons. And metaphysical naturalism can be conveyed very subtly, without ever using the term. I read thousands of pages of popular science (written by Ph.D.s in the sciences) growing up in the 60s, and I know full well that I was being indoctrinated not merely in methodological but also in metaphysical naturalism. So teaching 9th-grade biology students, the distinction between methodological and metaphysical wouldn’t help. The more thoughtful and sensitive ones can tell when metaphysical naturalism is being sold to them. Eugenie Scott conveys metaphysical even though she professes only methodological. Students can see through this, even if TEs can’t.
The distinction between metaphysical and methodological is also very convenient for TEs, who almost to a man (or woman) dislike discussing specific Biblical miracles, and try to change the topic whenever they are brought up. (I have seen incredible TE evasiveness regarding walking on the water, the loaves and the fishes, and the parting of the Red Sea, for example.) By giving the impression that they aren’t against miracles (i.e., that they don’t subscribe to metaphysical naturalism), but say only that miracles cannot be established by science (i.e., that they accept only methodological naturalism), they seem to be defending both science and revelation, when in fact a good number of them know in their hearts that they no longer believe in many of the Biblical miracles that their great-grandfathers believed in. And they also know in their hearts that they can give no non-arbitrary reason for accepting the miracles they do accept, and rejecting the miracles that they don’t accept. Thus, I find (most) TEs much harder to trust personally than I find either YECs or atheists, who are straight up about miracles one way or the other and therefore don’t need to hide their doubts behind the methodological/metaphysical distinction.
It would be far better for TEs if, instead of hiding behind such an abstraction, they just came clean, one by one, on what they actually believe about Biblical miracles and the process of creation. I would have greater respect for a TE who said: “I don’t believe Genesis can be taken literally, and I believe that life and all species came into existence by a totally natural process, without the special intervention of God”, than a TE who dodges, weaves and bobs all over the place, implying on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (when in front of academic colleagues) that God *never* intervened, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (when writing for Christian audiences) that he *probably* intervened at least for the origin of the first cell, and *maybe* once or twice after that, and on Sundays (when cornered by a blunt reporter) refusing to answer “personal questions” about religion (as Ayala did in a recent interview.) So if TEs want to be respected by Christian and secular folk alike, the best thing they can do is drop the methodological vs. metaphysical distinction and just say bluntly and clearly what they think actually happened all those millions and billions of years ago in the past, and for that matter what events they think actually happened thousands of years ago in Israel. But do most TEs have the courage to do this? The jury is still out on that one, but preliminary polling suggests a negative answer.



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meh

posted April 8, 2010 at 7:38 pm


And there are clergy who are atheists.
http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/Non-Believing-Clergy.pdf
H/t: Neuroskeptic



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R Hampton

posted April 8, 2010 at 8:07 pm


Rich,
God made the Universe with all the conditions and physical “laws” necessary for life to develop just as God intended. That is just one reason why God is all powerful and all knowing. But a God that needs to tinker with his very own Creation because Life isn’t progressing according to God’s plan – or because God didn’t know how to Create Life that could develop according to God’s plan- or because God had no plan to begin with – isn’t God in traditional Christian sense.



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MH

posted April 8, 2010 at 8:31 pm


Rich, what do you mean by a TE?
meh, atheist clergy is one of those phenomena that I’ll never understand. It makes as much sense as pacifist weapons designers.



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meh

posted April 8, 2010 at 8:35 pm


From a comment on Razib Khan’s post on this:
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2010/04/what-rejecting-science-will-mean/#comment-21194
“Bruce Waltke didn’t actually give a full throated defense of evolution. He agreed that every other animal except humans evolved, but he completely denies common descent. He thinks Adam is a historical figure.”



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professor

posted April 8, 2010 at 8:36 pm


mr. dreher – you are wrong and you owe a retraction and an apology to all those you have false impugned by stating that bruce waltke has been bullied in his resignation from rts. if you had even the slightest acquaintance dr. waltke, you would know how ludicrous it was that he could be bullied when it comes to his conscience and scholarship. but in this case, your implied knowledge of facts transgresses everything dr. waltke has ever stood for regarding the wise man and his righteous use of speech. it is false that he was bullied. man up and apollogize.



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Rich

posted April 8, 2010 at 8:56 pm


Dear R. Hampton:
Let me get this straight. Unless God creates a “fully gifted” nature (to use a phrase from a former TE who is, last I heard, pretty well all “E” these days and no longer much for “T”), he is not God in the “traditional Christian sense”. So Luther, Calvin, Augustine, Aquinas, etc. did not believe in God in the “traditional Christian sense”? Or did I miss the passages in the Summa, the City of God, the Institutes, etc. where these writers insisted upon a “fully gifted” nature?
Did you happen to notice that you left out a possibility? That God might have chosen to have a step-by-step involvement with his creation not due to any need for “tinkering” (a word frequently employed by TEs with pejorative connotations), nor because he was unable to create a self-developing universe, but because he wanted to be actively involved? So that it was not a failure of his plan, but a fulfillment of his plan, for creation to need his direct participation? Do you have an objection to a God like that?
And by the way, regarding one of the options you reject, there are in fact TEs who have entertained “open” theism in which God in fact does not have a plan. Is that God “in the traditional Christian sense”?
Finally, your answer is clear enough regarding Genesis: no miraculous interventions occurred. Good; I appreciate your honesty. Now tell me about the Red Sea, the loaves and fishes, walking on water, Jericho, Balaam’s ass, Mt. Carmel, the miracles of Elijah, Lazarus, the Gadarene swine, and the Resurrection. Did they all happen in the sense that a normal, theologically unsophisticated reader would take away from the text? Did some of them? Or none of them? If some of them, then what happens to “methodological naturalism”? And if a God who can’t make things unfold naturally is not a God “in the traditional Christian sense”, then doesn’t a God who has to intervene to raise Lazarus or turn water into wine fail as a God “in the traditional Christian sense”?



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Rich

posted April 8, 2010 at 8:56 pm


Dear R. Hampton:
Let me get this straight. Unless God creates a “fully gifted” nature (to use a phrase from a former TE who is, last I heard, pretty well all “E” these days and no longer much for “T”), he is not God in the “traditional Christian sense”. So Luther, Calvin, Augustine, Aquinas, etc. did not believe in God in the “traditional Christian sense”? Or did I miss the passages in the Summa, the City of God, the Institutes, etc. where these writers insisted upon a “fully gifted” nature?
Did you happen to notice that you left out a possibility? That God might have chosen to have a step-by-step involvement with his creation not due to any need for “tinkering” (a word frequently employed by TEs with pejorative connotations), nor because he was unable to create a self-developing universe, but because he wanted to be actively involved? So that it was not a failure of his plan, but a fulfillment of his plan, for creation to need his direct participation? Do you have an objection to a God like that?
And by the way, regarding one of the options you reject, there are in fact TEs who have entertained “open” theism in which God in fact does not have a plan. Is that God “in the traditional Christian sense”?
Finally, your answer is clear enough regarding Genesis: no miraculous interventions occurred. Good; I appreciate your honesty. Now tell me about the Red Sea, the loaves and fishes, walking on water, Jericho, Balaam’s ass, Mt. Carmel, the miracles of Elijah, Lazarus, the Gadarene swine, and the Resurrection. Did they all happen in the sense that a normal, theologically unsophisticated reader would take away from the text? Did some of them? Or none of them? If some of them, then what happens to “methodological naturalism”? And if a God who can’t make things unfold naturally is not a God “in the traditional Christian sense”, then doesn’t a God who has to intervene to raise Lazarus or turn water into wine fail as a God “in the traditional Christian sense”?



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anon prof

posted April 8, 2010 at 8:57 pm


Rich,
If I understand the gist of your post, I disagree. I’ll say that my religious convictions are generally evangelical and reformed. I confess the Apostle’s Creed without crossing my fingers and pray regularly to a God I believe answers prayer.
I also believe that prologue to Genesis (ch. 1-11) should be read as prehistorical poetry written to describe God’s relationship to the creation, humans and Israel in particular. I don’t believe in a historical Noah or great flood, a literal Adam or Garden of Eden. I do believe that the prophets performed miracles to establish the authenticity of their claims (as did Jesus and the Apostles). I believe Jonah and Job are extended parables, not stories of people who ever lived. In other words I agree with C.S. Lewis’s assertion that the Old Testament is a mixture of history, poetry, and myth. I believe Jesus was born of a virgin, turned water into wine, healed the sick, died, was buried and came back to life with a body. I do not believe that miracles have occurred since the days of the Apostles.
I also believe that God’s normal relationship to the world is through his divine providence. Because it is orderly, we can describe interactions in the world mathematically and provide an empirically based, self consistent narrative about nature without recourse to divine intervention. I believe that God answers prayers through his divine providence and am happy to leave the inner workings of this process to mystery.
My scholarly work is centered on understanding the formation of stars and planets. I’m also interested in developing techniques to detect evidence of life on other planets and understanding how simple molecules in the interstellar medium evolve to form complex molecules such as the amino acids we find in meteorites. While understanding how life might have originated is a difficult question, I suspect that it is tractable. I don’t believe it is helpful to throw up one’s hands and say God must have done it because it is too hard to understand otherwise. I believe miracles are performed to establish prophetic/apostolic authenticity, not to fix divine blunders.
While I believe that nature can (should) instill a sense of wonder and awe and point to a great God behind it all, I do not believe that the study of nature can be used to prove the existence of God.
I suspect apart from my belief in the cessation of miracles in the post-apostolic era, my views are relatively mainstream among other evangelical scientists. You can poke around here to see what others in this camp have to say:
http://www.asa3.org/
I think you’ll find their statement of faith is quite clear what they believe about the miracle of the resurrection.



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Rich

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:17 pm


MH:
TE = theistic evolutionist
In broad terms, this means one who believes in evolution, but believes that God is somehow responsible for evolution.
However, the most celebrated modern TEs tend to put additional restrictions upon the meaning of the term. Some of them, for example, insist that a purely Darwinian model of evolution is compatible with traditional Christian theism. Others insist that God must have used a process of evolution rather than direct creation or else he would be responsible for evil. Still others insist that, while God designed the process of evolution, we know this only by faith, as his design is not detectable. Others insist that God always works through wholly natural means, or that he always works through wholly natural means save for a few exceptional events, varying in number from as little as one (the Incarnation), or two (the Incarnation and the Resurrection) to as many Biblical miracles as the given TE is prepared to stomach, which are generally concentrated in the New Testament. There are very few currently well-known TEs (who sometimes call themselves ECs or Biologos supporters) who don’t add some stipulation, based either on loyalty to Darwinian theory or on their own pet theologies, to the general notion of “theistic evolution”.
The more general notion of theistic evolution is in fact perfectly compatible with intelligent design theory, and in fact, in the general sense of the term, Michael Behe is a theistic evolutionist. But he doesn’t like using the name, because he doesn’t accept all the “riders” that the other TEs want to put into the contract. He doesn’t like the Darwinian riders because he finds Darwinian theory implausible on scientific grounds, and he doesn’t like the theological riders because he doesn’t think he has the knowledge to say how God should or would act, or must have acted, or wouldn’t have acted – matters which TEs often seem quite sure about, as if they have a pipeline to the Divine mind and the Divine intentions.



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R Hampton

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:30 pm


Rich,
Earthly Creation exists explicitly for Man, and we know that God did personally intervene in human affairs. Why? Because he gave Man a gift that belongs to nothing else – a soul. Neither horses nor hills, nor ravens nor rocks can not receive God as such for they lack the Holy Spirit, so there is no reason for God to “personally” intervene with the impersonal, nor to actively develop that which lacks (a Christian) free will.
The miracle of Creation is that it/we exist.
Address of John Paul II to the Jubilee of Scientists, May 25, 2000
4. The Church has a great esteem for scientific and technological research, since it “is a significant expression of man’s dominion over creation” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2293) and a service to truth, goodness and beauty. From Copernicus to Mendel, from Albert the Great to Pascal, from Galileo to Marconi, the history of the Church and the history of the sciences clearly show us that there is a scientific culture rooted in Christianity. It can be said, in fact, that research, by exploring the greatest and the smallest, contributes to the glory of God which is reflected in every part of the universe.
Faith is not afraid of reason. They “are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth – in a word, to know himself – so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves” (Encylical Fides et ratio, Proem). If in the past the separation of faith and reason was a tragedy for man, who risked losing his interior unity under the threat of an ever more fragmented knowledge, today your mission is to carry on your research with the conviction that “for the intelligent man … all things are in harmony and agreement” (Gregory Palamas, Theophanes).



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Rich

posted April 8, 2010 at 9:56 pm


R Hampton:
First, I note that you didn’t answer any of my detailed questions or objections. What does your silence imply?
Second, your theological statements do not appear to be based on any passages of the Bible, or on any of the great theologians of the Christian tradition. They appear to be your own construct. You are welcome to invent your own religion – it’s a free country. But you can’t expect a pick-and-choose religion of your own creation to be considered “Christian” by those of us who have studied the Bible and large swaths of the tradition in the original texts. Unless you can give me some passages from the Bible and from theologians foundational to the Christian tradition which support your implied claim that theistic evolution is a necessary consequence of orthodox Christian belief, I’m afraid I’m not going to be moved.
Regarding your quotation from the previous Pope, note that Darwin didn’t make his list of examples. Also, you are misunderstanding his use of the word “reason” to mean “science conducted through methodological naturalism”. What is meant by reason there (and even more clearly in the current Pope, Benedict) is classical-Christian reason — Plato-Aristotle-Cicero-Augustine-Aquinas, the reason that preceded the “reason” championed by Descartes and Bacon. Finally, John Paul II was a wonderful man, but not at all gifted in the sciences (his gifts were in poetry and languages), and his thoughts on science have been criticized by Catholic intellectuals of the first rank – see the collection by Russell and Stoeger.



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Peter Migner

posted April 8, 2010 at 10:18 pm


Creation or Evolution, The Bible or Science, Faith or discovery. Choices for each and everyone of us. I am not a scientist but rather an pastor. My faith was extended to God through Jesus Christ and I experienced a Miracle and was Born again. My eyes were opened and God became very real and personal and the Holy Spirit my best friend each day. So many places throughout the scripture, besides the Genesis account of creation have references to 6 literal 24 hours days. Yet, men come along in these last centuries with their man made means of measuring dirt, fossils and bones and tell the world that God’s prophets and Jesus Himself were mistaken. I guess it comes to down to who you will have faith in. Will it be God and His Holy Inspired Word or man and the religion of science? Evolution is still only a theory. Another man may call creation a theory, but as for me the question is settled by faith in God’s word that He created all things and declared it creation in 6 days.
Personally no man made evidence is ever going to rob me of faith in What God says. We have far too many who spend time in deep thought over these matter verses deep travailing time in Prayer with the Creator. What God has done is so simple a child can get it, yet when we get older so many want to complicate His simplicity and explain away without the need of faith in His Word.



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Rich

posted April 8, 2010 at 11:20 pm


anon prof:
A good clear answer. I am not attacking your particular theological beliefs, and I have no problem with your suggestion that particular Biblical stories, on a case-by-case basis, e.g., Job, may not have been meant literally. That was not my point. My point was about methodological naturalism.
Neither you nor any TE known to me has explained why methodological naturalism should not be applied to all accounts of past events everywhere, including all accounts of Biblical miracles, Hindu miracles, etc. Why is it “giving up on science” to say that life couldn’t have originated without design, but not “giving up on science” to say that a man rose from the dead, or walked on water, or turned water to wine, because of a miracle? Why does the TE cosmologist, geologist or biologist feel duty-bound to spend his or her scientific life trying to show that God worked entirely through natural causes in creating the universe, life and all species, including man, but not feel a similar duty to try to explain all the miracles in the New Testament in naturalistic terms? Why the double standard? Surely someone like Dawkins or Coyne is much more consistent than any TE in this regard.
You say that the normal method of God’s interaction with the world is through a providential ordering of nature – laws and regularities. But on what grounds do you back-reason from the normal method of God’s interaction with the world today, to God’s interaction with the world before “nature” as we know it, even existed? A clock or windmill works with great regularity, but we do not believe that clocks and windmills self-assemble. Similarly, cells and genes work with great regularity, but there is no a priori reason for believing that life self-assembled or directed its own evolution. The onus is on the person who believes in such self-assembly to provide the detailed steps by which this might have occurred; and in the absence of such demonstration, it is no more unreasonable to suggest that life required intelligent assembly than it is unreasonable to suggest the same of a clock or a windmill. (Note that I have not spoken of “proof”, but only of reasonable hypotheses.)
You say: “I believe that miracles are performed to establish prophetic/apostolic authenticity, not to fix divine blunders.” Overlooking the deliberately slanted word-choice of “blunders”, which entirely misrepresents the classical-Christian understanding of creation, I will say that whether you are right or wrong is beside the point. The point is that this is a theologically arbitrary statement. There is no obvious justification for it in the Bible or in the writings of any classical formulation of Christianity known to me. It appears to reflect your own personal theological notion of how God would behave. And this is par for the course for theistic evolutionists: an arbitrary statement about God is made, and then it is represented as the traditional Christian position, when it may be (and often is) simply a personal heresy.
But let us not focus on miracles as such. The point is that once you explain something as a miracle, you violate methodological naturalism, because you say that we should stop looking for natural causes and rest in the explanation that God acted directly. And once you do that even once, for any event in the Bible, you cannot accuse another Christian of being “unscientific” merely because he does it more often than you do. All you can do is disagree with his Biblical interpretation; but in so doing, you cannot claim to be speaking for “science”.



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Edwords

posted April 9, 2010 at 12:02 am


Of course, God chose to wait almost two thousand years to
show us the Book of Genesis shouldn’t be read literally.
And he chose Darwin to tell us this.
——————————————–
Theology—-fantasy in search of a rationale



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Edwords

posted April 9, 2010 at 12:25 am


1. Science is not a religion. Scientists change their minds if
the evidence warrants it. (They aren’t encaged in a “holy” book.)
2. A PROVEN theory is a fact. (Creationism is not credible.)
3. There’s nothing more futile than theological debates.
Religion is so-o-o-o addictive.



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GrantL

posted April 9, 2010 at 1:05 am


Peter Migner wrote: “So many places throughout the scripture, besides the Genesis account of creation have references to 6 literal 24 hours days. Yet, men come along in these last centuries with their man made means of measuring dirt, fossils and bones and tell the world that God’s prophets and Jesus Himself were mistaken. I guess it comes to down to who you will have faith in. Will it be God and His Holy Inspired Word or man and the religion of science? Evolution is still only a theory. Another man may call creation a theory, but as for me the question is settled by faith in God’s word that He created all things and declared it creation in 6 days.”
Whoa…ok, Peter, first, evolution like any other scientific theory is not a question of “faith”. It’s a question of evidence. Scientists do not take evolution, nor the germ theory of disease, or the big bang theory, or tectonic plates or anything else on “faith”. You take your religious beliefs on faith, because that is all there is. That is not how science works.
This is one of the worst, and frankly ugliest, evangelical canards and leads, in part, to the kind of attitude that resulted in the kind of thing where waltke having his own turn him. You make the completely false claim that science and religion are really just a matter of (religious) faith. That being the case, there really are not such thing as facts. It’s all just want you want it to be. So, therefore, creationism or evolution, its just a matter of faith, they are equal. So one is just as valid as the other in science or religion. This is utter nonsense. Science is not, in any way shape or form, a religion and the attempt to equate the two is, frankly, dishonest.
Then you use the the old chestnut “evolution is just a theory.” This suggests you are actually not well versed in science at all. You are using the term “theory” to mean “guess” or “hunch”. As in, “it’s my theory that Peter has never read any science texts.” This is manifestly not what a theory means in science. In the context of science, a theory is an explanation for natural phenomenon that is so well supported that it is taken (provisionally) as the truth. A theory, in other words, explains the facts. It not only has to explain the facts, it has to be falsifiable and it has to make predictions about the phenomenon in question, which can then be tested. The theory of evolution is not the “guess” of evolution or the “opinion” of evolution. (and those tempted to retort (well why is it not the law of evolution, you also don’t grasp some basic concepts.)
At the end of the day, you are completely free to say you think science is a bunch of bunk because your particular sectarian view of your religion and holy books tells you that. That is prefectly fine. But then just say that instead of making demonstrably false claims about science (and in fact, of religion as well.)
I suggest you watch Father Coyne describe the difference between religion and science, and why you don’t look for science in the bible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyyySnUqCug



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MH

posted April 9, 2010 at 8:19 am


GrantL, thanks for the reply to Peter Migner. I didn’t have the patience to write such a well worded reply, but it was just what was needed.



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TTT

posted April 9, 2010 at 10:47 am


This is one of the worst, and frankly ugliest, evangelical canards….. You make the completely false claim that science and religion are really just a matter of (religious) faith. That being the case, there really are not such thing as facts. It’s all just want you want it to be.
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I’ve had evangelicals actually stand in front of me and make the argument in-person that “it’s just one person’s BELIEF, they’re all THEORIES, and none of this expertise and documentation actually exists as long as anybody can ever read about anything else”. I honestly think I’d rather have them spit on me, it would be more honest of them and would relieve me of the awkward social expectation that I’m actually supposed to respond to such anti-thought solipsism.
It is an explicit denial of the entire process of human learning, of the principle that education and knowledge are in and of themselves important and can benefit the individual and society as a whole. If the only way you can rationalize your beliefs is to wish away the entire world, either your beliefs or your rationalizations are intellectually harmful–to yourself and to others.



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Lee Wood

posted April 9, 2010 at 1:23 pm


Maybe Mr.Dreher you need some memory-massaging! Have you forgotten what happens to scientists who doubt the Darwinian dogma? Read Jerry Bergman’s “Slaughter of the dissidents”. And watch “Expelled…” Or be such a scientist yourself (if you have the resources and guts).
[Note from Rod: Lee Wood, you need some memory massaging too. Re-read my entry here; there's a part in which I talk about how the bullying goes both ways. -- RD]



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TTT

posted April 9, 2010 at 1:33 pm


Have you forgotten what happens to scientists who doubt the Darwinian dogma? Watch “Expelled”
They get bogus lies of martyrdom told in shrill, ignorant mockumentaries like “Expelled” (really “Flunked: No Intelligence Involved.”).
Given “Flunked” producer Ben Stein’s claim that “science leads to killing people,” his point being that the Holocaust was caused not by a millennium of anti-Semitism but actually some British guy writing a book about tortoises, it is safe to categorize him as both a Holocaust denier and a self-hating Jew.



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R Hampton

posted April 9, 2010 at 3:01 pm


Rich, my reply follows in the next two posts.
1. Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas all understood rational thought, and employed it as best the could under the circumstances. Certainly the powers of mathematics (e.g. geometric proofs) were well known, but Western civilization had not made much progress extending this approach beyond civil/mechanical engineering.
Only in the last millennium did the collection and validation of unbiased evidence become a rigorous demand of “natural philosophers” – and fundamental to theorizing. And only in the last few centuries has the Scientific method codified this approach with unbiased, reproducible results. Given this boon, previously mysterious phenomena like lightning, magnetism, reproduction, etc. were finally analyzed and described with such accuracy that we could predict its behavior — that is, we could demonstrate that our knowledge was true.
Consequently, modern Science can capture images of quarks splitting from atoms as proof of our understanding of Truth, unlike Aristotle and his hypothesis of four natural elements (fire, water, earth and air). As such, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas would recognize modern Science as the kind of reasoning they wrote of long ago. So when the full application of reasoning produces “scientific” knowledge, it must be properly recognized as the Natural or General Revelation known to Christian theology.
2. Miraculous interventions occur when God interacts with Man. Notice that includes all you specific examples. When God alters the environment it is for the direct benefit of specific living people as part of their personal relationship with God. God has no personal relationship with Creation per se, because there is no person other than Man.



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John

posted April 9, 2010 at 3:02 pm


In the vast majority of current Evangelical churches, it’s simply not enough to be a faithful and devoted follower and servant of Jesus Christ. You also have to have the “correct” political and scientific and social views. If you don’t, your faith is called into question and you quickly become an outcast. In some cases you can expect outright ridicule. I’ve spent most of my life in evangelical churches and have seen and experienced this first hand. It’s one of the reasons I now count myself post-evangelical.



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R Hampton

posted April 9, 2010 at 3:06 pm


3. “My” theology is that of the Catholic Church (as I evidenced in Fides et ratio, which in turn references Scripture, Christian Theologians, and previous Encyclicals). It’s extensively noted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church if you are curious. Pope Benedict XVI, October 21, 2008:
To “evolve” literally means “to unroll a scroll”, that is, to read a book. The imagery of nature as a book has its roots in Christianity and has been held dear by many scientists. Galileo saw nature as a book whose author is God in the same way that Scripture has God as its author. It is a book whose history, whose evolution, whose “writing” and meaning, we “read” according to the different approaches of the sciences, while all the time presupposing the foundational presence of the author who has wished to reveal himself therein. This image also helps us to understand that the world, far from originating out of chaos, resembles an ordered book; it is a cosmos. Notwithstanding elements of the irrational, chaotic and the destructive in the long processes of change in the cosmos, matter as such is “legible”. It has an inbuilt “mathematics”. The human mind therefore can engage not only in a “cosmography” studying measurable phenomena but also in a “cosmology” discerning the visible inner logic of the cosmos. We may not at first be able to see the harmony both of the whole and of the relations of the individual parts, or their relationship to the whole. Yet, there always remains a broad range of intelligible events, and the process is rational in that it reveals an order of evident correspondences and undeniable finalities: in the inorganic world, between microstructure and macrostructure; in the organic and animal world, between structure and function; and in the spiritual world, between knowledge of the truth and the aspiration to freedom. Experimental and philosophical inquiry gradually discovers these orders; it perceives them working to maintain themselves in being, defending themselves against imbalances, and overcoming obstacles. And thanks to the natural sciences we have greatly increased our understanding of the uniqueness of humanity’s place in the cosmos…
Distinguished Academicians, I wish to conclude by recalling the words addressed to you by my predecessor Pope John Paul II in November 2003: “scientific truth, which is itself a participation in divine Truth, can help philosophy and theology to understand ever more fully the human person and God’s Revelation about man, a Revelation that is completed and perfected in Jesus Christ. For this important mutual enrichment in the search for the truth and the benefit of mankind, I am, with the whole Church, profoundly grateful”



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Rich

posted April 9, 2010 at 5:40 pm


R Hampton:
Your point that the Popes have praised scientific knowledge in general is registered, and I have not denied it. You do not seem to notice, however, how the two most recent Popes have danced around the subject of organic evolution, and you don’t seem to have grasped the significance of their hesitation, given that they are the two Popes in the history of the Roman Church who have comes the closest to saying that organic evolution is a true account of origins. Why don’t they just openly proclaim evolution a confirmed scientific truth, on the level of Newtonian physics? Even John Paul II stopped short of that.
Don’t confuse the endorsements of Catholics like Francis Beckwith and George Coyne with official Catholic teaching. The status of evolutionary theory within Catholic teaching is that it is a permitted belief, not that it is a required belief. And it is hedged around by restrictions, including the restriction that the process overall is not due to chance (which cuts out all atheist versions of Darwinism, and a chunk of Darwinist TE as well), and certain qualifications regarding the evolution of man (which also challenge the presumptions of atheists and certain TEs).
In your discussion of the scientific revolution, you betray the modern reductionist account of “reason”. Whatever the accomplishments of modern science, modern science does not exhaust what the Popes have meant by “reason”. I recommend some time spent reading Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas’s Summa, Etienne Gilson, the writings of Fr. Copleston, etc. I suspect that you need to recover a large tract of Catholic tradition which your adulation of modern science has crowded out of your mind. Modern science is powerful but it is a mere fragment of reason itself. Protestants, with their largely utilitarian account of reason, have thus overrated science, thinking that it has all the truth that is needed, except for a few items arbitrarily reserved by God for revelation. Catholic wisdom has been greater, but most Catholics have not appropriated it, and in large measure today’s Catholics think like Protestants, i.e., in a secularized fashion.
Before you dogmatically say that God has no personal relationship with Creation — a statement that shows how Protestant-secularist your theology is — I would advise you to read Psalm 96, Psalm 148, Isaiah 44.23 and 49.13, portions of Job, etc. You also might look at the writings of Phillip Sherrard concerning the Orthodox tradition about nature, and some of the Catholic tradition around Francis of Assisi.
My other points you have not dealt with or even touched, so I’ll sign off on this conversation.



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R Hampton

posted April 9, 2010 at 7:36 pm


Rich,
And I would offer the similar advice to you – that you don’t know Catholic Church as you think you do. Unlike many Protestants, Catholicism has nothing to lose from accepting the Truths of Science, like Evolution.
Letter of His Holiness John Paul II
to Reverend George V. Coyne, S.J.
Director of the Vatican Observatory
The Church does not propose that science should become religion or religion science. On the contrary, unity always presupposes the diversity and the integrity of its elements. Each of these members should become not less itself but more itself in a dynamic interchange, for a unity in which one of the elements is reduced to the other is destructive, false in its promises of harmony, and ruinous of the integrity of its components. We are asked to become one. We are not asked to become each other.
To be more specific, both religion and science must preserve their autonomy and their distinctiveness. Religion is not founded on science nor is science an extension of religion. Each should possess its own principles, its pattern of procedures, its diversities of interpretation and its own conclusions. Christianity possesses the source of its justification within itself and does not expect science to constitute its primary apologetic. Science must bear witness to its own worth. While each can and should support the other as distinct dimensions of a common human culture, neither ought to assume that it forms a necessary premise for the other…
Contemporary developments in science challenge theology far more deeply than did the introduction of Aristotle into Western Europe in the thirteenth century. Yet these developments also offer to theology a potentially important resource. Just as Aristotelian philosophy, through the ministry of such great scholars as St Thomas Aquinas, ultimately came to shape some of the most profound expressions of theological doctrine, so can we not hope that the sciences of today, along with all forms of human knowing, may invigorate and inform those parts of the theological enterprise that bear on the relation of nature, humanity and God?
Can science also benefit from this interchange? It would seem that it should. For science develops best when its concepts and conclusions are integrated into the broader human culture and its concerns for ultimate meaning and value. Scientists cannot, therefore, hold themselves entirely aloof from the sorts of issues dealt with by philosophers and theologians. By devoting to these issues something of the energy and care they give to their research in science, they can help others realize more fully the human potentialities of their discoveries. They can also come to appreciate for themselves that these discoveries cannot be a genuine substitute for knowledge of the truly ultimate. Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish.



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Rich

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:20 am


R Hampton:
I wasn’t speaking out of the Protestant tradition; I was in fact defending the Catholic tradition – at least on the relationship of reason (not “science”) to revelation.
Your abridgement of the Pope John Paul’s message leaves out many of his important qualifications. Also, it leaves the impression of self-contradiction: on one hand, your excerpts advocate an absolute separation of science and theology, with each pursuing its answers unhindered by the dictates of the other; on the other hand, your excerpts advocate a very close interrelationship between scientific and religious thought. Well, which is it? Either science has no religious implications – straight Kantianism – or it does. If it does, you can’t rule out arguments for design based on the facts of nature. If it doesn’t, we’re left with the typical modern schizophrenia between “facts”, and “values” — Kant, Barth, and of course modern social science. Pope Benedict has clearly spoken against this schizophrenia in the Regensburg address, which I highly recommend to you.
The fault is not entirely yours; even the full original address of the John Paul is seriously flawed, theoretically muddy in terms of Catholic philosophical and theological tradition. This is to be expected from a letter which is largely diplomatic rather than doctrinal in intent. And doctrine, except perhaps ethical and social doctrine, was never JP II’s forte. John Paul was a wonderful man, but Benedict is a much better scholar and thinker – on philosophical matters, anyway. Again, all I can recommend is that you do some reading in the Catholic intellectual tradition – the writings of Father Copleston and Professor Gilson would be two good places to start. Until you have done this, we can’t deepen the level of this conversation. So I’ll sign off again, and this time, stick to my guns.



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MH

posted April 10, 2010 at 6:33 am


Rich and R Hampton, I’m reading both of you, but from the perspective of someone who’s not religious.
It seems obvious to me that science can disprove religious claims when these claims are about the physical world. For example if a religion claimed their God created the world sitting on top of four elephants. But if a religion claimed God doesn’t want people to eat pork, well there’s no way to verify that statement.
So it seems to me the modern schizophrenia is largely because some religions moved to a domain where they avoided claims in the first category. Science, being about things that are in some way verifiable isn’t generally interested in claims in the second category. Science isn’t even about values either as that is something the rest of society imposes on it.
So what’s left is mostly squabbling by religious literalists and some atheist scientists.



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Siarlys Jenkins

posted April 10, 2010 at 9:50 pm


Francisco Ayala is so right. I often visit a WELS Lutheran church, where I am not and probably never will be eligible to receive communion, which resolutely denies that evolutionary biology could possibly be true. I have had many mutually respectful conversations with the now-retired pastor about this, because I have no doubt at all that the foundations of evolutionary biology are to be found in the first two chapters of Genesis, if our ancestors had only known how to understand what their eyes were reading, before Charles Darwin stumbled upon a small bit of the truth.
A member of this church offered me a book by Ken Hamm, of AIG fame (not the insurance company, Answers In Genesis), lamenting that when children raised in Christian schools get to college, they are taught evolutionary biology, and lose their faith. The answer seemed obvious to me. IF these children have been taught that evolutionary biology is in direct contradiction to the Bible, and come to see that there is overwhelming evidence for the factual accuracy of evolutionary biology, THEN they will naturally begin to question the truth of the Bible. However, that is a false choice, created by intemperant teaching.
IF there is substantial evidence for evolutionary biology, and IF the Bible is, or even contains, the revealed Word of God, then, it cannot be true that one contradicts the other. As Galileo once said, God’s creation cannot be contrary to his Word, so, evolutionary biology must be one material piece of God’s creation.



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57

posted April 11, 2010 at 8:20 am


It’s funny how he thinks that evangelical Christianity could face a crisis for not coming around and accepting science. Doesn’t the resurrection of Jesus Christ go against science? Perhaps the evangelical Christians should also drop that part….in the name of science.
Now the next thing to do is open up your bible to 1Cor 15:47 and white out the words -dust of the earth-. Once the white out has dried you can write in something like… descendent of apes.
Once all the evangelical Christians learn to filter our bible through science and evolutionism…they won’t be a cult!
57



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GrantL

posted April 11, 2010 at 5:49 pm


Siarlys Jenkins, Galileo said that the bible shows how to go heaven, NOT how the heavens go.
There is no biological science in Genesis. AT ALL. Keep in mind that, if one takes the story as the literal truth, this is a story that suggests the entire human population was grown from just two people. We know from genetics what the unfortuante results of inbreeding are. Were Genesis true, the human race would have quickly died out as a group of genetic defectives.
Check out the link above that I posted where Father George Coyne talks about this. There is NO science in the bible. None. Why would there be? How could there be? The people who wrote it were not possessed of the kind of curiosity about the natural world that we saw in the Greeks, for example. Science was very much not the thing of the people who wrote the books of the old and new testaments. That was not what they thought was important. Their purpose was to write about theology, not natural history. Their sum total knowledge of science was near zero. Which is not a knock against them, but a knock against those who try to claim, as you have, that science is rooted in the bible, or found in the bible, or somehow science is a Christian creation. It’s all hogwash.
What the writers of the bible were trying to convey was not a scientific thesis on the evolution of species, or how mountain ranges are formed by the movement of tectonic plates, or the formation of stars. These were not books written by people who knew “the truth” about evolution, but just did not have the education to discuss it. They were writing religion, not science. Their concerns were about sin and resurrections and going to heaven and the like. They had no idea how the natural world worked beyond “god makes it so.”
We’ve had over 200 years of modern scientific inquiry and nothing in the bible has helped any scientific endeavor. No one turns to the bible when trying to cure polio or small pox, or create crops to feed millions, or build new energy efficient cars, or understanding what new discovers in teh fossil record mean to our understanding of human evolution. Whatever worth one chooses to find in the bible in terms of theology or ethics or philosophy, it is scientifically barren.



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Siarlys Jenkins

posted April 11, 2010 at 11:24 pm


Grant, don’t be petty. Galileo said exactly what you quoted him as saying. He also said exactly what I quoted him as saying. You may have read “Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo” translated with an introduction and notes by Stillman Drake. Both quotes are there. While the knowledge of the people who wrote down the content of the Bible is highly relevant, it remains possible that they were conveying a revelation from someone who knew a good deal more than they did, and told them about as much as they could handle, maybe a bit more.
Genesis is certainly not a biology text book, but IF there is a God who created all that is seen and unseen, and IF Genesis is an account more or less direct from that deity, giving an overview of how and why he did so, to creatures made in his own image who were necessarily not direct witnesses to the entire process, then the Genesis account and the biological reconstruction should not be in direct conflict with each other. They aren’t.
For example, Genesis 1:20 says “And God said, let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life.” Not fish, not seaweed, the moving creature that hath life. Biology textbooks say “Life began in the seas.” More specifically, “First Life” by Michael Russell, American Scientist Vol. 94, p. 32, makes a reasonable estimate of how the first simple metabolic reactions might have been initiated. Does Russell prove Genesis? No. Does Genesis prove Russell? No. Do they conflict? Not at all.



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Siarlys Jenkins

posted April 11, 2010 at 11:41 pm


I’m sorry Grant, I’m wrong about you being right about Galileo. It was not Galileo but Cardinal Baronius who said that “The intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven, not how heaven goes.” Galileo quoted him in a letter.
And 57, sorry to have overlooked your remarks, but the resurrection of Jesus Christ does not go against science. It is beyond scientific explanation. Therefore, those who assume that science explains everything may well deny that it took place. However, what makes it miraculous is precisely the fact that so much else in our world DOES conform to scientific explanation, and this singular event, assuming it happened, does not. No doubt a transcendent deity can make exceptions, no?
As to the dust of the ground… are not ALL life forms made from the dust of the ground, apes no less than humans? Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen… what animals eat was first taken up by plants… God made Adam (humanity, not a single male) from adama…
Which reminds me Grant, Genesis does NOT say we are all descended from one couple. It says that Cain was worried that some unspecified other people would see him and kill him, it says that Cain found a wife, as did Seth. I know, some Christians are so terrified of the implications that they make up stories about incest and such, but that’s not in Genesis, its human reasoning of the worst order. Science is coming around to the notion that a very small number of primates were isolated in a genetic bottleneck, and came out of it with some inexplicably advanced propensities for art, language, technology, within the last 50,000 years. 99.999% of all those earlier hominids were NOT our ancestors, just smart animals on their way to extinction.



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Thomas Allen

posted April 12, 2010 at 5:25 am


Evolution is a fundamental challenge to evangelical faith because if true, it reveals that God’s character is very different from what we find in the New Testament. Thus, you can’t simply accept it as fact and go on living your Christian life as before – it changes everything.



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GrantL

posted April 12, 2010 at 9:54 am


Siarlys Jenkins, that is alot of “ifs” you like to toss about there. and one can just as easily say “IF the All-Father Odin created man and woman from a tree trunk on Midgard…” and so on and so forth. That is just as reasonable as your ifs about your religion.
If you want to see science and your faith as not being in conflict that is fine. But to say there is actual science in the bible, that somehow Genesis “fits” with modern science is just silly. You are free to interpret the bible as you wish, but it is no more or less correct than a different interpretation of another believer, and neither has anything to do with science.
And also, we are NOT made from dust. We are composed of organic molecules but life did not emerge from dust. It’s a nice bit a poetry in the bible, just like Odin creating people out of a tree, or cosmos emerging from Chaos. But it is not an accurate reflection of any biological processes.
and yes, dead people rising from the grave is “against” science. There isn’t any evidence, beyond faith statements, to suggest it happened. You either take that on faith or not, but to say it “beyond” science is again, silly. Zeus is beyond science. Shiva is beyond science. You see the point. You just declare by fiat, all kinds of exceptions for your chosen religion and then say “see, science and religion are not at odds.”
You write: “Science is coming around to the notion that a very small number of primates were isolated in a genetic bottleneck, and came out of it with some inexplicably advanced propensities for art, language, technology, within the last 50,000 years. 99.999% of all those earlier hominids were NOT our ancestors, just smart animals on their way to extinction.”
This is not entirely accurate. What we know now is there were more than one homo species walking around at the same time and most of them eventually became extinct, leaving us as the only homo species left standing. How this happened is still something that science is investigating.This notion of a genetic “bottleneck” is a non starter. We did not come out of it with some “inexplicably advanced propensities” for anything. You are attempting to lay the ground, based on faith not evidence, for some kind of divine action here. What we know is that homo species evolved the capacity to build tools and some, not just us, expressed themselves using primitive art and perhaps, very primitive religion. But this was not an isolated “bottleneck”. Homo species can be found across africa, asia and europe, all more or less doing the same sorts of things. Homo sapiens come out as the evolutionary winner in the end, but your view of the science is fairly inaccurate here.
Finally, you have drastically misconstrued what Galileo was trying to say.



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Siarlys Jenkins

posted April 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm


Thomas, you make a bald statement that evolution reveals that God’s character is very different than what is revealed in the New Testament. You haven’t mentioned a single aspect of God’s character which is somehow rendered different. I can’t find a single one. Everything is different? The only difference is in minor details. Please, offer some specific differences so we can evaluate your claim.
Grant, you’re not doing much better. Let me put the “ifs” in a slightly more mathematical context. Those who deny that there is anything divine or metaphysical outside the observable universe define that universe as all there is to know, all that is. Those who accept, assert, or toy with, the notion that there is a God, and accept science as essentially valid in its observations and conclusions, view the scientifically accessible universe as a subset within a larger universe, which is not scientifically accessible.
Since this necessarily means there is no valid scientific test for the existence or non-existence of God, you are correct in a narrow, limited sense that the Bible does not contain actual science. It is also true that you have to read the Bible for yourself, and draw your own conclusions, as Wycliffe advised. If you find nothing there, I can’t put it there for you.
Accordingly, I deal with a series of ifs to point out that the Bible is perfectly consistent with the entire body of modern scientific observation. Each leaves open possibilities which would fully accommodate the other. Your conclusion depends upon either personal preference, or faith, or whatever logic you may find helpful. The only unimpeachable answer would be if God personally appeared to you and reduced you to a state of fear and trembling in which you realized The Truth in all its fullness. Most of us don’t have that experience, which may or may not be because there is no God.
Absence of scientific proof that an improbable event occurred is NOT the same as scientific proof that it did not, or could not have, occurred. We do not have to abandon scientific method in order to accept that Christ is risen. Likewise, we cannot rely on science to prove it for us. Therefore, you are free to deny it, but not free to insist that I abjure all science if I find reason to believe it.
As for dust of the ground, examine the chemical composition of dust sometime, and then talk to me about whether we are made from the dust of the ground. IF you want to demonstrate that I misunderstand Galileo, by all means offer, in Galileo’s own words, with appropriate references, what you believe Galileo did mean, and how in conflicts with what I learned from reading Galileo. Your long tirade about human evolution isn’t much better. You repeatedly deny several assertions which you find inconvenient, without filling in either sources or alternative allegations of fact. I refer you, for starters, to the work of Dr. Silvana Santachiara-Benerecetti, and Dr. Richard G. Klein. Do your homework Grant, and perhaps you will develop something worth considering.



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57

posted April 17, 2010 at 9:20 am


Grant had posted above:
There is no biological science in Genesis. AT ALL. Keep in mind that, if one takes the story as the literal truth, this is a story that suggests the entire human population was grown from just two people. We know from genetics what the unfortuante results of inbreeding are. Were Genesis true, the human race would have quickly died out as a group of genetic defectives.
57:Adam and Eve were created without any defect. The results of inbreeding due to genetics would not be seen until the human gene pool de-evolved and begun to carry and pass along the defects. If Adam and Eve were created with the same genetic defects as we see in the world today…you would have a point.
Siarlys posted:
And 57, sorry to have overlooked your remarks, but the resurrection of Jesus Christ does not go against science. It is beyond scientific explanation.
57:I disagree. When people die, they can’t come back to life 3 days later. Especially a person who died the death that Jesus died. The resurrection truly goes against medical science.
BTW: So does walking on water.
Therefore, those who assume that science explains everything may well deny that it took place. However, what makes it miraculous is precisely the fact that so much else in our world DOES conform to scientific explanation, and this singular event, assuming it happened, does not. No doubt a transcendent deity can make exceptions, no?
57:A transcendent deity could create as per the account in genesis, no?
As to the dust of the ground… are not ALL life forms made from the dust of the ground, apes no less than humans? Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen… what animals eat was first taken up by plants… God made Adam (humanity, not a single male) from adama…
57:According to Genesis, Eve was made form Adams rib. This certainly does not sound anything like evolutionism.
Paul in 1CO 15:45 tells us…. “So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”…
Later in the NT we confirm Genesis with this statement:
1TI 2:13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve……which contradicts your statement “God made Adam (humanity, not a single male) from adama…” as well as your second statement “Genesis does NOT say we are all descended from one couple.”
But back to Genesis..there is this verse that also tells us that Eve was the mother of humanity….not a population.
GEN 3:20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.



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Siarlys Jenkins

posted April 19, 2010 at 11:08 am


My dear 57, of course a transcendent deity COULD have made humans without evolution. But there is no Biblical evidence that he did so, and there is plenty of physical evidence that he made use of a process we, with our limited capacity, view as “evolution.” I suspect that Genesis offers the story as it looked to God, rather than as it looks from our perspective, in time and space, on planet earth. Your question about the resurrection was an entirely different one: does the Resurrection overthrow all scientific knowledge? Or, conversely, and by the same token, does scientific study prove that the Resurrection could not have happened?
It is of course true that Paul misunderstood Genesis. Any Orthodox rabbi could have told you that in great detail. Anytime there is a conflict between what God revealed to Moses, and what Paul taught the Greeks about what God revealed to Moses, I have no hesitation about whom to believe — particularly since Jesus said nothing much about the subject at all. Also, keep in mind that the English translations lost a good deal of the original meaning.
For example, Eve was not made from Adam’s rib. “The woman” was made from one SIDE of the Adam, and what was left over was “the man.” The name Eve comes along somewhat later. If you take “mother of all living” literally, then you must assume that Eve’s offspring included the first tigers, elephants, salmon, beetles…
Finally, while you quote this somewhat garbled text about “the mother of all living,” you do NOT explain where Cain and Seth found their wives. Please don’t offer up that tired, and rather disgusting, canard about Adam and Eve having all kinds of children who aren’t mentioned in Genesis, but who married by incest… there are simpler, more wholesome, ways to read the plain text of Genesis, which do not require such tortuous human reasoning.



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57

posted April 20, 2010 at 4:05 pm


Siarlys Jenkins
April 19, 2010 11:08 AM
http://windowsonwittenberg.blogspot.com
My dear 57, of course a transcendent deity COULD have made humans without evolution. But there is no Biblical evidence that he did so,
57: Huh??? Seriously…..The bible says six days. The bible says Adam was formed from the dust THEN Eve from Adams rib…which is nothing like descent with modification. To be honest I don’t see how you could even come close to making a claim there is no “Biblical evidence that He did so”.
and there is plenty of physical evidence that he made use of a process we, with our limited capacity, view as “evolution.”
57:Once again..HUH? There is plenty of evidece that says evolutionism is bogus.
I suspect that Genesis offers the story as it looked to God, rather than as it looks from our perspective, in time and space, on planet earth.
57: Looked to God? But written for man. If God used evolutionism…why not say so? Why didn’t God say something like from the animals I formed man?
Your question about the resurrection was an entirely different one: does the Resurrection overthrow all scientific knowledge? Or, conversely, and by the same token, does scientific study prove that the Resurrection could not have happened?
57:I suppose the question is..How can one believe one scientific impossibility (evolutionism) yet then turn around and believe that jesus had the ability to come back from the dead?
It is of course true that Paul misunderstood Genesis.
57: According to scripture Paul was inspired by God to write what he had written. As I asked before..did Paul also get the part about the resurrection wrong? After all according to you paul messed up concerning things about creation.
Any Orthodox rabbi could have told you that in great detail. Anytime there is a conflict between what God revealed to Moses, and what Paul taught the Greeks about what God revealed to Moses, I have no hesitation about whom to believe — particularly since Jesus said nothing much about the subject at all. Also, keep in mind that the English translations lost a good deal of the original meaning.
57: So when we translate the word “dust” in the portions of the NT Paul wrote…should we use the word “evolution” in its place?
For example, Eve was not made from Adam’s rib. “The woman” was made from one SIDE of the Adam, and what was left over was “the man.”
57:Whether or not you use the word rib or side…Eve was made from Adam. Eve was not part of an evolving population.
The name Eve comes along somewhat later. If you take “mother of all living” literally, then you must assume that Eve’s offspring included the first tigers, elephants, salmon, beetles…
57: Sigh.
Finally, while you quote this somewhat garbled text about “the mother of all living,” you do NOT explain where Cain and Seth found their wives. Please don’t offer up that tired, and rather disgusting, canard about Adam and Eve having all kinds of children who aren’t mentioned in Genesis,
57: The other kids are mentioned in Genesis. See 5:4.
but who married by incest… there are simpler, more wholesome, ways to read the plain text of Genesis, which do not require such tortuous human reasoning.
57:Why would marrying a sister, aunt or cousin be tortuous human reasoning?



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Siarlys Jenkins

posted April 20, 2010 at 4:33 pm


There are cynics who say you can prove any point you want to make with the Bible, therefore, citation to the Bible proves nothing. The line of reasoning 57 offers here would seem to support that proposition. Fortunately for either Jewish or Christian faith, there are some timeless truths in Genesis, if we don’t get wrapped up in twisting little verses to make brownie points, debating human assumptions that aren’t really what God was focused on anyway.
Its not clear whether “Adam had sons and daughter” before or after Seth married, but Cain took a wife long before. But, perhaps Genesis is not intended to be strict chronological order. In that case, a number of things are possible, but none of these possibilities are strictly Biblical.
Adam is Hebrew for humanity. If your English translation implies that this is the name of an individual (mine does), then your English translation is leading you into spiritual and factual error.
The Bible says six yom. Hebrew is a very complex language, unlike any European language, leading to all kinds of misunderstandings. Without taking learned rabbis as authority on the significance of the Gospels (by definition, a practicing Jew does NOT believe Jesus was the promised Messiah), I generally place greater confidence in an explanation of the Hebrew than in an exegesis of the English. Yom is a complex term which in general refers to a period of time.
The rabbi I have learned the most from actually agrees with you that the Adam was created within the past 6000 years, as a direct act of divine creation. Since this is not a matter of interpretation of Hebrew, but a deeply embedded assumption and belief, I take leave to differ on this point. He believes an androgynous body was physically taken apart. I believe it is more likely that the spiritual component, the nefesh chayyim, made in the image of God, was taken apart, to be attached to the physical bodies prepared for them by the extended process we know as evolution. Biblically, it is possible, not certain.
The earliest reference to the creation of humans is “in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” This does not convey that “Adam” was made first, then “the woman.” It is quite explicit that a single act of creation created male and female, singular and plural. Of course the later references you cite also have meaning, but what they seem to mean by themselves cannot be accepted without the earlier reference.
How can one believe that evolution occurred, and also believe that Jesus rose from the dead? Easy: if Jesus was indeed the son of God, and if God raised him from the dead, then he was very special, not an ordinary product of biological evolution. But then, virgin birth would strongly suggest the same, would it not? If there is no God, then it would be highly improbable that Jesus rose from the dead — but then, if there is no God, there would have been no point to Jesus doing so either. What doesn’t God raise my deceased grandfather from the dead? (1) It has not pleased God to do so — at least not into this world, (2) my grandfather is not, to my knowledge, the Son of God, although he may be a son of God, (3) if you really want to know, as God, it’s his call.
What I call tortuous human reasoning is grasping at the notion that Cain married by incest to rationalize a story line which is NOT explicit in the Bible itself. Why doesn’t the text say “and Cain married his sister Martha,” and “Seth married his sister Miriam, because there were no other women available”? Further, whom was Cain afraid would kill him, when he became a wanderer on the face of the earth?
God wanted us to know that he created all that is, seen and unseen. A basic synopsis for that purpose is what was required for Genesis. Further, it needed to be in words that people of Moses’s time could accept and understand. I do wonder how Moses knew that creation began with a great burst of light, 4000 years before the Hubble telescope and other instruments confirmed this.
As for Paul, where does Scripture say everything Paul wrote was inspired by God? Don’t quote Paul on this — he can’t be the authority for himself. He does, at times, say ‘this is from me, not from God.” And don’t rely on “all Scripture is profitable…” because that was penned before anyone considered “Scripture” to be anything but the Old Testament.
As to the supposed evidence that evolution is bogus, I’ve studied AIG thoroughly. It offers nothing but wishful thinking. Try reading Fortey’s book “LIFE” and then offer a detailed analysis of why you find it faulted.



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57

posted April 22, 2010 at 11:15 am


Siarlys Jenkins
April 20, 2010 4:33 PM
http://siarlysjenkins.blogspot.com/2010/03/science-life-and-choice-value-judgments.html
There are cynics who say you can prove any point you want to make with the Bible, therefore, citation to the Bible proves nothing. The line of reasoning 57 offers here would seem to support that proposition. Fortunately for either Jewish or Christian faith, there are some timeless truths in Genesis, if we don’t get wrapped up in twisting little verses to make brownie points, debating human assumptions that aren’t really what God was focused on anyway.
57:On the other hand, we should not filter Genesis through mans fallible science.
Its not clear whether “Adam had sons and daughter” before or after Seth married, but Cain took a wife long before. But, perhaps Genesis is not intended to be strict chronological order. In that case, a number of things are possible, but none of these possibilities are strictly Biblical.
57:Even if the other children came after Seth….it doesn’t necessarily mean there was no other sons or daughters born prior.
Just as you assume there was an “evolved” population that Adam was part of and Cain got his wife from….which is not what Genesis is saying.
Adam is Hebrew for humanity. If your English translation implies that this is the name of an individual (mine does), then your English translation is leading you into spiritual and factual error.
57;I believe that just about every name in the bible has some sort of meaning. Then again Adam means..earth. It can also mean..to be made red.
So was Adam a literal person? Certainly Jude thought so when he wrote: “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones”
Even Luke presents us with a list of Mary’s ancestors…and it ends with God.. and just before that…Adam.
The Bible says six yom. Hebrew is a very complex language, unlike any European language, leading to all kinds of misunderstandings. Without taking learned rabbis as authority on the significance of the Gospels (by definition, a practicing Jew does NOT believe Jesus was the promised Messiah), I generally place greater confidence in an explanation of the Hebrew than in an exegesis of the English. Yom is a complex term which in general refers to a period of time.
57:It can…but certainly not in this case. Yom is bracketed with the words Evening and Morning which are 24 hour terms when associated with day.
Even the ten commandments tell us creation was a six day period…..then associates it with a literal 7th day.
The rabbi I have learned the most from actually agrees with you that the Adam was created within the past 6000 years, as a direct act of divine creation. Since this is not a matter of interpretation of Hebrew, but a deeply embedded assumption and belief,
57:He believes it because it is exactly what the bible teaches. No evolutionary filter required.
I take leave to differ on this point. He believes an androgynous body was physically taken apart. I believe it is more likely that the spiritual component, the nefesh chayyim, made in the image of God, was taken apart, to be attached to the physical bodies prepared for them by the extended process we know as evolution. Biblically, it is possible, not certain.
57:Sure, God breathed a spirit into Adam. That’s what the bible says. You believe it because you read it in GEN 2:7. The problem is, once again you have filtered Genesis through evolutionism and struck out the first half of GEN 2:7….only leaving in what fits your Theo-Evo theology.
The earliest reference to the creation of humans is “in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” This does not convey that “Adam” was made first, then “the woman.” It is quite explicit that a single act of creation created male and female, singular and plural. Of course the later references you cite also have meaning, but what they seem to mean by themselves cannot be accepted without the earlier reference.
57:GEN 1:27 speaks of the creation on day six. Yes on day 6 God made both Adam and Eve. But, GEN chapter 1 is the short version. For more details concerning the creation of Adam then Eve from his rib see chapter 2. Now what you must do to keep up with the Theo-Evo thought is make chapter 2 a separate creation of two other individuals.
How can one believe that evolution occurred, and also believe that Jesus rose from the dead? Easy: if Jesus was indeed the son of God, and if God raised him from the dead, then he was very special, not an ordinary product of biological evolution.
57:Many believe that because it is written in the bible. If they believe it because it is written in the bible why can’t they also believe Jesus was the creator? That’s what the NT teaches us…Just as the NT teaches us Jesus rose from the dead.
Now how did God (Jesus) create? Read Genesis.
But then, virgin birth would strongly suggest the same, would it not? If there is no God, then it would be highly improbable that Jesus rose from the dead — but then, if there is no God, there would have been no point to Jesus doing so either. What doesn’t God raise my deceased grandfather from the dead? (1) It has not pleased God to do so — at least not into this world, (2) my grandfather is not, to my knowledge, the Son of God, although he may be a son of God, (3) if you really want to know, as God, it’s his call.
57:The bible tells us your grandfather will be raised from the dead. The problem is, is that it is Gods timing…not yours.
What I call tortuous human reasoning is grasping at the notion that Cain married by incest to rationalize a story line which is NOT explicit in the Bible itself. Why doesn’t the text say “and Cain married his sister Martha,” and “Seth married his sister Miriam, because there were no other women available”? Further, whom was Cain afraid would kill him, when he became a wanderer on the face of the earth?
57:You act as if there was only a handful of Adam and Eves descendants at that time. Do you know how fast a family can grow in 100 years especially if they are fruitful and multiplying?
You must also remember that “incest” was not banned until later when the law was given. That is what your bible teaches. Thin about it…if God made human kind from two individuals..there had to have been relations between brother and sister.
God wanted us to know that he created all that is, seen and unseen. A basic synopsis for that purpose is what was required for Genesis. Further, it needed to be in words that people of Moses’s time could accept and understand. I do wonder how Moses knew that creation began with a great burst of light, 4000 years before the Hubble telescope and other instruments confirmed this.
57:If your talking about the Big bang..it has not been confirmed. What was that first light? I don’t know, but I have heard several theories.
As for Paul, where does Scripture say everything Paul wrote was inspired by God? Don’t quote Paul on this — he can’t be the authority for himself. He does, at times, say ‘this is from me, not from God.” And don’t rely on “all Scripture is profitable…” because that was penned before anyone considered “Scripture” to be anything but the Old Testament.
57:Certainly Peter has something to say about it in 2nd Peter 1:21.
Also the Old Testament was used to confirm Paul. ACT 17:11 tells us what the Bereans did.
As to the supposed evidence that evolution is bogus, I’ve studied AIG thoroughly. It offers nothing but wishful thinking. Try reading Fortey’s book “LIFE” and then offer a detailed analysis of why you find it faulted.
57:why do you call on me to give a detailed analysis Fortey’s book “LIFE”….yet, did not provide on concerning your pronouncement of AIG as wishful thinking???



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GrantL

posted April 23, 2010 at 2:03 am


“You act as if there was only a handful of Adam and Eves descendants at that time. Do you know how fast a family can grow in 100 years especially if they are fruitful and multiplying?
You must also remember that “incest” was not banned until later when the law was given. That is what your bible teaches. Thin about it…if God made human kind from two individuals..there had to have been relations between brother and sister.”
Wow….um….ok you need to really learn some basic genetics. If you have a population of mammals with only one breeding pair, like “Adam and Eve”, that species of mammal is about to go extinct. Genetic error will pile up due to inbreeding and that would be it. Sorry, but science has long shown this idea of a viable population from two animals to be garbage.



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57

posted April 23, 2010 at 9:23 am


GrantL
April 23, 2010 2:03 AM
Wow….um….ok you need to really learn some basic genetics. If you have a population of mammals with only one breeding pair, like “Adam and Eve”, that species of mammal is about to go extinct. Genetic error will pile up due to inbreeding and that would be it. Sorry, but science has long shown this idea of a viable population from two animals to be garbage.
57:Adam and Eve would have been free from any genetic errors. At that time in human history inbreeding was not a problem.



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nano

posted April 30, 2010 at 6:42 am


Well seeing their son Cain went down to the local city and found a wife (Genesis 4:16-17) there must have been other humans around, I guess. But then again, it seems obvious that the creation myth in Genesis and evolution are not incompatible. One is science and the other theology, one physics and the other metaphysics. Evolution doesn’t mention creation, creation doesn’t mention evolution. Neither rules out the other in any way.



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57

posted April 30, 2010 at 10:49 am


nano,
You ought to go re-read Gen 4:16-17.
It doesn’t say cain went to a city and found a wife.
It says Cain settled in the land of Nod…. Had relations with his wife….she had a baby then Cain built a city.



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Siarlys Jenkins

posted May 1, 2010 at 12:00 am


There is no point to endless argument with people who find things in Scripture that aren’t there — e.g., if God wanted us to know that Cain married his sister, or Seth did, Genesis would have said so. It is either of no importance, or it is not true. Ditto for most of your other points. It is human speculation, trying to find rationalizations for human assumption.
I will note though that if you are disputing the Big Bang, then you are also denying Genesis 1: 2-4. Likewise, the words translated “evening” and “morning” have connotations in Hebrew of “chaos” and “order,” not strictly limited to diurnal periods. Each period of Creation began with a good deal of chaos relative to the increased order by the end of that period.



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57

posted May 8, 2010 at 10:04 am


Siarlys Jenkins,
I’m not sure I agree with your view of “evening” and “morning” … connected with chaos and order.
Can you provide a reference to support your post above?
Evening
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=06153
Morning
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=01242



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elisha

posted May 19, 2010 at 12:38 am


To the theorists who think aliens where really what was in the bible is so WRONG. I have a superior fact. God. If you were so smart, the people of your evolutional kind, they have nothing recorded. The prophets were prophets and they said what they meant. The people who think angels were really aliens and artifically inseminated women are wrong. The things people say aren’t humanly possibly , that’s okay, all things are possible with God. There are no facts written about your junk science except maybe the witches. Your so wise you think you are confounded by what is so simple. If aliens are Real , give me a picture, give me a miracle they have created, show me a spaceship, don’t take away from the bible, you can’t. It will be even when we die. The word is god. Angels are something far better than some ugly dreamed up alien. Your life is so sad. All you have is some aliens. I hope to make it into a kingdom of heaven. One day we will all meet God, and then for those who did not believe, they will wish they had listened to him. I believe he has spoke,you are puffed up on your own wisdom.



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Botas De Trekking Salomon

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posted 10:00:56pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Why I became Orthodox
Wrapping up my four Beliefnet years, I was thinking about the posts that attracted the most attention and comment in that time. Without a doubt the most popular (in terms of attracting attention, not all of it admiring, to be sure) was the October 12, 2006, entry in which I revealed and explained wh

posted 9:46:58pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Modern Calvinists
Wow, they don't make Presbyterians like they used to!

posted 8:47:01pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

'Rape by deception'? Huh?
The BBC this morning reported on a bizarre case in Israel of an Arab man convicted of "rape by deception," because he'd led the Jewish woman with whom he'd had consensual sex to believe he was Jewish. Ha'aretz has the story here. Plainly it's a racist verdict, and a bizarre one -- but there's more t

posted 7:51:28pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »




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