Science and the Sacred

Science and the Sacred


Removing the Center

2+2=5.jpg

Many evangelical books on science and creation insist that there are major flaws in the idea that life appeared gradually over time. Rather than highlighting minor issues with the theory, they insist that evolution is a corrupt and inherently wrong theory that must be discarded.

However, the problem is that the idea of life evolving gradually over billions of years is not a peripheral theory in science. By insisting on a young earth and literalist interpretation of Genesis, one is calling into question the central tenets of astronomy, astrophysics, nuclear physics, geology, and biology. These theories hold the old age of the earth and the gradual evolution of species as an absolute truth, and they are supported by countless observations and experiments conducted over the past 150 years.

So central is evolution to these sciences, in fact, that in his book Coming to Peace With Science, Darrel Falk compares removing evolution to insisting that 2+2=5. While initially such an idea seems a minor change to mathematics as we understand it, in reality it destroys the very core of mathematical theory. So it is with evolution; its removal would collapse modern science as we know it.

This is not to say, of course, that the centrality of a scientific theory means Christians should never question it. However, as Falk advises:

It behooves the church to be certain that it is resting on a secure, well-reasoned foundation before it starts dismantling the process.

-Coming to Peace With Science, pg. 24

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Sarah

posted October 13, 2009 at 10:29 am


Well said Dr. Falk.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 13, 2009 at 3:50 pm


First of all, not all Darwin-rejectors are also Young-Earth Creationists. Lumping all those with whom you disagree in such a pile would be like me accusing all of you of Dawkins-style atheism.
What about what science says? Science is man’s interpretation of the known world, and is fluid and changing. The Bible is the Word of God, of which not a jot or a tittle shall change. Science has new discoveries; the Bible is the power unto salvation to all that believe.
We do dismantle the process and scrutinize the scientific claims. But we do so within a Christ-centric worldview. Why? Because we have faith. Faith is belief that changes my behavior.
This is not to dismantle science. Rather, it is to put science in its own rightful place, a place of prestige and awe and wonder and discovery. We are not demoting science; rather, we are promoting science. Because our allegiance lies chiefly with Jesus Christ (after all, we cannot serve God and mammon, or any other idol), we must adhere to His commands first and foremost. Anything else is rebellion. Thus, when our scientific models and theories change those fundamental doctrines of Christianity, we must reject the science. And this is the case even if all the scientific evidence points to the contrary.
We are not to be dimwitted fools, blinded by our pet doctrines. Indeed, there is much leeway provided in the Bible for science and other human endeavors. But some doctrines cannot change. Jesus is real, He is fully God, yet fully man, born of a virgin, living without sin, though tempted, bodily crucified, bodily resurrected, bodily ascended, and imminently returning in the same manner in which He left. To deny these, or to explain them away is heresy.
We do not hold to a blind faith! But we do reject anything that impugns our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.



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Glen Davidson

posted October 13, 2009 at 5:23 pm


So central is evolution to these sciences

I know that you kept it all straight previously, but of course evolution isn’t central to ” astronomy, astrophysics, nuclear physics, geology.” It is important to geology for several reasons, most of all to index fossils, but it still isn’t central to geology. Deep time is central to at least astronomy, astrophysics, geology, and biology.
I know it was just a simple mistake to write as if evolution itself was central to those sciences, but considering how badly Ben Stein was confusing evolution and other sciences when interviewed regarding Expelled (he kept complaining that evolution doesn’t explain gravity, and that then other ideas should be allowed–showing how truly ignorant he was about the matter), it would be best to strive to keep evolution in its proper place.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Ken

posted October 13, 2009 at 5:39 pm


Frodo:”The Bible is the Word of God, of which not a jot or a tittle shall change”. This may be true in some ultimate, autograph manuscripts sense, but we don’t have those. The word of God may not change, but our interpretation of it certainly does. One of the ways in which it changes is in terms of the growth of scientific knowledge. I predict that the theory of evolution will not be overthrown, but it could change significantly, in terms of details and/or additional principals. Our job in honoring the Lord “with heart, soul, MIND, and strength” is to figure out the meaning of scripture in new historical contexts.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 13, 2009 at 6:16 pm


Ken, it is not a our job to figure out the meaning of Scripture “in new historical contexts.” Our job is “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8). He has given us His Word, and it alone is sufficient, authoritative, and divinely inspired. To assume anything else is to assume that we, humans and thus His creation, are better and more apt to decreeing absolute truth than He is. How idolatrous!
Why would God give a corrupt version of His Word to literally tens of billions of people over the course of more than 1700 years? Since the present canon was accepted, thousands of theologians, millions of pastors, and billions of Christians have stood upon the truth of the Bible, the Canon, to guide them to heaven. Theologians like Aquinas, Anselm, Luther, Calvin, Hodge, Edwards, Carey, Graham, and Patterson (with the exception of the Romans, who included the Apocrypha), have led countless to Christ with them.
Part of the beauty of the Word of God is that it is applicable today just as it was millennia ago. There is no part of the Bible (when taken in context) that is not relevant for today. Thus, when God says the Bible will not lose a jot nor a tittle, it speaks for then, but it also speaks for now. The Bible is totally trustworthy and will stand the test of time, quite literally. Now, it is true that we do not have the original autographs. So? I cannot see Jesus, but I know He is real. I cannot see God, but I know He exists. Indeed, I cannot see India, yet I know it is there. Not a jot will fall from the original autographs of God’s Word (I think we all agree on that); but how is that relevant for today if we do not and cannot possess the original autographs? Better to trust God than water Him down to the level of human understanding!



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Your Name

posted October 13, 2009 at 10:18 pm


Frodo, you make clear that your love of the Bible is paramount, that all other things should be interpreted through that lens.
What you fail to realize is that your view is as nonsensical as men with 900 year lifespans, Joshua’s long day, and a worldwide flood with Noah and his ark of animals. It is idiocy to view the physical universe through such a lens. It holds your religion up to ridicule, and does more to insure that people who become educated will leave such dribble behind than anything I can imagine. And here is irony: You who are so passionate about the absolute truth of the Bible will drive many away from it.



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Mere_Christian

posted October 14, 2009 at 12:34 am


0 x 0 = Atheism
Evidence based science fact.



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Dan

posted October 14, 2009 at 4:48 am


Mere_Christian,
You wrote “0 x 0 = Atheism. Evidence based science fact.”
I don’t think that anyone who has posted here is an atheist, so I don’t understand your post. You seem to think that all us orthodox Christians are really atheists and you will hurt our feeling by bashing atheism. You posts are very perplexing.
You never responded to my other post. Do you remember yourself saying (in spite of enormous evidence to the contrary) that us theistic evolutionists were elevating evolution as a new doctrine of salvation? You seem to have made that up, but if you just misunderstood something I wish you would explain it so we can correct you.
You are very swift to accuse others of heresy, but you won’t use ANY evidence to back it up. You are the one who has said repeatedly that a person who believes in evolution can’t believe in the God of the Bible, but only deism at best, so if anyone is elevating their ideas about science to a test of true faith it is you. It is you making young earth creationism a contingency of your judgment on who is saved, not us theistic evolutionists.
When I was a Young Earth Creationists (until about 2 years ago) I heard your argument again and again from people like Ken Ham, Henry Morris, and Kent Hovind (whose conferences I attended many times, books I read, textbooks I used in home and Christian schools, and in Sunday School). The basic argument is that if you can’t trust the Bible that the earth is 6,000 years old and everything was created directly by God (which requires a person to reject physics, astronomy, chemistry, and virtually ALL of biology) than you shouldn’t trust the Bible about Jesus being God. Do you see that it is really people like this that are setting up a false gospel? Then when us Christians who like science actually investigate it for ourselves we see that the evidence for evolution and an old earth is overwhelming.
If we took your advice and the people at Answers in Genesis we should give up our Christian faith, which is obviously illogical. Sadly it does happen all the time, I have talked to many people who were YEC and then feel so betrayed by the church over their dishonesty about science that they leave Christianity. That’s what happens when people try to say you can’t be a Christian unless you hold to completely falsified, nonscientific ideas about a young earth and direct recent creation. I know I felt betrayed when I researched evolution for myself. I had to question the entire Christian faith all over again because of people like you and Ken Ham who tell young people that if they believe in evolution they shouldn’t trust the Bible about Jesus. The dishonesty really hurt my faith for a while, now I have wrestled with everything and feel like my faith is much stronger and understanding science has actually HELPED me understand how powerful and wise God is to work so well through his creation. But again I know many people who did actually buy into the disastrous “science, evidence, and reason vs blind faith and God” false dichotomy that some (obviously not all) young earth creationists push on people, sadly especially on kids.
This is why I am so thankful for BioLogos. I think that many of the people, especially smart, scientific young people, that Answers in Genesis and other YEC drive away from Christianity will be shown that a person can appreciate nature, use their brain to try to better understand God’s wonderful mechanisms of creation (physics, chemistry, and biology) and still accept Jesus. While Answers in Genesis only hurt my Christian growth (and dozens of others I have known) and caused me to doubt, God has really used BioLogos to strengthen my faith, and I am certain that Christ will continue to use it in in wonderful ways.
As an aside, you earlier praised Dinesh D’Souza, ignoring the fact that he is a theistic evolutionist (which you condemn as immoral, faux Christians). That is the height of irony, as is the fact that your screen name is “Mere_Christian”, which is an obvious reference to the book written by the theistic evolutionist CS Lewis. Please think about my points. Have a good day.



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Knockgoats

posted October 14, 2009 at 7:29 am


Dan,
Historically, the literalists seem to be right: once you start applying critical intelligence and rationality to Christianity, there is no valid reason to stop. The fable of the resurrection is as absurd as anything in the Bible, and the doctrine of the hypostatic union is necessarily false – thus, far more absurd than anything in Genesis. Moreover the God of the OT is a moral monster – a sadistic, genocidal, pathologically jealous psychopath – and Jesus as portrayed in the NT isn’t all that much better: a bullying cult-leader who breaks up families, threatens those who dispute his claims, and indulges himself in fits of temper. “Faith” is just another word for belief in the teeth of the evidence.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 14, 2009 at 2:14 pm


Apologies, I am dialoguing on a couple threads on this website, and so I might get some arguments confused, and it seems that an above comment is directed at me from some of my comments on a different thread. Still, I will try to do my best at answering your questions.
For those who insist that all non-Darwinists are YEC, reread my first comment. I insist that not all non-Darwinists are YEC, as is evidenced by the likes of Hugh Ross and William Dembski. My advice is emphatically not that you accept a YEC view (though if you eventually decide in favor of that viewpoint, I have no problem with it). It is easy enough to ridicule and attack those with whom you disagree by caricaturing them into the most extreme version you can concoct. But that is devoid of logic and wrong.
Your_Name, why would the Bible record a lie? Why would it say that men lived 900 years if they did not? And why would it mention a great flood that required a massive boat (when Noah could simply have climbed a mountain or evacuated the area) and covered the highest mountain tops if in fact all this is fake? I cannot trust such a book, such a lie. If it is not trustworthy in the smallest of things, how can I trust it with my soul? To answer your “irony”: it is not my job to make people accept Christ. I present Christ as He is, not as what will most likely sate the depraved appetite of my hearer. If the Gospel is a stumbling block them, so be it! Jesus’ message was repulsive to countless Pharisees, but was that Jesus’ fault? Not at all!
Mere_Christian, I think I agree with you, but simple one-line attacks serve our cause no good. Please explain.
Dan, were you directing that to me? If so, I will respond in a separate comment.



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Mere_Christian

posted October 14, 2009 at 5:03 pm


Dan,
Where have I stated I am 6000-years old earther?
Now, what I am referring to is the BioLogos assertion that creationists are erecting a wall, or better yet STUMBLING BLOCKS to salavation (belief in Christ Jesus as the savior) for those that believe evolution.
THAT IS elevating evolution to a doctrine of salavation.



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Dan

posted October 14, 2009 at 5:54 pm


Mere_Christian,
You still haven’t answered my question. BioLogos has not elevated evolution as a doctrine of salvation. They are merely trying to clear aside a few scientific stumbling blocks for non-believers (as well as helping searching Christians who have been told all their lives that they can’t accept science and Christ). You seem to think that telling unbelievers that they can accept scientific evidence for an old earth and evolution and still accept Christ is elevating evolution as a doctrine of salvation. That is illogical. For your wild accusation to be true BioLogos would have to be saying that you have to believe in evolution to be saved. They haven’t, you must have misunderstood something.
You are the one elevating non-belief in evolution as a doctrine that gives you the power to judge us theistic evolutionists Christians as immoral, liberal people who only believe in a deist god. It is very ironic that you are accusing BioLogos of saying the very thing that you have repeatedly said!
Again, you ignored my posts pointing out that you are praising CS Lewis and Dinesh D’Souza who are theistic evolutionists (who you consider unChristian, liberal deists). Is that irony lost on you?
Please share what your beliefs are. You certainly have appeared to be a young earth creationists in several of your comments. Perhaps I did not understand you. I have not met many people that weren’t YEC that condemned all theistic evolutionists as non-Christians like you are trying to do. Maybe you are an old earth creationists fundamentalists, which is a rarer breed of fundamentalists.
Please clarify your beliefs for me, since you are implying that you aren’t a young earth creationists and don’t believe the earth is 6,000 years old (hopefully you aren’t just playing semantics and say “well I believe the earth is 10,000 years old.” ).
So how old do you think the earth is? When do you believe the animals where created? When do you believe man was created? Do you believe in any form of common ancestry? What part of your misunderstanding of evolution leads you to think that a person can not be a “true” Christian and still accept science? Thanks in advance for your time and clarifications.



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Dan

posted October 14, 2009 at 6:14 pm


Knockgoats,
You have a very “unique” view of Christ, even among atheists. Even Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Hitchens wouldn’t call Jesus “a bullying cult-leader who breaks up families, threatens those who dispute his claims, and indulges himself in fits of temper.” I don’t even think that provocateur, non-rationalists Bill Maher would go that far!
I’m sorry but your statements just show you don’t understand Biblical hermeneutics or theology, even as held by educated atheists and agnostic scholars. 99% of non-Christian scholars would laugh at you if you really read the New Testament in that way. Bart Ehrman would be very amused by the lack of understanding your statement conveys.
By the way, the “faith” of many fundamentalists is probably accurately described by your “Faith is just another word for belief in the teeth of the evidence.”
In reality, most thinking Christians throughout history have defined faith in the same way as CS Lewis, who basically said that faith was believing things that your reason has led you to believe is true, despite changing emotion. It isn’t irrational. It is rational despite changing emotions. That’s how I define my faith, and why I feel free to question my beliefs. If they are wrong or irrational I want to know.
I understand that you really probably don’t believe most of what you post, but are just on here trying to get a rise out of the strident fundamentalists like Mere_Christian, but it probably won’t work on most of us more rational Christians. Have fun with the fundamentalists though, they can be very amusing. Please don’t think their responses represent main-stream Christianity thought though.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 14, 2009 at 10:58 pm


Dan, our views certainly do not represent mainstream Christianity because the mainstream is backslidden! Why do you attack us personally? Why call us amusing? Why not rather back up your arguments? Or can you?
Further, Dan, I find it incredible that you, a self-proclaimed Christian, lend more credibility to one who blasts God and Christ than one who is distasteful to your palate based on their fundamentalist beliefs. Which is worse? Over-belief in God, or denying any ounce of goodness in Christ? Take not fellowship up with the hecklers!
Repent and believe in Him who is truth! The Truth shall set you free! Believe! Human rationality is legitimate as we are created in the imago Dei. But it is tainted because we have chosen to sin! Relinquish your unbelief!



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Dan

posted October 15, 2009 at 5:20 am


Frodo,
What beliefs do you want me to back up? I’m afraid you need to be a little more clear.
I find it funny that you think basically all Christian’s are backslidden. Do you think Tim Keller, Alistair McGrath, Ken Miller, Frances Collins, or John Polkinghorne are all backslidden? Do you think that Billy Graham, who has said there is no conflict between evolution and Christianity, is also backslidden? Do you think that Christians that believed in theistic evolution like CS Lewis or BB Warfield were backslidden? By the way, BB Warfield is quoted glowingly on Biblical inspiration by most traditional, conservative Christians (including in both my systematic theology books, by Wayne Gruden and Charles Ryre, who are both YEC), they ignore the fact that even though Warfield is considered the most able and brilliant recent defender of the inerrancy of Scripture he also accepted evolution.
When did I lend more credibility to people blasting Christ? I specifically said that even most atheist scholars would find Knockgoats statement ridiculous and ignorant. How do you interpret that as me agreeing with him bashing Christ? I mocked his statement, showed him that it was ignorant, and then you interpret that as me agreeing with him. I don’t understand.
You also call me to believe in Christ; again I don’t think you are reading me clearly. I really am astounded by your statement. I know I am not the clearest communicator, but people usually understand me reasonably well. You and Mere_Christian seem to read the exact opposite of my true beliefs into whatever I say.
I will try to be very clear. Please read this portion of this post carefully, and understand that if you see any heresy you are probably reading the exact opposite of my intended meaning into this portion (which you continue to do).
I will try to be clear. I am an orthodox, evangelical Christian who accepted Christ as my personal Savior 12 years ago. I believe in everything in the Apostle’s Creed. I am not some flaming liberal, but have very conservative Christian moral beliefs. I was a young earth creationist for many years, so obviously I don’t think you have to believe in evolution to be saved, as Mere Christian continues to falsely invent. You berate me for my unbelief and tell me to turn to God, when I have repeatedly said that I do believe in God, hold to the traditional Christian doctrines, and consider Jesus Christ my personal Savior.
I hope you can understand this post. I really don’t think I can make my beliefs much clearer. I do thank you for your posts though. I think you really don’t understand what we are saying and are honestly confused. I think Mere_Christian might be pretending to be a fundamentalists for a joke, which is why I have been a bit harsh with them. I can’t believe that he/she really has that poor of reading comprehesion, logic skills, dishonest debate tactics, and hateful of an attitute. Please contunue to post. I think you will learn that us theistic evolutionists aren’t as liberal and evil as you seem to think.
I’ll be happy to try to clarify anything you want me too. Thanks.



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Knockgoats

posted October 15, 2009 at 7:28 am


reswat,
It’s a technical glitch, and a very annoying one, which has been going on for weeks. It took me four attempts to sign in today. Try again. If I don’t see a response from you there I may email, but I’m not promising.



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Knockgoats

posted October 15, 2009 at 8:20 am


Apologies for the accidental double post.
Dan,
Jesus breaking up families:
Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth
10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
10:36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
Luke 5:8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
5:9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:
5:10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
5:11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
Luke 9:59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
9:60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
9:61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children,and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Jesus threatening those who dispute his claims:
Matthew 10:14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet
10:15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
Matthew 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 11:20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
11:21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
11:22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
11:23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
11:24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
Luke 13:23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,
13:24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
13:25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
13:26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.
13:27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
13:28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
Jesus’s fits of temper:
Mark 11:13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet
11:14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
11:15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers,
11:16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. 11:17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
11:18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
11:19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.
11:20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
Mark 3:28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:
3:29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.
3:30 Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.
John 2:13 And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2:14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
2:15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;
See also the threats above.
Biblical hermeneutics: a.k.a. special pleading, denying the plain meaning of the text when it is unpalatable.



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Knockgoats

posted October 15, 2009 at 9:10 am


CS Lewis, who basically said that faith was believing things that your reason has led you to believe is true – Dan
Your reason cannot possibly lead you to believe doctrinally orthodox Christianity is true, because it is necessarily false. The doctrine of the hypostatic union states that Jesus was “wholly God and wholly man” or “true God and true man”. However, “God” and “man” have incompatible attributes, so nothing can possibly be both.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 15, 2009 at 12:13 pm


Knockgoats, I suggest you cease posting as your anti-Christ anti-Christian and anti-God attitude finds no support from most of us. Dan, I realize that you criticize Knockgoats at the beginning of your post, but then you throw him a bone:
“I understand that you really probably don’t believe most of what you post, but are just on here trying to get a rise out of the strident fundamentalists like Mere_Christian, but it probably won’t work on most of us more rational Christians. Have fun with the fundamentalists though, they can be very amusing. Please don’t think their responses represent main-stream Christianity thought though.”
Our responses do NOT represent mainstream Christianity, and for that I am saddened. If most Christians were solid (on every issue, and also evangelization, not just creation) on every issue, then this world would be turned upside down. Unfortunately, not all who say “Lord, Lord” will enter. I don’t think “virtually all” Christians are fakes, but many are.
Dan, could you go step-by-step your view of creation, Adam and Eve, the Fall, and the Flood? What do you hold to as true, and what not?



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Knockgoats

posted October 15, 2009 at 1:28 pm


Frodo Underhill,
If the blog owners want me to stop posting, they have only to ask. Why on Earth should I do as you say?



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Dan

posted October 15, 2009 at 4:50 pm


Knockgoats,
Again, you have no understanding of Biblical hermeneutics. The fact that you think hermeneutics means special pleading really just shows you don’t understand theology at all. Hermeneutics is basically just the philosophy of how to study the Bible. Atheist and agnostic scholars also have a hermeneutic on how to interpret the Bible. I’m sorry, but just the fact that you don’t know what hermeneutics is doesn’t mean it is only a Christian idea.
Hermeneutics looks at things like history, author, and type of literature when deciding how to understand a passage. Every atheist scholar does it. Jesus often spoke in metaphorical terms, that is why hermeneutics is important. You take everything so literally it is ridiculous; you probably think Jonathan Swift was serious in his “Modest Proposal.”
Again, like I said before, your ideas about Jesus are laughable even to atheist and agonistic scholars. Even Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens would strongly disagree with you. Think about that. Your misrepresentation is almost as simplistic and ignorant as creationists saying “I’ll believe in evolution when a chimp gives birth to a human.” It really just shows profound ignorance. So does your post.



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Dan

posted October 15, 2009 at 5:39 pm


Frodo,
This is a blog, so I can’t really go into great detail on my views on everything, but I’ll try to give you a “quick” overview.
First, we know from science that the earth is very old, and evolution and genetics has shown irrefutably that common decent is true. Obviously this SHOULD change a person’s interpretations of a few passages in the Bible. I don’t think the Bible is trying to teach science, as I have studied the Scripture I find it indisputable that the Bible speaks of a three-tiered, flat earth, with a firmament upon which all the stars are fixed. (Look up firmament in Hebrew and see what the word meant to ancient people, it only makes sense in the context of a solid sphere in which the heavenly bodies are fixed, which is made clear in Job and the Tower of Babel story). This was the common cosmology back then, and God was interested in communicating his power and care, not in correcting all the science of the day.
If I only believed about science what I thought the Bible taught I would believe in a three tiered, flat earth that was stationary. So, obviously modern science should change our interpretation of some things. We need to understand that you can trust the Bible, but still realize that our interpretations of it can be wrong. When we interpret the Bible to be teaching something particular about science we can use science to see if our interpretation is obviously wrong. Obviously, we can’t use the scientific method on non-scientific question (like does God exist?, or was Jesus God?).
In Genesis 1 and 2 God is set up as creator of everything physical, which directly refutes the Egyptian idea of a moon god, a sky god, etc which the Hebrews would have been very familiar with. I think these are the main point of Genesis 1-2: Nature isn’t god, God is the creator of nature, God cares for us, God wants a relationship with us, but we rejected him. I personally don’t think that there was a literal Adam and Eve (although many theistic evolutionists do), but that the story shows us we are all selfish and rebellious at heart, and turn away from God even when we should be happy.
Genesis 1 and 2 to me were obviously never intended to be taken literally. I mean, there are two different orders of creation in 1 and 2. Either Moses was a very illogical story teller or he realized that by telling the story very differently in back to back passages people should get the idea that it wasn’t a literal, chronological, historical story but poetry through which God was communicating much more important things (like his power and love, and our sinful nature) than simply the age of the earth, or the exact order of creation, or if common decent was true.
There is no evidence for a recent global flood. The amount of water needed does not make sense, the “Flood Models” I have read all violate the laws of physics and would have created so much thermal energy that the water would have boiled. Also, the idea of a penguin shuffling down to the ark, and then shuffling back up to the arctic (through deserts) after the flood is humorous. You also have to accept a ridiculous amount of evolution to have occurred in only a few thousand years to explain why island species look so different than mainland species, or how different old world animals are from new world. Biogeography (the distribution of life) makes zero sense in light of Noah’s flood being global and recent. Not to mention that the topography and fossil record decisively shows that there was never a global flood.
So I believe that the flood talked about in Genesis probably was a very large, devastating regional flood. God protected Noah, his family, and his livestock on a large boat. The spiritual lesson is that even though we all deserve death, because of our evil nature, God will still be merciful and provide a way for us to escape judgement.
Hope this clears up my beliefs a little. I believe God is the creator of everything, and that he largely set up natural laws to accomplish his purpose of creation. I believe that God wanted a relationship with us, but that we turned away. I believe man is born sinful. I believe God protected Noah.
I also believe that Jesus is God, that he died and resurrected, and that through his sacrifice we can have eternal life and be reconciled to God like we should have always been.
Hope you understand that I couldn’t go into tons of details because of the venue. Also keep in mind that many theistic evolutionists would probably disagree with at least some of my interpretations of Genesis. We aren’t a homogeneous group. And Augustine (1500 years before Darwin) said that we should be very careful when interpreting Genesis, because it is very confusing and many different interpretations are possible. Augustine also said that we shouldn’t be so adamant for one interpretation of Genesis that doesn’t fit with the way the world works that we cheapen the gospel and make a mockery of the Bible. Hope this shows you that for thousands of years people have debated exactly what Genesis is teaching. It isn’t as straightforward as some try to make it.



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Knockgoats

posted October 15, 2009 at 5:56 pm


Dan,
I see you have no substantive arguments, merely an appeal to authority. You are in fact at least partly wrong about Dawkins, who makes (using a quote from Julia Sweeney) exactly the same point as I did about Jesus breaking up families (The God Delusion, p.250). Many atheists and agnostics are indeed unable to see the nasty side of the Jesus of the Gospels (of course we know next to nothing about the man himself), because of the immense weight of Christian propaganda about his alleged moral perfection. Hermeneutics in the hands of “liberal” Christian apologists is indeed special pleading: whenever something is obviously false in the light of modern knowledge, or morally disgusting, it becomes “symbolic” or “metaphorical”.



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Dan

posted October 15, 2009 at 6:43 pm


Knockgoats,
An argument from authority is better than an argument from non-authority. I pointed out that your mischaracterization disagrees with virtually all scholars, Christian and non-Christian (as well as traditional readings of the New Testament). Your reply is that basically all scholars are wrong and you know better than them. Who are you accusing of special pleading again?
Your argument that I only argued from authority is the same one that creationists use. I will tell them that 99.9% of scientists believe evolution is true, and then they will say “that’s an argument from authority, besides my interpretation of the Bible is better than the experts’ scientific data.” The problem is that if 99.9% of experts in a field believe something, it is a good indication that there might be something to it. You dismiss all the other atheist scholars (cause you are more “enlightened”), maybe it should occur to you that if virtually all atheist scholars and most atheists disagree with your wacky ideas about Jesus you might be ignorant, not more enlightened.
I read “The God Delusion” and if you think that Dawkins really has the same view of Jesus as you, you have very poor reading comprehension indeed. Even the provocateur, outspoken religious critic, and ir-rationalists Bill Maher (see his beliefs on Western medicine) doesn’t go as far as you. Do you consider yourself a rationalist? Because I find your lack of logic, and use of creationists-style arguments, rather humorous if you consider yourself a rationalist.
Ironically, your post is a perfect example of special pleading. You were shown to be ignorant, but now are saying that you are more enlightened than all other atheist scholars, that’s why they don’t agree with you. Too funny.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 15, 2009 at 9:56 pm


Dan, thank you for the kind and detailed response. I understand that the venue also curtails detail. Unfortunately, do to various things, I will not be able to continue posting much more. Thank you lots though for your description. You have not converted me, but I rarely object to hearing the case of others. I disagree with you on theological and scientific terms. A local Flood seems no more significant to me than, say Katrina, which, though disastrous, was far from what I think God was trying to communicate to mankind. But I digress, and continually listing objects with little possibility of replying to your counter-objections is unfair. May the Truth set us free!
Knockgoats, I did not tell you to stop posting, I only suggested it. You are free to post just as I am.



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Knockgoats

posted October 16, 2009 at 7:17 am


Dan,
I showed that your view of what Dawkins says is wrong on a specific point – one of the three I made; I did not claim he holds the view I put forward. You have yet even to attempt to show where the obvious interpretation of the verses I quoted is wrong, or to make specific citations to scholars who do so. I do not accept the parallel between evolutionary biology and Biblical hermeneutics: for the former there are objective ways of determining who is right on disputed points, but for the latter, there are not – as is evident from the vast range of views among Biblical scholars on how to categorise just about every part of the Bible.



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Knockgoats

posted October 16, 2009 at 9:23 am


Clarification: of course, all but a few fundy-fringe Biblical scholars agree that most of the OT is not historically accurate, but not on the “messages” most of it is supposed to convey, or where these came from. The abandonment of claims for historical accuracy is the result of scientific advance and Near Eastern archaeology, not hermeneutics. With regard to the NT, there is far more dispute about whether there is any attempt in the gospels to provide an accurate narrative: compare N.T.Wright and John Dominic Crossan (both self-defined Christians) on the resurrection.



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Knockgoats

posted October 16, 2009 at 9:56 am


what I think God was trying to communicate to mankind – Frodo Underhill
Maybe one of the senior angels should point out to him that drowning people isn’t the best way of communicating with them? Why not just move the stars about to form a nice message in Hebrew?



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Dan

posted October 17, 2009 at 4:37 am


Knockgoats,
I find it amazing that you don’t think that there is an objective way for scholars to read a historical book. Again, you are using creationists arguements. You seem to think that if there is a debate amoung scholars it must mean that we can’t tell who is right.
By the way, hermeneutics is not a biblical term, but a historical and philosophical term. It applies to the methods that historian and social scientists use to interpret ANY book. It’s a bit amusing that you are bashing hermeneutics, evidently not even knowing that it is a term that is used far outside of just Biblical interpretation, but to ALL books.
Your dismissal of scholars and claim to special enlightenment (better than the non-believing scholars like Bart Ehrman and others) is really astounding. You ask me to reference specific scholars that disagree with you (even though I already did), but you already showed that you have a huge confirmation bias in this matter.
I can’t argue with a person who is a self-appointed Biblical scholar who thinks he is more enlightened that all the atheist scholars (who you believe have been tricked by those rascally Christians.) You have already admitted that you won’t even listen to atheist scholars that disagree with you, because you have the truth and they are deluded. I’m afraid I’ve found it pointless to debate with someone who already told me they won’t listen to any evidence that contradicts their own beliefs.
Maybe since you think you have the truth and the Christian and atheist scholars are all wrong (like you concluded), you should write a book and straighten them out on the proper interpretation of Jesus and the Gospels.



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Knockgoats

posted October 17, 2009 at 6:27 am


Dan,
I am well aware what hermeneutics means, and that it covers other works than the Bible: I first came across the term in 1978, IIRC, during a first-year graduate course in philosophy of mind. However, without some external reference, we do not have any way of knowing we have arrived at the real intentions of the author, even if we have happened to do so: we see this as clearly in literary as in Biblical criticism – for example in the massive Shakespeare-criticism industry.
You ask me to reference specific scholars that disagree with you (even though I already did)
I asked you to: “attempt to show where the obvious interpretation of the verses I quoted is wrong, or to make specific citations to scholars who do so”. Evidently, you can’t.
I’m afraid I’ve found it pointless to debate with someone who already told me they won’t listen to any evidence that contradicts their own beliefs.
I have told you nothing of the kind. I have asked you for substantive arguments, rather than arguments from authority. Evidently, you have none, so you are right to conclude that it is pointless for you to debate the matter.



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Frodo Underhill

posted October 17, 2009 at 3:18 pm


Knockgoats, you start with the assumption that you know what is better than God does. But remember, His ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts above our thoughts. True, the imago Dei allows us to pry a little into God’s ways, but we cannot say “God couldn’t do THAT!”, or “That’s pretty stupid, God.” When we start with the assumption that we know better than God, we really have no business with the Bible, for with that assumption comes the presumption that we in fact are higher than God. The result is not pretty, as Satan can testify to.



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Knockgoats

posted October 17, 2009 at 4:02 pm


Frodo Underhill,
I don’t start with the assumption that I know better than God does, any more than I start with the assumption that I know better than Gandalf does. Comparing one’s acumen with that of fictional characters is rather pointless, don’t you think?



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