Science and the Sacred

Science and the Sacred


On Coming to Peace in the Family of God

posted by Darrel Falk

conference booklet.jpg

Every Monday, “Science and the Sacred” features an essay from
one of The BioLogos Foundation’s co-presidents: Karl Giberson and
Darrel Falk. Today’s entry was written by Darrel Falk.

In my last posting I wrote that my greatest joy is being with family and how sentiment extends to the family of God, regardless of how individual members view creation. At that time, I had no idea that two weeks later, I would feel compelled to write again on the same theme. I knew there was a special event coming up, but what I didn’t know was the extent to which the feelings I wrote about two weeks ago would be experienced to an even greater degree throughout this event.

I have just returned home from a workshop titled “In Search of a Theology of Celebration.” In the history of North American evangelicalism, there has never been a meeting like this. Gathered together at the Harvard Club in New York City were about 55 leading evangelical pastors, theologians, scientists, and other scholars. We were also privileged to have a small number of lay observers, who were especially important in our informal reflections. We spent two days in worship, study, prayer, and fellowship.

The scientists likely all held the position that God has created life in a manner that is consistent with the findings of mainstream science. Many of the others in attendance were not sure what to think, but amazingly–given the schedules of people in leadership positions–they were willing to come from all over the country (and beyond) to spend two days helping us understand the theological and pastoral ramifications of the science which we are so convinced is true. They were so gracious, not just in how they helped to inform us about theology and pastoral care, but especially as they listened to us talk about science. We, the scientists, described the evidence for evolution and attempted to show why it is so important for the Church hear what mainstream biology has to say about creation. They listened, and we were deeply moved by the spirit with which they listened.

The meeting title, “In Search of a Theology of Celebration,” reflects the fact that one thing we all have in common is a sense of awe at the beauty of creation. We all want to celebrate. We all worship the same Creator. There is a sense in which looking at nature through the tools of science makes us all a little like the shepherd, David, as he looked out at nature from his Hebrew hillside in the days before he became a king (see Psalm 19, for example). Like him we, three thousand years later, still find that the heavens declare the glory of God. We find that day after day that which we see through our microscopes pours forth speech, and night after night that which we explore with our telescopes displays knowledge. Truly there is no speech or language, no culture or era, where the voice of God, through nature, is not heard. And, just as David went on to say those millennia ago, we still find that, “the precepts of the Lord are right.” They do give joy to the heart, and they do evoke a response of praise. Nature, especially as we explore it at the level of sophistication we are able to do today, draws us into worship. Hence, the theme for the workshop: the meeting was a celebration. We began each day in song, in reading Psalms together, and in prayer.

We then proceeded to consider a series of papers that focused on issues like the history of evangelicalism’s conflict between faith and science. We discussed the biological data. We considered the barriers which evangelical theologians and parishioners face as they consider the implications of mainstream biology. We talked about how evangelicalism’s approach to the science/faith issue has sometimes served as an artificial barrier that blocks some from entering the realm of faith, and we discussed the harm that is done by those who misuse science to try to advance their own atheistic philosophical agenda. Each of the white papers in which the discussion was grounded will go up on the BioLogos website once the papers have been edited and prepared for uploading so you too can think along with us.

As each day came to a close we considered the majesty and beauty of creation as we looked out through the Hubble telescope and we looked in through the marvelous tools that allow us to see the inner machinery of life’s smallest structures.

The workshop came to a close with much discussion about next steps. We all acknowledged that it will not be easy and will not come quickly. We all admitted that we weren’t sure yet how the evangelical church will eventually be shaped by the findings of 20th and 21st century science. But because of the fact that we are a single family, there was a sense in which it was almost beside the point. We are the church of Jesus Christ. We are bonded in Christ, not in a particular view of how to interpret scientific data, nor even in a particular view of how to interpret Scripture. We are a family. We are brothers and sisters, who live our lives in communication with the same Father. We all want nothing more than for our lives to bring glory to our Father.

The very last thing we did together was to sing a hymn that acknowledges that the Church is not grounded in the fickleness of human frailty. The Church has persevered since those days of its emergence in ancient Israel, not because of human ingenuity, but because it is undergirded by a Foundation with an eternal dimension. I have never heard a richer, more meaningfully sung rendition of “How Firm a Foundation”, than the one I heard as the meeting came to a close. As you read three of the verses we sang together, I suggest you read them remembering we are members of a single family. True, this song applies to us as individuals, but as we live the Christian life, we are not meant to live it as individuals who are all alone. We are a family, a family rooted and grounded in a Foundation that will endure. As you read the following words, keep in mind that they poignantly apply to the Family, to the Church, just as they do to us as individuals.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,

Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!

What more can He say than to you He hath said,

You, who to Jesus for refuge have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,

For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;

I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand

Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,

I will not, I will not desert to its foes;

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

After singing this hymn in a firm voice of solidarity, we got ready to leave and we said our good-byes. My final memory in leaving the meeting room is looking across to the other side and seeing a biologist whom I deeply admire and a theologian I hold in the highest esteem warmly bidding one another farewell. The Church will endure not because of articulate words or persuasive arguments. The Church will endure because of what the Church is. It is the Body of Christ united in love. It is the Family of the eternal God.

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Knockgoats

posted November 16, 2009 at 8:23 am


one thing we all have in common is a sense of awe at the beauty of creation. We all want to celebrate. – Darrel Falk
Ah! The wonders of rabies! The glories of the guinea worm! The beauties of dementia! The special blessings of smallpox, which we so ungratefully rejected!
we discussed the harm that is done by those who misuse science to try to advance their own atheistic philosophical agenda. – Darrel Falk
Right. You were all able to join enthusiastically in the Two-Minute Hate.



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Nancy Janisch

posted November 16, 2009 at 9:38 am


Good to hear about this conference. I think you have found the way forward for Christians- begin with our unity in Christ and then discussion. I’m also looking forward to being able to read the papers at BioLogos. Thanks to all for sharing. The next step? Would you consider doing this regionally so that more can participate?



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Mere_Christian

posted November 16, 2009 at 9:57 am


Knockgoats,
It was pinhededness such as yours that help me reject atheism.
What a shallow way of thinking it is.



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Daniel Mann

posted November 16, 2009 at 10:25 am


Darrell,
We both agree that our Lord wants us to be one in unity. Consequently, you appropriately wrote, “It is the Body of Christ united in love. It is the Family of the eternal God.”
However, this raises the question, “Oneness in regards to what?” We can find a sense of oneness as we root in unison for the Yankees to win. We can also find a sense of oneness at a conference where we pat one another on the back. But is this oneness in Christ that the Bible talks about?
While I have no problem with the fact that you are an evolutionist, you have created a massive problem for true Biblical oneness in undermining the very Scriptures that form the basis for this oneness – banishing the Biblical teachings regarding the physical world (science, history…) in order to achieve some sense of harmony among your various beliefs.
It would be preferable if Biologos was willing to live with a little cognitive dissonance without remaking the Bible. We must all live with some tension between the teachings of the Bible and what our senses and inclinations seem to tell us. Are we also going to modify the Biblical teachings regarding the exclusivity of Christ because it seems to be so undemocratic and offensive? Are we also going to eliminate the teachings of eternal punishment because these aren’t sensitive or tolerant enough?
Perhaps maturity is matter of our willingness to endure some cognitive discomfort and even professional censure?



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dopderbeck

posted November 16, 2009 at 10:32 am


Darrell — thanks for the good report. I’m encouraged! I wish we could hear more about how the theologians and pastors responded and are responding.



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Knockgoats

posted November 16, 2009 at 10:36 am


Mere_Christian,
I don’t for a moment believe you were ever an atheist. The “I used to be an atheist” lie is just too frequent for any such claim to be taken at face value.



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Mere_Christian

posted November 16, 2009 at 10:59 am


Mr. K Goats,
Almost all Christians used to be not a Christian.
Refer to what Jesus had to say on the subject.
Other than that, I do not care what you think about my pre-Christian life.
There’s a reason why those that look out for the sheep treat wolves the way they do.
justasking09@yahoo.com
Like we were advised . . .



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Mere_Christian

posted November 16, 2009 at 11:00 am


“We talked about how evangelicalism’s approach to the science/faith issue has sometimes served as an artificial barrier that blocks some from entering the realm of faith,”
Like I have observed, it does appear that Darwin is a Prophet and Evolution is a doctrine of salvation.
Whatever led up to Adam and Eve standing up as God’s creation, is utterly unimportant. Adam and Eve as God’s own are though. How mankind came to be is only important to a miniscule amount of smock-wearing businessmen. Scientists are doing what they do for a paycheck. C’mon now. I don’t have a problem (as a Christian fundie) believing that we are designed with similar body functions from other creatures that have to and had to live in and on this biosphere, but I have an issue with elevating evolution as a doctrine of belief. And it is clear, guys, that you are doing this.
This evolution issue is important to your outreach program. And, I don’t see you trying to convince anti-Christians, I do see you going after Christians in the Chruch non-stop. That gives me the right to test your motives. As you can see from just the interactions you are having from one atheist, these kinds of people are not going to become believers even if you try to appease them.
“and we discussed the harm that is done by those who misuse science to try to advance their own atheistic philosophical agenda.”
Darwinism IS atheism. As well, the evidence for that is unshakeable. The New Atheists, like the rabble rousers before them use Chucky D. to advance their humanism ad infinitum. It may be hard to listen to R. Dawkins mangle logic the way he does, and it is painful to see C. Hitchens lauded as a impressive thinker as he fleeces the ignorant and hedonist secular masses, but BioLogos should be reaching out to counter the death of atheistic culture and not focus so much energy politely bashing ID Christians.
“The scientists likely all held the position that God has created life in a manner that is consistent with the findings of mainstream science. Many of the others in attendance were not sure what to think,”
Wow, how sophisticated a slap across the cheek is that.
If you B-L guys are going to interact with the historic Christian Church, you need to present evolution pre-Charles. His story is incompatible with that of “our” brothers and sisters in the faith. Now, obviously, Chuck may have agreed with Evo’s before him, but you B-L guys using Mr. Dariwn as a role models is unwise and very inappropriate. Why not use Freud? His belief in God no more happy than the sad Mr. Darwin’s.
“The whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life. — Sigmund Freud (http://listverse.com/2007/12/07/top-15-quotes-by-famous-atheists/)
This from a smart guy so stupid, he kept on smoking cigars as doctors kept cutting away parts of his head for doing so.
Hey, he lasted 16-years with surgery after surgery and lived to be 83 though sans jaw. And I’m thinking not happily ever after. After all. But Freud was highly educated . . . but not all that smart.
Something about yoking yourself with unbelievers huh? Hint, hint?
Now, I’ll let up on the kooky fundy-atheists that troll your blog, but you DO need to answer my brotherly questions about why you advance evolution as such a key to salvation.



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dopderbeck

posted November 16, 2009 at 11:02 am


Darrell, BTW, sounds like that closing hymn was a wonderful moment, but I can’t resist: I does seem like a curious choice of hymn. Isn’t strong foundationalism based in a rationalistic, common-sense reading of the Bible one of Evangelicalism’s problems? “The Church’s One Foundation” maybe would’ve been a better hymn!
And — Knockgoats and Mere_Christian: can you PLEASE, PLEASE take it somewhere else? Nobody else cares about your personal spats, you aren’t going to convince each other, and neither of you are showing compassion or charity towards the other. PLEASE, stop hijacking this forum.



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Mere_Christian

posted November 16, 2009 at 11:05 am


D-Beck
Done.
Notice?
But “I” am the brother here. At least in this blog posting.



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Knockgoats

posted November 16, 2009 at 11:16 am


Almost all Christians used to be not a Christian. – Mere_Christian
Actually, all Christians used to be not-Christians, since no-one is born a Christian. Most Christians become so because they are brought up as such.
There’s a reason why those that look out for the sheep treat wolves the way they do. – Mere_Christian
After which, of course, they fleece them, and when they no longer produce good-quality wool, slaughter and eat them.



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Charlie

posted November 16, 2009 at 11:19 am


I asked this question on the other essay and have not had a response from anyone:
Should a sense of community (something I feel is great for all individuals to have) influence one’s beliefs about creation and science? If there were gatherings where all of your friends and relatives went to discuss evidence, well supported theories, and science in general, would you tailor your beliefs toward science?



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Mere_Christian

posted November 16, 2009 at 12:01 pm


K-G,
(Sorry hosts, hopefully this is my last direct response to this guy)
Jesus as a good shepherd died for those sheep, being killed by the ones wearing the sheep-concealing costumes and those that refused to believe in Him.
It’s believable seeing how secularism and egotism works on the minds and bodies of men when it’s implemented towards others trying to curb it. It ends with misery and death. Violence meted out to those decrying it as it were. Jesus was opposed by some religious folk, but killed by means of the state.
(Hmm, a lesson?)
Something I realize that an atheist cannot understand, the mockery of justice through human will. Tyranny always the result history after history. That atheistic mocking-selfishness is showing in your response is no surprise to me. Who really wants to become a sheep freed by his captor? It is to be expected that a secularized mind limited to its flesh cage cannot grasp the reality of freedom. Permissiveness never brings peace.
Atheism is grasped from those that are haughty and proud and with an ego that clouds all ability to reason. Some ability? Yeah. All? Nope. Selfishness taken to its extreme is the belief that man is king of himself. Doing good for a humanist is to stoke and stroke their own need for self worth. Egotism is so boring a reality. Look at all the mutual back-patting awards shows and shattered lives of the oh-so typical among the worldly.
Of course.
Other than that, I offered my email for our bashfest as a matter of politness to our hosts. I’ll be more than happy to deal with your views anytime you wish. But we’ve been asked to fight eleswhere. Or we could continue on some atheist site somewhere?
I’m just not a perfect Christian yet. I see a snake in the grass and I point it out.
I guess some other Christians see that as being mean.



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Knockgoats

posted November 16, 2009 at 12:12 pm


Mere_Christian,
Jesus was opposed by some religious folk, but killed by means of the state.
After which his followers gained control of the state, and set about murdering and torturing each other and everyone else. From your references to me as a wolf and a snake, I guess you’d be keen to reinstitute the practice.
Who really wants to become a sheep freed by his captor?
You’re happy to be a sheep. I prefer to be a human being.
Doing good for a humanist is to stoke and stroke their own need for self worth.
Wow – a sheep who thinks he’s a telepath!
I offered my email for our bashfest as a matter of politness to our hosts.
Ever since I started commenting here, you’ve been calling them liars. A strange idea of politeness.



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Darrel Falk

posted November 16, 2009 at 12:24 pm


Charlie said: “Should a sense of community (something I feel is great for all individuals to have) influence one’s beliefs about creation and science? If there were gatherings where all of your friends and relatives went to discuss evidence, well supported theories, and science in general, would you tailor your beliefs toward science?”
Hi Charlie,
I hope the following addresses your question:
Goal #1 is that the Church be united in the God who is love. It is not that everyone gets the science correct—not at the start.
Goal #2 is to spur one another on, to encourage each other, as we proceed in our journey towards a deeper understanding of Truth. Working through the biology is a side issue—an extremely important side issue—but it is not what matters most of all on this journey.
John 17 is likely my favorite passage in Scripture. Genesis 1-3 is only my second favorite. We need to be sure we get the first one right. Once we’ve got our priorities straight, we’ll be ready to move on to the second.
Darrel



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Mere_Christian

posted November 16, 2009 at 12:34 pm


B-L brothers in Christ,
Have I been calling you liars?
Or have I been asking for your apologia on why evolution is so important to the Gospel of our Lord?
And Darwinian evolution at that.
I am sending a lot of youth your way, and I am very concerned that your relaince on Charles Darwin as a role model, will create more minds like that of a common atheist than it will a worthwhile believer.
That’s wrong how?



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dopderbeck

posted November 16, 2009 at 12:37 pm


Charlie — I think that’s a great question. For me, the answer is both yes and no.
Yes, in that, as Christians, we see ourselves as part of a body (the Church), standing in historic continuity with the Church of all generations past. There are some basic convictions that flow into and out from this community that we need to repeatedly listen to and hear — things such as the fact that God is the creator, that we as human beings are limited and affected by sin, and so on.
No, in that each of us is responsible before God to live out our own faith as “priests” in response to the Holy Spirit, and in that we live in our own historical and cultural moment. Thus, each of us has to be in dialogue with all the truth that is accessible to us in our own time and place. In our age of highly specialized scientific and technical knowledge, we can’t expect that just anyone will have the training and skill to explain how the natural world works. So, we rightly defer to those with expertise, always in dialogical relationship with the rest of our faith community.
Here’s a good example: if your doctor told you to have surgery for your heart disease and not to pray, and your church community told you to pray instead of having surgery, whose voice would trump? Or, is the “answer” that each voice has some integrity of its own but that you need to make your best efforts to draw them together in a more complementary fashion?



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Daniel Mann

posted November 16, 2009 at 12:43 pm


Darrell,
Sadly, you have already undermined all hope of “Goal #1 is that the Church be united in the God who is love. It is not that everyone gets the science correct—not at the start.”
It is very difficult to understand how unity-in-Christ can be your first goal. For those of us who love Christ and His Word, it appears that you have sacrificed the very basis for that unity (Scripture) in order to pursue and promote your particular and divisive understanding of Goal #2.
As I had suggested above, if you instead had embraced evolution without coercing Scripture into conformity with it, unity would still have been an option. I had suggested that it would have been better to live with your cognitive dissonance instead of forcing Jesus to conform to Darwin.



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Daniel Mann

posted November 16, 2009 at 12:56 pm


Dopderbeck (and Charlie),
You wrote, “In our age of highly specialized scientific and technical knowledge, we can’t expect that just anyone will have the training and skill to explain how the natural world works. So, we rightly defer to those with expertise..”
I must agree with you that, in our specialized age, there is so little that we can and do ascertain for ourselves. Placing faith in the experts becomes mandatory and something I’m often gladly ready to do.
However, we also prioritize our experts. My first source of expert testimony is Scripture. It has stood and transformed for thousands of years. Therefore, my rule of thumb is to not allow less reliable and proven expert testimony to rise above what has already proven itself. I therefore would be foolish to allow the present scientific consensus on evolution to overrule Scripture.



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Glen Davidson

posted November 16, 2009 at 12:58 pm


Have I been calling you liars?

Constantly, by implication and your inevitable dishonesty.

Or have I been asking for your apologia on why evolution is so important to the Gospel of our Lord?

That’s exactly the dishonest attack on the honesty of others that you persist in.
Why did C.S. Lewis accept theistic evolution, at least for a considerable amount of time? I don’t want to get into mindless arguments about whether or not he “would today” or anything like that. He might have, given his poor understanding of philosophy, but that’s not important to the question of why he was honest enough to accept the findings of science in his day.

And Darwinian evolution at that.

Here’s the real question: Why don’t you care enough about honesty to at least deal properly with the evidence?
I don’t in the least think that the theists here believe that evolution is important to religion, what Giberson in particular notes is that it is crucial to doing biology scientifically.
Why don’t you tell Christians how they can do science without evidence-based theories, or finally learn some humility and how to be honest with your fellow believers?

I am sending a lot of youth your way, and I am very concerned that your relaince on Charles Darwin as a role model,

Where’s the evidence for that charge? If not, kindly refrain from dragging Jesus into the mud with your constant dishonesty.

will create more minds like that of a common atheist than it will a worthwhile believer.

If that’s what honesty does, so be it. But it’s a shame to your beliefs if you really think that being honest science is necessarily atheistic.

That’s wrong how?

Because you can’t honestly back up any of your charges, and apparently hope that mere repetition of dishonest twaddle will carry you past your difficulty in making any kind of case at all.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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dopderbeck

posted November 16, 2009 at 2:03 pm


Daniel — and you need experts to help with the assembly of the Biblical manuscripts, translation, exegesis, hermeneutics, and theology — so it isn’t nearly so simple as the Bible being a self-contained expert source in itself.



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Daniel Mann

posted November 16, 2009 at 2:35 pm


Dopderbeck,
You’re exactly right. We do rely on experts all along the line. However, there are some issues or beliefs that are so important and foundational, we have to continually oversee the work of our experts.
Consequently, Paul advised, “Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God” (Romans 14:22). Ultimately, our faith has to be in God and not in the experts.



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pds

posted November 16, 2009 at 3:21 pm


The Design Spectrum
Darrell,
Were any intelligent design proponents at the workshop? Were any invited? I was hoping that there might have been some good dialogue.



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steve martin

posted November 16, 2009 at 5:47 pm


Thanks Darrel. That was excellent. And I really appreciated your last post as well.
Daniel:
I think the point is that, whether we are experts or not, we all approach scripture as fallen and fallible interpreters. And therefore our interpretations can be wrong. Loren Haarsma’s “Two Books Metaphor” slide in his Where is God in Science? presentation (See slide 46) says it all. As Mark Noll stated so eloquently in the “Scandal of the Evangelical Mind”, our problem as Evangelicals is not that we trust our experts too much, but that we trust them too little. Excellent evangelical biblical scholars like Waltke, Walton, Wenham, and Enns have shown why popular Evangelical views of the bible are, at times, pretty much indefensible. I suspect that each of these writers came to the conclusion that sound biblical interpretations of the creation accounts said nothing one way or the other about evolution prior to their considerations of the scientific evidence for evolution. ie. the claim that a certain biblical interpretation was made to “make room for Darwin” is simply false.



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Dan

posted November 16, 2009 at 6:00 pm


Mere Christian,
You wrote “B-L brothers in Christ, Have I been calling you liars?”
Yes you have. In fact you called me an atheist who only says I “believe” in evolution because I want to have abortions. Even though I have told you that I am an orthodox Christian and am pro-life.
You have constantly berated us theistic evolutionists, called us liars, called us atheists, and invented the accusation that we think you have to accept evolution to be saved. Knockgoats has been infinitely more charatible toward us than you have. You should probably think about that.
By the way, just because we see the evidence for a scientific theory doesn’t mean that the originator is our role model. I can accept the evidence for evolution without Darwin being a role model, just as you can accept the finding of relativity without Albert Einstein being your role model.



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Jonathan

posted November 16, 2009 at 6:09 pm


Daniel,
You suggest that Biologos should live with some cognitive dissonance regarding evolution and scripture. I used to hold young-earth views of creation because I thought that was what was required of me in order to remain faithful to scripture. But, eventually my study in the biological sciences led to that view being untenable for me. God is both our creator and saviour, as revealed in scripture. To refer to the common “two books” metaphor, if God is author of both creation and scripture there cannot be any real dissonance between these. I believe the evidence for evolution is sufficiently compelling for it to be considered a fact of God’s creative history the sciences. To ask me to hold it in tension with scripture is akin to stating if scripture were to teach that the sky is green I should ignore the scientific evidence that it is blue. I decided early on that my mind is not capable of holding such tension for long. I decided that perhaps the approaches that fallible mankind utilise in their understanding of both creation and scripture can be mistaken, so I took a second look at both. When I considered evidence such as the Ancient Near Eastern culture to which Genesis was initially revealed, the presence of ancient science in the bible, the literary framework in Genesis, the symbolism of Genesis, the numerological significance within passages in Genesis, I began to consider that, as Dr Lamoureux states, the theological message of Genesis is not negated by the incidental ancient vehicle that was used to communicate that message. Is it just possible that your chosen method of biblical interpretation may not be the most appropriate for passages such as Gen 1-11? Such a view allows integration of God’s two books and allows, for me, a richer understanding of God’s revelation rather than wholly unsatisfactory tension. I would suggest that by advocating intellectual dissonance, you are selling yourself short. I feel it is better to confront the difficulties that can arise from embracing the truth that can be learnt from nature than to deny them. I find it remarkable that some of the most ardent creationists refuse to actually interact with the reality of creation but choose instead to deny or ignore it. In my opinion, some segments of the evangelical church have continued to operate as if modern science does not exist for the past 150 years to their own detriment. Christianity is true and therefore should be able to be integrated with what we understand about physical reality. I applaud Biologos for their efforts to integrate faith and science within the Christian community. Ours is a community which is united under the headship of ONE Lord, like an orchestra under one conductor. Our unity is not therefore dependent upon our agreement on a theological consensus on issues which are not necessary for salvation. I am happy to fellowship with many young earth creationists and, in most instances, they are happy to fellowship with me. However, by integrating evolution into our faith, although there are many difficulties, it is also exciting and leads to an enrichment of our understanding of God and His works.



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Knockgoats

posted November 16, 2009 at 6:31 pm


I can accept the evidence for evolution without Darwin being a role model, just as you can accept the finding of relativity without Albert Einstein being your role model. – Dan
I’d add that as an atheist evolutionist, I don’t take Darwin as a role model either. While he was a brilliant scientist, a benevolent and amiable man, and a staunch opponent of slavery and cruelty, he was also by modern standards racist, sexist and undemocratic in his views (as were all but a very few of his contemporaries), and I do not find his long delay in publishing his conclusions for fear of the opprobium he knew they would attract by any means admirable. He was also, of course, mistaken in many of his scientific opinions. A problem with the fundamentalist religious mind is that it is utterly unable to conceive of living without an unquestionable authority on what is true to refer to – so it mistakenly thinks that those who accept the overwhelming evidence for evolution must have substituted Darwin for Jesus, and The Origin of Species for the Bible.



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Jacob

posted November 16, 2009 at 8:14 pm


Amen, brother!



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任天堂DSi R4

posted November 17, 2009 at 12:09 am


In this world every person wants peace.For that we have to pray to god and do all our work with seriously and good.from that we can get good feelings and remain happy with peace.



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Deb

posted November 17, 2009 at 2:31 am


Thanks so much, Darrel…for the good news of a great event, for sharing your sense of joy and expectancy, for reminding us of what is important. Just makes me jealous I couldn’t be there, as I’m sure many others would agree.
Looking forward to reading the doc’s once you get them on the site.
Thanks again.
Blessings on you!



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Daniel Mann

posted November 17, 2009 at 10:26 am


Steve Martin,
I’m all for being humble about our interpretation of Scripture. I only wish that the evolutionist would remain equally humble regarding the much more difficult interpretations of the material world.
Regarding theistic evolutionists’ interpretation of the Bible: They seem to consistently deny the historicity of Adam and Eve (Pete Enns, whom you mention, wouldn’t answer me regarding the historicity of Adam and Eve!), while Jesus and Paul affirm their historicity. Meanwhile, Biologos has adopted the standard evolutionary line that humankind evolved from proto-humans (hominids), and therefore there is no clear distinction between man and proto-man, but instead, an unbroken line of descent. Hence, no TEs that I’m aware of affirm the historicity of Adam and Eve. They have no place in the evolutionary worldview. Likewise, there can be no Fall nor the introduction of “sin” as Genesis 3 portrays it. Darwin trumps Jesus!



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Daniel Mann

posted November 17, 2009 at 11:10 am


Steve Martin,
I’m all for being humble about our interpretation of Scripture. I only wish that the evolutionist would remain equally humble regarding the much more difficult interpretations of the material world.
Regarding theistic evolutionists’ interpretation of the Bible: They seem to consistently deny the historicity of Adam and Eve (Pete Enns, whom you mention, wouldn’t answer me regarding the historicity of Adam and Eve!), while Jesus and Paul affirm their historicity. Meanwhile, Biologos has adopted the standard evolutionary line that humankind evolved from proto-humans (hominids), and therefore there is no clear distinction between man and proto-man, but instead, an unbroken line of descent. Hence, no TEs that I’m aware of affirm the historicity of Adam and Eve. They have no place in the evolutionary worldview. Likewise, there can be no Fall nor the introduction of “sin” as Genesis 3 portrays it. Darwin trumps Jesus!



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Knockgoats

posted November 17, 2009 at 11:10 am


I’m all for being humble about our interpretation of Scripture. I only wish that the evolutionist would remain equally humble regarding the much more difficult interpretations of the material world. – Daniel Mann
That’s just ridiculous: almost all qualified experts (evolutionary biologists, geologists, physicists, astronomers…) agree that the Earth is about 4.65 billion years old, and that the diversity of life results from entirely natural processes. Theologians’ interpretations of the Bible, however, as we see in the survey reported in today’s post among many other places, differ wildly. Oh, yes, I know – you and those you agree with have humbly got it exactly right, eh Daniel, while all the theistic evolutionists have got it arrogantly wrong.



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Daniel Mann

posted November 17, 2009 at 11:12 am


Jonathan,
I appreciate the sincerity of your search, and you’ve mentioned many things that I can affirm. I agree with you that it is difficult to live with cognitive dissonance and that we should try to resolve it as best we can. I also agree with your metaphor about the two books of God — Scripture and Creation – and that these two necessarily agree.
However, we can get into some trouble when we try to make them agree. I think we need to approach Scripture (and our knowledge about the world) very humbly, especially in view of the fact that we only see in part.
You appropriately ask, “Is it just possible that your chosen method of biblical interpretation may not be the most appropriate for passages such as Gen 1-11?”
I continue to grapple with the text and must admit that there remain many mysteries, especially in Genesis 1 and 2. However, there are several considerations that rule decisively against evolution:
1. The historicity of many of the accounts is simply not up-for-grabs. If the writers of the NT, including Jesus, regarded these accounts as unequivocally historical, I am bound by their precedent! (As much as I might like to figuratively understand Jonah having been swallowed by a big fish, this account is given historical, material status in the NT).
2. The evolution worldview is diametrically opposed to the overall thrust of the Bible. While the Bible unequivocally asserts that God did everything good, but we screwed it up, and it would have to be corrected through the redemption and “restoration of all things,” evolution asserts that it had always been a savage and bloody struggle for survival. This undermines Scripture, including its spiritual teachings.
3. There is no Biblical basis for the distinction between the Bible’s physical and its spiritual teachings. Instead, we find that the theology of the Bible rests squarely upon the history of the Bible, as the theology of the Cross depends on the history of the Cross.
4. When evolution denigrates the Bible’s historical accounts, it takes away the heart from the Bible in defiance of the many Biblical warnings to not add nor subtract from Scripture (Deut. 4:2; 12:42) – a very serious matter. There can remain no coherent faith in view of this type of surgery.
5. If you can’t trust in the historical teachings of the Bible, there is absolutely no reason to trust in the spiritual teachings!
I’m glad that you are concerned about unity. However, you must understand that we find our unity around a common revelation (John 14:21-24), a revelation that theistic evolution has seriously undermined. It is in view of the seriousness of this that I had counseled that it’s better to live with the dissonance than to abuse the Bible. Further, if I failed to warn of this tragic abuse, I would be remiss!



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Beaglelady

posted November 17, 2009 at 11:19 am


Adam and Eve are all of mankind. We have all fallen.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted November 17, 2009 at 11:32 am


Daniel,
You don’t have to be accept the theory of evolution to see the impossbility that man’s sin (ie: a “fall” event) is the cause of animal death and decay. No matter where the remains of dead humans are found, the underlying geologic column always shows that dead animals preceeded dead humans. In some cases the layers in between dead animals and dead humans are separated by geologic features that require millions of years to form.
So even the most elementary understanding of geology indicates that the Garden of Eden narrative can not be taken as history. Heck, the narrative itself can’t even answer its own questions like where Cain got his wife and who was trying to avenge Abel’s death? Do you really expect this ancient story to give us a reliable picture of biological origins or geologic processes? We’ve already that Paul’s understanding of science is limited to only what was known at the time. In 1 Cor 15:36, Paul uses a false understanding of how a seed sprouts to make a theological about Christ having to die before being raised in gloory. Do we toss out the theological because Paul uses old-school science to make it? No. And whether or not Christ had complete scientific knowledge, even he references contemporary views (ie: the mustard seed). Do we toss out Chirst’s teaching on the kingdom of heaven becuase his views about seeds were wrong? No.
When you add to this the evidence from archaeology, anthropology, and molecular genetics, the story of Adam and Eve becomes even more impossible. Now, I know that with God all things are possible, but the question is not what God can or can’t do, but what He did or didn’t do. And to believe that all people alive today descended from Adam and Eve who lived about 6,000 years ago means to accept that God erased all evidence of this and replaced it with evidence of an entirely differnet creation scenario.
Are you comfortable with this level of divine desception?
So what is more probable: (1) that God would go out of his way to decieve us like this using miracles to cover up his miracles, or that (2) God used the common science of the day — even the primitive science of origins — to explain timeless concepts like sin and our need for a savior?



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Janet

posted November 17, 2009 at 11:36 am


Daniel Mann,
I know of one theistic evolutionist who affirms the historicity of Adam and Eve. Please refer to Carol A. Hill’s presentation “The Worldview Approach to Biblical Interpretation and Origins: What It Is and How It Differs from Accommodation”, from the American Scientific Affiliation’s 2009 conference. The above URL has links to all the presentations from the conference.



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steve martin

posted November 17, 2009 at 12:46 pm


Hi Daniel,
There are actually quite a few TE’s / EC’s (Evolutionary Creationists as many of prefer to be called) that affirm the the historicity of Adam. For example, Terry Gray gave an excellent defense in his discussion of Original Sin here.
And to put my cards on the table, my answer to the question on the historicity of Adam is “I’m not sure but I’m leaning towards no”.



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Daniel Mann

posted November 17, 2009 at 1:09 pm


Thanks Janet,
I’ll check out that link, but I suspect that she too compromises the Bible in troubling ways.



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Daniel Mann

posted November 17, 2009 at 1:12 pm


Steve Martin,
I am aware of progressive creationists but not these other folk. I wonder why they aren’t given a voice on Biologos if they can accommodate Darwin, but in less Biblically drastic ways?



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Darrel Falk

posted November 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm


Daniel said: “Hence, no TEs that I’m aware of affirm the historicity of Adam and Eve. They have no place in the evolutionary worldview. Likewise, there can be no Fall nor the introduction of “sin” as Genesis 3 portrays it. Darwin trumps Jesus!”
Daniel,
I have said this before to you, but I’m going to say it one more time. I wish you would spend more time reading and less time writing for a while. If you had done that you would be aware that the TE/EC position is in no way tied to a non-historical view of Adam and Eve. You should read Denis Alexander’s book “Evolution or Creation: Do we have to choose?” Deb and Loren Haarsma’s book, “Origins” is wonderful. I address the issue in my book as well. Have you considered placing a one month moratorium on yourself so that you could catch up on your reading? In all seriousness, we would miss you, but we’d all know that Daniel is on a mini-sabbatical trying to become informed about TE/EC. Once you’ve done that we’d all be excited to welcome you back. What do you think?
Best,
Darrel



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Daniel Mann

posted November 17, 2009 at 2:06 pm


Gordon J. Glover,
You relegate large sections of the Bible to myth and errant Ancient Near-Eastern worldviews in the order to justify setting aside Biblical revelation in favor of Darwin. You state, “Heck, the narrative itself can’t even answer its own questions like where Cain got his wife and who was trying to avenge Abel’s death?”
Simply because there is interpretive uncertainty doesn’t mean that we should regard this account as unhistorical. Clearly, the NT regards Cain as historical (Heb. 11:4; 1 John 3:12; Jude 11). You also charged, “In 1 Cor 15:36, Paul uses a false understanding of how a seed sprouts to make a theological about Christ having to die before being raised in gloory.”
You claim that this is reflects Paul’s errant “old-school science,” and you thereby dismiss the possibility that Paul has something valid to say about the physical world. Here is the actual quote: “How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.” Paul compares the seed sowed in the ground with a dead human body “sowed” in the ground. His point is that both had to go into the ground to achieve their “risen” form.
You might quibble with my interpretation, but even this would fail to prove your point – that Paul was mistaken in what he taught. In fact, your type of reasoning confirms my direst concerns – in order to justify Darwin, you degrade the Bible. However, you retort,
“Do we toss out the theological because Paul uses old-school science to make it? No. And whether or not Christ had complete scientific knowledge, even he references contemporary views (ie: the mustard seed). Do we toss out Chirst’s teaching on the kingdom of heaven becuase his views about seeds were wrong? No.”
Although you are adamant that you are not throwing out Paul’s and Jesus’ “teaching on the kingdom of heaven,” you have undermined any reason to take these teachings seriously. Paul claims that ALL Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16-17 — even his own teachings about the physical world – 1 Thess 2:13). What basis then do you have left to claim that Paul’s spiritual teachings are all God-breathed? None! Your already asserted that he’s untrustworthy in certain cases!
Jesus claimed that Scripture can’t be violated. However, you claim that parts of even what Jesus taught are errant and therefore should be either set aside or changed. Jesus claimed that His disciples should teach “EVERYTHING I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). However, according to your formulation, you would only teach those things that YOU believe are spiritual and important, thereby setting yourself up as a judge over Scripture and over Jesus’ teachings. If you can’t believe what the Bible has to say about the physical world, what type of confidence can you have about it teachings on the spiritual world? Such a faith is self-destructive.



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Knockgoats

posted November 17, 2009 at 2:57 pm


I’ve taken a look at Carol Hill and Terry Gray. Really, the bizarre contortions “theistic evolutionists” go through in a doomed attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable are astonishing. If they ever need employment, there are surely many circuses they could walk straight into!



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Gordon J. Glover

posted November 17, 2009 at 3:39 pm


“Jesus claimed that Scripture can’t be violated. However, you claim that parts of even what Jesus taught are errant and therefore should be either set aside or changed.”
No Daniel, I said nothing of the sort. I merely said that not everything Jesus said was scientifically or historically accurrate — including references to Hebrew myths about human origins. That is a far cry from saying that anything Jesus said should be set aside or changed. When you deliberately misrepresent what we say, it shows that you are either careless in your accusations, or that you are incapable of nuancing concepts that even my 7-year old can grasp. Either does not bode well for you.
And your hippocritical declaration that “Scripture can’t be violated” rings hollow in light of your own unapologetic rejection of so much of what the bible says about the physical world. You have no credibility here. Whenever I confront you with those sections of scripture where the biblical authors describe things as they (incorrectly) thought them to be (like flat earth, sky-dome, geocentricism, etc…), you simply cliam phonomenological immunity. Oh, that’s not science — the author is just using phenomenological languge… So why can’t this same defense be applied to all areas of incorrect bible science?
In that case, Jesus’s description of the mustard seed was simply phenomenological. Now we can agree it has no scientific utility without accusing Christ of errant teaching. Get it? And Paul’s description of a seed having to die before it sprouts is simply phenomenological. And I’m sure Paul’s vivid description of the 3rd heaven is phenomological as well (with a little poetic license thrown in for good measure). And I suppose his claim that the gospel had gone out to the ends of the earth was based not on geographical reality, but how things “appeared” to him at the time. And since it “appeared” to ancient man that all humans extend via their mothers and fathers back to a single human couple, we can ignore (scientifically speaking) any biblical author who refers to this incidental knowledge. This would, of course, include Moses’ description of animals descending after their kind, since that is simply how things appeared to him.
Why not?
And for the record, most TEs/ECs take no position against the historicity of Adam and Eve or that they somehow brought sin into the world. But having said that, it IS physically impossible apart from great miracles of deliberate deception for a neolithic couple like Adam and Eve to have been the original human parents, or for them to be responsible for physical death (unless it was applied retroactively as William Dembski suggests). Even C.S. Lewis understood this. If anybody speaks of Adam and Eve as non-historical, it is this aspect to which they are referring.
Why don’t you take some time to educate yourself on what it is you are so worked up over before making these hasty declarations. I doubt you’ve even read the Q&A section on the BioLogos site. You really are shooting from the hip and it shows.



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Daniel Mann

posted November 17, 2009 at 4:30 pm


Gordon,
Let me just confine myself to one of your statements: “it IS physically impossible apart from great miracles of deliberate deception for a neolithic couple like Adam and Eve to have been the original human parents, or for them to be responsible for physical death.”
I would like to simply make several observations about your statement:
1. You are not only dismissing the historicity of Adam and Eve. You are also dismissing the Biblical teachings about the origin of sin and the Fall.
2. You are also dismissing all of the theology built upon these accounts – the rationale for the Messiah to correct what had been destroyed.
3. You are denying so much of the NT and calling into question the veracity of every other thing that the NT teaches.
4. For you, the present and ever-evolving scientific consensus represents greater certainty than Scripture. Therefore, you use it as a knife to cut away what isn’t satisfactory for you, against the warnings of Scripture (2 Cor. 10:4-5; Deut. 4:2; 12:42; Rev. 22:18-19).
On the basis of what can you salvage those few NT teachings that might be left? What confidence can you have in them? Evidently, not much! Perhaps this explains your defensiveness and the abuse you continually heap upon me. Aren’t you concerned about this? Aren’t you aware of what this reflects about you? Please know that if ever you want to apologize, it would make me very glad.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted November 17, 2009 at 5:05 pm


Daniel,
Once again, you are batting 000.
“You are also dismissing the Biblical teachings about the origin of sin and the Fall.” — Wrong. I don’t think the Bible teaches this any more than it teaches geocentricism or that mustard seeds are the smallest seed. Just because the Bible describes something a certain way doesn’t mean the bible “teaches” the same. These primitive scientific models are used to convey ideas that are more important than the primitive science used to convey them. You can’t dimiss a teaching that isn’t there in the first place.
I’m starting to think this concept is too difficult for you to understand, because no matter time I or anybody else explains it to you, you still don’t get it. And yet, you yourself use the same logic to dismiss other instances of bible science where it suites you. Truly amazing.
“You are also dismissing all of the theology built upon these accounts – the rationale for the Messiah to correct what had been destroyed.” — Wrong again. Our sin and need for a savior is the point of the narrative. Not our biological origins. Would you accuse C.S. Lewis of dismissing scripture and theology? His thoughts on Adam and Eve and sin were no different than mine.
“For you, the present and ever-evolving scientific consensus represents greater certainty than Scripture.” — Hmm.. Let’s review: one revelation was sealed up during the first century when there were only 4 elements on the period table, and the other keeps increasing as our ability to gather data increases. Do you still think epilepsy is caused by demons? Or does the ever-evolving medical consensus represent greater certainty than Scripture for you? As history shows time and time again, it is our increasing knowledge of natural revelation that sheds light on special revelation. Not the other way around.
“Therefore, you use it as a knife to cut away what isn’t satisfactory for you, against the warnings of Scripture (2 Cor. 10:4-5; Deut. 4:2; 12:42; Rev. 22:18-19).” — As do you. As I’ve said time and time again, unless you believe the sun orbits a stationary earth, you have no credibility here. Your claims of “phenomenological immunity” against passages you don’t like could just as well be used to set aside all instances of bible science since ancient science was based on the way things appeared.
There is a log in your eye, Daniel.



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Knockgoats

posted November 17, 2009 at 5:08 pm


Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle.
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice New Testament!



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Gordon J. Glover

posted November 17, 2009 at 5:09 pm


Daniel,
Once again, you are batting 000.
“You are also dismissing the Biblical teachings about the origin of sin and the Fall.” — Wrong. I don’t think the Bible teaches this any more than it teaches geocentricism or that mustard seeds are the smallest seed. Just because the Bible describes something a certain way doesn’t mean the bible “teaches” the same. These primitive scientific models are used to convey ideas that are more important than the primitive science used to convey them. You can’t dimiss a teaching that isn’t there in the first place.
I’m starting to think this concept is too difficult for you to understand, because no matter time I or anybody else explains it to you, you still don’t get it. And yet, you use the same logic to dismiss other instances of bible science where it suites you. Truly amazing.
“You are also dismissing all of the theology built upon these accounts – the rationale for the Messiah to correct what had been destroyed.” — Wrong again. Our sin and need for a savior is the point of the narrative. Not our biological origins. Would you accuse C.S. Lewis of dismissing scripture and theology? His thoughts on Adam and Eve and sin were no different than mine.
“For you, the present and ever-evolving scientific consensus represents greater certainty than Scripture.” — Hmm.. Let’s review: one revelation was sealed up during the first century and the other keeps increasing as our ability to gather data increases. Do you still think epilepsy is cause by demons? Or does the ever-evolving medical consensus represent greater certain than Scriptur for you? As history shows time and time again, it is our increasing knowledge of natural revelation that sheds light on special revelation. Not the other way around.
“Therefore, you use it as a knife to cut away what isn’t satisfactory for you, against the warnings of Scripture (2 Cor. 10:4-5; Deut. 4:2; 12:42; Rev. 22:18-19).” — As do you. As I’ve said time and time again, unless you believe the sun orbits a stationary earth, you have no credibility here. Your claims of “phenomenological immunity” against passages you don’t like could just as well be used to set aside all instances of bible science since ancient science was based on the way things appeared.
There is a log in your eye, Daniel.



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Daniel Mann

posted November 17, 2009 at 5:32 pm


Gordon,
This will be my final response to you. You repeat a lot of general and baseless charges both against me and Scripture – like geocentrism and flat-earth. Unless you provide specifics and cite verse, I can’t address them. Besides, this is becoming very boring, and I have better things to do.



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Daniel Mann

posted November 17, 2009 at 5:36 pm


Darrell,
Your gentle words about unity conceal a sharpened dagger. You dismissively suggest I take a vacation to learn a bit more about evolution. This is equivalent to my telling you to take a vacation to read your Bible. I would suggest that instead you answer my substantive challenges.



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Gordon J. Glover

posted November 18, 2009 at 8:25 am


“Unless you provide specifics and cite verse, I can’t address them.”
I’ve given you a list of all 67 verses that refer to the relative motion between the earth and the heavenly bodies — none of which make any reference to a heliocentric arrangement. I’ve given you many of the 35 passages that refer to the earth as flat, and the only thing that even comes close to being a reference to a spherical earth is one passage in Isaiah, which given it vagueness, is best understood in light of the other 35 passages which are clear (interpret scripture with scripture, right?).
Just as you refuse to consider the scientific evidence against your understanding of creation and instead pretend that it doesn’t exist, you also refuse to consider even those passages of scripture that describe the cosmos in terms of ancient science — and this despite your repeated claims to us that the Bible should always take precedence over modern science! If you do happen to acknowledge that a particular verse contains ancient (errant) science, you simply dismiss it as phenomenological, as if that makes it all better. But what you fail to realize is this: how do we know the authors intended a verse to be phenomenological when they were describing things according to the most up-to-date knowledge of the time in which they were written!
Incredible.
Instead of dealing with any of the data I’ve presented you from both general and special revelation, you pretend I don’t give it to you. And when I call you out on your evasive moves, you whine about me being too harsh and uncharitable. You seem to be on some sort of crusade here, but how can you expect to accomplish anything when you don’t have the foggiest idea of what it is you are so upset about? Even Knockgoats has invested the time necessary to understand much of the Bible and the basic tenants of the Christian faith as a prerequisite to his quest. If you feel that strongly against something, that’s just what you do!
So you don’t like the scientific consensus on origins because you think it is incompatible with Christian orthodoxy? — we get that. And here we are finding ways to understand both nature and scripture so that there is no necessary conflict. And here you are, admitting that you know next to nothing about modern science, yet confident that all of those professional scientist (who are also believers) who contribute to this blog are missing something? How can you even know what we supposedly are missing if you don’t even invest the mental capital necessary to understand our position and the evidence behind it?
As I’ve said before, I went through this same exercise about 4 years ago and realized that I had been mistaken all these years. Whether or not you come to that realization after a period of objective study is beside the point; you would at least be able to speak intelligently on the subject and have something new to offer rather than cutting and pasting the same objections on every new thread.



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Thomas Jay Oord

posted November 18, 2009 at 3:37 pm


Darrel,
Thanks for this profound word of hope. We Evangelicals must learn to learn from one another — across our disciplines and across our theological traditions. This conference deepens my hope.
Tom



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