Science and the Sacred

Science and the Sacred


Layers of a Bubble

bubble.jpgAs I drank my coffee and munched on my toast I felt a little lonely as I adjusted to this new person sitting across from me. She was bitter. The Church, she felt, had lied to her. Having purposely distorted the real world, it had kept her enclosed in the bubble. Upon emergence, she looked back and saw the layers around it, not as a protective shield, but as impenetrable barriers which would forever prevent her re-entry. She would never go back. She had lived in a fairy-tale world. I was no longer her mentor. I was a perpetrator of that which she now regarded as an ephemeral event–a dream in her past.

Darrel Falk begins his paper “Barriers to Accepting the Possibility of Creation by Means of an Evolutionary
Process: III. Concerns of the Typical Agnostic Scientist” (the fourth posted white paper from our November workshop) by describing a breakfast conversation he had with a former student who had abandoned her faith after going to graduate school. As the paragraph above shows, the student felt that the bubble created by some Christians to supposedly “protect” themselves from the world outside had become a barrier to her instead, making it impossible for her to ever return to the faith of her youth.

Lamentably, as Falk notes, the layers of this bubble come not from the Bible itself, but are artificially propped up by our own Christian culture. His paper looks at five of these artificially constructed layers, which unnecessarily serve to block the entry — or reentry — of agnostic scientists into the realm of evangelicalism.

According to Falk, the five layers of this bubble are:

  1. The story of Adam and Eve must be viewed as history
  2. A God who is love would not create through a process that includes suffering and death
  3. Science explains it all–there is no need for God in the history of life
  4. Augustine’s Warning (against using scripture in matters in which a speaker knows relatively little)
  5. As it relates to science and faith, Christians are perceived as people who distort facts and lack integrity

The full paper discusses these layers in further detail, explaining how they come from human rather than scriptural construction. Ultimately, as Falk concludes, it is the task of the church to remove those layers that will continue to have devastating consequences on human life unless steps are taken to remove them now. Until then, many more may find that the bubble which once protected their faith now makes it impossible for them to return to it.

Falk’s essay, along with several other white papers from our November workshop, can be found in our Scholarly Essays section.

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Knockgoats

posted December 1, 2009 at 11:02 am


If you’re going to remove my comment, it would be sensible to remove Larry’s response to it as well – Winston Smith would never have got away with such sloppiness. However, the censored comment was directly in response to the post, making substantive points. At least I take the trouble to read your “scholarly essays”: I’ve seen few signs that many others do, but maybe all you really want is “Great post! How insightful!” Or maybe it was the blasphemy against St. Francis Collins? Do tell.
If you want me to stop commenting altogether, just say so. Put a comment to that effect here, or send me an email, and I’ll post a farewell comment and leave you to stick your heads back in the sand.



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The BioLogos Foundation

posted December 1, 2009 at 11:27 am


Knockgoats,
We recently sent a warning email asking your posts to remain civil, succinct, and on-topic (perhaps you did not receive it yet). In this case, your comment was moderated because its excessive length and overall tone is better suited for a personal blog, not the comment section. If you would like to post lengthy responses like these on a personal blog and link to it on our site along with a shorter comment, that is acceptable. However, posts that are longer than the blog itself turn comment sections into a debate over one person’s response to the topic rather than allowing each commenter to fully address it individually. While in the past we have not fully enforced this rule, we are starting to increase moderation to cut down on the amount of thread “hijacking”.



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Knockgoats

posted December 1, 2009 at 11:45 am


Apologies, your email had arrived, but I had not noticed it. Since I have no interest in commenting if I cannot express myself freely and develop an argument, I shall leave you to rebury your heads.



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beaglelady

posted December 1, 2009 at 11:47 am


KG,
What did you post about Francis Collins?



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Just Asking

posted December 1, 2009 at 11:53 am


Genesis 5 is mandatory to belief in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel), Moses and Christ Jesus.
Adam and his son Seth are historic figures.
Evolution up to Adam is not insulting to anyone of your brothers and sisters in Christ. Though Darwinism is imcompatible with Christian life, you can preach evolution without doing any harm to anyone. But when you attach liberal “ISM” to evolutionarian religion, you get chaos and anything goes and you depart from the Gospel.
You certainly have the right to preach evolution as key to the scriptures, but that theology ends with Adam.
Maranatha
IHS



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Glen Davidson

posted December 1, 2009 at 12:58 pm


What amazes me is that you can get into extensive discussions with IDists/creationists over all sorts of theological questions, while they will almost always ignore the whale-proportioned one, that of being honest.
I mostly leave it up to the religious to decide and/or discover whether their religion is compatible theologically with science.
What’s clear is that the creationists’ religion has to be compatible with dishonesty, or at least denial. How is anyone to respect such a religion?
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Mere_Christian

posted December 1, 2009 at 1:28 pm


Glen,
Look at the blog you are posting to.



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Ray Ingles

posted December 1, 2009 at 2:59 pm


Addressing #5 would go a long way to dealing with #4.



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Amy B

posted December 1, 2009 at 5:51 pm


Biologos,
After your recent moderation of Knockgoats’ post and your desire to enforce your rules more consistently, it makes me think it would be helpful for you to place a statement on your blog about what rules you would like everyone to abide by in the posts. I couldn’t find a statement displayed anywhere. It may reduce the need for moderation and give everyone a clearer vision of what you desire.



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Albert the Abstainer

posted December 2, 2009 at 6:06 am


I agree with Amy B here, and I will miss Knockgoats’ contributions. If length of a comment is a reason for it’s removal it strikes me as arbitrary. I have no difficulty skipping long comments with a simple pull on the mouse. If your action reflects other reasons, being more transparent or waiting for an example which clearly crosses the line with respect to being a personal attack would be better.
I may also have to re-evaluate my participation.



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Mere_Christian

posted December 2, 2009 at 7:52 am


Even a bully can justify his behavior by saying he beats up others because he’s hungry or his mommy doesn’t love him. Etc., etc..
When the bully is finally stood up to, you always get the same reaction. Boo hoo poor me.
I admit that I have posted “crossing the line” replies here at this blog. I have been chastised and warned. Had posts disappear. I don’t cry like a baby. If you’re gunna be nasty, expect the lambs to kick back.
Mr. Typical Atheist, needs to curb his intense desire to inflict as much pain on believers as he can, or stop applying his snappy Skeptic comebacks that he parrots from the likes of Daniel Dennett, the Rational Response Squad or infidels dot org.



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Human Ape

posted December 2, 2009 at 7:53 am


“Science explains it all–there is no need for God in the history of life”
I totally agree and so does virtually every biologist in the world, including virtually all religious biologists. The god-of-the-gaps has been permanently and totally kicked out of modern biology, thanks to Darwin and the thousands of biologists who came after Darwin. I think it’s fair to say the god invention is obsolete.
http://tinyurl.com/ylshbyd



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Amy B

posted December 2, 2009 at 8:56 am


Albert the Abstainer,
I do hope you will continue to post here. I feel you and Knockgoats both provide helpful critical analysis and additional perspectives that are helpful here. I do appreciate that you have managed to keep your comments above the fray and have avoided personal attacks.



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buck

posted December 2, 2009 at 9:25 am


Hello everyone,
I am a senior in college and have am just about to finish a course that examined the strengths and weaknesses of evolution. There are some intriguing evidences on both sides of the argument. I grew up like most Americans being taught both creationism and evolution. I tend to lean towards some form of old earth creationism. But there are a few questions that I have about evolution that if answered would greatly help in my search for the truth. I guess these might have to do with the layers of the Bubble.
1. If evolution is true, what is the basis for humanity to have morals? Whenever we see an animal kill another one in the wild we do not believe that the animal is being cruel or unjust, we simply say that it is part of nature. However, when a person is killed by another person there seems to be an intrinsic reaction of disgust or sadness on the part of those who witness it. Being a Christian I would say this is because humans do indeed have a fundamental value that the rest of nature does not have.
2. My second question is to those whom claim to be both Christian and to believe in evolution. How is it possible, if at all, to reconcile these two beliefs? In my searching for these answers I read Giberson’s book “Saving Darwin” but did not think that his answers were sufficient. In his book he says that sin evolved out of selfishness, which is a necessary part evolution. This seems to take away the historical understanding of sin; that being a rebellion towards God. If Giberson’s understanding of sin is correct I do not see how we are then responsible for our actions, after all we are just acting out of a necessary evolution. I guess I see evolution being so necessary for Atheism that it is hard for me to see how Christians can believe it, but I would like to be proven wrong.
3. My final question is along the same line of thinking. How, as Christians, does one interpret the Creation passages in order to believe in evolution? After all if Genesis is not reliable then all of the other 65 books in it are not.
Thanks you for your time.



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Ray Ingles

posted December 2, 2009 at 10:35 am


buck – I’m not a Christian and won’t pretend to address your second and third questions, but the first is pretty straightforward. See the link right below my name. And, for a graphic demonstration of self-sacrifice in ‘lower’ animals, see here:
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/10/dogs_can_be_good_without_god.php



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Janet

posted December 2, 2009 at 12:47 pm


Hi Buck,
I am a Christion who accepts evolution (I agree with Human Ape that we shouldn’t say “believes in” evolution. Actually I’m not sure what the best term to use is). In response to your questions,
1) As I see it, God intended to create moral beings. Whether God did it through natural processes including evolution, or a supernatural act doesn’t really affect my faith. It seems that some people believe that if there is a natural explanation for something, then that excludes God’s involvement. To me that makes no sense, since God is the author and sustainer of nature. (Layer #3 in Falk’s paper). So, our morals ultimately come from God, even if God used evolution to accomplish this.
2) I haven’t read Giberson’s book yet, so no comment on this one.
3) I’m aware of at least two basic approaches to the Creation passages taken by Christions who accept evolution. Some believe Adam and Eve were historical persons, just not the first humans. Others believe that the Creation passages are allegorical and contain profound spiritual truths, but do not have a historical basis. Biologos doesn’t take an official position on the historicity of Adam and Eve. Also, I think those who do not believe in a historical Adam and Eve would not say that Genesis is not reliable – they would probably say that it conveys the truths that God intended, and reflects, as Peter Enns says, “the human context in which it was written”. You may want to read Peter Enns’s “An Incarnational Model” post on this blog about an incarnational model of Scripture.
At this year’s American Scientific Affiliation conference, there were a couple of presentations which represent these different approaches toward Adam and Eve. One was by Carol A. Hill, and the other by Denis O. Lamoureux. You can find them both at http://www.asa3.org/ASA/meetings/baylor2009/Baylor_paperlinks.html, under Parallel Session I-B.
Also, I’d recommend, if you haven’t already done so, that you take a look at the Questions section on the Biologos web site. It addresses these and many other questions.



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Janet

posted December 2, 2009 at 12:55 pm


Sorry, the comma got included in the Baylor link. Here it is again:
http://www.asa3.org/ASA/meetings/baylor2009/Baylor_paperlinks.html



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Mere_Christian

posted December 4, 2009 at 7:20 am


And, for a graphic demonstration of self-sacrifice in ‘lower’ animals, see here:
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/10/dogs_can_be_good_without_god.php
////
Where in nature are we seeing “animals” (other than humans) setting up memorials to their dead children or parents?
If the heroic “dog” were to discover his victim dead, he would not mourn the loss by becoming a social activist to implement a dog crossing safety program. He would stay a dog doing dog things.
He merely tried to “save” a pack member. Did he scream for help or curse the injustice of it all?
Do you know of any dogs telling the story????
And if his heroics were not rewarded by a pal saved, his life would go on with no signs of moral dilemma other than maybe imprinting that he shouldn’t go into traffic himself for fear of being killed or maimed. That’s why its not a bad idea to smack a dog with a rolled up newspaper when they crap on your carpet. And notice they are happy to play with you ten-seconds after you beat them?
Now, is the fact that your dog stops defecating on your floor after you “punish” it, signs of intelligence the same value as ours?
Are there any Dolphins turning aside to flesh and eating only seaweed because they feel intense guilt for killing fish?
Lions becoming monks? Yes, yes, the lioness and the baby gazelles. Eaten by other lions. But no where did she sue or press charges on her fellow lions.
Monkeys in the amazon advocating for Jaguar rights?
C’mon now.



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buck

posted December 4, 2009 at 10:14 am


Janet
Thank you for response.
I am still not sure if I understand how a completely natural origin of beings can include God. It would seem that if this is the case then it would be robbing God of his sovereignty. In my mind it would be like me getting glory for the Dallas Cowboys winning the game. I may have watched the game, but I had no control over the players on the field. If this is the case why would I deserve praise for the victory? If this parallel is correct then why would God deserve praise for creation? We know in scripture, Romans 1, that He does deserve adoration and that God can be seen in the creation. I also struggle with saying that God is the author of creation or the sustainer of creation if He is not the originator.
Now, all this is void if you believe that God is the originator of nature. And if that is the case then it does not seem like you consider evolution a natural cause, but a supernatural plan that God laid out. Again if there is no intelligence behind nature, then why should we give praise to God for his lack of work?
Thanks again for helping me answer these questions.
I have not had time to follow the other links that were given, but I will.
Hope you have a good day.
Buck.



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Janet

posted December 4, 2009 at 11:58 pm


Buck,
Now, all this is void if you believe that God is the originator of nature.
I do believe that God is the originator of nature, that God “wrote” all the laws of nature from the gravitational constant to the periodic table, and on and on. I think that John 1:3 and Col 1:15-17 support this.
How would you define supernatural? Do you see any act of God as being supernatural? I think of supernatural events as being those in which God intervenes in the world in ways that are not subtle (to use Falk’s terminology in Layer #3), such as Jesus’ resurrection.
Consider yourself – you are an agent who can act upon the world and change the course of events, and you are acting within the laws of nature. I think usually when God acts, it is in more subtle ways like this (Falk used the story of Joseph in Genesis as an example). I don’t think we should say that God acts only in ways that are obvious. For example, miracles can be a matter of timing; they do not have to have obvious supernatural causes.
So I consider evolution to be a natural plan that God laid out. Because God works through natural activities as well as supernatural, it makes sense to me that God could have used the natural process of evolution to make a being in His own image.



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Charlie

posted December 15, 2009 at 10:11 am


With regard to the 3rd layer of the bubble: Science explains it all.
Us scientists humbly accept that this is far from the truth. We would not have jobs if this were the case. It is only when scientists find evidence to support claims that we discover more of the truth. As an ex-Christian, I now ask myself: How can one distinguish natural processes that are yet to be discovered by humanity from processes explained within the Bible (such as what happens after death)? The truth is, it is not possible to distinguish the two so one must either say “we don’t know” or “we will accept what we are told by the Bible, even though there is no evidence to support such a belief” (faith).



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C. T. Driver

posted October 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm


The denial and distortion of science (e.g.: climate change & evolution) by some elements of the Christian Faith are seriously undermining the credence of religion to many people. I can totally understand her position.



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