Home » Evolution, Intelligent Design, Religion, Science, theistic evolution » The End of Christianity now available at Amazon.com

The End of Christianity now available at Amazon.com

Although its official release date is not until November 1, THE END OF CHRISTIANITY is now in stock and being sold at Amazon.com (go here). Even though argument in this book is compatible with both intelligent design and theistic evolution, it helps bring clarity to the controversy over design and evolution. In particular, it resolves the problem of dysteleology and natural evil by introducing a conception of the Fall that is theologically sound and also compatible with modern science (i.e., with standard astrophysical and geological dating that places the earth and universe at billions of years old).

THE END OF CHRISTIANITY

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

43 Responses to The End of Christianity now available at Amazon.com

  1. I realize it might not be a topic of conviction in the book, but..

    ..Does it have a bias on the age, young or old, of the earth or universe?

    ..Does it promote or pay credence to any of the dating methodoliges?
    (ie.whether supporting old or whether supporting young)

    For some reason, the description above gave me a slightly different impression than my prior impression, but still sounds interesting.

  2. Brilliant. This book looks really interesting. Do you know when it will be available from Amazon UK?

    [The Paternoster version, for distribution in the UK, has been printed -- I have a copy -- so it should be available shortly. Go here to pre-order. --WmAD]

  3. Probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience; . . . Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the “days” of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know. ~ James Barr Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University in England

  4. 4

    JGuy: The problem the book addresses is how to maintain a classical conception of the Fall (as the occasion for all evil in the physical world, both natural and moral) if long ages of animal suffering and death precede the Fall. My approach, in a nutshell, is to argue that just as the salvation in Christ at the Cross saves backward in time as well as forward (the OT saints were saved in virtue of the Cross), so the effects of the Fall can be retroactive. This, it seems to me, preserves the most important thing that young-earth creationism has attempted to preserve, namely, that the sin of Adam brought ruin on the human race and on the physical world.

    Bevets raises an interesting point about what the writers of Genesis intended to convey. Since ultimately the inspiration behind the Bible is God himself, it seems that what’s ultimately important is not what the writers intended but what God intended and what the text actually says. It is true, however, that the history of interpretation on Genesis 1-11 has, until the rise of modern science, been overwhelmingly a young-earth interpretation (I trace this up through the 16th century, showing that even Thomas Aquinas was a 6-day young-earth creationist). As I note in THE END OF CHRISTIANITY, I would be a young-earth creationist in a heart-beat if I didn’t see the evidence for an old earth as so strong.

    The young-earth old-earth debate, however, is only about 20 percent of the book. Most of it will be of interest to Christians of either stripe and even to theistic evolutionists. For the front matter to the book, go here. For the endorsements, go here.

  5. 5

    Sorry bevets,

    Recent scholarship has shown that the text does not mean that God even created, much less created in six days.* Go here for the story:

    http://www.firstthings.com/blo.....and-earth/

    *sarcasm

  6. Bill I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one. How can we have any certainty if our dating methods when many of our assumptions are variable i.e. the speed of light, etc.

  7. vpr: You’ll need to read part II of the book. You’re right about not being able to have certainty in these matters — that’s why I am always willing to look at young-earth arguments to see if I’m missing something. But certainty seems the wrong epistemic category here. What is the evidence and of what does it convince us? I personally am convinced of an old earth. Might I be wrong? Of course. But we go with our best understanding at the time.

  8. Barry: Thanks for the link to the First Things article. The debate whether Genesis teaches that God created the world from nothing versus whether it teaches that God merely stepped into an already existing world is actually longstanding. I remember studying the history of Genesis 1-3 interpretation in depths at seminary (I took a whole course on it). As I recall the medieval rabbis disputed this question. We see this dispute implicit in contemporary translations, such as the NRSV, which starts “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth…” The word “when” suggests that Genesis 1 is describing an “in medias res” creation rather than a creation from an absolute beginning, as Genesis 1 has traditionally been interpreted. In any case, the Church Fathers and orthodox Christian tradition have been clear that Genesis 1 denotes an absolute beginning with a creation from nothing. The Septuagint translation of the Hebrew is consistent with this understanding.

  9. So there was suffering and death for millions of years before the fall but this was “caused” by the fact that the fall was going to happen? Seems like this allows the fall to be as close to not actually existing as possible.

  10. Dr. Dembski,

    I read Chapter 1 of your book when you made it available online, and found it very interesting.

    What perplexes me about you and ID is your transition from characterizing the intelligence of the Designer of life as non-natural, as Phillip Johnson did, to characterizing it as natural. Does your book explain your change in perspective? In any case, would you please explain it to us now?

  11. I was able to get the book at Baker Book House last Friday. I think the retroactive effects of the Fall would explain it. We could just say that creation had been subjected to futility from the beginning, because Adam and Eve rebel in the garden of Eden (an island paradise in a fallen world). If Behe’s argument is correct, then things like the malaria parasite were actually designed, not just devolved. In that case, Satanic design seems the most likely explanation. Prof. Dembski suggests that Satan was given authority of the Earth retroactively, because of the Edenic Fall. I think C.S. Lewis would have offered a different explanation of why Satan had authority over Earth. But either way, we have a planet that in some way is under the dominion of a fallen angel, which would explain designed natural evil. I applaud Prof. Dembski for adopting Lewis’s view, which is certainly against today’s “mental environment.”

  12. Mr. Dembski, are you familiar with the work of Mr. Barry Setterfield dealing with Variable Light Speed?

    http://www.setterfield.org/

    Also, thought you might find these notes of interest:

    http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typ.....sis-1.html

    http://www.heardworld.com/higg.....ent-193924

    http://science-and-values.blog.....demic.html

    Full disclosure-I am a Young-Earth Creationist (not the AiG/ICR brand, though), though two of the above posters are not, making their remarks all the more interesting.

    I will gracefully bow out now.

    One more bone to toss for the road:

    http://www.creationbiology.org/

  13. My approach, in a nutshell, is to argue that just as the salvation in Christ at the Cross saves backward in time as well as forward (the OT saints were saved in virtue of the Cross), so the effects of the Fall can be retroactive

    It hurts my soul and I’ll let Angelus Silesius speak for me:

    Had Christ a thousand times,
    Been born in Bethlehem,
    But not in thee, thy sin
    Would still thy soul condemn.

    Golgotha’s cross from sin
    Can never ransom thee,
    Unless in thine own soul
    It should erected be.

  14. Bill, thanks for the clarification.

    is to argue that just as the salvation in Christ at the Cross saves backward in time as well as forward (the OT saints were saved in virtue of the Cross), so the effects of the Fall can be retroactive.

    Without spilling the book into the comments section, I am curious as to how you might make that argument. It seems we can consider it – perhaps even intuitively – but I am curious as to how we could derive [logically] that Christ’s work, which renews, and the first sin which brings death are equally transcedent in time? [If transcendent is the right word here]

    If equally transcendent, it almost seems like a paradox, if it weren’t for the fact Christ’s work overcomes sin.

    BTW: I noticed I sometimes have deslexia in the way that I order my sentences. By the way :P

  15. Bilboe says:

    If Behe’s argument is correct, then things like the malaria parasite were actually designed, not just devolved. In that case, Satanic design seems the most likely explanation.

    I’ve considered this option too. But it doesn’t seem to square with John 1:3; ‘Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made’.

    This verse seems to be saying that God, through Christ, created literally everything that has been created, including parasites, predators, and virus’s.

    I’ve heard some people argue that natural evil isn’t actually evil, and that to say it is is just to impose a human moral category on an amoral part of the world (i.e. animals and plants). There seems to be something in this, since God seems to delight in his predatory creations in the book of Job. But I agree that this makes God seem very brutal…

  16. 16

    Green:

    It would jive with John 1:3 if Satan created diseased pathogens but could only make them derivative upon the original creation. Thus, if Satan created the TTSS by stripping down a bacterial flagellum, is he really creating in the same sense that God did? Not really. It seems quite consistent with a picture of evil as derivative upon good.

    At any rate though, I think the only place in the Bible that supports Satan as the doer of evil is in the first few chapters of Job. The rest of the Bible, correct me if I’m wrong, usually places the “blame” for “natural evil” on God Himself. It’s definitely an interesting question though.

    Dr. Dembski:

    Earlier I believe you posted a comment that this book is neutral with regard to the age of the earth. As I read some things about it I realized the only purpose of the book is to reconcile classic theology with an old earth, so I was somewhat skeptical that the book doesn’t take a position. Thanks for clarifying.

    As a YEC, I never really believed the only reason or even the biggest reason for that view is to preserve this classical theology. In fact, I can’t really recall that ever entering my thinking. Others might think that way, but I assure you I do not. My own reason is quite simply that when asking a historical question, the oldest accounts are quite literally the closest to the truth. It seems rather arrogant to me to trust the modern interpretations of the evidence rather than to trust the accounts of people who were much closer to the actual events than we were. Especially considering the ridiculous level of error in modern science in relation to truth in the absolute sense.

  17. 17

    Of course, I’m willing to accept an old age and common descent and all that for purposes of conversation, but when it comes down to what I actually believe, I’m betting on Genesis.

  18. 18

    Also for my first comment, I remember C.S. Lewis wrote somewhere that he thought the books of Job and Jonah were probably not historical accounts. I don’t remember the reason, it was probably in some obscure essay somewhere. At any rate, I’d probably agree with Job but not Jonah. Job seems a lot more like a contrived philosophical work, wherein Satan takes the blame for the bad things that happen to Job instead of God, though God allows it. In Jonah, however, God is the one who puts the bug in Jonah’s shade tree.

  19. 19

    I think that reference may have been in Reflections on the Psalms but I’m not certain. Psalms is included in the list of non-historical, non-literal interpretations. However Genesis noticably is not. Lewis was primarily interested in literary criticism and interpretation, so it’s quite likely he knew as do most scholars that Genesis was intended to be interpreted literally.

    Dr. Dembski, I will say this. If I ever come to believe in an old earth, it will be because of you and ID, not TE. Francis Collins tried to tell me that the literal interpretation of Genesis was not “invented” until roughly one hundred years ago. I appreciate honesty and intellectual integrity.

  20. Job seems a lot more like a contrived philosophical work, wherein Satan takes the blame for the bad things that happen to Job instead of God, though God allows it.

    The reader of the book knows the role of Satan, but Job himself never does. When God speaks to Job from the whirlwind, he indicates in no uncertain terms that his ways are beyond human understanding.

  21. There seems to be something in this, since God seems to delight in his predatory creations in the book of Job. But I agree that this makes God seem very brutal…

    Again, a message of Job is that there is a transcendent realm in which things that do not make sense to humans may make sense.

    The details of the interaction of God and Satan really do not matter much. What stands out is that neither Job nor his “wise” counselors could know what went on in the Beyond, and that God necessarily participated in Job’s suffering.

    It is difficult while suffering to countenance that your suffering serves some transcendent good you cannot understand. But pain seems to be woven into the fabric of life, and perhaps all we can say is that life is good. (I didn’t really mean to bring a movie to mind, but it’s appropriate.)

  22. Dr Dembski @ 4

    Nothing is to be accepted save on the authority of Scripture, since greater is that authority than all the powers of the human mind. ~ Augustine

  23. Bilboe and JGuy,

    Having read the book, perhaps you can address my earlier post, which was held up in moderation:

    What perplexes me about you [Dr. Dembski] and ID is your transition from characterizing the intelligence of the Designer of life as non-natural, as Phillip Johnson did, to characterizing it as natural. Does your book explain your change in perspective? In any case, would you please explain it to us now?

  24. Hey bevets there’s a small problem with the illustration in your link. Probably anybody fitting the description of a “Chinese scientist” probably knows English. Trust me I’ve been there. Why was I there? To teach English. :D

  25. Hi Bill

    I think there’s a much simpler explanation that don’t require a retroactive action. The saints of old held on to the promise of a future savoir. Those who died under the old covenant were given an opportunity when the sacrifice was made. Christ presented himself to them and led those captive (previously gathered together) with Him.

  26. Well, I’m waiting for my copy. According to Amazon it should arrive in late November.

    I’m very pleased to know that you’ve included a section on the history of interpretation of Genesis. Some guy I read in the last few days here has suggested (to the approval of a few clerics) that creationism is an early 20th century phenomenon but all he’s really done is conflate creationism with the Creationist movement that grew out of, or was associated with, the publication of “The Fundamentals”. Another cleric, who I read a quite a while ago, was using a remark by some Galileo-era, or maybe earlier, cleric (to the effect that Christians shouldn’t say things that make them look ignorant) to pour scorn on creationists. So it will be good to have a review of what people actually thought up to the 16th century.

    That the earth is young is something I take on faith because I know the evidence for it isn’t strong. Certainly, it’s nowhere near as strong as the evidence for design and the evidence that macro-evolutionary theory is incorrect. But I don’t see that the evidence for an old earth is strong either. One of us has missed something. If it’s me I don’t think that will cause me any major problems and I’m not willing to say that, if it’s you, it will cause you any major problems either. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. I don’t know. There are lots of things I don’t know.

  27. Janice, what an excellent post @ 26.

    You wrote:

    That the earth is young is something I take on faith because I know the evidence for it isn’t strong. Certainly, it’s nowhere near as strong as the evidence for design and the evidence that macro-evolutionary theory is incorrect. But I don’t see that the evidence for an old earth is strong either. One of us has missed something. If it’s me I don’t think that will cause me any major problems and I’m not willing to say that, if it’s you, it will cause you any major problems either. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. I don’t know. There are lots of things I don’t know.

    This is a wise and humble position to take.

    Atom

  28. I am the “some guy” mentioned in comment 26. Thank you for taking the time to look at my comments on the subject. As a historian of religion with a doctorate in Bible from Edinburgh University, I have followed the creationist movement for my entire life. I was actually raised in a creationist household. In the course of my education I learned about the origins of this school of thought, and I would be glad to supply a bibliography by historians to demonstrate how it developed. All religious movements have histories. The prehistory of creationism does go back to ancient times (it even pre-dates the Bible), but the modern creationist movement historically developed in the late 19th-early 20th century. Thanks for your interest!

  29. Re janice in #26:

    “…some Galileo-era, or maybe earlier, cleric (to the effect that Christians shouldn’t say things that make them look ignorant…”

    That would be St. Augustine of Hippo (354 to 430 AD).

  30. Here is what St. Augustine wrote about this:

    It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. In view of this and in keeping it in mind constantly while dealing with the book of Genesis, I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages, taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation.

    De Genesi ad literam 1:19–20, Chapt. 19 [AD 408]

  31. And here:

    With the scriptures it is a matter of treating about the faith. For that reason, as I have noted repeatedly, if anyone, not understanding the mode of divine eloquence, should find something about these matters [about the physical universe] in our books, or hear of the same from those books, of such a kind that it seems to be at variance with the perceptions of his own rational faculties, let him believe that these other things are in no way necessary to the admonitions or accounts or predictions of the scriptures. In short, it must be said that our authors knew the truth about the nature of the skies, but it was not the intention of the Spirit of God, who spoke through them, to teach men anything that would not be of use to them for their salvation.

    De Genesi ad literam, 2:9

    Interesting; St. Augustine anticipated Stephen Jay Gould’s argument for non-overlapping magisteria (i.e. “NOMA”) by a millennium and a half…

  32. As a YEC myself, I’d really like to hear someone’s input on Paul Giem’s technical analysis of the various radio-isotope dating methods which are so often referenced as solid proof for an old earth. The articles can be found here:

    Part 1

    Part 2
    Part 3

    I’m not yet at level advanced enough in math to understand some of the more technical parts, so I was wondering if anyone else had a knowledgeable opinion?

    Anoterh interesting thing that I’ve come across contradicting the old-earth/uniformitarian mindset would be petrified trees standing in the upright position that penetrate through multiple layers of sedimentary rock spanning millions of years according to dating methods. I find this observation particularly interesting because not only is this phenomena seen on every continent in the world, but it’s been empirically observed and repeated on smaller scales during flooding/mud slides/volcanic activity.

    A relevant article:
    Polystrate Trees

    Also the uniformitarian/old-earth view seems to discount the possibility of a global flood, or at least the implications of a global flood and its consequent impact on radiometric dating. More recent research has surfaced in support of the accelerating effect a global flood would have on radioactive decay rates via cavitation.

    Reference here:
    Accelerated decay of radioactive thorium

    Just at least some things to keep in mind at the very least.

  33. How Long Are The Genesis Creation Days? – Hugh Ross
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKGT1T8O7zU

    Do the RATE Findings Negate Mainstream Science? GREG MOORE
    Excerpt: The RATE conclusions are based on a compounded set of assumptions. These assumptions are not derived from empirical data, but from the young-earth view of Earth history. Until the RATE team can demonstrate the validity of these assumptions, the study’s findings do little to prove the accelerated decay hypothesis.
    http://wwwold.reasons.org/chap.....200707.pdf

  34. A better link:

    Do the RATE Findings Negate Mainstream Science?
    http://www.reasons.org/resourc.....eamScience

  35. sawiggins,

    There is another book you may be interested in from Dr. Dembski, it is called The Patristic Understanding of Creation: An Anthology of Writings from the Church Fathers on Creation and Design.

    http://www.amazon.com/Patristi.....0981520405

  36. Amazon’s note that my copy of this book is on the way came the other day and so I’m anxious to get it and read it. Prof. Dembski is to be commended for putting on his theological hat and tackling theodicy. The genious of ID is that it separates the question of design from the issue of evil. In my experience the ultimate evidence for Darwinism is the evil in the world—that God wouldn’t have done it that way.

    Anyway for the history of <creatio ex nihilo I recommend Gerhard May.

    The first word of Genesis is a construct noun, which means that it cannot mean ‘in the beginning’ but rather must mean ‘in the beginning of …’, as Rashi and many other exegetes ancient and modern have noted. Here, however, there is no absolute noun (the beginning of what), which adds to our difficulty. Rashi cites as similar Isaiah 46:10 (“Declaring the end from the beginning”) where there is no absolute noun. He suggests an understood absolute, dabar ‘word, thing’, i.e., “Declaring the end of a thing from the beginning of a thing.” [hmm … in the beginning was the word]

    The New Testament employs the expression, “from beginning of creation” (e.g., Mark 10:6; 13:19; 2Peter 3:4; with vocabulary reflecting Genesis), and in the book of Revelation (3:14) the Messiah is called, “the beginning of the creation of God.” Thus Genesis could be understood as, “In the beginning of [it, i.e., the creation, the covenants, Adam, Israel, Messiah, etc.] God created the sky and the land.” Creatio ex nihilo may be a valid doctrine, but it is in no way forced in Genesis 1:1.

    Rashi also argues that verse 1 does not say that heaven and earth “were created prior and the meaning is, ‘In the beginning of everything he created these.’” Rather Rashi shows that in Genesis things seem to exist before the mention of their creation, and thus he concludes, “Upon your indulgence the verse does not teach the order of what is earlier and what later at all.” Recently John H. Walton has argued, cogently I believe, that Genesis does not speak to physical origins so much as to assigning functions. Thus in verse 14, “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years …” It need not be that on the fourth day that God created the sun, moon, and stars (after he had created the earth and seas on the 3rd day and the heavens on the 2nd), but that he was assigning these entities their functions.

    Walton can give the impression that Genesis is a primitive attempt to explain what the functions of the physical are, for he allows that God can use a false understanding, such as that the sky is a solid dome, to get across his point, and he never develops what larger “spiritual” significance these functions might symbolize. This is difficult for moderns, even believers, but was par for the course for chazal and the church fathers, which if you are interested in that line of reasoning I think John V. Fesko is a pretty good place to start.

    I also fault Walton for bringing up Intelligent Design when, as a theistic Darwinist, he really doesn’t get it. The Bible is abundantly clear that God is the hands on creator of the natural world and architect of world history. But I think Walton is correct when he says that the six days of Genesis do not describe the creation of the physical world. My own take is that they describe symbolic events that transpired over a period of seven days at the beginning of biblical chronology, events that symbolized the plan of God and are described at the beginning of the Book as a sort of Table of Contents.

    For good conservative critiques of all this I recommend Victor P. Hamilton and C. John Collins.

    Collins, C. John. 2006. Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, And Theological Commentary. P & R Publishing.

    Fesko, John V. 2007. Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis 1 – 3 with the Christ of Eschatology. Fearn, Scotland: Mentor Imprint.

    Hamilton, Victor P. 1990. The Book of Genesis 1-17 New International Commentary on the Old Testament Series. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

    May, Gerhard. 2004. Creatio Ex Nihilo. T. & T. Clark Publishers.

    Walton, John H. 2009. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. IVP Academic.

  37. Allen_MacNeill,

    Quoting Augustine:
    “I have, insofar as I was able, explained in detail and set forth for consideration the meanings of obscure passages [in Genesis], taking care not to affirm rashly some one meaning to the prejudice of another and perhaps better explanation.”

    What were the meanings that he set forth?

  38. Allen MacNeill’s Augustine and Gould’s NOMA are obviously attempts to delegitimize religion and Scripture as sources of knowledge—comfortable fantasies and useful fictions maybe—but not public knowledge, as Phillip Johnson so astutely perceived.

    The reactionary materialist understands that the Exodus and the Resurrection cannot be refuted, but he thinks he has refuted Genesis. In fact one could say that the modern secular state as it has evolved in the past half century is founded on two pillars: Genesis got it wrong and Darwin got it right. It is for this reason that Genesis is important for cultural conservatives. If Genesis really did get it wrong then the Bible must be more what the liberals wish than conservatives think.

    In view of this I think it important that the difficulties in Genesis be recognized. It was difficult even for the ancients, and more has been written on Genesis One than on any other passage in the Bible. Those who insist that any particular interpretation, no matter how well sanctioned by tradition, be the last word on the subject are in danger of refutation by facts on the ground.

    Now I want no part with the mushy liberal theologians who, as I remember Richard Feynman noting, will never risk saying anything that could possibly be proven wrong. But what we do need is the resilience to adapt our interpretations as new facts arise.

    Perhaps it’s not Genesis that got it wrong but rather our interpretations.

  39. St. Augustine attempted to delegitimize religion?

  40. —-Allen MacNeill: “Interesting; St. Augustine anticipated Stephen Jay Gould’s argument for non-overlapping magisteria (i.e. “NOMA”) by a millennium and a half…”

    No, not really. Augustine’s position was that God created us to think His thoughts after him. In other words, faith and reason are compatible. His motto has been described as “faith seeking understanding.”

    Aquinas reversed the emphasis to something like, “I understand in order to believe.” For both men, however, faith and reason were complementary. Augustine clearly did not accept anything like Gould’s “non-overlapping magesteria.”

    The Christian doctrine is consistent with the unity of truth, meaning that one truth exists though it can manifest itself in multiple ways, as opposed to the notion that there are multiple truths. To posit multiple truths is to hold that there really is no truth at all.

  41. Mystic wrote: “Having read the book, perhaps you can address my earlier post, which was held up in moderation:

    What perplexes me about you [Dr. Dembski] and ID is your transition from characterizing the intelligence of the Designer of life as non-natural, as Phillip Johnson did, to characterizing it as natural. Does your book explain your change in perspective? In any case, would you please explain it to us now?

    Sorry, Mystic, I only read enough of the book to get general idea of Dembski’s theodicy. I’m not sure if he addressed your question.

    JGuy wrote: “Bill, thanks for the clarification.

    is to argue that just as the salvation in Christ at the Cross saves backward in time as well as forward (the OT saints were saved in virtue of the Cross), so the effects of the Fall can be retroactive.

    Without spilling the book into the comments section, I am curious as to how you might make that argument.

    Simple: God is not bound by time, and therefore is able to effect events in the past based on what he knows will happen in the future.

  42. Re StephenB (#40)

    On the topic of faith and understanding: the phrase “Faith seeking understanding” was actually the motto of St. Anselm (1033-1109). However, as StephenB correctly points out, this saying is based on the words of St. Augustine (354-430), who followed it up with a complementary truth: “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe” (Sermo 43, 7, 9: PL 38, 257-258).

    Kenneth Richard Samples, in his online article, St. Augustine of Hippo: Rightly Dividing the Truth (Part 2 of 2), at
    http://www.reasons.org/people/.....ding-truth , does a very good job of explaining how faith and understanding complement each other:

    In his Sermon (43.7, 9) Augustine asserted: Crede, ut intelligas (“Believe in order that you may understand”).12 For Augustine, faith (“trust in a reliable source”) is an indispensable element in knowledge. One must believe in something in order to know anything. Knowledge begins with faith and faith provides a foundation for knowledge. Faith is itself indirect knowledge (like testimony or authority). While faith comes first in time, knowledge comes first in importance. Faith and reason do not conflict, but instead complement one another. Augustine believed that while reason does not cause faith, reason everywhere supports faith. Augustine also argued that Christians should seek to use their reason to understand doctrines (the Trinity, Incarnation, etc.) that are given via divine revelation (thus “faith seeking understanding”). Augustine’s writings about the role of faith influenced Credo, ut intelligam (“I believe in order that I might understand”) by St. Anselm (a.d. 1033-1109).

    Faith and understanding, properly understood, do not conflict. Nevertheless there is a popular misperception that they do, as well as some confusion as to which should come first.

    This imagined conflict goes back to a twelfth century theological quarrel between St. Bernard and Peter Abelard, who was accused of turning the rule, “Unless you believe, you shall not understand” on its head (a rule based on a loose Septuagint translation of Isaiah 7:9). The original Hebrew is more accurately rendered: “…you will not persist.”

    In his Historia Calamitatum (The Story of My Misfortunes, Chapter IX), Abelard says that his reason for writing theological treatises was at the request of his students, who, he says, “were asking for human and logical reasons on this subject, and demanded something intelligible rather than mere words. In fact they said that words were useless if the intelligence could not follow them, that nothing could be believed unless it was first understood, and that it was absurd for anyone to preach to others what neither he nor those he taught could grasp with the understanding” (emphasis mine – VJT). Dr. Ralph Norman speculates in his article, Abelard’s Legacy: Why Theology is not Faith Seeking Understanding in the in Australian EJournal of Theology, Pentecost 2007, Special Edition) that Abelard’s statement here, nec credi posse aliquid nisi primitus intelligetis, could have been a deliberate play on Anselm’s motto, fides quaerens intellectum.

    However, scholars who are familiar with the writings of Bernard and Abelard have concluded that the controversy between the two was a theological storm in a teacup. Thus M. T. Clanchy, in Abelard, A Medieval Life (Blackwell Publishers Ltd., paperback, 1999) concludes that St Bernard and Abelard were at cross-purposes here, as they were using “understand” and “estimate” (one of Abelard’s terms for “faith”) to describe different stages in getting to know something.

    (Pages 35-36)
    Bernard turns on Abelard, as if he were actually present in the room where this letter was being dictated, and reproaches him for his temerity: ‘You whisper to me that faith is an ‘estimate’ and you mutter about ambiguity to me, as though nothing were certain.’27

    Abelard had indeed defined faith in his Theologia as an ‘estimate’ of things which are not apparent.28 He and St. Bernard were operating at cross-purposes here, rather than really disagreeing about fundamentals.
    By ‘faith’ Bernard meant ‘conviction’, a psychological experience deep in the mind. He cited St. Augustine: ‘Faith is not in the heart of anyone who has it only as a conjecture or an opinion; but it is certain knowledge acclaimed by the conscience.’29 A person has ‘certain knowledge’ – (certa scientia) of something, when his ‘heart’, which is the centre of the emotions, combines with his faculty of knowing (conscience – conscientia) – to form a conviction. Abelard’s defintion of faith as an estimate focused on an earlier stage in the psychological process… In his treatise on how the mind works (De Intellectibus), Abelard had distinguished between ‘understanding’ (intellectus), ‘estimating’ (existimatio) and ‘knowing’ (scientia). A proposition has to be understood first of all, regardless of whether it is true or false. Next comes the process of ‘estimating’ or assessing whether the concept, now formed in the mind, should be believed. ‘If I do not give credence to the concept’, Abelard says, ‘I believe it is not as I conceive it to be.’31 Finally, there is the stage of ‘knowing’, which is the state of ‘certitude of mind’…

    (Page 283)
    St Bernard and Abelard, and St Anselm and Abelard, were at cross-purposes here, as they were using ‘understand’ and ‘estimate’ to describe different stages in getting to know something. A proposition has to be understood (that is, it has to make some sort of sense), before an estimate can be made of whether to believe it.115

    Clanchy’s comments can be viewed at http://books.google.com/books?.....AwQ6AEwAA#

    and at

    http://books.google.com/books?.....38;f=false

  43. Allen_MacNeill,

    Thanks for that. That’s the quote I was thinking of.

Leave a Reply