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Christian Darwinism and the Evolutionary Pathway to Spirit.

Deductive logic teaches us that the acts of reasoning and knowing are inseparable from the act of negating. To understand the law of non-contradiction (a thing cannot be and not be at the same time) is to also understand its reciprocal principle, the law of identity (a thing is what it is and not something else). If we know what cannot be, we also know, in a complementary sense, what is. As the legendary Sherlock Holmes reminds us, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

On the subject of God and Evolution, for example, there are two competing models, but only one of them can possibly be true. In order to provide a meaningful overview, I will use common terms in my abbreviated summary of each model so that the differences relevant to our discussion will become evident:

{A} Traditional Theistic Evolution acknowledges two Divine creative strategies. (1) Through a purposeful evolutionary process, God “forms” man’s material body from the bottom up, and (2) By means of a creative act, God “breathes in” an immaterial soul from the top down, joining spirit with matter.

{B} Contemporary Christian Darwinism recognizes only one Divine creative strategy. Through a natural evolutionary process, God “allows” all of man’s physical, rational, and spiritual traits to emerge from the bottom up and does not, under any circumstances, intervene from the top down, even to infuse a soul into a pre-existent human.

Can we say with apodictic certainty that one of these paradigms is false and, by extension, that the other one is true? If we assume that God exists, and if we assume that rational souls exist, and if we assume universal common descent is a valid theory, then the answer is yes. Reason dictates that a bottom-up, evolutionary process, though it may be responsible for the development of lower living forms, cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, produce a rational soul. In other words, Christian Darwinism is, without question, a false world view. To be rational, then, one must either embrace Traditional Theistic Evolution or reject macro evolution (universal common descent) altogether.

But how do we know that Christian Darwinists are wrong when they assume that matter can evolve into spirit? To begin with, we must take note of the way Christians differentiate between these two realms of existence: material entities, such as bodies, brains, and organs are physical entities and contain parts, which means that they can disintegrate, decay, die, or be transformed into some other kind of matter (or energy, perhaps); spiritual entities such as souls, minds and faculties, are non-physical entities and contain no parts, which means that they cannot disintegrate, die, or be changed into something else.

Clearly, a material body (or brain), which will die and change into another kind of matter, cannot evolve into a spiritual soul (or mind), which is unchangeable, contains no parts, and will live forever. If then, spirit is to be joined with matter, its origins cannot come from matter or from a material process; it must come from another source, that is, it must come directly from God, who creates spirit and implants it in a pre-existing being from the top down.

Even So, Christian Darwinists, without a modicum of embarrassment, hold that matter can, through incremental evolutionary changes, make the leap from dust to eternity. While materialists argue that molecules can come from out of nowhere and then re-arrange themselves to produce organic life; Christian Darwinists argue that molecules can re-arrange themselves into a spiritual soul that contains no molecules. I will leave it to the reader to discern which of these two propositions represents the greater threat to the standards of rational thought.

For a Christian to make sense of evolution, he must, if he accepts universal common descent, and if he accepts the transcendent nature of the soul, envisage some process by which God, at the right stage in the evolutionary process, implanted the soul into a pre-existing human being. The process itself simply cannot make the voyage. For rational theists, no gradual development from lower animal forms to human rational souls can be admitted.

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61 Responses to Christian Darwinism and the Evolutionary Pathway to Spirit.

  1. Aren’t you a believer in eternal souls? If so, it’s peculiar that you’d take issue with some evolutionary path to a supernatural soul. That may be unworkable, and I think it is, but it’s the “supernatural” part that’s lacking rational critique, not the evolution part. And if I’m recalling you correctly, you just “leap” there, to credulous acceptance of a rational soul.

    That does not seem self-aware as a position to take.

    When I was a Christian, for the last decade or so I was a theistic evolutionist. Maybe theistic evolution (or “Biologos” or whatever they call it now) has changed a lot as an ideology, but I did not hold to scenario {B}, nor can I recall any of the many theistic evolutionists I interacte with embracing {B}. It’s a big world, so I don’t doubt that {B} does happen, but who would you point to as a reference for the advocacy of {B} out there? I’d be interested to read that argument from them.

    In any case, embracing the superstitions you embrace pretty much cuts your legs out in any such dispute. If I’m a theist, advocating for {B}, it’s not even hard dispensing with your argument: God’s design, from before the foundation of the universe, incorporated a spiritual dimension to matter that in configurations where God’s evolved creatures reason and respond to natural law, the supernatural vector of that matter-spirit fusion endures. That’s just how God designed it.”

    Boom, you’re refuted. That’s the wonder of theology. No one knows anything, and everyone “knows” everything, all at the same time, and my credulous superstitions are just as powerful as yours, and so nullifying any theological position you want to adopt is trivial, if I don’t happen to agree with it.

    Or, I could say: God ‘etherealizes’ the mind at death, and this becomes the eternal soul, preserved perfectly in character and quality, just unbound from the flesh. Evolution produced a physical ‘soul’ in the form of a reasoning mind with free will and moral agency, and it is “transcoded to eternity” upon the death of that person.

    Once you let me play on your supernaturalist playing field, it’s dueling intuitions, unbound by any accountability to falsification, or practical models. Your God and mine is BIG, BIG god! And so he can do anything. Further more, your God and mine is MYSTERIOUS, and his ways our HIGHER than ours. This means no credulous intuition can be resisted with more than a counter-intuition, which is to say it can’t be resisted at all. So you say “that makes no sense, for supernatural substances to evolve along with physical matter, or to be produced by biological evolution”. Well, have a sit on your own petard, why don’t you: who are who to tell God how he can or cannot, or did or did not operate???

    A theist who believes in an omniscient, omnipotent God cannot offer this as anything more than idle conjecture:

    Clearly, a material body (or brain), which will die and change into another kind of matter, cannot evolve into a spiritual soul (or mind), which is unchangeable, contains no parts, and will live forever.

    That’s theology for ya! It’s a blessing and a curse. You can conjecture such, and no one can ever discredit your idea. Your conjecture is immune to discredit. But by the same token, it’s impotent, and can’t touch anyone else’s conflicting or different conjectures. At it’s most epic, it’s two idle conjectures trying to gum each other death, and failing horribly. No confirming, falsifying, or adjudicating feedback from real world evidence is needed, or even relevant.

    If your God can do all the magical, fabulous, imaginary things you subscribe to, so can the god of the subscriber to {B}.

  2. I agree with Eigen that there are other alternatives to {A} and {B}. But Eigen seems to think that this shows that religious philosophy is valueless. I disagree. It shows that the proper use of reason invalidates StephenB’s conclusion.

    By the way, non-reductive physicalist Christians, such as Nancy Murphy, would hold {B} to be most likely.

  3. eigenstate, Thanks for your interesting comments.

    –“Aren’t you a believer in eternal souls? If so, it’s peculiar that you’d take issue with some evolutionary path to a supernatural soul. That may be unworkable, and I think it is, but it’s the “supernatural” part that’s lacking rational critique, not the evolution part. And if I’m recalling you correctly, you just “leap” there, to credulous acceptance of a rational soul. “

    At this point, I am not really trying to persuade anyone that the immaterial rational soul (or its immaterial faculty of intellect) exists. That is another argument. I am referring to Christians who already claim to believe that it does. The problem for Christian Darwinists is that the rational soul (as understood by Christians) cannot be reconciled with the idea that it emerged from matter.

    —“When I was a Christian, for the last decade or so I was a theistic evolutionist. Maybe theistic evolution (or “Biologos” or whatever they call it now) has changed a lot as an ideology, but I did not hold to scenario {B}, nor can I recall any of the many theistic evolutionists I interacte with embracing {B}. It’s a big world, so I don’t doubt that {B} does happen, but who would you point to as a reference for the advocacy of {B} out there? I’d be interested to read that argument from them.”

    They argue that the mind evolved through a materialistic, evolutionary process. Of course, they might want to say that, while minds exist, there are no souls, or that souls have nothing to do with minds, but I can’t imagine how that would help them. If you want examples, you may begin with Francis Collins and Ken Miller. For them, the evolutionary process is sufficient to produce a mind. By the way, why did you stop believing in Christianity?

    —“God’s design, from before the foundation of the universe, incorporated a spiritual dimension to matter that in configurations where God’s evolved creatures reason and respond to natural law, the supernatural vector of that matter-spirit fusion endures. That’s just how God designed it.”

    You are redefining matter and you are assuming a teleological process. In any case, If it had a spiritual dimension, it wouldn’t be matter; it would be something else. The moment that you introduce spirit or purpose in the process, Darwin has left the building. We are discussing Christian Darwinists, not Christian Teilhardians.

    —No one knows anything, and everyone “knows” everything, all at the same time, and my credulous superstitions are just as powerful as yours, and so nullifying any theological position you want to adopt is trivial, if I don’t happen to agree with it.”

    Again, I am not arguing for the legitimacy of Christian Theology. I am pointing out that Christian theology cannot be reconciled with the proposition that a soul (as understood by Christians) cannot derive from matter (as understood by Darwinists).

    —“Or, I could say: God ‘etherealizes’ the mind at death, and this becomes the eternal soul, preserved perfectly in character and quality, just unbound from the flesh. Evolution produced a physical ‘soul’ in the form of a reasoning mind with free will and moral agency, and it is “transcoded to eternity” upon the death of that person.”

    Do you mean to suggest that the soul, which is subject to judgment by virtue of its free-will activity during this life, doesn’t come into existence until life ends? That would not follow at all.

    —-At it’s most epic, it’s two idle conjectures trying to gum each other death, and failing horribly. No confirming, falsifying, or adjudicating feedback from real world evidence is needed, or even relevant.

    It has nothing to do with falsification; it is a question of logic. Something that will die cannot also be something that will live forever.

    —“If your God can do all the magical, fabulous, imaginary things you subscribe to, so can the god of the subscriber to {B}.”

    God cannot contradict himself.

  4. As always, I am boggled by theology that builds upon concepts found in the Bible (God, creation, etc.) while simultaneously disregarding that foundation.

    If you could ask Moses, who wrote the book of Genesis, about when God added an immortal, immaterial soul to man, then that prophet, who spoke with God like no other man, would ask, “What are you talking about?”

    Such a concept was not only unknown to him, but it was contradictory to all he wrote. When Adam died, he went back to the dust. Even Solomon wrote that man and beast had the same eventuality, and that the reader of Ecclesiastes, the person with a Bible in his hands, would die and enter a state without consciousness or knowledge.

    When Lazarus died, Jesus said he was sleeping. When Jesus himself died, he was in Hades or Sheol (Hell), the same inactive state that Solomon wrote of in Ecclesiastes. (If Jesus was a spirit before coming to earth and returned to that state immediately upon death, in what sense was he ever dead, and what was his sacrifice?)

    It was not until many years later that learned men felt the need to harmonize the Bible with Greek philosophy and thus imbue us all with an immaterial, immortal, inner being.

    If one doesn’t even believe that the Bible originates with God and is therefore superior to the musing of philosophers, that’s fine. But then why be concerned with it at all? If it wasn’t good enough for Plato, and isn’t complete unless harmonized with Aristotle, then what makes it special?

    That should be the position of atheists, not of Christians.

  5. –”Such a concept [soul] was not only unknown to him [Moses], but it was contradictory to all he wrote.”

    Jesus Christ spoke explicitly about the soul.

  6. Correction: I am pointing out that Christian theology cannot be reconciled with the proposition that a soul (as understood by Christians) CAN derive from matter (as understood by Darwinists).

  7. Of course he did. It’s a word that appears repeatedly in the Bible, applied to man and beast. It is what Adam became, and it is what died. It gets hungry. It gets tired. Israelites were not to touch dead souls.

    The word appears hundreds of times in the scriptures. You’d have to cherry-pick one or two that appear to indicate a different meaning, but with that interpretation they become contrary, not only to every verse that uses the word, but to countless other explicit statements, such as when God told Adam that he would return to dust. Do you not believe that Adam returned to the dust? Did God mean something else? What did happen to Adam, then? Was it worse than returning to the dust? Then why wasn’t Adam warned?

    It’s a after-the-fact add-on from Greek philosophy. Or did it go the other way? Was Plato a student of the Bible, and is that where he got it from?

  8. Hi StephenB,

    At this point, I am not really trying to persuade anyone that the immaterial rational soul (or its immaterial faculty of intellect) exists. That is another argument. I am referring to Christians who already claim to believe that it does. The problem for Christian Darwinists is that the rational soul (as understood by Christians) cannot be reconciled with the idea that it emerged from matter.

    I understand the context — a debating point between Christians. But there’s a transcendental problem, here: in order to arrive at this context, the common understanding from which you and the Christian part ways on material souls, you have to eschew the forms of understanding you need to assign any “problem” to your opponent.

    To explain this simply, suppose I am an “Anti-Causalist”, and I am having a debate with fellow “Anti-Causalists”. As an Anti-Causalist, I deny the principle of sufficient reason, and generally embrace the idea that things can and do happen for perfectly no reason whatsoever, and understand the “illusion” of causality to be just so much capricious theater played out for us by an impassable impersonal supernatural force.

    So, where can I go with that, in debating my fellow Anti-Causalist? Not very far, right? I can’t press anything in “if/then” terms, because that depends on what I’ve forfeited. If then is merely an illusion, and there are no such rules in reality, just a kind of hyper-occasionalism.

    If I came to you and said “Well, I’m not trying to convince you of Anti-Causalism, or asking you to believe in Jenunu, the impersonal cosmic stochastic force that occasions as it does….”, you’d not have to embrace Anti-Causalism to see that I’m in no position whatsoever to pursue arguments that depend on causality with my Anti-Causalist peers. You’d be right in pointing out that I’ve not get a leg to stand on.

    To apply that your post, when you say, “cannot be reconciled”, you’ve forfeited the concept of “reconciled” by embracing the superstitions you do. That’s you’re prerogative to embrace them, but they necessarily annihilate any kind of “reconciliatory framework”. When you pre-suppose an omniscient, omnipotent, impassable, mysterious God, there is literally nothing that cannot be reconciled with that in terms of physics, substances, or ontology for anything we see or experience. It’s quite literally “anything goes”, once you take that first leap in embracing belief in such a God, and the attendant beliefs in supernatural and physical substance which this god supervises in a plenipotentiary way.

    They argue that the mind evolved through a materialistic, evolutionary process. Of course, they might want to say that, while minds exist, there are no souls, or that souls have nothing to do with minds, but I can’t imagine how that would help them. If you want examples, you may begin with Francis Collins and Ken Miller. For them, the evolutionary process is sufficient to produce a mind. By the way, why did you stop believing in Christianity?

    Oh, I’m quite familiar with Miller, Collins, Simon Conway Morris, Darrell Falk, Richard Colling, and many others in that group. Collins, for example, believe that supernatural souls are “invested” or “endowed” in a miraculous way, supervening upon the physical, and is thus one that would fall under category {A}, which was also the basic view I subscribed to as a Christian. Theistic evolutionists, in my experience, are not shy about invoking supernatural intervention by God; Francis Collins, again, along with Miller, suppose that God works “behind the veil of randomness at the quantum level” such that God can direct mutations and other small “wings of a butterfly” events in biological development that subtly steer that development toward the goals God intends.

    This is perfectly magical thinking, but it’s scrupulous in its avoidance of denialism in terms of science. If God WERE “scripting evolution from behind the curtain of randomness”, we by definition would not be able to know it, and so science is not perverted in embracing that view.

    But the main point here is that, under the aegis of the Christian theism both you and the “Christian Darwinist” (I’m not familiar with anyone who identifies themselves that way), there’s nothing to reconcile. A Christian can say: The evolved human mind becomes an eternal soul at conception, at the commencement of electrical activity in the brain, or at birth. You are powerless to resist this assertion, as your resistance cannot be any more forceful or “liable to reconcilation” than the assertion you’ve just been given. You and your “opponent” are dueling without epistemic weapons or tools of any kind. It’s just waving the plastic spoons of your respective intuitions at each other, at ten paces.

    As for why I stopped believing in Christianity, that’s a long and pretty boring story, but the basic summary is the confluence of three things — a slowly developing courage to set aside social and intuitional prejudices toward Christian superstition, and to think and accept a more rigorous, critical and objective view of my long held beliefs, combined with a determined effort to salvage my faith in spite of any damaging effects of that through more and more knowledge and expertise in “defending the faith” and apologetics. I supposed (and this seems funny now, but it seemed a good idea at the time) that I could shore up the reasoning for my flagging faith as more and more rigorous critical thinking applied by learning and adopting more and more from thinkers like William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga and Peter Kreeft.

    That was a big mistake, if my goal was to remain a Christian. Really looking carefully at the ideas and advocacy of William Lane Craig is pure acid on the faith a Christian who is applying good, skeptical and scientifically informed ideas. William Lane Craig’s shenanigans do not and cannot disprove God’s existence of course, but they do provide a powerful lens on the forms and modes of self-deception an foolish thinking that props up much of Christian faith-as-reasonable, including my own understanding of faith-as-reasonable.

    You are redefining matter and you are assuming a teleological process. In any case, If it had a spiritual dimension, it wouldn’t be matter; it would be something else. The moment that you introduce spirit or purpose in the process, Darwin has left the building. We are discussing Christian Darwinists, not Christian Teilhardians.

    Curiously, you pointed me at Collins, above. He’s not any kind of “Christian Darwinist” as you’ve described it here. Can you point me to a link to one of these “Christian Darwinists” you speak of, making the claims you allege? I’d appreciate being able to hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

    But in any case, no it would not be “non-matter”. Such a “Christian Darwinist” would just say that supernatural vector (which is why I used that term) was just another attribute of matter, a vector that materialistic science in its craven bias against religion just ignores, cannot see, or denies. Says the Christian Darwinist: It is matter, it just has a supernatural, eternal aspect to it, in some configurations, and that part lasts forever, amen. And so be it, right? What can you say to that, based on your commitments? You’ve got nothing more to respond with than waving the plastic spoon of your particular theological intuitions in the air.

    Again, I am not arguing for the legitimacy of Christian Theology. I am pointing out that Christian theology cannot be reconciled with the proposition that a soul (as understood by Christians) cannot derive from matter (as understood by Darwinists).

    I understand, but you are dealing yourself aces from the bottom of the deck, here. Theology is not monolithic “as understood by Christians”. Christian theology is whatever the owner wants it to be. That’s the nature of theology. It’s perfectly plastic, fungible into innumerable and fantastically diverse forms, all stuck in epistemic stalemate with every other theology.

    If you say “as commonly understood”, you are simply pushing a fallacious appeal to ad populum arguments. Theologic truth is not normative per consensus or popularity. Unlike science, there is no appealing to authority, because no expertise can be demonstrated in theology, like it can in science. Before you object to that, it’s perhaps worth noting how that kind of epistemic nihilism benefits you, for it’s quite likely that your own theological views do not comport with “as commonly understood” across the broad catholic history of Christianity in substantial ways, yourself.

    So, “commonly” as a requirement is out. The “Christian Darwinist” says the material mind for humans has a supernatural and eternal vector. It sounds bogus to me, too, so I empathize with the reaction, but I am not embracing competing theologies that are just as indefensible and superstitious as I understand you to have embraced. Given the ground you are standing on, I can’t see that you have anything that will even slightly nudge the Christian Darwinist’s claim, let alone knock it over.

    Do you mean to suggest that the soul, which is subject to judgment by virtue of its free-will activity during this life, doesn’t come into existence until life ends? That would not follow at all.

    It doesn’t follow at all to my mind, either. But that is the point. By “follow”, you are using a stolen concept, something your basic paradigm has forfeited. When you adopt the theistic premises you have embraced, you necessarily give up the semantics of “follows” in terms of theology. “Follows” is a concept you have to borrow from the real world, where follows has semantics grounded in our experience, and causal models obtain from empirical testing and refinement.

    A Christian Darwinist can just brush your “doesn’t follow” off, and with good justification. “It does follow”, he counter-asserts. Instant stalemate, and you are again staring at each other with drawn plastic spoons at ten paces, looking all super-convinced and righteously indignant, yet totally unengaged or accountable or vulnerable to the other. You can’t touch him, and he can’t touch you on the merits, on the basis of “follows”, as there is no “follows” semantics that is organic to theology. Follows is a just an idea you steal from the real world.

    It has nothing to do with falsification; it is a question of logic. Something that will die cannot also be something that will live forever.

    (my emphasis)

    I suggest you may want to read this in the light of the term “Freudian Slip”, as I think you could not be more correct as to the bolded, and are making much more sense here than I think you are aware.

    But logic doesn’t and can’t corral that. There’s no logical inconsistency in supposing that humans are “hybrids”, where their human biology is a combination of flesh and spirit. The death of the flesh leaves the spirit only, and it the person is no longer a “hybrid” but just a spirit.

    That is not in any way a logical contradiction. It may completely whack as a model of reality, but even in that case it’s no different than believing in unicorns. Unicorns may not exist, but it’s not a LOGICAL inconsistency to suppose that they exist. It’s logically possible, even if it’s not actual.

    Logic without falsification doesn’t get you very far. This is the conceit of rational intuitionists, and the triumph of scientific epistemology. The history of philosophy is replete with the failures of rational intuition as a self-standing heuristic. Intuition is a crucial and powerful driver for human thought and inquiry, but ‘logic on its own’ only produces trivial truths and tautologies. It doesn’t inform or reveal anything about the real world around us, unless and until it actual gets applied to experience and tests in that real world.

  9. StephenB,

    Maybe this is a fruitful way forward: why is it that a soul CANNOT derive from matter?

    I understan you don’t agree. But on what principle does this assertion (CANNOT be derived) stand?

    If you could reduce that to a simple syllogism or logical entailment, that would probably be quite valuable for this discussion. Because as it is, it seems like you are saying “That’s just not the way Christians have traditionally thought about this”. Which would seem to merit nothing more than a casual shrug from readers, here, both Christian and otherwise.

    Why cannot a soul be derived from matter?

    In my case, when question like this get put to me, I look to the physical laws, empirical observations and other probative bits from our experience to invoke as an empirical basis for thinking something “cannot” happen. For example, we have overwhelming evidence that supports the idea that a human body dead three days does not spontaneously or otherwise come back to life. Billions and billions of data points are available on this. It’s not strictly determinative, but it is empirically rich for us as a source of information.

    But that really shows by contrast what you DON’T have. As I understand it, you don’t have anything like that to point to. Nothing more than your intuition.

    Ah, but perhaps I’m just missing the “laws of derivation” you are relying on. Whence this law?

  10. Scott, it seems evident to me that bodies die (though, according to Christian theology they will be resurrected for better or worse) and that souls do not.

    Clearly, Adam’s body returned to dust, but, from a Christian perspective, his soul lived on and continues to live, presumably in paradise. I would suggest that the Bible provides numerous examples of individuals whose soul lived on after bodily death.

    Moses and Elijah, for example, appear to Peter, James, and John at the transfiguration. Obviously, their souls were not sleeping. Indeed, Jesus told the good their that, after death, he would join Him in paradise on that very day.

  11. “good their” should read “good thief.”

  12. When you pre-suppose an omniscient, omnipotent, impassable, mysterious God, there is literally nothing that cannot be reconciled with that in terms of physics, substances, or ontology for anything we see or experience. It’s quite literally “anything goes”, once you take that first leap in embracing belief in such a God, and the attendant beliefs in supernatural and physical substance which this god supervises in a plenipotentiary way.

    That just isn’t true, at least according to most theists now and in the past. One obvious example: logic. God cannot do the logically impossible, like make a square circle. (I’ve heard that some schools of muslim thought believe God can transcend even logic, but even so they have plenty of opposition on that point – and that’s all that’s required here.)

    Now, maybe you’ll grant the logical claim but argue that, still, theistic evolutionists can reconcile their beliefs with this God. Granted, but that reconciliation is still going to entail some commitments – and if they fail to make those commitments, then they’re not offering a reconciliation. I think StephenB gets at this, and maybe you already cop to it, with his division between A and B.

    This is perfectly magical thinking, but it’s scrupulous in its avoidance of denialism in terms of science. If God WERE “scripting evolution from behind the curtain of randomness”, we by definition would not be able to know it, and so science is not perverted in embracing that view.

    First, how is it magical thinking? Second, a ‘curtain of randomness’ isn’t what really does the work in the theistic evolutionist’s standard, but the inability of science (at least science divorced from excess theological and metaphysical embrace) to offer any meaningful input on such questions. Have God intervene in an extremely small and indirect way, or in a tremendously large and direct way. Science is incapable of identifying (or ruling out) an act of God in either case, and if a person identifies the act as the work of God, they’re not going to be doing so in virtue of science alone.

    But in any case, no it would not be “non-matter”. Such a “Christian Darwinist” would just say that supernatural vector (which is why I used that term) was just another attribute of matter, a vector that materialistic science in its craven bias against religion just ignores, cannot see, or denies.

    Show me the ‘Christian Darwinist’ who says what you just did: that ‘materialistic science in its craven bias against religion’ does those things. As far as I can see, this goes entirely unsaid and absolutely doesn’t represent their thinking on the matter. What they say is that science has built-in limits and a tight focus, and as such cannot address these questions. No craven bias.

    Likewise, I think that Stephen’s point is that once you start attributing some ‘supernatural vector’ to matter, then matter is something other than what materialists take it to be, insofar as that ‘vector’ is denied. Your move here seems a little like suggesting that cartesian dualists are actually materialists. It just so happens that they believe there’s a kind of matter that is without extension and is the subject of experiences.

    Are you asking for an example of TEs committing to {B}? If so, the problem is that many TEs tend to obfuscate on this point. They argue that God and orthodox Christianity is entirely compatible with Darwinism, but when it’s pointed out that Darwinism is wrapped up with the claim that evolution is unguided, impersonal and undirected their response is not to say either ‘Then Darwinism is wrong – evolution has a spiritual vector’ or ‘Your definition of Darwinism is wrong – it does not require that evolution be unguided, impersonal or undirected’. It’s to generally stay pretty damn quiet, and then host “friendly atheists” arguing that the only way God can be reconciled with Darwinism is by God creating so many multiverses that, purely by chance, something human-like springs up.

    Christian theology is whatever the owner wants it to be. That’s the nature of theology. It’s perfectly plastic, fungible into innumerable and fantastically diverse forms, all stuck in epistemic stalemate with every other theology.

    No, it’s not. This would mean that shintoism is Christianity, despite shinto making zero mention of Christ. If you think that, I suggest the problem is with your own definition and view of Christianity.

    “Follows” is a concept you have to borrow from the real world

    It’s a concept from philosophy and logic. And I think a reasonable reply StephenB could give here is that, fine – since you’re basically saying that Christian Darwinists can reconcile evolution with Christianity by way of occasionalism, all you have to do is show me where they say they commit to embracing occasionalism.

    So far it seems that your main, and only, defense of the sort of TEs StephenB is talking about comes in the form of denying that any TEs of type B, either in reality or appearance, exist. That seems like a roundabout way of conceding StephenB that the thrust of StephenB’s post is correct.

  13. Clearly, Adam’s body returned to dust, but, from a Christian perspective, his soul lived on and continues to live, presumably in paradise.

    So he brought incomprehensible suffering and death upon billions of people in an act of open rebellion for which God had told him he would die, and instead he got moved from one paradise to another? That’s not bad. But it’s also not hinted at in the scriptures. God said he was from dust and he would go back to dust. If that were the least relevant detail, why is it the only part mentioned.

    Moses and Elijah were a vision. How did the apostles recognize them? Had they seen photos of them?

    Why did Job say that God would long for the work of his hands after he died, if he was still around just in a different form?

    Why did Ezekiel say at 18:4 that the soul dies. When Israel was told not to touch a dead soul, what did that mean? How are animals souls? Why do the scriptures say that the dead do not praise God, and that their thoughts come to an end?

    Why did not one resurrected person mention their temporary existence as a disembodied soul?

    I don’t make this stuff up. It’s available in any dictionary of Hebrew. The modern redefining of the word has nothing to do with what people meant when they said it. It’s retrofitted, much like adding natural selection to biological diversity after the fact.

    The Bible indicates that Christians could be resurrected as spirits rather than in physical bodies. This does not imply that they already were such before death.

  14. That just isn’t true, at least according to most theists now and in the past. One obvious example: logic. God cannot do the logically impossible, like make a square circle. (I’ve heard that some schools of muslim thought believe God can transcend even logic, but even so they have plenty of opposition on that point – and that’s all that’s required here.)

    Yeah I’m not thinking any of that includes logical contradictions, but rather just a vast landscape of theological intuitions and conjectures. “Most theists” doesn’t get StephenB anywhere, as reality isn’t bound by such polls, and neither is God, if such a one exists. So a “Christian Darwinist” (I still don’t know what an example of this would be) says “supernatural soul substance supervenes on the physical structure of a human mind”. Yeah, that’s not how Augustine would put it, but Augustine didn’t have the light of Darwin’s (correct) ideas to look at the world by. In any case, it’s theology remember, so anything goes: one man’s theological intuitions trivially achieve stalemate with every other. This isn’t like science where we can let the extra-mental world provide adjudication through testing, validation, and falsification.

    First, how is it magical thinking?

    It supposes that God is intervening supernatural “behind the veil of quantum randomness”. Magic – an agent manipulating the natural world by means of supernatural powers.

    Second, a ‘curtain of randomness’ isn’t what really does the work in the theistic evolutionist’s standard, but the inability of science (at least science divorced from excess theological and metaphysical embrace) to offer any meaningful input on such questions. Have God intervene in an extremely small and indirect way, or in a tremendously large and direct way. Science is incapable of identifying (or ruling out) an act of God in either case, and if a person identifies the act as the work of God, they’re not going to be doing so in virtue of science alone.

    The mode of intervention matters. YEC imaginations of creation — Adam just appearing POOF! in the Garden of Eden, fully formed, belly button or no, is a problem for science, and those who understand the scientific witness to natural law. That’s also the point on the part of many YECs, a way to flaunt physical law in a flamboyant way — they serve a BIG, BIG God and that is how he rolls, etc. But such notions are incompatible with our scientific knowledge. If that’s true, we might as well become subscribers to Last-Tuesdayism.

    But God behind the veil of randomness is not profane in scientific terms. It provides telic “steering” without having to change or overturn even the slightest bit of empirical evidence and scientific knowledge we have. You’re right to say that we may be unable (in conceivable cases, like Last Tuesdayism) to identify a large and direct mode of intervention by God, but even so, SOME acts of intervention, and particularly those imagined by many traditional Christians are events that completely negate the “lawness” of physical law, and render it notional at best.

    For those who grant science a seat at the epistemic table that’s a big problem.

    But, it’s hardly avoidable even if we get past it with random point mutations. Christians have the whole Resurrection and virgin birth thing and many other events that are problematic this way that can’t be abandoned (at least within the limits of orthodoxy).

    Show me the ‘Christian Darwinist’ who says what you just did: that ‘materialistic science in its craven bias against religion’ does those things. As far as I can see, this goes entirely unsaid and absolutely doesn’t represent their thinking on the matter. What they say is that science has built-in limits and a tight focus, and as such cannot address these questions. No craven bias.

    I think you’ve misunderstood me. I don’t know ANY “Christian Darwinists” who identify themselves a such. I know many theistic evolutionists, and scientific creationists, and believers by other assorted names, but noone who takes on “Darwin” as part of their label. It also seems unlikely just in PR terms, given the Darwin Derangement Syndrome that suffuses conservative Christianity (and notably this blog). I’m just accepting, hypothetically, what StephenB asserts in {B} as the PoV of a “Christian Darwinist”.

    I don’t know such a creature, but if one were to take up {B}, one can just conjecture that the physical stuff of the human mind/brain has a supernatural (and thereby eternal) vector to it. QED. It’s theology, so I’m quite safe just making stuff up as it strikes my fancy. Could be! No way to tell and no need to have such a way. If there were, it would be science, and that would be trouble. So the “Christian Darwinist” just does what any other theologian does and fashions his intuitions as he likes, and creates whatever “reasoning backwards” scaffolding he likes in support of that.

    He is now immune to StephenB’s request for reconciliation by simply declaring his views reconciled. StephenB can’t say otherwise with anything more forceful than StephenB’s own intuitions, so it’s, again, a stalemate. StephenB and the Christian Darwinist are both at parity now, and there’s nothing StephenB can do about it. These are the wages of theology.

    (continued anon…)

  15. So a “Christian Darwinist” (I still don’t know what an example of this would be) says “supernatural soul substance supervenes on the physical structure of a human mind”.

    Here’s the problem: they would have to, at a minimum, say that. This isn’t being said. Now, once they say that, we can start examining their philosophical, metaphysical and theological reasons for saying as much, see if there are logical contradictions, see what reasoning they offer. But if they refuse to say even that, we have a problem. And that’s why I take StephenB to be differentiating between TEs of A-type and B-type.

    It supposes that God is intervening supernatural “behind the veil of quantum randomness”. Magic – an agent manipulating the natural world by means of supernatural powers.

    What makes the powers supernatural? I would think you would define “magic” and “supernatural” to be the same thing, in which case including the word in the definition seems problematic.

    But God behind the veil of randomness is not profane in scientific terms. It provides telic “steering” without having to change or overturn even the slightest bit of empirical evidence and scientific knowledge we have. You’re right to say that we may be unable (in conceivable cases, like Last Tuesdayism) to identify a large and direct mode of intervention by God, but even so, SOME acts of intervention, and particularly those imagined by many traditional Christians are events that completely negate the “lawness” of physical law, and render it notional at best.

    I’m pointing out that the claim most TEs would hold regarding science does not reply on God behind held behind any “veil of randomness”. Bring in as direct and as obvious an act of God as you like, and you still have science as incapable of determining that this was an act of God, or – often forgotten – not an act of God.

    You say that some Christian miracles “completely negate the “lawness” of physical law”. But that’s not true about the events themselves – at best, that’s an interpretation of the events. Other interpretations could always be that we were wrong about what the laws were (something we’ve done more than once, in major ways, in science history), or that there’s a lawful interpretation of the actual and real event that we’re just missing, or otherwise. The theology gets you to the suspension of laws, sometimes. The event does not.

    I think you’ve misunderstood me. I don’t know ANY “Christian Darwinists” who identify themselves a such. I know many theistic evolutionists, and scientific creationists, and believers by other assorted names, but noone who takes on “Darwin” as part of their label.

    The label was not important: call them TEs if you like. I was asking you to show me these TEs who talk about the “craven bias” of “materialistic science” against religion. I pointed out that most TEs suggest that science simply has a very limited sphere, incapable of really providing us with very much (in and of itself) information about God, but about many other things as well, philosophy included. In fact, just about every claim you’re trying to stick to ‘theology’ here could be made with equal, even greater, force against philosophy and metaphysics – and that includes naturalism and materialism.

  16. @nullasalus

    Likewise, I think that Stephen’s point is that once you start attributing some ‘supernatural vector’ to matter, then matter is something other than what materialists take it to be, insofar as that ‘vector’ is denied. Your move here seems a little like suggesting that cartesian dualists are actually materialists. It just so happens that they believe there’s a kind of matter that is without extension and is the subject of experiences.

    Sure, why not? I’m not defending any reified “Christian Darwinism”, as I said, I don’t even recognize that as a practical label. But that’s not important. Since StephenB is trafficking in theology, we can just concoct fanciful ideas as we go, and it’s all good, StephenB is stalemated, because he’s approaching this question in a non-probative way. His mode of inquiry and reconciliation do not actual incorporate real methods for reconciliation or inquiry. It’s all just unaccountable conjecture, so my saying (wearing my hypothetical Christian Darwinist Goggles™ for a moment) “supernatural properties and eternality are actually just properties of some configurations of physical matter”. This seems to me perfectly immune from any assault from StephenB, in precisely the same way his intuitions are invulnerable to any cross examinations I, as a Christian Darwinist (whatever that is) might offer.

    Now I have a “unified” model that evolves supernatural and eternal properties out of exotic configurations of physical matter. Is God an awesome God, or what? StephenB’s demands for reconciliations just plink harmlessly off the armor of my theology, because I have this inner intuition that this is How Reality Really Is, and since this is theology and not science, I’m untouchable by his demands, and cannot be discredited by any evidence.

    And StephenB cannot complain, because to do so is to expose himself as a hypocrite. He lives a theological house of the most fragile and thin glass, himself, so he can’t be throwing stones.

    Are you asking for an example of TEs committing to {B}?

    Yes, I’ve been an atheist for going on six years now, but I read, wrote and interacted heavily in theistic evolutionist circles for many years prior to that. I don’t recall a single instance of a Christian who accepted the theory of evolution make a claim like {B}. Not saying it doesn’t or can’t happen, it’s just totally foreign to my experience.

    If so, the problem is that many TEs tend to obfuscate on this point. They argue that God and orthodox Christianity is entirely compatible with Darwinism, but when it’s pointed out that Darwinism is wrapped up with the claim that evolution is unguided, impersonal and undirected their response is not to say either ‘Then Darwinism is wrong – evolution has a spiritual vector’ or ‘Your definition of Darwinism is wrong – it does not require that evolution be unguided, impersonal or undirected’. It’s to generally stay pretty damn quiet, and then host “friendly atheists” arguing that the only way God can be reconciled with Darwinism is by God creating so many multiverses that, purely by chance, something human-like springs up.

    Well, that strikes me as quite earnest, rather than obfuscation. “Godless evolution”, of the form I think is most compelling on the evidence, indeed does not identify any Gods behind the scenes manipulating things (obviously). But if such a God DID exist and were operating “behind the veil”, as it were, then “Godless evolution” would be mistaken in that regard, but it would remain perfectly unchanged, and as performative as it is now. Godless evolution cannot identify purpose behind what’s regarded as “randomness’, by definition; if you can identify purpose, plan or pattern, it ain’t random. A theistic evolutionist understands that if God is there behind the curtain, neither the atheist or the theist could identify such based our current science.

    So it’s magical thinking (and that’s a blunder, there, I say), but it’s not the least bit in conflict with “Godless evolution”. A theistic evolutionist and I would not diverge even one little bit in our emprical review of mutations, or adaptations, or whatever. She sees “God behind the curtain” in a non-scientific way and I do not. But the science is a 100% overlap. And on this question, of God “operating behind the veil”, there is no conflict whatsoever in that with Christian orthodox doctrine.

    No, it’s not. This would mean that shintoism is Christianity, despite shinto making zero mention of Christ. If you think that, I suggest the problem is with your own definition and view of Christianity.

    Well, behold the splendor of theology, huh? This is downside of theology that compensates for the now-you-can-believe-whatever-you-find-gratifying-or-otherwise-appealing upside. You can’t contain it, or demand that it be reconciled — “reconciled” is a divide-by-zero in theology. It’s an undefined operation. So, while I understand the frustration of someone bring some variation of Shintoism to the table and advancing that as “true Christianity” (and on the radio today I heard some author of a recent book about “Where Oprah Has Taken Us” delivering his lamentations of how Oprah Winfrey is doing precisely this with Christianity: importing a completely foreign theology into Christian terms and concepts to come up with something totally… different), what can you do?

    I do know what you can do. You can argue and protest and try to shame perceived heretics and ban them from your forums or whatnot, but this is all just polemics and power. There is nothing you can do to adopt a method of objective adjudication, in, say the way Leonard Susskind and Stephen Hawking agreed on the method for resolving a dispute. Twenty eight years after the dispute erupted between Susskind and Hawking, empirical evidence obtained that settled the question in Susskind’s favor. Hawking didn’t get shamed or hectored into submission, or otherwise coerced as a political matter. He just shared an epistemic framework with Susskind that incorporated methods for the crucial things StephenB can’t touch — inquiry and reconciliation.

    So, you’re pretty much stuck if you’re indulging in theology. Another dude’s Shintoism is just as legit as your finely honed supralapsarian reformed theology (or whatever the particulars you happen to adopt — don’t know, don’t care to know). It’s just as Christian in a technical sense, because in a technical sense, the semantics are just made up and provisional from beginning to end anyway.

    It’s a concept from philosophy and logic. And I think a reasonable reply StephenB could give here is that, fine – since you’re basically saying that Christian Darwinists can reconcile evolution with Christianity by way of occasionalism, all you have to do is show me where they say they commit to embracing occasionalism.

    No interest in or need for that. As I said above, I don’t even recognize the term “Christian Darwinist”, and as best I can tell, it’s just a strawman StephenB is making up for the purposes of this post. But it doesn’t matter. The important point is that StephenB can imagine all kinds of various competing theologies with which he disagrees theologically, and which he understands do not “reconcile” with his own, but because he’s operating on a theological playing field, it’s all just “play money”, as it were, anyway.

    It doesn’t help anything to find an instance of this kind of occasionalism — I was just making that up on the fly as pedagogy (I am not a subscriber to {B}). StephenB can understand right now that he is easily stalemated on this front, just by some random atheist dude thinking off the top of his head on teh intertube metas. Knowing that, there’s no gain in even finding such an advocate. Stalemates can be synthesized “on demand” for anything StephenB supposes should be reconciled.

    I point out, in conclusion, that as frustrating as that may be for StephenB, is still a good deal for him. It’s a necessary evil, because it protects StephenB’s own particular intuitions, too. If “reconciling” had any force as a theological concept, like it does as a scientific concept, his beloved intuitions would be hopelessly discredited, left in tatters scattered about the floor.

    Live by theology, die by theology, I guess the paraphrase would go. If you choose to protect your intuitions with theology, you’re protected, but impotent. You can’t touch anyone else’s theology either, unless they choose to adopt the intuitions you are advocating for.

  17. —eigenstate: “It’s quite literally “anything goes”, once you take that first leap in embracing belief in such a God, and the attendant beliefs in supernatural and physical substance which this god supervises in a plenipotentiary way.”

    I think nullasalus has done a good job refuting that point, so I will not belabor it. .

    —“A Christian can say: The evolved human mind becomes an eternal soul at conception, at the commencement of electrical activity in the brain, or at birth. You are powerless to resist this assertion, as your resistance cannot be any more forceful or “liable to reconcilation” than the assertion you’ve just been given.”

    I am not powerless to refute the point, but I am powerless to force anyone to acknowledge the refutation. Even the epiphenomenlaists understand that matter cannot become spirit. That is why, when they suggest that matter can produce mind, they are careful to point out that the evolved “mind” as they define it, remains grounded in matter.

    ___”Can you point me to a link to one of these “Christian Darwinists” you speak of, making the claims you allege? I’d appreciate being able to hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.”

    One either accepts the extravagant claims of Darwin’s mechanism or one does not. According to that paradigm, evolution produced larger and larger brains until human intelligence became a fact. In other words, for Christians who accept Darwin’s scheme, the mechanism was responsible for the origin of the human mind.

    This is what I understand Francis Collins to mean, for example, when he writes, “Most remarkably, God intentionally chose this same mechanism to give rise to special creatures who would have intelligence, free will, and a desire to seek fellowship with him. He also knew that these creatures would ultimately choose to disobey the moral law.” (P 201, The Language of God).

    But as I have indicated, an immaterial mind cannot emerge from matter. It should be evident that molecules re-arranging themselves cannot evolve into something that contains no molecules, just as Jupiter cannot both exist and not exist. If that point isn’t clear, then reflect on the fact that spirit does not depend on matter for its existence and cannot, therefore derive from matter from that same reason. The mind does depend on the brain for its operation (while united to a body), but not for its existence.

    Now, it may be the case that Collins, Miller et al would acknowledge that God “breathed in” a “soul” from the top down, but they seem to forget, if they ever knew it, that the soul consists of an immaterial mind and an immaterial will. If the soul was created directly, then so was the mind, which means, of course, that it didn’t emerge.

    So, they cannot have it both ways, that is, they cannot attribute the origin of the mind to God’s direct intervention from the top down when they are giving lip service to the soul and then turn around and attribute it to the indirect process of evolution from the bottom up.

    —“If you say “as commonly understood”, you are simply pushing a fallacious appeal to ad populum arguments. Theologic truth is not normative per consensus or popularity.”

    It isn’t an ad populum argument, it is simply a definition: A rational soul, as understood by Christians is (1) the intellect or mind, which is power to reason, understand, and argue, (2) the will, which is the power to choose and love and (3) the aesthetic sensibility, by which we appreciate beauty. To understand the meaning of rational soul, and the fact that it is immortal, is to understand the role of an immaterial, immortal mind, which is to understand that it must be the result of a direct creative act.

    –“The “Christian Darwinist” says the material mind for humans has a supernatural and eternal vector. It sounds bogus to me, too, so I empathize with the reaction, but I am not embracing competing theologies that are just as indefensible and superstitious as I understand you to have embraced. Given the ground you are standing on, I can’t see that you have anything that will even slightly nudge the Christian Darwinist’s claim, let alone knock it over.”

    Once he understands that a material processes cannot produce a mind, and why, he will rethink his position if he is a reasonable person.

    —“But logic doesn’t and can’t corral that. There’s no logical inconsistency in supposing that humans are “hybrids”, where their human biology is a combination of flesh and spirit. The death of the flesh leaves the spirit only, and it the person is no longer a “hybrid” but just a spirit.

    Humans are, indeed, a composite of body and soul. It does not follow, however, that a body can evolve into a soul. A cluster of molecules cannot morph into something that contains no molecules. It can only change into another combination of molecules. I am hoping that you will come to see that.

    —Logic without falsification doesn’t get you very far. This is the conceit of rational intuitionists, and the triumph of scientific epistemology. The history of philosophy is replete with the failures of rational intuition as a self-standing heuristic. Intuition is a crucial and powerful driver for human thought and inquiry, but ‘logic on its own’ only produces trivial truths and tautologies. It doesn’t inform or reveal anything about the real world around us, unless and until it actual gets applied to experience and tests in that real world.”

    Rationalism and intuitionism are not synonymous with reason and logic. No valid logical argument has ever been refuted because no logical argument can be refuted. Jupiter cannot exist and not exist at the same time. That argument is unassailable. Evidence does not inform reason’s rules; reason’s rules inform evidence. It is those same rules (law of non-contradiction, law of causality etc.) by which we interpret evidence reasonably. New evidence does not change those old rules because those rules are impervious to change. If they could be changed, they would be a useless standard for discerning truth from error. By contrast, the findings of science are always provisional. That is why the former rules the latter. Error changes. Truth doesn’t

  18. –”Moses and Elijah were a vision. How did the apostles recognize them? Had they seen photos of them?”

    According to the Bible, Moses and Elijah “appeared” to Jesus and spoke with him at length. How did the apostles know whot they were? Perhaps Jesus called them by name. There is nothing there to suggest that it was a mere “vision.” If, indeed, they did appear, then it should be evident that their souls were alive and well.

  19. This seems to me perfectly immune from any assault from StephenB, in precisely the same way his intuitions are invulnerable to any cross examinations I, as a Christian Darwinist (whatever that is) might offer.

    Ignoring the bad caricatures of theology for a moment: StephenB’s main “assault” here is to point out that if a person is seeking to reconcile God with Darwinism, this is going to involve sacrificing some metaphysical/philosophical commitments of Darwinism. What you outline here is a gesture in the direction of that sacrifice – it’s just StephenB’s {A}.

    And StephenB cannot complain, because to do so is to expose himself as a hypocrite. He lives a theological house of the most fragile and thin glass, himself, so he can’t be throwing stones.

    This is tremendous nonsense. Plenty of theologians and philosophers interact with each other, making points about the consistency of their ideas, what those ideas entail, incoherence that may result, etc. This applies to atheist philosophers too, who also at times simply fall back on ‘brute fact’ or denying causality or otherwise. In this case, StephenB is pressing them to speak more about how these things take place in a no-intervention, no-guidance, bottom-up manner. Your response is to say, basically, ‘A TE doesn’t have to do that!’ But that’s right. It’s called embracing {A} in Stephen’s list.

    I don’t recall a single instance of a Christian who accepted the theory of evolution make a claim like {B}. Not saying it doesn’t or can’t happen, it’s just totally foreign to my experience.

    I gave one example of the sort of standard of Darwinism that was given at Biologos’ site. The further complaint about Biologos largely comes in the form of silence upon pressing. If a person just says ‘God and Darwinism are compatible’ then refuses to specify how the two interact, there’s a problem.

    Godless evolution cannot identify purpose behind what’s regarded as “randomness’, by definition; if you can identify purpose, plan or pattern, it ain’t random. A theistic evolutionist understands that if God is there behind the curtain, neither the atheist or the theist could identify such based our current science.

    Except that “Godless evolution” is positively defined. It’s not “we are unable to identify if evolution is directed”. It’s “evolution is not guided or directed by God in any way, in whole or in part”. It’s the difference between arguing that science is incapable of discerning the presence or lack of teleology in nature, and the assertion that the teleology is not there.

    Likewise, ‘identifying it based on current science’ is not necessary. A philosophical or metaphysical commitment that interprets the science – and naturalism/atheism is just another form of ‘theological’ interpretation on this front – would be fine. No need to say the inference is scientific.

    Well, behold the splendor of theology, huh?

    No, that’s your blunder. You’re saying that Christianity is contentless to the point where you can call shinto, without modification, Christianity. I think plenty of atheists would regard that as self-evidently wrong, and you haven’t backed this up except to repeat over and over ‘if it’s theology you can say whatever you like’, despite mountains of evidence of theologians and philosophers examining and comparing their claims, arguing in earnest, abandoning positions that were shown to be incoherent, etc.

    Your example with Hawking is uneven: you say Hawking and Susskind “agreed on the method of resolving their dispute”. But plenty of theists and philosophers share those methods. Sometimes they’re empirical – ‘Find Christ’s body and Christianity is false’. Other times they’re based on logic and reasoning – ‘Show this philosophical claim is incoherent and it will be abandoned’.

    StephenB can understand right now that he is easily stalemated on this front,

    Not at all, though it’s common for atheists to think they’ve stalemated someone, just as it’s common for creationists to think they can disprove evolution in 5 minutes. They’re usually equally “right”.

    Like it or not, not only does the thrust of StephenB’s post make it through, but you’ve already copped to it. Your big defense here is to claim that no theists take route {B}, and that they all take route {A}. But {A} is exactly what StephenB thinks they should take anyway. And there’s plenty of reason to suspect that {B} is either taken, or implied by, the sort of (non)-statements we often, though not always, see coming out of Biologos.

    So in the end, you agree: {B} has nothing going for it. {A} does. Which is encouraging – even atheists can see StephenB’s point.

  20. So when The witch of Endor channeled dead Prophet Samuel at unfaithful anoited King Saul’s request, was that really the Soul of the Prophet Samuel ???

    If so, then why would the Mosaic Law forbid such wonderful contacting with the dead and why would this be repeated in the New Testament to be forbidden to Christians for contacting spirit mediums ??? Shouldn’t christians be allowed to contact and speak to their dead relatives they loved in this life by obtaining the services of a Spirit Medium ???

    Also, if all animals, birds, fish, reptiles, insects have Souls, is it possible that Hinduism has it right ???

  21. ScottAndrews2:

    “The Bible indicates that Christians could be resurrected as spirits rather than in physical bodies. This does not imply that they already were such before death.”
    ====

    Interesting point. If the Soul floats off immediately after death no matter who or what it is, then this would make the teaching of the Resusrrection Annulled.

  22. 22
    material.infantacy

    Scripture makes clear who is present in 1st Samuel 28, and that includes Samuel — he even prophesies the death of Saul and his sons on Mt. Gilboa the following day.

    If there is scripture that identifies the person in that passage as anyone other than Samuel, I’d appreciate a reference.

    Your questioning of Mosaic law in the face of what you perceive would be “wonderful contacting” is exactly the reason for the Mosaic law in the first place. It’s illegal to contact the dead because you’re not supposed to do it.

    Everything in that passage suggests the players are exactly as the author reveals. I don’t know of any explicit references from the Word itself which deny the identity of Samuel, for the person identified therein as Samuel, or confirm the identity of another entity, for the person of Samuel in 1st Samuel 28.

    While there may be some room to argue a question of identity therein, there’s no apparent justification for a dogmatic pronouncement of an interpretation extrinsic to the text. Clearly the figure is identified and recognized as Samuel.

    Here are some questions that would need to be answered if we’re to suppose an alternate identity of the figure called Samuel.

    1) Why does the author identify the figure as Samuel? It would have made more sense to identify it as “the spirit in the image of Samuel,” or “the figure appearing as Samuel,” or some such if the reader was meant to question identity.

    2) Why does Saul recognize the figure as Samuel? Saul knew him better than most, and would not have been easily fooled.

    3) Where does the plan to deceive Saul play out? If there was a reason or plan to deceive Saul with an illusory apparition of Samuel, it is not revealed in the text.

    4) How can an entity other than a prophet of God prophesy the death of Saul, and his three sons? The death of anyone, especially that of the king of Israel and his line, would be only for God to know and reveal. No demonic entity would have access to such a vision.

  23. material.infancy,

    The prophecy was not correct. The apparition stated that all of Saul’s sons would die. They did not. Did God provide a false prophecy?

    If God took some spirit from a person such as Samuel and transferred to some other paradise, by what means could a medium force it to appear? If these were good people who died and whose “spirits” were now somewhere else, how could spirit mediums just yank any of them back whenever they felt like?

    When God wanted to communicate with a man, he sent a prophet. Do we suppose that in this Saul “forced” an answer from God by going to a spirit medium and yanking Samuel back from whatever paradise he was in? God detested such mediums. He did not communicate through them.

    The immortality of the soul was a pagan teaching. It was and is a common trick for wicked spirits to further this by pretending to be dead people and sharing information only someone else could know. How do they foretell the future? I don’t know, but they can. In Acts Paul expelled a demon who did just that. (Don’t forget, the prophecy wasn’t even entirely true.)

    The above shows why God detested such activities. They brought people into contact with demons. Interesting that the only reference to Samuel or any other man living in spirit after death was in this context.

    And, on top of all of that, to understand this as Samuel having been summoned to prophesy on behalf of God plainly contradicts the rest of the scriptures. Solomon said that dead were aware of nothing and had no knowledge. Psalms says they have no thoughts. You cannot reconcile the two.

    If we believe the Bible to be a collection of fables, fine. But if we believe it to be the word of God then we cannot interpret 1st Samuel 28 in a way that directly contradicts clear statements, taken in context, about what happens when we die. Especially not when we have several other good reasons not to understand the verse that way.

    Why would a demon share this information with Saul? Who knows? As evidenced elsewhere in the scriptures, sometimes they do that. I don’t need to understand everything they do to know what they are.

  24. @StephenB,

    I am not powerless to refute the point, but I am powerless to force anyone to acknowledge the refutation. Even the epiphenomenlaists understand that matter cannot become spirit. That is why, when they suggest that matter can produce mind, they are careful to point out that the evolved “mind” as they define it, remains grounded in matter.

    God can do as he pleases. Think about what you are saying. Water can become wine, spirit can become flesh (the incarnation), but, per your God, matter cannot become spirit. Why? Oh, because of the consensus of epiphenomenalists? Seriously? If you took that kind of counsel at all seriously, you would hold the theism that you do! The very restriction you point to here discredits all manner of theological commitments you maintain.

    As to “forcing” someone to accept your refutation, that misunderstands the basis for reconciliation. Hawking was not “forced” to concede to Susskind in some coercive way. Neither did Hawking just decide he later liked the cut of Susskind’s arguments, and “capitulated” to the arguments themselves. Hawking shares a method for reconciliation with Susskind that theologians do not and cannot have — if they had this, it would be wallowing as theology, but would be science! Hawking embraces a method and an epistemology that enables his own views (or views of others) to be falsified and discredited in an objective way — it’s obligatory on him per his epistemology even though its non-coercive or “forcing”.

    Theology isn’t like that. There is no experiment or intersubjective test that we could submit to as a method of reconciliation. Your refutation is condemned to always and ever be “in the eye of the beholder”. There is no reconciliation through a shared arbitration practice. That’s the poverty of theology as opposed to science. If some theologian abandons the doctrine of hell (or penal substitutionary atonement, or supralapsarian predistination, or….), it is not because the results of a world discriminating test have provide an objective basis for abandoning it. If there were such a test, he’d be doing science!

    One either accepts the extravagant claims of Darwin’s mechanism or one does not. According to that paradigm, evolution produced larger and larger brains until human intelligence became a fact. In other words, for Christians who accept Darwin’s scheme, the mechanism was responsible for the origin of the human mind.

    Right.

    This is what I understand Francis Collins to mean, for example, when he writes, “Most remarkably, God intentionally chose this same mechanism to give rise to special creatures who would have intelligence, free will, and a desire to seek fellowship with him. He also knew that these creatures would ultimately choose to disobey the moral law.” (P 201, The Language of God).

    But as I have indicated, an immaterial mind cannot emerge from matter.

    That would be a warranted conclusion from a SCIENTIFIC point of view, but this is absolutely unwarranted as a theological assertion. Have you heard a Hindu friend tell about reincarnation? Scientifically, we have no warrant for such a conclusion. Theologically, that’s as true as “I go to heaven when I die”. Anything goes.

    Theologically, you have no grounds for this assertion. If we’re talking theology, I will say “An immaterial mind CAN emerge from matter, and it happens all the time”, as a devil’s advocate. Now what? You are stalemated. My theological intuition is just as impervious to assault as yours is. So you can “indicate” it, but if you are offering this as theology, it’s trivially counter-indicated just by my say-so, my intuition. That’s the bummer of indulging in theology — there is no adjudication, no intersubjectivity, ever, not possibly. All disagreements are permanent stalemates, stalemates invulnerable to intersubjective reconciliation.

    If you are speaking scientifically, of course, I agree there is no basis for concluding that an immaterial mind can emerge from matter, if for no other reason than the terms are incoherent. “Immaterial mind” is not a meaningful concept for science. Science traffics in natural explanations for natural phenomena.

    It should be evident that molecules re-arranging themselves cannot evolve into something that contains no molecules, just as Jupiter cannot both exist and not exist.

    That’s not the theological intuition you are working against, here. Rather it is this: matter evolves, and in some exotic configurations, ADDS a spiritual dimension to its physical vectors. That spiritual dimension is eternal, and so when the physical features are annihilated, the spiritual vector remains. Or, symbolically: P=> P+S => S, where ‘P’ is ‘physical’ and ‘S’ is “spiritual”. From physical to hybrid to spiritual. At no point does any molecule both exist and not exist.

    We’re talking theology and metaphysics here, so anything goes. My contrived theological intuitions can’t beat up yours, but yours are just as impotent as mine. Neither intuition can even lean on the other if the owners of those intuitions don’t wish it to be so. And there is no “court of investigation” that can arbitrate this for us, either.

    If that point isn’t clear, then reflect on the fact that spirit does not depend on matter for its existence and cannot, therefore derive from matter from that same reason. The mind does depend on the brain for its operation (while united to a body), but not for its existence.

    I imagine it’s no different than God “endowing” a human fetus or baby with a supernatural soul. Instead of being “special creation”, of the overt and direct style that many creationists of so fond of, it’s evolutionary, developmental, incrremental. If God can just “infuse” human flesh with a spiritual soul in one discrete act — “poof!” — he can infuse spirit at the atomic level as incrementally and arbitrarily as he likes.

    You are giving signs here that you think theology is something rigorous like science. It’s not. Water can’t become wine by the very same principles you are bringing to bear here, and yet, do you believe in the miracle at Cana? Just be consistent, one way or another. If we are goofing off in the romper room of theology, let’s do that, but let’s not get confused we are liability to evidence or causality or “best inferences” that depend on real-world grounding and science. Don’t steal those concepts, because they are foreign to theology, and divide by zero operations as theology.

    If we want to discuss from the basis of scientific epistemology, then fine, but the conversation is radically reshaped. There is no God or spirit or soul or immaterial mind in evidence to even CONSIDER if we are thinking in ways that are accountable to empirical testing and objective validation.

    Now, it may be the case that Collins, Miller et al would acknowledge that God “breathed in” a “soul” from the top down, but they seem to forget, if they ever knew it, that the soul consists of an immaterial mind and an immaterial will. If the soul was created directly, then so was the mind, which means, of course, that it didn’t emerge.

    That is not entailed, theology. Entailment in theology is reduced to logical entailments, implications necessary just to avoid logical contradictions. There’s no logical contradiction in the idea that the soul emerges, incrementally. If it can be “created by poof” and invested in human flesh in a discrete fashion by God, it can “grown in the flesh”, incrementally. God’s ways are mysterious, and it is a mighty God we serve, indeed, remember?

    Collins, by they way does not claim anything like {B}. He believes the mind evolves naturally, but the soul is invested miraculously, not as part of evolution. Don’t ask me for the mechanics, or him — that’s not something superstitious theology can be bothered with. You’re not going to deign to explain to me how water turns to wine, either. These are all difficulties theology is well-designed to escape. It’s just notional, and not accountable to any evidence or testable models, or any objective performance demands at all. So when you say “Soul can’t emerge from matter”, you are just waving your hands. You are right to say that Collins is also waving his hands when he supposes the soul is miraculously invested in an evolve human chassis, but so what? That’s part and parcel of theology, as your only theology will flamboyantly demonstrate.

    So, they cannot have it both ways, that is, they cannot attribute the origin of the mind to God’s direct intervention from the top down when they are giving lip service to the soul and then turn around and attribute it to the indirect process of evolution from the bottom up.

    In theology, you can have it both ways. That’s what theology provides to humans, a much desired means of having things like this both ways. A putative Christian Darwinist can just say “the restrictions you impose here do not apply, and the spiritual soul CAN emerge as a by-product of biological evolution”. And you’re completely stymied. If you don’t think you are, then I will ask you how you “have it both ways” by understanding God to be “fully three” and “fully one” at one and the same time. If you can untangle the mysteries of the Trinity, then I have about three thousand other, similar question where Christian theology has its cake and eats it, too.

    It’s rank hypocrisy to think Collins should be held to some rational standard you flagrantly flaunt and revile yourself for your own views.

    It isn’t an ad populum argument, it is simply a definition: A rational soul, as understood by Christians is (1) the intellect or mind, which is power to reason, understand, and argue, (2) the will, which is the power to choose and love and (3) the aesthetic sensibility, by which we appreciate beauty. To understand the meaning of rational soul, and the fact that it is immortal, is to understand the role of an immaterial, immortal mind, which is to understand that it must be the result of a direct creative act.

    That’s just as problematic, then, if not more. It’s just a definition, which means it’s trivial. Reality isn’t bound by your (or my) definitions. So the Christian Darwinist will just argue that whatever changes need to be made to the definition of ‘soul’ be made to bring it into line with (theological) reality, which has the soul incrementally developing as a spiritual vector on some configurations of physical matter. QED. Your definitions aren’t even a speed bump — just change them to fit the more compelling reality (as the Christian Darwinist sees it).

    Definitions serve our goals, not the other way around, remember. They are just conceptual tools.

    Once he understands that a material processes cannot produce a mind, and why, he will rethink his position if he is a reasonable person.

    There’s no reason to accept that restriction, theologically (or scientifically, as it happens). Theologically, anything goes, God’s ways are mysterious and he’s omnipotent, etc. Scientifically speaking, this restriction would be the intrusion of superstitious thinking.

    Humans are, indeed, a composite of body and soul. It does not follow, however, that a body can evolve into a soul.

    That’s not the question. Your position is a different one, one that burdens you: the body CANNOT evolve into having a soul. How would you propose to establish this impossibility? Since we’re operating in the theological arena, you can’t. There’s no way to prosecute or demonstrate such a restriction. It doesn’t imply any logical contradictions. So it’s fair game for anyone else who fancies such an idea to suppose that really is how it works. After all, you believe (ostensibly) that a woman was healed by just touching Jesus’ cloak and believing that would provide healing, and that Jesus turned water into wine.

    Should I ask you where it “follows”, that water can be turned into wine? How would you answer that one?

    If it’s not clear, this is all just pedagogy towards the understanding that you are in an impotent position, and have no more grounds to have your theological constraints assented to than any one else’s or the listeners own peculiar theological intuitions, no matter how capricious or esoteric they may be. You are engaging in the gratuitous theft of stolen concepts from science and real world investigations. Nothing “follows” except for logical consistency in theology. “cannot” is a stolen concept from the real world that has no grounding in your theology. “Can” and “Cannot” are undefined concepts in theology. The best you can do is say “A=~A” is problematic (which it is just on formal logical terms).

    A cluster of molecules cannot morph into something that contains no molecules. It can only change into another combination of molecules. I am hoping that you will come to see that.

    In the real world, scientifically, I certainly agree we have no warrant for supposing a soul gets attached to a human in any way, even if we suppose for now that “soul” is a meaningful concept in that domain. But you are using “can” and “cannot” — terms grounded in real world experience and scientific epistemology — in a completely foreign domain: theology. What grounds “can” and “cannot” in theology? I have no problem with ruling out self-contradiction and logical incoherence, but that is not at issue with “can” in the theological view of molecules and spirit. There is no grounding for “can” and “cannot”, theologically, so far as I’m aware. It’s a concept stolen from the real world of experience and nature that theologians invoke for polemic reasons, but reasons that have no internal semantic ground.

    Think about how we ground “can” in the real world. We test, try, experiment, review results, build models, make predictions, break models, fail and succeed at various predictions. This provides the semantic ground for “can”, for what is plausible, for what causes and capabilities and restrictions apply.

    Theology can’t get purchase on any of that. If it shared any of that, it would cease to be theology, and become science. As it is, there are no experiments to try, no way to test models, no predictions entailed from any models we can test. “Can” and “cannot” are just so much bluster as theological terms, words that have good equity in real-world domains that we hope to pass off as meaningful and persuasive when used theologically, hoping no one will notice.

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    Hi SA, actually the prophecy was accurate, as the number of Saul’s sons is unspecified.

    So the questions remain:

    Why is the figure identified as Samuel in the text?
    Why does Saul recognize the figure as Samuel?
    Where does the plot to deceive Saul play itself out?
    Who other than a prophet could have prophesied the death of Israel’s king and his sons?

    You may believe that there is no consciousness after death, but you can’t use 1st Samuel 28 to show it. It appears to demonstrate the opposite. To cite your belief that the rest of scripture rules it out, is begging the question in this case, because that is the point under contention. There’s nothing in the context of this passage to indicate that anything else is going on, other than Saul speaking to the departed Samuel.

    The burden is on you to show how a figure that looked like, talked like, and prophesied like Samuel appeared to, and was recognized by Saul as Samuel — all while the text of the passage clearly named it Samuel. Meanwhile, absent from the text is any indication of a deceptive intent, or a plot to deceive Saul carried out in the pages of the book. I’m not saying there’s no room to question said identity, but clearly the dogmatic declaration that the figure identified as Samuel was definitely demonic is inappropriate, to say the least.

    As for the soothsaying demon in Acts, there’s no mention of its abilities other than to say that it made the girl’s masters some money. That’s a far cry from prophesying the day of death for Saul and his sons.

    m.i.

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    material.infantacy

    Footnote: The assumption that the prophecy foretold the death of Saul’s line was clearly mine, and incorrect. The text does not seem to suggest it.

  27. m.i.

    Why were fortunetellers called that if they never predicted the future? The Bible speaks of the evil of using ‘uncanny power.’ Apparently such power existed. How did the demon in Acts make money for the girl’s masters, if not by making predictions?

    Wasn’t Samuel a faithful man, obedient to God’s command not not consult spirit mediums? So why would Samuel agree to be summoned? Or did the devil have power over Samuel to make him appear? Or did God participate in what he had explicitly condemned?

    Such an interpretation requires one of the above to be true.

    And again, you must reconcile what Solomon, whose knowledge came from God, said about death. If Samuel was a spirit to be summoned, then what Solomon wrote cannot possibly be correct.

    “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing.”

    Fear of the spirits of the dead was a pagan belief. Spirit mediums working with demons acted to validate it by creating apparitions and speaking what only the dead could know. (That goes on to this day.)

    Psalm 146:4 “His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In that very day his thoughts perish.” The word for “spirit” is ruach, or “breath.”

    If Samuel knew nothing and his thoughts had perished, how did he speak to Saul?

    If Samuel had returned to the dust as Adam did, how did he speak to Saul?

    If Saul was asleep as Lazarus was while he was dead, how did he speak to Saul?

    To understand 1st Samuel 28 that way places it in contradiction with direct statements regarding the state of death, and has both God and Samuel acting in violation of God’s commandment.

    Look up Soul, Immortality, or Augustine in the New Catholic Encylopedia. Each refers to the influence of Plato and Aristotle. Why should men who had access to the word of God seek truth from pagan philosophers? It is an insult to God’s inspiration of the scriptures for such men to be mentioned in the same breath. Paul counseled to watch out for the world’s empty philosophy. It’s like having access to a grocery store and choosing to pick through the garbage bin outside.

    What’s more, the formulation of such doctrines coincides with a time when a warmongering secular ruler had assumed control of Christianity and began commanding Christians to observe pagan festivals. In other words, by the time this doctrine came about the church had fully apostasized. Within a short time what remained was no longer recognizable as the teaching of Jesus.

    Compare this to the parable at Matthew 13, in which Jesus foretold this:

    The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’“‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

  28. BTW, the prophecy of the so-called “Samuel” was false. Saul’s sons Armoni, Ishbosheth, and Mephibosheth did not die the next day.

    Saul also notes in the account that God had refused to answer him by any means. If Samuel were a disembodied spirit, in contradiction to the scriptures, from where did the answer he gave Saul come from? It’s evident that God had no message for Saul.

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    material.infantacy

    Hi Scott,

    You’re smuggling the rest of your theology into the interpretation of this passage. While I agree that this is necessary in many contexts, it is not appropriate here. I’ll try to explain why.

    First of all, I am not actively debating the veracity of “soul sleep” as it relates to the rest of scripture. I was responding to Eocene’s rather unwarranted injection of the Endor passage in the context.

    I’m confident that you will agree with me in general on this point. When arguing two sides of an issue, either A or B, it is not reasonable to assume either A or B in order to establish one or the other.

    Since the discussion (prior to my entering it) put at issue the veracity of “soul sleep,” it cannot be appropriate to assume that “soul sleep” is true, in order to demonstrate that the Endor passage supports soul sleep.

    For a case where only A or B can be true (A = “soul sleep”, B = “not soul sleep”) we cannot assume A in order to demonstrate that a scripture passage supports A. Nor can we assume B. We need to let the plain reading of the passage speak for itself. My comments regard that specific passage, and whether it can be said to support A — not whether A is true in the first place. That’s why my four questions deal with the immediate context, and not the entirety of the whole counsel of God. That’s a bigger debate for a more appropriate venue.

    In order for 1st Samuel 28 to support the concept of soul sleep, it’s suggested from your argumentation that we need to assume it in the first place. Without that assumption, I’m suggesting that a plain reading of the passage supports B. It only supports A if we assume A, from what I’m reading in your responses.

    You seem to be saying that since we should know that “soul sleep” is true, the Endor passage cannot refute it. However without making that initial assumption, the plain reading of the passage supports “not soul sleep.”

    So in a debate to decide (A or B), “soul sleep” or “not soul sleep”, the Endor passage taken on its own, more reasonably supports B, and not A, if we smuggle in no assumptions. Therefore it is not reasonable to use it as evidence in support of A. That was the vein which my original response to Eocene traveled in.

    As a matter of fact, when any (A or B) is on the table as a matter of debate, whether “soul sleep” or no, “Jesus is deity” or no, “Trinity” or no, “bodily resurrection” or no, each passage must stand essentially on its own to demonstrate that it supports A or that it supports B, since any assumption of one or the other is question begging. At least, every passage used to support one or the other, or to undermine one or the other, must be interpreted — wherever possible — from the context in which it is given. Otherwise the hermeneutics are compromised by the imposition of an a priori theology.

    In summary, we could shift gears and start a discussion as to whether each passage of scripture, taken on its own merits, better supports A or B. I might be up for that at another time on another thread. (I’m familiar with the theology I’m up against here; I have dealt with it before, and I disagree with it on practically every point). However here I was addressing Eocene’s interjection of the Endor passage as support for soul sleep when it clearly does not, taken on its own merits — when one doesn’t smuggle in the conclusion to make the point.

    I understand that if one reaches the conclusion that “soul sleep” is true, then one has no choice but to impose an alternate interpretation on the plain reading of the text of 1st Samuel 28. Such might even be warranted in those circumstances. However it’s a contentious point, and the Endor passage on its own cannot support the contention that every aspect of consciousness perishes with the body. Personally I have reached the conclusion that B is true; and the Endor passage supports that contention. Without assuming A in the first place, it cannot be used as evidence against B; at best it could possibly be demonstrated, by passages within the context, that it doesn’t support A. Hence the questions I posed which require that explanation.

    m.i.

    P.S. In regards to your 5.2.1.1.6, the prophecy did not number the sons, so cannot be false in that regard. IOW, the prophecy did not number nor name the sons that would perish with Saul, therefore it cannot be regarded as inaccurate regarding the number of dead sons or their identities. This was a foretelling inexplicable to the forces of darkenss. Demons have no such knowledge.

    That Saul could get no answer from God, and that he resorted to illegal means to try and do so, fits with the character of Saul, and helps cement our understanding of him. This is entirely consistent with the pattern established by him previously. Moreover, that God would choose, at the behest of Saul, to give him no advantage, but rather to reveal to him his own death, is an entirely appropriate irony given the context.

    Why were fortunetellers called that if they never predicted the future? The Bible speaks of the evil of using ‘uncanny power.’ Apparently such power existed. How did the demon in Acts make money for the girl’s masters, if not by making predictions?

    One needn’t see the future in order to “foretell” it here and there. One just needs an accuracy which results in more hits than misses. In my view, making a “prediction” is a matter of an educated guess — it may or may not pan out. Making a prophecy, or foretelling the future, is not a matter of guess work; it’s 100% or nothing on that one. Demons are ancient and awful beings with potentially terrible intellects. It takes little imagination to suppose how a being such as this, who likely possesses uncanny insight into human behavior, as well as the ability to hear and see things that most any human would be unable to, and unsuspecting of, could give someone the advantage — and an apparent supernatural one. There’s no reason to assume that a demon need see the future in order to predict it with apparent supernatural ability, in many situations, not the least of which would revolve directly around human business dealings and affairs. They’re supernatural creatures with frightening capabilities — but I doubt seriously that any one of them has access to that which only God could know. Fortune telling is not prophecy, not in the divine sense. I see no reason to presume that what demons whisper to their captives has anything to do with what God reveals to prophets, priests, and kings.

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    material.infantacy

    Correction: “…at best it could possibly be demonstrated, by passages within the context, that it doesn’t support A. Hence the questions I posed which require that explanation.”

    Should be: “…at best it could possibly be demonstrated, by passages within the context, that it doesn’t support B. Hence the questions I posed which require that explanation.”

  31. —eisengate: “God can do as he pleases.”

    So, in your judgment, God can make a square circle, direct an undirected process, and violate his own nature by refusing to love?

    [matter cannot evolve into spirit]

    –”That would be a warranted conclusion from a SCIENTIFIC point of view, but this is absolutely unwarranted as a theological assertion.”

    No, it would not be warranted from a scientific point of view. It is warranted from a philosophical/metaphysical/logical point of view.

    –”Rather it is this: matter evolves, and in some exotic configurations, ADDS a spiritual dimension to its physical vectors.”

    Matter cannot add a spiritual dimension to the physical dimension because it does not have spirit to give. An effect is always preceded by a proportionate cause.

    —”That spiritual dimension is eternal, and so when the physical features are annihilated, the spiritual vector remains.”

    You really don’t perceive the nonsensical nature of that comment do you? The entire scheme is based on the assumption that matter can give something it doesn’t have to give.

    Or, symbolically: P=> P+S => S, where ‘P’ is ‘physical’ and ‘S’ is “spiritual”. From physical to hybrid to spiritual. At no point does any molecule both exist and not exist.”

    But the problem is that nothing exists in the molecules that can produce the spiritual and, further, by their very nature they cannot

  32. M.I.,

    Note also that Saul did not see the vision. It was described to him. There is no reason to think he heard the words either. We have the words of a spirit medium against the rest of the Hebrew scriptures.

    I’m not smuggling in “A” as an assumption. “A” is more than one explicit statement about what happens when one dies. It is also supported by the common usage of the word, in which people called their souls hungry, tired, or even dead. If a person’s soul is hungry, what experiences hunger and what needs to eat? The body.

    Genesis does not say that God put a soul into Adam. He made a body, and when he breathed life into it, he became a soul like the animals around him.

    Ezekiel 18 says a sinful soul would die. The context was not some future experience of the soul, but it was in response to an immediate concern – whether presently alive sons would die for the sins of their fathers.

    We have Solomon’s very explicit statements. We have God’s explicit statement that Adam was dust and would return to dust. If Adam was to be punished after death, why was he not warned? It he was to live on as a spirit without punishment, then what was the significance of death?

    That the soul is a living, mortal thing is not ‘smuggled in.’ It was the foundational understanding of everyone who wrote the Bible and of those who wrote it. We should expect them to be in harmony if in fact God inspired them to write.

    If you wish to take 1st Samuel 28 literally, do so. Saul visited a medium and she described to him the apparition she saw and heard.

    Satan can be an angel of light when it suits his deceptive purposes. Even the demons proclaimed that Jesus was the son of God. Certainly imitating Samuel is not a stretch.

  33. —“Anything goes.”

    So, from a metaphysical point of view, Jupiter can exist and not exist at the same time?

    —“If you are speaking scientifically, of course, I agree there is no basis for concluding that an immaterial mind can emerge from matter, if for no other reason than the terms are incoherent. “Immaterial mind” is not a meaningful concept for science. Science traffics in natural explanations for natural phenomena.”

    Irrelevant to the philosophical argument.

    —“If we want to discuss from the basis of scientific epistemology, then fine, but the conversation is radically reshaped. There is no God or spirit or soul or immaterial mind in evidence to even CONSIDER if we are thinking in ways that are accountable to empirical testing and objective validation.”

    Irrelevant to the philosophical argument. And time wasting.

    —”That is not entailed, theology. Entailment in theology is reduced to logical entailments, implications necessary just to avoid logical contradictions. There’s no logical contradiction in the idea that the soul emerges, incrementally. If it can be “created by poof” and invested in human flesh in a discrete fashion by God, it can “grown in the flesh”, incrementally. God’s ways are mysterious, and it is a mighty God we serve, indeed, remember?”

    Spirit can only be created from spirit. It cannot be created gradually by adding parts because there are no parts to add. Also, if it is created gradually then it doesn’t exist until it is complete, but spirit cannot exist partially. Spirit is always complete and unchanging and it could only come into existence gradually through change.

  34. –”Should I ask you where it “follows”, that water can be turned into wine? How would you answer that one?”

    Ask away. It doesn’t follow from anything, nor is there anything to prevent a Divine miracle in that context. Are you suggesting that such an event is comparable to matter creating its own spirit?

  35. From Francis Collins’ The Language of God:

    “6. But humans are also unique in ways that defy evolutionary explanation and point to our spiritual nature. This includes the existence of the Moral Law (the knowledge of right and wrong) and the search for God that characterizes all human cultures throughout history.” (I think it’s on p.200).

    It seems that Collins does not think that Darwinian evolution can account for all it means to be human. I think StephenB would conclude that Collins is not necessarily a Christian Darwinist. I think Collins would say that everything up to, but not necessarily including human beings, can be accounted for by Darwinian evolution, though.

    Personally, I reject physicalism and non-reductive physicalism. I’m undecided whether we have (1) immaterial souls in addition to physical bodies, or whether (2) God infused matter with a mental/spiritual property that allowed it to eventually develop into minds/souls, or whether (3) God created the origin of life with something that was also part mental/spiritual. If (2) is true does this invalidate Darwinian evolution? Not necessarily. All the events that led to the origin of life might have not been influenced by the mental/spiritual element of matter. And all mutations in the history of the development of life might still have been random with respect to fitness. And if (3) is true, again, all mutations in the history of the development of life might still have been random with respect to fitness.

    So I think it is still possible to be a consistent Christian and a Darwinist.

  36. @StephenB,

    So, in your judgment, God can make a square circle, direct an undirected process, and violate his own nature by refusing to love?

    No, I’ve repeatedly here excepted logical contradictions. Your first two are contradictory by definitions, by the simple invocation of conflicting terms. The third one is not a logical contradiction as its not been shown that any god exists, never mind that such a god’s nature is love, nor that love is some character about god that is immutable even for god, nor that we would not choose to make such a changes, etc. That one is densely packed with problems that are not logical contradictions, just gratuitously presumptive theology.

    But yeah, an omnipotent god can do what he wants, with the proviso that “do” is subject, as all actions are, to logical coherence.

    No, it would not be warranted from a scientific point of view. It is warranted from a philosophical/metaphysical/logical point of view.

    How does one establish warrant metaphysically? Trick question, but I’m interested to know what your warrant is, metaphysically.

    Matter cannot add a spiritual dimension to the physical dimension because it does not have spirit to give. An effect is always preceded by a proportionate cause.

    See, you just steal concepts from science and import them into your metaphysics, without even a thought, seemingly unaware. Well, since it’s theology, two can easily play at that game. I say matter CAN add a spiritual dimension when ever God desires it as such, and in any incremental and evolutionary (or sudden “Poof!”) way he likes. The effect obtains from God as cause. Now what? Shall we stalemate somewhere else while we wave our plastic spoons of theology around at each other at ten paces?

    You really don’t perceive the nonsensical nature of that comment do you? The entire scheme is based on the assumption that matter can give something it doesn’t have to give.

    Hello, I’m a materialist. Of course it’s nonsense. We’re doing theology. That’s the point. One of us clearly understand the nonsensical nature of these points (on both sides), and I think is me.

    Theologically, God can give physical matter a spiritual dimension, if that is God’s will. Do you find that logically impossible? If not, then smell the stalemate.

    *waves plastic spoon of theology in an animated fashion from a distance*

    But the problem is that nothing exists in the molecules that can produce the spiritual and, further, by their very nature they cannot.

    Hey, I remind you again again we are talking theology about what an OMNISCIENT, OMNIPOTENT deity can do. Do you want to reconsider this protest in light of that? Or is your theology such that God is somehow (God really is mysterious!) metaphysically impotent in this case, unable to design physical substance that also has spiritual vectors. Yow.

    You’re getting confused about how “can” works in the real world and the “anything goes” “can” of theology (Logical contradictions excepted, of course, so we don’t get wrapped around that axle again). You’ve stolen a “can/cannot” concept from the real world, and injected it where that concept is totally inapplicable — theology under the rule of an omnipotent, omniscient god.

    Concept fail.

    Spirit can only be created from spirit. It cannot be created gradually by adding parts because there are no parts to add. Also, if it is created gradually then it doesn’t exist until it is complete, but spirit cannot exist partially. Spirit is always complete and unchanging and it could only come into existence gradually through change.

    LOL. OK. Let me get my plastic spoon of theology ready, and:

    Spirit CAN be incrementally added to physical matter, creating a hybrid substance which has the supernatural parts enduring forever even when the physical vectors are annihilated. It CAN be created gradually by adding parts. It CAN exist in partial, developmental forms. Spirit IS dynamic (in the supernatural sense of the term, of course!), and comes into being when God wants, how God wants, and where God wants (again with the caveat that we avoid logical contradictions in assessing that phase space!).

    *puts smoking plastic spoon of theology back in holster with a flourish*

    Whew! Ok, stalemate yet again.

    You are operating in theology here, so your ideas are totally unaccountable, totally untestable, purely subjective, and thus epistemically impotent. You are totally safe with your theology inside the box you’ve created for your intuitions and superstitions, but by the same token, everyone else is impervious to your ideas. They can only be accepted by someone deciding they happen to have compatible intuitions and superstitions. There is no test, no evidence, to predictions we can evaluate and analyze will ever lead us anywhere epistemically from the plastic-spoon-waving we’ve taken up, here.

  37. Ask away. It doesn’t follow from anything, nor is there anything to prevent a Divine miracle in that context. Are you suggesting that such an event is comparable to matter creating its own spirit?

    No, silly. Over and over, I’ve made this operation a creative, supernatural act of God, incrementally fortifying physical matter with a “spirit vector”. I suppose I’m just as warranted in asserting what you are resisting — that matter can create its own spirit. Why not?

    But for the record, I was positing this spirit fortification as an active of divine supernatural creation by an omnipotent, omniscient god. So you want to tell me where it follows that God cannot engage in such an act of creation, if indeed you think such an act is somehow metaphysically beyond an omnipotent god’s capabilities?

  38. You may have missed my answer to this @6, so I will repeat it:

    “One either accepts the extravagant claims of Darwin’s mechanism or one does not. According to that paradigm, evolution produced larger and larger brains until human intelligence became a fact. In other words, for Christians who accept Darwin’s scheme, the mechanism was responsible for the origin of the human mind.

    This is what I understand Francis Collins to mean, for example, when he writes, “Most remarkably, God intentionally chose this same mechanism to give rise to special creatures who would have intelligence, free will, and a desire to seek fellowship with him. He also knew that these creatures would ultimately choose to disobey the moral law.” (P 201, The Language of God).

    But as I have indicated, an immaterial mind cannot emerge from matter. It should be evident that molecules re-arranging themselves cannot evolve into something that contains no molecules, just as Jupiter cannot both exist and not exist. If that point isn’t clear, then reflect on the fact that spirit does not depend on matter for its existence and cannot, therefore derive from matter from that same reason. The mind does depend on the brain for its operation (while united to a body), but not for its existence.

    Now, it may be the case that Collins, Miller et al would acknowledge that God “breathed in” a “soul” from the top down, but they seem to forget, if they ever knew it, that the soul consists of an immaterial mind and an immaterial will. If the soul was created directly, then so was the mind, which means, of course, that it didn’t emerge.

    So, they cannot have it both ways, that is, they cannot attribute the origin of the mind to God’s direct intervention from the top down when they are giving lip service to the soul and then turn around and attribute it to the indirect process of evolution from the bottom up.”

    I trust that you will not take eisengate’s position to the effect that these two explanations of the mind’s origin can both be true.

  39. just a quick note – eigenstate’s objections are theological, unrelated to the physical evidence of design in nature.

  40. 40
    material.infantacy

    Scott, I don’t know how to be any more explicit.

    A = soul sleep
    B = not A

    Taken on its own, the Endor passage does only one of the following: supports A; supports B; supports neither A nor B.

    I assert that the passage cannot support A; that it tends to support B in context; and that its apparent support for B can be undermined by answering, within the context of 1st Samuel, the four questions that I submitted. Since you continue to disagree, we’re at an impasse; I’m not debating the veracity of “soul sleep” itself, nor any other alternative doctrines, so the rest of the discussion appears moot at this stage.

    I’m not likely to engage in a theological debate that puts W.S. theology (yours) against mainstream Protestant theology (mine) anytime soon on this thread because I don’t find it appropriate to the venue. Not to mention, as I suggested before, I’ve dealt with that theology in the past (not trivially) and remain entirely unpersuaded. If I choose to engage it again, it’s unlikely to occur here at UD except in selective responses. I felt the need to respond to Eocene because he brought up the Endor scenario as support for “soul sleep” (and in a derisive fashion) to which I believe I’ve sufficiently responded and dealt with.

    Otherwise, I’ve appreciated many of your comments and contributions on UD in general. Thanks for the conversation.

    Best,
    m.i.

  41. Excellent! Since you agree with the law of non-contradiction, I assume that you agree with the law of causality and its corollary principle that that every effect requires a proportionate cause. If you are on board with reasons rules, then please explain, then, how matter can be a proportionate cause to spirit, or how it can give something that it doesn’t have to give. Suffice it to say that injecting the word “vector” will not help you to solve the riddle.

    Also, in response to your claim that spirit can develop gradually, please deal with this previous comment:

    “Spirit can only be created from spirit. It cannot be created gradually by adding parts because there are no parts to add. Also, if it is created gradually then it doesn’t exist until it is complete, but spirit cannot exist partially. Spirit is always complete and unchanging and it could only come into existence gradually through change.”

  42. —”[spirit] It CAN exist in partial, developmental forms.”

    No it cannot. Spirit, by definition, only exists in complete form. There is no such thing as a partial spirit. What could be added to it that would make it complete?

    —”Spirit IS dynamic (in the supernatural sense of the term, of course!)”,

    You are using weasel words again. Does dynamic mean changing or changeable.

    —”come into being when God wants, how God wants, and where God wants (again with the caveat that we avoid logical contradictions in assessing that phase space!).”

    But we ARE discussing your logical contradiction, through which a spirit, which is, by definition, complete and unchanging, is, by your claims, being brought to completion. How can something already complete be brought to completion?

    You are saying that, even though spirit, by definition, is a complete, unchanging entity, God can, nevertheless, perform the conradictory act of creating a partial spirit?

  43. My questions @11 are for eisengate.

  44. @StephenB,

    Excellent! Since you agree with the law of non-contradiction, I assume that you agree with the law of causality and its corollary principle that that every effect requires a proportionate cause. If you are on board with reasons rules, then please explain, then, how matter can be a proportionate cause to spirit, or how it can give something that it doesn’t have to give. Suffice it to say that injecting the word “vector” will not help you to solve the riddle.

    I think you are not reading my responses? See this just above, in my comment which you are responding to, here, in 9.1:

    But for the record, I was positing this spirit fortification as an active of divine supernatural creation by an omnipotent, omniscient god.

    So, theologically, all I need is to say “Well, God did it of course, God gives physical matter a spiritual dimension whenever and however he likes”. Theology is awesome that way. How does God give matter “matter-ness”? If you don’t believe God is a physical being, or has physical attributes (“God is spirit” if i recall correctly from John 4), then God is giving, in his creation of the world matter something which he doesn’t possess. But, mirabile dictu, God is such per our superstitions that he’s not the least bit constrained by that. He can make something from nothing, and can give objects something which he doesn’t possess.

    *carves a Zorro-”Z” in the air with plastic theology spoon*

    Once again (just to make the point how often this happens), you are confusing physical laws and constraints from the real world with the magical world of the theologically metaphysical. Those concepts, stolen from real world dynamics, just don’t apply there. Theology is not science, and isn’t accountable, or liable to the real world inputs and empirical feedback that gives us grounding for “can” and “can’t” in the reale world. It’s “anything goes” (logical contradictions, excepted, etc.).

    Also, in response to your claim that spirit can develop gradually, please deal with this previous comment:

    “Spirit can only be created from spirit. It cannot be created gradually by adding parts because there are no parts to add. Also, if it is created gradually then it doesn’t exist until it is complete, but spirit cannot exist partially. Spirit is always complete and unchanging and it could only come into existence gradually through change.”

    I think you must have just missed it. I posted this in response directly to that paragraph in my comment 8.1.

    Spirit CAN be incrementally added to physical matter, creating a hybrid substance which has the supernatural parts enduring forever even when the physical vectors are annihilated. It CAN be created gradually by adding parts. It CAN exist in partial, developmental forms. Spirit IS dynamic (in the supernatural sense of the term, of course!), and comes into being when God wants, how God wants, and where God wants (again with the caveat that we avoid logical contradictions in assessing that phase space!).

  45. @StephenB,

    OK, let me get my plastic theology spoon out, and move to a safe ten paces…

    No it cannot. Spirit, by definition, only exists in complete form. There is no such thing as a partial spirit. What could be added to it that would make it complete?

    Yes it can. Spirit, by my theological definition, develops incrementally, in the steps, gradients and timing that meet God’s good pleasure. There is a such a thing as a partial spirit. What is added when it is partial is just that spiritual remainder that makes it complete, per God’s design.

    Next!

    You are using weasel words again. Does dynamic mean changing or changeable.

    “Dynamic” isn’t a weasel word. It means “changing”. I say, theologically, that spirit is NOT immutable, unchanging. It’s a dynamic substance, and in the case of human evolution, one that develops incrementally as part of the co-evolution of spiritual dimensions that integrate with the flesh of the human mind/brain. We’re trafficking in theology, so my superstitions on this are just as tall as yours, and just as impervious to assault or testing or evening questioning as yours.

    But we ARE discussing your logical contradiction, through which a spirit, which is, by definition, complete and unchanging, is, by your claims, being brought to completion. How can something already complete be brought to completion?

    It’s NOT complete before it’s completed. It is a substance in development. Slow, incremental development, just as God designed it to be! That is one powerful designer. There’s no contradiction there because my theology says you simply wrong about spirit being complete from the beginning. When it’s finished, developmentally, per God’s design, well, that cake is baked. But before that, it’s not. That’s just how God ordained it, according to my theology.

  46. m.i.

    Agreed.

  47. “Your” theology is irrelevant and constitutes yet another illogical intrusion. The subject matter under discussion is the relationship between the Christian theology of the soul, and the Darwininist world view. Your ignorance on this matter has been a stumbling block for you throughout this entire thread.

    Indeed, I pointed out in the original post that the spirit (and the soul) is, by definition, infinite, immaterial, and unchanging. Those three elements always come together. I didn’t just invent the point for the sake of controversy. If you were not aware of these facts, you should have raised the issue early on so as not to waste everyone’s time.

    The immutability of spirit is a two-thousand-year-old Christian teaching that passed through the Church fathers, Augustine, Aquinas, and continued on through the reformation with Luther. Christians continue to believe it today. There has never been a time when they didn’t believe it. Inasmuch as you claim to have once been a member of that fold, you should have known that.

  48. I’ll split hairs on that. The immutability of the spirit is a belief of some Christians led by 4th century theologians who supplemented Christian teachings with Greek philosophy.

    Many Christians hold to the Hebrew understanding that a man is a soul that dies and ceases to exist except for the hope a the resurrection. Jesus did not change that understanding – he lived by and taught the Hebrew scriptures. He introduced the new possibility of humans being resurrected as spirits, although this was not God’s intended purpose for all of mankind. The heavens belong to God, and the earth is his gift to men.

    I don’t know how else you care to word it, but it is incorrect to attribute the belief in man’s immaterial soul to everyone who is a Christian.

    I’m not any more interested in debating the specifics than you are. (I used to debate. Now I teach, and this is not the setting for it.) But I dismiss Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Plato and hold to the divinely inspired scriptures.

  49. @StephenB,

    Assuming this was in response to me…

    “Your” theology is irrelevant and constitutes yet another illogical intrusion. The subject matter under discussion is the relationship between the Christian theology of the soul, and the Darwininist world view. Your ignorance on this matter has been a stumbling block for you throughout this entire thread.

    But since it’s theology, that relationship is completely fluid. The “two thousand year teaching” of this point or that doesn’t establishing anything more than it’s been a doctor two thousand years. Buddhists have been teaching doctrines of reincarnation as their theology for longer than Christians have been teaching anything at all. So? It’s just waving plastic spoons around in the air.

    As a Christian, I did not suppose spirit was dynamic, or incremental, or imbued through evolution, etc. I would have given (now, frighteningly) similars answer to those you give here. Orthodox theology down the line, for the most part. I just came to understand these were assertions that were wholly unattached to any grounded epistemology, wholly unaccountable to any testing, validation or even examination in terms of the evidence an experiences from the real world. It was nothing more than pure, naked conjecture, and conjecture beholden just to the owners intuitions and superstitions, impervious to overthrow outside of the dictates of those intuitions.

    So it’s not that I’m unfamiliar with classical Christian metaphysics, it’s that theology as a discipline is complete fluff, just so much handwaving and indulging of one’s intuitions. I can make up a theology that stalemates yours, on the fly, in real time, because all it demands is making assertions that don’t have to be supported, tested, backed up. At all. Ever. I could write a software bot to do this theology, I suppose, and it would be, at the end of the program, every bit as strong, and forceful as yours. Your “understanding” of the “relationship between the Christian theology of the soul” is only knowledge of the superstitions you entertain, and those you share with fellow Christians. It’s not, and cannot be, any kind of knowledge in the sense of “justified true belief”, that has an even slight accountability to the witness and adjudication of the real world.

    Indeed, I pointed out in the original post that the spirit (and the soul) is, by definition, infinite, immaterial, and unchanging. Those three elements always come together. I didn’t just invent the point for the sake of controversy. If you were not aware of these facts, you should have raised the issue early on so as not to waste everyone’s time.

    You are thinking that your definitions are normative on reality, then? Your theology is binding? How would you demonstrate this? All you’ve been able to do so far is wave the plastic spoon in the air at me, as I’ve done right back to you, and we can’t be bothered to even take counsel of the feedback loops and corrective mechanisms of real world evidence and experience, because theology can’t carry such loads. It’s just musings and counter musings. We are musing and counter-musing just fine, but if you are now thinking that you are dictating the structure of reality by pointing to popular theological definitions, then I say, game on! and offer that my made-up-for-controversy theology has EXACTLY as much epistemic weight as your millenia long theology. Exactly the same weight. Precisely none, in both cases.

    I don’t know how else you care to word it, but it is incorrect to attribute the belief in man’s immaterial soul to everyone who is a Christian.

    I know you are not hearing me, now, but just in case, you are operating in a domain where “incorrect” is undefined for you. It’s a divide by zero, a concept that only has meaning in the domain whence you stole it from — the real world, where we can ask “is that correct?” and match a claim or assertion for its consistency with our observations from the real world.

    It’s “incorrect” for you and your theology, but that theology only holds currency within your mind, as the manifestation of your intuitions. It isn’t and can’t be knowledge, ideas that are tested and vetted by reality, and subject to falisification or validation, the way “correct” ideas in the real world are.

    The immutability of spirit is a two-thousand-year-old Christian teaching that passed through the Church fathers, Augustine, Aquinas, and continued on through the reformation with Luther. Christians continue to believe it today. There has never been a time when they didn’t believe it. Inasmuch as you claim to have once been a member of that fold, you should have known that.

    Oh, I espoused the same things. But I didn’t “know” any of that any more than you “know” it now, which is to say not at all. Christians continue to believe today, and my Buddhist friends continue to believe in reincarnation, as do some of my Hindu friends. This is their “correct” theology, and they are as as utterly impoverished epistemically holding to that as you are or I was as a Christian. I’m not just aware of the teaching, I’m also aware of the utter impotence of theology as a knowledge enterprise. That’s what separates the two of us, here. Telling me such-and-such doctrine is a “two-thousand-year-old Christian teaching”, as if THAT gives it status as knowledge or anything like knowledge, illustrates this difference quite well.

  50. No one, certainly not me, has tried to argue that all those who go by the name of Christian accept the immortality of the soul. The point is that those who do believe it cannot reconcile that belief with the Darwinist world view, as I have made clear–unless, of course, they change the meaning of soul or spirit, as you tried to do.

    Unfortunately, you labor under several misconceptions. First, I have not, in any way, tried to provide arguments for the immortality of the soul. That is for another thread. This thread is geared to those who already claim to accept that teaching, a point that you keep missing.

    However, some of your comments are revealing. First, there is no way to subject rational arguments for the existence of an immortal soul to empirical “testing.” That you think such a strategy is reasonable suggests that you are in no way familiar with the subject matter.

    Indeed, the best arguments for the existence of a soul are philosophical because theological arguments appeal only to believers and science has nothing to say about it. In spite of your protests to the contrary, it seems evident that you have not studied the relative arguments and found them wanting. You simply do not know what they are–and care less. That is not a problem of the intellect, it is an act of the will.

  51. I certainly agree that not everyone who goes by the name of Christian believes in the immortality of the soul. On that, we have no dispute. Of course, we must face the fact that most of the early cburch fathers believed it, and they were the ones who were closest to the apostles and, therefore, most likely to get it right.

    All sincere Christians accept the testimony of Scripture. The problem is that not all sincere Christians know how to interprete the Scriptures reasonably. In keeping with that point, reason without faith is secularism; faith without reason is superstition. No one figures it out by himself. Everything turns on finding the right mentor and the right Church.

  52. material.infantacy:

    “Scripture makes clear who is present in 1st Samuel 28, and that includes Samuel — he even prophesies the death of Saul and his sons on Mt. Gilboa the following day”
    ====

    Samuel was DEAD. Remember, death is aöways opposite of life. Even as the bible expresses to humans the condition of the dead by Solomon in Ecclesiastes. The words given to Saul by this witch were both truth and at the same time a deception.
    —-

    material.infantacy:

    “Your questioning of Mosaic law in the face of what you perceive would be “wonderful contacting” is exactly the reason for the Mosaic law in the first place. It’s illegal to contact the dead because you’re not supposed to do it. ”
    ====

    I wasn’t questioning the Mosaic Law. I simply remarking that if inquiring of the dead who in your view are still conscientious and alive somewhere in outer space, then why would the Law be against such a wonder opportunity to speak to a dead loved one or perhaps close friend ??? It also question begs, because almighty God had previously refused any contact with Saul either directly or by use of the Urim & Thummim. Also while still alive, the good Prophet Samuel had refused ANY further contact with unfaithful King Saul. The question does beg – How could some demonic Witch force Almighty God to go against his contact with Saul ??? How could some demonic Witch force Samuel in death to visit Saul when while alive he refused any further contact with him ???
    —-

    material.infantacy:

    “1) Why does the author identify the figure as Samuel? It would have made more sense to identify it as “the spirit in the image of Samuel,” or “the figure appearing as Samuel,” or some such if the reader was meant to question identity.”
    ====

    The author(either Nathan or Gad) of 1 Samuel does not identify Samuel as that appirition. The author simply writes down the event as it happened. Saul breaks God’s Law on consulting a demonic spiritualist witch who claims to have the ability of contacting the dead. Saul is the one who made the request of the witch to contact dead Samuel. Saul knew better than to do such a thing since previously, Saul when he was a better faithful King had all spiritism banished from the land and killed off all practicers of such uncanny powers by God’s own orders. He actually had to disguise himself as to his own identity, otherwise the witch would have been afraid to help him.
    —-

    material.infantacy:

    “2) Why does Saul recognize the figure as Samuel? Saul knew him better than most, and would not have been easily fooled.”
    ====

    Saul never actually saw Samuel, as is the case with most of these seances. It was the witch who describes what she saw by means of demonic power. She also shreaked out when the spirit told her Saul’s true identity under the disguise. Saul could be easily tricked because he no longer possessed any spiritual comprehension. He knew that all fortune telling, spiritism etc was from demonic sources since he had previously destroyed most of these from the land of Israel.
    ====

    material.infantacy:

    “3) Where does the plan to deceive Saul play out? If there was a reason or plan to deceive Saul with an illusory apparition of Samuel, it is not revealed in the text.”
    ====

    What in the world are you talking about ??? If Saul was no longer in either Almighty God’s or faithful Samuel’s favour before, how could a demonic witch force either Almighty God or faithful Prophet Samuel to go against their core beliefs and help unfaithful Saul out now ??? There’s a scripture from the New Century Version which beautifully illustrates how demonic inquiry of the dead actually works in appearing to be beneficial and notice also the footnote:

    2 Corinthians 11:14

    New Century Version (NCV)

    (14) “This does not surprise us. Even Satan changes himself to look like an angel of light.[a] (15) So it does not surprise us if Satan’s servants also make themselves look like servants who work for what is right. But in the end they will be punished for what they do.”

    Footnotes:

    Footnote: 2 Corinthians 11:14 angel of light Messenger from God. The devil fools people so that they think he is from God.

    Also note that Satan has demonic help in carrying out deceptions, so no doubt the spirit playing the part of Samuel was one of these demons.
    —-

    material.infantacy:

    “4) How can an entity other than a prophet of God prophesy the death of Saul, and his three sons? The death of anyone, especially that of the king of Israel and his line, would be only for God to know and reveal. No demonic entity would have access to such a vision.”
    ====

    Again I’ll refer above to that scripture at 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 and also reference another scripture with a demonic spirit the Apostle Paul dealt with who was actually speaking the truth about Paul being a servant of the Most High God and that Paul had information about Salvation, yet oddly enough Paul rejected this spirit. Why would he do that ???

    Acts 16:16-18

    New Century Version (NCV)

    Paul and Silas in Jail
    (16) Once, while we were going to the place for prayer, a servant girl met us. She had a special spirit[a] in her, and she earned a lot of money for her owners by telling fortunes.

    (17) This girl followed Paul and us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God. They are telling you how you can be saved.”

    (18) “She kept this up for many days. This bothered Paul, so he turned and said to the spirit, “By the power of Jesus Christ, I command you to come out of her!” Immediately, the spirit came out.
    Footnotes:

    Footnote: Acts 16:16 spirit This was a spirit from the devil, which caused her to say she had special knowledge.

    So this demonic possessed girl was speaking the truth when encouraging other to listen to Paul who was a servant of the Most High God and his message of Salvation. But why did Paul stop her from telling what was clearly a truth ??? Because it was a DEMON that was doing it and faithful servants have NOTHING to do with Demonic things. Hello???

    Jesus likewise had similiar encounters of demons when he was on Earth who were speaking the truth and he rejected such as well he should have. Jesus as our model set the pattern for us to follow.
    —-

    material.infantacy:

    “If there is scripture that identifies the person in that passage as anyone other than Samuel, I’d appreciate a reference.”
    ====

    Here are a number of scriptural references you should also pay attention to in this regard.

    1 Chronicles 10:13 and Isaiah 8:19-20

  53. StephenB:

    “Of course, we must face the fact that most of the early cburch fathers believed it, and they were the ones who were closest to the apostles and, therefore, most likely to get it right.”
    ====

    And by early Church Fathers , that would be Contantine, Bishops, Popes and all early Ecclesiastical Heirarchies which ushered in the Dark Ages.
    —-

    StephenB:

    “All sincere Christians accept the testimony of Scripture.”
    ====

    Correct, no arguement there. However listening to a ranting and raving onstage theatical spectacle seems to be the new spirituality that characterizes many of the mega-Churches today which flourish over in your country. Good attendance records seems to be based on a church’s ability at entertainment value as opposed to offering spiritual food and enlightenment.
    —-

    StephenB:

    “In keeping with that point, reason without faith is secularism; faith without reason is superstition.”
    ====

    ‘Faith without works is dead’

    In the area of europe where I reside secularism atheism is the rule of the day. One of the major reasons is the bad works the Churches here have produced for centuries, but in particular the last one, the 20th Century.

    Jesus said, John 13:35

    GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

    (35) “Everyone will know that you are my disciples because of your love for each other.”

    Sadly, this deteriorated to almost nill in the 20th century. The lack of spiritual appreciation in E.U. Empire Europa and elsewhere is proof of this sad fact. Churches had their shot at Europe and they failed miserably. But no one seems to want to discuss this here. But hey, I.d. here isn’t really about religion anyways , right ???

  54. StephenB,

    I have a few good reasons not to belabor this. So I’ll make these my final thoughts:

    Of course, we must face the fact that most of the early cburch fathers believed it, and they were the ones who were closest to the apostles and, therefore, most likely to get it right.

    My church has one Father, God, and one leader, Jesus. The apostles warned of those who would come after them. And no wonder, among many other things they adulterated the teachings of the scriptures with the philosophy of men such as Plato and Aristotle, men never mentioned in the scriptures. Within a few hundred years these men had seated themselves on thrones to judge kings, in contrast to those before them who had fled persecution to the ends of the earth. They lived in palaces and were served, unlike Jesus who slept wherever he found a place and Paul who made tents for a living.

    Jesus warned that the wheat he sowed would be supplanted with weeds. It is for the discerning reader to search for the truth of that statement.

    That’s all, I’m done.

  55. eisengate: The main difficulty with your struggles here is that you continually violate or ignore reason’s rules in a futile attempt to escape refutation. Somehow, you labor under the illusion that writing long, irrelevant paragraphs will conceal this problem. It doesn’t.

    When I point out that, from a Christian perspective, God either created minds directly from the top down or indirectly from a bottom up evolutionary process, you insist that it could have been both, rationalizing this irrational claim by saying that “anything goes” in theology. In spite of your protests to the contrary, it is evident that you do not respect the law of non-contradiction.

    When I point out that spirit, by definition, cannot change or exist in parts, you respond by saying that it can, indeed, change and exist in parts, attributing the qualities of matter to spirit. You explain by saying that, according to “your” theology,” this kind of nonsense is permissible. For you, spirit can behave just like matter, no problem. This is just another escape into the land of irrationality in a futile attempt to escape refutation.

    When I point out that matter cannot produce spirit because, in keeping with the law of causality, matter does not have any spirit to give, you simply ignore the point and say, “yes it can.” Once again, you retreat into a cocoon of irrational nonsense in order to avoid facing and responding to rational arguments.

    Let me ask you plainly. Do you accept the law of causality or not? Does every effect require a proportionate cause or does it not? Is it the case that a cause cannot give what it does not have to give or not? If you do not respect the law of causality, then say so, and we can end this correspondence. If you do, then please tell me how matter can produce spirit when matter does not have spirit to give.

  56. 56
    material.infantacy

    Eocene wrote:

    The author(either Nathan or Gad) of 1 Samuel does not identify Samuel as that appirition. The author simply writes down the event as it happened.

    From the KJV:

    “And Saul perceived that it was Samuel…”
    “And Samuel said to Saul…”
    “Then said Samuel…”

    Your bible version may vary. It may show scare quotes around “Samuel” in this passage — so as not to give you the wrong idea.

    “Samuel was DEAD. Remember, death is aöways opposite of life. Even as the bible expresses to humans the condition of the dead by Solomon in Ecclesiastes. The words given to Saul by this witch were both truth and at the same time a deception.”

    You’re begging the question.

    In the context of 1st Samuel 28, does the text as delivered, better support “soul sleep” or “no soul sleep”?

    Saul never actually saw Samuel, as is the case with most of these seances. It was the witch who describes what she saw by means of demonic power. She also shreaked out when the spirit told her Saul’s true identity under the disguise. Saul could be easily tricked because he no longer possessed any spiritual comprehension. He knew that all fortune telling, spiritism etc was from demonic sources since he had previously destroyed most of these from the land of Israel.

    (1Sa 28:14 KJV) And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.

    (1Sa 28:14 NIV) “What does he look like?” he asked.
    “An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.
    Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.

    (1Sa 28:14 NWT) At once he said to her: “What is his form?” to which she said: “It is an old man coming up, and he has himself covered with a sleeveless coat.” At that Saul recognized that it was “Samuel,” and he proceeded to bow low with his face to the earth and to prostrate himself.

    I wasn’t questioning the Mosaic Law. I simply remarking that if inquiring of the dead who in your view are still conscientious and alive somewhere in outer space, then why would the Law be against such a wonder opportunity to speak to a dead loved one or perhaps close friend ???

    You just did question Mosaic law. Again. You clearly believe that if it were actually possible to contact the dead, there would be no point to a law against it. That’s why there’s a law against it, to dissuade people from doing things that are personally destructive — for one, obsessing over the dead. But I understand you’re on record as saying that, if it were possible to contact the dead, you’d be all for it.

    “3) Where does the plan to deceive Saul play out? If there was a reason or plan to deceive Saul with an illusory apparition of Samuel, it is not revealed in the text.”
    ====

    What in the world are you talking about ??? If Saul was no longer in either Almighty God’s or faithful Samuel’s favour before, how could a demonic witch force either Almighty God or faithful Prophet Samuel to go against their core beliefs and help unfaithful Saul out now ???

    I’m talking about a plot to deceive Saul, its goal, and its consequences, which are missing from the account. If demonic forces conspired to deceive Saul, their plot and its purpose are absent from the pages of scripture.

    Since there is no such plot, it lends credence to a plain reading of the passage.

    Tell me, given the context of 1st Samuel, does it seem to suggest that there is a demonic subplot, if one doesn’t assume such subplot; or, taken at face value, does it seem to suggest that Saul was talking to Samuel?

    “4) How can an entity other than a prophet of God prophesy the death of Saul, and his three sons? The death of anyone, especially that of the king of Israel and his line, would be only for God to know and reveal. No demonic entity would have access to such a vision.”
    ====

    Again I’ll refer above to that scripture at 2 Corinthians 11:14-15…

    Deception is not prophecy, and prophecy is not deception.

    Again, I’ll ask how it’s possible that a demon prophesies the death of Israel’s king and his sons? It’s a very relevant question that should be answered specifically and directly, not rhetorically.

    Do demons prophesy?
    _______

    So, in the context of 1st Samuel, specifically the Endor passage, does the account as given better support:

    A) There is no form of consciousness after death.
    B) There is a form of consciousness after death.
    C) Neither.

    Take the point, please. You may have, in your view, good reasons for believing A, but you cannot reasonably use the Endor passage to support A, period. It’s not really even arguable. At best, you can undermine the passage’s support for B by reasonably and directly answering the four questions I posed, without assuming A is true a priori.

    Or you can admit that the Endor passage does not support “soul sleep” and that you’re forced by conclusions you’ve reached elsewhere in scripture, to believe that the passage cannot possibly be taken at face value. That would be entirely reasonable, given the circumstances.

    I’ll say it again. The concept of “soul sleep” is NOT, even a little, supported by the Endor passage. Taken in context, it suggests quite the opposite. This is the single point I’ve been making the entire time.

  57. StephenB: “This is what I understand Francis Collins to mean, for example, when he writes, “Most remarkably, God intentionally chose this same mechanism to give rise to special creatures who would have intelligence, free will, and a desire to seek fellowship with him. He also knew that these creatures would ultimately choose to disobey the moral law.” (P 201, The Language of God).”

    But as I showed, Collins also wrote: “6. But humans are also unique in ways that defy evolutionary explanation and point to our spiritual nature. This includes the existence of the Moral Law (the knowledge of right and wrong) and the search for God that characterizes all human cultures throughout history.” (I think it’s on p.200).

    So it’s not clear that Collins believes that Darwinian mechanisms can produce a mind. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume he does and move on.

    StephenB: “But as I have indicated, an immaterial mind cannot emerge from matter. It should be evident that molecules re-arranging themselves cannot evolve into something that contains no molecules, just as Jupiter cannot both exist and not exist. If that point isn’t clear, then reflect on the fact that spirit does not depend on matter for its existence and cannot, therefore derive from matter from that same reason. The mind does depend on the brain for its operation (while united to a body), but not for its existence.”

    It’s not at all clear that the mind does not depend upon the brain for its existence. It seems logically possible that it could. In other words, it seems logically possible that if the brain ceased to exist, then the mind would cease to exist, also. I see no contradiction. Does this mean that the mind is only a brain? No. The mind could very well be an immaterial entity that depends upon a material entity for its existence and it operation. If so, then it seems possible that the mind emerged when the right configuration of matter appeared. (That could be how God has set things up in this world).

    It is also possible that the mind exists independently of the brain: that they are independent substances that God has conjoined in a very close, interactive relationship.

    But I agree with you that the ideas of emergence and independent substances seems incompatible.

  58. [a]—” But as I showed, Collins also wrote: “6. But humans are also unique in ways that defy evolutionary explanation and point to our spiritual nature. This includes the existence of the Moral Law (the knowledge of right and wrong) and the search for God that characterizes all human cultures throughout history.” (I think it’s on p.200).

    Yes, he does acknowledge that “something” spiritual comes from the top down, and if he is thinking of the intellect, mind, and consciousness when he makes that reference, and if he agrees that these faculties are of an immaterial nature, then I agree with you that, under those circumstances, this one aspect of his evolutionary theory (not all aspects) could be reconciled with his theology.

    Remember, however, that a Christian Darwinist typically argues that all of man’s physical and mental traits emerge from the bottom up. So, although Collins is not very clear about this, if, indeed, he parts ways with other Christian Darwinists in that context, I agree that we have to make allowances for that possibility.

    [b]—”It’s not at all clear that the mind does not depend upon the brain for its existence. It seems logically possible that it could. In other words, it seems logically possible that if the brain ceased to exist, then the mind would cease to exist, also. I see no contradiction. Does this mean that the mind is only a brain? No. The mind could very well be an immaterial entity that depends upon a material entity for its existence and it operation. If so, then it seems possible that the mind emerged when the right configuration of matter appeared. (That could be how God has set things up in this world).”

    If the mind is dependent on the brain for its existence, and, therefore, dies when then mind dies, then it cannot also be an immaterial entity, since immaterial entities contain no parts and cannot disintegrate and die. On the other hand, an immaterial mind can depend on a brain for its operation as long as it doesn’t depend on the brain for its existence.

  59. @StephenB,

    Indeed, the best arguments for the existence of a soul are philosophical because theological arguments appeal only to believers and science has nothing to say about it. In spite of your protests to the contrary, it seems evident that you have not studied the relative arguments and found them wanting. You simply do not know what they are–and care less. That is not a problem of the intellect, it is an act of the will.

    I couldn’t have penned a more damning paragraph on theology if I tried. If it appeals only to believers, what more is there to say. No clearer signal should be expected to alert you to your epistemic poverty than that realization. On theology, been there, done that. It’s embarrassing how much time I DID invest. I could have done something useful with all that investment (I thought at the time I was).

    But, at the end of the day, just like you, I had nothing I could test, nothing I could validate, nothing I could meaningfully ascribe “true” or “false” to, or even grounded probabilities (“grounding”, of course, was just me stealing yet another concept from the real world and supposing the referents somehow translated to the supernatural just because I had borrowed the symbols). I had, like you, for all of that, nothing more than astrology-donning-a-cheap-tuxedo in my theology. And that’s probably an unfair slam on astrology, as that is at least notionally rooted as an intuition in a scientific idea.

    If I were a wiser man then, I’d have happily exercised an “act of will” to forego the follow, the pretense of knowledge and truth as uncritical intuition and superstition doing a masquerade. It was perverse — if I doubted I was correct on this minute point, or that big one, how would I test my belief? How would I process those doubts? Theology doesn’t have any corrective loops, nothing from the real world has anything to say about any of it. If it did, it wouldn’t be theology, it would be science.

    When I point out that, from a Christian perspective, God either created minds directly from the top down or indirectly from a bottom up evolutionary process, you insist that it could have been both, rationalizing this irrational claim by saying that “anything goes” in theology. In spite of your protests to the contrary, it is evident that you do not respect the law of non-contradiction.

    I haven’t suggested, let alone insisted, that it could be both at the same time. Rather, it could be either, or some other path. We have the whole phase space of logically consistent worlds to contemplate on that question, and the reality could be any of them, or none of them (i.e. perhaps there is no god at all or spirit, which makes the question a divide-by-zero.

    There’s no challenge from non-contradiction here, as I don’t suppose it’s mutually exclusive choices at the same time, but rather or one of many options that are logically consistent, but unkowable, untestable, unfalsifiable, and perhaps not even a question at all (i.e. if there is no god or spirit).

    When I point out that spirit, by definition, cannot change or exist in parts, you respond by saying that it can, indeed, change and exist in parts, attributing the qualities of matter to spirit. You explain by saying that, according to “your” theology,” this kind of nonsense is permissible. For you, spirit can behave just like matter, no problem. This is just another escape into the land of irrationality in a futile attempt to escape refutation.

    Let’s start with this. How would we test your definition. If it’s incorrect, how would you establish that? If there is no way to establish that it’s incorrect, it’s at best trivially true, and has no epistemic bearing on your extramental reality. It’s just a tautology, and it reveals nothing more about souls or spirit than 2+2=4, which is also true by definition, but just as divorced from any real world grounding or corrigibility from the real world as your definition, and yours is arguable much further away. We can at least establish real world analogs for the quantity “two” and use those definitions to achieve real world manipulations of objects to practical ends. Can’t say that about your definitions. They are 100% fluff.

    Would toward that you had something to refute. Nothing there even bears refuting. I say, just as trivially as you do, that by my definition, spirit is something that evolves from physical matter. Do you have anything to refute? No more than I have to refute from your. It’s not even the force of a plastic spoon being brought to bear here. It’s wholly sufficient to just naysay, because your belief is not based on anything more than simple “say”. What can be asserted without any grounds, test or liability can be dismissed just as trivially.

    When I point out that matter cannot produce spirit because, in keeping with the law of causality, matter does not have any spirit to give, you simply ignore the point and say, “yes it can.” Once again, you retreat into a cocoon of irrational nonsense in order to avoid facing and responding to rational arguments.

    I say matter DOES have spirit to give, whenever God incorporates that as part of his grand design. Boom, there’s no problem with the law of causality, as God created matter such that spirit emerges whenever indicated by his design. It’s just as causal as any “top down” model you’d like to pull of thin air, it’s just an alternate design. Your indulging a conceit about your epistemology if you suppose you’ve established some immutable metaphysics of matter and spirit that prevents an omniscient, omnipotent god from forging matter and spirit in some incrementally developed hybrid way, if that was his good pleasure. Which it may be, for all you or I or anyone knows. If there is any god at all, which you don’t have a handle on in the first place.

    Let me ask you plainly. Do you accept the law of causality or not? Does every effect require a proportionate cause or does it not? Is it the case that a cause cannot give what it does not have to give or not? If you do not respect the law of causality, then say so, and we can end this correspondence. If you do, then please tell me how matter can produce spirit when matter does not have spirit to give.

    As a matter of real world dynamics, I accept causality as both useful in practice and transcendentally necessary as a predicate for natural knowledge. A natural explanation, or any causal explanation (hence the name) presumes causality. But in terms of theology, I’m happy to affirm some notion of “supernatural causality”, but need to point out that since it’s a theological concept, it’s just as empty and intractable as “spirit” or “can” or “exists” as terms go. Any meaning “cause” has is stolen from the real world, and has no organic (oops, another stolen term!) semantics as a “term of supernature”.

    So, can God fuse matter and spirit into some metaphysical hybrid? I see no logical contradiction in that, and anything further than a shrug beyond that, or idle musings is fooling oneself, or just goofing off. In order to actually inquire, we’d have to be able to develop some “metaphysics of the supernatural”, a model we could test and refine as the basis for some epistemic floor to stand on in saying “yes” or “no” or “probably” or “probably not”.

    As such a model is not available, IN PRINCIPLE, you and I are SOL. All we can do is wave our plastic theology spoons around in the air frantically in hopes that our flailing might convince someone that perhaps we’re on to something.

    As to how matter can produce spirit, I’ll repeat again that God designed it that way. Can God fashion his creation the way he wills, aside from any logical contradictions? I think that’s entailed by the Christian understanding of God as omniscient, omnipotent and possessing of a will. How do you suppose God created matter ex nihilo? If you can explain how that works, your answer will be a good example of how I might answer you in a fashion you find satisfying.

  60. I have done a little more digging into Collins’ view and I came up with this comment to the question, “Does evolution explain human nature.” The decisive comment is as follows:

    “We should be skeptical of those who dismiss these acts of radical altruism as some sort of evolutionary misfiring. And if these noble acts are frankly a scandal to reproductive fitness, might they instead point in a different direction – toward a holy, loving, and caring God, who instilled the moral law in each of us as a sign of our special nature and as a call to relationship with the Almighty?

    Do not get me wrong. I am not arguing that the existence of the moral law somehow proves God’s existence. Such proofs cannot be provided by the study of nature. And there is an inherent danger in arguing that the moral law points to some sort of supernatural intervention in the early days of human history; this has the flavor of a “God of the gaps” argument. After all, much still remains to be understood about evolution’s influence on human nature. But even if radically altruistic human acts can ultimately be explained on the basis of evolutionary mechanisms, this would do nothing to exclude God’s hand. For if God chose the process of evolution in the beginning to create humans in imago Dei, it would also be perfectly reasonable for God to have used this same process to instill knowledge of the moral law.”

    So, Collins position is this: God instilled knowledge of the natural moral law into humans, except that he didn’t do it by way of a supernatural act, which means that evolution did it, which means that you can forget what I said about God instilling it.

  61. Eigenstate, bravo. That is some of the most beautiful and elegant prose I have read on this site (ok, that may not be saying a lot…). Thank you, a joy to read, and inspiring to this onlooker.

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